Monday, August 18, 2014

REPOST: Global Meditation Event Aims to Break World Record

Alternative medicine expert Deepak Chopra, M.D., life coach Gabrielle Bernstein, and singer India Arie join forces in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the biggest group meditation in history. Read the article below for more info about the global meditation event.

Image Source: shape.com
Meditation may seem like a solo endeavor, but one large-scale event taking place in Toronto today aims to bring together thousands of people to get their zen on—simultaneously. 
Today at noon EST, alternative medicine expert Deepak Chopra, M.D., will be joined by life coach Gabrielle Bernstein, and singer-songwriter India Arie in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest group meditation in history. To successfully break the record, the event will have to draw 15,000 participants—and it's well on the way to take the title. "We already have 50,000 people signed up, and we hope to have over 100,000 participate," Bernstein says.
The free event is open to the public, and will also be livestreamed on the Chopra Center's website, so anyone can log into the seven-minute meditation from their bedroom, yoga studio, or even from the office. Plus, Chopra and Bernstein will provide tips on meditating, so don't worry if you've never tried it before. (For further guidance, check out Bernstein's Begginer's Guide to Meditation.) 
While breaking a world record with thousands of other people may not seem exactly zen-like, Bernstein sees it a major opportunity for global healing, and says there's a broader purpose behind bringing people together for a shared intention. "Given what's going in the world right now, many people are feeling powerless. Connecting with others’ positive, peaceful energy is the best way to reclaim your power," she explains. "Our individual, personal experiences create a ripple effect. When more and more people begin to meditate, the world begins to vibrate at a higher frequency, and a shift can occur." 
Register here, or simply log in at noon today to participate in the event. And even if you can't join in today, you can still reap the benefits of meditation in as little as 60 seconds. "A lot of people think you need a lot of time to meditate, but even you practice one minute of stillness per day you'll experience a beautiful change in your life," says Bernstein. 
James Van Praagh is a world renowned psychic and meditation guru who has worked with religious leaders, celebrities, and politicians all over the world. Visit this website to learn more about his psychic abilities and his unique methods of self-development and meditation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

REPOST: The Case Against Mix-and-Match Spirituality

Though today’s Americans are more accepting of diversity in cultural and religious beliefs, it seems only a select few have the patience to explore and understand the significance behind important religious rituals. This article examines the ramifications that arise when spirituality is treated like a product and commoditized.
Image Source: theatlantic.com
ASPEN, Colo.—Religious believers who hope to raise children who stay within their faith tradition face many challenges, some of them very worrisome, others less so. "It's good that in America people no longer want to murder Jews, but to marry them," Leon Wieseltier told an appreciative audience Saturday at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Fellow panelist Arsalan Iftikhar, a Muslim civil rights lawyer, saw his opening. "We hope to get there one day," he said, to slightly less comfortable laughter.  
As the panelists pondered what American faith might look like in 2024, they grappled with what keeping religious traditions alive actually requires, prompted in part by an audience member who asked, "Can I be a good Jew if I don't believe in God?" 
Wieseltier granted the possibility. 
"Can I be a good Catholic?" the man asked. 
"That's not your problem," Wieseltier said.  
Another audience member noted that while she was raised Catholic, her four children include a Buddhist, a Jew, and "two undeclareds." Alluding to research that suggests Millennials are less racist than the generations that came before them, she said, "I also like the thought that religion is evolving." Perhaps they'll survey parts of religious traditions that they like and combine them. 
"Perhaps they'll be less divisive," she said, "and change the whole face of religion in our society."That worried Wieseltier. 
"To call oneself a Muslim, a Jew, or a Catholic, what do the continuities have to be?" he asked. "You cannot simply erase the entirety of the religion that preceded you and call yourself a Jew. You can say that there is this tradition that is X,Y, and Z, interpret as you choose, state your reasons. It's a free country, this is the kind of Jew you want to be. What worries me is that the new forms will be so disconnected from the traditions that something called Judaism will survive but that the tradition in its richness may not. That is my deepest fear about my faith." 
Professor Molly Worthen, another panelist, expressed a related concern.  
"Call me old fashioned, but yes, I would say, to be a good Catholic you have to believe in God," she said. "There's a problem with the hyper-individualization of Millennial religion. The advantage of an institution is that it forces you into conversation with people you might not agree with. It forces you to grapple with a tradition that includes hard ideas. It forces you to have, for at least part of your life, a respect for authority that inculcates the sense that you have something to learn, that you're not reinventing the wheel, but that millennia have come before you. The structure of institutions, for all their evils, facilitates that. And we may be losing that." 
Wieseltier posited that it's being lost because Americans are trying to bring to their religious experience the same level of customization that they expect when shopping. "They treat their tradition as consumers–or let's say, consumers with loyalty to one store." More than other panelists, his forecast was gloomy. "On the question of what is true or false about the universe," he said, "Americans are not interested anymore."
Spiritual coach and medium James van Praagh believes that proper respect, commitment, and devotion should be given when one wishes to embrace a religious order. For more on the inner self and spirituality, subscribe to this blog.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

REPOST: Psychic Spies of the Cold War

The metaphysical and psychic phenomena have long been used for the esoteric science of 'Remote Viewing'--one of the capabilities of the trained psychics under Project Stargate, a project that was said to be created by the CIA to gather intelligence reports. The article below discusses how the military was able to harness the special faculty of the mind for the purpose of intelligence gathering.


