Friday, May 11, 2012

How Ancient Geeks Can Save Your Life

No one is spared from the many issues that plague the urban jungle. The more we advance in technology, the more fast-paced we live. The more disconnected we get. We find ourselves overloaded with work, family and social duties, and oftentimes feel bad that we don't have enough time on our hands, or worse, can't keep up with the constant changes. I myself is guilty of stretching myself too thin, and too often. I work in an industry that tops the chart of most stressful jobs in the world. I belong with a big happy family, with bigger needs and expectations. I set Olympic goals for myself be it in my career or personal life, and I can be unforgiving, too.

Thus, I do get dangerously near breaking point.

While friends, family and faith can give you the strength you need, they can only lend you so much. Remember that each one is fighting their own battles, too. At the end of the day, it's still yourself that you have to build, nourish and care for. A broken man, or woman for that matter, can't lend a strong hand. And we can only be strong if we live a more thoughtful, awakened life. In this generation of iPods and Facebook, it doesn't come easy. But there are ways to relax your mind and body amidst the chaos. We can start by examining how these ancient geeks, like Plato and Pythagoras, did it. 

Having said that, I'm sharing with you a nice piece I received from a woman I truly admire. Below is an article that shows how East/West/North or South, the great wisdom traditions and practices, thinkers, philosophers, sages, all have the same common recommendations on how to live a more thoughtful, conscious, awakened life.  

Enjoy reading (and start acting!) and have a happy weekend! :)

From the Nook,


OK, so most of us have heard that Plato was a pretty smart and groovy toga-wearing ancient Greek with some pretty trippy ideas, but what life-saving tips can such and old-school philosopher possibly offer the ipod generation?

Sure, embracing a certain philosophy might help a person to better understand their world and their sense of purpose within that world, but can applying ancient Greek philosophy into your life actually save your life? The short answer: Yes. Because if your in a rut, or if your life lacks purpose and meaning, then you're just one of the millions of people who are the walking dead—poor souls who are sleep-walking their way through their lives.
Plato teaches us how to wake up.

And most people aren't just asleep, but they're stressed out as well. As far as societies go, we're one anxious, depressed and self-medicating mess. Those of us who work on the front-lines in the mental health field know this all too well; others need only to take a careful look around the social-cultural landscape to appreciate that our collective mental health is not too, well, healthy.

And things seem to be getting worse. According to Dr. Steven Ilardi, the University of Kansas psychologist, researcher and author of The Depression Cure (Da Capo, 2009) "Americans are 10 times more likely to have depressive illness than they were 60 years ago...and a recent study found the rate of depression has more than doubled in just the past decade".
Globally, things aren't much better; according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 450 million people worldwide are directly affected by mental disorders and disabilities and that by 2030 depression will top the list of all other health conditions as the number one financial burden around the world.

Why? Why are we getting more stressed out and more depressed?

Dr. Ilardi thinks that he's found the answer: Increased rates of depression (not to mention other mental health woes like anxiety and addiction) are a byproduct of our modernized, industrialized and urbanized lives. It seems that our love affair with the gadgets, gizmos and the comforts of being a highly technologically evolved society have put us on a never-ending treadmill of overworking, under-sleeping and hyper-stressing as we exhaustedly lunge towards the "American Dream". Yes America, our need for i-Phones, plasma TVs and a bigger house is killing us.

The solution? Un-plug and wake up. Live a more thoughtful and engaged life!
Unfortunately, we've turned into a self-absorbed rather than a self-reflective society; a narcissistic "Me Generation" on steroids that's fixated only on our own superficial "feel-good" betterment. But Plato (and his predecessor Pythagoras) had it figured out. They understood that to live a fully awakened life, one had to better understand the nature of the universe and, indeed, of reality itself.

The Greeks were all about understanding—and experiencing—that true nature of reality, beyond what was just accessible to our five senses. For them, philosophy wasn't just some sort of dry and academic way of thinking, but a way of life that could properly "tune" a person  (Pythagoras believed that a person was like a musical instrument that needed to be properly tuned in order to be in alignment with the larger cosmic symphony) 
In what became known as the Bios Pythagorikos (the Pythagorean way of life), a healthy mind, body, and spirit were nurtured ("tuned") via rigorous physical exercise, a strict diet, daily meditational walks, lessons on ethics and character, as well as deep contemplative meditations on math, music, cosmology, and philosophy. Once a person's mind and body were properly tuned, they were then able to awaken to not only the deeper levels of reality, but to their life's purpose as well.

In my research that was presented at the 2007 APA conference (and that's also described in my book How Plato and Pythagoras Can Save Your Life, Conari, 2011), I presented my data that indicated that people who engaged in this very holistic way of living and thinking had experienced meaningful shifts in their lives and in their awareness. They had woken up.

So allow me to offer a few tips that can lead to your awakening that come straight from the people who invented the love of wisdom:

Start each day with a quiet reflective or contemplative walk.
Pythagoras believed that people needed to take some time each morning to center themselves before engaging with other people: "it was essential to not meet anyone until their own soul was in order and they were composed in their intellect".

