‘It’s Exhausting’: The Hidden Struggle of Working Women with Autism


Autistic women can go for years without diagnosis, and struggle at work as a result. One company is determined to do something about it.

Rachael Lucas’s “long history of walking out of very good jobs” began in her 20s after she quit her postgraduate degree at the University of Ulster. Working in different fields as a horse trainer, a childcare specialist, teacher trainer, and an advertising salesperson respectively, she would quickly become overwhelmed by the social elements of her job.

“I was good at the job,” she says, “but after six months walked out because I just couldn’t cope with it.” She eventually turned to temping: “I became very good at going into a situation and doing three or four months of very intense work and then being able to take a breather.”

After two decades in work, Lucas was diagnosed with autism at the age of 44. She now recognizes that her previous inability to keep a job was down to autism burnout, a colloquial term that describes what happens when people on the autism spectrum become overwhelmed and exhausted by stress. Choosing to work so infrequently was, she says, “my own way of managing the autism.”

Auticon, a German-founded social enterprise, is looking to change this by going on a recruitment drive for autistic women. The modus operandi of this IT consultancy start-up, which now has offices across Germany as well as in Paris and London, is to directly recruit autistic tech workers and then place them within other companies while supporting them at work.

The company has over 100 employees, and according to Viola Sommer, director and head of operations at Auticon in the UK, four-fifths of them are autistic. With investment from Richard Branson and UK charity the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the five-year-old company is already turning profit as it tries to help more autistic people get the most out of their skills. That goes for women, too.

Autism affects about one per cent of the world’s population, and that figure includes women. But women with autism have historically been under-diagnosed. Currently, various studies put the sex ratio of men to women diagnosed with autism between 3–2:1. A lack of diagnosis can have a profound effect on autistic women’s mental health and stack the odds against them when it comes to employment; while those with diagnoses have better access to the support services that exist, there’s little out there for the undiagnosed to gain and maintain long-term employment.

“A lot of autistic women tell me they’re trying to get a diagnosis, but the GP or psychiatrist says they can’t be autistic because they are female,” explains Sommer. “If GPs and psychiatrists are thinking that, it could also happen in the workplace.”

 Autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen’s “extreme male brain” theory argues that male brains tend towards systemizing—recognizing and analyzing patterns and data—while female brains are better at empathizing. People with autism are said to possess “extreme male brains,” in that their systemizing skills are hyper-developed. But Baron-Cohen’s theory has been criticized by other scientists, not least because it feeds into “neurosexist” stereotypes about male and female brains.

“All the diagnostic criteria for high functioning autism is based on men,” Sommer says. “How are you going to fit a woman into that criteria? There’s a shocking amount of people out there who are struggling and they can’t get a diagnosis and can’t get support.”

The result of a woman with autism being told that they are neurotypical (a term used to denote those who are not on the autism spectrum) is troubling, because, as Sommer says, “Women tend to be better at what’s called ‘masking,’ acting like a non-autistic person.” And years spent meticulously observing then mimicking behaviours in order to fit in with neurotypical coworkers can have devastating psychological effects.

It’s exhausting for people [when] a huge chunk of your cognitive capacity is put towards acting ‘normal.’

“It’s exhausting for people [when] a huge chunk of your cognitive capacity is put towards acting ‘normal,'” Sommer explains. “But if everyone knows you’re autistic, you don’t have to worry about it, you can be yourself and focus on the actual work.”

Emily Swiatek, 30, spent ten years working with autistic people before she realized she was one. Before that, she did her best to pass as a neurotypical person: “Women who mask often appear to be coping very well for a very long time. That’s because they’ll be putting all their energy and effort into succeeding at work. But what won’t be seen is the mental health difficulties that it can lead to; an autistic woman can reach a crisis point and it’s a shock to her employers, because it’s out of the pattern of her having been quite successful and high achieving.”

Swiatek’s mental health suffered as a result of constantly masking in the face of overwhelming social stimuli. Like Lucas, she had to take intermittent stints of “three to four months off work.” Swiatek explains that masking perhaps comes easily to women because “there are gendered expectations placed on women from a young age, based on ideas around: be nice, be sociable, make people feel comfortable, make people feel at ease.”

 

Emily Swiatek: “An autistic woman can reach a crisis point and it’s a shock to her employers.” Photo courtesy of the National Autistic Society.

While these expectations offer women some tips on how to conform, they can also stop them from getting the most out of their passions, commonly known as “special interests” to those on the autism spectrum. “Autistic people can have extreme hobbies and interests that they enjoy spending their time doing and are very good at doing,” Sommer explains. “Parents and educators should facilitate and promote that and funnel it towards a productive career path. But sadly, perhaps if it’s not agreeing with the gender role of the person, parents tend to shut it down.”

The Rain Man myth that all autistic people have exceptional abilities is further damaging when held up against statistics showing how infrequently autistic people’s skills are utilized. In the UK, only 16 percent of those with autism are in full-time employment. “The quality of applications from women is extremely high, and they have amazing technical skills, but perhaps little social skills,” says Sommer. “They fail at the interview process because it’s all about selling yourself, but there’s a huge potential of actual talent that companies are missing out on.”

 If an autistic person’s work doesn’t tie in with their special interests, the result can be that person being inappropriately employed. “Many autistic people are unemployed, or employed much below their actual cognitive capacities,” she adds. “One of our expert coders was previously stacking shelves at a supermarket because that’s what he could cope with.”

Swiatek found that being a PA in marketing didn’t match with her interests, which include Arsenal Football Club players and their pet dogs. Neither did the office chatter expected of women: “Some of the conversations around TV and fashion and what other people are doing and wearing can be quite difficult to navigate. If you struggle to understand the conversational rules and boundaries, you won’t engage in those conversations.”

The isolation this causes might seem like a minor challenge, but it melds into a larger problem of how to deal with offices’ expectations of female workers. Some autistic women with a special interest in fashion or beauty may easily navigate office dress codes, but for others, “wearing something like tights or a tight blouse or high heels is going to be more challenging,” says Swiatek.

This can be down to a simple inability to pick up on the unwritten rules maintaining what is work-appropriate, or a more complex difficulty to cope with the sensory stimuli of tight-fitting clothing. “Lots of autistic women would not be able to keep up with extreme beauty standards because of sensory issues, such as extreme sensitivities to tactile stimuli,” Sommer explains. “Some people only feel comfortable wearing loose clothing, which is a challenge if you work in a corporate environment.”

It’s just one of the many complexities that women with autism must deal with in the workplace. For now, Auticon is focusing on getting more autistic people into jobs, but the eventual hope is that such an initiative will not need to exist at all. “There’s a lack of willingness to accept different minds and cognitive styles and our entire society is kind of built for extrovert people,” Sommers says. “Most of the autistic women I’ve met have incredible coping structures that they come up with them themselves, but we should work towards the point where that’s not necessary.”

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The Autistic, Bipolar Woman Behind a Renowned Database of Missing People


Meaghan Good says she finds it tough to do a “normal job,” but her unique skills make her perfectly suited to run The Charley Project, one of the largest and most detailed online databases of missing persons in the US.

There are about 100,000 active missing persons cases in the U.S. at any given time. With the exception of high-profile Natalee Holloway-esque cases— luridly tragic instances of kidnapping that capture national interest—most people who go missing do so without much more than a blurb in a local newspaper. Meaghan Good’s personal mission is to remind us that these people existed. She’s the founder and sole writer and researcher of The Charley Project, which has nearly 10,000 files and bills itself as “one of the largest and most detailed online databases of American missing persons cold cases.”

There is something specifically haunting about missing persons cases—a forced unfinishedness that cuts to the core of some of our worst fears. Good has spent her entire adult life so far working to bring closure to at least some of these stories. She first became interested in these cases at around age 12, when she stumbled across the site for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children while using school computers.

The amount of time Good has spent working on the database is now longer than the lifespan of most people’s office jobs. Good founded The Charley Project—named after Charley Ross, the victim of one of the first highly-publicized kidnappings in the US—in 2004 when she was just 19 years old, and has worked on it almost every day since. Now 31, she continues to work on the database described as a “publicity vehicle” for the missing, which continues to attract interest—especially from people fascinated by true crime (Good says 1,000 more people per day have started visiting the site over the past year).

“I got sucked into the stories and pictures and posters, and I was kind of obsessed after that,” Good says. “I was wondering about their lives and what had happened to them. I have high-functioning autism, although I didn’t know that at the time, and one of the features of autism is that you have a couple of really, really obsessive interests in some narrow, really defined topics. Autism is a pain in the neck, and I wish I didn’t have it, but I wouldn’t be able to run The Charley Project without it.”

Good also has bipolar disorder, which in combination with autism, makes it difficult for her to work a normal job. While she mentions on multiple occasions that she wishes she weren’t dealing with these mental health issues, she notes that they make her uniquely suited to bring commitment and empathy to the stories of missing people—and often serve as a connecting link to their cases. “There are so many people on my site who’ve got mental illnesses, and the kids on my site, the ones who disappear and they’re living in unfortunate situations, a lot of times mental illness in the family is to blame,” she says. Good tries to paint as full a picture as possible, writing journalistically with words that evoke a scene; details are included in such a way that lets visitors read between the lines. The resulting reports are often more detailed than those of government agencies.

One example is her report on Robin Lynn Vansickel, a 29-year-old woman who went missing in Anchorage, Alaska in 1988. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System’s sparse description lists her as “a dancer in Anchorage, Alaska. [Vansickel] was last seen sometime in 1988 (the date of her disappearance) is an approximation) and has never been heard from again.” Good’s report, in comparison, includes the name of the strip club Vansickel was said to have worked at, as well as the fact that she was caught up in a drug bust shortly before her disappearance.

When you search the news for “The Charley Project,” you find local articles from places like WYFF Greenville and PennLive.com, where Good’s reports are cited to describe reopened cold cases. The database has even helped identify a couple of bodies who were previously John Does, like in the case of a man who disappeared in Texas in 2004. The man wasn’t taking his prescribed medication and abandoned his car on the interstate with the engine running and all the doors open. Two days later, he turned up two states away in Arizona, and died when he was run over by a truck. Because he had no ID, he was listed as a John Doe for the next 10 years.

“Somebody who was looking at the John Does in Arizona and missing persons on the Charley Project—an Irish woman, actually—she realized that this John Doe who disappeared in Arizona just two days after the guy in Texas was wearing the same crucifix necklace as the guy in Texas,” Good says. “So his family finally got him back, and it wasn’t a happy ending, but it was happier than it could have been. At least they learned he wasn’t murdered and didn’t suffer horribly. It was an ending, and any ending is better than nothing at all.”

Good gives no indications of tiring from the work she does with The Charley Project, and fears that even if she wanted to stop, few people would be able to devote the attention required to stay on top of the hundreds of new cases in her backlog. The site accepts donations, but Good isn’t paid to do the work that she does. “It doesn’t pay or really support itself. It’s what I do to justify my existence,” she said, explaining that by providing a way for her to use her talents to help people, the database gives her a sense of purpose.

“When you really think about it, imagine how unlikely it is that you exist on this planet,” she said. “I think you owe the world when you’re born to try to make the world a slightly better place than it was before you were born.”

Being Busy Is Killing Our Ability to Think Creatively


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The other day a friend mentioned that he’s looking forward to autonomous cars, as it will help lower the accident and fatality rates caused by distracted driving. True, was my initial reply, with a caveat: what we gain on the roads we lose in general attention. Having yet another place to be distracted does not add to our mental and social health.

Little good comes from being distracted yet we seem incapable of focusing our attention. Among many qualities that suffer, recent research shows creativity takes a hit when you’re constantly busy. Being able to switch between focus and daydreaming is an important skill that’s reduced by insufferable busyness. As Stanford’s Emma Seppälä writes: 

The idea is to balance linear thinking—which requires intense focus—with creative thinking, which is borne out of idleness. Switching between the two modes seems to be the optimal way to do good, inventive work.

She is not the first to point this out. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin made a similar plea in his 2014 book, The Organized Mind. Information overload keeps us mired in noise. In 2011, he writes, Americans consumed five times as much information as 25 years prior; outside of work we process roughly 100,000 words every day. 

This saps us of not only willpower (of which we have a limited store) but creativity as well. He uses slightly different language than Seppälä—linear thinking is part of the central executive network, our brain’s ability to focus, while creative thinking is part of our brain’s default mode network. Levitin, himself a former music professional who engineered records by the Grateful Dead and Santana, writes: 

Artists recontextualize reality and offer visions that were previously invisible. Creativity engages the brain’s daydreaming mode directly and stimulates the free flow and association of ideas, forging links between concepts and neural modes that might not otherwise be made.

