Category: Uncategorized

Chinese Zodiac: Real Facts about the 12 Animal Signs

CHINESEHOROSCOPES_480_01

For ages, the Chinese Zodiac has been used as a guide to forecast how one will fare for the day, week, month, or year. Based only on a person’s birthdate, Chinese Zodiac Signs can tell a lot—from dominant personality traits and tendencies to specific attitudes that help in making a forecast of that person’s future. The 12 Signs of the Zodiac are each represented by a specific animal and correspond to a lunar year in the Chinese calendar. Each animal sign also falls under one of five elements: earth, water, fire, wood, and metal.

Below is a Brief description of each Animal Sign in the Chinese Horoscopes and the Best Matches for Each.

The Rat

Known as the charmer, the Rat is sure to be welcomed by any crowd. Insecurity can affect Rats’ actions and decisions, but is firm when it comes to family and is a stickler for detail. Best matches are Ox, Dragon, and Monkey. The Rat is also a match to Dog, Goat, Snake, Pig, Tiger, and another Rat.

The Ox

The Ox or Buffalo is known to be a stubborn but scrupulous beast. Patient and very meticulous, they are self-reliant and find it difficult to ask for and receive assistance. Best matches are Rat, Rooster, Pig, and Snake. The Ox is also a match to Tiger, Monkey, Dragon, Rabbit, and another Ox.

The Tiger

Confident and with a zest for life, the Tiger is an adventure-seeker. Tigers are good at seeing problems and are, therefore, mostly successful with their chosen career. Best matches are Pig, Dog, Rabbit, Horse, and Rooster. The Tiger is also a match to Goat, Rat, Ox, Dragon, Snake, and another Tiger.

The Rabbit

Sensitive and very creative, Rabbits have a natural fondness for all things beautiful. They have a tendency to shut out the harsh realities of the world due to an aversion to suffering. Best matches are Dog, Pig, Tiger, and Goat. The Rabbit is also a match to Snake, Monkey, Ox, Dragon, Horse, and another Rabbit.

The Dragon

A testament to their strong personality, Dragons are known to be brutally honest, even if inappropriate at times. They also value freedom and are averse to any form of routine. Best matches are Rooster, Monkey, Rat, Goat, and Snake. The Dragon is also a match to Tiger, Pig, Ox, Rabbit, Horse, and another Dragon.

The Snake

Snakes have a tendency to make decisions based solely on intuition, and as such, are known as great thinkers and philosophers. They value their own counsel and, more often than not, shun unsolicited advice, even from close friends and loved ones. Best matches are Monkey, Rooster, Ox, and Dragon. The Snake is also a match to Rabbit, Horse, Tiger, Goat, Dog, Rat, and another Snake.

The Horse

Horses are industrious, independent people who are well-liked by most due to their ability to both work and play hard. They are generally laid-back and easy-going but direct and straightforward when need be. Best matches are Goat, Dog, and Tiger. The Horse is also a match to Dragon, Monkey, Rooster, Pig, Rabbit, Snake, and another Horse.

The Sheep

Gentleness and compassion are the main characteristics for which Sheep are known. Known to the Chinese as the harbingers of peace, their main goal is to maintain harmony and resolve conflict. Best matches are Horse, Rabbit, Pig, and Dragon. The Sheep is also a match to Monkey, Snake, Rooster, Rat, Dog, Tiger, and another Sheep.

The Monkey

Naturally mischievous and with little respect for authority, Monkeys often find themselves in unpleasant situations. They are, however, charming and blessed with great intelligence, giving them the ability to solve complex problems. Best matches are Snake, Rat, and Dragon. The Monkey is also a match to Horse, Goat, Ox, Pig, Rooster, Rabbit, Dog, and another Monkey.

The Rooster

Hardworking and very organised, Roosters are considered an asset in business. Although headstrong and a bit arrogant, they are, by nature, conservative and old-fashioned. Best matches are Dragon, Ox, Tiger, Pig, and Snake. The Rooster is also a match to Dog, Goat, Monkey, Horse, and another Rooster.

The Dog

Idealists by heart, Dogs are loyal, caring creatures. They are often seen promoting social reform due to their sense of fairness and equality. Best matches are Rabbit, Tiger, Horse, and Pig. The Dog is also a match to Rat, Snake, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, and another Dog.

The Pig

Although strong and straightforward, Pigs are known peace-lovers, enjoying the quiet life. Despite its unpleasant reputation in the West, the Pig is highly regarded by the Chinese. Best matches are Tiger, Rabbit, Rooster, Goat, Ox, and Dog. The Dog is also a match to Monkey, Dragon, Rat, Horse, and another Pig.

The Truth About The Left Brain / Right Brain Relationship

istock-28802748-man-hair-eyes_custom-c19469831d8871551e204bb8773496fdd7a4c341-s800-c85

Sometimes ideas that originate in science seep out into the broader culture and take on a life of their own. It’s still common to hear people referred to as “anal,” a Freudian idea that no longer has much currency in contemporary psychology. Ideas like black holes and quantum leaps play a metaphorical role that’s only loosely tethered to their original scientific meanings.

What about the idea that some people are more right-brained and others more left-brained? Or that there’s a distinctive analytic and verbal style of thinking associated with the left hemisphere of the brain, and a more holistic, creative style associated with the right? Are these scientific facts or cultural fictions?

An infographic reproduced just last month at Lifehack.org, for example, promises to explain “why you act the way you do” by revealing “which side of your brain you tend to use more.” An article at Oprah.com explains “how to tap into right-brain thinking.” And decades of research using behavioral and neuro-scientific techniques do reveal fascinating and systematic differences across brain regions.

On the other hand, some recent headlines challenge the left brain / right brain dichotomy. One highly publicized paper, summarized at The Guardian, failed to find evidence that individuals tend to have stronger left- or right-sided brain networks. A new book by Stephen M. Kosslyn and G. Wayne Miller argues that the left / right brain divide is largely bogus, and should instead be replaced by a top brain / bottom brain distinction.

So while there’s something deeply compelling about the clear-cut, right-brain versus left-brain classification (or is that just my left hemisphere speaking?), we have good reasons for skepticism. The real story, as you might expect, is a bit more complicated — but arguably more interesting — than the infographics and popular headlines seem to suggest.

To get a clearer picture of what we do and don’t know about hemispheric brain differences in humans, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to interview a leading cognitive neuroscientist, Kara D. Federmeier, whose research focuses on language, memory and hemispheric asymmetries throughout the lifespan. Dr. Federmeier is a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she’s also affiliated with the Neurosciences Program and The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. (And, full disclosure, she was also one of my first scientific mentors and co-authors.)

One idea that’s often heard in popular discussions of psychology is that the left brain is the seat of language and more “logical,” while the right brain is more creative. Is there any truth to this idea?

One problem with answering this question is that we would first have to agree on what “logical” and “creative” even mean. So let’s consider a (relatively) more well-defined case: math skills, which are often taken to be part of what the “logical” left hemisphere would be good at.

There are different kinds of math skills, ranging from being able to estimate which of two sets of things has a greater number of items, to counting, to various types of calculations. Research shows that, overall, the abilities that make up math skills arise from processing that takes place in BOTH hemispheres (especially the brain area in each hemisphere that is known as the intraparietal sulcus) and that damage to either hemisphere can cause difficulties with math. A left hemisphere advantage for math is mostly seen for tasks like counting and reciting multiplication tables, which rely heavily on memorized verbal information (thus, not exactly what we think of as “logical”!). And there are right hemisphere advantages on some math-related tasks as well, especially estimating the quantity of a set of objects. This kind of pattern, in which both hemispheres of the brain make critical contributions, holds for most types of cognitive skills. It takes two hemispheres to be logical – or to be creative.

The claim that the left hemisphere is the seat of language, however, is a little different. That idea comes from observations that damage to the left hemisphere (for example, due to a stroke) is often associated with difficulties producing language, a problem known as aphasia. Similar damage to the right hemisphere is much less likely to cause aphasia. In fact, for most people, the left hemisphere does play a much more important role in the ability to speak than the right hemisphere does.

However, this does not mean that the right hemisphere is “nonverbal.” My laboratory studies the hemispheres’ ability to comprehend (rather than produce) language, and we, like others, have shown that both hemispheres can figure out the meaning of words and sentences – and that they have differing strengths and weaknesses when it comes to comprehending. So, like other complex skills, the ability to understand what we read or what someone is saying to us requires both hemispheres, working together and separately.

Early studies of hemispheric asymmetries often relied on “split-brain” patients who had the corpus callosum — the bundle of neural fibers that connects the two hemispheres — severed as a treatment for severe epilepsy. In such studies, information could be provided to a single hemisphere at a time by presenting people with input to one side of the visual field, since the right visual field is processed by the left hemisphere, and vice versa.

Your lab uses contemporary neuro-scientific techniques, such as measures of brain wave activity (EEG and ERP) to investigate hemispheric asymmetries, and typically does so in individuals with intact brains. How do you do so, and do your findings corroborate or challenge earlier inferences made from the behavior of split-brain patients?

We actually use the same basic technique, known as “visual half field presentation.”

As an aside, I should point out that many times people misunderstand and think that each EYE is connected to a different hemisphere. That’s not true. (It would make our studies so much easier if it were, since we could just ask people to close one eye!) Instead, half of the information coming into each eye goes to each of the hemispheres, with the result, as you point out, that if you are looking forward, things you see to the right of where you are looking are being picked up initially by your left hemisphere and things to the left by your right hemisphere.

To look at hemispheric differences, we ask our participants, who are usually either college students or retired adults, to look at the center of the screen. We then display words (or pictures, or other types of stimuli) fairly rapidly – so people can’t move their eyes fast enough to fixate them directly – to the left or the right side of a computer screen. By comparing how people respond (for example, whether they can accurately remember a word) when it was processed first by the left hemisphere versus by the right hemisphere, we can test ideas about what each hemisphere is capable of and whether one hemisphere has better, or different, abilities compared to the other.

Often, we also measure brain electrical activity in these experiments because that provides rich information about how processing is unfolding over time: we can track what happens as the eyes send information to visual processing areas in the brain, as people pay attention to a word, access its meaning from memory, and add this new information into their unfolding understanding of a sentence, and as people, in some cases, decide how to respond and then prepare to press a button to register their response. With electrophysiological measures we can thus find out not only THAT the two hemispheres do something different but WHEN and HOW.

In general, the kinds of hemispheric differences that were uncovered in split-brain patients have been replicated (and then extended) using these techniques in people with intact brains. This sometimes surprises people, including my fellow cognitive neuroscientists. The idea that the two hemispheres perceive things differently, attach different significance to things, obtain different meanings from stimuli, and, sometimes, make different decisions about what to do seems like it should be an exotic side effect of the split-brain condition. When the hemispheres are connected, don’t they just share all the information and operate in a unified fashion?

The answer is, no, they don’t.

They don’t, in part, because they can’t. Processing within each hemisphere relies on a rich, dense network of connections. The corpus callosum that connects the hemispheres is big for a fiber tract, but it is tiny compared to the network of connections within each hemisphere. Physically, then, it doesn’t seem feasible for the hemispheres to fully share information or to operate in a fully unified fashion. Moreover, in a lot of cases, keeping things separate is (literally!) the smarter way for the hemispheres to function. Dividing up tasks and allowing the hemispheres to work semi-independently and take different approaches to the same problem seems to be a good strategy for the brain … just as it often is in a partnerships between people.

It makes sense to have specialized brain regions, just as it makes sense to have divisions of labor in other areas of life. But why have specialized hemispheres? In other words, do you think there’s something general that can be said about the sorts of processing that occur in the left hemisphere versus the right hemisphere, or is each simply a constellation of somewhat distinct, specialized regions?

Specifically how and why the hemispheres differ remains a mystery. They are actually remarkably similar physically, and this is one reason I think that studying hemispheric differences is critical for the field.

