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Consciousness

A Story About Something We All Have To Face – Death

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    We all die. The story shared in this article raises some questions about how to handle terminally ill patients.

  • Reflect On:

    Instead of keeping patients alive 'at all costs' should doctors be trained to recognize when medical intervention is not going to be helpful to a terminally ill patient?

In our current society, death is something that is often feared. Because of this, it is often not talked about and it is generally considered an absolute last resort option, even if that means that suffering will take its place. It seems in our current medical system the ultimate goal is to keep the patient alive at all costs (spiritual, emotional, mental and yes — financial), even when the body naturally starts to shut down. In practice, modern medicine continue to do whatever it takes to keep that body alive. But what if we began to view death differently, and saw it as a natural part of the birth, life, death cycle and not something to be feared?

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Patients suffering from diseases that are considered terminal are spending their final months, weeks, days in surgery and in hospital beds instead of at home with their loved ones and pets. All for that hope that something could save them. But what if the goal wasn’t to keep the patient alive at all costs, but to observe and listen to the body and let nature run its course, only intervening when there is a significant chance of success?

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Of course its hard to imagine having to say goodbye to our loved ones who are sick. Perhaps we can even be a bit selfish at times (understandably so) because we are not ready to say goodbye. What’s important to realize here is that everybody dies and we cannot escape this fate no matter how much we try, or how much we try to intervene with modern medicine. The angel of death will still come knocking at each and every one of our doors.

Story On Death

The following was shared by the Huffington Post from a former fellow in gynecologic oncology, Kate McLean.

Her cancer had initially responded well to surgery and the first few rounds of chemotherapy, but then it quickly returned. We had tried several other chemotherapeutic regimens, but all had failed to stop the tumors in her abdomen from growing. She’d been admitted four times in the last six months with bowel obstructions from the cancer. Each time, we would try a new treatment and it would help for a little while, but then the same symptoms would resurface.

“Yes, I’m afraid so,” I told her. “Your CT scan shows that a tumor is blocking your intestine, which explains why you feel so bad. Nothing is getting through like it should.” I wondered whether I should tell her how serious her condition was becoming, or if she would ask me on her own.

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“What about this new chemotherapy you’re recommending?” she asked. “Will it finally make the cancer go away for good? Or will we need to remove it surgically?”

I now faced a difficult dilemma. What should I tell her? My supervisor had clearly laid out his plan when he told me she was coming for admission. However, I knew that the available data on patients like her suggested that her chances of responding to the treatment were incredibly low. And the chemotherapy would likely make her feel even worse.

“I’m just the fellow — how about we review all this with our boss later today?” I responded, trying to keep any sign of internal struggle off my face. Throughout my fellowship, I’d had misgivings about operating and prescribing harsh drugs so close to the end of a patient’s life. But that was exactly what we were expected to do.

“You’re the one I see every morning when I’m here in the hospital,” she replied. “I want to know what you think.” She gave me a stern look. “You know how difficult that last round of chemo was for me ― I was in and out of the hospital for weeks.”

I took a deep breath and decided to be completely transparent.

“Honestly, I’m really conflicted,” I said. “I respect my boss’s judgment, but the studies I’ve read tell me that your cancer probably won’t shrink — at least not much — with any further chemo. And if we perform surgery to unblock things, since no chemo is likely to slow the growth of the cancer for long, you’ll probably just experience another blockage soon.”

I followed her somber gaze as it appeared to wander out the window, through the skyscrapers downtown, all the way to the ocean. I could see frothy whitecaps kicked up by the strong breeze.

“Some patients feel like it’s worth it to them to go through the discomfort of surgery and the side effects of chemo if there is any chance it might help,” I continued. “They want to try everything possible, because, in medicine, we’re never 100% sure what might happen. However, once treatments become less likely to help, other patients would rather prioritize different things, such as pain relief and time out of the hospital with their family.” I paused carefully. “You know I’ll support you either way.”

She turned back to me, suddenly focused again and nodding. “Why would anyone suggest a treatment that probably won’t help me?” she wondered out loud with no trace of bitterness.

“We want it to help,” I said, squelching the niggling, unpleasant thought in the back of my mind that our supervisor also got paid every time he ordered chemotherapy or performed surgery.

“But that doesn’t mean it will. You know that. I know that,” she said.

I could feel her hand start to quiver on the bed next to me, and soon her shoulders were shaking as well.

I scooted closer and held her while she cried. Peach fuzz, which was just starting to regrow on her bald head, softly brushed against my cheek.

“I want to go home,” she whispered in my ear.

“Of course,” I replied. “Let’s loop in the hospice nurse and get your nausea and pain under better control this morning, then try to get you out of here by tomorrow.”

