Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Causes of Depression

Despair and despondency

Feeling trapped in a dire situation or circumstance with no foreseeable exit only distresses the mind. It could be any situation or circumstance, such as getting an unwanted pregnancy, having several children early in a marriage saddled with many financial burdens but with no vocational skill, being stuck in a bad love relationship with no way out, and many other despairing and despondent situations.

Adversity and loss

Adversity and loss are inevitable in life. Adversity may come in many different forms, such as accidents, injuries, and diseases; while loss can be physical loss, such as loss of mobility, material loss, such as loss of a home due to foreclosure, mental loss, such as loss of memory, spousal loss, such as separation or bereavement, and spiritual loss, such as loss of life purpose and meaningful existence in life.

Inactivity and lack of goals

An inactive individual is more vulnerable to depression, because that individual spends most of his or her time drifting about and doing nothing in particular. By the same token, an individual lacking life goals ceases to struggle in life—that may explain why depression is more frequent among the senior and the elderly. Man is basically a goal-seeking creature. Therefore, after reaching one goal, an individual should set another higher goal in order to avoid the feeling of being letdown after the achievement of the goal, and thus setting off a depression.
The bottom line: never stay in a mental vacuum; always keep yourself mentally and physically busy and engaged, with something to look forward to. Remember, happy people always have strong goals, which have little to do with money, according to Earl Nightingale, an American author and motivational speaker.

Regret and self-pity

A depressed individual often looks back at the past with anger and bitterness, accompanied by regret and self-pity. "What if" and "I wish it were" are always on the mind of that depressed individual, wishing things were different. Regret and self-pity always go hand in hand with that depressed individual.

Biological malfunction and chemical imbalance

Of course, with the advancement of modern medicine, medical authorities have now attributed many cases of depression to biological malfunction, such as an abnormal thyroid, or imbalance of certain brain chemicals. However, it should be pointed out that it is difficult to determine whether it is the thinking mind or the chemical imbalance that actually causes the biological malfunctioning. The explanation is that an individual's own negative or self-destructive thinking patterns may also ultimately lead to the chemical and hormonal imbalance in that individual.
Therefore, we should always look at the whole picture, and not just a part of it; after all, depression is a complex and complicated disease of the mind, and we are also living in a world of depression.


Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Friday, May 17, 2019

Embracing and Letting Go


Embracing is accepting the good and the bad with grace and gratitude. Embracing everyone and everything is beneficial because it holds the key to awakening, which is the ultimate understanding of the TAO.

“We act without over-doing.
We manage without interference.
We enjoy without attachment. . . .
Therefore, we focus on the present moment,
doing what needs to be done,
without straining and stressing.

To end our suffering,
we focus on the present moment,
instead of our expected result.
So, we follow the natural laws of things.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 63)

Before you could embrace, you need to let go of anger, desire, disappointment, expectation, frustration, and grudge, among many other negative emotions. But you will be rewarded with spiritual instructions and inspirations.
 
“Everything that happens to us is beneficial.
Everything that we experience is instructional.
Everyone that we meet, good or bad, becomes our teacher or student.

We learn from both the good and the bad.
So, stop picking and choosing.
Everything is a manifestation of the mysteries of creation.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 27)

Letting go is the natural surrender of the human mind to any involuntary reactivity aimed at removing anything that might threaten or undermine the ego-self. Letting go should be a natural instinct, and not a technique that one has to learn and master; it is simply a spontaneous human ability to give up all human attachments that create the unreal ego-self.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Relearning the Self


Hippocrates (460 - 370 B.C.), the father of medicine, once said: “Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.” Take a step further: let food be the “only” medicine for you. If you have developed a degenerative disease, start thinking of food as your medicine, in fact, the best medicine, if not the “only” medicine. Your body is designed to digest and utilize food to get its nutrients and energy. But only wholesome food can do that—not even supplements, because supplements are just what they are called.
If food is the “only” medicine for you, you will empower yourself with knowledge about food, and you will then pursue a proper diet with high-quality, non-toxic, nutritious food. That means, you will refrain yourself from eating any of those commercially-prepared and chemically-loaded foods obtainable at supermarkets. When food becomes the “only” medicine, you will also learn to trust your body; that is, you will relearn what your body is telling you, and how it responds to real and wholesome foods.
When you do become sick, you should also relearn how to use herbs as medicine. Herbs from different parts of plants have different therapeutic values that promote self-healing without the use of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. As a matter of fact, many common herbs, such as cinnamon, garlic, and ginger, have been used as “food” medicine for thousands of years. According to a Chinese saying, “You can never draw a line between foods and herbs.” Indeed, herbs can cure many common ailments, such as constipation, cholesterol, high blood pressure, with little or no side effects. For example, use ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties to fight arthritis pain and nausea; use hawthorn berries for your cardiovascular health; use aloe juice to cure an upset stomach.
If food is your “only” medicine, you will make good use of it to improve your health and heal yourself of any disease.
Longevity is always drug-free. This makes sense: taking too many pharmaceutical drugs means your body is stressed by physical ailments. Ironically, these drugs may do you a further disservice by ingesting more toxins into your already toxin-loaded body. However, it does not imply that you must desist from taking your medications prescribed by your doctor. Rather, it suggests you should be more alert to the side effects of the drugs you are currently taking; you should not readily reach out for unsafe pharmaceutical drugs, especially those over-the-counter, without any second thought as if they were coupons or silver bullets.
Hippocrates had also said: “Healing is a matter of time, but it is also a matter of opportunity.” Therefore, give your body that opportunity for natural self-healing by going drug-free, although it may take more time.
Remember, when you give your body a drug that replaces a substance your body is capable of making itself, you body then becomes weaker, and begins not only to manufacture less of that substance, but also to become more dependent on the outside source, which is usually the drug. Over time, you will become no longer drug-free.
Unfortunately, no drug can give you insight into the circumstance that created your problems in the first place. At best, it can only temporarily assuage the physical pain created by your situation. Remember, there are no miracle drugs—only wholesome natural healing. Relearn to utilize your body’s natural healing power, rather than relying on unsafe pharmaceutical drugs. Keep yourself drug-free as much as and as long as possible!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Relearning Self-Healing

Hippocrates (460 - 370 B.C.), the father of medicine, once said: “Our food should be our mf-Healingedicine. Our medicine should be our food.” Take a step further: let food be the “only” medicine for you. If you have developed a degenerative disease, start thinking of food as your medicine, in fact, the best medicine, if not the “only” medicine. Your body is designed to digest and utilize food to get its nutrients and energy. But only wholesome food can do that—not even supplements, because supplements are just what they are called.
If food is the “only” medicine for you, you will empower yourself with knowledge about food, and you will then pursue a proper diet with high-quality, non-toxic, nutritious food. That means, you will refrain yourself from eating any of those commercially-prepared and chemically-loaded foods obtainable at supermarkets. When food becomes the “only” medicine, you will also learn to trust your body; that is, you will relearn what your body is telling you, and how it responds to real and wholesome foods.
When you do become sick, you should also relearn how to use herbs as medicine. Herbs from different parts of plants have different therapeutic values that promote self-healing without the use of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. As a matter of fact, many common herbs, such as cinnamon, garlic, and ginger, have been used as “food” medicine for thousands of years. According to a Chinese saying, “You can never draw a line between foods and herbs.” Indeed, herbs can cure many common ailments, such as constipation, cholesterol, high blood pressure, with little or no side effects. For example, use ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties to fight arthritis pain and nausea; use hawthorn berries for your cardiovascular health; use aloe juice to cure an upset stomach.
If food is your “only” medicine, you will make good use of it to improve your health and heal yourself of any disease.
Longevity is always drug-free. This makes sense: taking too many pharmaceutical drugs means your body is stressed by physical ailments. Ironically, these drugs may do you a further disservice by ingesting more toxins into your already toxin-loaded body. However, it does not imply that you must desist from taking your medications prescribed by your doctor. Rather, it suggests you should be more alert to the side effects of the drugs you are currently taking; you should not readily reach out for unsafe pharmaceutical drugs, especially those over-the-counter, without any second thought as if they were coupons or silver bullets.
Hippocrates had also said: “Healing is a matter of time, but it is also a matter of opportunity.” Therefore, give your body that opportunity for natural self-healing by going drug-free, although it may take more time.
Remember, when you give your body a drug that replaces a substance your body is capable of making itself, you body then becomes weaker, and begins not only to manufacture less of that substance, but also to become more dependent on the outside source, which is usually the drug. Over time, you will become no longer drug-free.
Unfortunately, no drug can give you insight into the circumstance that created your problems in the first place. At best, it can only temporarily assuage the physical pain created by your situation. Remember, there are no miracle drugs—only wholesome natural healing. Relearn to utilize your body’s natural healing power, rather than relying on unsafe pharmaceutical drugs. Keep yourself drug-free as much as and as long as possible!

