A New Approach

Since my early adulthood I have studied metaphysics and philosophy, and it has provided me with the strength to get over hurdles and to enjoy my life, no matter what. As to one of my complications, I have been struggling with cancer for over 15 years, and knowing that there was no cure, but only the progression of the disease, I could have fallen into depression and hopelessness. But I always found light along the way, met the right people, and felt that this unexpected hurdle was helping me to grow and become spiritually stronger. In other words, my studies of metaphysics and philosophy helped me live a happy and fulfilling life. 

My medical treatment is one of my blessings, for which I am deeply grateful. My oncologist, who also is a student of metaphysics and with whom I sometimes exchange thoughts and insights, mentioned a few weeks ago, that he thought I was a stoic. He gave me a link, and I started looking into it. Of course, I knew the general meaning of being stoic, but I went deeper into researching stoicism and found a lot of similarities with my mindset. I realized that my approach to dying is one of my beliefs which lead my doctor to his opinion, as well as how I handle decisions in general.

I am very grateful that he opened this philosophical approach to me, showing me that I can dwell deeper and find more peace despite my illness. Although I seem to be a natural stoic, there is much to learn, and I am looking forward to it. I know it will be beneficial for me, and I see complete harmony with my other spiritual beliefs. It shows that we can always learn, as long as we are open and willing. I am only at the beginning of this new journey but wanted to share this discovery. Here are a few fundamentals on how to live like a stoic:

  • Live as if you died but were resuscitated, and every minute is a gift.
  • Every person you meet is an opportunity for kindness.
  • Be forgiving of others.
  • Try to hold as few opinions as possible.
  • Always consider the worst-case scenario.
  • Keep a list of what you’ve learned from other people (and remember to thank them often).If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it.

Life is what we make it, and there is never a reason to give up or to be disillusioned. No matter where we stand in our life’s journey, there is beauty and love.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

Hugging

 

Coming out of a culture where hugging wasn’t commonplace, I had to learn to be comfortable with people frequently hugging and kissing when I moved to Belgium. But it didn’t take long before I enjoyed and loved this gracious and meaningful gesture, and I rapidly integrated it into my life. The amusing part was that when I visited my friends in Germany, they had a startled look on their faces when I hugged them and gave them three kisses. I hoped it brought them as much joy as it did for me.

Hugging has many positive aspects and is considered good medicine. Scientific research has shown that we need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth. Hugs also allow us to communicate with others when we don’t know how to express our feelings in words. And the best part is that we usually cannot give a hug without receiving one in return.

What do I feel when someone hugs me? I feel accepted and loved, a warm feeling of gratitude flows through me, and I put my whole being into my response hug. When I have the privilege to hug someone, I am grateful and wish the person much joy and happiness. And sometimes, yes, I can communicate my feelings better with a hug than with words. Our little Romeo, our loving and sweet Yorkie, is smothered in hugs and thriving. Yes, hugs are therapeutic; so dispense them freely!

Why does being hugged and giving a hug feel so good, and why do hugs make us feel happier? Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, a hormone released by the pituitary gland, which heals feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists sometimes call the “cuddle hormone.” It causes a reduction in blood pressure and of the stress hormone norepinephrine. In simple words: Hugging makes us feel better.

I know that the scarceness of hugging in my childhood was not because I wasn’t loved. I was. After meditating on this subject, I came to the conclusion that it was part of the culture and influenced by the consequences of two world wars. My mother was loving, but she had a difficult time expressing it. She lost her mother when she was 10, lived through WWI as a child, then WWII as a young wife, giving birth to a baby daughter and a son, but losing the son because of a lack of medication caused by the war. Then I came along, but shortly afterward, she lost her husband, my father. So, she struggled as a single working mother with two young children, and although she was loving and nurturing, hugging was not a priority – surviving was.

I am grateful that I was exposed in my early adult years to lots of hugging and kissing. I quickly learned to love it and have carried it through my whole adult life. One can never get too many hugs. If you haven’t hugged someone lately, try it and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Not only will it bring happiness to you, but it will also bring joy to the one you hugged.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Founder and Author of NotJustCooking.com

Laughter

Laughter should be part of our daily lives. Not only because it makes us feel better, but also because it is good for us.

Here is a quote from Dr. Gulshan Sethi, a well-known cardiothoracic surgeon in Tucson who saved my husband’s life in 2006. I will always be grateful to him. “Laughter activates the body’s natural relaxation response. It’s like internal jogging, providing a good massage to all internal organs while also toning abdominal muscles”.

There are many ways to include more laughter into our lives, like reading amusing books, watching funny movies, or merely looking at ourselves with a sense of humor, to name a few. Not taking ourselves too seriously will help as well.

