Raise Your Vibration – Why Kindness Matters

I hate to think about the world in terms of hippy maxims or quantifiers like “you’re killing my vibe, man” or “whoa dude where did that energy come from.” But lately, I have really been thinking long and hard about a relative truth hippies get right.
What is a Vibration?
Your vibration is essentially your thoughts.

What do I mean by this?

In the recent studies by positive psychologists, they find that thought patterns predict whether or not an individual feels happiness. This is not only a phenomenon brought on by positive psychologists but behavioral and cognitive psychologists as well. In cognitive psychology, we learn that our thoughts essentially dictate and control our behavior. When we think low vibrating or low unconscious thoughts, we reactively act those thoughts out in our day-to-day life.

Let me give you an example of this: 

  • Have you ever been so stressed at work that you feel like the world is crumbling down around you?
  • Have you ever had an inter-personal conflict with your wife, daughter or other family members where you feel like a victim?
  • Have you ever unconsciously lashed out at an individual, pointed fingers or blamed them?

And if you checked yes to all of these questions, don’t feel bad that is completely natural and normal. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. In fact, I have recently been in situations where I was doing all of these at the same time. Trust me, it wasn’t good for my mental health. And as a psychologist-in-training, I knew something needed to change. If you’re having an inter-personal conflict with someone who is abusive, the best thing you can do is to remove yourself from the situation and work on making yourself happy.

However, in order to understand this happiness, you need to RAISE YOUR VIBRATION! 

What I am saying here is don’t get stuck in a victim mentally just because you have felt victimized. Even though you can’t always love people up close, that doesn’t mean you should stop your thoughts and start thinking negatively. The more we think negatively about people in our lives, the more we blame and hate and point fingers – the less happy we are.

Have you ever felt what it feels like to love? It is the most magnificent, wonderful feeling in the world. And we can still choose love every time. When we are stuck in our negative thought loops, we start discounting all of the beauty and life there is in the world. We also start turning that hatred towards others inward on ourselves. When we can’t blame other people for the negativity, we blame ourselves and we keep perpetuating the cycle of hate and doom.

But we can choose to be happy. We can choose to express, feel and always have unconditional positive disregard for everyone we meet. We can appreciate all individuals are beautiful, lovely beings of light who have their own struggles and their own life experiences that make them who they are.

Remembering, that you are not a victim and that you have enough self-love to remove yourself from toxic situations is no one’s fault. The only thing you can control is yourself and what you experience in every moment. You cannot change other people, you cannot make other people happy and you cannot blame yourself if other people don’t understand your situation.
But you can choose kindness, happiness, and love in every moment.

  • Do you have an ex you still hate?
  • Do you have a frenemy who you think toxic, mean thoughts about?

I encourage you to sit down and send them love today. Whoever you hate, send them love at every moment and you feel the shift in your happiness. You will feel the stress dissipate and the negativity evaporate.

A Disease is a Dysfunction of the Mind

A disease is a dysfunction of the mind

Chants my yoga teacher, Chinook, with his Jamaican styled shorts and thick voice.

He continues, “you see people, the places where it hurts in your body, that’s your bodies way of telling you that is has a disease… Listen to the word, he repeats. “Dis-ease it means your body is diseased.”

In a full frontal downward dog, the only thing I could think about was getting out of class and getting my next meal.

My mind began to wonder, “I wonder what I am going to have for dinner tonight?”

“hmmm… there was the turkey from last night.” 

“What about schezuen chicken from last week?”

There is nothing like the half-hearted reward of mediocre Chinese located in the middle of a strip mall that is surrounded by leather and bondage stores on either end.

My mind comes back into the voice of Chinook telling the rest of the yoga class to bend into their right lunge and start working their way down into pigeon pose.

Looking across the room, a full-time yogi is effortlessly squeezing her way down into pigeon pose position.  I look down at my two duck feet and begin to try and imitate the move.

Right, if I just move my hip this way…

Maybe, if I bend my leg back…

Chinook looks up from across the room.

“Paige, move your feet up to the front of the mate and work your way down. You see you have to listen to the words. That is just called restlessness. People have a name for it. They’ll call you ADHD or ADD, but it is just because you haven’t trained your mind to be still.”

