The Symbolism Of Skulls In Hinduism & Buddhism By Matt Caron

It’s hard not to be stirred when looking at a human skull. After all, it’s a stark confrontation with the reality that we’re all mortals. Every culture throughout history has had the exact same reaction- and formed their own beliefs and traditions because of it. This is especially true for two of the biggest religions in the east: Hinduism and Buddhism. Known for their deep thoughts about life and death, these two religions have used skulls extensively in artwork and depictions of deities.

In fact, skulls in eastern symbology are so important that they’ve been traced all the way back to the dawn of the Hindu civilization- over 5,000 years ago. So what exactly do they mean to these two world religions?

Ancient India

In India, skulls played a particularly important role in religious depictions. Skulls often adorned ancient gods and goddess as necklaces or bracelets, showing their ability to conquer death. For instance, Nataraja, an incarnation of Shiva, dances the cosmic dance of creation with a necklace of skulls adorning him. The garland of skulls around his neck identifies him as time, and the death of all beings. To the Hindu, this is a natural progression of life; everything moves in a circular fashion.

Life and death are both part of the cosmic drama and are embraced- not resisted.

While the representation of skulls in Hinduism is fairly straightforward, Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism take it a little deeper, with unique perspectives. Similar to Hinduism, skulls are generally depicted as a necklace around a deity. They’re known as munda malas. However, instead of representing death or loss, it represents the important Buddhist concept of emptiness. In Buddhism, emptiness is considered to be a quality of the universe.

This means that phenomena we experience has no inherent nature by itself; instead, we attach meaning to what we experience. It’s basically saying all events are neutral- but we choose to magnify them in our minds. A skull´s four canine teeth are described as symbols of biting through of the four maras (obstructions). Single skulls appear in various forms and functions in Tibetan iconography.

For example, a skull-lamp, which burns human fat, with its tongue burning as a wick, would be described as a purification symbol. The body (skull) is purified by the flames, as are speech (tongue) and mind (fat). This example derives from ancient Hindu cremation rituals. Rather gruesome, but it gets to the point: life is transitory.

Conclusion

While it’s true that skulls are important to many religions and cultures, the eastern fascination with them is totally unique. It could be argued that it’s a bit morbid- and that may be true- but there is a certain quality of serenity to it. Everything in these two ideologies embraces the inevitable conclusion of life and death. But this is to push us to transcend both, and seek a much more satisfying and spiritual lifestyle.

My Hypersensitivity Is Real: Why Highly Sensitive People Have ADHD, BY ZOË KESSLER

What Is Hypersensitivity?

Hypersensitivity — also known as being a “highly sensitive person” (HSP) — is not a disorder. It is an attribute common in people with ADHD. Symptoms of hypersensitivity include being highly sensitive to physical (via sound, sigh, touch, or smell) and or emotional stimuli and the tendency to be easily overwhelmed by too much information.

What’s more, highly sensitive people are more likely to suffer from asthma, eczema, and allergies. “It’s good in some situations and not in others,” says psychologist and psychotherapist Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., author of The Highly Sensitive Person. She believes knowing that you have hypersensitivity is important. As with ADHD, being aware of it makes you realize that you’re not alone.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hypersensitivity?

After I told my younger sister, Melissa, about my ADHD diagnosis, we reminisced about our childhood. “If there were family arguments, we would think it was something little, but, for you, it was huge,” said Melissa. “Something that I considered a minor spat, you felt was monumental and earth-shattering.” It wasn’t until I was 48 that I recognized what caused me to be a drama queen: I was born with ADHD and hypersensitivity.

I first learned about the genetic nature of hypersensitivity by reading Scattered (#CommissionsEarned), by Gabor Maté, M.D., a physician and psychotherapist. “People with ADHD are hypersensitive,” says Maté. “That is not a fault, it is how they were born. It is their inborn temperament.” When I read Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person(#CommissionsEarned), I finally recognized this sensitivity in myself. According to Aron, 15 to 20 percent of the population is born with a high level of sensitivity.

“When you know that you are highly sensitive, it reframes your life,” says Aron. Knowing that you have this trait will enable you to make better decisions. “Sensitive people have to live differently in order to be comfortable.”

Clinicians working with people with ADHD view hypersensitivity, both physical and/or emotional, as a common comorbid condition. “[People with ADHD] often are hypersensitive in one of the sensory domains: sound, touch, or smell,” says Ned Hallowell, M.D., author of Driven to Distraction (#CommissionsEarned). “My daughter with ADHD will only wear cotton, she won’t wear wool.”

I discovered that my longtime habit of fidgeting with my hair was due to hypersensitivity. I dislike the feel of hair strands tickling my face and neck, so I bunch it up in a knot. Before long, it feels like someone is driving her knuckles into my skull, just where I’ve knotted my hair. So down it comes. Then back up. And so on, throughout the day.

Other sensitivities include sounds and visual stimuli — flashing lights and moving objects. Studies suggest that those with ADHD also suffer more from asthma, eczema, and allergies — conditions of hypersensitivity — than those without ADHD.

What Is an Example of Hypersensitivity?

Prior to discovering my hypersensitivity, I perceived my over-the-top emotions as a character flaw. My mom would say, “Why can’t you get on an even keel?” As a child, I didn’t have an answer. This added to my already-low self-esteem.

“Recognizing their high sensitivity can help people stop feeling bad about themselves,” says Aron.

A friend, Denise, diagnosed with ADHD at age eight, had a similar childhood to mine. “My parents would say, ‘You need to toughen up. Don’t be so sensitive. Don’t be so influenced by what others think about you,’” says Denise. “I still find, as an adult, that if I’m fighting with peers, I immediately take their words and gestures to heart. I’m too quick to accept the nasty things they may be saying about me.”

Denise is sensitive to environmental noise. “I need to get into a forest or a quiet place every once in awhile to calm myself down. I am also overwhelmed by the constant flow of information we are bombarded with these days.”

Psychologist and ADHD coach Michele Novotni, Ph.D., says she sees higher levels of physical sensitivities and emotional reactivity in her ADHD clients than in the general population. She told me about a client whose manager made an unkind, unfair remark at work. A person without ADHD may have let the words bounce off of him, but her client, who has a high level of sensitivity, ended up in tears.

Novotni suggests that it is the tendency of people with ADHD to feel overwhelmed that leads to their hypersensitive reactions. This, in turn, contributes to their difficulty in coping emotionally. Take the routine of going to work in the morning, for example. Most people get out the door without forgetting anything, ready with a game plan for the day. Someone with ADHD, who can’t sort tasks and prioritize, feels tired and overwhelmed by the time they get to work.

“Some of my clients tell me that socializing is work,” says Novotni. “So if you think about the things that most people do for recreation as being work, you probably won’t have the resiliency to cope with other things that come down the pike.”

Why People With ADHD Often Have Hypersensitivity

“Just as we have trouble filtering what goes out,” says Hallowell, who has ADHD himself, “we have trouble filtering what comes in. I can’t back this up with research, but in my clinical experience, and in my own life, it seems that we tend to let things get to us. We take on the experiences of others very quickly, like the insect on the leaf that takes on the color of the leaf.”

Maté explains that, if individuals with ADHD are born with a high level of sensitivity, it takes less stimulation for them to feel more overwhelmed, especially in distracting environments and dynamic conversations. Plus, the more sensitive we are, the more likely we’ll feel pain. “Emotional pain and physical pain are experienced in the same part of the brain,” he says.

Many of us have discovered positive things about living with ADHD, and a high level of sensitivity may also be used to our advantage. But like ADHD, hypersensitivity must be managed and controlled to let the positive aspects — creativity, empathy, and depth of perception — shine through. I’ve learned to do this, and so can you.

How to Treat Hypersensitivity

How do I cope successfully with my hypersensitivity? By following these simple strategies:

  • Honor your sensitivity. Don’t make yourself do things that are difficult. As much as possible, choose situations that suit your temperament. Highly sensitive people need more time than others to process the events of the day. Before you overload yourself by going out in the evening, take a few minutes to consider if you can handle more stimulation or you’ve met your limit for the day.
  • Step back. Allow yourself your emotional reaction to a situation, but consider that there may be other interpretations. Pause for reflection and take some deep breaths to calm down. Analyze the situation and re-evaluate it.
  • Block it out. To avoid sensory overload and anxiety, always have earplugs and a headset with you to block out noise.
  • Tone it down. If crowds and noise are problems, find venues that are quieter and less populated — a smaller grocery store instead of a major chain, for example, or a small doctor’s office located in a home instead of a large group practice at a hospital.
  • Reduce extraneous stimulation. Say ‘no’ nicely to things that have overwhelmed you in the past, that you don’t have to do or just don’t want to do. Identify your limits and implement them when you’re overwhelmed.
  • Make sure you’ve had enough sleep: Rest or take a nap before facing a situation that will be highly stimulating or after an intense one to regroup.
  • Use relaxation methods: Meditate, pray, or do some yoga  to strengthen your ability to cope with day-to-day challenges by practicing feeling calm and learning how to recreate this sensation

Questions to Ask Instead of ‘How Was Your Day?’ By Rachel Bowie

1. What was the best part of your day?

2. Did anything surprise you today?

3. Did you read/listen to anything interesting today?

4. Did you take any photos today? What of?

5. How can I make your day easier in five minutes?

6. What did you do that was just for you today?

7. What do you wish you did more of today?

8. What do you wish you did less of today?

9. What made you laugh today?

10. Did anything make you feel frustrated today?

11. Did you receive any good news today?

12. How many cups of coffee did you have today?

13. What are you most grateful for about your day?

14. What was the best conversation you had today?

15. Tell me three good things that happened to you today.

16. What did you have for lunch today?

17. What inspired you the most today?

18. What is something you did today that you’d love to do every day?

19. Did you do something kind for anyone today?

20. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be and why?

21. When did you feel appreciated today?

22. If you could guarantee one thing for tomorrow, what would it be?

23. If your day turned into a movie, who would you cast?

24. Will you remember any specific part of your day a year from now? Five years? How come?

25. Aren’t you going to ask me about my day?

You Are Meant To Have A Rich Life

In times of economic anxiety and upheaval, the principles of the law of attraction remain rock steady – to attract money, you must focus on wealth. It is impossible to bring more money into your life when you are noticing you do not have enough, because that means you are thinking thoughts that you do not have enough. Focus on not enough money, and you will create untold more circumstances of not having enough money. You must focus on the abundance of money to bring that to you.
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3 Ways To Rejuvenate Your Spirit

By Dan Voltz

Has anyone ever called you an “old soul”? What does that mean, exactly? The phrase is usually intended as a compliment, a way to acknowledge that you have some hidden wisdom that could only come from living beyond your years. But what if you want a younger soul? There’s not a whole lot you can do to replace the soul you’ve got, but there are some things you can do to rejuvenate your spirit — to make yourself feel a little younger than you do right now.

That’s not to say that the deep wisdom and knowledge associated with being an “old soul” are somehow without value. Those are qualities that should be cherished. But so too are the qualities of youth. And sometimes it can feel good to embrace the younger side of your spirit — the creativity, the exuberance, the capacity for playfulness.

Here are some ways you can rejuvenate your spirit and enjoy the youthful mindset that may develop too.

1. Meditate to cope with stress

Nothing ages you quite as quickly as stress. Constant stress can lead to emotional turbulence as well as physical costs. Wrinkles and lines can form due to stress alone. And your immune system can be thrown out of whack, leading you to become ill more often. That’s not even touching on the mood swings and headaches that stress often directly inspires. When you’re stressed out, you have less energy, less patience, and less vitality.

Meditation is one of the best ways to lower your stress levels on a daily basis. There’s even some evidence that meditation can help you live longer (or stay younger longer, though they’re kind of the same thing). Practiced in many forms and styles, meditation can look very different from person to person, and that means you’ll be able to find the method that works best for you. The key is using meditation to detoxify the stressors that build up over the days–and when you do that, you can start to rejuvenate your spirit.

2. Indulge in a little play

We tend to think of playing as something reserved for the young among us, not something you do as an adult. But that means if you’re looking to rejuvenate your spirit, a little bit of play can help you get in touch with your inner child.