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Healthy Pregnancy Wisdom

Congratulations! You’ve done what only a woman can do: becoming pregnant. Hopefully, this is what you’ve been hoping and planning for. Even if it’s a pleasant surprise to you, pregnancy is going to be a new chapter in your life. Pregnancy is going to change your life forever.

No matter what, it’s important to have guidelines for a safe and healthy pregnancy throughout, and this is what this book is all about: the dos and don’ts, the whys and the why nots of what a pregnant woman should know and act accordingly.

Remember, a baby is the most wonderful gift a couple can give to each other. Pregnancy is an amazing, exciting, and educational experience for a couple to share with each other. From fertility, conception, to the miracle of birth, a couple experiences emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual transformation that is not only sensational but also challenging during this nine-month period.

To ensure that the baby has the best possible beginning in life, you need to empower yourself with the dos and don’ts. Good luck to you and your baby!

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Monday, May 6, 2019

Aging and Premature Aging

Aging

The passage of time is inevitable and eternal. Aging begins as early as from young adulthood (around age 20 to 40) to middle adulthood (around age 40 to 65), and continues to old age (beginning at the age of retirement, approximately at age 65). Aging occurs throughout most of one’s lifespan. The aging process is an accumulation of changes, which may be subtle or sudden, and even drastic, that progressively lead to disease, degeneration, and ultimately death. Truly, you cannot die merely of old age; your ultimate demise is caused by advancing age itself, as well as by the diseases and degenerative conditions that accompany it.
Aging is difficult to define, but you will know it when you see it, or experience it firsthand yourself. In brief, aging is a steady decline in health and wellness, instrumental in shortening lifespan; and the aging process is the duration during which such changes occur.

The hard facts of aging

Whether you like it or not, your biological clock is ticking, and this will happen to various systems in your body:

Your heart will pump less blood, and your arteries will become stiffer and less flexible, resulting in high blood pressure—a common health problem that often increases with age.
With less oxygen and nutrients from the heart, your lungs will also become less efficient in getting and distributing oxygen to different organs and membranes of your body.
Your brain size will slowly and gradually reduce by approximately 10 percent between the age of 30 and 70. Loss of short-term memory will become increasingly more acute and evident.
Your bone mass will reduce, making it more brittle and fragile. Your body size will shrink as you lose your muscle mass.

Your biological clock is continuously ticking, whether you are conscious of it or not. Your mortality has been pre-programmed into your biological organisms and your body cells. Theoretically, you may have an indefinite lifespan through the division, the rejuvenation, and the regeneration of your body cells and organisms—if they are still healthy and fully functional. Although your genes may have pre-determined the speed of your biological clock, you can still slow down the speed of aging—if you still have good health.
So, what is good health? Is being healthy synonymous with the absence of disease?
According to the United States Public Health Service, good health is “preventing premature death, and preventing disability, preserving a physical environment that supports human life, cultivating family and community support, enhancing each individual’s inherent abilities to respond and to act, and assuring that all Americans achieve and maintain a maximum level of functioning.” This statement probably sums up what you need to do in order to be younger and healthier for longer; it says everything about aging.

Premature aging

The truth of the matter is that you age, just like everyone else does. The point in question is how you can delay that aging process in order to make you not only feel but also look younger and healthier for longer—or, at least, not making you age more quickly than you are supposed to.
Unfortunately, many of us have fallen victims to the accelerated aging syndrome, or premature aging.

Accelerated aging syndrome

According to Steven Masley, M.D., the former medical director of the Pritikin Longevity Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, you may have the potentials for accelerated aging, if you have just any three of the following:

A fast blood sugar level of more than 100 mg/dl
A blood pressure higher than 130/85
A waist larger than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men
Good cholesterol level (HDL) less than 40 mg/dl for men, and 50 mg/dl for women
Triglyceride (a certain type of fat in your blood) levels greater than 150 mg/dl

Factors contributing to premature aging

There are several factors that increase the predisposition to accelerated aging:

Your diet: you are what you eat, and you become what you eat.
Your lifestyle: life on the fast lane often leads to faster aging.
Your physical inactivity: immobility brings about stagnation and degeneration.
Your stress level: stress kills your brain cells, predisposing you to premature aging.
Your disease and physical pain: disease and pain have a devastating impact on both the body and the mind.

