Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eating and Stress: Your Blood Sugar

Eating can directly impact your stress. Understanding how food affects you will help you manage it. It comes down to maintaining proper blood sugar levels.

The ideal situation is to have an even, healthy, level of blood sugar throughout the day. It is affected by when you eat, how often you eat, and what you eat. Let’s look at the impact of blood sugar on your stress-response and overall health.

Blood sugar is glucose which is used by your body as energy. Your brain needs this energy to function. Your brain can’t store glucose. It is totally dependant on the sugar circulating in your bloodstream.

Glucose is made from the carbohydrates. That means grains, breads, pasta, fruit and sugar. The more refined a carbohydrate is, the faster it will go into your bloodstream as glucose. Processed sugar, and simple, natural, sugars ( like fruit juice, maple syrup and honey) are directly absorbed by your stomach. They quickly release glucose into your bloodstream.

We are looking for balance. Blood sugar that is too low, or too high, is a problem. Consuming more sugar is not the solution. Eating simple sugars ends up depriving your brain of the glucose it needs.

Low blood sugar can be caused by, lack of food, skipping meals, or the re-bound after consuming sugary food. Low blood sugar creates an emotional response of nervousness, or anxiety, which can directly impact your ability to deal with stressful situations. It can also lead to confusion and irritability, putting your body into a stressed state even when nothing is happening. It can impact your ability to deal with your emotions leading to over-reactions.

High blood sugar can make you hyper-sensitive and reactive. You may get angry with very little reason. It can also lead to fatigue which impacts your ability to perform and cope with day to day tasks.

Either state, low, or high, will create and environment of heightened emotions. They will increase your accumulated stress. Ideally you want to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. Then your brain can perform at its best. Your body will be fully equipped to deal with the stresses of the day.  Have you suffered from high, or low, blood sugar symptoms? I’d like to hear what it was like for you.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Truths to Live By: No Devil

In Ifa we believe that there is no devil. There is no force in the Universe designed to tempt humans and distance them from God. In this post we’ll explore this truth and the reason that it is critical to the Ifa world-view.

This tenet is not based on some naive idea that only good exists. We fully acknowledge that there is evil and darkness in the world. They are necessary for balance. We do not perform cleansing or shedding ceremonies on Wednesdays and Saturdays in respect to the chaotic and destructive forces in the Universe.

If the Universe was created by a single benevolent force why would that force create an entity whose sole purpose was harm us? From a mystical perspective, the devil makes no sense. If God is the ground of being and we, at our deepest level, are also God. How would it be possible for us to be tempted away?

In a traditional religious context it was important to enforce an absolute code of ethics. It was critical to our growth as a species. It freed  us from the warlords who destroyed so many lives. God was seen as a stern enforcer. Only the worthy could gain admittance to heaven. The devil tested the faithful. People had to  prove that they deserved the after-life. If not, they would suffer for eternity. It was a very effective way to keep people in line. It prevented the fiercest among us from ruling the world.

In our benevolent world-view it is unthinkable that God would have created a being whose sole purpose is to tempt, and misguide, us. There is evil and negativity in the world. We have tools to deal with them. The rest of our success, or failure, is a matter of our own character and our chosen destiny.

It’s up to you to achieve your destiny. The Universe is there to guide you. If you let it. Do you believe in the devil? I’d love to know why, or why not.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Are you Dealing with an Impossible Boss?

Is your boss impossible to deal with? Is managing their moods and expectations stressing you out? Let’s talk about some solutions.

I’ve had my fair share of impossible people to work for. Sometimes dealing with a difficult superior can be upsetting, even depressing. Many people find themselves in a job they like, but can’t seem to get along with the person they report to.

The first step is figuring out what you are contributing to the situation. How do you make the situation as good as it can be? How do you make matters worse? While you may be dealing with a completely unreasonable person, you are still in control of your reactions.

Are you letting your fear control you? I used to do that. When asked to meet a completely impossible deadline I would say yes because I was afraid I might get in trouble, or even fired. Dealing with your fear is an important step to improving any relationship.

Consider the type of person that you’re boss is. They may be very different from you. Try to understand their perspective. What would It be like to be in their shoes? You may resist this. It is easier to complain.

Your boss is another human being with pressures, and faults, of their own. Understanding their shortcomings and issues will build empathy and compassion. It will make it easier to tolerate their not so good behaviour. It will also help you to relate to, and communicate with, them better.

Improving communication is the best way to work on a relationship.  Pay attention to the types of words your boss uses.  If they use a lot of visual words do the same. If they express more through emotional words, do that. They may talk more about sounds, “Do you hear what I’m saying?” or through logic “That doesn’t make sense to me”. You will find it easier to understand them, and to be understood by them, if you communicate like them.

These are just preliminary steps. Taking responsibility for improving your relationship is the point. Have you had some success in managing a difficult boss? I’d love to hear why or why not.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Truths to Live By: A Single Creative Force

The Yoruba believed in a single creative force that has made the Universe. That belief is critical to understanding the Ifa world-view.

From the stillness came creation. The blast of light that started it all is called Ogbe Meji. Today, science calls it the big bang. It happened about 14 billion years ago. In Ifa the force that created that blast is called Olodumare.

How can a philosophy with all those Orisa consider itself monotheistic? Because the Orisa are energies, not gods. They were created by God just the way the rest of the Universe was.

The Yoruba did not ask for Olodumare’s help. They did not consider God approachable.  You cannot pray to something that is everything, and nothing, at once.

This benevolent force placed us into creation. It gave us access to the Orisa, the eternal energies of the Universe, to assist us with our growth and development. Unlike most shamanic traditions, Ifa makes God the source of creation, not just the head of it.

What does all this mean to the modem Ifa practitioner?

In my view Olodumare is perfect stillness. Olodumare contains the irresistible desire to become. Olodumare can never be known because there is nothing separate from it.

The Universe has grown and evolved from the instant of the big bang. The evolutionary impulse is irresistible. From the deepest, stillest, part of ourselves it calls us to become more. Our destines express this need to move forward.

The Orisa, our Ori, and our ancestors, are all there to offer support, and guidance, on the journey. We may not know where we are going. We simply have to go. Life calls us in the same voice that screamed “Yes!” as the Universe exploded into existence.

We cannot pray to Olodumare. We can unite with Olodumare as the spark of life within us. Since our ancient origins we have been on a  journey of becoming. We are pulled forward by the desire to evolve.

Do you feel God pulling you? I’d love to hear why, or why not.

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