Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

Mindfulness. I’ve been reading alot about this lately, and the Bride asked if I’d like to attend a Mindful Parenting and Grandparenting course with her, “Sure,” I said, who wouldn’t?

Of course my yogi daughter practices some of these techniques, like meditation, to deal with the stress of her job. You never know what’s coming through the door in an ER, and like the life of a pilot – who is on remote control until he has to land a plane in the Hudson River – she sews up a lot of cuts until someone tries to overdose (or, insert any catastrophic event).

Saying you want to “Be Here Now!” doesn’t do it for me. I need practical tips and strategies to stay in the moment and quiet my monkey brain. This morning someone wanted to follow my Instagram, and instead of immediately deleting her, I scooted over to her page @mindfuleatsnutrition. She is a “Dietician helping people make peace with food.” Some algorithm somewhere must have sensed I was at war with vegetables, since I’m always looking up new and ingenious ways to prepare okra.

She is part of the “No More Dieting” movement. Throw away your scales ladies, listen to your inner voice and practice “mindful eating.” Don’t buy pre-packaged Nutri-System meals that taste like mush, don’t join Weight Watchers and tie yourself to counting points, or whatever it is they are counting these days. Full disclosure, I did join WW before turning 60 since I was inching towards plus sizes. But by 65 I’d gained that weight back, as dieting almost always does.

Oprah, do you really think teenage girls should start attending WW with their moms?

Great Grandma Ada kept marveling at how much weight I’d lost last week. It’s true, I’d lost some weight this year because I’m not eating cookies or ice cream at night and I’m walking around this city with Ms Bean. I tend to lose weight when I’m stressed; like in my substitute teaching days when I went on my own fractional diet, eating only half of whatever was on my plate. Moving can be a wee bit stressful. There are no good and bad foods as I’ve said before, and our weight is only half of the problem.

Physical hygiene is half of self-love; caring for ourselves enough to visit a dentist regularly, to keep moving, to eat healthy by choosing more vegetables and less protein. To adore avocados!

Emotional hygiene means caring enough about ourselves to avoid negativity. To seek out a therapist if nothing else helps. To rid ourselves of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” complex and stop judging others. It’s been shown that people who hang around with depressed people start to feel depressed themselves, just like that study that said if your friends are always choosing fried foods, so will you. It may be time to start practicing mindfulness and you don’t have to be hippy-dippy to do it. I never went to Woodstock! I’ll be reporting back from our course in March.

You’ve got to put that plane’s oxygen mask on yourself first, if you want to get your babies out alive. It’s like the Dalai Lama said this morning:

Compassion suits our physical condition, whereas anger, fear and distrust are harmful to our well-being. Therefore, just as we learn the importance of physical hygiene to physical health, to ensure healthy minds, we need to learn some kind of emotional hygiene.

Is mindfulness your super power?

IMG_2182

Read Full Post »

Months ago, a friend’s daughter mentioned that she had stopped taking Adderal, a drug that was prescribed years earlier for Attention Deficit (ADD). She was proud of weaning herself off this stimulant and started looking at the world, and her career differently. I was happy for her, since as y’all know I am NOT a pill person – well except for vitamins – and I recommended she read this book, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman who won the Nobel Prize in 2002 for Economics, even though he is a psychologist.

A therapist friend recommended this book to me, and Bob just finished reading it on our Kindle App, so now it’s my turn. It’s easy enough to say that men are from Mars, but this non-fiction book doesn’t try to explain male vs female minds. In fact, gender has nothing to with it. Instead we find out that our instinctual, fast assessment of any situation is the hero of our cognitive world, and the slower, analytical mind is rather lazy!

System 2, in Kahneman’s scheme, is our slow, deliberate, analytical and consciously effortful mode of reasoning about the world. System 1, by contrast, is our fast, automatic, intuitive and largely unconscious mode. It is System 1 that detects hostility in a voice and effortlessly completes the phrase “bread and. . . . ” It is System 2 that swings into action when we have to fill out a tax form or park a car in a narrow space. (As Kahneman and others have found, there is an easy way to tell how engaged a person’s System 2 is during a task: just look into his or her eyes and note how dilated the pupils are.)  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/books/review/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman-book-review.html

When we speak about the “tone” of a conversation, as we have been doing about Mr T’s recent attempts at a Press Conference, we are engaging System 1. It is the nuanced way we communicate with others, the reason we may meet someone and feel an immediate kinship. I was actually thinking that System 1 may be a higher evolutionary adaptation to an increasingly complex and interconnected technological world. Making a diagnosis of ADD more of a plus, than a minus.

Now Bob’s opinion of an ADD diagnosis is that your environment isn’t sufficiently stimulating. As the student who sat in front of him in French class in the 60s, I know this to be true – his legs were always moving behind my desk, so much so that I felt as if I was on a Disney ride. I am positive he would have been medicated as a child. And our son had a similar level of energy in high school, similar to a race horse in the gate, one very hard to contain in a “normal” classroom. I can already see this fast level of relating to the world in the Love Bug. I can almost see her mind racing to keep up with us; at the age of two she was asking us to teach her how to read!

So the inner-linguist-in-me was delighted to read this morning that in fact, our thoughts may have been shaped by the kind of crops our ancestors grew! http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170118-how-east-and-west-think-in-profoundly-different-ways

 

Growing rice requires far greater cooperation: it is labour-intensive and requires complex irrigation systems spanning many different farms. Wheat farming, by contrast, takes about half the amount of work and depends on rainfall rather than irrigation, meaning that farmers don’t need to collaborate with their neighbours and can focus on tending their own crops.

This BBC article explains how so many social science experiments are biased toward the Western world, more specifically American graduate students who participate in these studies. The idea of Western thought being more frontier in nature, valuing the individual, John Wayne, self-directed approach, as differentiated from Eastern thought which values the whole, group achievement, socialist model over the individual is a narrative based in reality, and not alternative facts.  “…our social environment moulds our minds. From the broad differences between East and West, to subtle variation between US states, it is becoming increasingly clear that history, geography and culture can change how we all think in subtle and surprising ways – right down to our visual perception.”

And I would add Red and Blue states to this mix. I once asked a group of women knitting together in a room if in fact every US citizen didn’t deserve to have health care. This was early on, when President Obama was being blocked by every single Republican legislator from passing health insurance reform. And the one Republican knitter in the room said very defiantly “Absolutely not!” She was thinking like a pioneer, and not like someone on the Titanic.

The Flapper loved everything Eastern, including Buddhism, and believed in mindfulness before it was ever trending. Since I received the results of my Ancestry DNA, I realize that my cells are all Irish, with unfortunately no Asian influence. But ever since I was a girl, wearing my Catholic school uniform, my environment taught me to share and think collectively…and maybe now we need to think faster than ever. We need to be the first Jedi.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

img_5839

 

Read Full Post »

There is only one area of my life where I exhibit OCD tendencies. My kitchen table is semi-covered with a cloth (so the cat wouldn’t slip off) and miscellaneous notes and magazines. My study is a study in my “file by pile” method. But when it comes to books, once I find an author I love, I’ll stick with her/him and find everything they ever wrote. Which is how I came to read Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/16/AR2006031601632.html

I loved Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys. But in this story she has entered a new realm. I’ve always wanted to have faith, to believe that everything has been planned for us and all we have to do is pray. But my early lapse from a severe Catholic upbringing, coupled with a conversion to Judaism so my children would be raised in a faith, has left me adrift in a spiritual mumbo jumbo, a limbo of grace deferred. So it was a rare pleasure to lose my doubting/Thomas/self in a young minister’s life.

I’d recommend this book particularly at this time of year. It’s about loss, and fathers and daughters, and so much more. It’s about a marriage that was probably a mistake, a New England community filled with gossip and judgement. The protagonist preacher, Tyler, thinks about what Catholic saints and German Protestant ministers jailed during the Holocaust would do in certain situations. He is suffering because his wife has died.

One of my favorite Buddhists is Pema Chodron. She shares her breathing contemplation/meditation to relieve that little sense of discontent we all experience from time to time. Suffering is inevitable, “Everybody dies” as Bob likes to remind me. Pema tells us to take six deep breaths and open our hearts to the pain, even the everyday disappointments:

“When you breathe in, you can recognize that all over the world — right now and in the past and in the future — people are going to feel exactly what you’re feeling now. A feeling of being rejected. The feeling of being unloved. The feeling of insecurity. The feeling of fear. Rage.” Chödrön says. “Human beings have always felt this and always will. And so you breathe in for everyone that they could welcome it, that they could say, ‘I haven’t done anything wrong.’ Embrace it.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/02/pema-chodron-exercise-suffering-discontent_n_6255410.html

Pema calls this practice “Compassionate Abiding.” We accept our fear, our pain, our feelings and we learn to incorporate them, not to resist, in order to forge our spirit. What a beautiful concept, this is, in a way, prayer. It’s saying the rosary after confessing your sins; but without the beads and the dark priest’s closet. And the shame. It’s forgiving yourself.

When everyone around you seems to be in the “spirit” of the holidays, and you find yourself feeling blue, take a few moments to breathe, and abide within the feeling. IMG_1764

Read Full Post »

This may be hard for our Western minds to grasp, but in order to find our bliss we need to abandon hope. I know, it’s not very intuitive, not even very Obama-friendly, but this is what Pema Chodron, a famous American Buddhist nun has to say about it:

“Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there’s one, there’s always the other. This is the root of our pain. In the world of hope and fear, we always have to change the channel, change the temperature, change the music, because something is getting uneasy, something is getting restless, something is beginning to hurt, and we keep looking for alternatives.”

This was the place I was stuck in for a year between the births of my two children. I experienced 3 miscarriages in 1 year, the last after 20 weeks. There is no real way to explain it, the feeling that your world has shifted, that your body can’t be trusted. I was adrift in a world of hope for a new baby, and the fear that I would lose another. I stopped driving over bridges.

Let me step back and explain. The Bride’s friend from medical school, married a woman who then decided to enter medical school; they are a lovely young couple with a new baby just a couple of month’s younger than the Bug. Anna started blogging about being a new mom in medical school, about her decision to start a family in order to get the jump on fertility. It’s a lively and compelling read. http://annainmedschool.com She was recently published in the New York Times – bravo Anna!
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/opinion/sunday/pregnant-in-medical-school.html?ref=opinion&_r=1&

Now Anna has written about her friend Julie. Julie has also experienced 3 miscarriages, she writes eloquently about her decision to adopt here http://julienapearphotography.com/blog/?p=1126. She and her husband are sending the word out into the universe and I was humbled by her proactive and personal blog post:

They were told “…that the most successful way adoptive parents are matched with birth mothers is through word of mouth. So today’s post is my plea to you: please help us grow our family! We have been through hell, and have come back from it stronger and more capable than ever. Erik and I are madly in love (together eight years this month!), we have supportive families and friends, a beautiful home to grow in, and we’ve learned through brutal experience that we can make it through a crisis without completely falling apart.”

Between hope and fear is resilience, is never giving up. Julie has stepped bravely into that space. They will make wonderful parents one day. If you know of a woman who may be looking for a loving home for her unborn child, here is Julie’s contact info: erikandjulieadopt@gmail.com

My rabbi told me to imagine that I was a trapeze artist, and God was my net. He helped me to let go and abandon fear.
tumblr_m0l9b4N0rJ1qil54eo1_1280

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: