Tag: Val Boyco

The harmonious order of things!

The wisdom of balance.

Let me start off with a quote:

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Thomas Merton was an author who was born January 31st, 1915 and died on December 10th, 1968.

As part of the process of slowing down the progress of Parkinson’s Disease Jean is participating in three therapy sessions each week at the Outpatient’s Clinic at our local Three Rivers Hospital. One of the those sessions is physical therapy. I sat in on the initial introductory session and was fascinated by how much emphasis was placed on Jean’s ability to balance properly (and she was very good – better than me at times). Apparently a decline in one’s balance is an indicator of the brain not functioning as it should.

Psychologically and emotionally maintaining “an even keel” is vital to dealing with the countless ‘events’ that come our way every day.

I have been a follower of Val Boyco’s blog Find Your Middle Ground for some time and frequently read posts that reach out to me way beyond the words on the screen. As it was with a post published last Thursday: Steps to Find your Middle Ground.

It is republished here with Val’s very kind permission.

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Steps to Find your Middle Ground

Posted on August 18, 2016 by Val Boyko

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This list is for all the list people out there. Enjoy the steps I have discovered in finding my own middle ground and living life in balance 💛

    • Notice! Take time to pause and be aware of the incredible gift of life that you share with others and with nature. Wake up to the little things. Wake up to your self. Wake up to it all. This is called living mindfully. Become a keen observer.
    • Accept that life has ups and downs. Really! Some one told us when were little that life should be a breeze. This is called wishful thinking. Be grateful for the highs and graceful in the lows. This is called living life well.
    • Become present. Stop lamenting the past or worrying about tomorrow. Living is in each moment. Now. Take a deep breath. Then another. Notice you are still here… not there.
    • Get to know yourself. Take that first scary step of self-discovery. Turn off the tv. Sit for a while. Journal about what comes up. Have a meaningful conversation. Listen more to others. Listen more to yourself.
    • Let go of judgments. We think that judging others or ourselves makes us feel strong. Judgments come from fear of not being in control and having things go our way. Our way is not the way. There is nothing wrong, so stop trying to be right. Stop comparing, criticizing and start letting others be. Let yourself be.
    • Realize that you are not your thinking. You are the one who is aware of your thoughts. You are awareness within a physical body, with an imaginative and fearful ego-mind that creates stories. Your thinking is not the truth about who you are or the world around you.
    • Find the peace within. Beyond the next breath and the next thought there is a deep reservoir of peace waiting to be stepped into. This cool refreshing stillness has always been there and will always be there for us to access. To connect to this wondrous pool becomes our practice… whether it’s in mindfulness meditation, yoga, sitting in nature, or while commuting on the train, realize that you too can find your own middle ground.

This blog is my way of helping people get their feet wet.

Photo by Larry Hobbell
Photo by Larry Hobbell

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Now go and read that quote again by Thomas Merton.

Feeding one’s inner wolves.

The wisdom of ancient minds.

The following was published by Val Boyco recently over on her blog Find Your Middle Ground.

It is republished here with Val’s very kind permission.

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* How to Feed your White Wolf

I am what I learn!

Reflections on the old and the new.

So here we are on the last day of 2015, the cusp of a new year and who knows what the next twelve months have in store.

All I am going to do is to reflect on the huge potential our modern ‘wired-up’ world offers for learning.

Most will know the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

But it is wrong!

Here at home, where a number of the dogs are in their old age (Pharaoh is the equivalent in age of 100 human years; one dog year being approximately the same as eight human years) Jean and I see no difficulty in these elderly dogs learning new tricks.  Staying with Pharaoh, as an example, his hearing is pretty poor now but he has learnt a whole range of hand signals in recent months and he still communicates very well with us.

There is much in this new world that concerns me and I know I am not alone with this view. But the rewards of reading the thoughts of others right across the world are wonderful beyond measure.

Here’s a tiny dip into some fascinating items and articles that have graced my in-box in just the last twenty-four hours.