“Damn,” I think to myself. “Could he tell I was ADHD just because I was thinking about whether or not I put the turkey away from last night?” 

Speaking of which turkey sounds so good right now…

Bending my right leg into pigeon pose, I rested into the position and allowed myself to enter into a deep state of savasana.

“A disease is a dysfunction of the mind.”

The voice repeats in my mind. Instead of staying balanced in my normal state of meditative flow, I begin to argue this concept in my head.

“What does he know. He is just a yoga teacher. He isn’t an official man of medicine! I need a doctor here right this second telling me what this man means.”

A Disease is a Malfunctioning Part of the Body 

However, the more I began to think about this radical concept, I realized that Chinook was right. A disease is just a malfunctioning part of the body. In the dictionary, a disease is defined as “an abnormal condition, a disorder of a structure or function, that affects part or all of an organism.” Although, modern medicine is crucial and paramount for physiological illnesses that are transmitted from infectious agents like parasites, viruses and bacteria. The mind is a much more interesting human organ that can be affected by a variety of different internally sourced illnesses like our own thoughts. These illnesses can be caused by external factors; however, they’re manifested internally and cause more long-term pain and hardship than the majority of physiological illnesses. Diseases of the mind, do not physically shut down your internal organs like the heart, lungs or the large and small intestines. However, they do play a significant role in causing severe damage to the number one organ in our body – the mind.

We Can’t Always See Diseases 

The unfortunate part of this is that unlike physical diseases that result in a direct somatic change in some tissue or organ mental illnesses are not always visible to the naked eye.  In fact, the idea that mental instability and physiological illness are fundamentally different from one another did not arise until the end of the 18th century. Regarding medicine, this is a new development, and I think it is a new concept for civilization as well.

This could be why we’re so averse to responding to individuals who have “maladjusted” issues. One could argue that these occurrences might not be evolutionary natural for human beings.

However, we are being diagnosed with debilitating anxiety & depression left and right.

Could we be a source of parasitic toxicity to ourselves?

Are we, unnaturally, so self-inflicting that we have created circumstances and environments that have caused us to slowly damage and destroy our number one vital organ?

That is a debate for another time. However, I think it is imperative that we look into the prevention and treatment of these diseases.

Some People Are “Crazy” – We Have to Stop Blaming Them 

Chinook is right. A mental disorder is a malfunction of a vital organ that shapes our perception, creates our motivation and is an essential key to defining and creating our happiness.

When this organ is out of whack – we are out of whack. We are even, dare I say it, ‘crazy.’ And I don’t mean to offend anyone, however, I think sick would be a better word. When the mind is at dis-ease, we become sick trying to fight off the foreign body or ailment.

This ultimately makes us begin to start fighting ourselves.

Unfortunately, the mind is a tricky thing, and we don’t know enough about it to give direct and clear answers as to why some people behave the way that they do.

However, I don’t think we give people with mental disorders the love and care that they deserve. We don’t cry, send flowers and teddy bears to someone who is just diagnosed with PTSD. However, we are immediately suspicious and worried about our safety and their capabilities as individuals. I bet we also even wonder if they aren’t just ‘dramatic,’ ‘hysterical’ or ‘attention-seeking.’

And of course they aren’t ‘capable,’ they are experiencing a dysfunction that is impairing their normal behavior. However, treatment does not begin with blaming an individual for why they’re dysfunctional. You wouldn’t blame a patient in the hospital for a somatic disease that is deteriorating their internal and external organs. You would feel compassion and even a level of pity for the individuals going through these hardships.

You would see that people fighting with mental illnesses are struggling every day like individuals with physiological diseases. And I don’t think it is fair to compare apples and oranges – However, I believe the number one reason that the mental health care system has gotten so out of control with diagnosis’ and more.

Is because we’re not treating the problems from the first symptoms of distress or disorder. In fact, our society and culture exacerbate these issues because we’re too ashamed and embarrassed to come forth and admit that we have a problem.

Mental Illnesses are the New Folklore 

It goes even deeper than that. On some level, I would guess that the majority of workplaces, well-fair institutions, even family and loved ones at some point would tell themselves what you’re experiencing is fictional.

