May 10th, 2013
Bring heightened awareness and an expanded capacity for pleasure into every aspect of your daily life.
Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson are a devoted married couple who have been teaching traditional and contemporary approaches to Tantric sexual practices together since 1999.
Michaels and Johnson are multi-award-winning authors of The Essence of Tantric Sexuality, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment: The Key to Enriching Your Sexual Life, and, most recently, Great Sex Made Simple: Tantric Tips to Deepen Intimacy and Heighten Pleasure, which just won the 2013 Gold Medal from Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Sexuality/Relationships category.
They’ve also produced instructional DVDs and a meditation CD set: all of these and more can be found on their website tantrapm.com
Michaels is a lawyer, playwright and translator. He translated and adapted Goldoni's The Mistress of the Inn for the Roundabout Theatre Company, and co-wrote The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Debate, which premiered at New York's Primary Stages. Johnson is a retired professional operatic soprano who toured as a performer throughout the United States, Europe, and South America.
March 29th, 2013
Join some of the West's great adepts of Jhana, Concentration Meditation Practice. Jhana is an extraordinary human potential of the mind with deep and lasting rewards of peace, freedom, clarity, agility . . . and mastery. However, Jhana is especially exquisite in its preparatory role in the life of a meditator, bringing about capacities and factors of mind that prepare us for insight knowledge; direct, unshakeable experiential knowledge of the nature of reality.
Our jhana teachers and guides are, in order of their photographs, above:
Shaila Catherine, who has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience. She has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand. Shaila Catherine has practiced under the guidance of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw since 2006. She is author of Focused and Fearless: A Meditator’s Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity and Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana. Shaila Catherine founded Insight Meditation South Bay, a Buddhist meditation center in Silicon Valley (www.imsb.org). Click here for Shaila's schedule of retreats.
Leigh Brasington, a former computer programmer and now teacher of Jhana retreats, is currently at work on his first book, the working title of which is The Buddha's Jhanas. Click here for Leigh's resume and find all his resources and his retreat schedule at his website leighb.com
Dr. Judson Brewer, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and Medical Director of the Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic, is a board-certified psychiatrist who has been investigating the neural underpinnings of Mindfulness Training and its clinical efficacy for disorders such as addictions. Dr. Brewer received his AB from Princeton University and MD/PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. After training in mindfulness meditation during medical and graduate school, he shifted his focus from animal models of stress, to the elucidation of neurobiological mechanisms underlying the interface between stress, mindfulness and the addictive process.
Tina Rasmussen, PhD, learned to meditate in 1976, at the age of 13. In 2003, she completed a year-long silent solo retreat. In 2005 she was ordained as a Theravadan Buddhist nun by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw of Burma who later authorized her to teach. Tina is the co-author of Practicing the Jhanas (with Stephen Snyder). She has worked as a professional coach and OD consultant for more than 25 years. She completed her Ph.D. in 1995, and has authored several published books on humanistic business practices.
Stephen Snyder, JD, began practicing Buddhist meditation in 1976, and has had a daily meditation practice since. He practiced for 20 years with several Western Zen masters, participating in more than 50 retreats and receiving several ordinations. In 2005, he completed a retreat with Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw of Burma, who later authorized him to teach. Stephen is the co-author of the book Practicing the Jhanas (with Tina Rasmussen). Stephen has been a practicing lawyer and mediator since 1987.
Tina and Stephen are a married couple, and offer teaching and retreats to students worldwide. For more information about them, please visit their website at www.JhanasAdvice.com.
March 7th, 2013
Solastalgia is homesickness when you haven't gone anywhere; it happens when your home environment or habitat changes drastically and you lose your beloved familiar place called home. All over the world human beings and other creatures are suffering from solastalgia. This show is about the nature of care and the care of nature, about how sensitivity, aesthetics, emotions, mental health, societal health and activism come together in the understandings of these aesthetic philosophers who have the big picture in mind while staying in touch with their own deep humanity and interconnectedness with all of life. Enjoy this holistic exploration!
Angela Manno is an internationally exhibited visionary artist who has been exploring the pattern that connects personal and planetary healing for over 30 years. Her award-winning art in a variety of ancient and contemporary media emphasizes the beauty and integrity of the human, natural and spiritual world. Her work is in private collections throughout Europe, the Americas and the Middle East and in the permanent fine art collections of NASA and the Smithsonian Institution.
Angela's teaching, writing and activism aim at cultivating a benign human relationship with the planet. Her courses blend cosmology with instruction in applying the creative process to this critical work. Her articles on art, non-violent direct action and ecological consciousness have appeared in The Ecozoic Reader, Befriending Creation and Friends Journal. Visit her websites: School of Living Arts and her fine art site AngelaManno.com
Glenn Albrecht is a researcher, professor and director of the Institute of Sustainability and Technology Policy at Murdoch University in Western Australia.
He is a transdisciplinary philosopher with both theoretical and applied interests in the relationship between ecosystem and human health. He has pioneered the research domain of 'psychoterratic' or earth related mental health conditions with the concept of 'solastalgia' or the lived experience of negative environmental change. He also has publications in the field of animal ethics including the ethics of relocating endangered species in the face of climate change pressures.
Suzi Gablik is an artist, writer, and teacher. She studied with Robert Motherwell, lived with the Magritte family, and hung out with Jasper Johns. In 1966, Suzi Gablik had a one-woman show of her collage paintings exhibited and catalogued in New York. She later brought a prodigious and caring voice to art criticism, as a respected reviewer of art in London for Art in America, and authored her engaging trilogy of scholarly writings on art and culture Has Modernism Failed?, The Reenchantment of Art, and Progress in Art. She also wrote Magritte, Conversations Before the End of Time, and her memoir Living the Magical Life. Currently, Suzi Gablik hosts a blog featuring her latest cultural and political essays at virgilspeaks.blogspot.com
January 21st, 2013
Profound messages on parenting for peace with engaging and inspiring stories told by Arun Gandhi, the 5th grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, excerpted from his talk “Lessons From My Grandfather” with musical interludes in the first half-hour and practical evolutionary parenting guidelines of Parenting for Peace author Marcy Axness, PhD. Music from the Until the End of the World film soundtrack, from Bobby McFerrin’s Beyond Words, DJ Spooky, and from the Brooklyn-based trio, Archie Pelago.
Show produced by Living Hero Radio Show and Podcast producer,
Segment One :: first half-hour:
Features stories from Arun Gandhi’s talk “Lessons from My Grandfather,” with musical interludes.
Segment Two :: second half-hour:
Features a long excerpt from the 2008 Living Hero interview with Marcy Axness, PhD, with musical interludes.
Segment Three :: third half-hour:
Completes the interview excerpt with Marcy Axness, PhD and offers commentary by Jari Chevalier and music by the Brooklyn-based trio, Archie Pelago.
Segment One :: first half-hour Special:
Terry Riley. “In C” Bang On a Can, Cantaloupe Music, 2011. 45:30
Bobby McFerrin. “Pat & Joe” Beyond Words, Blue Note, 2002. 02:11
Graham Revell. "Finale" Until the End of the World, Warner Bros, 1991. 0:58
Bobby McFerrin. “Monks/The Shepherd” Beyond Words, Blue Note, 2002. 02:48
Graham Revell. "Love Theme" Until the End of the World, Warner Bros, 1991. 0:45
Bobby McFerrin. “A Piece, a Chord” Beyond Words, Blue Note, 2002. 03:46
Dj Rekha Presents: Sunil Sehgal. “Fakir (DJ Spooky Vocal Remix),” Fakir, E1 Music, 2009. 04:57
DJ Spooky. “Measure By Measure” The Secret Song, Thirsty Ear, 2009. 03:41
Segment Two :: Second half-hour:
Archie Pelago. “In the Room” Forthcoming release . . .
Segment Three :: Third half-hour:
Archie Pelago. “Archie Pelago Live Mix For Mary Anne Hobbs” Self-produced, 2012. 25:38
TAGS: Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi speech, parenting tips, parenting guidelines, early childhood development, radio, podcast, audio, commentary, Marcy Axness, interview, Archie Pelago, child abuse, exemplary parenting, Parenting for Peace, “Lessons from My Grandfather”, social change, social justice, attunement, prenatal care, pregnancy, birth, self-discipline, “anger management,” skip ultrasound, parental education, child care, infancy, nursing, stories
January 14th, 2013
Listen as experts speak about how psychedelic plants found in rainforests are being used in the treatment of addiction in, Trips Beyond Addiction, featuring the voices and stories of ex-addicts, researchers and treatment providers sharing their experiences and fascinations with these medicines. Show produced by Living Hero Radio Show and Podcast producer, Jari Chevalier.