Engaging creatively requires hitting the reset button, which means carving space in your day for lying around, meditating, or staring off into nothing. This is impossible when every free moment—at work, in line, at a red light—you’re reaching for your phone. Your brain’s attentional system becomes accustomed to constant stimulation; you grow antsy and irritable when you don’t have that input. You’re addicted to busyness. 

And that’s dangerous for quality of life. As Seppälä points out many of the world’s greatest minds made important discoveries while not doing much at all. Nikola Tesla had an insight about rotating magnetic fields on a leisurely walk in Budapest; Albert Einstein liked to chill out and listen to Mozart on breaks from intense thinking sessions. 

Paying homage to boredom—a valuable tool in the age of overload—journalist Michael Harris writes in The End of Absencethat we start to value unimportant and fleeting sensations instead of what matters most. He prescribes less in the course of a normal day.

Perhaps we now need to engineer scarcity in our communications, in our interactions, and in the things we consume. Otherwise our lives become like a Morse code transmission that’s lacking breaks—a swarm of noise blanketing the valuable data beneath. 

How to disconnect in a time when connection is demanded by bosses, peers, and friends? Seppälä makes four suggestions:

1. Make a long walk—without your phone—a part of your daily routine
2. Get out of your comfort zone
3. Make more time for fun and games
4. Alternate between doing focused work and activities that are less intellectually demanding

That last one is also recommended by Cal Newport, author of Deep Work. Newport is not on any social media and only checks email once a day, perhaps, and even that time is strictly regimented. What seems to be lost in being “connected” is really irreplaceable time gained to focus on projects. Without that time, he says, you’re in danger of rewiring your neural patterns for distraction.

Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanentlyreduce your capacity to perform deep work. 

That’s not a good sign for those who wish to perform creatively, which in reality is all of us. Research shows that the fear of missing out (FOMO) increases anxiety and takes a toll on your health in the long run. Of all the things to suffer, creative thinking is one of our greatest losses. Regardless of your vocation a flexible mindset open to new ideas and approaches is invaluable. Losing it just to check on the latest tweet or post an irrelevant selfie is an avoidable but sadly sanctioned tragedy.

My Medical Choice


LOS ANGELES

MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.

Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.

Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.

On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.

But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.

My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.

Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.

Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.

I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.

It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.

I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.

For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.

I acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery. My own regimen will be posted in due course on the Web site of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. I hope that this will be helpful to other women.

Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.

I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.

Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.

10 Reasons Slowing Down Will Actually Speed up Your Life


10 Reasons Slowing Down Will Actually Speed up Your Life

“It can be said that whatever energies you experience, you will sooner or later also experience their opposites.” – Bruce Frantzis, The Great Stillness

10 Reasons Slowing Down Will Actually Speed up Your Life

SLOWING DOWN

My background in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) started with the introduction of yin and yang. I have to admit when I first studied it I thought I was wasting my time. I am now 18 plus years into the field of TCM and mind/body health and I realize I am just starting to scratch the surface of how important yin and yang are to my fundamental understanding of myself and wellness.

 When I was in the party phase of my life I would drink, stay up late, dance non-stop and play until the sun rose. Then I would recover which much to my dismay required an equal amount of time. It always happened the same way. I couldn’t change the cycle.

Fast forward a few years and I have kids and I still wanted to keep busy and be very active. I pushed my body to do what I wanted to do. And do you know my body pushed right back?

I didn’t acknowledge the yin needs of my body. So I ended up feeling burned out. I collapsed. And It took me months to recover.

I have learned through blood, sweat and many tears –and trying to find the loopholes in the forces of nature, the following wisdom:

1. You can’t argue with the natural rhythms of the universe.

What goes up must come down. Yin and yang are balanced energies. And the seed of one always exists and is growing into the other. Universal energies always come back into balance. Learning to work with them will get your needs met more beautifully than working against them.