And who could blame them? Half the population doesn’t believe in a God because they simply can’t see him. It just isn’t normal to believe in something that you can’t see. However, we need to start believing and hearing these people’s stories. We need to start preventing the outbreak of these diseases by realizing our mental, and psychological health is not just as but more important than our physiological well-being.

And it begins by doing one thing. Casting aside your judgments and showing simple compassion for individuals who are distressed, sad, lonely and afraid.

Being Kind to Yourself Results in Happiness

“Kindness has a beautiful way of reaching down into a weary heart and making it shine like the sun”

Whenever I think about this quote, I always seem to imagine it regarding the amount of kindness I subject onto other individuals. It is my life-long work to be a kind individual to all of those around me. How do I do this? I begin by giving things to those in need, listening to the best of my abilities and excluding judgement from my everyday thoughts. However, that is not always so easily managed in my day-to-day life, and I believe it is because of this reason alone.

I am not always kind to myself.

In fact, sometimes, I am downright cruel to myself. I don’t see the beauty, love and magic that is given to me by the grace of God. Somedays, I am pitiful. I am shallow, arrogant and I truly believe the world revolves around me. I create episodic dramas that give me a sense of meaning beyond the meaninglessness I may be feeling in that time – because if it isn’t about me, then what’s the point?

However, that is exactly that point. It isn’t about me.

It isn’t about me.

Nothing is truly about me and I am insignificant, but that isn’t a scary or depressing revelation.  Ironically, as you’re probably reading this from my social media platform, I was thinking about social media today and the irrelevance it actually plays in my life. As I was driving to work, listening to Spa & Spa on Spotify – one of my favorite stations to help distract from the heaping amount of traffic I experience on the way to work, and reminds me to remain conscious of my normal impulse to violently flick individuals off in the middle of the interstate – it dawned on me. I could delete all of my social media channels, and  I would carry on living a completely ordinary and probably sufficient life.

No – I couldn’t do that.

How else would I get my daily dose of validation and assurance from other individuals? If I didn’t get over 20 likes of me holding my dog with the title, “He is the cutest puppy in the world.”

Because the more I perceive people in agreement with my belief that I do, in fact, have ‘the cutest puppy in the world.’ The more I truly start to believe that I am the owner of the cutest puppy in the world.

I, Paige Swanson, literally have the cutest puppy in the world. And that must mean I am worth something to someone.

However, my self-worth shouldn’t be defined by the expectations and judgements of others. Even worse, it appears that I become subconsciously addicted to this external need for validation.

Alright, if I can be the special dog owner of ‘the cutest puppy in the world,’ what magically conjured sense of entitlement can I proclaim today?

Cheese – I am the master of cheese. Just look at me with my 100+ Facebook likes.

Self-worth should be found internally

Self-worth should be found internally by a real natural love for who I am. My sense of belonging should begin and end with my utter appreciation for me. That brings me back to kindness.

If I don’t appropriate my sense of self from who I am deep down within. I will never be kind because I will never learn what it truly means to be kind to myself.

I am and will be a phony-  masquerading in sheep’s cloth, when in reality, I am a wolf desperately and carnivorously seeking the approval from other individuals to quench my self-indulging hunger one more day. Practicing self-compassion for your current position in life, whether content or trying to improve, is where self-kindness begins.

Accepting your current value socially and economically is, for me, the first steps to widening my view on others. This leaves me with this last quote:

Happiness is the result of my decision to be happy. There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. In other words, happiness is a feeling I tap into, not an outcome of events. I can be happy without changing anything in my life except my relationship to my own thinking. I decide to be happy and commit myself to making happiness my state of mind, rather than relying on a set of circumstances to do it for me. Richard Carlson 

The totality of happiness belongs in the deep awareness and understanding that we should be kind, not just to others (this is a given) but to ourselves. Because when we stop seeking approval and validation from an outside source that smells of rotten desperation. We can stop thinking about ourselves just for one day and begin thinking about the humbled needs of others.

Now if I could just get off social media….