  • Eckhart Tolle’s Moment Reminder: “As far as inner transformation is concerned, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.”
  • Val Boyco, “Everything comes to us that belongs to us, if we create the capacity to receive it.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore
  • John Zande in his Sketches on Atheism, “Theism’s most potent, pervasive, irresistibly enchanting gift to frightened but otherwise sane individuals is a belief—a promise—that upon their death they will go home.”
  • Mother Nature Network, “7 ways to meditate while you move – If you don’t have time for sitting meditation, give one of these active meditations a try.”
  • George Monbiot, (on the UK floods), “These floods were not just predictable. They were predicted. There were clear and specific warnings that the management of land upstream of the towns now featuring in the news would lead to disaster.”

and my final selection:

  • Patrice Ayme: (from an essay on Brain & Consciousness) “The best microprocessors you can buy in a store now can do 10 to the power 11 (10^11; one hundred billions) operations per second and use a few hundred watts,” says Wilfred van der Wiel of the University of Twente in the Netherlands, a leader of the gold circuitry effort. “The human brain can do orders of magnitude more and uses only 10 to 20 watts.  That’s a huge gap in efficiency.”

So here’s to a new year of wonderful new learnings.  And let me leave you with this additional message for 2016.

Namely that The Nation weekly journal are celebrating their 150 years of publishing the magazine. They recently published a 150th Anniversary edition and the front editorial is written by Katrina Vanden Heuval. There is a ‘break out’ to one side on Page 2 of that editorial that reads:

Change is inevitable, but the one constant in The Nation‘s history has been a faith in what can happen if you tell people the truth.

Finding out the truth and sharing it so we can all see what can happen is my wish for 2016.

Happy New Year to all of you, and to all of your friends and loved ones.

Our Winter Solstice.

Is the moment of publishing this post.

I thought it would make a nice change to publish tomorrow’s post a little earlier than usual. To be precise to publish it on Dec. 22, at 04:48, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Or in our local Pacific Standard Time (PST) UTC-8 hrs or 20:48 Dec. 21., i.e. 20:48 on the evening of the 21st December. (I am seeing the exact time being declared as 04:48 or 04:49 UTC depending on what you read.)

Granted that the Northern Hemisphere tends to deliver the worst of the Winter weather after the shortest day, it still is good to know that for the next six months, the hours of daylight, in the Northern Hemisphere, will be increasing.

My inclination to write a post on the topic was greatly influenced by a most beautiful post over on Val Boyco’s blogsite. It was called And Winter Came.  Here’s the video that Val included in her post.

Isn’t that a most beautiful few minutes!

Impossible to top that!

But I can continue including an informative item that was published over on Mother Nature News, and is republished here within the terms of MNN.

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8 things to know about the winter solstice

From when it happens to why, here’s your crash course on the shortest day of the year.

By: Melissa Breyer, December 18, 2015

Hello, winter. (Photo: psynovec/Shutterstock)
Hello, winter. (Photo: psynovec/Shutterstock)

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night,” quipped Steve Martin – and indeed, even a day with less sunshine can feel a bit dark. Our world depends on the light radiating from that big star we traipse around, and when it’s in short supply, we feel it. But if you count yourself amongst those who don’t love waking up before the sun rises and getting off work after it has set, things are about to lighten up. Hello, winter solstice!

Although winter is really just beginning, we can at least say goodbye to these short little days we’ve been suffering (and don’t let the door hit you on the way out). With that in mind, here’s a collection of curious facts to celebrate the long-awaited return to longer days.

1. There are actually two winter solstices every year


It’s sometimes easy to be hemisphere-o-centric, but the other side of the planet gets a winter solstice too. With the planet’s orbit tilted on its axis, Earth’s hemispheres swap who gets direct sun over the course of a year. Even though the Northern Hemisphere is closer to the sun during the winter, it’s the tilt away from the sun that causes cold temperatures and less light — which is when the Southern Hemisphere is toasty. So while our winter solstice is on Dec. 21 or 22, the Southern Hemisphere celebrates the same on June 21 or 22.

Here’s how that looks from space (kind of):

2. The winter solstice happens in the blink of an eye


Although the solstice is marked by a whole day on the calendar, it’s actually just the brief moment when the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Capricorn that the event occurs.

3. Which is why it happens on different days in the same year

What? Yes! In 2015, the solstice happens on Dec. 22, at 04:49 on the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) time clock, the time standard that the world regulates its hours by. Which means any location that is at least five hours behind UTC should break out the party hats on Dec. 21. For example, in the United States the winter solstice happens on Dec. 21 at 11:49 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The rest of the time zones can welcome longer days beginning on the 22nd.

