The Accidental Evolution of Homo sapiens: How Extinctions and Chance Shaped Life On Earth

The history of life on earth is littered with evolutionary mistakes, natural disasters and mass extinctions.

It is thought by some that human beings are the pinnacle of creation, an example of evolutionary perfection that was an inevitable consequence of the development of life. In reality, this view couldn’t be further from the truth.

Human beings are no more and no less evolved than any other species on earth. Homo sapiens have evolved to cope with certain environments and perform particular tasks. A bat, for example, is just as evolved, but has developed to live in a very different environment.

Accidental Development of Species

If all life on Earth became extinct tomorrow and the whole evolutionary process began again, Homo sapiens would not eventually re-evolve in several billion years time. There have been literally trillions of accidental events that led to the existence of all current life on the planet.

Take, for example, the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago. It is now accepted by scientists that this event was caused by the impact of a meteor, in what is today the Gulf of Mexico.

Up until this point, the ancient ancestor of Homo sapiens was a small, shrew-like mammal that generally kept a low profile in the shadow of its larger reptilian cousins. It was not until the dinosaur population was decimated, that the mammals could evolve into new areas and start on the path to humanity.

Other mass extinctions are also known to science. These too shaped the future state of all life on Earth.

The Role of Chance Extinction

Beyond natural catastrophes such as meteor impacts and ice ages, many other chance factors have shaped life on Earth. One mechanism of evolution is mutation. This is where mistakes appear in the genetic code of an organism, and this alteration leads to some form of physical difference.

The vast majority of mutations are either harmful or have no effect at all. Some, however, are beneficial. This benefit leads the organism to have a better chance of survival, and consequently reproduce more. This beneficial mutation is then passed on to the next generation, which also have an increased chance of survival.

The key point here is that mutation is random. Human beings have well developed eyes thanks to a series of chance mutations, but those mutations were haphazard. Evolution does not plan for the future, and so if an immediate advantage is less than a perfect design, so be it. This has led to Homo sapiens having a blind spot, the area on the retina where the optic nerve enters the eye. Other animals, for example some squid, do not have a blind spot. This is purely down to chance mutation.

The fact that through hundreds of millions of years of extinction, mutation, suffering and pain, Homo sapiens exist is something amazing that shouldn’t be underestimated. For billions of years, life on earth had no need for the level of intelligence that leads to civilisation, and if humanity disappeared tomorrow, it may never happen again.

This underscores the importance of protecting the planet and life on earth, to make sure that the incredible series of chance of events that have brought humanity to this point was all worth it.…

Organic Eating for Beginners

Recently, pesticides have been in the news more often than usual. That is because there have been new studies coming out proving pesticides cause symptoms of ADHD, increased risk for cancer, autism, and birth defects.

We don’t usually think about this when picking out apples at the grocery store or eating blueberries at a cookout. We tend to trust that no one would put dangerous chemicals into our food. These recent studies, done by the University of Montreal, the National Academy of Sciences, and numerous physicians around the world, have come to many of the same conclusions. Pesticides are harmful to humans and cannot be as easily washed of as we believe. They can cause learning disabilities in our children and cancers in adults. They can cause birth defects when eaten too often during pregnancy.

There are many things you can do to lessen your exposure to chemical pesticides. One it to use an organic, plant based pesticide on any garden or lawn you keep. Peeling your skinned fruit and veggies is another way to avoid harmful chemicals. Because most of the nutrients and anti-oxidants from these foods are found in the skin, buying organic would be optimal. Organic fruits and vegetables can be found in grocery stores and are always labeled “USDA Organic”. You can also often find organic produce at nearby farms. This would also help small businesses in your area thrive.

Some fruits and vegetables cannot simply be washed of the pesticides. The USDA did studies on which produce has the highest amount of pesticides. Here is a list of foods to always buy organic in order to reduce your exposure:

  1. Root vegetables. Things like potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips. Because they are roots, they absorb all of the pesticides sprayed on the plant making it impossible to completley get rid of the pesticides. Peeling won’t do it.
  2. Skinned fruit. Nectarines, peaches, apples, cherries, pears, etc. More than 90% of these fruits were found to contain harmful pesticides. Peeling these fruits may help lessen the amount you ingest but could still be affecting your health.
  3. Celery. About 95% of celery was reported to contain pesticides. Washing may help reduce your exposure but may not eliminate.
  4. Berries. About 90% of berries have pesticides. The problem with non-organic berries is that you cannot easily wash them off and you cannot very well peel them. Avoiding the chemicals in berries is more difficult.
  5. Spinach. Over 80% of spinach contains harmful chemical pesticides and cannot be easily washed off.
  6. Bell Peppers. The majority, around 80% of bell peppers have pesticides. Washing may help reduce exposure in this case but again, may not eliminate it.

Buying organic produce can be difficult for many reasons. Some being they are not even available or they are too expensive. Keep in mind that consumers have the control. Vote with your pocket book. Organic produce is continuing to decline in price because it’s increasing in popularity. The more we buy organic, the more will be available at a cheaper price.

There are many farms who need people to buy shares of the farm. These farms are called co-op farms or Community Supported Agriculture farms. The way they work is by charging an upfront fee of around $400 dollars. This is a once a year cost. Then you pick up organic produce weekly. You can get anywhere from 2-6 bags of produce a week. Most CSA’s run from May to November.

Get creative and don’t give up. A goal of an organic diet can take a year to achieve. But it will be worth it and you will notice a great difference. Not to mention you will feel great about doing your part on this planet by helping reduce the amount of chemicals sprayed onto the soil.…

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What is Meditation?

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Meditation is a listening process that has been around us for thousand years, and is mentioned everywhere regardless of religions. Due to the fact that humans have two ears and only one mouth, we should listen twice as often as we speak. However, some people are always in the talk mode and enjoy talking, and many people can’t stand silence and even sleep with the television on all night. That’s why we increasing need meditation to help us.

Imagine if you would be listening to a full-integrated 78-person-Orchestra and watching as each instrument stops playing until just one single violin is left playing by itself, and we are listening carefully for that single note, all else is silent. The idea of being still and quiet does not appeal to many people who fill the air with noise. But at any one time there must be about fifty million people in the world who are meditating so we know that we are joining a large group and partaking of that energy.

 

 

 

The mystics tell us in their writings that we live in a “closed” system where nothing (energy) is ever lost. The “cosmic mind” that surrounds the planet earth contains every thought that ever was and this is why inventions occur in many places at the same time, as people tap into the cosmic mind from wherever they happen to be. They all get it at the same eureka moment.
Isaac Bentov’s book called “Stalking the wild pendulum” demonstrates how we can be two places at once, and that the pendulum is actually our heartbeat. Each time the pendulum swings to one end and stops to return back, the heart is stopping beating before it swings back. At that moment we can flip out and be in another place altogether, such as another city. This is how mystics appear in two places at the same time.

 

Stopping time and living longer. When the heart comes to rest, we do not age. This is why people who meditate appear younger than those who don’t. We are actually stopping time and living longer.

Alice Bailey, the author of some thirty gigantic books on esoteric subjects such as the “The Seven Rays” stated that we have a finite Number of breaths allotted to us, and to breathe deeply and live longer. Those of us who take short breaths will use up our allotment sooner, which ties in with smokers dying younger because of shorter breaths, makes sense.
When we meditate, we take deeper breaths and thus prolong our life. What we hear in our meditations. As we sit in the silence we receive ideas, thoughts, inspirations, messages that are answers to our questions that have been posed by our subconscious mind, which have been sitting there waiting to get out. In fact, if we pose a question and then listen for the answer, we will find that we do have all the answers if we take the time to listen. This brings up the point of the quickest way to get in the zone.
If we meditate in a symmetrical way, that is, at the same time and place each day, we build up an energy vortex in that spot so that when we get into that space, we are in the zone, and can connect much faster than having to energize a new place.

Other energy boosters are devices such as crystals that are really batteries with their own energy added to our energy.

 

 …

How to Read Tarot Cards: A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Their Meanings  | Allure

New Age Meditation on Tarot Cards: A Guided Visualization Exercise

Pathworking the Tarot: Spiritual Guidance & Practical Advice from the Cards  by Leeza Robertson

People do meditation for a vast array of reasons. One reason is to look deep into one’s self and reflect. A way to do this is with the use of Tarot cards. The following visualization meditation is good for gaining insight and problem solving.