With Dimitri Mobengo Mugianis, Bovenga Na Muduma, Clare S. Wilkins, Brad Burge, Tom Kingsley Brown, Susan Thesenga, Bruce K. Alexander . . . and other important voices active in the field of healing with these native medicines.
Trips Beyond Addiction first aired as the first half hour of the inaugural Living Hero Radio show on WGDR-WGDH fm in North-Central Vermont on January 12, 2013. The complete 90-minute show is available for streaming here and on Soundcloud (search: WGDR Living Hero 01.12.13).
Trips Beyond Addiction has a score of tunes by Jari Chevalier, riffed on and performed by Cosmo D from the band Archie Pelago.
Also with music by The Cinematic Orchestra. The Living Hero station ID music bed is from the start of Terry Riley's In C. And musician Bovenga Na Muduma played the sample of the native Bwiti instrument the Mugongo.
INTRODUCTION: Ayahuasca and Iboga are rainforest hallucinogens. They are traditional sacraments used in the tribal cultures of the Amazon and of Central West Africa, respectively, and in the past, these tribal medicines were taken by many members of the traditional societies of the regions where they naturally grow.
Now, these same compounds, sometimes referred to as entheogens for their power to evoke "mystical experiences," spiritual awakenings, powerful self-confrontation and aroused conscience, are being investigated scientifically to gain understanding of their extraordinary power and efficacy in treating addiction in contemporary Western society.
Musical Works in Trips Beyond Addiction
Title Artist Album Label Year
All Things, The Cinematic Orchestra, Man with a Movie Camera, Ninja Tune, 2003
Needle and the Damage Done, Indra, In Between, Self-produced, 2012
Trips Beyond Addiction, Jari Chevalier ~ Improvisations and Performance by Cosmo D (unpublished/self-produced), 2013
Reel Life, The Cinematic Orchestra, Man with a Movie Camera, Ninja Tune, 2003
Dawn, The Cinematic Orchestra, Man with a Movie Camera, Ninja Tune, 2003
TAGS: ayahuasca iboga addiction psychedelics hallucinogens MAPS entheogens “Dimitri Mobengo Mujianis” “Clare Wilkins” “Bovenga Na Muduma” podcast “transcending dependence” “Brad Burge” “psychedelic research studies” sobriety healing “overcoming addiction” conscience “personal growth” wisdom “rainforest medicines” “shamanic medicines” “opiate addiction” “opiate withdrawal” “get off opiates” “spiritual transcendence” “pain medication dependence” “prescription opiate dependency” heroin oxycontin “drug addiction”
PHOTO CREDIT: Ashley Fisher
June 22nd, 2012
Image: As Above #4
Are you experienced? Sharing this personal essay about tripping as a teenager, which came out in Reality Sandwich this week. Bring back any memories for you? Thoughts? I wish to engage in dialogue with people about transcendent personal experiences. I find people are shy to speak of such things. But please do speak of them anyway!
Read it here
Comment here or on the Reality Sandwich site.
February 29th, 2012
Hankering for a whole new world? Well, Dr. Marcy Axness' Parenting for Peace: Raising the Next Generation of Peacemakers is your ticket: it highlights all that's amiss in how we currently raise children in America and models an emerging holistic worldview in which human beings can blossom into confident, benevolent people.
Dr. Axness reminds us that "we are the soil in which our children grow." Are we spiritually developed and psychologically mature enough to provide the conditions that truly nourish our babies and children?
Discussing every aspect of parenting from how biological life unfolds to how teenagers can be respectfully supported in their pressures, challenges and growth, Axness' brilliant synthesis makes it clear that parenting must be front and center in any successful movement for widespread social wellness. By "taking responsibility for how we invite in, welcome and incarnate our next generation" we engage in social action, and put ourselves in charge of change.
This witty, poetic, fact-loaded and wise book reveals and exposes all the ways people are currently damaging youth, specifically in contemporary Western-style society. It also suggests just how swiftly and comprehensively mothers and fathers who are parenting for peace can revolutionize our world through a conscious, concerted approach.
You'll also understand the details of why we must revise the way we carry, birth, and engage with children at every stage of their development and, to do so, how we must swim against strong social currents that have deliberately undermined the holistic health of children to make for good workers and consumers, to ensure social stability for a corporate state.
