Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered

<b>Why Prayers Are Seldom Answered</b>
Your “prayers not answered” means your “expectations not fulfilled.” The TAO wisdom explains why: your attachments to careers, money, relationships, and success “make” but also “break” you by creating your flawed ego-self that demands your “expectations to be fulfilled.”

Friday, September 17, 2021

Spiritual Wellness to Live Longer

Spiritual Wellness

As opposed to materiality, spirituality is always invisible, immeasurable, but present and lasting. It is like the wind—it is invisible and yet palpable. It provides guidance, direction, and understanding to the mind. Spirituality takes the form of love, joy, and peace, and it is often expressed in human actions and behaviors. Materiality, on the other hand, is always visible, measurable, and transient. Humans need both spirituality and materiality: the former to understand the self, and the latter to understand the world and the universe around the self. Spirituality not only inspires the mind but also energizes the body—it is a body-mind-spirit connection necessary for the total wellness of an individual.

The pivotal role of spirituality

Your whole being is composed of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. Your body—the physical—is controlled by your mind—the  mental—which is supervised by your soul—the spiritual. Your spirituality oversees your whole being. Nothing transforms you as much as changing from a mundane to a spiritual attitude towards all your everyday problems.

Living in the physical world is challenging in itself. The challenges often turn themselves into toxins that infest the body as well as the mind. A mind is supposed to control the body, but an infested mind loses much of its control over the body, and thus letting the body do whatever it wants to do, and thus poisoning both the body and the mind. The role of the soul is to provide the mind with instructions and inspirations on how to take care of the body. But the toxins of the mind can also poison the soul, and thus not only stunting the growth of spirituality but also disconnecting the mind from its spiritual source.

There are often times when the mind is at a loss, confused, and helpless, and that is when the soul can be its inspiration and its awakening agent, provided the mind is willing to seek the help of the soul.

Letting go to attain wellness of the soul

Material attachment is a toxic thought that connects material things to the ego of an individual in the physical world. It is the reluctance of that individual to let go of material things that define who that individual thinks he or she is. Attachment to the ego-self and its related material things is the source of human woes, which impact the body and the mind, and ultimately contaminate the soul.

Bottom line: Let go of your ego-self (the gravitational center of attachment). At some point in your life, you have to let go of all your material things because they do not last, and neither do they define who you are. Letting go is the pathway to spiritual wellness.

In addition, emotional attachment is also a toxic thought that is a stumbling block to attaining spiritual wellness. For example, bitterness is a common and rampant toxic thought that batters the mind and bruises the soul. Bitterness cherishes anger, which often turns itself into rage, seeking revenge. Bitterness ultimately devastates the soul.

The bottom line: Do not justify your bitterness. The hurt never justifies the bitterness. Any desire for justice (making it personal) stains and blemishes the soul. Just let go of any attachment to bitterness.

”Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)

Envy is another attachment that tarnishes the soul. Envy is tantamount to rejecting your own blessings because you are counting the blessings of others rather than yours. Envy is about comparing yourself with others. In life, it is important to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you believe in your Creator? One of the obstacles to believing in yourself is comparing yourself with others. You are who you are; don't try to be someone else that you are not. Envy leads to craving: "wanting more and more" (greed) or "wanting more for less" (taking unfair advantage of others).

The bottom line: Be grateful for what you have; rejoice with those who have more. Let go of attachment to envy.

Fear is a debilitating toxic thought for the toxic soul. This toxic thought is manifested in many forms, such as fear of an outcome (disappointment), fear of loss (refusal to let go), fear of the future (lack of self-belief, or faith in the Creator), and fear of rejection (non-acceptance by others).

Jesus said: "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:27)

"Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6)

The bottom line: Let go of "what-ifs" from your mind; nobody knows the future anyway.

Strengthening spirituality

Spirituality is the wisdom to believe—believe in doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. Many people are spiritual, even though they may not have a religion; they still believe that there is a Higher Being who is in control of the universe and what is happening around, such as the sun always comes out in the east. They are spiritual when they have a heart that feels for themselves as well as for others.

But how does one become more spiritual?

Your soul is your spirituality. Use your consciousness to strengthen your inherent spirituality: be aware of your body-mind-soul connection. Always seek spiritual wisdom.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

Simplify your life. Clear away all the physical clutters in your life as the first step towards freeing yourself from your material and mundane attachments. Material things do not define who you are. Once you have let go of the physical clutters in your living environment, you may then get to know more about yourself, especially your needs and values, instead of your desires and wants. Remember, needs and wants are not the same; your wants often create toxic desires and their accompanying toxic emotions, resulting in your attachments.

