A Monday meditation that can be your starting point for future mediations.
A Monday meditation that can be your starting point for future mediations.
Artist Christina Lonsdale grew up during the time of fascination with everything new age in the 1960s but as the internet grew, she entered the world of the Digital New Age. When the artist encountered “aura photography,” which is made with the use of a very special camera that can actually capture a person’s individual essence and electromagnetic energy, thereby illuminating their true selves, she found the perfect marriage of art and science. For audiences, this means a deeper connection with the subjects.
Metal sensors help capture a person’s inner vibe inside a specially-designed “dome” that looks like a small spaceship, wherein energy can be viably concentrated. Using a hand-modified Polaroid camera, the wavelengths of a sitter’s spirit are translated into vibrant and otherworldly colors. With her newfound tools, Lonsdale found that she was able to connect her formative childhood experiences with those of the burgeoning realm of social media to embark. Therefrom sprang the triumph of the Radiant Human project.
“As human beings, we carry electricity inside us,” Lonsdale said in a 2019 interview with Artnet News. “It radiates past our skin in what’s known as an electromagnetic field.” What emerges, in Lonsdale’s words, is essentially the OG Instagram filter. “Instead of doggie ears and Coachella wreathes, you have the color of your energy,” she says.
In the book, Lonsdale provides detailed case studies that describe what certain colors indicate about a person’s aura. Through hundreds of photographs, including remarkable images of celebrities such as Busy Philipps, Zosia Mamet, Chloë Sevigny, Joseph Altuzarra, and SZA, she pulls out the nuances of individuals’ personalities through the gradient colors of a Polaroid. Sometimes, the auras are almost imperceptible, but it’s exactly those discreet and subtle changes that make up the whole of a person’s aura.
“Perceptions can pivot with the click of a shutter,” Lonsdale says on the project’s website, “illuminating our truest selves, and giving new light to what was there all along.”
Here new book, Radiant Human: Discover the Connection Between Color, Identity, and Energy is out this month.
The Washington Post's recently wrote about the impact (or not) of crystals. You can decide for yourself.
Although the market for diamonds has seen a decline during the pandemic, “near-gemstones” (crystals and minerals) have maintained their appeal among consumers, making it a $1 billion business. Even classy art giants Sotheby’s and Christie’s have joined the mom-and-pop incense-burning shops in selling crystals. Katy Perry claims her rose quartz helps her attract men, and Adele swears crystals decrease her anxiety onstage. According to trends on Google, there has seen a steady climb in searches for “crystal healing” in the past year, including “crystal healing shops near me.”
Purchasing crystal merchandise is not just a basic shopping trip anymore; it’s an experience. You can sign up for a crystal-mining adventure at Sweet Surrender Crystals in Arkansas, or attend a crystal altar offering to Mother Earth (Pachamama) led by a shaman at the Sumaq hotel before ascending to Machu Picchu. Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, Goop, offers a “medicine bag” complete with crystals to encourage clarity, creativity and emotional strength. Perhaps you prefer your water with youth-energizing crystals: VitaJuwel’s Forever Young Gem-Water bottles have you covered.
For centuries, these enigmatic rocks have captivated artists, writers, healers and religious leaders, many of whom believed the crystals contained a certain concentration of the earth’s energy. Egyptians sometimes carved crystal sarcophagi to protect the body from evil spirits on their way to the afterlife. The word “crystal” comes from the Greek “krystallos,” meaning ice. Crystal divination was described by Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and naturalist, in the 1st century A.D.
Science does not back the idea that crystals have special powers. “I am not aware of any [National Science Foundation]-supported studies into the healing powers of crystals,” Peter Heaney, a mineral sciences professor at Pennsylvania State University, said via email. “Such a proposal would frankly never survive peer review, because there is not any theoretical reason to expect crystals to have healing powers.”
Heaney recounted a story from his days as a graduate student, when his adviser was asked whether crystals have energy. “It is a tricky question,” Heaney wrote, “because the answer is ‘yes’ with respect to Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence (e=mc^2) or with respect to thermodynamic conceptions of free energy in crystals. But as my advisor noted, crystal healing posits that there is an energy transfer between crystals and people . . . and there is simply no scientific foundation for those assertions.”
Mineralogist Jeff Post, the Smithsonian Institution’s curator-in-charge of gems and minerals, said in an email: “The simple fact is that there is no scientific basis for any kind of crystal healing. No doubt, beautiful crystals can bring joy and some happiness just by looking at them, like looking at beautiful art or beautiful flowers, but I think that is the extent of their power.”
Stuart Vyse, behavioral scientist and author of “Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition,” said “there is no evidence that there’s a mechanism by which [crystals] could heal that’s understood by science. It doesn’t make logical sense from a scientific viewpoint.” He attributes the uptick in crystal interest to a desire to believe that crystals have some special power.
But believing in the healing benefits of crystals can be harmful to your health — and your wallet — if, for example, you depend on them to cure you of cancer instead of seeing a physician, or if you choose to carry a clear quartz crystal, known as the master healing stone, rather than wearing a mask to protect yourself and others from the novel coronavirus.
Many psychologists attribute perceived crystal healing to the placebo effect, according to Thomas Plante, professor of psychology and religious studies at Santa Clara University and adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University’s School of Medicine.
Your belief in anything you think might help you — whether it be crystals, herbal supplements or experimental medical treatment — may do so, even if there’s no active ingredient involved. “When these beliefs are supported by friends and family or various social media blogs, they become more powerful,” Plante said.
“It’s hard to argue against people who believe in the psychological effects of crystals,” said Zhuo Job Chen, a professor who specializes in the psychology of religion and spirituality at Clemson University. “Those are genuine experiences we have to respect.” His research looks at how people around the world use spirituality to enhance their well-being. “We have to separate the difference between the stone’s symbolism and the material,” Chen said.
So people who wear a necklace strung with tourmaline stones to decrease anxiety might feel a sense of peace, not because the stone itself is physically endowed with power, but because they believe in the stone’s meaning. In a similar example, rosary beads facilitate prayer, but people don’t necessarily believe the stones themselves have power, Chen said.
Like rosary beads, crystals can help cultivate personal spiritual development. During an era in which our brains are burned out by digital distractions, having something to hold can help you focus during meditation, said Marisa Galvez, a professor of French and Italian at Stanford University studying the use of crystals in medieval poetry. “A crystal combines the earthly with the spiritual. It helps you reflect on yourself and your place in the world while also helping you transcend the world,” Galvez said. “This found object refracts light, which lends itself to reflection. Its brightness and weight endow it with a presence, but its transparency allows it to disappear.” This paradox is part of crystal fascination, Galvez said. “It belongs to the common earth, but also can be personalized depending on how you interact with it.”
At the same time that you might be cultivating your individual spirituality with crystals, you can join a greater community of those who believe in the healing powers of the earth. “The social connections that people create and maintain through these associations may be far more important than the beliefs themselves,” said Phil Stevens, an anthropology professor at the University of Buffalo. Based on his research on New Age thinkers, Stevens argues that people persist in these scientifically unfounded beliefs largely because of their social associations: “People are clinging to whatever will connect them to other people.”
Research shows that people who believe in paranormal phenomena, including crystals, demonstrate a higher level of patternicity: a tendency to detect patterns in randomness. This can be a boon or a curse, Chen said. Studies show these individuals are better at word associations and facial recognition, but they’re also more likely to believe in conspiracy theories or see ghosts.
The Terror Management Theory says that when individuals are confronted with the threat of mortality, they develop new ways to cope, and for some Americans, that way may be by turning to crystals.
“During times of uncertainty, people seek clues that will give them a sense of being, seeking ways to create coherence and make meaning out of the world — transcend the person to something greater. Crystals can be a source for some,” Chen said.
People’s fears, anxiety and depression are “through the roof,” Plante said. “We are talking about a mental health tsunami. People want to be consoled. They are clutching whatever brings them solace.” This is especially true of those unaffiliated with religion, he said, a number that is growing in the United States. “Religions tell you what to do, and people don’t like that, especially Americans,” Plante said. “Those who don’t come from religious traditions are more susceptible to unregulated things like crystals or tarot cards, because you can do with them as you wish.”
The pandemic also is forcing people to reinvent themselves, and as they do so, they also may be changing what provides them solace. Some people might find pandemic comfort in turning to swirling agate for rebalancing, for example.
And, finally, while our suitcases gather dust, crystals allow us to travel. Galvez describes crystals as a “passport” to a higher spiritual plane. “They give you permission to go somewhere else,” she said. “And if people can be more meditative or develop a spiritual practice, that’s a good thing.”
I have a big problem concentration, especially since the pandemic where I am not only more stressful but am getting a bit bored.
So meditation should be a great activity for me to do, right? Well ... I am finding that when I try to sit for a few minutes and let my mind relax and empty, I can't do it for more than a few seconds before I am thinking of something else!
I am sure that I am not the only one out there who has trouble mellowing out. Here is what I have learned over the past 12 months regarding meditation:
1. Find a comfortable position for you. We are told to sit upright with a straight back to meditate. But no sooner do I sit somewhere and straighten my back then I am thinking about how uncomfortable I am! For me, I like to lie down in a bed. I know we are told not to do that but it works for me.
2. If your mind wanders to something, don't get frustrated. Just pull back and continue as best as you can to empty your mind into a fog.
3. Sometimes 2 minutes work better than 5 or 10. I find that meditating in short bursts is easier than committing to a longer time.
4. Choose the time of day when you are most willing and able to meditate. Some people like to meditate when they first get up. Other prefer the afternoon. I like to try and meditate just before I go to sleep - because it helps me fall asleep. Find the time of day that works best for you.
5. Sometimes Music Helps. It doesn't have to be new age music - just something that you find relaxing.
Stress is one of the biggest problems facing Americans today, especially with the current pandemic. This article compiles responses from people from all walks of life, including numerous therapists and mental health experts, on how to combat stress and overcome it. Some of the points people have suggested include the following:
I compiled some fantastic comments different therapists, psychologists, social workers and others have sent me on how to overcome stress (there are 34 submissions already). A lot of people put a lot of effort into this, and I think your readers would really enjoy it. Some of the things people have brought up so far:
Read the full article here.