How Gratefulness Leads to Mindfulness

When you wake up, what comes to mind first – problems or peace?

Do you feast on the present or pick through leftovers from the past? Do you open your senses to what’s around you or open the Pandora’s box of anxiety about what may never come to pass?

Many of us start our days as we continue them – wrestling with worries, fears, hurts and difficulties. It’s easy to lose our sense of wonder and to forget our power to change our lives by changing how we perceive the world.

Mindfulness is one way to change our focus by re-booting our awareness.

Excerpt from Steven Crandell’s article in the Huffington Post- read more.

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Review: The Stanford Prison Experiment

POSTED BY ON FRI, JUL 24, 2015 AT 2:47 PM

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The real-life events depicted in director Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s The Stanford Prison Experiment are familiar to just about anyone who took an introductory psychology course in college. In the summer of 1971, a group of 24 male college students participating in an academic study were randomly assigned roles as guards or inmates in a mock prison on a nearly empty Stanford University campus. What happened over the next several days spoke volumes about human nature and has remained a source of controversy and debate for more than four decades.

Excerpt from Gambit: Best of New Orleans. Read more

Discovering the Inner World of Selfies

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There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men.
True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.

~Ernest Hemingway~

In case you haven’t heard somehow, selfies are pictures you take of yourself and post on email or social media. With a selfie, you can document whatever you are doing and who you are doing it with. You can think about it later. Your friends can also see what you are doing.

If you ask someone who just took a selfie why they did it, do you think you would get a coherent answer? Most people just don’t know why or might not have thought about it. Aha! Maybe people are too busy to stop and think. I have heard one theory that people take selfies to prove they exist. Maybe it’s also a way to prove you are important. You could be trying to convince yourself of your own importance.

There was a time when people spent most of their leisure time relaxing with families and friends often without much going on. It was just fun to be with them. While it’s fun to accomplish things, you don’t have to do it all the time. Sometimes it’s just as nice to just be. Life often becomes a blur these days as you rush from one activity to another A selfie gives you a chance to bring your life into sharp focus if only for a second. But then you scurry on to the next event. Maybe you will stop there for another selfie to add to your posts.

In the past, television portrayed people in dramas or comedies we all understood to be fictional. They were stories to entertain us or teach us something. In the past few years, “reality” shows have taken over. Although it’s hard to know how much is real and how much is fantasy, the characters are real people playing themselves. I wonder if selfies could be our instant attempts to portray ourselves doing something to make us somehow seem more real. There is an old saying that art imitates life. I think we have reached the point where life imitates art or what passes for art.

I also wonder whether our fast pace of life and loss of touch with who we are accounts for the constant stress which dogs all of us these days. We seldom seem to reflect on what we are doing. We are too busy checking off all the things we have planned each day.

Have you heard of mindfulness? It means being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it and not judging yourself or anyone else. That’s just the opposite of how most people live their lives these days. Are you ready to try life in a lower gear?

Life Lab Lessons 

  • Leave your camera and cell phone home.
  • Take friends with you if you can.
  • Spend time somewhere peaceful by yourself or with friends.
  • Make no judgments about yourself.
  • Make no judgments about anyone else.

 

Witness to the madness of the earth

The land of extremes: A woman dressed in fur makes her way thought the snow in the Yamal peninsula, in Siberia, Russia

Extraordinary images by Sebastião Salgado, one of the greatest photographers of our time, as new film tells his astonishing story

  • Brazilian photographer, Sebastião Salgado has travelled to hundreds of countries to capture nature and humanity
  • The former economist, who took up photography in his thirties is one of the greatest photographers of our time  
  • Salt of the Earth, tells his story, as seen through the eyes of his son Juliano, and photographer Wim Wenders

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-3168338/Stunning-new-film-tells-incredible-story-Sebasti-o-Salgado-one-greatest-photographers-time.html#ixzz3gee1brlI
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Meditation, Stress and Being More Creative

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Why bother with meditation? Aren’t we too busy trying to get stuff done?

“My morning meditation is like taking a shower for my brain.” Emily Fletcher

What do you think meditation is? Maybe a retreat into nature by yourself? That, of course, can be one form – and there are many others. But what value can it have?

(Excerpt from Douglas Eby’s article at Psych Central- read more)

Love, Sex and Mindfulness

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I lead a workshop called Love, Sex and Mindfulness. As a life coach and mindfulness meditation teacher, my work is primarily about helping people be in the present, and put their focus and awareness on what they’re feeling and experiencing in the “now,” which means in real time, the very moment that’s existing.

You might think that when it comes to love and sex, that’s where we are most present, but the truth is, those are the two areas where we can be fully present the least, even though we’re there physically. Just because we tell someone we love them, or offer our body sexually, doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve let our complete guard down, or allowed ourselves to be penetrated more than just sexually. If you don’t show up to any act of intimacy with your mind fully focused on your partner with total awareness, and grounded with a clear intention as to why you’re with them romantically or sexually, then the “whole” you isn’t there, and whoever you’re with will feel it, whether they tell you or not.

Excerpt from Ora Nadrich’s article in the Huffington Post. Read more here.

The meaning of mindfulness in the work place

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Work is stressful for all of us. But how is it that we all seem to have that one colleague who’s always able to stay calm, even during the most challenging days? Chances are they’re practicing mindfulness. So, what is mindfulness, and how does it help in the workplace?

Excerpt from Nancy Plummer’s article in The Times of Chester CountyRead the whole article here

What You Think, You Become

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Some people are clueless in life and live their whole lives wondering why the hell they never managed to get anything out of it, why they don’t have any purpose. The biggest problem people have is that they don’t understand how to master their thought process and don’t understand the true power of concentrated thinking.

(Excerpt from Preston Waters’ article in Elite Daily)

Rediscovering Our Protective Instincts

Give my your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

~Emma Lazarus~

I sat around a campfire with friends and family on the Fourth of July. Several young adults playfully wrestled and poked each other, posing fiercely but still laughing and intending no harm. Bear, one of the dogs present at the fire, jumped up each time one of them moved, ready to defend the person he saw at a disadvantage.

I thought of the protective instinct visible in many pack animals. Humans are known to have this instinct too, although we usually think of it as a maternal instinct instead of one including men. I also thought of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty in the New York harbor which so many of the immigrants to the United States passed as they entered our country for the first time.

The saying suggests that we see ourselves as a refuge for the downtrodden and a place of refuge for the oppressed. Even if we didn’t always welcome every refugee with open arms, we have used our vast resources to help people around the world in their struggles with poverty, hunger and oppression. Over the past century, we came to see ourselves as the world’s savior. Those we wanted to help have not always seen us the way we see ourselves. To them, it might look like we see our way of life as ideal for everyone and want to impose it on the rest of the world.

For this reason among others, we have come to be seen as a threat to long-established cultures and traditions. Despite our high opinion of ourselves, an honest appraisal will help us realize that we have not always done a great job at home welcoming newcomers or even those who were here before us. Consider the way we treated Native Americans, our history of slavery and lingering racial hatred, our treatment of women and of those with differing sexual orientations or identity.

I’m not suggesting we have done no good in the world. I just think we could do better. Where to start? I think we need to begin in our own hearts. When we are successful, we tend to become smug and think we are better than anyone else. We also see others as jealous of what we have and tend to protect ourselves from those who want what we have. Consider our nuclear arsenal and attempts to build a fence around our country tall enough to keep others out. Immigrants tend to be seen as threats to our wealth and power. We forget that the great majority of us came here as immigrants or are descendants of immigrants. We were all newcomers once.

We need to remember that it’s not just outsiders who are struggling. Plenty of people within our borders struggle for enough food to feed their children and to find a respectable job. We have work to do at home too. Let’s get busy.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Be humble and don’t gloat over your good fortune.
  • Be thankful for what you have.
  • Consider ways to share your good fortune with others.
  • Help others find the opportunities you had.
  • Celebrate others’ good fortune.

 

 

Who’s the Third World Country Now?

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Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery
 to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

~Pope Francis~

We as Americans like to think of ourselves as a world leader among nations. We are leaders in the areas of power and technology. We had a large part in winning critical wars in the past century. We also put the first man on the moon. But are power and technology enough to make us a great nation? Perhaps not. We have a few things to fix about our society before we can brag about it.

Let’s start with our federal government. A Gallup poll in mid-June of 2015 shows a 30 % confidence level in the supreme court, a 29% confidence in the presidency and 7% confidence level in congress. We elected most of the people in whom we now have so little confidence. The others were appointed by those we elected. What does that say about us as voters? We have given up control of our elections and placed people in power who have the money to support their campaigns and cajole us into electing them.

Another issue is our lack of reverence for life. Of the 195 countries affiliated with the United Nations, only 36 retain the death penalty. Of these countries, we have the fifth highest rate of execution. We may feel better taking revenge on individuals guilty of the most serious crimes, yet states with no death penalty have no higher crime rates that states which do. What does a national policy of executing its citizens say about our reverence for life? What example do we set for those among us intent on violence?

With all our talk about sacredness of the family, we are the only country in the western hemisphere with no national maternity leave policy. A few countries have started offering paternity leave for new fathers. We are among the many nations with no such policy. Early studies show that fathers do a better job fathering when they have time after childbirth to bond with their children.

After our start as a country accepting slavery, we fought a civil war largely over this issue and passed a series of laws over the years outlawing slavery and its effects. Yet racism is still at the core of the beliefs many of us still hold and operate by. We banished the Native Americans to reservations and denigrated each new wave of immigrants whether they came here willingly or as slaves.

These are a few examples. It seems we are not as civilized as we thought we were and still have some work to do. We need to find ways of working together rather than against each other. It’s not an easy task or we might have done it by now. Start asking questions of yourself and of your fellow citizens.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Look into your heart.
  • Is there room for anyone else besides you?
  • What are you willing to do to make this “our” rather than “your” country?
  • Find out how you can take responsibility.
  • See yourself as a shepherd rather than a sheep.