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Posts tagged ‘spirituality’

Living the Happy Life

by ClareShale Mountain Star

That heartwarming feeling you get when you help another, even just holding the door for a stranger, is connected to a deep place within your very humanity. As it turns out, scientists are discovering that humans share the impulse to help with chimpanzees, our closest genetic animal friends – and that impulse is connected to a well-researched brain hormone.
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Recently I watched a small segment of the PBS series The Human Spark (hosted by Alan Alda, yessss!). The video clip shows an experiment designed to compare the altruistic response present in chimps and human 18 month-old infants.  As you can imagine, the cute factor is quite high! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK8rKKp-vP0
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Basically what they found is that both humans and chimps will go out of their way to help another. Felix Warneken at the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology sums it up well: “Potential altruistic motivation to act on behalf of others is something that is shared between chimps and humans, and therefore something that maybe was already a characteristic of our common ancestor.”
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There are many reasons I can think of that this makes so much sense. Being of support for others is simply what being in community is all about. We are a social species and the well-being of those around us directly affects our own well-being.
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Another super-cool factor in this realm is the hormone that helps us build trust: Oxytocin, also called the “cuddle” hormone.
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This hormone is released during important social occasions such as communal meals, breastfeeding, parent/child bonding time, physical contact with other beings (humans and animals) and not surprisingly during moments of altruistic behavior.
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It is actually possible to increase your oxytocin levels by being generous! Check out this article for more info: http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?type=article&article_id=218393041
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There’s a bit of science for your day.
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Here’s a fun exercise to try:
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The next time you are feeling anxious, stressed out or frazzled, you may be in need of a dose of oxytocin! If you can, get yourself into a cuddle situation as quickly as possible. If animal or human friends are not close by, try letting someone go ahead of you at the store, holding the door for a stranger or even making a donation to a trusted non-profit.
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What are your favorite ways to connect? Let us know if this exercise is helpful for you in bringing you through to a state of Trust in the universe.
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Astra Spider & ClareShale Mountain Star: 

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Claiming My Spirit-Centered Christmas

by ClareShale Mountain Star

As a teen my perception of the Christmas celebration was skewed dramatically by the gross consumer obsession that I saw reflected in the gift-giving traditions of my culture. I rebelled against this perception that I had of Christmas as much as I could, making dramatic anti-consumerism cards and sculptures as gifts for my parents.

In general the holidays were a stressful and anxiety-filled time for me because I was so busy protesting it all. (Which was of course the perfect thing for me to be doing at that point in time; I was doing my job as a Teen!)

When I began my own family, though, I began to soften my opinion; and especially as I deepened my awareness of the ancient pagan roots of the holiday, I really started to wonder what it might mean for me in my adult life to celebrate Christmas.

Having small children, as you may be aware, tends to make deep contemplation of historical, philosophical, cultural and spiritual phenomena a bit challenging. This is especially true around the Christmas season when there are a thousand things to do. Basically, for me, up until now it has been all about “Christmas Survival.”

This year though, I am finding, is different – because my kids are actually getting older.  No one is potty-training and everyone sleeps through the night in their own bed! Now it is truly possible for me to think about a subject for more than five minutes at a time; and Christmas is even more important than ever, because all the kids are Aware that it’s happening – so I’m needing to step up my game!

I know it seems like I’m yammering on, and I kind of am, so I will get to my point.

With all the traditions, reasons to celebrate and ways to move through this time, I am feeling so happy about being able to “Focus with Intention” on the parts that resonate most with me. There are many different kinds of holiday energies floating around out there right now. I’m finding it takes a bit of effort for me to stay grounded with my actions, awareness and even finances all geared towards celebrating Christmas in a way that really resonates with me and my family, but it’s so worth it.

This is our first year lighting an Advent Wreath; the kids are so excited to light the candles. My 4 year-old is especially thrilled with the whole idea…it’s just so super-cute to see them get geared up for such a seemingly simple act. I know for them the season holds an incredible magic.

I am thankful that I can relax and explore Christmas a bit this year, and I am so thrilled to find that I have the inner resources to discover what is special for me about this time amidst all the possibilities.

Good Yule!

ClareShale

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