I looked back at my team standing in the doorway and saw relief etched on their faces. This was what was best and we all knew it. We just hadn’t been trained on how to talk to patients about what happens when treatments fail ― about what happens when death is inevitable.

I later learned that our patient died peacefully at home, surrounded by those she loved.”

Something To Consider

Considering 80% of Americans would prefer to die at home and less than 20% actually do shows us that something is not in alignment here. This New Yorker article expands on this quandary. It suggests that terminally ill cancer patients who are put on life support machines or are sent to intensive care have a worse quality of life than those who are not. Their caregivers are also more likely to suffer from depression.

Interestingly enough, when physicians themselves are terminally ill, they are more likely than their patients to choose less aggressive treatments. When given the information regarding their prognosis and treatment options patients will choose to have less medical intervention than those who are placed on a default treatment path.

Supporting End Of Life

For those who are terminally ill but are terrified of death, there are various methods of support including death doulas. Generally speaking, it is said that the role of the death doula is to walk alongside the dying person and their family. This encompasses a very wide range of services that include: providing spiritual, psychological and social support, assisting with the creation of positive and empowering end-of-life plans, ideas to optimize physical comfort, and educating families on the new and progressive options for home wakes and natural burials. Often, these doulas go above and beyond expectations as they bring light to a phase of life that can be very dark for many.

Another option that has proven to be successful is the use of magic mushrooms to help those who are terminally ill to come to terms with their impending fate. Because if the one who is dying has accepted it and has a more positive attitude towards it, it will help loved ones come to peace with it as well.

It might be time for society as a whole to start opening up these discussions, reducing the stigma around, well, dying. After all, it is something that we cannot escape, regardless of how much we try. We might as well attempt to make peace with it.

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Consciousness

How To Stay Present & Calm Throughout The Day

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A simple process to bring you back to presence and freedom throughout the day.

  • Reflect On:

    Can we expect our world to change if we don't change our inner states of everyday being?w

Do you notice yourself feeling tense shoulders? A cleansed jaw? Perhaps you’re holding your breath in some ways and you don’t even know it? Maybe you feel a clenched tummy from time to time and have tricky digestion. You might notice yourself rushing through life, tasks, wanting to get to the next thing. You may not be paying full attention to your life and everything feels like autopilot.

If this is the case, you’re not alone.

This is a very calm state of being for most people in highly developed countries who are living the ‘average everyday life.’ You wake up, go to your job, work all day, come home and then either veg out or spend time with family and go to sleep. This is the ‘modern life’ that we have accepted as ‘ a good life’ and yet almost every aspect of it presents a challenge to our health and well being. But, at this time, money is required to live our lives, and so we must play within this system in some way or another as we actively change it.

The good news is, you have ultimate freedom within yourself to perceive your reality as you wish to perceive it. When we are unconscious, or allowing our programmed states of being to run our lives, we typically move through life on autopilot, moving from one habit to another.  However, when we begin to gain presence, and pull ourselves out of all these unconscious habits, we begin to gain some freedom back. This builds over time.

Before we get to the exercise, I want to add that for those that pay a lot of attention to the news and media side of our work here at CE, using these practices to gain more presence and self-awareness in your life will play deeply into the CE Protocol which is designed to help us gain more clarity on what’s happening in the world, and be an active part of changing it. Skipping the personal transformation end of our journeys only holds us in our current state of being and understanding.

A Simple Process

One powerful thing you can do to begin seeing the subtleties in life, noticing the magic and incredible beauty around you and within you at all times is going back to the breath. Combine that with a few processes in releasing tension and getting into your heart, and you’ll truly begin waking up to who you truly are on a daily basis. The best part is, this muscle grows with time, the more you practice, the more present you become, and the more your monkey mind goes into the passenger seat instead of the driver seat.

Approx time needed: 5 mins

1. There are two ways to initiate the exercise, either you do it when you notice yourself tense or not present, or you set an alarm that goes off about 6 times per day. If you choose the first method, you want to know that your awareness already catches yourself about 6 times a day so you can make sure you are doing this enough.

2. When the alarm goes off, or when you notice yourself, stop what you are doing and take a couple of deep breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this slowly and controlled. Nothing too fast and nothing too out of control.

3. After about 2 to 5 breaths, allow yourself to breathe normally, making sure it is still through the nose. Begin to say within yourself. ‘I am releasing all tension in my head, my neck, my shoulders, my jaw, my stomach, my fists, and my legs.” This is like a mini mantra if you will, but don’t take it too seriously in that it has to be said any particular way. You’re simply noticing and instructing the body to relax.

4. After you have gone through the releasing, and you notice your body is more relaxed and your breathing has brought you back to the moment. Sense yourself in your chair or where you stand. Feel the air around you, notice any breezes on your skin or any scents that you smell. Notice all the various sounds around you, not focusing on anyone or feeling any as a distraction, but noticing them and allowing them to be. This is presence, while in this state. Noticing.