4. It’s the first day of winter … or it’s not, depending on whom you ask

Meteorologists consider the first day of winter to be Dec. 1, but ask an astronomer — or just about anyone else — and they’ll likely answer that the winter solstice marks the start of the season. There are two ways to look at it: meteorological seasons and astronomical seasons. Meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle, explains NOAA, while astronomical seasons are based on the position of the Earth in relation to the sun.

5. It’s a time of gloriously long shadows

Shadows are at their playful best on the solstice. (Photo: Mike Page/flickr)
Shadows are at their playful best on the solstice. (Photo: Mike Page/flickr)

If you’re inclined to take pleasure in the little things, like shadows that seem cast from a funhouse mirror, then the winter solstice is the time for you. It’s now that the sun is at its lowest arc across the sky and thus, shadows from its light are at their longest. (Imagine a flashlight directly above your head and one hitting you from the side, and picture the respective shadows.) And in fact, your noontime shadow on the solstice is the longest it will be all year. Relish those long legs while you can.

6. Full solstice moons are rarer than blue ones

Since 1793, the full moon has only occurred on the winter solstice 10 times, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The last one was in 2010, which was also a lunar eclipse! The next full moon on a winter solstice won’t be until 2094.

7. There’s a Christmas connection

Since Christ wasn’t issued a birth certificate, there’s no record of the date when he was supposed to have been born. Meanwhile, humans have been celebrating the winter solstice throughout history — the Romans had their feast of Saturnalia, early German and Nordic pagans had their yuletide celebrations. Even Stonehenge has connections to the solstice. But eventually Christian leaders, endeavoring to attract pagans to their faith, added Christian meaning to these traditional festivals. Many Christmas customs, like the Christmas tree, can be directly traced to solstice celebrations.

8. It’s a reminder to thank Copernicus

Will the real Saint Nick please step forward? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Will the real Saint Nick please step forward? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium, meaning “point at which the sun stands still.” Since when has the sun ever moved?! Of course, before Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (aka “super smartypants”) came up with the ‘ol heliocentric model, we all figured that everything revolved around the Earth, sun included. Our continued use of the word “solstice” is a beautiful reminder of just how far we’ve come and provides a nice opportunity to give a tip of the hat to great thinkers who challenged the status quo.

And now go have some hot cocoa. Happy winter!

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Only one way to close. That is with this picture of the sun perfectly aligned with the stones at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK at the moment of the Winter Solstice.

The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. This year the solstice occurs on Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT (Universal time) with the sun rising over Stonehenge in Wiltshire at 08:04.
The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. This year the solstice occurs on Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT (Universal time) with the sun rising over Stonehenge in Wiltshire at 08:04.

Stay safe and warm wherever you are.

The next post from Learning from Dogs will be published at 00:00 PST Wednesday, 23rd December.

Why Am I Talking?

At first, this may seem like a rather bizarre question.

Before plunging in to today’s post, can I just explain, especially to those who are new to this place, why there has been a preponderance of republished articles from other sources in recent times. (And that’s not to say that these articles aren’t fascinating reads; by the way.)

While my book is now available, I am still just over a week away from a formal launch, both here on Learning from Dogs, and locally in the town of Grants Pass. However, the level of demands upon me in connection with the launch is building rapidly. For example, on Friday a team from the local Daily Courier are coming here in connection with a feature article that they want to write. On Saturday, Jean and I have a stand at a local craft fair. Next Tuesday I have my fingers crossed that there will be a radio broadcast from local KAJO about the book on their local community slot. (More details will be published here once the time and day has been confirmed.)

I’m sure you get the picture!

So with all that out of the way, here’s a wonderful sequel to my recent posts on Stillness and Happiness. It is a fascinating essay from Val Boyco under the heading of  W.A.I.T., republished with Val’s kind permission.

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W.A.I.T. ?

Posted on December 1, 2015 by Val Boyko

I love to work with people on becoming better communicators. The key, of course, is to learn to really listen – becoming engaged listeners and tuning into the other person, rather than letting our own thoughts take us away from the moment and distract us.

But before we even get to this step, there is one vital piece of wisdom to absorb.

When we are talking we are not listening.

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So, the question to ask yourself is : Why Am I Talking?…

Have you ever considered why you are talking? It is usually more than sharing valuable information; that’s for sure!
Next time you notice you are talking, consider these questions:

  • Am I trying to release something that’s bottled up?
  • Am I trying to persuade someone to my point of view?
  • Is it a habit?
  • Am I trying to work through something out loud?
  • Do I have an unmet personal need that I am trying to get met? For example: a need for validation, attention, love, approval, recognition or to be right.
  • Do I find talking entertaining?
  • Am I uncomfortable with silence?
  • Do I believe that people really need all the information I am providing, that I am being helpful or teaching something?
  • To explore more, you may want to write W.A.I.T.? on a post-it note before your next meeting and notice what comes up for you.

When we become aware of our talking, we are in a better position to choose whether we want to continue or not. Enjoy tuning in to yourself this week.. and this video.

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Guess I have nothing more to say! 😉

Love is the Bridge

This fabulous world of blogging.

When I first started writing Learning from Dogs, some six years ago this coming July 15th, I didn’t have a clue. Not a clue about how addictive it would become, how eventually it would motivate me to write a book of the same name as the blog (not yet published), and, above all, what a wonderful family feeling would develop. Not only between me and my followers but also, and just as importantly, from the many wonderful blogs that I follow in turn.

One of those mutual friendships is with Val Boyco and her blog Find Your Middle Ground. Two days ago, Val published a beautiful post entitled Love is the Bridge for Understanding.

In a world that offers so many examples of everything that we don’t love, it’s a great pleasure to republish Val’s post, done so with her very kind permission. Thank you, Val.

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Love is the Bridge for Understanding – and Action

Posted on July 1, 2015 by Val Boyko

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Diana over at Talk to Diana wrote a moving post today that has stayed with me. “He Deserves Better Than This” is about her father who has been in chronic back pain for years and has not received treatment to alleviate it. Diana decided that enough was enough and made several calls until she spoke to an administrator in the health service.

Diana’s intention was clear. “They know his medical history, but I wanted to tell them about the man who is my dad, who worked hard all his life, who deserves better than this; who deserves to live his last years with some enjoyment and quality of life.
Wow.

Sometimes we let ourselves think that others have our best interests in mind… And we suffer in silence. It is up to us to ensure that they understand what our needs are and support us in getting them met. (Having a caring daughter as an advocate also helps!)

So, how do we make ourselves be seen, heard and understood?

Having a good argument doesn’t cut it. Bringing all the facts to the discussion won’t either. Getting angry could also backfire.

I believe that in Diana’s case, her passion and love for her father touched the goodness inside a fellow human being. The administrator wanted to help and she did. He gets treatment on Friday. Yeah!

Love is the bridge for understanding. It moves us from being “one of them” in the eyes of another to become “us” in our common humanity and caring.

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Here’s an other story that touched me deeply. Daniel Gottlieb is a family therapist, psychologist and award winning radio host. Thiry years ago he survived a traumatic car accident. He is paralyzed from the neck down and gets around in a special wheelchair.

In his book The Wisdom We’re Born With he shares a personal story. While staying at a hotel on business, the manager approached him and said “I hope you are enjoying your stay”. As it turned out there had been several hurdles that he had had to overcome in order to find a room that was easily accessible and comfortable. He asked to meet with the manager the next day to go on a guided tour with him. The manager seemed sincerely interested.

Gottlieb then asked the manager “Who do you love most in the world?” The manager quickly responded “My daughter.” Gottlieb then said “Okay, could you do this before we meet tomorrow morning? Imagine your daughter is visiting your hotel…. and she is in a wheelchair.”

They did meet the next morning but there really was no need, the manager had already seen the obstacles and hurdles. He was eager for more input from Gottlieb so that he could make it right.

When we reach out with love, we touch the innate love and compassion in others. We come together in our common humanity and caring. We hear each other and understand. We are all connected by love.

And then we know what is to be done.

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Revealing my age, what comes immediately to mind after having read Val’s post is this song:

Saturday serendipity

Facing up to our challenges often inspires new beginnings.

I subscribe to Val Boyco’s blog Find Your Middle Ground (and love it!).

Last Thursday, Val published a beautiful poem that she, in turn, had seen over on Mindfulbalance, a blog that I hadn’t come across but suspect that I am going to like.

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Originally posted on Mindfulbalance:

Trittsteine_am_oberen_Teich_Japanischer_Garten_Kaiserslautern

It may be that

when we no longer know

what to do,

we have come

to our real work,

and when we

no longer know

which way to go,

we have begun

our real journey

Wendell Berry, The Real Work

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Going to close today’s post by repeating something that is in a little book that I have had for years: Extracts from Peace In Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh originally published by Bantam Books.

Aimlessness

There is a word in Buddhism that means “witlessness” or “aimlessness”. The idea is that you do not put something in front of you and run after it, because everything is already here, in yourself.

While we practice walking meditation, we do not try to arrive anywhere. We only make peaceful, happy steps.

By taking good care of the present moment, we take good care of the future.

You all have a wonderful present moment!

More on Danna Faulds

Captivating ideas, thoughts and words.

(NB: I am presently away with my son enjoying the Wintry delights of Bend, Or and Mount Bachelor.)

In yesterday’s post, Be good to yourself, I featured a poem from Danna Faulds.  I had not come across her before and this time around it was thanks to a recent post over on Val Boyco’s blog Find Your Middle Ground.

It didn’t take much effort to find more beautiful ideas from Ms. Faulds. Try these, for example:

Awakening Now
by Danna Faulds

Why wait for your awakening?
Do you value your reasons for staying small
more than the light shining through the open door?
Forgive yourself,
Forgive yourself.
Now is the only time you have to be whole.
Now.
Now is the sole moment that exists to live in the light of your true nature.
Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.
Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.
Please, oh please, don’t continue to believe
in your stories of deficiency and failure.
This is the day of your awakening.

Elsewhere, on a yoga website, we learn that Danna is:

Danna Faulds, poet and dedicated practitioner of Kripalu Yoga, is the author of four popular books of yoga poetry: Go In and In; One Soul; Prayers to the Infinite; and From Root to Bloom. She credits Kripalu Yoga and expressive writing with transforming her life.

Another web search very quickly finds this item over on the All Things Healing blogsite.

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Allow

by Danna Faulds

Editor’s Note from Diane Renz: I have just returned from the Center for Mindfulness Scientific conference, a powerful gathering for all teachers, researchers, clinicians, and practitioners engaged in Mindfulness in the world. The Center for Mindfulness if the base point for Jon Kabat Zinn’s MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program developed over 30 years ago which, through science, has proven to benefit psychological, physiological, emotional, cognitive, and the many neural correlates relative to well-being. The last day we had the chance to practice mindfulness with Jon Kabat Zinn, Saki Santorelli, Florence Meleo-Meyer, Bob Stahl, which is where I first heard the Poem here called “Allow”. It is through our allowing where we each find our healing and return to our wholeness. In light of spring and all rebirth and beginning again, learning how to turn toward our pain so we can open to bright new growth rising up from the dark compost of our suffering.

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There is no controlling life. 

Try corralling a lightning bolt,

containing a tornado. Dam a

stream and it will create a new

channel. Resist, and the tide

will sweep you off your feet.

Allow, and grace will carry

you to higher ground. The only

safety lies in letting it all in –

the wild and the weak; fear,

fantasies, failures and success.

When loss rips off the doors of

the heart, or sadness veils your

vision with despair, practice

becomes simply bearing the truth.

In the choice to let go of your

known way of being, the whole

world is revealed to your new eyes.

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Again from that All Things Healing website:

About the Author

Danna Faulds is a long-term practitioner and teacher of Kripalu Yoga. A former librarian, she incorporated writing into her spiritual practices DannaFauldsyears ago, and this book is the result. Drawing inspiration from yoga and meditation, from the natural world, and from life, her poems capture both the struggle and the delight of the attempt to live consciously, in a voice that always encourages and uplifts. Common themes include awakening to true nature, touching the divinity within, overcoming fear and self-judgement, and the ineffable joy of spiritual union.

Bitter Lake ripples.

Reflections on last Thursday’s post.

Last Thursday, I published a post under the title of Oil, money, banks, guns and blood. It was such a departure from my normal style of blog post that I anticipated that it would slide by without any comment. Wrong! It had the highest readership of the week and attracted some powerful and insightful replies. So much so that I expressed the desire to reflect on those replies before responding. Thus, today’s post is my response to your comments and feelings.

