Wisdom from Books

<b>Wisdom from Books</b>
Stephen Lau's website to help you get the wisdom to live as if everything is a miracle!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Confidence and Health

Confidence

Research at the University of Pennsylvania showed that healthier optimism results in stronger immune system.

According to psychologists, confidence is healthy optimism resulting from successful achievements through determined effort. Healthy optimism boosts your immune system, protecting you from disease. Healthy optimism is self-efficacy – an innate belief that a certain behavior will result in a certain outcome. With that belief, you are more determined to pursue your goals and to overcome the challenges in life. With self-efficacy, you will have a more confident attitude towards taking on the challenge of a healthier lifestyle, thus resulting in being younger and healthier for longer.

The following behavior patterns may indicate a lack of confidence:

Constantly trying new clothes to improve your image to make yourself acceptable

Too much preoccupation with what others may think of you

Always comparing yourself with others

Letting others put you down

Becoming disillusioned too easily

There are many ways to boost your self-confidence for healthy optimism to keep yourself younger for longer:

Choose your own healthy eating lifestyle. Do not let society (or culture) or people around you influence what you eat and drink. Personal efficacy is to be in control of your own life. Being in control of your own decisions and their consequences is the attitude that allows you to stay younger for longer.

Be more self-expressive. Do not repress the expression of your needs. The more self-expressive you are, the more self-efficacy you demonstrate in your life, and the younger and healthier for longer you will be. Emotions play a role in your immune system.

Take action to realize your dreams and goals. Spend more time on the first steps to prepare you for ultimate success. The more prepared you are, the more control you have, the less stress you feel, and the younger you become. Remember, success breeds success.

Choose supportive friends, who encourage you instead of putting you down. You generally respond to others’ expressed expectations – a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Self-efficacy is managing your disappointments and frustrations, which are inevitable in life or any endeavor. Introspection and self-analysis help your learn from your mistakes, turning failures into success.

Sharing success with others, and helping others to succeed not only help your self-efficacy but also sustain your success.

Unstoppable self-confidence makes you not only feel younger but also look younger.

Creativity and imagination

Life is full of challenges and setbacks. Creativity and imagination are important for overcoming obstacles in life. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, creativity, such as thinking outside the box, often helps you in finding new ways to overcome obstacles and new ideas that will bring you new perspectives of the situation.

Martin Rossman, M.D., confounder of the Academy for Guided Imagery, says, “The imagination is probably a person’s least utilized heath resource. Your imagination can have an impact on your body, such as sexual fantasy or worrying with the worst scenarios.

According to Dr. Rossman, the use of guided imagery can help you remain healthy and young by directly affecting your physiological processes in a positive direction, such as your heart rate, blood pressure, hormone levels and immune functions. Guided imagery is essentially changing your mindset through visualization.

Spend several minutes each day in creating a new image in your mind, exploring and playing with it. Before long, you will have transformed this image into a new reality that remains in your mind for the rest of the day. You are simply transforming old mindset into new ones, and thereby creating new mental associations.

According to Dr. Rossman, if you are used to worrying yourself sick with the disastrous scenarios, you can do positive visualization—it is the same process, only in the opposite direction.

Use your imagination to change long-established mind-set, such as the popular notion that “growing old gracefully”, which essentially implies accepting and giving in to the inevitable without a fight. This mind-set is a self-fulfilling prophecy. According to psychologists, your brain fitness has to do with your neurons becoming “psychologically” weak, eventually leading to memory loss as you age.

Don’t let the fear of feeling old transform into the fear of looking old. Mark Twain rightly said: “I want to die young so I’ll have a good-looking corpse.”

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Relaxation Eye Exercises

Eye palming to relax the Eye

This unique eye-relaxation exercise uses your healing hands to direct energy to your eyes, as well as to rest your optic nerve and relax your entire nervous system.

Unlike sleep, which is unconscious and passive relaxation, palming is conscious and active relaxation. Therefore, palming is one of the best exercises for eye relaxation.

Practice palming at least for 10 to 30 minutes per session for three or more sessions daily to completely relax your eyes. Even at work, you can palm your eyes for 2 minutes, if possible, to relieve your eyestrain from the computer.

Sit comfortably with your elbows resting on a table in front of you—preferably in a darkened room, such as a bathroom without any window.

Rub your palms together to generate some warmth.

Place your palms over your eyes, without touching them, while resting them on the boney ridge surrounding your eyes with the heels of your hands on your cheekbones. Your eyes should be gently

Relax your mind, and breathe deeply through your nose, not your mouth. The slower your breathing is, the more relaxed your mind becomes.
Feel your abdomen and back expand and contract as you inhale and exhale, respectively.

Visualize complete darkness to relax your mind.

Feel your neck and shoulders expand and contract as your deep and slow breathing continues.

Visualize every part of your body—hands, fingers, toes, knees, and thighs—expand and contract with your inhalation and exhalation.
 
Practice eye palming whenever you feel fatigue in your eyes. It is impossible to palm for too long or for too much; some palm for hours to reap the benefits of both relaxation and meditation. If you feel any resistance to palming, it may probably be due to your subconscious resistance to relaxation. If you become more relaxed, you will see complete blackness. However, it is all right if you do not see complete blackness; just continue with your daily palming exercise.

Remember, we are living in a stressful world, and many of us simply cannot relax, even if we very much would like to. Attesting to the inability to relax, many of us easily and often stare without blinking—and, worse, without being aware of it. As a result, our vision slowly and gradually deteriorates over the years. 

Do not let a day pass by without palming your eyes.

The “8” eye exercise

Do the following “8” eye exercise as often as required to relax your eye muscles as well to increase their flexibility.

Sit comfortably in a relaxed posture.

Consciously breathe in and breathe out through your nose until you attain a natural rhythm.

Imagine the figure “8” in the distance.

Let your eyes trace along the imaginary figure without moving your head.

First, trace it in one direction, and then in the opposite direction.

You can modify the exercise by imagining other alphabets and figures. The objective of this exercise, in addition to promoting relaxation and flexibility, is to train your eyes to consciously shift when focusing on an object in the distance.

The Taoist squeeze-and-open eye exercise

This ancient Chinese exercise developed by Taoist monks thousands of years ago increases blood circulation to the eyes, prevents watery eyes, and alkalizes the eyes to detoxify the liver. It removes eyestrain and soothes eye-muscle tension.

Inhale slowly, while squeezing your eyes tightly for 10 seconds.

Then, slowly exhale your breath, making the sh-h-h-h-h sound, while opening your eyes wide.

Repeat as many times and as often as required to cleanse the eyes and the liver.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Importance of Self-acceptance

The Importance of Self-acceptance

“Love” is a big word in all human civilizations. For all religious disparities, love still plays an essential role in all the world’s religions. Love plays an important role in human lives and happiness, especially living in a world of aggression and depression.

To truly love someone is very difficult, if not impossible, unless you love yourself first, which is self-acceptance—accepting who and what you really are, and not who and what you wish you were (which is your ego-self). It should also be pointed out that “loving yourself” and “loving your ego-self” are not quite the same. The former is about loving yourself for who you really are despite all your imperfections; the latter is about craving to be the person you wish you were.

“Loving yourself” means you can also love others just as well because they are not very different from you in that they, too, are as imperfect as you are. On the other hand, “loving your ego-self” means it is very difficult to love others because you want to distinguish and separate yourself from others; accordingly, others must somehow satisfy your ego first before you can love them. That explains why if you have a big ego-self, you cannot easily and readily love others.

The bottom line: if you can accept yourself as who and what you are, then it may become much easier for you to accept and love others as who and what they are because you are not different or separate from others.

The greatest virtue of all is to be unaware of a separate self at all.
Awareness of a separate self makes us want to become valuable.
Not becoming valuable, we tend to hate the separate self.
Hating the separate self, how can we value anyone else?

Freedom from the ego-self, we are free to act without the desire to be valuable.
As a result, everything is done, and people all say: ‘It happened naturally.’
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 17)

The bottom line: Before you can love others, you must learn how to love yourself first.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Brain Food

Brain Food

As you age, you mind also ages. Your body needs nutrients, so does your mind. Your mind is not very different from your body. The only difference is that you can see your body, but you cannot see your mind.

The physical conditions of your nervous and immune systems can influence your mental health; likewise, the state of your mental health can directly affect your physical wellbeing. Your body does not function independently of your mind. Therefore, mental health is critical to your overall physical wellbeing; it is the foundation of being younger for longer.