And these days, it’s never been easier. Maybe the easiest way to indulge in play is to find one of the millions of possible board games to play. If you aren’t familiar with how successful this particular branch of the hobby field has become over the years, you might find this a bit surprising, but boardgames are huge. And taking an evening to indulge in play, whether that’s thematic play with your favorite board game or putting together a model airplane, can help you feel more like a kid again. This kind of activity can help you remember what you liked about your youth.

3. Rejuvenate your body

Here are some ways you can rejuvenate your spirit and enjoy the youthful mindset that may develop too.

When all else fails, sometimes it’s easier to feel younger when you look a little younger. It could be really hard to get in touch with your inner child when you see wrinkles and lines taking over your mirror. There are ways to rejuvenate your body, including everything from a little bit of well-placed makeup to cosmetic and plastic surgery.

Most cosmetic and plastic surgeons will tell you that you should only undergo a procedure —from something as major as facelift and liposuction to something as minor as Botox — if you actually want the results from that procedure. But if you desire Botox, it can be a great way to eliminate unwanted lines and wrinkles around your face. And when those wrinkles and lines disappear (or are at least subdued), you see a younger-looking face in your mirror. That might help make you feel younger, too. And feeling younger can certainly help you rejuvenate your spirit. No judgment! Do what feels right.

Long term proposition

Rejuvenating your spirit is unlikely to involve a one-off event, however. In all likelihood, the best way to rejuvenate your spirit is going to involve some combination of approaches applied over a long period of time. That might seem like quite the commitment, but the benefits can be profound. Rejuvenating your spirit can help you feel more alive, more refreshed, and more patient. What’s more, rejuvenating your spirit can help you have fun, squeezing as much joy out of life as you possibly can.

It’s nice to have an “old soul,” but that doesn’t mean you should be shy about revisiting those things you enjoyed about your childhood. Maybe it’s about having an old soul and a young spirit–maybe that’s the ticket.

How Do You Grieve the Death of a Narcissistic Mother?

By Gail Meyers

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Echo by her mother’s grave with much more to grieve than just her death. Photo: CC0 via Pixabay | Source

I recently read a posting on one of the narcissistic personality disorder boards. An adult child of a narcissist asked about how to grieve the loss of her narcissistic mother. The question was answered by someone who, in my opinion, should not have answered. The response was, “You grieve a narcissist parent just like you would grieve for anyone else.”

As adult children of narcissistic mothers (or fathers), we have heard this kind of response most of our lives. It just seems like one more example of someone who has never experienced being the child of a narcissist failing to grasp the severity of the situation. What a woefully pitiful answer to someone who has undoubtedly already experienced so much pain and is apparently wrestling with her grief enough to post such a question on a public forum.

I do not particularly agree with the idea that you should grieve any two loved ones who are not narcissists the same way, let alone the idea that you should grieve a narcissistic mother just as you would anyone else.

Each of us grieves differently from one another, from one loss to the next, and maybe even from one day to the next. Perhaps the only way it is the “same” is in the general, broader sense that we all go through the five universal stages of grief:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Bargaining
  • Acceptance

*** Not sure how well I am doing grieving her and the loss of closure, the betrayal by my siblings and the feelings of hurt, sadness and grief.

Thankful, Grateful & Blessed!

The Essential Steps To Proper Crystal Care

By Kacey Mya

Crystal Care

In order for your crystals to take good care of you, you must take good care of them. Proper care and keeping of your crystals help them achieve their highest potential. Your crystal care regimen should include cleaning, charging, activating, and programming. Here’s a crash course to help you make sure you and your crystals remain in tip-top shape.

Why Clean?

Crystals absorb and transform the energy and vibrations around them. This transformation is what makes them useful to us. They can absorb negative energy and reverse it into positive energy. Crystals that are used frequently do not have the necessary time to cleanse themselves of bad energy. If we do not cleanse them, they can become saturated and lose effectiveness.

How to Clean

There are several methods to thoroughly clean crystals, including watersalt, and soil.

To clean a crystal with water, simply submerge it in running water. Tap water will do, but a naturally flowing river or stream is best. If you don’t have access to a river or stream, simply visualize a flowing body of water, such as a waterfall, as you rinse your stone. Salt can be added to water as part of the cleanse, or it can be used on its own. To cleanse using only salt, place your crystal in a bed of rock salt for a day or two.