Dr. Axness' deep, comprehensive and effective questioning of contemporary medical, educational, and ideological social mores and establishments calls upon parents to turn the tide.
Axness acknowledges that parenting for peace is the most important and challenging job of your life; "this ideal of parenting for a generation of peacemakers is so demanding, so sophisticated, and demands such a level of maturity, we are culturally only now barely up to the task."
And yet, in many ways, this daunting and demanding task calls upon us merely to be more loving, aware, easeful and natural. Axness teaches us how to gauge ourselves in the midst of our greatest challenges. At the end of each chapter, there are age-specific tips for embodying and practicing the central principles of her teaching: presence, awareness, rhythm, example, nurturance, trust, and simplicity (P.A.R.E.N.T.S.).
By the end of this paradigm-busting book, you will know that every opportunity to bring physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual security and well-being to a child is a powerful action in service to the living world.
Listen to our interview with Marcy (September 2008) here.
She also appears in our special program Where's the Imagination?
©2012 Jari Chevalier
Paperback: 443 pages
Publisher: Sentient Publications (January 30, 2012)
April 25th, 2011
Narcissists and Sociopaths live to dominate and thrill to win. They can excel marvelously anywhere ruthlessness is rewarding.
And recent research brings us new understanding of just what these serious emotional disabilities are; what causes them, how prevalent they are, and how studying them helps us to draw the connections between psyche and society.
Join host/producer Jari Chevalier as she talks with experts Dr. Nina W. Brown, Dr. Linda Martinez-Lewi, social worker Lisa Charlebois, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Gabor Maté, MD, Dr. Sandy Hotchkiss, Dr. Scott Baum, and Dr, Martha Stout. Narration includes in-depth research and synthesis of the work of these and many other researchers and healers.
Learn just how and why narcissists and sociopaths might be a bigger part of your life than you imagine. We focus on the many factors of unreality inherent in these personality structures and how they spin unreality into the world.
February 28th, 2011
There is tremendous hypocrisy among people who claim they want fundamental change. If able people who consider themselves progressive would use the time they currently spend on complaining or entertaining themselves or drinking or smoking pot and doing other drugs; if they would work diligently to get themselves healthy in body and mind; if they would refuse all but simple, wholesome, unprocessed foods they cook at home; if they exercised hard; and if they would have nothing to do with banks and investment firms, which are the very torsos of the behemoths they claim to abhor; we’d be off to a pretty good start.
If people who claim they want fundamental change would clear the smoke and mirrors of their own minds and lives and look reality squarely in the eye, would stop buying products that come in packages, which are hyped through advertising (you’re paying for that hype!), would put all their TVs into their cars and drive their cars to their nearest state house or public square, lock them up and walk away, never to return for them; we’d be getting somewhere.
If people would put the energy they put into raging against the machine into ridding themselves of their bad habits of consumption; for example, consuming ridiculous quantities of sugar, which is poison for the human body . . . and would stop buying the next gadget, stop exposing themselves to advertisements, stop consuming all non-durable, disposable, mass-market items, in fact, stop all their self-destructive activities; we’d see marvelous moves in the right direction. In short, if people would give up their own bullshit, we’d have a very different picture before us.
Look, real progress now requires a healthy integration of intellectual, creative, psychological and spiritual progress, not mechanistic, technological progress, fueled by ignorance, narcissism and greed.
When people make it their jobs to break their own addictions and bad habits, and rid themselves of hypocrisy; when they strengthen and mature, when their minds are no longer puerile, we’ll be looking at progress. Because from that kind of personal authority, there is really no end to what can be overcome and achieved in changing the macro level. As J. Krishnamurti said, you are the world.
©2011 Jari Chevalier
October 1st, 2010
Several hundred people gathered for the 4th annual Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics conference at the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square South on September 24-26.
This conference surveys the current research and social issues in the field of psychedelics. Readings by John Perry Barlow from Birth of a Psychedelic Culture and Don Lattin, author of The Harvard Psychedelic Club, provided historical context and Cosmo D set the atmosphere with a performance of textured cello improvisation over original electronic rhythms to open the weekend.
Why has psychedelic research been discriminated against in academia? Dr. Torsten Passie took us through the reasons. He showed slides of tribal people lying back all together with their eyes closed: not very productive! A Western capitalist worldview, which requires relations with nature to be utilitarian and depth of feeling to be kept private is not likely to embrace the potential value of trance states, the sharing of dreams, or the hallucinogenic experience.
Furthermore, ecstatic experience through psychedelics can engender direct, unmediated experience of the divine in oneself and in all of nature. This does not comport particularly well with the teachings of the Christian church, which holds forth that each and every one of us needs Jesus Christ to mediate our salvation.
Psychedelics deconceptualize and deconstruct entrenched value systems and, therefore, authority over truth is destabilized. So let's add that those who socially engineer and control populations don’t much care for that sort of thing. It becomes a real problem for those in power when people tap into a larger, more satisfying and holistic sense of reality, endemic to their own true natures, accessed intuitively.
Dr. Passie does not expect interest in psychedelics to spread beyond a small, secret society in the foreseeable future.
Dr. Jeffrey Guss, who heads up a current study at NYU on psychedelics in the reduction of cancer anxiety with very positive psychospiritual results, agrees with Dr. Passie that psychedelics will not become mainstream in society and he doesn’t believe that they should, that they are not for everyone.
But, standing in disagreement with these men on this point is independent Manhattan and Sag Harbor-based psychologist in private practice, Neal Goldsmith, PhD. Along with organizer Kevin Balktic, Dr. Goldsmith facilitates the conference. His sense is that to move into an age beyond post-modernism, one integrating the Cartesian split, psychedelics may play an important role.
He speaks of his own transformation through psychedelic experiences and how it altered his personality theory and views on personal growth and change. He describes a step-wise developmental process with dramatic growth to a new level of development after periods on a plateau. In essence, he says the issue is not to change a pathology, but to form genuine trusting relationships through which his clients can re-identify with their core selves. The person you were born, before you “punted” to a compensatory Plan B, personality, to get by in early childhood, is who you really are. Healing is getting back to that core self.
He's seen that transformative developmental change takes a long time and is very difficult to sustain in this culture. A combination of transcendent and cathartic approaches are most effective, and in this, psychedelics can be catalysts to insight, although insight alone, he says, only goes so far.
The large-scale collective process of what he calls psyche-ology, the study and healing of soul, is really concerned now with successfully joining mechanistic, scientific and technological knowledge with the realities of human psychosocial needs.
Eric Davis, a current PhD candidate, author, speaker and radio host discussed inner and outer Cartesian dualities by way of a metaphor, a mobius strip on which the material at some point turns over into the spiritual, the secular into the sacred and vice versa, in a flow.
There is a hunger in our culture (with its resistance to all things mystical) for the ritual and ceremonial context in which the hallucinogen Ayahuasca is taken by tribal peoples from the rain forests of South America; and this is likely why Ayahuasca has become so popular in North America in recent years.
Davis also pointed to Roland Griffiths’ 2008 Johns Hopkins study which proved that the use of psychedelics gives rise to religious experience (“No shit, Sherlock,” he said, “we knew that!”) And so the open question is: what does a secular, materialistic research model do with this scientific confirmation? And does moving the psychedelic experience into the psychopharmaceutical, clinical environment of the lab, perhaps diminish its potential for healing self and society?
The scientific approach is valuable, Davis upholds, because of the nagging questions it prompts us to ask about the brain. For instance, if you’re going to coin terms like “neurotheology” as a way to account for the experience of God, then you must also account for déjà vu, clairvoyance, and many other experiences of the mind.
For scientists to be seriously engaged in psychedelic research they eventually must take the psychedelics themselves. And that could just stimulate changes in the scientific approach itself. We may find ourselves up against our culture’s addictions to limiting ideas.
Psychedelic use for the treatment of addiction was reported on by researchers Matthew Johnson and Mary Cosimano of Johns Hopkins University who are currently investigating psilocybin in the treatment of nicotine dependence.
Most striking was the presentation by Clare Wilkins, director of Pangea Biomedics in Tijuana, Mexico on the remarkable properties of Ibogaine, a hallucinogenic root from Gabon, Africa that reverses addictions to opiates; such as heroine and methadone, as well as to cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, nicotine, and all manner of addictive behaviors and neurotic thoughts.
Ninety-two percent of clients who enter the clinic leave free of their chemical dependency, and without any withdrawal symptoms. Eighteen percent are still living without their drug of choice after six months, and this is a remarkable liberation rate. The hallucinogen gives addicts a real chance at choice. While exactly how ibogaine works is still unknown, there is clearly repair to brain receptors and an adjustment in neurochemistry.
She describes Ibogaine as a “relationship interrupter,” accomplishing “shame washing, empowerment, and the reawakening of the body’s intelligence.” Ibogaine “enables you to look at your life and eliminate anything that is not serving you.” Self-harm becomes self-care. “You fall back in love with yourself, with others and with life. It brings love back into the equation.”
Several of the non-academic speakers praised visionary experience and its influence on art, music, fashion, film, eco-consciousness and the integration of Eastern and Western mysticism. Annie Oak spoke about her grant-making organization, the Women’s Visionary Congress, and how this multigenerational community of “psychedelic women” support one another in their ongoing catalytic work as artists, healers, activists and visionaries.
But some brought up the dark side and limitations of psychedelics. Associate producer of the annual Bioneers conference, J.P. Harpignies, reminded us that in the 60s many a psych-ward and hospital was packed with LSD casualties. And poet, Dale Pendell, while acknowledging that we have yet to complete the psychedelic revolution, that the Earth is in need of a deep and radical cure, also cautioned us to consider that psychedelics are not effective on narcissism. In fact, with their tendency to stimulate messianic fantasies in some people, psychedelics may have contributed to the rapid rise of Me-ism in society.
Jill Harris of the Drug Policy Alliance urged the Horizons audience to come out about their psychedelic experiences, to break the taboo and share stories. “They have been important to us; they have mattered.” Let’s be vocal about how transformative these drugs can be and about the fact that prohibition doesn’t work. At the 40th anniversary of the War on Drugs, “it’s time to set the exit strategy.”
Heading home through Washington Square park at twilight, the great stone arch with its bold, engraved quotation was all lit up:
“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”
Washington spoke those words to inspire his delegates to aim high in the writing of the Constitution of the United States. It was crafted, in this spirit, over the next 17 weeks.
And I thought, yes, here it is, the time Washington expected for the wise and honest to repair to those standards. And it will be, indeed, up to the wise and the honest to do the job.
“There are methods for changing social policies,” Neal Goldsmith tells us, “and we’ve got to power through, shoulder to the wheel, and do the work.”
©2010 Jari Chevalier
August 18th, 2010
"My sister and I will be with the Sisters of Earth, the radical nuns, in New York in July," Vandana Shiva told me, before she and I hung up the phone, just after recording our Living Hero interview this past winter.
Radical nuns, hmm, I was intrigued and also excited about the prospect of meeting Vandana in person and spending a few days with her and Mira Shiva.
A short time later, I was a newly minted member of the Sisters of Earth and was signed up to attend the 9th biennial Sisters of Earth conference on a press pass.
The conference was held at The Passionist Retreat Center in Riverdale, New York, along the East bank of the Hudson River. Listen, if you've never been in a room with 160 powerful, educated, purposeful, spiritually mature, and actively engaged women, you have missed the effect of an incomparable force-field. Not your average crowd!
This special report on the Sisters of Earth conference will give a hint at the depth and breadth of conversation and ceremony, and hopefully, too, a taste of the uplifting energy and heartfelt concern we experienced as a group. This vital network of women religious and lay women is working to foster widespread adoption of eco-spiritual values in the United States and around the world.
Click on The Power of Wisdom under Recent Posts on the sidebar to get to a Comments box and Submit button. Let us know your thoughts!
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July 18th, 2010
Living Hero Gabor Maté, M.D. appeared on July 7th at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City to kick off a seven-part series of live events related to The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Dr. Ramon Prats, curator of the contemporaneous Bardo exhibition, conversed with Dr. Maté on stage and then invited questions from the audience.
Dr. Maté is author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. He explained that the hungry ghost realm is a symbol for a state of being, part of the Wheel of Life, described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. This is a state of unquenchable longing and craving, a state well-known to the addicts Dr. Maté treats in Vancouver, British Columbia’s downtown eastside.
Maté began by stating that 2500 years ago Buddhism presaged almost every discovery of contemporary neuroscience. For example, it has been scientifically corroborated that neurologically there is no abiding self to be found in body or brain. This is one of the central teachings of the Buddha. What we perceive as a continuity of self is but a stream of micro-second mind-states, which can be remembered; electrical information that follows patterns conditioned by former mind-states.
These brain circuits were fundamentally conditioned by our earliest experiences. Maté says that the “anti-infant North American ethic,” which permits a parent to just let their infant cry and cry to exhaustion, conditions that infant to become a human being resigned to a world that “just doesn’t give a damn.”
The addicts he works with have all been severely abused, and without exception all the women have been sexually abused. These people’s minds and brains have been deeply conditioned to expect to live in a hostile, dangerous, uncaring world.
Gabor Maté says there are two fallacies currently operating in the treatment of addicts in our society and that both of these fallacies erroneously take society off the hook of responsibility. The first one is the fallacy of choice, the idea that addicts choose to be addicts. They don't, he says, and the whole legal structure, the systems that punish them would have to come apart if you correct this fallacy.
And the second fallacy is the genetic disease fallacy. Addiction is not a result of genetic potentiality, but of the combination of nature and nurture, of genetic potential and the conditioning forces of the environment.
All of Dr. Maté’s various books underscore the importance of early attachment relationships in the formation of human lives. A healthy attachment in early life brings about a self-regulated, satisfied, and socially connected adult. In the abused child, these circuits don’t form properly and the person is then likely to replace those necessary healthy attachments with self-destructive ones.
The Buddha taught that habit energies wrestle the untrained mind. And so, strengthening the mind with the training of concentration, of self-observation, gives people an opportunity to perceive their own thinking-and-feeling processes and thereby realize that there’s more to us than our conditioning.
The consistent observation of one’s own mind can have the power to create new neural circuits that can override the conditioned patterns established in early experience. Based upon actual self-awareness, such mindfulness helps to create emotional balance, spiritual ease, and an increased capacity for self-regulation.
Dr. Maté reminded the audience that Christ had said: you can do everything I can do; and that Buddha nature and Christ nature are actually human potentials. What makes these potentials realizable is getting the conditioned mind and false attachments out of the way.
One of the questions posed by an audience member was about free will. “Freedom of choice is relative and it’s conditioned,” Maté said. What promotes free will? What liberates people? When it comes to individuals working on their own, what promotes choice is awareness; among people it is compassion. Stress hormones, on the other hand, interfere with our power of choice.
In the spirit of compassion, Dr. Maté acknowledged the difficulties people, especially Westerners, have in cultivating mindfulness. He confessed that he, himself, has not sustained a meditation practice and admitted that he is actually terrified of his own mind because of the traumas he endured as an infant.
Speaking further of Western culture, he referenced Sogyal Rinpoche, who wrote The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, based on the traditional Tibetan Book of the Dead. Sogyal Rinpoche says that Westerners, in general, have an active form of laziness, one in which they cram their minds so full of stimuli that there’s no time at all to confront their relationships.
Maté turned things around a bit and asked the audience a question, “What would you think if someone in your life kept on boasting: ‘I’m the greatest; I’m the most creative; everyone wants to be like me’? You’d think this person is really insecure! At the heart of the American dream there’s a terrible insecurity.”
Can we get over our vain insecurity? Both Dr. Prats and Dr. Maté spoke of how the term “rebirth,” found in Buddhist literature, refers to a process of recreating ourselves (our patterns of thought and perception) moment by moment. The Buddha taught humanity how to not rebirth that same pattern of self; how to free our minds; how to die without dying, to let the painful conditioning of our minds die back as our bodies live on, so that we may realize a liberated state and live out of our deeper nature.
How common it is to live without living. But to die without dying is rare.
July 7th, 2010
Ellen Bryson is the author of The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno, a novel about being different, being human, and finding redemption. She holds a BA in English from Columbia University and an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins in Washington DC.
Ellen Bryson began as a professional modern dancer, working in Cleveland Ohio and Boston Massachusetts during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, then shifted her focus to the philanthropic field where she worked for over a decade in both private and community foundations, culminating in national work for the Council on Foundations in Washington DC. A world traveler, she has lived in the middle eastern country of Bahrain and in Argentina South America, where being an outsider both in language and culture, helped inform the message of this, her first novel. She currently lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and is considering a move to France.
We talked about:
The world's thinnest man, Bartholomew Fortuno ● Working back from the ending ● The dream that prompted the book ● The perception of beauty ● Freedom or captivity ● Maternal impression ● Iell Adams, the mysterious bearded woman ● P.T. Barnum's Fiji Mermaid ● The symbolic birds ● What art does for us ● The will to change ● The comic layer of a strange, dark world ● The author's future plans
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 28 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno right from this site in the Amazon sidebar widget to the left.