Learn to look within yourself for answers to your life problems: you will become more self-reliant and self-sufficient. Find your inner voice: what you love to do, and what touches your heart and your soul. Your inner self knows the truth when you hear it. Nobody knows you better than yourself—just as there is no better physician than yourself, who know what is best for your body. This intuitive wisdom is self-healing, which gives you a healthier body and mind to nourish your soul. Consciously improve your everyday attitudes and feelings, not just about yourself, but also towards others around you. Each and every moment in your day-to-day interactions with people may provide an opportunity for you to become more spiritual, if you consciously avail yourself of that opportunity to see miracles in your life. Using Mother Teresa’s example, begin by conveying warmth to someone who least expects it, and this generous gesture of compassion is a strong testament to your innate spirituality. It is your spiritual thinking that causes your personality and daily interactions with others to become an expression of your soul: your daily actions speak you mind. A healthy mind is full of spirituality.

Feed your mind with positive thoughts to avoid any distorted thinking that may disenfranchise your soul. Consistently replenish your soul with spiritual feelings, such as unconditional love, generosity, gratitude, and forgiveness, among others. Love melts your resistance to change for the better; without love, you simply continue to perpetuate that you resist, such as resisting to letting go. Generosity is freely giving your time and effort to others, as well as to yourself; it is paying others forward without any selfish interest or expectation. Gratitude will not make you compare your current state of health or wealth with that of others; gratitude is a great attitude in overcoming toxic thoughts of envy and greed that you may still attach to at the back of your mind. Forgiveness is a necessary requirement for health and healing of the mind and the soul; forgive yourself as well as others for all the mistakes done by you, or by others to you—mistakes are necessary for the learning process in life and the empowerment of the soul. Never look back in anger. Just let go of the past.

Spirituality, at a deeper level, means a desire to have a personal relationship with your Creator. Learn to pray. Prayers work by altering your brain chemistry. Like anti-depressant drugs, prayers can help you build up the feeling-good brain chemicals, such as serotonin. Prayers restore your hope, strength, and even health.

With the desire to believe, comes the awareness of your inner longings, as wells as your consciousness of an inner voice speaking to you—the growth and development of spirituality. Then, you must persist and persevere in your search and pursuit of spirituality, such as daily prayers and acts of right mindedness. Finally, further down the road, life crises and daily problems along your life journey may, surprisingly, further awaken you to your own innate spirituality.


Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Consciousness of Living


Consciousness of living

“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” Pope Paul VI 

To live well, you must always be conscious of your living.

Simplicity in Living

Consciousness of living a simple lifestyle is the key to happiness and longevity. In this day and age, living in this complex world of technology is not easy: The complexity of this world has taken a toll on the human mind, creating undue stress, as well as many emotional, mental, personal, and psychological attachments in the material world. For these reasons, profound human wisdom in living is essential to overcoming stress and letting go of all attachments. Simplicity is the first step towards detachment, which holds the key to unlocking the door to happiness. Live a simple lifestyle, deleting all the trimmings of life and living, as well as all the attachments that may have a negative impact on your mind.

Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, had this advice on how to lead a pleasant life: avoiding luxuries, and living simply. The explanation is that luxurious living may make you into a “needy” person whose happiness always depends on things that are impermanent and easily lost.

The late Robert Kennedy once said: “Sometimes I think that the only people in this country who worry more about money than the poor are the very wealthy. They worry about losing it, they worry about how it is invested, they worry about the effect it’s going to have. And as the zeroes increase, the dilemmas get bigger.” 

Can you live a simple lifestyle to help you let go of all the trimmings of life?

When you were in your younger days, you might have had many attachments to life that define who you were, such as the car you were driving, the designer dress you were wearing, or anything that defined your social status. Can you, at this point in your life, let go of all these attachments and just lead a simple life? 

Living in simplicity is living a humble life, which is emptying your toxic cravings and attachments.

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:3)

Attachments create your ego-self that not only separates you from others but also gives you your pride, instead of humility.

“Focusing on status gives us pride, and not humility.
Hoarding worldly riches deprives us of heavenly assets.

An empty mind with no craving and no expectation helps us let go of everything.
Being in the world and not of the world, we attain heavenly grace.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 2)

But with humility, we may see who we really are, not what we wish we were, and what we really need, not what we want. Humility is self-enlightening.

“Ever humble, we see the mysteries of all things created.
Ever proud, we see only the manifestations of all things created.

Only the mysteries, and not the manifestations,
show us the Way to true wisdom.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 1)

Live a simple life, especially as you continue to age, and you just don’t die!