I fondly remember a time at the Optimum Health Institute, when we followed our morning exercises with a laughing session on the floor. It was contagious, and it made everyone feel great. The yogi I worked with in Europe also taught spontaneous laughter after certain yoga classes, and I enjoyed those moments of laughter and relaxation. You might feel a little self-conscious at the beginning of a laughing session, but this feeling will disappear rapidly, and when finished you will feel light and happy.

Laughing is beneficial, and it is free! You can do it whenever you feel like it, and who cares if people see you chuckling and wonder what makes you so happy. They might even smile with you. Laughter is contagious, and spreading it is worthwhile.

And, if you are still not convinced, here are six reasons provided by the Chopra Center on why you should embrace the habit of laughing:

  • It is contagious
  • Reduces the stress response
  • Boosts immunity
  • Increases resilience
  • Combats depression
  • Relieves pain

Have fun and laugh often!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Out of the Mouths of Babes

A few days ago, I watched a video of a little girl celebrating her 2nd birthday with a cupcake, candle, and balloons. She danced and enjoyed her birthday celebration so much that since then, her father says she wants to celebrate every day with a cupcake, candle, and hopefully balloons. Watching the brief video and the happiness of the little girl, I felt a deep joy and wondered what lesson was there to be learned.

We like to celebrate our birthdays, the day of our birth is special to us, but I felt there was more to it. Should we celebrate ourselves more often, perhaps every day? Could we experience pure joy like the innocent little girl? Could we spare a few minutes to celebrate our successes and achievements and be grateful for who we are and have become? And could we do this regularly?

I was so inspired that I decided to celebrate my accomplishments daily in a brief meditation. I tried out various times during the day and finally chose a quiet time just before going to sleep. Although I am very familiar with meditation, I wasn’t used to singling out my achievements and celebrating them. And as an overachiever, I am accustomed to noticing my shortcomings and what hasn’t been done and is still pending. This exercise did not feel comfortable at the beginning. I had to search my mind for something I could single out as special. It all seemed so routine and not worth making a fuss over it. But when I focused, I could see some actions which stood out. I quickly got over my hang-up and you will too. The joy and happiness you will feel are worth the effort. I try to do it every day now because it makes me feel balanced, and it only takes a few minutes.

We all believe that physical exercise is good for us. We go to gyms, have trainers, use instruction apps, and watch tutorials. Do you believe in exercising your mind to achieve and maintain mental wellbeing? Don’t we all want to live a stress-free and happy life? Meditation is a great way to accomplish this and celebrating yourself can be a form of meditation. Every time you breathe deeply and clear your mind of unwanted thoughts and worries by focusing on joy and happiness, you are meditating. I have used meditation for a very long time, but I needed to be reminded by a young and pure spirit, that a daily celebration of oneself brings joy and happiness. Being happy with yourself and loving yourself is vital to living a balanced life, and when you feel good about yourself, it reflects onto others.

This precious little girl gave me that insight. In her purity and simplicity, she offered me a gift which I will treasure for the rest of my life. We can learn so much by watching and listening to little children. Joy and gratitude will fill your heart when you accept that you and your life are worth celebrating all year long, not just your birthday.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Sunshine

With 284 sunny days, there is no shortage of sunshine in Tucson. It is a blessing, and I am grateful for it. Brief sunbath sessions in our backyard help me with one of the symptoms of my health challenge. It doesn’t take it away for long, but I enjoy the benefits as long as they last. And Romeo, our little Yorkie, adores the sun. Just mentioning the word “sunbath” brings him to the door waiting to join me. It has become a cherished ritual, and I look forward to it as much as he does.

Sunshine affects moods and mental attitude as well as physical health. Too much sun can be damaging, though, and moderation is a given, as we know now. This wasn’t always a known and accepted fact, and in my younger years, extended sessions in the sun and a fabulous tan were requisites for a great vacation. Living in Belgium with many overcast and dreary days, I felt compelled to spend my holidays in sunny countries, and Africa and the Middle East always attracted me. Beirut was a beautiful place to spend a vacation, and I understood why it was called “The Paris of the Middle East.” The yogi I worked with had one of his schools in Dakar, Senegal, and I liked to spend a week or two practicing yoga and exploring the surroundings.  We didn’t know much then about skin cancer, and fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with any unwanted consequences.

Sunshine is vital to all life. We often take it for granted but making it a focal point makes us aware of the blessings the sun bestows on us. Being part of a sunrise is an exceptional experience. Try sitting quietly and let the serenity enter your mind and heart. A new day, a new beginning!  It is a perfect moment for a meditation and a gratitude prayer. And don’t miss the sunset, with its pallet of incredible colors while the sun slowly disappears. Listening to the animals, some getting ready for the night, others preparing for their hunt, is a unique experience. A sunset meditation brings peace and harmony.

The spiritual meaning of the sun is multifold, and one can find it in many religions and teachings. For me, the sun is an integral part of life, and the beauty of a sunset and the promise of a sunrise fill me with gratitude.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

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