Medley

Negative experiences on social media tied to higher odds of feeling lonely

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Positive interactions on social media are not making young adults feel more connected, whereas negative experiences increase the likelihood of them reporting loneliness, scientists with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media Technology and Health (MTH) report today in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The findings build on award-winning research the center conducted in 2017 indicating more use of social media was associated with increased feelings of loneliness.

Read more: Negative experiences on social media tied to higher odds of feeling lonely

A Practical Guide to Death and Dying – part 6

John White – USA

[A Practical Guide to Death and Dying was originally published by QUEST books in 1980. This particular version was previously published in the Theosophical Digest, y1992 v4 i2-p90.] 

Planning Intelligently for Your Demise. 

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A number of books offer pragmatic advice on what preparations should be made and how far in advance they should be carried out. Your will, for example, should be made even when you are young, and it should be reviewed every five or ten years. A will is a contract with death. Because of that, many people avoid making one, but you should face the situation squarely. If you die intestate without a will — state and federal taxes can take a much larger bite of your property than you’d like, leaving less of an estate for your spouse, family, friends, and favorite charities. Wills can also be used to leave instructions about funeral proceedings.

Some people buy a cemetery plot at an early age because they realize that, like almost everything else, the price will continue to rise. Not only is it possible to plan your own funeral, you can also pay for it before you die. 

Read more: A Practical Guide to Death and Dying – part 6

Reconnecting to the Mother

Ananya Sri Ram Rajan – USA

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When discussing women and their spiritual life, it would be pointless not to mention one of the major female archetypes for many of us, the Mother. Discussion of the Mother, whether it be the Divine Feminine, the World Mother, or some other archetype creates different emotions in people due to their relationship with their own mother. In my workshops when examining the Mother, some men and women have shared their inability to explore the Mother archetype because of the difficult relationship they have with their mother. It is because of this estrangement or strain in communication they are lead on a spiritual journey.

Read more: Reconnecting to the Mother

Causes of Climate Change - part two

Michiel Haas – the Netherlands

Already visible effects of climate change 

New heat records every year since the start of the 21st century 

Ominous heat records are broken year after year. The fight against climate change has been accelerating since the Paris agreements, but is still seriously inadequate. With the current international climate plans, we are moving towards a global warming of 3.2 °C. Such temperature rise has major consequences for people and the environment.

The 21st century now accounts for 18 of the 19 hottest years of the measurement series since 1880 worldwide. The 2018 World Meteorological Organisation (1) (WMO) report confirms that 2018 was the hottest year ever - a striking 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period and 0.07 degrees Celsius above the previous record of 2017. 2019 is likely to surpass the heat of 2018.

The temperature of the sea surface is also the warmest ever in the measurements. The sea level continued to rise, and the surface of the polar caps was far below average for most of the year. Said report speaks of an unprecedented

global heat wave, an exceptionally small area of ​​sea ice on both poles and a rapid rise in sea level. These are largely the result of climate change but were given an extra boost by the weather phenomenon El Niño.

El Niño

El Niño, Spanish for 'the child', is a weather phenomenon that heats up the waters of the Pacific Ocean every three to seven years, with serious consequences for the weather in large parts of the world. El Niño is often accompanied by violent storms in South America and droughts in Asia and southern Africa. El Niño is not a climate change phenomenon, but due to rising temperatures, the El Niños of the last decades are heavier. The last El Niño that lasted from 2014-2016 caused the tropical forests to emit an additional 3 billion tonnes of CO2 (due to drought, forest fires and less growth of forests). That is almost one fifth of the emissions from fossil fuels and cement production in the same period. And this does have a major impact on climate change.

Warming and heat waves 

The last five years (2014-2015-2016-2017-2018) were always the hottest years since the start of our measurements. The graph below also clearly shows that it is getting warmer. In the Netherlands, it has already become 1.7 degrees Celsius warmer since the pre-industrial era. In our climate, it still feels pleasant. However, we have to deal with more and more heat waves with temperatures above 30 degrees and even heat waves above 40 degrees Celsius; which is less pleasant. A heat wave is described by the KNMI as a sequence of at least 5 summer days in De Bilt (maximum temperature 25.0 °C or higher), of which at least three are tropical (maximum temperature 30.0 °C or higher). Since 1901, 27 heat waves have been registered in De Bilt, of which more than half since 1990, namely 16 heat waves. And 11 in this century alone. The pace of the heat waves is increasing. This applies to the Dutch situation. But the temperature is also rising in other places in the world.

Read more: Causes of Climate Change - part two

Causes of Climate Change - part one

Michiel Haas – the Netherlands

  1. Earth has a changing climate 

Our Earth has always had a changing climate. Warming and cooling have taken place in varying wave movements and are controlled by, among other things, the angle of the earth's axis to the sun. These periodic long-term climate changes have been described by the Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovitch (1879-1958). The last ice age, also known as the Weichselien, ended some 11,700 years ago. This was preceded by a long period in which it was considerably colder than it is now. No trees grew in the Netherlands, a cold polar wind blew, and the oceans were about 6 degrees colder than today. According to Milutin Milankovitch, the next ice age will take place in approximately 55,000 years. Other scientists are less certain about that. But after warming irrevocably comes cooling.