Simplicity gives your clarity of thinking to see the wisdom of living in the present: the past was gone; the future is yet to come, and only the present is real—a gift from the Creator, and that is why it is called “present.”

"Simplicity is clarity.
It is a blessing to learn from those
with humble simplicity.

Those with an empty mind
will learn to find the Way.

The Way reveals the secrets of the universe:
the mysteries of the realm of creation;
the manifestations of all things created.
The essence of the Way is to show us
how to live in fullness and return to our origin."
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 65)

Clarity of thinking may let you have the true human wisdom to know your true nature, thereby ending your craving and hence your self-imposed suffering.

In the present moment, with clarity of mind, you may begin to see the ultimate truths of the self, others, as well as everything around you. More importantly, you may see your past follies in identifying yourself with your thoughts that have created your ego-self, your present futile efforts in striving to protect your ego-self, and your future futilities in expecting that your ego-self will all its attachments will continue to exist in the days to come.  

Living in the present is an awakening to the realities of all things. It may afford you an opportunity to look more objectively at any given situation, allowing your mind to think more clearly, to separate the truths from the self-deceptions that might have been created in your subconscious minds all along.

Focusing on the present moment liberates you from projecting your desires into the future as expectations that necessitate your over-doing to guarantee their fulfillment.

“Therefore, we focus on the present moment,
doing what needs to be done,
without straining and stressing.

To end our suffering,
we focus on the present moment,
instead of our expected result.
So, we follow the natural laws of things.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 63)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Brain Fitness to Live Longer


Brain Fitness

Exercise

Exercise boosts blood flow to your brain by promoting the development of more blood vessels and connections between brain cells. Exercise also increases the production of new brain cells for learning and remembering. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that exercise can double or even triple the number of new cells, compared with the number in animals that do not exercise. If you wish to maintain your learning and remembering skills, exercise your body.

Regular endurance exercise, such as running, swimming, or biking, can also foster new brain cell growth and preserve existing brain cells. Build your physical endurance.

Strength training, such as lifting weights or using a resistance band, not only builds muscle and strengthens bone; but also boosts brain power, improves mood, enhances concentration, and increases decision-making skills. Build your physical strength.

Your flexibility gradually declines with age. Better flexibility means more energy, improved posture, and reduced risk of injury from falls. Build your flexibility with Tai chi, yoga, and stretching exercise.

Body balance diminishes progressively as you get older. Balance training is not just about avoiding falls. Better balance will improve your overall movement and your ability to do things better throughout your life. Build your body balance by standing on one foot or walking backward.

Diet

Eating foods high in saturated fats, like red meat, butter and dairy products, are associated with the development of degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Fish is a great source of omega-3, the type of fatty acid your body cannot produce, and it is good for your brain. To get your omega-3, eat salmon, cod, haddock, tuna, halibut, and sardines. If you don’t like fish, then eat plenty of walnuts, flaxseeds, and soybeans instead.

Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, are loaded with nutrients good for the brain. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are packed with antioxidants that slow down aging in the brain.

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are also strong antioxidants that potentially improve blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation. Unsweetened cocoa powder is another excellent option. 

Many herbs and spices, such as turmeric, cinnamon and ginger, are packed with antioxidants that may decrease harmful inflammation in the brain. Use these  strong flavors in your cooking.

Whole grains, such as oats, barley, and quinoa, are rich in many of the B vitamins that work to reduce inflammation of the brain to prevent memory loss.

The protein and vitamins B, D and E in eggs and egg yolks may help improve memory. You can reap the benefits of these vitamins while keeping your cholesterol to a minimum by mixing whole eggs with egg whites to round out your omelet or scrambled eggs.

Music

According to some scientific research, music has the capacity and capability to change your neuron activity. Music therapists believe that the different sounds from different musical instruments have different impact on different body organs in the physical body. Scientists have used MP3 music and subliminal messages for practicing hypnosis to awaken the subconscious mind to improve memory, to enhance learning, to heal sleep problems, and to increase self-confidence, just to name a few possibilities. Music has to do with sound, which is one of the important sensory skills for maintaining good memory. In general, music listening and playing improves your concentration and brain power.

Brain reserve

Humans have “brain reserve,” which helps the human brain adapt and respond to changes and resist damage. Your brain reserve begins to develop in childhood and gets stronger as you move through adulthood. People who continue to learn, embrace new activities, and develop new skills and interests are building and improving their brain reserve. Therefore, it is important to keep on learning new things to preserve the brain reserve.

Learning

Get yourself educated. It can substantially increase your ability to fight off dementia. The same is true of working at a challenging job. So, go back to school, take classes, get a degree or an advanced degree. You are never too old to learn, and your brain will thank you in the long run.

Playing

Do crossword puzzles, play chess, mahjong, card games, or online games. These activities can stimulate the brain. Playing electronic “brain games” may help you improve your reaction time and problem-solving ability. It is important to find one that you will want to continue to play.

Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, professor of clinical psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, has recommended seven daily essential mental activities to optimize brain health and creativity.

Focusing on daily challenges helps your brain make some deep connections.
Playing creatively and joyfully helps your brain make new connections.
Connecting with nature and others daily helps your brain reinforce its relational circuitry.
Moving aerobically helps your brain strengthen its brain cells.
Reflecting internally, and focusing on sensations, feelings, thoughts, and images, help your brain integrate better.
Relaxing without any mental focus helps your brain recharge.
Sleeping restfully helps your brain consolidate and recover from the experiences of the day.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Saving Your Face


Saving Your Face


Unfortunately, the skin aging process cannot be reversed.
You can only fix your face through non-surgical procedures, such as BotoxÒ and RestylaneÒ, and other invasive surgical procedures, such as a face-lift.

BotoxÒ

BotoxÒ has been hailed as “the new fountain of youth” or the magic potion to aging.

Can BotoxÒ really save your face?

The pros of BotoxÒ are as follows:

BotoxÒ is a purified protein injected into your skin to make your muscles contract, and hence smoothing out your crows’-feet lines around your eyes.

BotoxÒ is minimally invasive, much better than invasive plastic surgery.

BotoxÒ is an instant fix: you can see the results almost immediately.

BotoxÒ gives a more natural look, except for the lines around the mouth. This is the reason why BotoxÒ is generally not applied on the smile folds because it weakens the muscle around the mouth, making your smile look “unnatural.”

BotoxÒ is a fairly safe and an ideal procedure because the botulimum (a toxic chemical) in BotoxÒ is extremely low, and there is little or no buildup of the toxin in your body (often eliminated within 24 to 48 hours—or at least according to BotoxÒ) to pose any major health risk.

BotoxÒ is relatively inexpensive, compared to other invasive procedures, such as a face-lift.

The cons of BotoxÒ are as follows:

BotoxÒ paralyzes your facial muscles, and therefore cannot fix your smile folds, making your smile seem “unnatural.”

BotoxÒ is still costly long term: the procedure has to be repeated every three to four months.

BotoxÒ is a drug with botulimum (a toxic chemical), and you may still have some concern about injecting it into your body.

Collagen injections

Besides BotoxÒ, there are other non-surgical procedures for consideration to save your face.

Collagen is a protein substance in the dermis layer of your skin, which is responsible for your skin’s elasticity. Collagen injections use bovine collagen, which is pure collagen obtainable from isolated cows, and which is clinically tested prior to injection.

Collagen injections have the following advantages:

Collagen injections make the lines on the face become less obvious and much smoother, but they do not make the lines disappear completely as BotoxÒ does.

Collagen injections are used mainly between the eyebrows and on smile folds, where BotoxÒ does not work effectively.

The disadvantages of collagen injections are as follows:

Collagen injections are not for everyone, especially if you are allergic to cows.

Collagen injections only soften your lines: they do not remove them completely. 

Fat injections

Fat injections are living grafts in which part of the fat from your own body, usually from the buttocks, stays and lives in a new environment.

Fat injections have the following advantages, compared to other non-surgical procedures:

They are more cost effective, compared to other non-surgical procedures.

The intervals between injections can be up to several months.

Fat injections may be the best option for deep smile folds, much more effective than collagen injections.

RestylaneÒ

RestylaneÒ is a clear gel injected into your skin to soften your facial contours, and to remove lines and wrinkles on your face. It is derived from a product as bio-compatible and bio-degradable as the natural hyaluronic acid, which is naturally found in your body. Hyaluronic acid, present mainly in your skin, is a substance that gives your body its structure and volume by attracting and holding on to the water in your skin. As such, it is most ideal for line and wrinkle filler.

RestylaneÒ has the following advantages over other similar products to remove wrinkles:

RestylaneÒ does not paralyze your facial muscles. It can be injected almost anywhere on your face.

RestylaneÒ eliminates any rejection risk by your body because it is naturally found in your own body.

RestylaneÒ lasts longer (up to a year) than collagen injections. It is, therefore, more cost effective in the long haul, although it costs 40 to 50 percent more than a collagen injection does.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, every year thousands of individuals opt for cosmetic procedures to save their faces, and of these individual in quest for a youthful look about 88 percent are women and 12 percent are men. However, cosmetic procedures only temporarily fix the problems of skin aging. Having a youthful look is more than just skin deep, and it never comes easy.