The soil method of cleansing crystals involves burying them in the Earth. Soil is rich in quartz and will cleanse your stone of negative energy. If your crystal only requires light cleansing, you can use the smudge, breath, or energy techniques. The smudge technique involves cleaning with the smoke of sacred herbs such as lavender, cedar, or sage. The breath technique requires you to you hold your crystal, focus on it, and center your breathing to blow the bad energies from the stone as you exhale.

To cleanse with energy, simply channel light energy from the universe around you through your hands and into the crystal.

When to Clean

Cleanse any crystal that is new to you. If you’ve had the stone for a while, pay attention to its sheen. When the crystal loses its luster, it’s probably due for a cleanse. Perform a cleansing ceremony any time your stone was used for group guidance or was handled by several people. In addition, you’ll want to cleanse your crystal after a major negative or emotional event such as death, illness, or conflict.

Charging

Crystals gain their power through light and vibration, so to recharge them, you must expose them to light and the vibrations of other positive stones. An hour in the sunlight will effectively recharge most stones. Light-colored stones enjoy the gentle charge of a full moon’s light. If you have several pieces of quartz, cluster them together, and they will recharge themselves.

Activating

When you activate your crystal, you’re tuning into it, and it’s tuning into you. You can activate your stone by holding it, rolling it around in your hands, and spending time with it. Always remember to charge your stone after activation.

Programming

After your crystal has been cleansed, activated, and charged, you need to program it. To program (or dedicate) your stone, you must first decide what its purpose will be for you. Each crystal has its own meaning, but you can further refine its purpose from there. Once you have divined its purpose, dedicate the crystal to that purpose by affirmation and visualization.

Crystal Meanings

As mentioned above, crystals have different meanings, so seek out stones that will have an effect on the part of your life you’re intent on improving. It’s not just the type of stone that can differentiate the meaning—colors can, too. For example, diamonds in different colors have unique meanings. Blue diamonds bring about feelings of peace and relaxation, while black diamonds improve stamina.

A crystal collection is an investment worth proper care. By using these techniques, your stones will provide you with positive energy flow for many years to come.

You Are Not the Sum of Your ADHD Challenges.

BY MICHELLE FRANK, PSY.D.SARI SOLDEN, M.S., LMFT

Like many girls with ADHD, you grew up thinking you were either smart or dumb, happy or sad, nice or mean. Perhaps one day you felt strong and confident, but the next you became overwhelmed, even paralyzed by your ADHD symptoms and negative thoughts again. Perhaps you still do.

Changing perspectives and fluctuating moods are not unique to the ADHD brain. We all have periods of irrational thinking and moments of clarity. Sometimes we yell at a person we love and we feel bad, but we can be kind to a stranger. We are different at different times, even in the course of a single day.

This is normal, but to the ADHD brain these human inconsistencies are upsetting and confusing. Why? The ADHD brain tends to think in terms of drastic polarities — motivated vs. lazy, creative vs. boring, organized vs. a mess. Your brain feels it must pick sides. But because we are forever changing and vacillating, this psychological tendency keeps us flip-flopping from day to day, relegated to reactivity instead of intentional thought and action.

The good news is it’s possible to be more intentional in our thoughts and actions, and to allow for more gray space in our view of the world. We can learn to rewrite the stories we tell ourselves, but not without first understanding who we are — and acknowledging that we are not the sum of our ADHD symptoms.

Replacing All-or-Nothing ADHD Thinking with Wholeness

Healing means “restoring to wholeness.” In order to heal, we need to be able to hold all of who we are in one image that embraces a diverse set of characteristics. That means no longer over focusing on only our challenges or only our strengths.

When we overemphasize one aspect of ourselves and dismiss the rest, we engage in reductionism. We reduce ourselves to one oversimplified or exaggerated attribute. Moving into a more complete narrative requires that we distance ourselves from reductionism and fill in the whole picture of ourselves.

Step One: Stop Trying to ‘Fix’ Yourself

As a clinical psychologist, I see many women with ADHD who are extremely self-critical — in part because they’ve been fed a continuous diet of shame. They’re so ashamed of their challenges they believe it’s not possible to live well with ADHD unless they “fix” themselves.

