Archive for May, 2011

Have you ever wondered why there is a poison label warning on your toothpaste?

No? Haven’t you ever notice that?

Hmmm….

Perhaps, you can have a close look next time when you brush your teeth.

“Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or call a poison control center immediately.”

A warning mandated by FDA on fluoride toothpaste labels sold in the U.S.

Oral health

So …

You buy the same brand of a toothpaste over and over again because there is little difference between them, it seems. Sometimes you test a new brand or a new variant as seen on TV, on an ad or just out of curiosity, but the positive changes do not last. You meticulously follow the advice of dentists and brush your teeth with the best fluoride protection you can have, but you still suffer from bleeding gums, sensitive teeth or cavities.

It is disappointing, isn’t it?

There is however a way out. You need to use a different kind of a toothpaste in order to improve your oral health.

My experience

Since my early childhood I have been avidly brushing my teeth. Yet, I have had problematic teeth since I have ever remembered. My both childhood and teenage years were spent on frequent dentist appointments. To have my cavities treated. I dreaded them from all my heart.

The more challenges I encountered, however, the eager I was to brush my teeth. With a true dedication. I wanted to keep my teeth healthy and I took it as seriously as possible. I was using a generous amount of toothpaste on my toothbrush, probably 2-3cm long “snakes”. I simply imitated what I saw on posters and in media as a child, that is, a toothbrush fully covered with a toothpaste. Unfortunately, the condition of my teeth has only got worse. Despite all my efforts, at the age of 13 I got mottled teeth.

I couldn’t understand it. I was eagerly following the advice of dentists (as I understood it at that time), yet my teeth were in such a poor state. I was asking professionals for advice, kept educating myself, spent time on bettering my brushing technique and used sophisticated toothpastes. Everything in vain.

I also drastically cut on eating sugar and improved my diet. I was eating vegetables, quality meat and unprocessed food. Still, my problems continued.

I was told by the dentists that the condition of my teeth was being created by my poor quality saliva or a tendency I inherited from my ancestors. Or perhaps I didn’t brush the teeth in the end, while pretending I did.

Ah ah…

Since nothing could have been done about my teeth, I felt helpless. Until four years ago. It was the first time when I closely looked at the issue of fluoride.

Fluoride is toxic

For years I have believed that fluoride was to protect my teeth from decay. How wrong was I! How strong was my conditioning!

It did not cross my mind to question the effectiveness of fluoride in a toothpaste even though my personal experience proved the contrary. Four years ago I learned, however, that the assumption about the preventive action of fluoride was disputable, at least, and disproved, at most. More importantly, I understood that fluoride was toxic.

I was shocked.

Fluoride is a general term that describes compounds containing the gas of fluorine. Sodium fluoride (NaF) or sodium monofluorophosphate (SMFP) are compounds commonly used in toothpastes, but other compounds are used as well. Water fluoridation mostly relies on fluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6) or sodium fluorosilicate (Na2SiF6). Too much fluoride in the body becomes toxic, leading to fluorosis. While most dentists link it to a cosmetic defect of your teeth only and disregard any serious consequences, the picture is likely very different.

The effect of fluoride ingestion (in small amounts) is not immediate but fluoride accumulates in the parts of the body, especially in bones, teeth and pineal gland. When bones are remodeled, fluoride gets into the blood and can basically starts action on all other organs in the body. The basic action of fluoride is to disturb the functioning of cells and enzymes. All systems of the body depend on the functioning of enzymes.

Fluoride inhibits the enzymes by changing their shapes and this can lead to a damage of immune system, digestive system, impaired blood circulation, impaired functioning of thyroid, kidney, liver and brain. Since the distorted enzymes have become foreign protein they may also cause autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, asthma, or arteriosclerosis. How does this information make you feel?

A non-inclusive list of known effects of fluoride includes:

  • Damaged cells in teeth
  • Increased arthritis
  • Disrupted synthesis of collagen
  • Muscle disorders
  • Cardiological and neurological disorders
  • Adverse effects on the kidney
  • Weakening of bones, leading to an increase in hip and wrist fracture
  • Chromosomal damage and interference with DNA repair (fluoride mutates human cells)
  • Inhibited formation of antibodies; disrupted functioning of the immune system
  • Suppressive effect on the thyroid
  • Dementia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Depression
  • Brain fog, lowered IQ
  • Increased aging
  • Increased lead absorption

See Wikipedia and this link.

In retrospection, I think that I have suffered from fluorosis from the early years. It is not only a cosmetic change of your teeth, but more importantly, a sign of toxic changes that undergo in your body. Also my sluggish thyroid and immunity problems are not surprising in this light.

Exposure to fluoride

Every day fluoride enters our lives in various ways. It goes far beyond the use of toothpaste, especially in the countries which mandate water fluoridation as in many states of the U.S. You can become over-exposed to fluoride by:

  • Drinking fluoridated water (water supply)
  • Drinking beverages made from fluoridated water; e.g. soft drinks, beer or mineral water
  • Consuming canned products and jars based on fluoridated water; e.g. canned meals or soups, or even baby food
  • Eating fruits and vegetables that were sprayed with compounds of fluoride (pesticides)
  • Taking medicines containing fluoride, such as antibiotics, anaesthetics, psychotropics, etc; see this link to inspect how many there are
  • Using teflon cookware
  • Industrial air emissions containing fluoride
  • Using fluoridated dental products
  • and of course by using toothpaste

Since we usually use toothpaste twice or three times daily, it plays a significant role in increasing fluoride levels within the body. Imagine that there is enough fluoride in a regular tube of toothpaste to kill a 10kg (22pound) child.

Do you know that fluoride has been the active toxin in rat poisons and cockroach powder?

What about young children? If you are anything like me when I was a kid, you ate your tasty bubble-gum or strawberry toothpaste on regular basis. While eating the whole tube of toothpaste is not to be expected, swallowing small amounts on daily basis is a likely scenario. So, it is possible that your children have been overexposing themselves to toxic effects of fluoride. Isn’t that worrying at least?

What about tens of years of practice when you swallow fluoride in small amounts? Remember that you are instructed not to flush your mouth after brushing so that the fluoride plays its “protective” role. How pathetic is that!

Moreover, we cannot have too much of the goodness. Majority of dental products from toothpaste to toothpicks and floss contains fluoride. With regular means of oral hygiene, we are ingesting some percentage of fluoride, a substance that is more toxic than lead.

It is not easy to once and for all either approve or disprove the use of fluoride in toothpastes or the practice of water fluoridation. The reason for that is that many publicly available studies are carried out with a dedicated aim to prove one of the points. Moreover, it is an emotional topic.

When you are doing research with the bias to prove the results you want, you tend to bias your results and see what you expect to see. In other words, you are blind to the contrary evidence and make improper comparisons. Nevertheless, there are two facts that are at least worrying to me.

1) Fluoride is a man-made byproduct of heavy industry

Some people believe public becomes ignorant about the role of fluoride because of the mass media conditioning. Fluoride is man-made. It is produced as a waste byproduct of various types of heavy industry and must be disposed of somewhere. And this is a fact.

For instance, fluorosilicic acid is liquid by-product of phosphate fertilizer manufacture but there much more going on. Hence, water fluoridation and fluoridated toothpastes come as a handy and politically correct possibility for the removal of the fluoride byproducts (which would have been a costly practice otherwise, wouldn’t it?). Even if this scenario is only a hypothesis of a mind biased by global conspiracy theories, one issue is apparent.

2) Fluoride is toxic

You can find a lot of information on the subject. Even though we are told that it is not very toxic and that small amounts are safe, why would you willingly subscribe to a daily intake of a toxic substance to your own body?

Fluoride-free

Four years ago I stopped using a fluoride-based toothpaste. It was a truly fantastic change for me. The condition of my teeth improved greatly. There is freshness of my breath that I enjoy. No cavities. No sensitive teeth. No bleeding gums. No problems.

Things have been fine for a few years now, which has never happened in the past. I brush my teeth twice daily and I use a pea-size or less of a fluoride-free toothpaste and my oral hygiene is a joy. For the last two years all my family has also become fluoride-free. (Of course, this refers to toothpaste and water only as we may be exposing ourselves to other sources of fluoride).

There are many fluoride-free toothpastes available on the market that you can buy in health food shops, pharmacies or online. You only need to look for them specifically. Examples include Euthymol, Kingfisher, Aloe Dent, Green People, Druide, Tom’s of Maine or Weleda. There are however many more choices available. I spent a few months to find a toothpaste I like. Currently, my two favorite choices are Aloe Dent and Green People.

SLS-free

What I recommend is to use a toothpaste which is also free from SLS, sodium lauryl sulphate. This chemical compound is a foaming agent used to clean garage doors, floors or cars, for instance. BUT … it’s also commonly found in hygiene products such as shampoos, body washes, soaps, and shaving creams. Read your labels.

Sodium lauryl sulphate is a toxin to our skin and often causes irritation. Canker sores or bleeding gums are one of the known side effects of using a SLS toothpaste. In addition, SLS can weaken the enamel.

By the way, if you wonder why SLS is used in hygienic products, the answer is simple. It’s a very cheap foaming agent, hence the costs can be reduced greatly. Since we expect that our hygiene products must produce a foaming effect or otherwise they do not clean well (brain conditioning), we are offered a cheap solution to meet our expectations.

Aloe Dent and Green People are both fluoride-free and SLS-free toothpastes. They are my favorite now, although I have a slight preference towards Aloe Dent.

Test it!

I realize that the arguments against fluoride presented in the materials available on the Web may not sound logical to you. You may see them as exaggerated and produced by maniacs, especially if your teeth are in a reasonably good state. Perhaps you were blessed by nature with strong teeth. It does not matter though.

What does matter is your personal experience, doesn’t it? There is nothing more convincing than that.

  • Are you happy with the freshness of the breath you have? 
  • Are you happy with the condition of your gums? 
  • Do you have clarity in your mind or foggy thoughts? 

If you suffer from bleeding gums, dental cavities or poor health, you may have fluorosis. Give it a thought.

I encourage you to test the approach and switch to a fluoride-free and SLS-free toothpaste for a few months. In addition, cut on soda, beer and sugar (to prevent acid forming from sugar being metabolized by bacteria; tooth decay is caused by acids in your mouth). If possible, drink fluoride-free water. Remove fluoride intake from your life and monitor carefully your well-being in the coming months.

Does it sound good to you? See and feel for yourself. It is a simple experiment. I bet you will join the fluoride-free camp ;).

I wish you a great hunt for a refreshing fluoride-free, SLS-free toothpaste. Feel good indeed.

Resources

I will likely write more on the general aspects of fluoride in the future. The subject is very important.

There are multiple sources and articles which suggest that the belief in fluoride preventing dental caries is ungrounded. Moreover, the usage of fluoride is harmful to your own well-being. You can easily find the information on the Web. Please study the material presented at the Fluoride-Free website or Fluoride Action Network. See also this link or that one.

Please have a look at two blogs dedicated to the danger of fluoride. They report some of the health problems caused by fluoride:

Two important books of interest are: The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson and The Case Against Fluoride by Paul Connett, James Beck and H. Spedding Micklem. They are worth reading.

***

experience_flow

Be like a pond

There is a variety of bacteria, algae, plants, tiny creatures and fish that live in a pond. The overall health of this ecosystem is determined by the quality of water. Moreover, a healthy flow of water is necessary for a pond to stay alive. Healthy water supports life, has a proper ammonia level to keep both tiny creatures and fish well and is enriched with oxygen.

Moving water is therefore necessary. It causes the water to break into droplets, which can pick up more oxygen thanks to their large surface area. In addition, fresh water helps removing any decaying vegetation, which is important for the well-being of a pond.

What you want is to experience flow in the pond of your life

You need a regular inflow so there is no drought. You need fresh, moving waters which bring you more oxygen and support you in developing your ideas and taking action. You need a regular outflow so there is no flood and, moreover, the old material is being removed. You basically want moving waters of a good quality in order to support life.

What you want is

Flow.
Fresh waters.
Movement.
Change.
Excitement.
Progress.
Being alive.

Strive for the balance between inflow and outflow

So there are things you need to let go and there are things you need to take in.

  • You need to share your ideas and thoughts (outflow) and you need to collect information (inflow).
  • You need to teach (outflow) and you need to educate yourself (inflow).
  • You need to respect others (outflow) and you need to appreciate yourself (inflow).
  • You need to talk (outflow) and you need to listen (inflow).
  • You need to work to earn money (outflow) and you need to relax and rejuvenate yourself (inflow).
  • You need to give away your possessions (outflow) and you need to receive gifts (inflow).

Moving waters bring new ideas and new concepts to your life, but also new things. Moving waters also remove the old patterns and old habits that no longer serve you. They flush out all the things you no longer need. Such things are called clutter.

Clutter is all decaying material of a pond. It is there, has served a role, but is disturbing now. Moreover, if it stays there for some time, it will significantly reduce the quality of the water. This will stress your fish (big ideas or projects) and thus making them much more vulnerable and susceptible to disease. With fish illness, prevention is much easier than treatment. It is worth your effort to maintain a healthy environment of your pond so that all complex relations between living organisms (thoughts, ideas, feelings, projects, actions and rest) are supported.

If you want to experience flow in life, pay attention to both inflow and outflow. There are two main challenges here: accepting quality inflow on your personal level and organizing quality outflow, especially on the material level.

Take care of your quality inflow

The first challenge is to learn to appreciate yourself and enjoy spending time with yourself. It is about a life in balance, between work and relaxation, between action and inaction, between contemplation, ideas and application. It is about working on your healthy self-esteem and self-image.

Take care of your quality outflow

The second challenge is to accept quality outflow by removing clutter from your life. Take a challenge and get rid of 20% of the things you own but no longer use. You keep them because of sentiment or in hope that you will need them one day. It is very unlikely, though.  And even if this happens, you can probably do O.K. without them as well. If you really want to experience a great freedom in your life, give away 50% of your belongings.

Learn to give with joy.

Let the clutter out of your life

Inspect your cloths and give away 20% that you do not like, do not fit any longer or have not used for the last two years. Make a space. Let your wardrobe breathe.

Examine your collections of books, CDs, DVDs, magazines or papers… Get rid of 20% of them. Even better, get rid of 50% of them! Sell them. Find charitable organizations. Give them away.

Look at your bookshelves, tables, lamps, wardrobes and furniture. Get rid of chunky or non-functional pieces that you are not happy with.

Look at your old gadgets, cd-players, ipods, ipads, mobile phones, cameras, and so on. You do not use them any longer, while somebody else can. Give them all away.

Look at your laptops and computers. Do you need more than one? More than two???

Your children are likely flooded with toys. They will happily do with the 50% of toys that you leave. Bring some fresh air to their plays. Give 50% of toys away. Find some charitable organizations or individual children. And bring some joy to them.

Look closely at your relations. Are any of these toxic or dysfunctional? Perhaps some of them need to be removed as well.

Stop being in relationships that bore you, dis-empower you or bring you down. Discontinue them. Let them die with no regrets. Look for relations with people who support you or lift you up. There is too little time in life to get yourself to a web of dependencies that block your progress and diminish your possibilities.

Free yourself!

Dedicate yourself to removing clutter from your life. You will experience remarkable changes. Freshness, new ideas and new possibilities.

Be like a healthy pond. Experience Flow. Enjoy achievements. Support life. Have fun!

And … don’t give up.

***

Photo courtesy www.martin-liebermann.de (zeitspuren), available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

 

 

I really like poems.