Preparing to Meditate on a Tarot Card

Begin by selecting a Tarot card. If a deck of cards isn’t owned, a quick Internet search will produce a variety of sites that will have pictures and definitions of the cards. Simply find a card that appeals to you. Please keep in mind that the card will have one meaning straight up and another if reversed. Once a card has been selected and the meaning has been read, it will be time to start the meditation.

How to Begin a Tarot Card Meditation

Hold the chosen card and study it. Try to memorize as many details as you can. After two to three minutes, put the card down and get into a comfortable sitting position while keeping the back upright. With eyes closed, begin to take relaxing, deep breaths.

Next, envision the card in the mind’s eye. Try to recall as many details as possible. If attainable, envision yourself as being part of the card. Continue to do this for a couple of minutes until it feels like every part of the card has been experienced

Experiencing Insight Meditation

It’s now time to concentrate on the meaning of the card. What kind of meaning does this card have in your life? For example, let’s say the strength card came up. This card represents not only physical strength, but inner strength as well. If using this card, think of problems that have been overcome in the past due to courage.

 

Remember what it felt like to draw inner strength for courage. Is there any thing happening in life that would require drawing from this inner strength? While thinking about this, see if any ideas enter the mind. Often, answers to questions and problems will come while in a relaxed state of meditation.

No matter which card is chosen for a meditation, think about the meaning and the positive effects it has had in life, then reflect on the meaning when the card is reversed and what can be done to help improve life.

How to End a Meditation

When finished reflecting on the card, take a minute to clear the mind and just focus on the breathing. When ready, open the eyes, slowly get up, and resume the activities of the day. Feel free to do this meditation any time some insight is needed.

A Tarot card meditation not only allows for a visualization exercise, but provides an opportunity to gain deep insight. What makes this such an interesting meditation is that although the formula for the meditation is the same, the meditation will be different each time depending on which card is chosen.…

Meditation Techniques: Relax the Body to Free the Mind

Meditation is a good way to relieve stress, balance the spirit, and find peace of mind. Some studies even say that meditation has certain health benefits. Mastering meditation techniques certainly isn’t easy, but once learned meditation can always be repeated.

Sometimes, it may seem that even deep physicial relaxation doesn’t always free the mind. For most, relaxing the body isn’t the difficult part of meditation. It’s relaxing the mind that’s the hard part – and this is where certain meditation techniques come in. Understanding meditation may help with mastering relaxation techniques. To meditate is to quiet the conscious mind and let the subconscious lead. This sounds simple in theory, but meditating isn’t always easy.

If relaxing is a problem, try some relaxation techniques like deep and slow breathing. Counting breaths may help with relaxation, or even just counting backwards from one hundred. It’s a good idea to stretch the muscles for a few minutes, then sit or recline comfortably and just let the body go limp. Pre-stretching often makes this limp, relaxed feeling easier to get into. Sometimes, it seems hard to keep still, as the world is a very fast place. Stillness and quiet are the cornerstones of true meditation. Gentle music, or other noises that won’t be distracting, are perfectly okay. Meditation is about the individual’s own personal comfort.

Deep relaxation means letting the mind relax, too. When trying to meditate, don’t try to balance a checkbook or pen the grocery list mentally. Though it should be simple, the hardest meditation technique is learning how to just stop thinking. Just stop thinking. When serious about meditating, it’s best to relax in a comfortable and quiet location. Deep, relaxed breathing and the absence of conscious thought is the goal of meditation. Getting there is the hard part. If counting does not help, try to focus your mind on a single image. A candle flame, a tree, a flower blossom, even just a ball of light – hold this picture in your mind’s eye, and then change it. Add wind, change the color, but deviate the image only slightly. Focus on this until it’s very solidly in your mental vision and you can change the picture with ease, and then focus on nothing at all for a time.