Damaging free radicals

Your body is composed of many different types of cells, made up of many different types of molecules.
Free radicals are molecules that contain unpaired electrons. Since electrons have a very strong tendency to co-exist in a paired rather than in an unpaired state, free radicals indiscriminately pick up electrons from other healthy molecules close by. This chemical reaction converts those otherwise “healthy” molecules into free radicals, and thus setting up a chain reaction that can cause substantial biological damage to cells. Free radicals are highly reactive, damaging not only cells but also chemicals in your body, such as enzymes (for digestion), making them less effective and efficient.
Aging causes oxidation, which literally means “rusting.” Free radicals cause oxidative damage to cells and tissues. Free radicals do not make you younger and healthier for longer; quite the contrary, they age you prematurely and contribute to many diseases, including cancer and heart disease, among others.
Free radicals occur naturally as byproducts of oxidation, such as during respiration and other chemical processes. For example, during your breathing, life-giving oxygen is produced while harmful carbon dioxide is released; digestion is another oxidation process, in which your body obtains its energy from food through oxidation, during which free radicals are also generated in the form of waste buildup. Ironically, what gives life may also take away life indirectly.
Free radicals are normally present in your body in small numbers, without causing too much harm. However, over the long haul, the accumulation of these free radicals may cause irreparable damage to your body cells and tissues, if such accumulation is unchecked.
In addition, free radicals can also be caused by external factors, such as alcohol, nicotine, chemicals from foods and toxic pharmaceutical drugs, heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead, from the environment, radiation from the sun and other sources.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Becoming Your True Self

Knowing your true self can also make you re-assess your strengths and weaknesses, which may help you along your journey.
With acute body awareness and mind focus, you begin to train yourself to pay greater attention to what is happening in your body, in your mind, as well as in your perceptions of others and of the world around you. In other words, it is your deliberate and purposeful intention to bring more being into your own life experiences. According to research studies, mindfulness of your being is instrumental in helping you cope with your everyday problems, look after your physical health, let go of your undesirable patterns of thinking and behavior, and relate to others with better understanding and greater compassion.  In other words, awareness and focus may bring about the miracle of being, which is now your new perception of your true selfwho you really are, and not what you wish you were. Your new being is the outcome of your becoming from where you were.

An Illustration of Becoming

There was ancient Chinese fable of a stonecutter who worked so hard cutting stones that he often felt stressed and depressed.
One day, while standing behind a huge stone where he was cutting his stones, he looked up at the sky, and saw the beautiful sun. Then, he wished he were the sun that could give warmth and sunshine to everyone on earth. A fairy came to him and granted him his wish, so he became the sun.
For a while, he was happy and contented. Then, one day, a big cloud came over, blocked out everything from his view, and he could not even see what was below. He became distressed, and wished he were the cloud, instead of the sun. Again, the fairy came to his rescue, and granted him his wish. He became the cloud, and began drifting and floating happily and peacefully in the sky.
After a while, a strong wind came and scattered the cloud in many different directions. Now, he wished he were the strong wind that could blow away anything and everything that stood in his way. Again, the fairy made his wish come true: he became the strong wind, blowing here and there. For a while, he was happy and contented.
Then, one day, he found that he could not blow away the big stone behind which he used to cut stones in the past. Worse, he was stuck there at the big stone, and going nowhere at all.
Now, finally, he realized that was where he belonged, and where he was supposed to be.
He made his one last wish to become the stonecutter that he used to be. The fairy granted him his last wish, and now he was contented to be the stonecutter again.
The moral of the fable: comparison and contrast between the self and others is often a stumbling block to self-contentment, without which there is no self-discovery, which is the ultimate enlightenment. Self-acceptance is self-love—accepting yourself as who you are in spite of all your shortcomings and imperfections, without comparing and contrasting with others. Letting go of your ego-self is detaching yourself from all your attachments that may ultimately become the sources of your miseries and sufferings in your life.
Remember, all human attachments come in the form of many different stressors in life, and are often the stumbling blocks in the human quest for true human wisdom because they create many delusions and illusions for the thinking mind.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Think With Your Heart

