The Law of Attraction

People take up meditation for many different reasons. Some people just want to benefit from the health and wellbeing aspects of regular meditation, and these are considerable.

Some people want to enjoy the sense of calm, peace and tranquillity that meditation brings to hectic lives. This too is an important reason for meditating.

But many people go beyond the health reasons, because they want to explore and experience the spiritual aspects. For thousands of years, different cultures believe that using mindfulness and meditation can help them tap into cosmic and universal energy.

I thought it might be nice to reflect on the spiritual aspects of meditation, which for some people is the principal reason why they meditate regularly. I guess a word of caution is needed here though. For some, the idea of cosmic energy that we can all use makes perfect sense, but for others, it is nothing more than fictitious garbage!

You decide.

The Law of Attraction

Whenever the subject of ‘cosmic energy’ comes up, inevitably the concept of ‘law of attraction’ appears too. In basic terms, the law of attraction states that our thoughts and beliefs send certain ‘vibrations’ out into the cosmos. In turn, the universe responds by giving us a kind of customised experience that directly validates those thoughts and beliefs.

For example, if you have the belief that “you won’t get that promotion” or that “you will always struggle for money” then, according to the law of attraction, you will not get the promotion and, yes, you will always struggle for money.

You see, the universal forces that govern our planets and our lives do not discern between what we want and what we need. Those forces simply give us what we send out. If we send out negative thoughts and beliefs, then we will get negative stuff back.

What we resist persists and what we believe gets conceived.

Interesting concept!

Spiritual gurus, Noel Edmonds and a Bishop

According to those who believe in the law of attraction, what we need to do is meditate. Negative emotions carry low frequency vibrations but when we meditate, the way is cleared for higher resonating states of energy, which are associated with gratitude, joy and happiness.

It is well-known that meditation changes energy frequencies in the brain, and it is believed that during this transformation ‘refreshed signals’ are sent into the cosmos.

The idea of tapping into cosmic energy received a lot of media attention a few years ago. Noel Edmonds, who hosted many BBC programmes during the 1980s and 90s, felt that his career had come to an end when the BBC axed his regular show. He read a book about cosmic ordering and immediately started to explore the subject in more detail.

Edmonds ‘sent’ some orders into the cosmos and, would you believe it, soon afterwards he got a new show on television, which incidentally was a massive success.

In 2006, a newspaper feature appeared in the British press about Edmonds and how he credited his new show to cosmic ordering. Many celebrities came forward to say they too had used cosmic ordering to enhance their careers. However, not everyone agreed with the concept. The Bishop of Saint David’s, the Right Reverend Carl Cooper, described the notion as ‘nonsense’. He said: “It may be laudable to set goals in life, but we don’t need to dress this up in spiritual language. Intercessory prayer is part of our Christian tradition, however, it is not a divine room service, nor is it a heavenly shopping trolley.”

Oh dear, the Bishop doesn’t appear to agree with Noel!

Deal

The history and the science

It is believed that the law of attraction was first taught by Buddha, sometime around 500 years before the common era. Other religions and customs talk about similar concepts, such as karma and ‘you reap what you sow’. Shakespeare and Beethoven have been quoted as those who believed in the idea of universal energy and over 5.8 million people have ‘liked’ pages on Facebook that discuss the law of attraction.

I turned to science to see if there was any tangible evidence for the law of attraction. Interestingly, researchers who have used brain imaging technology have discovered ‘mirror neurons’. When we observe someone doing something, the pattern of brain activation that allows the person to do the thing, for example, lifting an arm, is mirrored in the brain of the observer. It is as though the observer was doing the same thing. Our brains appear to mirror the actions of those we interact with.

Amazing stuff! But, the really interesting bit about the research I read was in relation to ‘mindful intention’. Researchers found that the brain regions involved in ‘intention’ is closely related to regions involved in ‘action’. The report concluded: “What we think and feel affects how we will act and how others will act as well. The depth of our feelings and actions is a critical variable in ‘attracting’ what we want to our lives.”

So, there is some science that confirms the idea that ‘sending out positive thoughts yields positive action from others’. Perhaps, if we send out thoughts about the things we want in life, other people can pick up on those thoughts and, before long, those thoughts start circulating around the universe.

Regular meditation has been proven to change energy frequencies in the brain. Perhaps, when we meditate, our unconscious energy levels change and this opens the pathway for our positive thoughts and desires to be sent outwards.

Maybe Noel Edmonds was right after all.

As a trained psychologist, I like to keep an open mind on things. However, I will say this. I provide Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to many clients around the world, and the fundamental aspect of CBT is that ‘we bring about change in our behaviour when we change our thought process’. CBT is based on sound psychological principles, so perhaps there is something ‘spiritual’ there too. Who knows?

Do you have any thoughts on cosmic ordering and the universal energy that is available to all?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The benefits of forest bathing

What is the main similarity between sushi and forest bathing?

They are both imports from Japan!

When sushi first arrived on the shores of the UK there was much scepticism about the food. But look at how it has taken off. Perhaps forest bathing will go the same way.

What is forest bathing?

Many people might think forest bathing is something to do with swimming in a river that flows through a forest. In fact, it has nothing to do with swimming, nor bathing. Instead, it is all about using your senses to soak up the atmosphere of a forest.

Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Surprisingly, it is also one of the most heavily forested countries too. In the 1980s, The Japanese government, concerned about high stress levels, carried out research that found a two-hour forest-bathing session reduced blood pressure and lowered cortisol levels. Cortisol spikes during periods of stress and although we need this steroid, continual high levels can be detrimental to our wellbeing.

Trees release phytoncides, which are antimicrobials. These help to protect them from insects and bacteria. The research in Japan concluded that phytoncides could have an anti-microbial effect on humans. In Japan, forest bathing, known as shinrin-yoku, was introduced as a national health programme.

More recently, the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences at Japan’s Chiba University, measured physiological effects of 280 people. Blood pressure, cortisol levels and pulse rates were measured during a day in the city and then compared with the same biometrics taken during an hour in a forest. The study found that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol and greater parasympathetic nerve activity, which is associated with stress reduction.

Scepticism

Yes, I was definitely sceptical when I first read all this stuff about tree-hugging. And then I thought, why not give it a go. I started researching shinrin-yoku a few years ago and I am now fully hooked on the concept. I have always enjoyed walks in the forest, but I have found a whole new dimension to time amongst the trees.

Forest bathing is not simply ‘walking in the forest’. Instead, it is about allowing all your senses to experience mindfulness in nature. It is a form of meditation.

I often take small groups into the forest for art and photography therapy. One of the first things I do now is to get my group to sit down and close their eyes. I ask them to concentrate and to ‘feel’ the ground beneath their feet. After a few minutes, I ask them to concentrate on their breathing and to enjoy inhaling the scent of pine trees. Next comes sound. Concentrating on the different sounds of the forest can reveal amazing things that might otherwise be missed. Finally, after about 15 minutes, I get my group to open their eyes and look up into the canopy. I challenge everyone to find at least twenty different things. Usually they spot many more than this.

Mindfulness in nature can really help to reduce stress, and to bring about a feeling of happiness and contentment.

I would highly recommend spending some time in a forest. But don’t just walk amongst the trees, instead enjoy all they have to offer the senses. You could even end your forest bathing session with a Japanese tea ceremony, which involves taking tea infused with foraged nettles, pine needles or blackberries. The first cup is traditionally offered to the forest, as a thank you.

Let me know if you have tried forest bathing and mindfulness in nature.