  1. Earth atmosphere or climate 

The Earth has an atmosphere around it, which is bound to the Earth by gravity. This atmosphere is of great importance for life on Earth. The atmosphere tempers the sunlight, maintains the Earth's energy balance and protects against harmful radiation, such as ultraviolet radiation. This atmosphere is like a blanket around the Earth and that is why we also speak of a kind of greenhouse. That is why the temperature on Earth is pleasant. Without the atmosphere, the temperature would be -18 degrees Celsius, with this atmosphere the average temperature is +15 degrees Celsius.

The atmosphere consists of a mixture of different gases. The volume ratios of these gases in the lower layers of the atmosphere, up to about 90 km altitude, are almost constant, except for the share of water vapor.

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The atmosphere is bound to the Earth by gravity and is part of the rotation of the Earth. Without an atmosphere, life on Earth would not be possible. Because of our unbridled burning of fossil fuels we are changing the atmosphere around the Earth with all the consequences that entails. (Photo: nasa-43566 on Unsplash)

  1. Greenhouse gases

The most important greenhouse gases are:

  • Carbon dioxide CO2 - colourless and odourless gas, non-toxic, is absorbed by plants; is released by burning fossil fuels, by composting and decaying and by melting permafrost;
  • Methane CH4 - colourless and odourless gas, flammable, occurs naturally in swamps and peat and is released by melting permafrost, by forest fires and decaying material: human influence strongly through livestock farming, agriculture, landfills and burning fossil fuels;
  • Nitrous oxide N2O - laughing gas, colourless and slightly sweet-smelling gas, is used in anaesthetics, to give engines more power, emissions via agriculture, manure and fertilizer, chemical industry, waste incineration, burning fossil fuels;
  • Water vapor H2O - strongest greenhouse effect due to the large quantity in the atmosphere; increasing water vapor in the atmosphere increases the greenhouse effect, but due to cloud formation less sunlight will be absorbed, causing cooling again;
  • Chlorofluorocarbon compounds CFC's -in aerosols and in coolants of e.g. refrigerators and air conditioners, is now prohibited because of ozone layer depletion;
  • Sulfur hexafluoride SF6 - is a colourless and odourless gas, the gas is five times denser than air, it is used in electrical engineering and medical engineering;
  • Ozone O3 - a colourless to light blue gas with an unpleasant pungent odor, ozone is naturally formed in the atmosphere under the influence of electrical discharges (such as during thunderstorms) and ultraviolet radiation; the warming effect is still unknown.

Read more: Causes of Climate Change - part one

From Here to There: Women and Their Spiritual Journey

Ananya Sri Ram Rajan – USA

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As a young woman, I was fortunate to spend time in the presence of the spiritual teacher, J. Krishnamurti. “Krishnaji,” as he was known to some, spent his whole life studying the Self and the human condition. He is famously known for telling his followers that “Truth is a pathless land,” and constantly asking his audience “Who are you?” and “Why are you here?” While his questions were not unusual for a spiritual leader to ask, his method of addressing those questions was unique, because he did not provide a direct answer. As he spoke, Krishnaji would address how our mind works. He would talk about how we look to others for answers, an authority of some kind to tell us what to do. And he would include himself in this category and say, “Don’t listen to the speaker. Think for yourself.”

Read more: From Here to There: Women and Their Spiritual Journey

Focus – A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction: Part 27

Leo Babauta – USA

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“The field of consciousness is tiny. It accepts only

one problem at a time.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery (photo) 

Parents might have the most difficult challenges when it comes to finding focus. Whether you’re working all day and coming home to your kids, or you stay home taking care of all the household needs and very demanding children, there’s almost never a quiet moment, almost never a time when you can relax, find focus, attain inner peace.

I’m a father of six children, so I know. Kids tend to turn up the volume on life, increase the chaos of this already chaotic world by an order of several magnitudes. And while I’ve found that it gets easier as kids get older, it never gets easy — they still need you to drive them around a million places, to help them with a million problems, to meet their basic needs and more.

That’s OK — chaos and work are some of the joys of being a parent. But what if we want to find focus and still be awesome parents? There’s the challenge, and I’d like to offer a short guide to doing just that.

Read more: Focus – A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction: Part 27

Experiences of 'ultimate reality' or 'God' confer lasting benefits to mental health

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People over the millennia have reported having deeply moving religious experiences either spontaneously or while under the influence of psychedelic substances such as psilocybin-containing mushrooms or the Amazonian brew ayahuasca, and a portion of those experiences have been encounters with what the person regards as “God” or “ultimate reality.” In a survey of thousands of people who reported having experienced personal encounters with God, Johns Hopkins researchers report that more than two-thirds of self-identified atheists shed that label after their encounter, regardless of whether it was spontaneous or while taking a psychedelic.

Moreover, the researchers say, a majority of respondents attributed lasting positive changes in their psychological health ¾ e.g., life satisfaction, purpose and meaning ¾ even decades after their initial experience.

Read more: Experiences of 'ultimate reality' or 'God' confer lasting benefits to mental health

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