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The Great Mystery
“You are that vast thing that you see far, far off with great telescopes.”You may or may not identify as a religious or spiritual person. You may be Christian,Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist or identify as another faith entirely. Regardless of the differences in our identities, philosophies or faiths, all human beings share in something profound. We share in the mystery of the Universe. It’s so easy to get stuck in our own little worlds, that we sometimes forget what’s really “out there”. So here are a few facts to give you some perspective.
Perspective with Eshu
In Nigerian mythology, there is a deity that goes by the name of Eshu. There’s an important story about him that might be helpful for us to develop our understanding about the importance of valuing other peoples’ perspective. This discussion is not meant to convey anything in particular about spirituality or religion, but instead it is meant to show you a good metaphor for a certain type of conflict we have all gotten into at one point or another.
Finding Our Why
People often say that their greatest desire is to “be happy.” Happiness feels good and we certainly want to feel good. However, so often we find that “happiness” is a brief and transient feeling. We have it for a moment and as soon as we try and grab onto it, we find that it is like “trying to catch the wind in a bag,” to quote Alan Watts. What do we do if happiness isn’t guaranteed?
Hitting the Mark
Human beings are such complicated creatures. If you can read this, you must be a human being, so then you’re quite a complicated creature too. Much of the time we human beings tend to oversimplify things, including ourselves. We think in black-and-white. We think we must be this or that sort of thing: all good or all bad, a winner or a failure, the worst or the best and so on. Perhaps to your surprise, we’re not that simple. You’re not that simple.
Is Social Media Making Us More or Less Isolated During the Pandemic
Using social media too much can amplify anxiety and depression, and generally make us feel lonelier and more disconnected. It can intensify our sense of isolation and separateness from others by tricking our minds into comparing ourselves to the idealized personas of our online “friends” in so many ways.
Grocery Store Tantrums
In regards to compassion and empathy, it’s important that we exercise awareness in our determination of what is the most compassionate action we can take with someone we feel empathy toward. We can empathize with someone, and yet determine that the most compassionate action to take with them is to set firm boundaries. Take the example of a parent who is out shopping with their child.
Watching a Movie
We are going to spend just a few minutes thinking about watching a movie that has been really important to us. Or for the avid sports fans (perhaps football, boxing, baseball, etc.), you may think of one of those games or matches you watched that changed your life(maybe a Super Bowl victory for your favorite team, or the Ali-Foreman fight, if you’re into that kind of thing). Since movies are the most universal example, we will use this for our little thought exercise.
Voicing Our Frustrations
Relationships are tough! Perhaps one of the toughest things that a human being can getinto. We are easily frustrated by one another. Resentment isn’t too hard to conjure up. In little time, we can get so frustrated with another person, that we begin to find nearly all of their behaviors, actions and activities to be annoying.
To Be Human
For centuries; no, for millennia, we’ve been trying to figure out what it means to be human. Think of all the books, histories, inventions, wars, charity, creativity, culture, beliefs, artifacts, theories, philosophies, religions, sciences, and arts that have explored this idea!
A Tiger in the Bush
It’s one of those days. Hectic. Nothing seems to fall into its right place. Everything seems tobe collapsing… down, in on itself. Imploding. Then exploding. Like a supernova- its gravity crushing itself in on itself until it ignites and blows outward, screaming into the black sea of space. It’s sheer mayhem. Have you felt it before? I bet you have. You might even get twinges of it throughout the day. That sour, acidic worry that creeps upon you when you least expect it.
The Other Side of Empathy
Empathy can allow us to understand someone else’s experience, perspective, worldview and feelings. Empathy can lead us to feel that we understand why someone behaves the way that they do, even if these are considered to be bad behaviors. It’s important at this point to make note: Empathy is like a tool. Tools can be used to build things, but they can also be very destructive. A hammer can be used to build a house, but it can also be used to tear one down.
The Importance of Breathing
For several millennia, practitioners of meditation, yoga and monastic prayer have emphasized the incredible importance and mind-body benefits of proper breathing.However, it is only in the last few years that scientists have begun to make the very same claims.
Checking in with Yourself
No matter how predictable your daily routine may be, as a human being you’re always going to face the unexpected. Plans can abruptly change, traffic may be worse than expected, accidents happen, kids get sick, appointments get rescheduled. All of these unanticipated events can act as little mini-stressors… little things that build up throughout the day. Left unattended, they can leave us feeling irritable, cynical, frustrated and argumentative.
How Do Thoughts Affect Your Health
How do thoughts affect overall health?This is a tough one. A Google search will lead you to a litany of articles declaring that thoughts have a huge impact on health, and that you can literally think yourself into disease. Conversely, research suggests that positive, hopeful thinking can help strengthen the mind and body, and in some ways bring healing to our bodies.
Memories are important. They help us tell our story, both to others and to ourselves.Memories help us to escape harm by telling us to avoid repeating past mistakes that have given us pain.
The Technology Trap!
Most of us can’t go a day without using personalized technology, particularly in the form of our computers or smart phones. I’ll be honest… Sometimes I can’t go a even a few minutes without it…
All human beings experience worry. Some worry more than others. Some worry very little.Others carry worry with them wherever they go. And some others worry about how worried they get, and then worry that maybe something’s wrong with them.
Sometimes our mind is sputtering out absurd commentary that we grip onto and get into an argument with, and humor is one way that can help re-frame our thinking so we can“loosen” our grip on unhelpful thinking.
Today we’re going to use a metaphor for anxiety.Imagine that your comfort zone is like a piece of property with fence around it. You have your little house, maybe a few trees, and the perimeter is a fence, and there’s an alarm system installed. The alarms are triggered anytime something moves across that propertyline, out of the comfort zone: there are flashing lights and sirens that scream like tornado warning amplifiers.
Human beings aren’t really meant to be able to respond very well to global pandemics.Our nervous systems are made to respond to more immediate dangers- not strange,ominous and invisible world-wide ones.
We often try a lot harder than we need to in responding to each other’s needs. Whether it’s with our children, partners, family or acquaintances, we tend to despair at not having a solution to their frustrations and problems. And this can get us into trouble by frustrating the very situation we intended to make right.
Anger, Frustration, Irritability, & Static Electricity
Frustration, anger and agitation have this way of exploding into our human relationships. It may be “we” who have little explosions towards those we come close to, and other times itis “they” who make explosions towards us. We all do it from time to time, and for some of us, it’s a daily occurrence.
For this week, choose a relationship in your life that you’d like to do some work on. Pick one that you confident about, in terms of your willingness and ability to make some changes in how you approach it.
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