Your body changes with aging; your organs and body systems become limited in their normal functioning. However, such limitations generally result from disease, not aging; for example, confusion and disorientation are not the normal consequences of aging; they are more disease-related.

Depression not only can slow down an individual but also make that individual look and feel older. Dr. Harry Prosen, M.D. says, “Some people who are chronically depressed can look very old and have stooped shoulders, furrowed lines around the eyes, and all the other things that make a person looked aged I’ve seen some depressed people who look like they’re in their sixties when they’re actually 35 or 40.” The reason is that depression causes decreased muscle tone, contributing to sad facial expressions and poor posture, such as stooped shoulders.

In addition, depression reduces the immune cell activity, leading to a lowered immune response. According to Dr. George Kaplan, an epidemiologist, depression can cause coronary heart disease due to the buildup of fatty deposits in artery walls. Rheumatoid arthritis is also another disease that may be triggered by depression.

Furthermore, depression may cause memory loss, which may affect your mental health. Memory problems often interfere with your daily living, causing frustration and undermining self-confidence. Remember, as you continue to age, depression and memory loss may become more prevalent, and your body’s capability to manufacture and absorb vitamins may also deteriorate. Therefore, it is important to supplement any deficiency.

Your diet may play an important role in your mental health: what you put into your mouth affects your mind as much as it does your body.

The important minerals

Magnesium

According to Dr. James D. Gordon of Georgetown University School of Medicine, depression could be due to problems in the thyroid. Nutrient deficiency, such as magnesium deficiency, could be a result of thyroid dysfunction.

Magnesium is a youth-preserving mineral. As you age, your magnesium level declines due to poor absorption and inadequate diet.

Magnesium is responsible for neurotransmission abnormalities, in addition to its implications in diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, and thyroid dysfunction.

Magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. An anti-depression healthy diet should be rich in magnesium.

If necessary, take a magnesium supplement of 200-300 mg to remedy your nutrient deficiency.

Calcium

Calcium is an important component of a diet for a healthy mind. According to a study, depressed individuals with suicidal inclination show lower levels of calcium and magnesium.

Many Americans are short of meeting the recommended calcium intake. To help solve the calcium crisis, an array of calcium-fortified foods and beverages flood the consumer market, from juices, drinks, cereals, snacks to dairy foods. However, use of calcium-fortified foods is not the same as a healthy diet with foods that are naturally rich in calcium. Exceeding the safety limit of “tolerable upper intake level” of 2,500 mg calcium per day may have negative effects on other nutrients, such as iron, zinc, and magnesium.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential ingredient in brain structure and functioning: about 30 to 35 percent of your brain is made up omega 3 fatty acids. Research has shown that nutrient deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids contributes to de-stabilizing moods in bipolar depression.

Salmon and sardines are particularly rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Include them in your healthy diet.

Always buy “fresh wild salmon” not their “farm-raised” counterparts. According to several studies, concentrations of several cancer-causing substances are high enough to suggest that consumers should consider restricting their consumption of farm-raised salmon. A healthy diet should avoid farm-raised fish as much as possible.

Not all fish are created equal. Sardines are made from many different species of fish. Sardines are particularly rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which help fight depression, breast cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. Due to their small size, the mercury content in sardines is negligible, as compared to other larger predatory fish such as shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. Make sure that your sardines are free of additives or preservatives. Kosher certification is always a good stamp of approval, as it means that the product meets stringent quality requirements. Include sardines in your healthy diet.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Importance of Cellular Health

The Importance of Cellular Health

Cells make up your organs. When your cells die, your organs fail and health deteriorates; as a result, you age and die.

To maintain and sustain life, some of your cells replicate themselves continually, such as epithelial cells in your intestine, while others do not divide, such as your heart cells and neurons in your brain.

The good news is that, on average, most normal human cells have more than 100 years of lifespan built into them.

The bad news is that all human cells require energy and oxygen to function normally, and in this oxidative process free radicals are created. For example, when you breathe in life-giving oxygen, you also breathe out harmful carbon dioxide. This oxidative process is how your Creator has ingeniously built normal cell death into your body system to ensure your mortality. Slowly and accumulatively, these free radicals build up in your cells, leading to premature cell death. You cannot prolong your life indefinitely, but you can extend your lifespan by slowing down the oxidative process of free radicals. In other words, eradication of free radicals holds the key to optimum health and longevity.