“What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure? Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky. When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.” ~ Lao Tzu

2. When you work with yin and yang life unfolds amazingly well.

If you balance rest and activity, one feeds the other. I promise you from experience that if you rest deeply and indulgently there will be this moment where you just bounce up and yang energy takes over. Sometimes it’s as simple as a need to go to the restroom or get some water, other times it’s that you feel a need to create or buy groceries. Either way, Yin is not to be feared.

3. Yin time allows for growth.

My favorite example of this is the bean seed. You plant it in the ground and it rests there in complete darkness (the epitome of yin). I trust, based on the seed packet, that it will grow in 7-14 days because that’s what seeds do. They start in yin and grow into yang.

4. Yin time allows healing to take place.

If you have ever lifted weights you know that you tear the muscle first and then rest it to allow it to grow and adjust to the new expectations of strength. The same is true in all areas of our life.

5. Yin time can heal even the largest of traumas.

Jill Bolte Taylor was a 37-year-old neuroanatomist top in her field when she found herself in the middle of a major stroke. This is a very yang activity in the body. It took over seven years of extreme yin time and balanced yang time to recover from this trauma. Recover she did.

6. It is in the quiet stillness that we tap into a deeper wisdom.

A calm relaxed mind is a receptive mind, open to possibilities. I am not open to universal wisdom as I rush around buying groceries or picking the kids up from school. I am open when I am breathing deeply, centered and grounded in my being. Then and only then can my inspiration breathe itself into being.

7. Yin time evaporates fear.

In the quiet stillness of your restless life, you can find a place of deep trust and faith in life. You start to see patterns and appreciate the subtle beauty of how things are unfolding. Hindsight becomes foresight and your intuition can wake up and offer you wisdom.

8. Slowing down leads to fewer regrets.

Speed leads to unconsciousness and mistakes. Pace motivated by fear can lead to disaster. Slowing down, getting clear on what you want and where you will be focusing allows you to move forward consciously, deliberately and with purpose. And this is when dreams turn into actuality.

9. Balance leads to more oxygen leads to clarity

Nowhere is balance more important than with our breath. Lack of oxygen and shallow breathing leads to illness, brain fog, anxiety, fear, aggression, crappy sex, and more. Breathing a three part breath – activating our collarbone, rib cage and diaphragm requires a balance of our yin and yang in the body. Breathe in, deep pause and breathe out, pause and the cycle continues. With oxygen, life feels doable without the unbearable.

10. Yin time is appreciation, basking, and gratitude.

Every spiritual teacher, high-performance coach, counselor I have ever seen or read recommends firmly taking time each day to focus on what good is going on in your life; if Oprah, Hillary Clinton, and Tony Robbins have time for this exercise – I certainly can find the 3 minutes.

Yin adds value to life. And we can’t bargain with it.

Each day  I schedule in yin time. I start the morning with meditation or basking in the beauty of my life. After lunch, I have a brief period of rest. And after school, I have some quiet time where I contemplate how I’m going to move forward into the evening and the next day. What is interesting is that scheduling in these intentional yin times, no more than 15 minutes total, has opened up my yang capacity. These yin times consistently help me become more productive, appreciative, well rested, and deeply connected to my life.

Scientific Proof That Your Mind Can Heal Your Body


Scientific Proof That Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

“Fact 1: Your body can manufacture and administer the precise balance of neurochemicals that can reverse illness and cure disease. Your body possesses the innate capacity to heal itself.

Fact 2: Science has proven, beyond doubt, that the contents of our thoughts and emotions directly and immediately influence our biochemistry.

 Fact 3: You can consciously influence and direct the body’s output of health chemical information through meditation and visualization techniques.” ~ Kelly Howell

In this TED Talk, M.D. physician and Author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, dr. Lissa Rankin  shares not just scientific proof that your mind can heal your body and tips for using the power of your mind to optimize the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms, but also ways in which you can reduce the stress in your life, increase your happiness levels and craft a better and more beautiful life for yourself and those around you.

Enjoy 🙂

Scientific Proof That Your Mind Can Heal Your Body

Morning Meditation for Clarity and Positive Energy


Morning Meditation for Clarity and Positive Energy

“The more of me I be, the clearer I can see.” ~ Rachel Archelaus

CLARITY AND POSITIVE ENERGY

It’s so important to give ourselves some time in the morning to just be with ourselves and gain some clarity on how we want our day to look like. Because if we rush through things, chances are that things will feel out of control and that we will end up feeling anxious, fearful and stressed out.

If you want to start your day in a healthy and balanced way, use this beautiful morning meditation for clarity to reconnect with the peace, wisdom, and serenitythat is present within. Allow its soft yet powerful words to inspire and empower you to live each day in alignment with your purpose. And decide to start each day off right.

Before you begin, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for the next 20 minutes. Second, find a comfortable position to sit – it can be in a chair, crossed legged or on your knees, or lay down and when you’re ready to press play. Once the meditation session is over, you can share your experience with all of us by commenting below.

Enjoy 🙂

Morning Meditation for Clarity and Positive Energy

I have a question for you. When you wake up in the morning, do you rush through things by going straight to work, or do you have some time for yourself to nourishand give your mind, body, and soul the fuel they need to function properly? You can share your comment in the comment section below 🙂

Gratefulness: How to Live Each Day to the Fullest


Gratefulness: How to Live Each Day to the Fullest

“‎Today is a new day. It’s a day you have never seen before and will never see again. Seize the wonder and uniqueness of today! Recognize that throughout this beautiful day, you have an incredible amount of opportunities to move your life into the direction you want it to go.”

~ Steve Maraboli

How often do you stop to fully see and fully appreciate the beauty that surrounds you? How often do you stop to smell the roses and express your gratitude and appreciation for the beauty and the magic that is present all around you?

Watch this inspiring TED Talk to discover from Louie Schwartzberg how you can start expressing gratefulness, appreciate and live life to the fullest by simply appreciating and enjoying what each day has to offer.

By far one of the most beautiful and most profound videos I have ever watched. It will melt your heart 🙂

Enjoy!

Gratefulness: How to Live Each Day to the Fullest

 

37 Things Jalaluddin Rumi Can Teach You about Love


37 Things Jalaluddin Rumi Can Teach You about Love

There are so many wonderful things the great Sufi poet, Jalaluddin Rumi can teach you about Love. And when I say Love, I am referring to that pure, truthful and precious love we all seek for – Love that can be found at the core of each of every one of us – and Love that you will hopefully find more of after reading these beautiful Rumi quotes.

Enjoy 🙂

1. YOUR SOUL IS GOD’S LOVER.

“Soul, if you want to learn secrets, your heart must forget about shame and dignity. You are God’s lover, yet you worry what people are saying.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

2. LOVE IS THE BRIDGE BETWEEN YOU AND EVERYTHING.

“Love is the bridge between you and everything.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

3. WHAT YOU SEEK IS SEEKING YOU

“What you seek is seeking you.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

4. LOVERS DON’T FINALLY MEET SOMEWHERE. THEY’RE IN EACH OTHER ALL ALONG.

“If you find me not within you, you will never find me. For I have been with you, from the beginning of me.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

“A lover asked his beloved, Do you love yourself more than you love me? Beloved replied, I have died to myself and I live for you. I’ve disappeared from myself and my attributes, I am present only for you. I’ve forgotten all my learnings, but from knowing you I’ve become a scholar. I’ve lost all my strength, but from your power I am able. I love myself…I love you. I love you…I love myself.”

5. IT IS THE INNER BOND THAT DRAWS ONE PERSON TO ANOTHER, NOT WORDS.

“Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

6. GAMBLE EVERYTHING FOR LOVE.

“Gamble everything for love, if you are a true human being. If not, leave this gathering. Half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

7. LOVE CALLS – EVERYWHERE AND ALWAYS.

“Love calls – everywhere and always. We’re sky bound. Are you coming?” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

8. LOVE IS THE CURE.

“Love is the cure, for your pain will keep giving birth to more pain until your eyes constantly exhale love as effortlessly as your body yields its scent.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

9. LIFE WITHOUT LOVE IS DEATH.

“To live without you is to be robbed of love and what is life without it? To live without you is death to me, my love but some call it life.” ~Jalaluddin Rumi

10. TAKE SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T KEEP SCORE.

“Whenever we manage to love without expectations, calculations, negotiations, we are indeed in heaven.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

“Take someone who doesn’t keep score, who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing, who has not the slightest interest even in his own personality: he’s free.”

11. A THOUSAND HALF-LOVES MUST BE FORSAKEN TO TAKE ONE WHOLE HEART HOME.

“A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

12. ANYTHING YOU LOSE COMES ROUND IN ANOTHER FORM.

“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

13. YOUR TASK IS NOT TO SEEK FOR LOVE.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Jalaluddin Rumi

14. BE GRATEFUL FOR WHOEVER COMES YOUR WAY.

“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

15. PAIN CAN BECOME YOUR GREATEST ALLY.

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” ~Jalaluddin Rumi

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

16. LET GO OF THINKING.

“Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

17. THERE IS A SECRET MEDICINE GIVEN ONLY TO THOSE WHO HURT SO HARD THEY CAN’T HOPE.

“There is a secret medicine given only to those who hurt so hard they can’t hope. The hopers would feel slighted if they knew.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

18. GOODBYES ARE ONLY FOR THOSE WHO LOVE WITH THEIR EYES.

“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

19. REASON IS POWERLESS IN THE EXPRESSION OF LOVE.

“Reason is powerless in the expression of Love.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

20. LET THE BEAUTY OF WHAT YOU LOVE BE WHAT YOU DO.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

21. WHEREVER YOU ARE, AND WHATEVER YOU DO, BE IN LOVE.

“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

22. RAISE YOUR WORDS, NOT YOUR VOICE.

“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

23. THE WAY YOU MAKE LOVE IS THE WAY GOD WILL BE WITH YOU.

“Remember. The way you make love is the way God will be with you.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

24. LOVE IS OUR MOTHER.

“We are born of love; Love is our mother.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

25. THROUGH LOVE, ALL THAT IS BITTER WILL BE SWEET.

“Through Love, all that is bitter will be sweet, Through Love all that is copper will be gold, Through Love, all dregs will become wine, through Love all pain will turn to medicine. ” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

26. THE HEART KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES.

“I am neither of the East nor of the West, no boundaries exist within my breast.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

27. LOVE IS BEYOND WORDS.

“However much I might try to expound or explain Love, when I come to Love itself, I am ashamed of my explanations… Love alone can explain the mysteries of love and lovers..” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

28. PLANT THE LOVE OF THE HOLY ONES WITHIN YOUR SPIRIT.

“Plant the love of the holy ones within your spirit; don’t give your heart to anything, but the love of those whose hearts are glad.” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

29. LET LOVE BE YOUR COMPANION.

“I have no companion but Love, no beginning, no end, no dawn. The Soul calls from within me: ‘You, ignorant of the way of Love, set Me free.’” ~ Jalaluddin Rumi

30. CRAVE A LOVE SO DEEP THE OCEAN WOULD BE JEALOUS.

“I crave a love so deep the ocean would be jealous.”

31. DON’T PLANT ANYTHING BUT LOVE.

“With life as short as a half-taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.”

32. YOU ARE A LOVER OF YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE.

“You are a lover of your own experience … not of me … you turn to me to feel ur own emotion”

33. THE GIFTS OF LOVERS TO ONE ANOTHER TESTIFY TO INVISIBLE LOVE.

“The gifts of lovers to one another are, in respect to love, nothing but forms; yet, they testify to invisible love.”

34. ALL FEAR BECOME INSIGNIFICANT ONCE THE INTENTION OF LIFE BECOMES LOVE.

“All doubt, despair and fear become insignificant once the intention of life becomes love.”

35. IN THE HOUSE OF LOVERS, THE MUSIC NEVER STOPS.

“In the house of lovers, the music never stops, the walls are made of songs & the floor dances”

36. LOVE IS THE WHOLE THING. WE ARE ONLY PIECES

“I, you, he, she, we In the garden of mystic lovers, these are not true distinctions.”

37. SPEAK WITH THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE.

“Listen with ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love.”

Surprising ways to beat anxiety and become mentally strong – according to science


Don’t worry, research can help.

Do you have anxiety? Have you tried just about everything to get over it, but it just keeps coming back? Perhaps you thought you had got over it, only for the symptoms to return with a vengeance? Whatever your circumstances, science can help you to beat anxiety for good.

Anxiety can present as fear, restlessness, an inability to focus at work or school, finding it hard to fall or stay asleep at night, or getting easily irritated. In social situations, it can make it hard to talk to others; you might feel like you’re constantly being judged, or have symptoms such as stuttering, sweating, blushing or an upset stomach.