I am attracted to poems and art in which more is left out than expressed directly. I’m delighted when presented with an interesting line, a sketch or an idea. I love the empty spaces between the things.

I simply love and appreciate ideas. And I love when my imagination is at work.

The poem below, by Edward Estlin Cummings, is an example of this:

***
love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

***

While I read this poem, I imagine a huge leafy forest, a forest of old trees. It is a morning on a warm, summer day, just a few hours after sunrise. The air is dense. Warm but not yet hot. Dew is no longer here, although you may still find some remaining of it.

There is peace and calmness, and yet there is some music in the air. The vibrations are strong. You sense them more than you hear them. The air feels almost palpable, saturated with a message.

And there is sun shining brightly. The sun rays penetrate the forest softly. They begin with strolling slowly between the trees. There is all the time available so that they can look for the nicest clumps of grass. They want to rest there.

Grass is long and gently vibrates to the music. She hears music so strongly indeed. Balls of light slide on the waves of vibration, penetrate each other and enjoy playing hide and seek. They dance elegantly to the rhythm.

Wind behaves impeccably elegantly, as a perfect musician would do. He knows his trade. There you can feel a gentle breeze, perhaps a slight acceleration of wind now and then, but everything with great solemnity. The leaves and the grass gently flutter.

And you stand there in the middle of everything in awe and respect. In the silence you recognize the perfect creation.

The silence is holy. Everything has its own place. Sun, trees, leaves, tree trunks, plants, grass and moss, insects, worms and small animals. Nobody seems to orchestrate this all but everything has its own place and own meaning. You are a witness to a mysterious performance of light, color and movement.

Place and purpose.

You know that love permeates this place. Even more, love creates this space and fills this space.

You breathe love. You belong. You feel accepted and appreciated.

While being in this place, you feel centered and calm. Love is your companion. You are created and you are a creator.

You are an observer and you are an actor.

You commit to Yes.

Love is a place but all other places exist from this place.
Yes is a world but it contains a seed of all worlds.

Is Yes greater than Love???

***

 

stop_complaining

Chronic complaining is a draining habit. It tires the one who complaints and the others who act as listeners. It kills joy and serves no growth. How sad it is!

If you want to live a life of joy and become complainant-free, there are two strategies you need to implement in your life. The first one is a long-term strategy. In this strategy you address the roots of the problem by working on your own consciousness.

Long-term strategy: the conscious YOU

To my understanding there are four main causes behind repetitive complaining. These are

  • self-perpetuated negativity
  • unhealthy self-esteem
  • lack of self-efficacy, and
  • unfulfilled needs.

You may have an issue with one of them or all of them. In any case, you need to take the responsibility for all these aspects in your life. At the moment, you may start by working on building six pillars of self-esteem. The topics of defeating negativity, building self-efficacy and addressing unfulfilled needs will be covered sometime in the future.

Short-term strategy: accept or act

While you may need to wait some time before you observe effects of the long-term strategy and noticeable changes in yourself, there are direct actions that you need to take every day. These actions form a short-term strategy and need to be implemented over and over so that a new habit can be put in place.

If you are unhappy about a given situation, event or behavior you have two choices:

  1. you EITHER accept the situation as it is and adjust yourself and circumstances to handle it better OR
  2. you take an action and keep taking actions (if necessary) in order to change the things you are unhappy about.

How-to: stop before you start

You have to make a deal with yourself to stop complaining and act in one of the two scenarios above (note that acceptance is also an action). First, you need to ask your consciousness to make you aware when you complain. You want to catch the early moment when you start complaining. You can simply do it by creating a mental request to yourself in which you ask your consciousness observer to make it loud to you. You ask for an additional sign such as an image of lightning in your head or a sudden feeling of very cold water. Whatever the signal it should be strong enough to make you shake and notice it in an instant.

When you notice own complaining, STOP immediately. Pause for a second and ask yourself whether you are willing to take action to change the things you are unhappy about. This is something we can evaluate internally very fast, simply because it touches upon our desires to act. If yes, brainstorm proactively (with yourself or the help of others) what can be done and how to improve the case. If not, make a decision to accept the situation.