If you happen to have any rampant thoughts or feelings of stress arise during this at any point, simply notice it and say within yourself “OK stress or OK task I have to complete, I see you, I will take care of you momentarily” and allow it to pass.

5. Once in presence, turn your attention to the area of your sternum, the heart centre. You may put your hand or fingers on this area, and simply focus your attention on this space. See your awareness moving into this space as if you yourself are moving from your mind to your heart. However that looks or feels to you is OK. It doesn’t have to be anything mystical. This is a common mistake of overcomplicating simple methods.

6. Finally, allow yourself to be in that space for as long as you like. 1 min, 10 mins, whatever works. Usually I say this exercise is meant to be done as a check-in for about 5 mins.

Repeat this each time your alarm goes off or when you notice yourself tense. Through this, you are gaining more awareness of self more regularly. You are also beginning to realize you have a lot more control over your state of being than once thought. This is a key step to emotional freedom. In this space, your mind does not run you, nor do your emotions.

Bonus: As an extended tip, once you gain a sense of what that short meditation felt like. Even if you notice yourself for a moment 20 or 30 minutes later being tense, just take one deep breath and recall the energy and feeling of your meditation.

The Takeaway

When will things like full disclosure happen, or big changes in our world? When people focus deeply enough on personal transformation that our consciousness becomes ready to hear what’s being hidden and becomes ready for a world that is grounded in a state of peace, love, and freedom as opposed to monkey mind behavior.

 

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Consciousness

Brené Brown Explains The Crucial Difference Between Sympathy & Empathy

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    There is a difference between sympathy and empathy — although many of us don't realize it, in an attempt to help we may unknowingly be making things worse for our loved ones.

  • Reflect On:

    When someone is hurting, we often try to "fix" the situation. What if we just sat with others who are struggling . and allow them to feel their feelings and offer them the space to do so?

For the most part we strive to be there for our friends and family members during difficult times. However we don’t always realize that in an effort to assist, often using positive reinforcement, or comparison techniques we might actually be making things worse. Sometimes, we are unintentionally showing up in all the wrong ways for our loved ones. It’s important to know the difference between sympathy and empathy and how these reactions could either create more pain from unmet needs for those who are struggling or allow the space for a deeper connection and understanding by offering the space to others to feel their feelings.

Brené Brown is an expert on the topics of vulnerability, shame, courage and empathy. She has written 5 New York Times Bestsellers and offers us all a deeper insight to the potential for much deeper authentic connection with others and to ourselves as well. The following video contains a cute little cartoon paired up with Brené’s words describing the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy Vs. Empathy


“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ~ Brené Brown

It’s funny how we think we are being helpful, but as it turns out we are unknowingly brushing off the feelings of others. Offering sympathy instead of empathy is similar to when we tell people to “think positive,” as it bypasses actually allowing ourselves to feel our emotions. When our loved ones are having a hard time with something, we are quick to try and fix or change the situation instead of just allowing it to be.

It’s as if we are all just so afraid of letting the pain be there, that we try to brush it off as quickly as possible. Unfortunately as described in the video, this isn’t actually helping, but providing a temporary band-aid instead. In turn, the people who are in pain often don’t feel emotionally met and can feel even more upset, even though they know you have good intentions. To be fair, for the most part we haven’t been taught these emotional skills so many of us are lacking in that department.

The Importance Of Feeling Our Feelings

This is a good reminder to not only allow others the space to feel their feelings without trying to change them, but for yourself as well — to give yourself the time and space that you need to feel what’s happening inside of you.

If something comes up, and emotion is starting to build up inside of you, instead of grabbing your phone, eating something, or using a substance — try feeling it fully instead! It can be very helpful to label the emotion you’re feeling, i.e. I feel hurt right now.

Then feel it, feel it fully, cry if you need to, feel where it hurts in your body, do whatever you need to do to allow yourself to actually feel the emotion.It will help to process and release it, that way you won’t have to hold onto it, or store it in your body.

As a good friend once told me,

“See what there is to see, feel what there is to feel and you will heal. “

This might sound simple, and that’s because it is! It’s a lot easier to process and feel our emotions than to stuff them down and ignore them, which inevitably will cause more pain and suffering down the road.

Feeling our feelings, who would have thought? 😉

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Alternative News

Our Biology Responds To Events Before They Even Happen

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple experiments have shown strong evidence for precognition in several different ways. One of them comes in the form of activity within the heart and the brain responding to events before they even happen.

  • Reflect On:

    Do we have extra human capacities we are unaware of? Perhaps we can learn them, develop them, and use them for good. Perhaps when the human race is ready, we will start learning more.