Take several minutes each evening to look up at the night sky and just...wonder.
Plato is quoted as saying that "all philosophy begins in wonder". Indeed, the ancient Greeks were obsessed with cosmology-the study of the nature of the universe. When we contemplate the heavens with contemplative awe, an amazing shift can happen within an individual.

Take several minutes a day to try an experience the world around you without the use of your senses or your rational, reasoning mind; instead, just try and experience your environment.
 The Greeks felt that our senses trapped us into the illusion that the sensory world (which is fleeting) is ALL that there is; they believed that there were deeper, eternal aspects of reality that couldn't be experienced unless we got past the illusory trap of our senses.

To paraphrase Spike Lee: "Do the Right Thing".
The Greeks believed that character mattered! It was essential to live an honest and esteem-able life of integrity and virtue. They believed that in order to achieve our highest potential, we need to live correctly. We all know in most instances what the "right thing" is; Pythagoras and Plato believed that we must act on that knowledge and DO the right thing.

Do a five-minute music meditation each day where you listen to stringed, non-vocal music; attempt to "experience" the music in a non-rational way. In fact, try and become the music.  
Pythagoras believed that the entire universe was vibrational and that we, as humans, could be "tuned" to be in sync with that larger rhythm. For that reason, his disciples would listen to the music/vibration of the lyre as a means to re-tune themselves.

Value moderation in everything.
The mind/body is our purest instrument; Pythagoras felt that we needed to treat it accordingly.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

FOTD: Ready in 10 Minutes!

If you have the tulog mantika* syndrome like I, then it is a must for you to master the skills of preparing your face in 10 minutes. Sure you can practice your hand coordination and do your make-up while riding the shuttle, or during traffic light stops (though this is dangerous!), but it’s still best to go out in the morning fresh and prepped up and not looking like you just stepped out of the shower.  It adds to the overall brand new feeling, and it definitely brightens the day, yours included.

So, how do I normally do it? This step by step amateur guide contains only the basic (in my personal standards), but is definitely easy and foolproof. 

*Tulog mantika: referring to someone who falls asleep really fast and finds it very hard to wake up, especially in the morning

Apply liquid foundation with a sponge, brush or even your finger. Applying concealer is optional if you use a liquid foundation with a good coverage. In my case, I dab some powder and apply a second layer in lieu of a concealer ( only if needed)

Pat some powder foundation to set your liquid makeup in place. Use light, patting motion to avoid caking.

Apply brow liner or powder. Well-groomed, well-defined brows will brighten up your face and will put emphasis on your eyes. Use a dual-ended brow pencil so you'll have the brow brush handy.

Open up your peepers by curling your lashes. Avoid sharp edges so your lashes look more natural. Apply two coats of mascara and line the rim of your eyes, too.

Smile, find the apple of your cheeks and gently apply blush in small circular motion going upwards to your temple. Avoid harsh lines.

Apply your favorite moisture-rich lipstick to avoid chapping. Use the ones with SPF, too.

10 minutes is up!

Good to go!
It’s okay not to wear full makeup everyday. To be honest, light makeup shows a woman’s real beauty. What’s even better is that your sultry look and smokey eyes can be saved for more special days when you need an extra oomph, making a major presentation, going out with your friends or significant others or simply in the mood to be fully made up. 

I hope you learned a thing or two. Please feel free to fire away if you have questions or comments. It’s always nice to have beauty talks and share tips along the way. I’m a good chatter, I promise.  :)

From the Nook, 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: Acne Control Facial by Flawless Face & Body Clinic

I'm about to spill a secret. I'm afraid of facials. Let's face it, getting facial treatments can be really really, well, painful, especially for pimple prone girls like me. After the physical discomfort, what adds to the pain is the anxious time waiting for the redness to fade and some cuts to heal.  That's probably the reason why I only go to my dermatologists back in the days. But with many available beauty and wellness centers run by certified medical practitioners, I eventually gave in and tried facial services out of the boring hospital clinics. 

One of the leading aesthetic center in the country is Flawless Face and Body Clinic. I recently tried their Acne Control Facial and here's what I have to share. 

Acne Control Facial
A treatment for acne-prone skin, the facial targets the bacteria that cause acne. Finish off with an Antiseptic Mask with antibacterial and healing properties that work simultaneously to diminish and prevent acne.

Reception Area

  • The interiors. They have really nice pink walls (and that's coming from a girl who normally thinks pink wall is tacky) and elegant lighting. There are  no individual rooms, but the spaces between the beds are comfortable enough.The beds are lined with white linens and clients are given pink towels/blankets.
  • Polite staff. My attendant speaks and moves softly. She always asks if I'm comfortable and gave me extra towels when she saw that I'm getting really cold. 
  • Ambiance. Unlike some low and mid-priced facial salons, the ambiance inside Flawless is more relaxing and less noisy and chaotic. There are some beauty centers where all you want to do is turn on your heel and leave the very second you enter the door. Crowded, noisy, or the therapists simply talk too much. 
  • Going the extra mile. My Acne Control Facial experience at Flawless may not be the best of the best, but for PhP490.00,  I definitely got my money's worth, even more. I like the extra services (don't be green!) of hand and shoulder massage, and the instant "spa" feel with the use of relaxing essences. The actual facial cleaning, is just okay. 
  • No pimple party! As I stated, pain in the actual process is just half of the story. The ultimate test is if my ever sensitive, pimple-prone skin reacts negatively with the procedure. Thankfully, it triggered only one small pimple, just one! No other violent reactions whatsoever. :)

  • Timing. The doctor approached me to offer their new peeling service, in the midst of my facial agony! It would have been better if the product/service briefing was done prior to the actual facial rather than ask me questions and offer additional services while I twitch in pain. :( My girlfriend who had her facial that same day, didn't get the same treatment, so maybe it's occasional and I just got lucky. I do hope so.
  • Heavy hand. I have low tolerance for pain, but to be honest, this facial session had been more painful than usual. Must be the attendant's heavy hand? 
  • Too much upselling. Though really, I don't mind. This is part of their job, I just hope they don't offer every single item on the shelf. But as I said, no biggie. :)

Will I recommend Flawless to my friends? Yes, it's worth trying them out. It's reasonably priced, customer friendly and they go the extra mile to give their clients a satisfying experience. Maybe I should try the more advanced treatments next time, and see if it will fare better. :)

Are you also scared of facials? What's your best and worst experience? Spill! :)

PS: For a directory of Flawless Face and Body Clinics, click HERE.

From the Nook, 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gratitude List: Birthday Month Edition

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space.

Memphis millionaire Frederic W. Smith, founded Federal Express.

Ernest Hemingway published his first novel, The Sun Also Rises.

They were all 27 then. 

A week ago, I turned 27, too. I may not be defying gravity like Yuri, nor starting a multi-million company like Mr. Smith, but nothing is stopping me to look back and celebrate the many blessings and accomplishments I've received and done during my 26th year, and more so, to look forward to even greater things happening now that I'm another year wiser. I'm entering the real scary adulthood (ever heard of Saturn Return?) and leaving a youth that I'm more than excited to tell my grand kids. Today is the culmination of repetitive episodes in my childhood day dreams where I see myself as composed, independent, ambitious woman in high heels. 

Today, I'm ever grateful for:

Family always, ALWAYS, comes FIRST. No ifs, no buts. You may lose everything you have, but your family remains. No amount of time, distance or conflicts can ever change the fact that you are your parents' child, your siblings' sister/brother, your grandma's apo, and it is your divine calling to be that. Spend as much time as you can with your family, and learn to forgive. I have yet to master this, but I'll get there. 

Mom and my super adorable nephew, Caleb. Incidentally, he gave way for one very important realization: I'm NOT yet ready to have my own child, very far from it. But honestly, I also think I can be a good mom.

My one and only brother who, contrary to popular belief, is five years older than I! His family is based in UAE so I only get to see them once a year.

Friends. I may only have a handful, but the ones I have are for keeps. These are people who see through my flaws, celebrate my strengths and accept me bare and naked, and I feel the same way about them. As you get older, you'll realize that you don't have all the time in the world, and so whatever little time you have, should only be spent with the right people. Cheers to my old friends, my new friends, and my friends from across the world!

Labski is my best friend from my former corporate world. She's my confidante, my ego booster and the mos loving daughter I know. I draw inspiration from her whenever I feel maldita towards my mama.

My BFF Tara, is no stranger to you. We've been together since HS, and went through the good, the bad, and the ugly together. We can live in different continents and still be close as ever!

My good friend from Malaysia, Ranie. We travel to each others' countries just to spend time together. I recently visited her in Kota Kinabalu, where we celebrated her freedom and singlehood and my 27th birthday.

Angelin and Citra are from Indonesia. I've met them during my regional training in SG last month. We came from the same mother company and we immediately clicked. I'm meeting them in Vietnam next year. :)

Experiences. The reason why I travel a lot, and dream of traveling more, to simply put, is for the experience. Different scenarios, tastes, sounds, smell, feelings, all adds to the overall richness of life. I refuse to sit down and just wing my time on Earth. I vow to experience as many things as I can and make lasting memories out of it.

Business trip in SG last March 
where I met our regional bosses from Edelman

and watched and sang and cried and laughed over the super amazing broadway special, WICKED!

Celebrating my 27th at Sapi Island in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

My birthday month gratitude list may have come traditional, but I'm Filipino like that. Family, friends and life's great experiences are more than what I could ask for at this point. A job that I love and provides for me and my family, of course, and maybe a giant cake from my coolest friends from work!

Shout out to Joyce and Karen for the yummy made-to-order cake from I forgot where in Bel-Air.

Thank you for all the greetings and well-wishes, I'm flooded with all your support and positivity! Cheers to all of us and please rock my 27th with me. :)

From the Nook,