Face the truth and ask yourself how to adapt and make the best of the circumstances you are in. Acceptance may take some time, and it is okey. Take all the time you need.

Be firm and don’t subscribe to self-pity. Stick to action and plan a reward for yourself when you are successful. Give yourself a treat or buy a massage when you transform complaining into action. Build a hierarchy of sensible rewards to keep yourself motivated. It’s important.

In the evenings, practice the feeling of gratitude for five things or events you experienced during a day. Write it down for a more profound effect.

Follow for 21 days. And your new habit of gratitude will be formed.

And complaining?

Hmmm….

What is complaining???

***

Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

 

 

If you want to understand complex phenomena you can follow dedicated courses, study professional books or read scientific texts.

There is, however, a more exciting path to understanding which relies on self-learning and self-discovery.

While such a path may be guided by the same books or follow the same courses as mentioned above, a key ingredient is to study own observations and personal experiences. There is no substitution for knowing oneself.

When the observations are shared between people in an atmosphere of curiosity and acceptance, a new understanding often arises. It often comes as if magically created before one’s eyes. Although such an understanding may be built slowly, it is profound. There is usually a moment of deep understanding, where all the loose and seemingly unrelated pieces come together and fit into a beautiful puzzle.

I encourage you to follow this path for yourself.

Simply be curious and experiment.

What is consciousness for you?

How do you experience it daily?

Consciousness has been a hot subject of endless discussions and arguments in philosophy, physics, metaphysics, biology, computer science, and so on. In our Consciousness Group we approached it through the subjective lens of our personal observations and life experiences. This is what I will share below.

In one of our first meeting we discussed how fish becomes conscious of water only if it jumps out of the water. As long as it swims in the water, fish is unaware of it. She becomes conscious of the water-world, when she experiences the air-world.

As a result, consciousness can be seen as a threshold experience when moving from one world into another. Such a movement may be slow, and it may also be very fast, in a split of a second. A moment is enough to become conscious. What we distinguish here is not the overall consciousness mind (including subconsciousness) but the sharp point-like experience of your own consciousness.

In analogy, there are at least two worlds for us, a very Private, inner world and the Common world we share with others.

The Private world is a land of personal feelings, impressions, insights or actions. By actions here we understand mental actions such as decisions, for instance.

The Common world consists of two worlds: the physical world outside us (at least, as we perceive it) and the world of thoughts, ideas and concepts. Although thoughts seem private, we can share them, discuss them and achieve some agreements or conclusions. For this reason they are considered as the residents of the Common world.

So, the experience of consciousness happens when we move from our inner world of feelings and morals to the world of external observations, thoughts or actions. If you think about such a threshold experience there are two key ingredients of consciousness that are necessary for that: Involvement and Self.

You need Self, a reference to yourself (whether it is a separate entity, you or perhaps an illusion) in order to have a reference point of who is experiencing what is happening. Moreover, you need Involvement, an active participation from Self, as consciousness is alive. See also the diagram to the right.

We also need to conclude here that we are not fully conscious when we stay in one world only. For instance, you can perfectly arrive at a destination by a car without consciously realizing your driving, the journey, the turns and the steps. Your overall mind obviously works well as you completed the task but your sharp pointy-like consciousness experience was not present there. Some people call this “unconscious competence”.

Such an experience is more common than you may think, and includes tasks to which you dedicate your full attention for some period of time. Examples include cooking, programming, reading, writing, cleaning, designing, etc.

Have you ever focused on writing such that you lost yourself into the words?

Have you ever focused on cooking so much that you only experience the dance of ingredients and your creative act?

Have you ever focused on programming or designing so much that you were simply taken with it for multiple hours without a break?

It is quite common, isn’t it? And yes, your pointy experience of consciousness, the director of your consciousness is not acting then.

Perhaps he/she directs the tasks and stays behind the scene as an observer, and only sometimes as an actor…

What do you think?

***

Other posts on consciousness:

***

 

 

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