Premature cell death is due to both human and environmental factors, such as bacteria and viruses, free radicals, toxins, and trauma, which can cause irreparable damage to your cells, and thus instrumental in accelerating the demise of these cells. However, many of these factors are not only avoidable but also preventable.

Essentially, genes play an important role in determining the quality of your cells. In other words, your genetic time clock governs how long your cells will live and survive. Your main objective is to outpace your genetic time clock. Remember, nothing is set in stone; you always have a choice—the choice is all yours.

The Damage of Body Cells

Your body is composed of negatively and positively charged molecules, which must be balanced in order to enable your cells to function normally. A free radical is formed when there is imbalance in these molecules. A free radical also damages other molecules, causing them to produce more free radicals—and thus creating a chain reaction of damages that become the scourges of aging and the sources of disease and disorders, in particular, autoimmune diseases.

The damages by free radicals

There are several types of free radicals, and oxygen free radicals are most damaging, especially to your DNA and cell membranes.

Your cells require oxygen for survival. Unfortunately, what gives life also takes away life. In the process of oxidation, harmful oxygen free radicals are produced. Oxygen free radicals and other free radicals in your body cause damages to your cells.

Brain damage

The neurons in your brain may also become damaged by free radicals. The damage may be irreparable because the neurons, unlike other cells, cannot replicate themselves.

Cellular damage

The cumulative damage to your DNA by free radicals is a major contributing factor to many autoimmune diseases, including human cancers.

Heart damage

When your LDL or “bad cholesterol” is attacked by free radicals, they become more attached to the walls of your arteries, and thus forming plagues to block the free flow of blood to your heart.

The only way to fight against free radicals is by boosting your body’s own immunity.

Boosting Immunity

As you age, your immune system becomes weaker, as evidenced by the high incidence of influenza and pneumonia after age 25, not to mention among the elderly. Therefore, it is very important to boost your immunity, which is closely related to your thymus (the commander-in-chief of fighters in your immune system against foreign invaders), with the 10 most important nutritional supplements:

Vitamin A to prevent thymus shrinkage (5,000 IU daily dosage)

Vitamin B6 to maintain hormone levels and to prevent thymus shrinkage (50 mg daily dosage)

Vitamin C to regulate T-cell (white blood thymus cells) function (at least 1,000 mg daily dosage or up to bowel tolerance)

Vitamin E to increase infection resistance (400 - 800 IU daily dosage)

Selenium to increase T-cell activity and antibody production for detoxification (100 mcg daily dosage)

Zinc to boost your thymus for maturing T-cells to fight invaders (15 mg daily dosage)

Coenzyme CO10 to increase energy production for cells’ activities

L-glutathione to regenerate immune cells in the immune system (200 mg daily dosage)

Magnesium to increase enzymatic reactions (100 mg daily dosage)

DHEA to control cortisol, the stress hormone (5 mg daily dosage)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Friday, January 11, 2019

Why Tao Wisdom?

Why Tao Wisdom?


If the Bible is about God’s wisdom, then why should we read Tao Te Ching, which is, at best, only about human wisdom? Why don’t we just read the Bible instead, and forget about Tao Te Ching? Why should we settle more for less?

Why Less for More?

According to Lao Tzu, less is more.

“To guide a great country, we need a great ruler.
To wage a successful war, we need good strategies.
To live a life of harmony, we need letting life live by itself.
That essentially means:
the more efforts we exert, the more failures we experience;
the more weapons we make, the more dangers we encounter;
the more laws we enact, the more law-breakers we produce.”
(Chapter 57, Tao Te Ching)

Understanding human wisdom is the first step in the journey of a thousand miles towards understanding God’s wisdom. Without human wisdom, God’s wisdom is even more unfathomable and forever unintelligible to many.

Many of us often overwhelm ourselves in our pursuit of God’s wisdom in the Bible with its many books such that after a while we may end up giving up reading it—and that is the result of more for less.

Lao Tzu, on the other hand, shows us the importance of taking the first step, a small step, and one step at a time, along the Way, and human wisdom will slowly and subtly unfold itself to each and every one of us. So, beginning with less, we may get more in the long run.