Just remember the following:

Your face is not you.

Your youthful look is only a part of you, and it is bound to change, no matter what. Learn how to delay, but also to accept, that inevitable change on your look.

Nobody’s face is perfect—let alone yours.

Do what you can, but do it!

Your over-concern for face image will level off at around fifties and sixties, when you would be more concerned with your health than with your youthfulness. This is the reality of life!

Make yourself look younger and healthier for longer.


Nora Wise
Copyright© by Nora Wise

Monday, September 13, 2021

TAO in Everything

 

The TAO is the profound wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China more than 2,600 years ago. as 

The TAO has thrived and survived thousands of years for a good reason: what was applicable in the past is still applicable in the present; what was true in the past is still true today. Another testament to this universal truth is that "Tao Te Ching"-- the only book written by Lao Tzu -- is one of the most translated books in world literature -- probably only after the Bible.

The TAO is easy to understand but most controversial. The explanation is that there is no absolute truth about human wisdom, which is all about self-intuition and self-enlightenment. That is to say, your mind is uniquely yours, and your thinking is your own thinking.


The TAO plays a pivotal role in every aspect of your life. With wisdom, you will see the TAO in everything, including the following:



The Face Aging Process


The Face Aging Process

 Face aging begins as early as in the twenties, 

The twenties

In your twenties, your fibroblasts (cells deep within the skin) are in optimum conditions, continuing to produce new collagens (proteins) and elastins (substances to give elasticity to the skin) to support your skin. Your sweat and oil glands keep your skin moist and lubricated. The blood in your tissues gives your skin a healthy glow. Even when you contract your facial muscles as you smile, the temporary folds vanish once you relax your facial muscles.

Your skin simply looks gorgeous and stunning! Continue to protect and maintain your skin before it is too late.

The late twenties

In your late twenties, superficial lines begin to appear on the forehead and at the corners of your eyes. Tiny blood vessels start to surface on your cheeks and your nose.

Your first wrinkles may appear around age 30—for some, even well before that.

The thirties

In your thirties, there is a slight drop in the renewal rate of your skin cells. The accumulation of dead skin cells makes your skin look less fresh and drier. You need to scrub your face more often to get rid of the dead skin cells.

Your fibroblasts become less active in producing collagens (proteins) to support your skin, which by now may look less resilient. Dynamic muscles due to muscle motion begin to form in the expression areas of your face. In your late thirties, the fat layer under the skin begins to thin out, creating slight hollows around your eyes, on your cheeks and your temples. Due to a lack of support of the skin, there is sagging around the eyes, on the cheeks, and along the jaw lines.

If you are a sun worshiper, you may have a crosshatched and cobble-stoned look on your face, folds at the corners of your lips, uneven skin texture, and pigmentation.

The forties

In your forties, the rate of skin aging accelerates due to the slower rate of skin cell renewal, the loss of fats, and the shrinkage of bones. In addition, gravity pulls your skin downward, lowering your eyebrows, and making the tip of your nose droop, too—thus changing the overall physical structure of your face. Such changes are gradual and almost unnoticeable to you, but maybe apparent to others. More obvious signs of aging continue to appear: bags under your lower eyelids; vertical lines between your eyebrows; and deep-set wrinkles on your forehead.

The damaging effects of photo aging from the sun have become more evident:

Formation of hyperkeratosis (raised spots of thicker skin)
Freckles becoming old spots
Skin texture turning tough and leathery
Formation of basal cells and even malignant melanoma cancer cells

The fifties

In your fifties, the physical structure of your face further diminishes due to continual loss of bone mass, elasticity, fat, moisture in your skin, as well as the gravitational pull.

Your face may assume a crinkled appearance: crosshatching on your cheeks; folds and wrinkles on your neck; deep-set lines around your mouth extending to your chin; vertical lines extending up from your lip line; drooping eyebrows and eyelids; and smaller as well as thinner lips.

The sixties

Your face may have become rectangular or trapezoid in shape.

Your cellular renewal rate has slowed down dramatically by as much as 50 percent, and your skin’s elasticity and volume reduce significantly, resulting in excess skin on your neck, your cheeks, and around your eyes and jaw lines. Now, you look undeniably old. The skin aging process will continue into your seventies, eighties, and nineties until the ultimate end.


Make yourself look younger and healthier for longer.


Nora Wise
Copyright© by Nora Wise