A car rides between US tanks, in October 1961, across the famous border of the American sector in Berlin, at Checkpoint Charlie crossing point, the only one in the Berlin Wall between East (Soviet sector) and West Berlin (American sector) used only by diplomats and foreigners.
. Image Source: theepochtimes.com


The U.S. government’s use of trained psychics for military application has a history dating back at least a few decades.


Project Stargate was an umbrella codename for a project funded by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It was created in response to intelligence reports that the Soviet Union was engaging in psychic research, according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).


Stargate, which was given several codenames between 1972 and 1995, employed “remote viewing,” a technique that uses powers of the mind to view distant scenes and individuals.


Started at the Stanford Research Institute in California in 1972, the project—originally called SCANATE, or scan by coordinate—consisted of gifted or talented individuals selected by the SRI that would be trained in psychic warfare. A minimum of 65 percent accuracy was desired, but higher levels supposedly could be reached with training.


As the project evolved through the 1970s, it was eventually combined with a pre-existing Army intelligence program called project “grill flame” in 1979. Operating out of Fort Meade, Md., the new group consisted of both soldiers and civilians who were considered to be psychically gifted.


By 1983, the program expanded to include a set of instructions that, in theory, would allow anyone to be trained in remote viewing and produce reliable data. By 1984, the project had conducted hundreds of remote viewing experiments.


Although the reported level of success of the program varies from source to source, the program allegedly had several successful sessions including locating a Soviet nuclear testing area at Semipalatinsk in 1974 and locating a downed Soviet Tu–95 bomber within several miles of the wreckage in Africa. Special Projects Intelligence Officer Joe McMoneagle said that he left the project after receiving a Legion of Merit award for providing information on 150 targets that could not be located by other means, according to the FAS.


The project continued until the mid 1990s, at which time it suffered from a series of infrastructural flaws that led to its evaluation by the American Institute for Research in 1995. After both positive and negative assessments were offered, the institute ultimately recommended the project’s termination.


The Stargate remote viewing program files are currently available, declassified, and stored at the National Archives and Records Administration.


James Van Praagh is an internationally renowned psychic and best-selling author of spiritual books such as Reaching to Heaven, Healing Grief, Heaven and Earth, Looking Beyond, Meditations, and Ghosts Among Us. He travels the world to share his abilities and to teach about meditation, spiritual empowerment, and emotional healing. View his schedule of upcoming seminars, events, and weekend retreats on this website.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

REPOST: The Gift of Love

In his blog, writer and celebrity psychic James Van Praagh writes about the truth behind the symbolic actions of giving gifts and emphasizes that the true measure of generosity comes from giving what is needed by another.

Image source: VanPraagh.com


I was on the phone recently discussing with a friend how crazy people start to act at this time of year. We were comparing notes of the different things we had witnessed while shoppers were all attempting to get somewhere, see someone, or do something. I had just returned from Los Angeles, where I witnessed a postal truck go through a red light as the carrier was looking at mail and at a woman jaywalking through a busy street while balancing holiday purchases in her hands. It was just amazing to watch it all. Why do people feel the need at this time of year to run around and buy, buy, buy? And all the Christmas stuff was in my local stores before Halloween! I totally understand that people want to make Christmas a special time for children, but when it comes to buying a present for anyone over 18, I've decided to make donations.

If I see something in a store in July that I think a friend would like, I don't hesitate to buy it for them and give it to them because I was thinking of them. But I don't like the pressure of purchasing something right after Thanksgiving that they may never use. Now I spend one day on the computer creating donations in people's names to charities. I like Doctors Without Borders, water.org, Voice for the Animals, and The Trevor Project. But I mix it up to make it significant to the recipient.

The original idea of gifting began in the 4th century with St. Nicholas, a Christian bishop, who was known for his generosity in giving to those less fortunate than he; as well as to children of all backgrounds simply so they could have a joyful memory from their childhood. The most common gifts were homemade foods and sweets, oranges (a huge treat due to their scarcity), and handcrafted items like clothes, blankets or furniture.