Over the past decade or so, a lot of effort has been put into “mapping” the human brain – that is, linking areas that differ anatomically (have different inputs, outputs, types or arrangements of neurons, and/or neuropharmacology) to different functions. From this, we hope we can learn something about how and why these anatomical differences matter. However, in doing this, the field has also uncovered a lot of hemispheric asymmetries – cases in which, for example, a left hemisphere brain area becomes active and its right hemisphere homologue (with the SAME basic inputs, outputs, etc.) is much less active (or vice versa). This should really surprise us: here are two brain areas that are essentially the same on all the dimensions the field is used to thinking about, yet they behave strikingly differently. There must be physical differences between them, of course – but then, this means that those “subtle” differences are much more critical for function than the field has appreciated.

My own view is that studies of hemispheric differences will help to move the field away from thinking in terms of mapping functions onto localized brain areas. I believe that cognitive functions arise from dynamically configured neural networks. On this view, the role played by any given brain area is different depending on the state of the network of which it is currently a part, and how activity unfolds over time often matters more than where it is in the brain.

Why do the hemispheres differ? I think it is because even small differences in something like the strength with which areas are connected can lead to very different dynamic patterns of activation over time – and thus different functions. For language comprehension in particular, my work has shown that left hemisphere processing is more influenced by what are sometimes called “top-down” connections, which means that the left hemisphere is more likely to predict what word might be coming up next and to have its processing affected by that prediction. The right hemisphere, instead, shows more “feedforward” processing: it is less influenced by predictions (which can make its processing less efficient) but then more able to later remember details about the words it encountered. Because of what is likely a difference (possibly small) in the efficacy of particular connections within each hemisphere, the same brain areas in the two interact differently, and this leads to measurable and important asymmetries in how words are perceived, linked to meaning, remembered, and responded to.

This is unlikely to be the only difference between the hemispheres, of course. But I think the answer to your question is that what we see across the pattern of asymmetries is neither a random collection of unrelated differences nor divisions based on one or even a small set of functional principles (e.g., the left hemisphere is “local” and the right hemisphere is “global” … another popular one). Rather, some of the underlying biology is skewed, and this has far reaching consequences for the kinds of patterns that can be set up over time in the two hemispheres, leading to sets of functional differences that we can hopefully eventually link systematically to these underlying biological causes, and thereby deepen our understanding of how the brain works.

What’s surprised you most about the hemispheric asymmetries you’ve found (or failed to find!) in your own research?

One of my favorite findings came from an experiment in which we used adjectives to change the meaning of the same noun. For example, the word “book” in “green book” refers to something concrete – that is, something for which it is easy to create a mental image. However, given “interesting book” people now usually think about the content of the book rather than its physical form, so the same word has become more “abstract” in meaning.

A lot of research shows that concrete and abstract words are processed differently in the brain. We wanted to see if those differences could be found for exactly the same word depending on what it was referring to, and whether the two hemispheres were similarly affected by concreteness. We found in this experiment, as we had previously in many others, that the left hemisphere is very sensitive to the predictability of word combinations. Fewer nouns can go with “green” than with “interesting,” and brain activity elicited in response to “book” reflected this when the words were presented initially to the left hemisphere.

However, to our surprise, it was the right hemisphere that elicited imagery-related brain activity to “green book” compared to “interesting book.” Thus, although the left hemisphere is clearly important for language processing, the right hemisphere may play a special role in creating the rich sensory experience that often accompanies language comprehension … and that makes reading such a pleasure.

Another popular idea is that some people are more “left brained” and others more “right brained.” Is there any evidence for individual differences in the extent to which people rely on one hemisphere versus another? More generally, what kinds of individual differences do you see in hemispheric specialization?

There are certainly individual differences in hemispheric specialization across people, but they are very difficult to reliably determine. Where this matters most is in medical contexts: when people are going to have brain surgery (e.g., for epilepsy or tumor resection), physicians would like to make sure that in removing certain brain tissue they are not going to disrupt critical functions like language.

As I mentioned already, most of the time the left hemisphere is more important for speaking, for example, but that isn’t true in absolutely everyone. In order to determine if a person’s left or right hemisphere is more important for their language production, physicians use things like the WADA test, in which a barbiturate is injected into one hemisphere to temporarily shut it down, allowing the physician to see what each hemisphere can do on its own. This is obviously a very invasive test (and not perfect at that). If it were possible to instead figure out whether someone relied more on their left or right hemisphere by having them look at a spinning figure or answer a few questions, that would obviously be preferable … but it doesn’t work.

There are, of course, differences in how people learn and think, what they like, and what they are like (although, since everyone’s brain is different, I think the similarities are actually more surprising than the differences). Some of these differences may arise because of individual differences in how the hemispheres are organized or which hemisphere tends to be used in particular circumstances. Given that the hemispheres do operate somewhat independently, the question of how their independent processing is eventually combined and/or which hemisphere gets to “take control” of processing for a particular task is one that we are only beginning to understand. (In some cases, split-brain patients’ hands – one controlled by each hemisphere – literally fought for control of a particular task; it is intriguing to imagine that kind of struggle routinely taking place internally for everyone else!)

However, it seems safe to say that for the most part we all use both sides of our brains almost all the time. We do know a few factors that influence how functions are lateralized and how much they are lateralized. For example, having a “reversed” laterality (with, for example, control of speech in the right rather than the left hemisphere) is more likely for left-handed than right-handed people (although it is important not to overgeneralize from this: the vast majority of left-handed people have the typical lateralization pattern). Moreover, differences have been seen among right-handed people depending on whether or not they have left-handed biological relatives; this is something my lab is beginning to explore. Again, small biological shifts, caused in part by (complex) genetic differences, can lead to different functional patterns, including whether a function tends to be very lateralized or accomplished by both hemispheres.

I will end with one last fact about hemispheric differences that many people may not be aware of, and that is that lateralization of function changes with normal aging. The kinds of lateralized patterns of brain activity I mentioned earlier when talking about brain mapping studies are more common in young adults. Across many types of tasks and many brain areas, these lateralized patterns tend to switch to bilateral patterns in healthy older adults.

Is this because older adults have better learned how to be both logical AND creative? Maybe :-). It is actually difficult to know when this kind of a shift is helpful – for example, bringing extra processing resources to bear on a task to compensate for age-related declines in function – versus when it might be a sign that the brain is simply less good at maintaining a healthy division of labor. Understanding hemispheric specialization is thus also important for discovering ways to help us all maintain better cognitive functioning with age. This is something my laboratory actively investigates, aided by support from the National Institute of Aging as well as the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

Finally, can you recommend any accessible resources for readers who want to learn more about hemispheric asymmetries?