“Accordingly, we do not rush into things.
We neither strain nor stress.
We let go of success and failure.
We patiently take the next necessary step,
a small step and one step at a time.”
(Chapter 64, Tao Te Ching)

So, begin your first step to understand God’s wisdom through human wisdom.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Tao Wisdom on Death and Dying

Tao Wisdom on Death and Dying


“Life begets death; one is inseparable from the other.
One is form; the other is formless.
Each gives way to the other.
One third of people focus on life, ignoring death.
One third of people focus on death, ignoring life.
One third of people think of neither, just drifting along.
They all suffer in the end.
       
Trusting the Creator, we have no illusion about life and death.
Holding nothing back from life, we are ready for death,
just as a man ready for sleep after a good day’s work.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 50)

“Abiding in the Creator, we do not fear death.
Following the conditioned mind, we fear everything.
Fear is a futile attempt to control things and people.

Death is a natural destination of the Way.
Unnatural fear of death does more harm than good.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 74)

Dying and Beyond

On the final journey, with acceptance of the inevitable fate, there is usually no anger or even sadness—just numbness that initiates the winding down of the body.
Dying is just something we all have to do. Do you want to die with grace? Dying with grace is to end well; all is well that ends well!.

A Case in Point

Francis of Assisi, the Italian Saint who chose a life of poverty in spite of his family’s wealth, said on his deathbed: “Death will open the door of life.” He died gracefully while singing.
Maybe for a believer, death is, indeed, a triumph, a meaningful exodus from this mundane world to the eternal world beyond.

A Case in Point

Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his last speech, just several days before his assassination: “It (death) doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountain top. . . . and I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land.”
It was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s strong faith that led him to believe in the existence of the Promised Land beyond death. Indeed, to many believers, they are only humans having a brief existence in this transient material world, and their final destination is the eternal world beyond death.

A Case in Point

There have been many near-death experiences (NDEs) during which people claim that they have seen strange lights and tunnels, letting them have a glimpse of the eternal world beyond. Some of these instances have been written in books and become Amazon’s bestsellers, such as Heaven Is for Real (2010), about a child who saw heaven during surgery. 

Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon and author of Proof of Heaven, said in Newsweek in 2012 that his incredible near-death experience had totally convinced him that his consciousness (the soul or self) exists somehow separate from or outside the mind, and therefore it can travel to other dimensions on its own. Eben wrote: “This world of consciousness beyond the body is the true new frontier, not just of science but of humankind itself, and it is my profound hope that what happened to me will bring the world one step closer to accepting it.”

Are you ready to believe in dying and beyond?

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Living in a World of Depression


Living in a World of Depression

“Depression has been called the world's number one public health problem. In fact, depression is so widespread it is considered the common cold of psychiatric disturbances. But there is a grim difference between depression and a cold. Depression can kill you.“ David D. Burns

We all have a depressive mind because we are all living in a world of depression. The only difference is that our depression may all differ in intensity: slight, serious, or severe. The truth of the matter is that each and every one of us is depressed, without any exception, because we all experience our depressive episodes at some points during our lifespan, and it is very normal. However, many of us prefer to deny or ignore our emotional dysfunction due to the stigma that is often associated with depression.

Depression is not a new human disease or disorder; it is as ancient as man:

"so I have been allotted months of futility,
    and nights of misery have been assigned to me.
4 When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
    The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.
5 My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
    my skin is broken and festering.
6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
    and they come to an end without hope.
7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
    my eyes will never see happiness again.
8 The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;
    you will look for me, but I will be no more.
9 As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
    so one who goes down to the grave does not return.
10 He will never come to his house again;
    his place will know him no more.
11 “Therefore I will not keep silent;
    I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
    I will complain in the bitterness of my soul." (Job 7: 3-11)

“Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
(Psalm 143: 7-8)

In modern age, Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, underwent serious bouts of depression during his country's national crisis in World War II. The fact is that depression is no respecter of persons—even for those with very high I.Q., such as the Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway who committed suicide just as his father did with the comment “I’ll probably go the same way.” Indeed, many of us are vulnerable to this genetic mental disorder.

Sadly, depression is currently increasing at an alarming rate because the world we are now living in is getting more challenging, more complex, and more complicated each day passingit has now become a world of depression.

Do not avoid depression with medications; instead, go through depression in order to overcome it. Follow the TAO, which is the Way through depression.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau