Blog 59 – Original Thinking
“I have learned, and am still learning, to slow down my thinking processes in order to allow a deeper knowing to come through. I am learning that the most important thing we can do is listen – to each other and to the natural rhythms that surround us,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
Our thinking is not our own. We assume that our thoughts are generated from our brain. We assume that we as humans create our own thoughts. What if this was not reality?
Indigenous peoples believe that humans are connected to nature. Human beings and nature are one. When we separate people, animals, things, or events from nature, we are able to study them in a neat and tidy way. Yet when we obtain knowledge in this abstract way, the knowledge is no longer connected to the cycles and rhythms of the whole landscape. With the study of natural phenomenon, we emphasized our objectivity. We separate ourselves from the things that we are studying.
We then shift the credit from nature to ourselves. We see the world as dead unless we are observing it. “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?”
When we observe nature, we are stopping it to measure it or take a photo of that instant. “When we stop the unfolding rhythms of nature, then we imagine that our projection of consciousness unto nature is the only motion occurring,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
We become inflated as human beings and assume powers over time and nature that we do not possess. We falsely assume that we have the power of divinity and claim it for our own. In the Western world, we ferociously move forward toward innovation and a belief that we are mastering nature. This progress has led to remarkable accomplishments. Yet with our achievements, we become blind to other cultures with ideas that may contradict our collective beliefs about nature and science.
If we let go of our excessive thinking and are more accepting, then we are able to gradually move toward inner peace. We are able to realize that our mental activity by itself with not solve our problems. Our constant thinking can create more problems than it solves.
If we are able to find a way to detach ourselves, we can experience happiness. Yet if we believe that acquiring cars, money, lovers, or approval will make us happy, then we will never find it. Happiness can be found in what is whole and complete inside of us. “Inside we possess original mind, the ground of being we all share,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
“The good news, however, is that we are approaching the end of the era of the rational mind as the predominant mode of consciousness. The beginning of the unfolding of an intuitive (and more feminine) way of knowing is upon us. Rational thought, frequently associated with masculine principle, will not go away, but it will no longer be our master. The emerging integral consciousness will include our physical, emotional, mental structures, and these will underlie a new more inclusive understanding (wherein the rational will be literally standing under the intuitive) . . . .we need to put aside the negativity and confusion of the past and remember our connections with all human beings and all creatures. . . A new day is upon us . . . the only way we can make the transition successfully is to wipe away our tears and walk hand in hand together with one mind and spirit. . . We need to recapture what it means to be fully human in order to usher in a new era of integral consciousness, in which the full spectrum of human potential is activated,” writes Glen Aparicio Parry.
PLease watch this video about Psych-K which is one way of achieving a whole brain state:
“Your focus is your reality,” says Yoda. What we put our attention on has an enormous impact on our life. It seems that now things are competing for our attention more than ever. We can sit watching television with over 1000 channels available. Then, I can pick up my iPhone and look at my email, Facebook, news from thousands of sources, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and much more. All this distraction is important to the quality of our lives.
What is attention? The word, attention, originates in the Latin word, attendere. This means to reach toward, connecting us with the world, shaping and defining. Our attention works like a muscle. If we sit on the couch and do nothing, our muscles get weaker and do not grow; they atrophy. If we get off the couch and play soccer, we build muscle. Over time our legs can get big and very strong.
We live in an era when we receive many messages every day, by text, email, Facebook, or iPhone (voice). According the Nielson, the average American teen sends 3,339 text every month. Ninety four percent of American teens go online daily. Twenty-four percent go online “almost constantly.”
“Children today are more attuned to machines and less to people than has ever been true in human history,” writes Daniel Goleman. Each time a child talk with someone or watching others have a conversation, they are impacted. The social and emotional circuitry of a child’s brain is influenced by these social interactions all day long – at home, school, athletic practice, music rehearsal, or work.
One can see teens often watching movies while they are on their iPhones. They split their attention between two or more things at once. Unfortunately, our attention is a narrow and fixed pipeline. Our attention is not stretchable. If we split our attention, we are required to switch our attention from one thing to another thing and back again. This switching of attention drains our energy. We have more difficulty focusing in a concentrated way.
Our online lifestyle is shaping our physical brains. Children and teenagers are also playing many digital games on iPad, laptop computer, television, and iPhone. Around 8 percent of children and teens between 8 and 18 appear to be addicted to computer games. When we study the brains of these young people addicted to computer games, we see that their brains appear in some ways similar to alcoholics and drug abusers.
Our ability to relate well to others is very important in our success at work as well as our quality of life. In order to form healthy relationships with others, we need to build rapport. It is a process of give and take. We talk and exchange ideas. The better we communicate, the more solid the relationship. When I have good attention, I am able to focus on what you are saying.
Yet we are constantly bombarded with messages, emails, posts on Facebook, YouTube videos, and texts. At a romantic dinner out, we are too often diverted from connecting with one other. I am amazed how often, I see people on their iPhones at an expensive restaurant. Yet everywhere we are tempted by the call of our mobile devise. We must be reminded by commercials and billboards, do not text and drive. Even though, we can die because of our distraction, we choose to risk our life and the lives of others to text while driving!
Distraction has become a great problem in our social interaction. In Silicon Valley, where I live, companies have workplaces have banned laptop computers, iPhones, and tablet computers from company meetings.
When we develop our ability to focus, we are steady in a crisis. When we experience the fear or frustration that comes during times of stress, we are able to stay focused on what is important. Students inevitably will experience difficulties during a semester. Yet some students are able to do their homework and concentrate on their exams. Others find many ways to avoid what is important, because they are upset.
At a party, often you can see how focus works. Some people can carry on a conversation with music at a high volume, focusing on the words of the person with whom they are talking. Another person may be overwhelmed with all the distractions around them – music, people, and things – unable to focus in on listening to the person with whom they are having a conversation.
This ability to focus is a hidden key to our doing things well. It is our ability to focus that enables us to find our way when we experience emotional crisis, relationships challenges, or whatever problems what life presents to us.
Can we effect how fast or slowly our body ages? Our thoughts, feelings, and behavior effect the aging of our body. One way we can observe the process of aging is by looking at reproduction of our cells. Our cells reproduce themselves using our DNA as a blueprint. When the DNA does not function properly during the division of cells, the cells that are reproduced are subpar. This is part of the process of aging in our bodies.
Telomeres are involved with our DNA reproduction intimately. Telomeres are the protective caps that are at the ends of chromosomes. The length of telomeres are related to our longevity. When we are depressed or exposed to chronic stress, our telomeres tend to be shorter. When we worry about things that appear threatening, then our telomeres tend to be shorter. When we run out of telomere, the assumption is that we get diseases and age.
When we have stressful experiences inside our pregnant mother (in utero), then our telomeres are shortened. When we experience verbal or physical abuse as a child, our telomeres are shortened as well. Domestic Violence is another factor than shortens our telomeres. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is something that shortens telomeres. When we do not receive the needed nutrients in what we eat and drink, then our telomeres are shortened as well. The loss of love also will tend to shorten our telomeres.
The science of Epigenetics offers us hope. Epi means above. We are recognizing the vital significance of what happens above the gene. Our genes are only a blueprint of our cells. The surface area of our cells are what determines the health of a cell. The signals that are received at the surface area of the cell determine whether the cell thrives or not. If the cell receives signals that the environment is toxic, then the cell will prepare to defend itself. If the cell receives signal that the environment is nurturing, then the cell will prepare to thrive. Our thoughts, feelings, food, and beverages are the signals that our cells receive. What we eat and drink as well as our thoughts and feelings will determine the health of our bodies. We have a choice.
When we practice mindfulness, our telomeres tend to be longer. Telomerase are enzymes that can lengthen telomeres that are shortened. Even when telomeres are shortened to a critical length, telomerase promote the longevity of a cell. Telomerase can lengthen our lives. What controls these enzymes called telomerase?
When we focus on what is positive in our lives, it helps produce telomerase. “Accentuate the Positive” is an old song sung by Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers. It helps to focus on what is working in our life. Another thing that increases the enzyme of telomerase is self-love. The feeling of love for yourself is a critical factor in our health. When we exercise, we increase our telomerase. When we are happy, our telomerase is increased. When we engage in service, it increases our telomerase. Service are actions we take for the benefit of others. Altruism is healthy. When we express gratitude, it stimulates that production of the enzyme telomerase. Good nutrition also can produce telomerase, such as the fish oil – Omega 3 – found in Salmon. Mindfulness can also produce telomerase. These are the practices that can increase the length of our life. Bruce Lipton says that our life spans can increase significantly from 80 to 90 years.
Please watch this video from Elizabeth Schindler about Food and Love and consider that your future is in your own hands:
In 1981, my father asked me to meet him at Baskin Robbins ice cream store, near my mom’s apartment where I lived. He bought me ice cream, probably a Banana Royale with Pistachio ice cream, hot fudge, and bananas and whip cream. As I ate my ice cream, my dad told me he had cancer. I was on 18 years old and did not expect such adult news. A few days later, I was playing football with friends. I began talking with my friend Chris about traveling to Los Angeles to see the Monday Night game preseason game between New England and Los Angeles Rams. By 7:00pm, we were at the airport and waiting for our airplane. We checked into the Newporter, a resort, in Orange County. I let my sadness carry me all the way to Southern California. I remembered in the middle of the trip that my father was having exploratory surgery. I called home and heard he was ok.
When the doctors at Kaiser Permanente hospital surgically opened up my father’s body, they could see that cancer was riddled throughout his lymphatic system. His doctors simply closed up the incision and told my father that had six months to live. I cherish the time I had to spend with him until his death on June 10, 1984.
I had four people close to me die from April 1984 until August 1985. My response to all of these tragedies was to avoid my sadness. Later in my life, I had to learn to do the work of grief. Sadness has an important function in the grieving process. Grief turns us inward. We can lose energy, concentration, experience sleep changes, lose motivation and experience changes in our appetite.
Grief not only has to do with death, but also with the ending of relationships of all kinds, including marriages. Daniel Goleman writes, “The main purpose for sadness is to help adjust to a significant loss, such as the death of someone close or a major disappointment. Sadness brings a drop in energy and enthusiasm for life’s activities, particular diversions and pleasures, and, as it deepens and approaches depression, slows the body’s metabolism. This loss of energy may well have kept saddened – and vulnerable – early humans close to home, where they were safer.”
Whenever you love someone and you are no longer able to spend time with them, you naturally feel pain. Yet there is a difference between the pain as a result of loss and the suffering as a result of false beliefs and avoidance. David Kessler said, “One of the biggest problems is that you might try to push aside or ignore your feelings. You judge them as too little or too much. You carry a lot of bottled up emotions, and anger is often one that is suppressed. In order for it to heal, however, it must be released. We’re not speaking only about anger associated with death, but about anytime we feel anger. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the renowned grief expert who identified the Five Stages of Grief, said we could feel anger, let it pass through us, and be done with it in a few minutes. She went on to say that any anger we feel over 15 minutes is old anger.”
What is the journey to healthy grief and eventually to resolution? I have learned to lean into the sadness as well as other emotions. By acknowledging and consciously experiencing the sadness, we can let go. Our loses need to be integrated psychologically. Grief enables us to update our consciousness with reality. The current loss reveals other losses – not integrated – that lie beneath. Grieving can take time. Eventually, we can remember the wonderful parts of the past and not experience the pain. Janet Childs who works for the Centre for Living with Dying, in Santa Clara, California, USA, said “grieving is like the ocean tides. The grief can come and go. Some days can be harder than others.”
We all experience grief differently. When I am grieving, it really helps to let myself be. I like to pay attention to my body and follow my inclinations. When I am able to minimize my obligations, I am free to follow my inclinations. As long as it is not self-destructive, I indulge myself. If I am tired, I sleep. If I am hungry, I eat. If I just stare off into space, it is ok.
Having empathic and accepting people to listen are invaluable. It helps to have a few good listeners – too not overburden any one person.
During a loss, We may discover that our thoughts are negative. When we break up a relationship, we may think “I will always be alone.” “Why do bad things always happen to me?”
Sadness can be subtle. It is very important and its power as well as the power of all other emotions should not be underestimated. Daniel Goleman writes that sadness is “grief, sorrow, cheerlessness, gloom, melancholy, self-pity, loneliness, dejection, despair, and when pathological, severe depression.” Please watch this video on how to cope when things fall apart:
“Perhaps ultimately, spiritual simply means experiencing wholeness and interconnectedness directly, seeing that individuality and the totality are interwoven, that nothing is separate or extraneous. If you see in this way, then everything becomes spiritual in its deepest sense.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
What is mindfulness? I define my mind as a process in my body that is related to others and myself that regulates the flow of energy and information. Also, the tasks of the human mind are to monitor and change things. Mindfulness includes different exercises that improve my ability to monitor and modify my internal world. The basic element of mindfulness is focusing on something or some process. We can focus on our breath during mindfulness meditation. In yoga, we focus on our postures. During tai chi, we focus on movements. In qigong, we focus on the sense of motion of energy. While practicing centering prayer, we focus on words. During walking meditation, we focus on our feet. Daniel Siegel writes, that “over 100 years ago, the father of modern psychology, William James (1890/1981), said that such a practice of returning a wandering attention back to its target again and again would be ‘education par excellence.’”
There is a difference between concentration and mindfulness, according to Dr. Roger Walsh. Concentration allows us to direct our attention to whatever we wish to experience. Mindfulness enables us to explore our experiences sensitivity. Mindfulness is where we bring greater awareness to each activity. We are more present in each moment. Another gift of mindfulness is that we catch subtle experiences of which we usually remain unaware.
Dr. Walsh writes mindfulness “enhances our awareness of relationships, the world around us, and the world within us.” It also frees us from our automatic mindless reactions and heals the mind. According to the National Institutes for Health, there are 18 million Americans that practice meditation of some kind. Meditation improves the health of our body as well as our mind. It lowers the risk for cancer and heart disease. Meditation makes us happier.
Please watch this body awareness mediation video with Judith Peterson and learn about the path to joy.
Most of our thinking is subconscious. Only a small part of our brain is engaged in conscious thinking. The areas of your brain that are engaged with consciousness thinking will process about forty nerve impulses per second on a normal day. The brain areas which are involved with activity outside of your consciousness will process forty million nerve impulses per second on a normal day. Only a fraction of your brain is engaged in conscious thinking.
Donna Eden and David Feinstein write that “your subconscious mind is the storehouse of the lessons life has taught you as well as your natural abilities and intuitive wisdom. Along with countless automated actions as mundane as putting on your shoes, your subconscious mind holds innumerable instructions for more complex actions and has access to transcendent sources of inspiration for solving the bewildering problems life presents and for pursuing your most creative aspirations. While your subconscious mind is an enormous sound guidance that is available 24/7, it also stores past hurts, self-limiting beliefs, unresolved conflicts, and dysfunctional behavioral strategies. So it doesn’t always work to your advantage.”
Bruce Lipton cites studies that reveal 65 percent of our thoughts are negative or repetitive and unnecessary. Our mind is thinking thoughts that are not important and disturbing most of the time. Additional studies indicate that people spend 50% of their time awake not thinking about what they are doing, but something else. When our mind drifts away from what we are doing, we become unhappy. There is another problem with a mind that strays from the present moment. As our mind wanders, our subconscious mind takes over. This is when we do things that interfere with our own success. We undermine our desires, because of our subconscious thinking.
We have repetitive patterns in our subconscious thinking that lead to behavior that is not flexible and responsive to our present set of circumstances. For example, a husband may be talking with his wife and experiencing fear from a memory about his dad when he was 5 years old. Fear is a signal of possible danger. His thinking and energy is preparing his body and mind for crisis. He may not be able to listen well, because he is scanning for what is dangerous in what his wife is saying. He may want to end the conversation and leave, because he is afraid. These reactions and his poor listening have an effect on his wife. She doesn’t feel understood. Her husband’s reactions do not make sense to her. The more that he has conversations with her where he is not present, the less trust the husband and his wife will have with each other.
Dr. Ron Siegel traces these type of reactions to the harsh lives of our ancestors who lived and survived great dangers millions of years ago. He describes the mechanisms of our brain that make us miserable. These are the reactions:
1. Focusing on what is bad
2. Being stuck in a stress response – heart beating faster, muscles tense, sweating, acid released to stomach for digestion
3. Comparing myself to others
4. Avoiding what is unpleasant
5. Envisioning a future with assumptions of what could go wrong
The good news is that our brains are flexible. At any age, we can acquire new information, process the new knowledge in our brain, and develop new ideas. As a result of our learning, we think differently and our brain physically changes. The idea that “I am who I am” is false. You can remake yourself, like remodeling a house. The name of this is plasticity. Our brain changes as a response to each new experience, each new thought, and every new idea we learn. At any age, our brain is like playdough; we can move it and shape it.
Dr. Joe Dispenza writes that meditation can change how the brain works. He described the research. Meditation alters brain wave patterns. Another benefit of meditation is that it grows “new brain cells that are the product of inner mindfulness . . . . Most of the participants (in the research study) were average people with jobs and families, who meditated only 40 minutes a day.”
Please watch this video by Santa Clara County’s first Poet Laureate, Nils Peterson on the gift of focus.