First, Hariod Brawn of the blogsite Contentedness responded, in part:

Now, where are we? Val’s words are a good place to begin: “Nothing is what is seems, or will ever be the same again.” Nobody knows for sure, but piecing together fragments of world events, my instinct (fwiw) tells me that we are in the incipient stages of the collapse of the 20th.c. paradigm. Neoliberalism has failed; further than that, Capitalism has failed – we have no free markets where it counts; they’re all rigged. Politics has failed too, having been bought out by the corporates. [There are over 30,000 lobbyists in Washington alone] All that Western Governments have to offer is a doomed re-run of failed practices (same with Japan actually). Worse still, they have gone down on their knees and begged the financial sector to create a fix. The private banks have been given access to vast sums of QE cash at virtually zero interest in order to continue rigging markets (via their agents) all to their benefit whilst also creating huge market distortions in asset bubbles. Has the wealth they created trickled down? Has it hell. Whilst all this is going on, and as the film so clearly demonstrates, the Middle East looks like fulfilling its promise of the last century as being the flashpoint for warfare on a vast scale. And of course, if by some miracle we escape financial collapse, and world peace is not threatened by warfare, then the environment is going down the pan because – guess what? – our politicians have failed us once again. I have said enough on this.

Hariod then went on to recommend the films of Chris Hedges that will be featured on Learning from Dogs at a future date.

Then Val Boyco, her blogsite being Find Your Middle Ground, wrote a response before viewing the film:

Without being informed yet … my thinking is that the world we live in is so complex, stressful and fast that we can’t absorb everything that happens. We simplify and label, in order to make sense. We chop and segment in order to understand, but we miss the full story and many have lost the ability to grasp the bigger picture…. or are too fearful of going against the expectations of others and becoming one of “them” instead of one of “us”.

Then reinforced by her comment after watching the film:

I just watched the movie Paul. It is powerful and very disturbing. As you say, it undermines what we believe is real. It also reveals the complexity – misunderstanding – manipulation – corruption – opium, oil and the struggle for power – naivety – chaos.
In the dualistic fairy tale world of good vs evil it has created a nightmare of errors.
Nothing is what is seems.
Or will ever be the same again.

There was a comment from Patrice Ayme:

Giant American global corporations, the 200 largest ones, do 100 billion dollars of tax evasion through Luxembourg alone. Each year. Many are media companies. Wonder why stories make no sense?

Juncker directed that. Now he is head of the European Commission, and insist Greece shall pay every single penny.

As it happened, my dad was among a European group of geologists working for the Afghan government, who discovered Afghanistan’s riches… In the 1970s. All hell broke loose shortly thereafter.

I write about these sorts of things, day in, day out. But most people prefer the opium of feel-good…

Patrice then went further in offering a post over on his own blog that carried the specific title of Great Bitter Lake. Let me quote a little from that:

“Bitter Lake” is about the conspiracy between American plutocracy and Saudi plutocracy. Plutocrat Roosevelt was freshly flown from Yalta, to the Great Bitter Lake, on the Suez Canal. The idea was to steal the Maghreb, and the Middle East from the French and the British, by making a theocratic alliance.

At Yalta, Roosevelt had given half of Europe to his Comrade Stalin. (Plutocrats of the world naturally unite!)

Never mind that Poland had fought the Nazis courageously the Nazis, at a time when the USA was militarily and diplomatically collaborating… with the Nazis (or maybe, precisely, the Poles had to be punished!) Roosevelt had to be strict: the French had successfully escaped from the military occupation (AMGOT) he had set-up for them.

The movie “Bitter Lake” exposes (some) of the American plutocracy led conspiracies which led to the devastation, among other things, of Afghanistan, and other constituencies, thanks to the Wahhabist Islam it unleashed on the world.

Readers of this site will be familiar with the general ambiance.

One caveat: all what is in the documentary and makes American plutocrats (Roosevelt) and their servants (Reagan) look bad, is correct. However the real situation, the real badness is way worse. (For example the secret, official USA intervention in Afghanistan was under Carter, on July 3, 1979. However the real even more secret intervention, through the Pakistani ISI was even earlier and even more vicious.

So what is my response?

It is this:

In 1887, Oscar Wilde said, referring to the differences between the British and the Americans: “We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

By way of example there is a saying back in my old country that when something is “… going to the dogs”, it means an irreversible decline in standards; the phrase usually aimed at an organisation or even a country.

Many, especially those of my age, might nod sagely and reflect that something ‘is going to the dogs‘ in terms of the wider Western world.

Let me be specific. There are destructive and dysfunctional issues in modern societies that I would list as: Selfishness; Power & Corruption; Short-termism; Materialism; Population growth; Greed, inequality and poverty. It’s not an exhaustive list!

Now many would argue the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ about what precisely is wrong with Western societies in this 21st century but far fewer would argue with the underlying premise; that something is fundamentally wrong with today’s world.

Indeed, one of the things that is impossible to miss is the body language, the look on a face, the shrug of a shoulder, when one casually remarks that these are interesting times! From strangers and friends alike.

There is no question that what mankind has ‘enjoyed’ these last fifty years or so cannot be continued for very much longer. That the era since the 1960s of growth, materialism and consumption is running one very basic and fundamental resource dry. You know the one I am referring to: Planet Earth.

My hope is that the widely-felt feelings that something is fundamentally wrong with today, are the feelings man has always experienced, since time immemorial, when mankind has passed through the threshold between two eras.

My hope is that the new era, one that we quite possibly may now just be entering, a new era of sustainable living on this planet, of social and political changes to replace extreme levels of inequality, of stronger communities of like-minded persons, will be obvious to all, but especially obvious to our next generation, within the next ten years; possibly fewer than ten years.

One thing is for sure. The sharing of ideas and feelings as is the style of modern blogging is critical to the forming of the opinions that precede the changes that so many now see as unstoppable.

Slowing down.

Of space and meditation.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about using a biofeedback device promising to explain more today.

Also yesterday, I touched on the benefits of meditation and how the video from quantum physicist John Hagelin PhD seemed so interesting.

So let’s start with that sixteen-minute talk from John Hagelin.

In this intro video, quantum physicist and certified TM teacher John Hagelin, PhD explains the Transcendental Meditation technique and its benefits from a scientific perspective.

Now while I had been aware of transcendental meditation, seemingly for years, I had never really taken steps properly to understand exactly what it is all about. Clearly, John Hagelin does an excellent job in that video in giving one a good basic understanding of TM.

However, a quick trip across to the TM Organisation’s website soon fixed that. There’s a great amount of information. Including sections such as: Stress Relief & Stress Management.

OK, moving on to the biofeedback unit.

Ultra_Side_transp2-700x500

The picture is taken from the company’s website where, as one might expect, there are many glowing reports about its effectiveness. But the key benefit to my mind is that it is a, “FDA-cleared, non-drug, non-invasive hypertension treatment device”.

I purchased it, for $99 plus S&H, because I was aware of having an elevated blood pressure and it came recommended by long-term friend, Dan Gomez. I have been using it now for about 8 weeks.

Essentially, one clips an elasticated strap incorporating a strain gauge around one’s midriff, inserts the ear-pieces into the ears and settles back somewhere comfortable in a quiet room.

While my blood pressure is still too high, the unit most definitely has an incredible calming effect and in approximately twenty minutes my breathing rate drops from about ten breaths per minute (BPM) to five or even just below five BPM. The calming effect stays around for quite some time afterwards.

That why the item about deep breathing from Val Boyco referred to yesterday seemed so apt. No less apt that the comment left by blogger Raj.

Deep breathing exercise also insists on holding the deeply inhaled breath, and releasing it in gradual phases, with a pause between each release, till entire air is exhaled; followed by three to four cycles of same process… One of the purposes of this structured format is to keep the mind in the now and thereby relax the practitioner… Best wishes… Raj.

Not sure what else to add other than be very happy to answer any questions – assuming I know the answer!

In these modern times, when we are bombarded by so much from so many directions, the benefits of deep meditation, of slowing down so naturally, as our dogs demonstrate every single day, could be of tremendous value.

Just watch this short video of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, speaking at Lake Louise, Canada in 1968.

Uploaded on Apr 3, 2009

The Transcendental Meditation technique uses the natural tendency of the mind to go toward greater happiness, so the mind effortlessly transcends to its most silent state.