My own interest in hemispheric differences was sparked, in part, by books like Left Brain, Right Brain by Sally Springer and Georg Deutsch and Hemispheric Asymmetry: What’s Right and What’s Left by Joseph Hellige. These are accessible books written by scientists and well-grounded in the research – although both books are now more than a decade old, so don’t reflect current developments in the field. Unfortunately, I don’t know of more recent books that are comparably reliable and accessible.

Some readers may be interested to read journal articles on the topic. For example, I drew some of my information about math and the hemispheres from the article, “Arithmetic and the brain” by Stanislas Dehaene, Nicolas Molko, Laurent Cohen and Anna J Wilson in the journal Current Opinion in Neurobiology (2004; Volume 14, pages 218-224). For those interested in language, I (with coauthors Edward Wlotko and Aaron Meyer) have written a fairly accessible review called “What’s “right” in language comprehension: ERPs reveal right hemisphere language capabilities” published in Language and Linguistics Compass (2008;

Volume 2, pages 1-17).

Why Successful People Are Not Hippies When They Practice Meditation

The-Benefits-Of-Buddhist-Meditation

For many years, I believed that meditation was for hippies or people that practiced the Buddhist faith. I turned down multiple opportunities to understand just how powerful meditation was. It was only when apps such as “Calm” and “Headspace” came out that I truly understood the power of meditation.

For me, I chose to use the Calm app and have been a subscriber for a while now. Until I had someone guiding me, I never quite knew how to practice meditation even though I was able to read about it. The apps that taught meditation made it accessible to so many more people.

I then began to read blogs and listen to podcasts that all spoke so highly about meditation. It seemed that there wasn’t a lot of successful people who didn’t practice meditation. Then an even more bizarre thing happened to me; I added someone on LinkedIn who ran a business called “Mr. Meditate.”

He told me of his former job working closely with lawyers and how they were all suffering from the effects of anxiety and stress. He then asked me if I would give him a testimonial to talk about the benefits of meditation in my own life and to encourage large organisations to pay for staff meditation.

Before I knew it, I became a sort of pin-up boy for meditation, and I have now shared with lots of people why meditation is not for hippies, and how everyone should practice it.

Here are six benefits you will get from meditation:

 

1. You can deal with major fear

Fear can destroy our goals and hold us back from success. Whether it’s public speaking or flying on planes that have caused a degree of fear in me, I have always used meditation as a cure. Before you embark on a fearful task, you should try meditating beforehand.

What meditation does is calm your mind down and relax you. Meditation also teaches you how to breathe and just how powerful the breath can be. No matter how sick I feel, I know I can always calm myself down with long, slow, deep breaths.

Breathing is literally the antidote to so many challenges in life, and it’s the reason why when you are nervous, people tell you to breathe. It’s an age old saying that we all say to each other but meditation will help show you just why breathing is so important.

 

2. You can return to now

Mental disorders like depression and anxiety are caused by a mind that either lives too much in the future or too much in the past. One of meditations benefits is that it can bring your mind back to now. The healthiest place for your mind to think from is the here and now. When you return to now your mind begins to settle down and focus on what you can change in the present.

Thinking In The Present - Tim Denning Picture Quote
 

When we begin to be present and return to the present, we maximise our chances of getting our mind into a state of flow. From a state of flow, we can achieve almost anything that our mind can conceive. In a state of flow, we can achieve the impossible and challenge conventional thinking.

 

3. You’ll increase your energy levels

As I began to write this blog post I started to feel a bit sleepy. As someone who doesn’t like to waste time and wants to spend as many hours on my passion as possible, I pulled out the iPhone Calm app. With only ten minutes of meditation, my energy levels were restored. Without meditation, you may not have got to read this post.

Meditation is proven to give you a much better rest than sleep. The beauty of meditation is that you don’t need to do long sessions. 10-15 minutes can often be enough to completely rejuvenate you.

All you need to do is bring your mind back to the present for even a few moments, and the effect can be game changing. I love to add a cup of green tea at the end of my meditation to truly recharge my brain so try doing the same and see if it helps you too.

 

4. You can have a break from self-talk

Self-talk can drive your mind crazy and take away a lot of your energy and time. Often my own self-talk is spent acting out how I would say something to someone or responding to a negative situation. When I get stuck in these thought patterns, I find that time passes really quickly.

Meditation will allow you to take a break from all the mind chatter and live with a head full of nothing for a bit. A head full of nothing can then begin to pull new ideas in because there is room for them without the self-talk.

Too much self-talk will not allow your positive thoughts to grow properly over time which will, in turn, limit your likelihood of success. Use meditation to change this paradigm and you will see just how beneficial a clear mind can be.

 

5. You’ll gain more control

It’s so easy for your life to become out of control. Control comes when you begin to be conscious of everything that is going on in your world. Meditation helps highlight all of your thoughts and just how out of control they can be.

It’s hilarious to me sometimes when I try and meditate, and I can’t focus for a minute without thoughts forcing their way into my head. This is normal when meditating and some days you will be in control, and other days your thoughts will dictate the entire session.

The more you practice meditation, the more in control you become of your life.

 

6. You’re calmer

I often associate the feeling of being calm with being in a tranquil spot of nature such as The Great Barrier Reef. What meditation does so well is calm you right now in the moment and bring you into a non-reactive state of thinking.

Many of us live our life just reacting to everything that is thrown in front of us and by meditating we can change this reality. When the mind is calm, our thoughts become more pure, and we can soak our thinking with an influx of positivity.

Living in a calm state of mind is a way of life for me now. If you have never got to live in a calm state, then I empower you to make this a must in your life. Meditating will start the process of being more calm, but it’s up to you to carry the feeling on through the way you choose to live your life.

Everything you do each day is a choice. Success is about making smarter choices and meditation is one of those choices. Try it, embrace it, and enjoy what it feels like to calm your mind / life right down.