How I Found Zen on an Airplane

Be still and remove all judgment on others,” the phrase sticks to me like sticky rice on sushi. I repeat the phrase again, “Be still and remove all judgment on others.”

I close my eyes and begin to ponder that contemplative thought, “be still,” I repeat again to myself. Snuggling into the faux leather seat that has busted open from too much wear and now cushion padding is exposed. I begin to try and calm my mind to think contemplatively about this notion, however, noisy children behind me begin to kick my seat and the captian has turned on his seat-belt sign. “Ding,” the light turns yellow and we’re ready for take-off.

As someone who seeks enlightenment but has yet to make her mind strong like Jedi, when I hear this particular phrase, I interpret it as an observation.

Observing your surroundings, like a passenger on an airplane when it is just about to lift off, watching from the window seat the distancing passage of civilization turn – within a flash of an eye – into mountains, landscapes and rivers. Ultimately, blurring the lines of the distinctive perspective that now ceases to exist. On a micro-scale, what one might experience from the first few 100 feet of a plane ‘lift-off’ is the full-forced view of an incredible civilization.

Man-made infrastructures and populated cities with hustling automobiles, towering building and intricately designed interstates, however, as the plane ascends higher into the sky an entirely different picture can be seen from the view of the window seat. Now, what appears to be within the view of the traveler is rolling hills made from sand and rock, flat lands of desert and widening seas that chant of the seasons and time. Until you have ultimately reached a level of void – there is nothing else to observe but you and the moving aircraft.

To be on an airplane, traveling in the midst of space and time with no proper orientation is a place of observation. Zen masters would call this experience a deep understanding that all separate entities are anatta – without self, and anicca – without permanence.

It is the concept, that reality cannot be grasped in the idea of Being because being is meaningless. According to Zen philosophy, “the true Self is not an idea but an experience – the experience which comes to pass when the mind has voided every metaphysical premise, every idea with which it attempts to grasp the nature of the world.”

However, the Zen scriptures like to make enlightenment seem like this easily accomplished task. Yes! If I just sit here and stare out the window, I will finally become like the Buddha. Unfortunately, this is not the case. For in the midst of my airborne observation, I found children screaming in the back of the ear, women cackling in groups of three and my own busy thoughts. I found myself judging, passing my agitation to them as my entitlement to my own ‘sacred’ space wore me thin.

Except, that is the greatest lesson of all – when we observe individual circumstances from the perspective of a passing plane. We can gather a different, deeper macro understanding of humanity. People are no longer the bustling city landscape that is noisy and filled with distraction. They’re no longer crowded city freeways that leave no room for space.

If we sit with our thoughts concerning individuals around us and we watch them pass by like the scenery from the window seat. We see now – what they really are. We see now the noisy baby, who is crying in her mother’s arms, is scared and is just like you and me. The same beating heart that escalates as we put the trust of our lives in the hands of a pilot. Who is trusting that the men who made the aircraft did their due diligence.

Seeing that we’re not separate but all parts of a whole. All noisy, crowded beings who from a higher perspective make up a beautiful, glowing sea.

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How Saving Our Inner Child Can be the First Step to Healing

I remember the day I fully became human, on that day,  I realized I was no longer a child. For, being a child is unlike being an adult in every way. I think it was a slow progression really; the day I stopped being a child. However, it wasn’t really something I ever noticed. It was comparably like hair that grows. Every 3 to 6 months, my childhood would  slowly escape me but I couldn’t feel it. And everyday went on like the same day just in different ways.

Can you really lose childhood like a jewel lost in the night? All those long childhood afternoons spent in wondrous splendor vanished so completely – and why?Photo on 3-19-16 at 12.13 PM

The truth is we never stop being children, for it is the innocent child in us that is an authentic representation of who we really are. To lose yourself, in its entirety, is to stop loving the child within and to compromise valuable parts of who we are for the intrinsic desire to belong. Living from a place of worthiness and compassion is being in touch with the child that once stared at the sky in wonder and awe. That crouched barefoot in the mud and dug up worms and millipedes asking the simple questions over and over again: what can this be? Youth is not a sliver of time that is compounded into our physical beings, yet it feels that way. The world tells you to grow up and get a job, to work hard like your parents and to make it in the American dream. While little by little you face the saddening consequences of forgetting you were born a child, you are a child and you will always remain a child. We try to mask our hearts like they cannot tell we love them and all the while we’re compromising, everyday, who we are. It is this slow forgetful process that causes us to feel pain, to hate and to create vengeance and anger in this world. It is why we become open wounds waiting and hoping for someone to love us again. And through each new wound that emerges we hide away- we numb, we eat and we try to forget the slow blood thinning pain.

As we get older, unfortunately, every time we’re in touch with the experience of suffering, we unconsciously believe we can’t bear it, and we stuff our feelings and memories deep down into the crevasses of our mind. All the while, your heart and your inner child is pleading and begging you for the attention it deserves: “Hey! she yells, ‘pay attention to me.’ We believe that forgetting the child who was once full of energy and playful spirit will stop the pain of our self-compromise.

It’s time to evolve! It’s time to grow up. I am too busy to take care of this… All the while, the inner child is crying for attention and we continue to run away because we’re scarred of our own suffering.

Slowly we cannot feel and we can hardly see and feel compassion for others, but our inner child is in us and she is saying you need me and I need you. However, it is by rescuing the child within us that we begin to live again. It is by finally seeing and acknowledging our childhood wounds and our own self-compromise that we’re inspired to live more in-tune, authentic lives. By reaching out an acknowledging the hurt inner child, not only do we save ourselves, but we save our relationships, our experiences and friendships.

The Mind of Worry

 

I’m exactly like the person in this tape recording. I am constantly worrying, constantly trying to be a better person, as if I am not already the best the way I am. I find the line between growth and self-love to be a fine one. I don’t meditate. I don’t quiet my mind the way I should on a normative basis. Instead, I find myself relinquishing my anxiety through prayer, contemplative walks through nature and other sorts of practices. However, I am still constantly filled with an acute case of anxiety. The source of those anxious thoughts are usually stemmed from anxiety. The anxiety of not feeling worthy or good enough.  I always need to be better. There are always more books to read, a new hobby to acquire, a language to pick up, a job offer at a dream company, and I don’t have mediocre expectations of my hobbies or goals.  I am programmed to desire mastery. I can’t sit still because I want to be an expert. If I show someone a painting I did. I want my painting to be on a mastery level,  and I feel like that is when time really cuts into the practice of sitting still or being in the state of ‘nothingness.’ (Ta-Ta-Ta) Whenever I try and practice meditation,  there is a constant ticking asking me, “how can you be improving right now.” I think that is the fallacy, Alan Watts, is discussing in his tape. You get better by quieting your mind and embodying peace. You get better by becoming one with the cosmic space you are accompanying, instead of trying to move faster than the cosmic space. You allow your mind to quiet so you can find clarity and purpose. So, the little ticking gets quieter and in the moments of stillness you can resonate and find complete and total inner-happiness.

The First Time I Found Daft Punk

Daft Punk’s, Digital Love, off of the album Discovery is probably one of my favorite songs of all time. I remember the first time I truly fell in love with the poppy electronic french band. Growing up I had always heard them in the back of soundtracks or my friends jamming out to them, but I had never emotionally invested myself in their music. It was after I watched the french indie film, Eden, which documented the life of a DJ during the Daft Punk/ garage electronic movement in the 1980’s, that I realized the greatness/ historical relevance that is Daft Punk. I woke up the next morning and played Digital Love. Upon listening to the track, I was slowly overcome by the bopping bass and began to dance over and over again in my underwear. Jumping up and down and feeling the music. Doing the robot in front of my mirror and having a profound spiritual awakening listening to their music. This was during a very free and expressive time for me. I was painting everyday, creating dance pieces for galleries and learning my bongos. I would do art for hours. Switching from one medium to the next expressing myself creatively. I felt so alive in that time period. Doing art is the healthiest thing I could do with my life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay the bills and it doesn’t help you graduate. However, two days ago, I just graduated college. I’m thinking to myself: Now What? Who am I? Where do I go? What is my path?

However, I think my soul is telling me something pretty distinct.

Let’s go back to summer.

Let’s go back to Daft Punk.

Let’s go back to art.