They succumb to unhealthy if/then thinking: When I get organized (or improve my time-management skills or become more productive…) then I’ll be happy (or take the class I’ve been putting off or feel good about myself, etc.). They pour so much every day into trying to manage their challenges that they start to believe it’s not possible to be happy unless they fix their brain and fix their ADHD symptoms. The thing is, that’s pretty backwards.

You are much more than your ADHD. ADHD plays into who you are, certainly, because interacting frequently with your brain-based challenges can’t be completely avoided. There will always be the question, “Is it me, or is it my ADHD?” But those two pieces – you and your ADHD — are unique, but intertwined. They combine to form the whole person. Accepting that we can’t fully separate our brains and our bodies is a step in the right direction.

Step Two: Adopt a “Yes, and…” Ethos

My “radical” approach to healing considers the whole person in a way that acknowledges an individual’s strengths, plus their need to manage their symptoms. I teach my patients with ADHD how to say to themselves, “I am able to pursue some of my dreams and passions and improve my self-care,” or “I’m able to do these things even though I still struggle.” This break from unhealthy black-or-white thinking allows my patients a way to move forward and to formulate a whole picture of themselves. I call this the “yes, and” space.

I love this quote by Geneen Roth, a writer and teacher, known for her insights around eating disorders: “I’d tried versions of not fixing myself before, but always with the secret hope that not fixing myself would fix me.”

The quote sums up what I think is the hardest part about living with a chronic condition — trying to find the fix. And then recognizing — at least in our minds — that we need to surrender because there is no fix.

It’s okay to struggle with this idea and to have periods where you wish you your ADHD would just go away. But true healing emerges only through the process of reminding yourself that people don’t need fixing. Once you accept that it’s OK and normal to experience strengths and weaknesses simultaneously, you begin to approach managing your challenges with some self-compassion — and that is the key to doing the hard work of real change

Step Three: Understand Who You Are

You know your ADHD challenges very well. In fact, you have probably over focused on them throughout your life. Drawing an authentic picture of the whole you means giving equal weight to your strengths or the dreams that reflect your values. But many people are blind to these areas or find them difficult to access.

Below are several prompts to help you reflect on and assess various aspects of your life with ADHD. Read through these questions and jot down what comes to mind:

Assessing Your ADHD Strengths

  1. What do you do really well that seems to come naturally to you?
  2. What could you teach or contribute to others?
  3. What skills or talents have you developed through the years?

Assessing Your ADHD Challenges

  1. What are your most challenging ADHD symptoms?
  2.  Describe the issues you confront in daily life or in moving forward because of these challenges.
  3.  How does ADHD show up in your life, even with treatment?

Assessing Your Personal Attributes

  1.  What makes you you?
  2.  How do you respond to the ups and downs of life when you are at your best?
  3.  What endures within you that makes the difference for you?
  4.  What do you most appreciate about yourself?
  5.  How would you describe yourself if you were a character in a book?
  6.  What special qualities have you always had that you still have—perseverance, a sense of humor, compassion, creativity?

Step Four: Follow Your Own True North

We talk about the importance of values a lot, but rarely use them as a guide. For women who are buffeted by the push and pull of the ADHD brain, it is critical to look inward and return to an internal compass to know what we want our lives to be about.

When you feel you’re going in circles, pause and remind yourself who you are and what’s important to you. Following your internal compass, your values — not the distractions of ADHD — will guide better choices when you feel lost or emotionally overwhelmed.

Once you know what you value, you can write a personal mission statement (see below), just as you would if you were running your own company. After all, you’re running your own life.

Step Five: Write Your Personal Mission Statement

Ask yourself the following questions. Use honest answers to compile your personal guide and start living by your values and strengths:

  •  What is most meaningful to you?
  •  What do you stand for?
  •  What do you want your life to be about?
  •  What are your core values?
  •  What do you want people to know about you?
  •  When you look back on your life, what would you like to say about yourself?