 

***My meditation tips***

  • Try to practice meditation every single day for no less than ten minutes. If you only do it once in a while, you won’t get the growth that regular meditation can give you.
  • Use an app to guide you through the process. Apps often have good instructions and relaxing background sounds that help deepen the meditation experience.
  • If you’re really hopeless at meditation, then try getting a coach or attending a meditation class. Sometimes it’s your environment that is stopping you from practicing meditation correctly.
  • Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Lying down while meditating can make you fall asleep and you won’t be truly present.
  • As suggested before, drink a nice warm cup of green tea (or any tea) straight after your meditation session.
  • If you fly a lot like me, use the time on the plane to meditate. For long flights, try a whole hour of meditation. A longer session is an entirely different experience.
  • Share the benefits of meditation with other people you know and get the word out there.

Have you tried meditation? How has it helped you? Let me know in the comments section below

Source: Addicted To Success

13 Facts About The Life Of Osho, The Indian Mystic. – Thousand Thoughts

Osho, the Indian mystic, spiritual guru or sex guru (for some) had an  immense impact on the culture and religion of India. Although,  originally from India, Osho faced various troubles and criticism in his  own country; on the other hand, he was highly respected and earned a  name as spiritual leader in western countries.

1. Osho, also known as Archarya Rajneesh, was born as Chandra Mohan Jain on 11 December 1931.
Came to be known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in 1960s and Osho during 1970-80s.

osho

2. His major talks and preaching include sexuality. He advocated an open, free and straight attitude towards sex.
For this he was criticized by the Indian press and had earned a sobriquet as ‘sex guru’.

bp.blogspot

3. Osho owned 98 Roll Royces, all of which were donated by his disciples.
When  people asked him why he didn’t donate them to the poor, he said, “Every  religion in the world is taking care of the poor, why can’t they just  let me take care of the rich?”

otoons

4. The book that Osho praised the most was ‘The Book Of Mirdad’, which only a few people around the globe read, and fewer liked.

blogger

5.  In his dissertation, he mostly spoke about his original analysis and  views on the writings of religious traditions, mystics and philosophers  from around the world.
Due to which, he soon started attracting westerners.

satrakshita

6. Not receiving immense fan following in India, Rajneesh relocated to the United States in 1981.
Where  his followers established an international community that later came to  be known as Rajneeshpuram near Antelope, Oregon, south of The Dalles.

wikimedia

7.  Rajneesh was the eldest of 11 children born to a cloth merchant in the  house of his maternal grandparents in Kuchwada, a small Indian village  in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh.

thefamouspeople

8.  Due to his parents’ busy schedule, Osho had to live with his maternal  grandparents and was majorly influenced by his grandmother.
But after his grandfather died, he went to Gadarwara to live with his parents.

asia-pictures

9. After some years, Osho became an anti-theist and was keenly interested in hypnosis, with which he was briefly associated.

lesvos

10. At the age of 21, his parents pressurized him to get married. On 21st March, 1953 he became spiritually enlightened under a tree in Bhanvartal Garden, Jabalpur.

hpage

11. Osho was harshly criticized by Indian religious leaders and the press for “making empty rituals and fake promises”.
On the other hand, he started getting a loyal fan following which  included wealthy merchants and businessmen from around the world.

theanarchia

12.  Osho’s secretary, Laxmi Thakarsi Kuruwa, who was the daughter of one of  his followers, a wealthy Jain who was Osho’s first disciple, was named  ‘Ma Yoga Laxmi’ by Osho.

satrakshita

13. Osho continued his teachings, and died on January 9, 1990 in Pune from a heart attack. (Some sources say, he was killed by the government of America.)

Source: The Article first appeared on topyaps.

9 Recent Findings From The Fascinating World Of Ants – Thousand Thoughts

We can’t get enough of ants, those “little things that run the world” as they were described by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson. Myrmecology (the study of ants) still entices many scientists because there is plenty more to reveal. Here are some of the most interesting things that we’ve learned lately about ants.

1-Formica_fusca-ant

An Inspiration To Professional Boxers

Sometimes, intense strife can disturb the extremely well-organized communities of ants. Entomologists at the University of Illinois and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences used high-speed cameras to record ant-to-ant fights in four species of trap-jaw ants.

Trap-jaw ants have powerful mandibles capable of snapping shut at over 40 meters (130 ft) per second. Their jaws are so powerful that the ants also use them to hurl themselves into the air to escape predators.

However, when trap-jaw ants fight among themselves, they prefer to leave their deadly jaws out of it. Instead, they face off ant to ant and strike at each other with their antennae, much like boxers throwing punches.

According to the footage, different species of ants can throw from 20 to 42 strikes per second at their opponents. The record was set by the Florida-dwelling competitor Odontomachus brunneus. According to the researchers, trap-jaw ants are the fastest boxers ever recorded.

Not So Hardworking After All

Although ants are often praised for their incessant labor, they really aren’t that different from the lazy grasshopper in Aesop’s fable.

Ant colonies thrive on an efficient division of labor. Members engage in activities that range from feeding the larvae to foraging for food to building underground edifices.

Then there are the slackers—inactive ants that specialize in doing nothing. Entomologists at the University of Arizona observed five ant colonies (250Temnothorax rugatulus ants) in their lab for two weeks.

The ants were marked with distinguishing paint spots and were constantly recorded. The results were surprising: Over 25 percent of the worker ants never actually worked, and more than 70 percent worked less than half the time. Around 3 percent bore all the burden.

But things might not be as straightforward as they seem. In fact, the idlers could be vital to the proper functioning of the colony. Maybe they perform a job that was not caught on camera.

It’s also possible that their tasks were less obvious, like storing food for the hungry workers in their own stomachs or passing on chemical messages. Perhaps it’s related to their ages—too young or too old to work. But the researchers have not dismissed the idea of ants just being selfish.

Neat And Tiny Indoor Toilets

Ants display interesting bathroom habits. A study of 21 lab-grown colonies of black garden ants by biologists at the University of Regensburg found that these creatures maintain at least one designated area for going to the bathroom, a smart decision in a crowded nest.

The insects were fed a sugar solution colored with food dye, which turned their feces blue or red so that the researchers could track the frass (waste). Soon, colored piles were visible in certain areas of their nests, especially in the corners.

