As part of our quest to help you live your best life, we have started
monthly columns in our newsletter centered around various themes. In
this next February issue, we bring you thoughts on unconditional
love and forgiveness, secrets for total heart health, and the virtues
of organic chocolate.
Although Valentine's Day has passed, we hope these nuggets will
continue to fuel the love you hold within, and enable it to radiate
outward to all whom you meet in your daily endeavors.
With love and blessings,
Path to Unconditional Love
The word love is used
very loosely. "I love my girlfriend." "I love God."
"I love cheese." Clearly, there are different kinds of love
in the world, and the word means different things at different times.
The highest kind of love is often referred to by the Greek term agape,
which means "divine love." This is a completely unconditional
sort of love, one in which the giver requires nothing of the receiver.
It doesn't expect love in return, and it doesn't insist upon justice or
fairness. To embody this level of love is to have achieved true
enlightenment and to understand truly the meaning of universal Oneness.
How does one move toward the attainment of unconditional love? It is
difficult since we are all stuck in the illusion of our separate
selves. We feel a need to protect the egoic self-that which we perceive
as "me" or "mine." Love is easy when we feel we are
being loved in return. Love gets hard when we feel we have been wronged
or insulted in some way. Resentments of this type can build up over a
lifetime until our hearts feel deeply wounded and love in any form
becomes a frightening proposition.
Forgiveness is really the only medicine that can cure a heart burdened
by past hurts, and it is the only way we can return to the divine
element of unconditional love. Unconditional love means that you
recognize the divine within all people and in doing so you demonstrate
your own divine aspect.
forgiveness means a willingness to forgive the unforgivable. The 2006
documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele illustrates
forgiveness in this radical form. The subject of the film is holocaust
survivor Eva Kor, who suffered terribly through horrific medical
experiments at the hands of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele while she was
just a little girl. Late in life, she made a clear decision to forgive
Mengele and all the Nazi perpetrators. Her public decision to forgive
Mengele was met with universal disdain from fellow survivors.
But perhaps the other survivors had not discovered what theologian and
author Lewis Smedes, described when he wrote,
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the
prisoner was you." Through forgiveness, Eva Kor was finally
liberated from the Nazis.
For most of us, the resentments and emotional scars that prevent us from
loving fully are small compared to Eva Kor's. If you really want to
open your heart and love fully, take her example and forgive
extravagantly. True love cannot be given with the condition that
someone else change or give an apology to you. Unconditional love can
only exist if it first exists within your own heart.
Secrets for a
Happy, Healthy Heart
is your vision of a happy, healthy, heart? Is it the image of the
four-chambered organ pumping blood through your body? Or do you
think of the more sentimental and energetic aspects of your existence?
Perhaps total heart health is best attained from a body, mind, and
According to the American Heart Association, heart diseases are the
number one cause of death in the United States. In 2006,
statistics showed that one in three U.S. adults had one or more types
of cardiovascular disease. Risk factors can range from hereditary
conditions and infections, to overall lifestyle choices.
Choices we make everyday can have the greatest impact on our physical
heart health. Experts advise us to eat a healthy diet and lose weight,
get at least 30-minutes of aerobic exercise every day, avoid tobacco
and excessive alcohol, and get regular health screening check-ups.
Stress significantly impacts the heart, and new research shows that
many emotions can damage this vital organ too. In an article posted on
WebMD, Dean Ornish, MD says that anger, hostility, loneliness,
depression, and isolation can be toxic. Learning how to manage your
mind and lift your spirit are key to overall heart health.
shown that when we experience positive emotions, especially love and
gratitude, the beating of our heart becomes regular. Rhythmic breathing
and the conscious self-generation of sincere, positive emotions
promotes heart rate coherence and overall health. This phenomenon,
known as "psychophysiological coherence," is a
state of increased synchronization and harmony between the cognitive,
emotional, and physiological systems within our bodies.
In Healing Chakras, Ilchi Lee writes about the
energetic heart, or "heart chakra." Its health is dependent
upon an open mind and loving nature. Just as your anatomical heart
distributes blood throughout the physical body, your heart chakra
expands your energy and emits it out equally in all directions. Two
exercises that Lee advocates for attaining a healthy heart chakra are chest breathing and chest tapping. These daily practices, combined with
healthy lifestyle choices, can lead you to a happy,
by Dawn Quaresima, Senior Dahn Yoga instructor at East Meadow and
Franklin Square centers in NY.
The Virtues of
that Valentine's Day has passed, you might be wondering if you can
resist the temptation to empty that heart-shaped box of its delectable
contents. Well, you may be able to have your treat . . . and be healthy
too, all with a good conscience.
For years, people thought of chocolate as just another empty-calorie
candy, but research is showing that this is far from the case.
Chocolate, specifically organic chocolate, is now regarded as one of the
planet's healthiest superfoods.
First of all, the phenols in chocolate are loaded with antioxidants.
Increasing your intake of antioxidants will help guard against heart
disease and cancer, as well as boost your immune system. Ounce for
ounce, dark chocolate has more flavanoids than blueberries, green tea,
and red wine. Look for cocoa contents of 65% or higher.
Chocolate is also great for your brain. Many chocoholics can attest to
the mood-enhancing effects of the substance. This is because chocolate
stimulates the production of serotonin and endorphins in the brain, and
it contains a chemical called anandamide, known for its calming effect.
choosing your favorite indulgence, look for organic or fair trade
certified labels. Organic chocolate is made from cocoa that is farmed
in an environmentally safe ways, free of harmful pesticide residues.
Certified organic farms are also subject to their own independent
monitoring of farm labor conditions, unlike in Africa where "chocolate slavery" is widespread. "Fair trade certified" chocolates go a
step further, ensuring that farmers are paid an above market price for
their cocoa beans. The extra money helps to support lasting community
improvements where farmers are based.
For organic chocolate with a clean conscience and the satisfying flavor
of philanthropy, look for these brands, among others:
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