I looked up the definition of "gift" in the dictionary. It means: Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation. The act, right or power of giving. There is nothing in the definition that says you must buy a retail item. Therefore, I say the true spirit of the holiday is to be with the ones you love and be thankful for their presence in your life. Let them know how much you care by giving to someone in need in their honor. It is also a great time to help anyone in your neighborhood who is elderly or may have a spouse in the Armed Services. Volunteering your time to babysit, walk a dog, or do a chore is really a gift to yourself.

The easiest gift to share with the most people is a smile. People are frazzled this time of year so letting someone ahead of you in line, being courteous in traffic, and holding open doors is a gift. When we give from our hearts instead of from our bank accounts, I truly feel that is the true essence of the season. I know that giving is better than receiving, so I certainly don't begrudge someone giving me something. But I'd rather a hungry child get a meal instead of me getting another tie.

Get updates on James Van Praagh and his activites from his official website.

Friday, January 17, 2014

REPOST: Measuring Spirituality One Click at a Time

This article from the University of Connecticut discusses a study that aims to gather data on how spirituality affects the daily lives of Americans through the use of a smartphone app.
Image Source: www.today.uconn.edu
Americans’ penchant for spirituality in contrast to other industrialized nations is well-known: a 2012 Pew Research study found that even 68 percent of those unaffiliated with any religion say they believe in God.

But social scientists seeking to go beyond those basic questions have frequently been stymied by the logistics of getting people to provide crucial detail about their beliefs and the impact they have on their lives.

A new project launched in November and overseen by Bradley Wright, associate professor of sociology, aims to change that.

Soulpulse.org, a sleek, well-designed website designed to work as easily on a smartphone or tablet as on a desktop computer, is giving researchers a chance to gather experiential, real-time data on American spirituality and how it intersects with people’s daily lives.

“You could write a hundred papers out of this and not even scratch the surface,” says Wright, author of Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told (2010).
It works like this:
Image Source: www.today.uconn.edu
People can sign up at www.soulpulse.org for a two-week survey in which they’ll receive two daily questionnaires via text or email or both. The questions range from general assessments of physical health and well-being like “How much sleep did you get last night?” to whether the respondent has prayed in the last 24 hours.

The questions vary from day to day, and change based on whether, in the initial signup, the respondent indicates a belief in God or not. At the end of two weeks, the respondent gets a link to a report featuring the results of the study, which can indicate, among other things, that someone is far more likely to feel joyful on a Friday than a Wednesday, or that a respondent tends to feel closer to God when relaxing than while using a computer at work.

So far, with about 160 surveys completed, the study has already yielded some 92,000 individual data points, and it’s found some rough early trends. For example, people feel most joyful when they are taking a walk or exercising and least joyful when they are working on their computer or watching television, and there seems to be a clear link between getting a good amount of sleep and overall feelings of spiritual well-being.

“The beauty of this is, as new research questions come up, we can add them to the survey and test them,” Wright says. “It takes literally a matter of seconds to add a new question.”

Soulpulse.org is the result of discussions Wright had with the popular California-based pastor the Rev. John Ortberg, whose Silicon Valley congregation has produced some of the technical know-how on the project.

Wright and Ortberg were aware of two studies that used new technology to conduct studies using what’s known as the “experience sampling method,” a way of evaluating reactions to situations in real time, rather than giving a list of questions that ask about experiences in the past. But those studies are gauging relative happiness, and Wright and Ortberg wondered if it would be possible to build a survey to measure spirituality. 
Image Source: www.today.uconn.edu
After about 18 months of planning and preparation, Soulpulse.org launched with a team of about a dozen, including six computer experts and six researchers. The latter include, along with project manager Wright, two of his UConn colleagues: assistant professor of sociology Jeremy Pais and professor of psychology Crystal Park.

Wright, whose expertise ranges from criminology to American evangelicals, is relishing the challenges that come with overseeing such a large and path-breaking project: “There have been weeks where I’m on the phone with one of the most prominent psychology researchers in the country, and then I have lunch with a venture capitalist,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Not that the road has been completely smooth, however. The surveys, which take about three minutes to complete, were designed to be easily used on a smartphone, a critical part of capturing people’s experiences as they happen. That meant a big change for Wright.

“I didn’t even have a smartphone before this,” he laughs. “I literally went to the Apple store and said, ‘I need something called an iPhone. Can you help me?’”

IPhone now securely in hand, Wright says he plans the study to last for years, and is working with the Soulpulse.org team on ways to make the data available to other researchers.

“It’s important to me to do work that goes out into the world and maybe makes a difference,” he says. “That’s one of the most rewarding things about this project, because it really has the potential to do that.”
James Van Praagh is a renowned spiritual medium whose messages have helped many who are struggling with pain and suffering. Visit his website for more information.