On the other hand, dead ants, food scraps, and other debris were dumped outside the nest, which makes the scientists wonder why the ants keep the frass inside in special “rooms.”

There are some possible answers: The waste could have antimicrobial properties, be used to feed the babies, mark the ants’ territory, or double as a building material.

Taking On The Pesticide Market

The goal of meeting future global food demand in a more sustainable way has found an unlikely ally. According to a review published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, ants can be more effective than pesticides as well as safer and cheaper.

The review is based on recent studies of the use of weaver ants as a pest control method for different crops grown in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia. When ants were used as a pest deterrent, the yields of crops—from cashew to citrus to mango trees—were just as good as or even better than those sprayed with pesticides.

Investigations were focused mostly on weaver ants, which live in trees and are highly territorial. They control huge territories—from the top of the tree to the ground—and respond aggressively to any intruders.

That’s why they have been serving as agricultural pests for over a millennium. But other ant species can be just as effective.

Forever Young

Like a few other species, some ants appear to have found the fountain of youth. According to scientists, ants from the species Pheidole dentata are not affected by senescence (biological aging).

During their 140-day lives in the laboratory, these ants showed no signs of aging, such as more cell death in the brain or a decline in levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

Furthermore, the older ants were more dynamic and even improved some of their skills, such as being able to track scents longer than the youngsters. According to researchers, the ants’ effective social organization may play an important role in keeping them in shape.

But they are not immortal, which begs the question of how the ants die. As the study didn’t cover the final days of the ants, scientists assume that they fast-forward through some kind of aging process just before they die.

The Ant-Idote

Fire ants have a ferocious sting. As for crazy ants—the name says it all about their conduct. Both are widely known as invasive species and a threat to the environment.

When the two species cross paths, a relentless battle inevitably begins. But a study by researchers at the University of Texas has revealed that this ant rivalry is largely one-sided.

Although fire ants are equipped with extremely toxic poison, crazy ants carry the antidote. When they are splashed with the otherwise lethal toxin from fire ants, crazy ants discharge a drop of formic acid, their own chemical weapon. They apply the formic acid all over their bodies to neutralize the venom. Then they jump back into the fight.

This research explains how crazy ants (aka tawny crazy ants or raspberry crazy ants) managed to end the decades of dominance by fire ants in the southern US. As crazy ants seem determined to take over the area, the costs for the American economy—as well as the ecosystem—could be huge.

Diligent Sanitation Workers

Thanks to their enormous appetites, ants and other arthropods provide helpful sanitation services to New York City. As demonstrated by a study from North Carolina State University, these small creatures can devour tons of trash on the streets.

Researchers planted dishes of junk food all across Manhattan. Some boxes were designed in a manner that allowed only small insects to penetrate them. The team returned to check the dishes the next day.

Based on the amount of food consumed in 24 hours, they calculated that the pavement arthropods (insects that we see along the pavement and sidewalks) are able to eat up to 6 kilograms (14 lb) of waste per block each year.

This is extremely helpful when you consider that New York produces about 3 million tons of garbage every year. The ants’ impressive appetites also help cities to limit rat populations because ants and rats compete for food.

Career Moves

A team at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland has found that ants change careers just like honeybees do, fitting into a complex age-based hierarchy within the colony.

Every member in six colonies of carpenter ants was tagged with a unique symbol that was readable by a computer and tracked by a camera for 41 days. The study showed that the ants took riskier jobs as they aged.

After starting as nurses that took care of the queen and the babies, the ants became cleaners and eventually progressed to foragers. Except for the cleaners, the ants only interfered with other ants from the same professional group, probably for efficiency reasons.

There were exceptions to this age-based work progression. Some ants were more vocation driven, sticking with the same work for a lifetime or taking a high-profile job in their early days.

Using Self-Medication

Ants know when they are sick. They also know exactly what they need to get better, joining the list of animals that use plants to self-medicate in a process called zoopharmacognosy.

Researchers from the University of Helsinki found that ants infected with a life-threatening fungus opted for food laced with a substance that included hydrogen peroxide—which is otherwise poisonous to ants—to fight the disease.

Belonging to the Formica fusca species, all the observed ants had access to this medicine, but only the contaminated ones ate it to increase their chances of survival.

Also, they were careful not to overdose because this substance usually kills healthy ants. The medicine is also available in aphids or decaying dead ants.

Author: Camelia Sisea

Source: 

 

Trouble Relaxing in Shavasana? Here’s a Simple Practice that Can Help

What if you can’t relax—even after lying in the corpse posture for ten minutes? Unwinding is easier said than done—especially when you’re hyped up on coffee, negative emotions, hectic schedules, looming exams.

shavasana_760_427auto_int

Maybe you know this scenario: your body is settled in shavasana, but your mind is up and running—fighting traffic, or revising a fight you had with your husband (this time, you win). Vaguely, you visualize your breath sweeping from your head to your toes and up again, but mentally you’re miles away. At some point, you stop drifting and notice: your abdomen is locked, your hands are clenched in fists, and your shoulders are hiked up to your ears. What happened?

The problem is that you’re going through the motions with a hyperactive mind. As a result, you can’t give the relaxation process the attention it needs to work its magic. The key to success? Focus on the breath. According to the yogis, it’s the bridge between body and mind. Chances are, if you focus on breathing slower, deeper, and without pause, you’ll quiet your mental chatter and calm your nervous system. Then your mind and your muscles will surrender naturally.

The Practice

Start over: Lie on your back in shavasana (the corpse posture) with a cushion under your neck. Place one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest. Before you have a chance to think, tune into the movements of your body as you breathe. Notice the feeling of your breath emptying your lungs as you exhale, and filling them as you inhale.

Before you have a chance to think, tune into the movements of your body as you breathe.

Next, check to see if your chest is moving. If so, relax your rib cage and focus on breathing solely with your abdomen. Let the inhalation and exhalation be approximately equal in length.

Gradually deepen the breath and slow it down: On your next exhalation, gently engage your abdominal muscles and push a little extra air out of the lungs. Then, let your abdomen rise slightly higher as you inhale.

(It might be helpful to count your in and out breaths in even ratios—starting, perhaps, with 3:3, then moving up to 6:6—whatever is within your comfortable capacity.) Focus on this exercise for several minutes.

Then begin to weave the breaths together, reducing and smoothing out the pause between inhalation and exhalation. Imagine the movement of a car on a Ferris wheel, and apply its cycle to your breath. As you inhale, visualize the car ascending. It slows and levels off at the top of the ride, and merges smoothly into the descent as you exhale. At the bottom there is another leveling off, and the car rises again, smoothly, in the next ascent. Work with this practice for a few more minutes. As you settle into deeper breathing, your thoughts will begin to fall away as you embrace the present moment with a sense of comfort, peace, and ease.

When you are ready to come out of shavasana, bring your revitalized breath (and nervous system) with you. Roll onto your left side and stay there longer than usual (don’t pop up, give yourself a head rush, and run blindly to your next destination). Take several of the same slow, deep, unpaused breaths here. Then sit up slowly and prepare to greet the world.

 

Author: SHANNON SEXTON

Source: Yoga International

Story of a girl – “I Married a Stranger..” – Thousand Thoughts

I was on the bed, feeling terrified. I opened my diary and wrote, ‘I married a stranger’ and quickly hid it under the bed. My whole body was shaking.

Story of a girl - "I Married a Stranger.."

“What do I do?” I questioned myself.

“Do I act like a virgin?”

“But what if he finds out? Do I tell him to wait for it for a few days? But what if it makes him angry?”
The front door opened and my heart jumped in my neck. I was breathing heavily. The sound of his footsteps gave me goosebumps. I looked down and pretended to be calm. I saw him stopping at the door though I wasn’t looking at him.

“Ghauri”, he said with ever-so-calm voice. I dared not to look at him.

“Ghauri, I am going to sleep in another room”, he said.

‘If your husband doesn’t want to sleep with you, you have failed as a wife’, echoed my mother’s voice in my head. But I didn’t look up. I stayed quiet.

“Don’t you want to ask me why?”, he said, with little humor in his voice, clearly trying to cheer me up. I looked at him for just a few seconds and looked down again.

“You are my wife”, he said and paused, and then he continued, “not a prostitute.”

I really didn’t know what he meant as my mind wasn’t working well. ‘When you don’t know what to say to your husband, keep your mouth shut’ came back my father’s voice. I obeyed him as usual.

“If we sleep together when we really don’t know each other, what different you would be from a prostitute? We will sleep together someday, when both of us wants it, and that day, I’d be making love to my wife. I definitely won’t be having sex with a stranger.”

He turned off the light and just few seconds later, put it on and said funnily, “I am not a secret gay by the way. I promise you that.”

Despite how scared I was, I giggled. He smiled, turned off the light and went to another room. I was still giggling. As I slept on the bed without removing my make-up or anything, tears rolled down from the corner of my eyes.

People say it amazes them when we shed tears while we are happy. They say, it didn’t make sense, but to me, it made more sense. We felt something so strong that a part of us couldn’t stay inside us, that’s what I thought anyway. To me, shedding tears while being happy meant more.

I woke up and made myself ready to make breakfast. I went to the kitchen but he was there, cooking. I don’t know how horrified I looked because it made him really scared. He quickly ran to me and said, “Ghauri, are you fine?” and his voice was filled with worries.

“Why are you cooking?” I said with a low voice.
He seemed lost. And finally he realized what I meant. “Ghauri, look at me. I like cooking, okay? You can cook when you like and so will I.”

“Ghauri”, his voice was authoritative this time, “you are not my slave. You are my wife!”

‘If you let your husband step inside the kitchen, you fail as a wife.” mocked my mother’s voice as I came out of the kitchen.

I began to open up with him, little by little. I didn’t share any of my biggest secrets with him or talked about my ex boyfriends, but I started talking with him. Once, he asked me some important suggestions about his office and my jaw dropped.
But I quickly remembered, my dad doing the same with my mom.

My mom answered and my dad got so furious, he slapped her in front of me for the first time. He looked at me and said angrily, “When your husband ask you about his works, he isn’t really asking, so keep your mouth shut.”

But they have been wrong ever since I came here. I started suggesting and he listened. I used to shed lots of tears at home and I did the same here too, but the feelings of why it came, was different.
I felt confidence building inside me. I could have never imagined asking him about going with my friends for trekking but I did.

I looked at him and said, “Can I go with my friends for trekking? It is only for two nights. I won’t do anything stupid and will come back as soon as I can. Or you could call me if you want me here and I will come back here sooner.”

My mom asked about going out with her friends fo for some religious purpose and I still remember my dad’s expression. My husband made the same.
He looked at me disgusted. He was clearly angry. I felt naked in front of him for the first time but little did I know, he was going to teach me to not be shameful when I am naked.

“Ghauri”, he said frustrated, “how many times have I told you that you are my wife? Why are you taking my permission like that? Like you are a prisoner? In fact, why are you asking at all? Inform me and go. Don’t beg for it!”, he said and walked away angrily.

My parents gave birth to me and they raised me, but I was only starting to live. My husband was teaching me how to live.

I went behind him. He was looking down the balcony. I stood behind him and looked down as well.

“I am learning, please be patient with me”, I said looking down, probably opening that part of me for the first time, “My mother has given me thousand lists of what I can do to fail has a wife and my dad has given me thousand lists of when to shut up. So, I am learning”.

He laughed though I wasn’t joking. He said, “I apologize for laughing and for my earlier behavior. I will keep that in my mind, if you promise me to remember that you are not in your home anymore. Ghauri, let the past be in the past.”
He touched my back for just one second as a comfort but it was his first touch to me after I entered his house. It was, in all honesty, special. And the more he called my name, the more it sounded special.

I started calling my friends home for dinners. We sometimes drank the wine my husband brought for us. I was living. My parents’ greatest gift to me wasn’t giving birth to me, their greatest gift was marrying me off to a stranger.

One night, my husband and I were drinking. He asked me what I want to become.

I barely whispered, “I want to become a writer.”
The expression on his face was priceless, something I could never forget. I had never seen him so happier and I bet there were tears in his eyes. I would have never thought but he had always wanted to be a writer too.

“Got too busy. Will you do that for both of us?”, he asked me with smile filled with sadness and joy.
I could only manage a nod.