In the TAO, you think with your heart and only feel with your mind, while in the conventional wisdom, you may use your mind to think, to reason, and to judge by logic. The way to the TAO is to let the mind do its natural function of both feeling and observing, instead of just thinking. More specifically, the main function of the mind is to observe the thoughts in the mind without any judgment. 
The Chinese for “I think” is literally “my heart thinks.” For centuries, the Chinese have been inculcated with the concept that the heart is responsible for the ultimate thinking process. However, that is not to contradict the Western concept that the mind thinks. In the TAO, thinking with the heart means consciously slowing down the mind, letting the mind observe the thoughts first, instead of having the mind controlled by the thoughts. Simply put, the mind mainly feels and observes; it does little thinking or judging before all the facts are made available.
To illustrate, the mind is like a car, just an instrument of the human brain. The driver is the heart that controls the steering. The car only observes and feels, just as the body does through its five senses; the car does not control the speed or the direction, but the driver does. It is important that the car does not exceed the speed limit, because if it goes too fast, it cannot properly observe the surrounding with its details, and thus compromising the safety. Therefore, it is also important for the mind to slow down, so that the driver can see more clearly where he or she is going. The TAO focuses on slowing down the thinking mind, letting it become only the non-judgmental observer so that the heart can make the intelligent choices and decisions in everyday life and living, just as the driver knows where he or she is going.

The Mind and the Now

The TAO focuses on consciousness of what is happening in the mind in the now in order to bring about clarity of thinking.
There is a close connection between the body and the mind. This body-mind connection in humans affects both the physical and the mental health of an individual, especially how that individual thinks and reacts. It is important to put the mind where the body is. For example, your body is now here—reading this book. But your mind may be somewhere else: your mind may be preoccupied with thoughts of the past, the present, or the future. In other words, your mind may be rambling and disconnected, although you may not be aware of it. A chaotic or compulsive mind produces adverse and detrimental biological and chemical changes, such as the production of stress hormones, and the reduction of human growth hormone (HGH), among others, that may accelerate the aging process in both the body and the mind.
Mindfulness begins with the body. Becoming mindful of the body in the present moment is putting the mind where the body is. This produces deep relaxation of both the body and the mind—an essential element for clarity of thinking that may be the path to attaining true human wisdom.

“watchful, like a man crossing a winter stream;
alert, like a man aware of danger;
courteous, like a visiting guest;
yielding, like ice about to melt;
simple, like a piece of uncarved wood;
hollow, like a cave;
opaque, like muddy water.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 15)

According to the TAO, only the present is real: the past was gone, and the future is uncertain and unpredictable. When the mind stays in the now, it may see the ultimate truths of the self, of others, as well as of everything around. Living in the now is an awakening to the realities of all things.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, May 2, 2019

My Book Just Published


This 145-page book is about TAO, the wisdom of Lao Tzu, the ancient sage from China more than 2,600 years ago, who authored the immortal classic Tao Te Ching on human wisdom. 

His unique and controversial wisdom shows you how to think. It is your thinking mind that may make you live longer. Continue and go through the rest of your life journey with self-awakening to the realities of your true self, of others around you, and of the world you are living in. Look at anything and everything through the lens of the TAO.

According to the TAO, the end of anything is always the beginning of something else; the material world you are living in is forever filled with these cycles of beginnings and endings. Get the profound wisdom to intuit these cycles of balance and harmony so that you may continue the rest of your life journey and live as if everything is a miracle.

Here is the outline of the book:

INTRODUCTION

ONE: THE QUESTIONS AND THE ANSWERS

TWO: THE THINKING MIND

The Composition of the Thinking Mind
The Thinking Process
The Conscious Mind and the Subconscious Mind
The Power of the Thinking Mind
The Role of the Thinking Mind

THREE: THE WISDOM

The Ancient Wisdom
The Eastern Wisdom
The Conventional Wisdom
The Spiritual Wisdom
The Essence of True Wisdom

FOUR: THE TAO

Tao Te Ching
Empty Mind and Reverse Thinking
The Mind and the Now
Humility and the Ego
No Judgment and No Separation
No Picking and No Choosing
No Expectation and No Over-Doing
Control and Spontaneity
Embracing and Letting Go
Attachments and Detachments
The Awakening and the Manifestation

FIVE: YOUR JOURNEY OF LIVING LONGER

The Step of Intent and Desire
The Step of Unlearning and Relearning
The Step of Body Awareness and Mind Focus
The Step of Being and Becoming
The Step of Actions and Inactions
The Step of Recovery and Rejuvenation
The Step of Patience and Perseverance
The Step of Accepting and Embracing
The Step of Confronting Changes and Challenges
The Step of Returning and Awakening

APPENDIX A: THE MEDITATION
APPENDIX B: THE BODY CHEMISTRY
APPENDIX C: THE FAST

Click here to get your copy.

Stephen Lau