Answers these questions on a cheat sheet designed to help you act on your values if you’re too tired or challenged to think through a situation in real time. You might write your values and mission statement on a card and post it near your desk, carry it in your wallet, or write it in your phone to remind you of what you’re all about

My horoscope for 11/10/2020


Hi Rebeca,

You’ve had more than your fair share of disappointments lately, so it wouldn’t be too surprising for you to be feeling down today. The appearance of the Justice card is a huge boost, though, because it’s a sign that everything is about to turn around. The Universe is about balance, so for every bad experience you have you can expect a good one eventually. The scale is about to tip in your favor.

Thankful, Grateful & Blessed!

8 Secrets To Understanding Life

By Aimee Hughes

et’s face it. Life can be downright confusing at times.

Luckily, the secrets to understanding life can be found through the wise lens of yoga, Buddhist philosophy, and other spiritual teachings.

Come from a place of innocence

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind, there are few.” – Suzuki Roshi

One of the secrets to understanding life is to accept that you won’t understand it, and to be open to everything, with a “beginner’s mind”. The beginner’s mind holds no expectations. Having no expectations and a certain childlike innocence opens you up to all possibilities, rather than living from a place of limitation or a “know-it-all” attitude.

Accepting life’s mysteries is one of the best things you can do to let go and surrender to the divine play of it all. There’s true freedom in “not knowing.” Coming into each situation from a place of pure innocence can help you see things as they really are, without playing your old “story” around it. Life will certainly unfold more gracefully in front of you if you approach it with the Buddhist “beginner’s mind”.

Surrender and let go of control

One of the great secrets to understanding life is to let go of trying to control outcomes. The truth is, we don’t really know how things are going to turn out. And sometimes, the outcome is much, much different than we’d hoped or expected it to be. Sometimes we’re pleased. Other times, we’re disappointed. Let go of controlling outcomes and being attached to them to feel how free life can truly feel.

Everything changes

Nothing stays the same. The only constant that there ever is, is change. We spend much of our time wanting things to stay the same, and then, when they change, we suffer. The uncertainty of life is very real, and that uncertainty scares us. But, if we can accept the uncertainty, and live in the present moment, we’re going to understand and experience life from a place of greater well-being.

Creation, Sustenance, Destruction

One of the great teachings of yoga is the rise and fall of everything in existence. The cycle that is forever happening in our lives is this constant flow of creation and destruction. This cycle is integral to life.

Everything is impermanent, everything. It’s all transient: our feelings, emotions, and life circumstances. It all comes and goes. For transformation to happen, things must die. We so often get far too attached to the sustaining of things, and it’s not healthy. Holding on to “what once was”, only leads to anguish. We have to roll with change because change is coming. Especially if you are walking the spiritual path. If you watch the natural cycles of nature, you’ll see the cycle playing itself out with each season’s change.

Let attachments to possessions go

Getting attached, especially to material things is a recipe for disaster because there’s always the chance that those material things will be taken away from you. And then what?

Life is full of surprises. Natural disasters occur and people lose everything. Banks fail and currencies inflate to the nth degree. Your favorite blouse in the entire world gets shredded in a heavy duty laundromat dryer. You lose the $100 bill you hid away somewhere, and so on and so forth. The less attached you are to material things, the happier you’ll be in the long run.

Cultivate presence and focused attention

Here’s a little secret: your most valuable innermost resource is your attention. You can cultivate a presence of mind that helps you appreciate and truly enjoy the present moment. And here’s another little secret: the present moment is all there is. So, taking the time to practice meditation techniques that help you cultivate attention and presence is essential to understanding the secrets of life.

Any and every style of meditation helps you do this. Some of my favorites are mindfulness, mantra meditation, and moving meditations like yoga.

Be grateful

When you’re grateful for the things you have and the relationships in your life, you become far more content than you’d otherwise be. Gratitude is a like a happy pill, and if you spend time considering what you’re grateful for, and then giving thanks for those things each day, you’ll flow with life more gracefully and with ease.

Keep a light heart

In other words, there’s no need to take life too seriously. Look at the Dalai Lama. He may have a million things on his plate, but he’s always smiling, chuckling, and making jokes. Learn to laugh at yourself and know that sometimes life is downright funny. Don’t take it (or yourself) too seriously.