That night, I cried like never before. I covered my face with pillow tightly to protect the sound. I didn’t know why I was crying so hard but I wanted to scream. I saw a black shadow near my door. He was standing there, watching me.

I stood up and went to him and I kissed him. I hugged him and kissed him again. I dragged him in the bed.

“You sure it isn’t the wine doing?” he asked me.
I rolled my eyes and replied, “You sure you aren’t a secret gay?”

He laughed, “You are about to find out.” he said and pushed me on bed and kissed me while undressing me.

It was typical of me but I had to say it, I thought I owed it to him. I stopped him and said, “Before we start, I just want you to know. I am not a virgin.”
He waved his hand off and said, “I thought you were going to say that you have AIDS.”

I laughed and pulled him close and kissed him.
And we did it. I had sex with him after three and half months of our marriage. Let me scratch that, I made love to my husband after three and half months of our marriage and sure enough, he was straight.

I woke up the next day and looked at him sleeping peacefully beside me. I was sure of one thing like never before.

I took out my diary and turned to the page where I wrote with a blue ink ‘I married a stranger’. I picked the black pen and wrote, ‘and I fell in love with him’ because I really had fallen deeply in love with him. I smiled and decided to keep a promise I made to him. I was going to write, I was always sure of that but what I didn’t know was what I was going to write about. Now I did. I was going to write about us.

– Source: Being woman is “True Love..”

Meet The Stoner Chicks Who Showed Up And Smoked Out At The ‘Cannabis Cup’. – Thousand Thoughts

When it comes to getting blazed, nothing compares to the Cannabis Cup. It’s literally the Super Bowl of weed with only one big difference: Everyone leaves a winner!

High Times brings the culture to multiple cities every year, including Denver, Portland, Michigan and even Jamaica, all to find the best damn bud.

Of course, an event like this brings stoners out from all walks of life. You’ve got the hardcore potheads who weren’t doing sh*t anyway, the closet smoker dads still trying to be low key, the cannabis connoisseurs competing to win the cup and, of course, the lovely, yet ratchet, stoner chicks.

At this year’s Southern California Cannabis Cup, we saw all these motherf*ckers in one place and it was quite the scene.

But if you’re like me, you’re in it for the sexiest strains, so here’s the best of the stoner chicks who showed up and blew down!

The Cannabis Cup is the only time of year you’ll find like-minded individuals all in the same spot…

unspecified-15

Michael Paredes of Drastic


Because who likes smoking alone?

unspecified-2

Michael Paredes of Drastic


Only here will you find squads of ganja girls ready to assist you.

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


Even if you think you see a solo dolo stoner chick…

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


Chances are, she brought a friend!

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


Of course, no two stoner chicks are the same…

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


But some of them are truly on some other sh*t.

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


These pot princesses don’t really care what you think about them.

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


They’re going to smoke their weed and sip their drank, regardless!

unspecified-13

Michael Paredes of Drastic


Whether she’s ripping a bong…

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


Or taking a dab…

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


You’re realistically still not going to bag, my friend.

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


Because if you’re looking for love, you came to the wrong place.

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


But hey, if you’re into tatted chicks, this is paradise!

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


After all, this is the Cannabis Cup and it’s all about crowning whoever has the most magical strain.

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Michael Paredes of Drastic


And that person usually gets all the stoner girls to himself!

Michael Paredes of Drastic

Matrix Star Keanu Reeves’ Heart-Wrenching Note About Life Will Inspire You To Never Give Up! – Thousand Thoughts

 

With a brilliant career in Hollywood and three decades of awesomeness, Keanu Reeves life has time and again found a space in daily publications. However, he is one superstar who never blew his own trumpet. From his charitable nature to his personal life which has always seen a lot of downs than ups, Keanu Reeves has never opened up much about his personal life. Recently, a Facebook page posted an open letter which Keanu Reeves wrote and it is hauntingly beautiful!

From opening up about losing his baby to losing love of his life in a brutal car accident, read what Keanu Reeves has to say about his trials and tribulations and how he overcame it! Worth a read for sure. 🙂

“Most people know me, but don’t know my story. At the age of 3, I watched my father leave. I attended four different high schools and struggled with dyslexia, making my education more challenging than it is for most. At the age of 23, my closest friend River Phoenix died of a drug overdose. In 1998, I met Jennifer Syme. We fell instantly in love and by 1999, Jennifer was pregnant with our daughter. Sadly, after eight months, our child was born stillborn. We were devastated by her death and it eventually ended our relationship. 18 months later, Jennifer died in a car accident. Since then I avoid serious relationships and having kids. My younger sister had lukemia. Today she is cured, and I donated 70% of my gains from the movie Matrix to Hospitals that treat leukemia. I am one of the only Hollywood stars without a Mansion. I don’t have any bodyguards and do not wear fancy clothes. And even though I’m worth $100 million, I still ride the subway and I love it!

Keanu Reeves

Awakening Times

So in the end, I think we can all pretty well agree that even in the face of tragedy, a stellar person can thrive. No matter what’s going on in your life, you can overcome it! Life is worth living.”

 

Author: Isha Sharma

Source: IndiaTimes

This is How Far A $100 Bill Can Go. – Thousand Thoughts

SImple-Pickup-Gratitude-100-Bill

The guys at SimplePickup.com were refunded a lot of money by a charity after they fundraised a huge amount of cash for them.

Jhaj & Kong decided to go out and tip those who are roughing it out in their minimum wage day jobs and the look on the workers faces are priceless.

This video shows you how far a $100 bill can go for some people who are struggling to pay bills and rent and how grateful people can be when you extend a hand and help them out.

Great video Jhaj & Kong, what an awesome thing you are doing for people out there.

Keep it up guys!

 

Tipping Minimum Wage Workers $100

 

“We handed out more than $1,000 total, and surprisingly, we actually got more tips refused than were accepted during all of our excursions,” Jhaj said.

“For many fast food chains, it’s against policy to accept tips, and many of the workers were actually scared to take the money for fear of getting in trouble — misaligned incentives, if you ask me.”

 

Author: Joel Brown

Source: Addicted to Success.

This post originally appeared on addicted2success.com