Is precognition real? There are many examples suggesting that yes, it is. The remote viewing program conducted by the CIA in conjunction with Stanford University was a good example of that.  After its declassification in 1995, or at least partial declassification, the Department of Defense and those involved revealed an exceptionally high success rate:

To summarize, over the years, the back-and-forth criticism of protocols, refinement of methods, and successful replication of this type of remote viewing in independent laboratories has yielded considerable scientific evidence for the reality of the (remote viewing) phenomenon. Adding to the strength of these results was the discovery that a growing number of individuals could be found to demonstrate high-quality remote viewing, often to their own surprise… The development of this capability at SRI has evolved to the point where visiting CIA personnel with no previous exposure to such concepts have performed well under controlled laboratory conditions. (source)

The kicker? Part of remote viewing involves peering into future events as well as events that happened in the past.

It’s not only within the Department of Defense that we find this stuff, but a lot of science is emerging on this subject as well.

For example, a study (meta analysis) published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience titled “Predicting the unpredictable: critical analysis and practical implications of predictive anticipatory activity” examined a number of experiments regarding this phenomenon that were conducted by several different laboratories. These experiments indicate that the human body can actually detect randomly delivered stimuli that occur 1-10 seconds in advance. In other words, the human body seems to know of an event and reacts to the event before it has occurred. What occurs in the human body before these events are physiological changes that are measured regarding the cardiopulmonary, the skin, and the nervous system.

A few years ago, the chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Dr. Dean Radin, visited the scientists over at HearthMath Institute and shared the results of one of his studies. Radin is also one of multiple scientists who authored the paper above. These studies, as mentioned above, tracked the autonomic nervous system, physiological changes, etc.

Scientists at HeartMath Institute (HMI) added more protocols, which included measuring participants’ brain waves (EEG), their hearts’ electrical activity (ECG), and their heart rate variability (HRV).

As HMI explains:

Twenty-six adults experienced in using HeartMath techniques and who could sustain a heart-coherent state completed two rounds of study protocols approximately two weeks apart. Half of the participants completed the protocols after they intentionally achieved a heart-coherent state for 10 minutes. The other half completed the same procedures without first achieving heart coherence. Then they reversed the process for the second round of monitoring, with the first group not becoming heart-coherent before completing the protocols and the second group becoming heart-coherent before. The point was to test whether heart coherence affected the results of the experiment.

Participants were told the study’s purpose was to test stress reactions and were unaware of its actual purpose. (This practice meets institutional-review-board standards.) Each participant sat at a computer and was instructed to click a mouse when ready to begin.

The screen stayed blank for six seconds. The participant’s physiological data was recorded by a special software program, and then, one by one, a series of 45 pictures was displayed on the screen. Each picture, displayed for 3 seconds, evoked either a strong emotional reaction or a calm state. After each picture, the screen went blank for 10 seconds. Participants repeated this process for all 45 pictures, 30 of which were known to evoke a calm response and 15 a strong emotional response.

The Results

The results of the experiment were fascinating to say the least. The participants’ brains and hearts responded to information about the emotional quality of the pictures before the computer flashed them (random selection). This means that the heart and brain were both responding to future events. The results indicated that the responses happened, on average, 4.8 seconds before the computer selected the pictures.

How mind-altering is that?

Even more profound, perhaps, was data showing the heart received information before the brain. “It is first registered from the heart,” Rollin McCraty Ph.D. explained, “then up to the brain (emotional and pre-frontal cortex), where we can logically relate what we are intuiting, then finally down to the gut (or where something stirs).”

Another significant study (meta-analysis) that was published in Journal of Parapsychology by Charles Honorton and Diane C. Ferrari in 1989 examined a number of studies that were published between 1935 and 1987. The studies involved individuals’ attempts to predict “the identity of target stimuli selected randomly over intervals ranging from several hundred million seconds to one year following the individuals responses.” These authors investigated over 300 studies conducted by over 60 authors, using approximately 2 million individual trials by more than 50,000 people. (source)

It concluded that their analysis of precognition experiments “confirms the existence of a small but highly significant precognition effect. The effect appears to be repeatable; significant outcomes are reported by 40 investigators using a variety of methodological paradigms and subject populations. The precognition effect is not merely an unexplained departure from a theoretical chance baseline, but rather is an effect that covaries with factors known to influence more familiar aspects of human performance.” (source)

The Takeaway

“There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing.”
 Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (source)

We are living in a day and age where new information and evidence are constantly emerging, challenging what we once thought was real or what we think we know about ourselves as human beings.  It’s best to keep an open mind. Perhaps there are aspects of ourselves and our consciousness that have yet to be discovered. Perhaps if we learn and grow from these studies, they can help us better ourselves and others.

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