It can appear out of the blue as a panic attack, when sudden spikes of anxiety make you feel like you’re about to have a heart attack, go mad or lose control. Or it can be present all the time, as in generalised anxiety disorder, when diffuse and pervasive worry consumes you and you look to the future with dread.

Most people experience it at some point, but if anxiety starts interfering with your life, sleep, ability to form relationships, or productivity at work or school, you might have an anxiety disorder. Research shows that if it’s left untreated, anxiety can lead to depression, early death and suicide. And while it can indeed lead to such serious health consequences, the medication that is prescribed to treat anxiety doesn’t often work in the long-term. Symptoms often return and you’re back where you started.

How science can help

The way you cope or handle things in life has a direct impact on how much anxiety you experience – tweak the way you’re coping, therefore, and you can lower your anxiety levels. Here are some of the top coping skills that have emerged from our study at the University of Cambridge, which will be presented at the 30th European Congress of Neuropsychopharmacology in Paris, and other scientific research.

Do you feel like your life is out of control? Do you find it hard to make decisions – or get things started? Well, one way to overcome indecision or get going on that new project is to “do it badly”.

This may sound strange, but the writer and poet GK Chesterton said that: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” And he had a point. The reason this works so well is that it speeds up your decision-making process and catapults you straight into action. Otherwise, you could spend hours deciding how you should do something or what you should do, which can be very time-consuming and stressful.

People often want to do something “perfectly” or to wait for the “perfect time” before starting. But this can lead to procrastination, long delays or even prevent us from doing it at all. And that causes stress – and anxiety.

Instead, why not just start by “doing it badly” and without worrying about how it’s going to turn out. This will not only make it much easier to begin, but you’ll also find that you’re completing tasks much more quickly than before. More often than not, you’ll also discover that you’re not doing it that badly after all – even if you are, you can always fine tune it later.

Using “do it badly” as a motto gives you the courage to try new things, adds a little fun to everything, and stops you worrying too much about the outcome. It’s about doing it badly today and improving as you go. Ultimately, it’s about liberation.

Just jump right in … The National Guard via flickrCC BY

Forgive yourself and ‘wait to worry’

Are you particularly critical of yourself and the blunders you make? Well, imagine if you had a friend who constantly pointed out everything that was wrong with you and your life. You’d probably want to get rid of them right away.

But people with anxiety often do this to themselves so frequently that they don’t even realise it anymore. They’re just not kind to themselves.

So perhaps it’s time to change and start forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we make. If you feel like you’ve embarrassed yourself in a situation, don’t criticise yourself – simply realise that you have this impulse to blame yourself, then drop the negative thought and redirect your attention back to the task at hand or whatever you were doing.

Another effective strategy is to “wait to worry”. If something went wrong and you feel compelled to worry (because you think you screwed up), don’t do this immediately. Instead, postpone your worry – set aside 10 minutes each day during which you can worry about anything.

If you do this, you’ll find that you won’t perceive the situation which triggered the initial anxiety to be as bothersome or worrisome when you come back to it later. And our thoughts actually decay very quickly if we don’t feed them with energy.

Find purpose in life by helping others

It’s also worth considering how much of your day is spent with someone else in mind? If it’s very little or none at all, then you’re at a high risk of poor mental health. Regardless of how much we work or the amount of money we make, we can’t be truly happy until we know that someone else needs us and depends on our productivity or love.

This doesn’t mean that we need people’s praise, but doing something with someone else in mind takes the spotlight off of us (and our anxieties and worries) and places it onto others – and how we can make a difference to them.

Being connected to people has regularly been shown to be one of the most potent buffers against poor mental health. The neurologist Viktor Frankl wrote:

For people who think there’s nothing to live for, nothing more to expect from life … the question is getting these people to realise that life is still expecting something from them.

Knowing that someone else needs you makes it easier to endure the toughest times. You’ll know the “why” for your existence and will be able to bear almost any “how”.

So how can you make yourself important in someone else’s life? It could be as simple as taking care of a child or elderly parent, volunteering, or finishing work that might benefit future generations. Even if these people never realise what you’ve done for them, it doesn’t matter because you will know. And this will make you realise the uniqueness and importance of your life.

Source:http://theconversation.com

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