Some meditate just to relax, and lying quietly without thought is a wonderful way to achieve this goal. For more serious meditating, certain techniques may be used to achieve different goals. Some may use meditation as a way to deal with problems, and some to find spiritual guides. Whatever meditation is used for, mastering the basic techniques of total mind and body relaxation is the starting point.…

The Importance of Concentration in Meditation Practice

Why do we find it difficult to concentrate during meditation and what can we do to improve our ability to focus?

Concentration is said to be the key to meditation. Whether we are meditating on a candle, a mantra, a verse or our breathing, the most important aspect is to focus our mind on the object of our meditation.

Why is concentration so important?

In all walks of life, concentration is a great strength. Students who are able to concentrate on their studies without being distracted by the TV or by other members of their family are more like to succeed in their exams than those who can’t do this. Likewise, those who achieve success in the business world will often speak of devotedly applying themselves to their goal and not allowing other distractions to get in their way. This may be a very worldly form of concentration, but the principle is the same – concentration is the key to success. During meditation, concentration is needed in order for us to be able to bring the mind to rest; it is this rest that brings about the peace which so many of us long for in today’s society. Swami Paramananda, author of Concentration and Meditation (Eighth Edition, Vedanta Centre Publishers 1996) states it unequivocally:

“Meditation is inseparable from concentration. When the mind has gained its full strength through singleness, it naturally becomes meditative”.

Why is it hard to concentrate?

Although we talk about modern life being busier than ever, a restless, agitated mind has been a human problem for a very long time. In the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Geeta, (Faber & Faber 1982) estimated to be written 5,000 years ago, Arjuna presses the Lord Sri Krishna for advice on how to rest his “fickle and turbulent, obstinate and strong” mind. Krishna acknowledges his difficulty:

“Doubtless, O Mighty One! The mind is fickle and exceedingly difficulty to restrain, but O son of Kunti! with practice and renunciation it can be done”.

Our minds are very active – they’re used to making plans, forming opinions, commenting on what’s going on and generally chattering away. It’s not surprising, therefore, that when we sit down to meditate we find that it’s not so easy to stop all this chatter and attend to our intended focus. We’ve been allowing our minds to wander without any form of control for years – or decades – and unless we’re very fortunate, they’re not going to just fall calm and quiet just because we sit quietly and sound a mantra.

What do we do when we find it difficult to concentrate?

The ability to concentrate is an innate faculty, not only of humans, but of every living creature. Take a look at a cat who stops still for a couple of seconds before pouncing on a mouse. It’s true that our minds can be very scattered, but we’ll usually find that there are certain activities that we do attend to with a good degree of attention – reading a book, playing a musical instrument – even watching a football match requires concentration! There are steps we can take, however, if we wish to strengthen our ability to focus during meditation:

  • The most important point is not to criticize yourself when you notice your mind has abandoned its intended focus and wandered off. This criticism is just another activity and another distraction! Just leave the intruding thought alone and return your attention to the meditation. The mind can go off like this several times during a meditation session, but don’t get disheartened – just keep re-focusing the mind and this will gradually train it to attend more fully.
  • Notice how you conduct everyday activities. If you tend to be “scatty” or disorganized by nature, try to get into the habit of seeing a job or an activity through to its completion. Whether it’s washing the dishes, filing paperwork or tidying out the garage, leave things in an ordered state. This may seem to have little relevance to a spiritual practice like meditation, but it does help strengthen the mind and resolve.
  • Try to keep the habit regular and the circumstances propitious. Have a special place for meditation and stick to it; try to meditate every day for the required time – usually 20 or 30 minutes (sometimes twice a day). Unplug the telephone and ask your family not to disturb you – this is your spiritual development and all the family will benefit from it.

The above steps will enhance your ability to concentrate and subsequently help your meditation.…

Eating Organic: Go Green and Get Lean

Consumption of whole organic foods is a growing trend. It should come as no surprise especially with the constant focus both on our nations health and global warming.

There are lots of reasons you should choose to buy organic foods.

It’s predicted that organic foods will eventually cost a lot less then conventionally grown foods. The reason is due to the cost of fertilizers and pesticides that non-organic farmers use.

Eating organic foods means improving your overall health. The first and most obvious reason is because you’re no longer ingesting chemicals. There is no way to accurately measure how many pesticides,herbicides, and hormones we digest on a day to day basis. An average piece of produce can be sprayed over 50 times before it’s harvested and shipped to the supermarket shelf. It also may get additional chemical treatments to increase its shelf life. Then we take it home, rinse it off, and eat it. We then fool ourselves into believing that we took in adequate nutrition. In reality what nutrition was left will be used to detoxify our bodies of what we just ingested.

A new study just revealed that the better percentage of the human population is under-nourished. Woman take the lead in that category at a whopping 93%, that’s a pretty scary number. Especially when so many woman are taking on the role of both a professional and a mother. It takes a large amount of energy to juggle both. It’s dangerous to your health when your body is not nourished enough to fuel you with the energy you need to properly manage stress.

Another study even discovered that woman who eat diets high in processed and chemically treated foods greatly increased their chances of having a miscarriage.

There are a number of other health benefits to eating organic foods. Eating organic foods can help you to better manage your weight. When your body gets the proper amount of nutrients that it needs it no longer goes into defense mode. The less chemicals you ingest the less toxins in your body. When you have less toxins you have a great deal more energy, thus increasing your activities. Also your immune system is no longer under constant attack. This makes it easier to fight of colds, infections, and be less susceptible to other diseases of the immune system.

If you haven’t heard the term “go green!”, you might be living in a cave. When you “go green” it means you’re doing what you can to eliminate global warming. Eating organic is one of the many contributions you can make to help stop global warming. Many non-organic farmers use nitrogen based fertilizers. Nitrogen based fertilizers contribute nitrous oxide, a green house gas. Green hose gases effect climate, thus increasing the effects of global warming.

When you eat organic you will feel better all around. Not just physically, but emotionally too. You’ll feel good because your doing something good for your body and for your planet.…

Metta Meditation: 5 Benefits and Tips for Beginners

Metta Meditation – Insight Meditation: Learn How to Meditate for Loving Kindness and Compassion

Metta Meditation: 5 Benefits and Tips for Beginners

Metta meditation is one of the most popular vipassana techniques. This insight meditation is for bringing peace and tranquility into one’s own heart and sending loving kindness, along with compassion to others.

How to Begin a Metta Meditation

While sitting comfortably with a straight posture, begin to take slow, deep breaths while keeping the eyes closed. Once feeling relaxed, focus the mind on feelings about health, well being, and happiness. Take these feelings and turn them into a positive feeling of loving kindness or friendliness. With an open heart, begin thinking kindly of yourself.

Now, in the mind say, “May I be happy,” while envisioning being happy. Remember, in order to truly love others, one must first love themselves. Continue to bask in this positive, loving environment for as long as desired until ready to end the meditation.

Sending Loving Kindness to Others

Once comfortable with sending loving kindness to yourself, it’s time to start sending it out to others. Metta can be sent to friends, teachers, or relatives, along with neutral people and even enemies. When getting ready to send loving kindness, first envision the group of people it’s being sent to in the mind’s eye, then begin to send them metta.

When choosing neutral people, pick a group of people in which no emotions are attached. In order to build skill in sending metta, it’s best not to send to enemies until skilled at sending to familiar people and neutral people. When sending loving kindness, a couple of ideas of what to mentally say are, “May these people be happy,” or “May these people live with peace and joy.”

 

Metta and Universal Connectedness

One might first wonder why should a person should send loving kindness to their enemies. Try to envision everyone being a part of a universal connectedness or a collective unconscious, as Carl Jung referred to it. In other words, in sending kindness to an enemy, it’s also sending kindness to yourself. The more kindness a person feels, the more compassion they can feel towards others.

The vipassana technique known as metta meditation is a form of insight meditation that allows a person to further open their heart to not only accept loving kindness, but, to send it to others as well. When practiced over time, true love and compassion are achieved which projects positive energy to the collective unconscious that is said to be shared by all people.…

DNA Paternity Testing – RFLPs: Restriction Fragment Analysis of a Genome

What Is a Paternity Test?

Before we were able to analyze DNA, blood tests were used to assess paternity. However, blood testing is limited, in that it can only rule out a possible father, not prove paternal identity.

Today, genetic technology is used, and DNA paternity testing makes it possible to, with a very high degree of certainty, determine the identity of a child’s biological father.

The Genetic Code

Everyone, except identical twins, has a unique set of genetic instructions made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is a nucleic acid made of smaller molecules called nucleotide monomers, and each nucleotide is made of the same general ingredients:

  • a pentose sugar
  • one or more phosphate groups
  • a cyclic nitrogenous base

The specific nitrogenous base is what makes one nucleotide differ from another, and nucleotides of DNA each contain one of four possible nitrogenous bases:

  • Adenine (A)
  • Cytosine (C)
  • Guanine (G)
  • Thymine (T)

These four bases, particularly the combination in which they exist in along the DNA molecule, form the ‘genetic code’.

Restriction Fragment Analysis

Also called DNA fingerprinting, this type of genetic testing compares segments of DNA termed restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs). By using special restriction enzymes, the DNA molecule is cut at base sequences, also known as recognition sequences or restriction sites.

There are many different kinds of restriction enzymes. Each type will only cut the DNA when it encounters a specific combination of bases; A, G, T, and C. Different restriction enzymes cut DNA at different places—each has a unique sequence it recognizes. For example, the restriction enzyme named EcoRI cuts DNA when it encounters the sequence GAATTC and will cut only at that sequence, no other.

Gel Electrophoresis

After being cut up, the restriction fragments of each genome (mother, father and baby’s) are separated, according to length, using a technique called gel electrophoresis. Since people who are closely related have similar DNA, the DNA of more closely related individuals will show more similar length fragments of DNA.

Gel electrophoresis enables the lab technician to see which DNA fragments of the mother are shared by the child and, more importantly, if some of the child’s DNA fragments are the same size as fragments found in the supposed father’s DNA sample.…

How to sleep properly?

Stop running around, give some time to your health too! You have every right to give some space to yourself and your mind. Well, if you don’t look after your health, then who will look after your loved ones? To enjoy your holidays with all energy and enthusiasm, you must sleep well and take good rest. Give yourself the gift of sleep!

Sleep Facts: It is said that a person should sleep for 9 hours (approximately), as it is optimal. An average adult person sleeps for 8 hours. Lack of sleep increases the risk of mortality. Researchers have suggested that a person should maintain 8-9 hours of sleep. Sufficient sleep increases alertness, solves memory problems, and reduces risks of accidents. It is clear that sufficient sleep is necessary for better health.

Guide to get a comfortable sleep:

People learn things but they fail to apply in their lives. There are some people who follow everything that is beneficial for their health. You must get a good and comfortable sleep in order to maintain your energy levels high, your spirit at peak. Boost your energy levels!

1) Before Sleeping: Going to hit the bed? Well, now follow some things that would help you for sure. Before going to sleep. Wash your face gently. Look in the mirror and smile. Now time to concentrate on your footsteps. Gently, feel the distance between your body and bed. Go to bed, and lie down.

2) Right Posture: Lie straight, remove all thoughts from your mind. How? Well, it is easy. When you close your eyes, you see ‘blackness’ or ‘designs’, right? Focus on them, think nothing. No negative, no positive. Blank! Make your body light-weighted.

3) Breathing: Concentrate on your breathing pattern. Inhale and exhale at least 5 times. When you inhale, think that you are taking every positive energy available in this world, and while exhaling, think that you are throwing every negative energy that ruled you whole day.

4) Flashback: This helps in sharpening your memory. Think every possible thing you can remember for the particular day. Try to think the moment you got up from sleep and what you did whole day till you came sleep. Try to remember all the good things that happened in your day. And, do not forget to SMILE when you get good thoughts!

5) Music: Not sleepy? Turn on the music. Music plays an important role in life. Some therapists use music as a part of their therapy. It is because it calms one’s nerves in many ways. Music helps people maintain their physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual levels. It plays a vital role in sleep too. When you turn on the music, make sure of your environment, your bedroom’s setting, etc. Preferably, before sleeping, listen to soft music or gentle trance. You can also go for ‘Country Classics’. However, it depends on your choice.

Lack of sleep may result in severe headache or migraine, and other health problems. So? Avoid all the negativities, don’t think much about tomorrow’s holiday or vacation. Grab a glass of water, drink, and hit the bed. Goodnight and sweet dreams!…