Ellen Bryson's website.
May 3rd, 2010
"We used to have wisdom without science; now . . . we have science without wisdom."
—Dr. Gabor Maté
Physician, activist, author, educator and public speaker, Gabor Maté, MD, is widely recognized for his contributions to the field of mind-body medicine. He has eloquently and persuasively called for a reevaluation of our most pervasive and debilitating ills in light of whole-systems stressors so often borne in utero, infancy and early childhood and the attendant, recurrent patterns of suppressing emotions of hurt and anger into adulthood. Gabor Maté is a compassionate doctor whose 20-year career as a family physician and his current work with HIV-positive addicts in Vancouver, BC, equips him with direct knowledge and empathic experience. He is the author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction, When the Body Says No: Understanding The Stress-Disease Connection and Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates And What You Can Do About It.
We talked about:
Whole person nourishment and attunement ● Why early life quality is so critical to society ● Stressed parents, emotional repression and disease ● What is the role of addiction? ● The mind-body supersystem and why modern medicine won’t recognize it ● Maté’s definition of addiction ● Free will and free won’t ● Denial and our addicted society ● Consciousness-raising and the miracle of a healing path ● The divine feminine and gut feelings ● Sensitivity and resilience or hardening and rigidity ● The Bully Syndrome and the truth about bullies ● Stuck where our needs were not met ● Ayahuasca and the swift road to healing and liberation ●
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 46 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy Gabor Maté's books right from this site in the Amazon sidebar widget to the left.
Dr. Maté's website.
December 4th, 2009
“Death costs a fortune, but life is free,” writes Living Hero Terry Riley, in a lyric for his composition Missy Gono. Riley is a true original, recognized worldwide for first bringing minimalist musical composition into circulation in 1964 with his now classic In C and thereby influencing a new generation of avant garde composers and acid rock bands. Dedicated to a life of deep listening, composition, and inspired performance, Terry joins us to share his insights into art, a healing spirit and life.
We talked about:
The inner experience of originality ● Terry’s Time Lag Accumulator ● Dipping into a sound current ● Music and altered states ● Creativity, discipline, spirit and nature ● Psychedelics and spiritual practice ● Our world and our path to healing ● Urban sound and sensitivity ● Raising kids in a creative household ● Terry's ongoing relationship with his works ● His creative influences ● Imagination as an aspect of intelligence ● Music as philosophy and a model of the world ● The story of Missy Gono ● 6500 pipes in the wee hours at Disney Hall
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 40 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy some of Terry's CDs on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.
Visit Terry's website at terryriley.net
July 1st, 2009
Listen in on an illuminating conversation with science writer and author Jonah Lehrer as he shares insights on the work of eight historic creative geniuses and how contemporary neuroscience can lead us to more conscious and fulfilling lives. Lehrer is author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist and How We Decide and a frequent contributor to national magazines featuring his articles on what we're learning about the brain and how our minds work. He also hosts the highly regarded blog The Frontal Cortex.
We talked about:
Insight, intuition and introspection: roads to discovery ● Self Comes to Mind: collaborative work among artists and scientists ● Some common ground among cutting-edge creative artists ● Truth in fiction ● Metacognition and its pay-offs ● Getting better at the marshmallow task ● Making better decisions ● Asking the right questions of contemporary neuroscience ● The right side of our kindergarten report card ● Torturous moral dilemmas ● How to kill a rat with pleasure ● Some of Jonah's goals as an author
Visit: jonahlehrer.com and The Frontal Cortex
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 46 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
Click through to buy Jonah's books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left.
May 24th, 2009
Our society suffers from an urgent need for greater empathy, for citizens with the emotional capacity to “feel with” others and sense what life is like for people in circumstances different from their own. Thought leaders, authors, and futurists Howard Gardner, Riane Eisler, Daniel Pink, and many others, have all placed empathy and ethics on their short lists of requisite qualities for a healthy future.
Personal contact with other human beings in need has proven to quickly and reliably foster such emotional brotherhood. Contact volunteering is a win-win-win proposition. It serves the needy, the volunteer, and the organizations that exist to provide care to the needy.
About half of adult Americans volunteer in some form, but only 8% regularly volunteer for personal contact with the needy. To derive the many benefits we describe below, volunteers must have this personal contact and must do so for four or more hours per month.
Benefits to Individual Health:
Loneliness and isolation pose significant human health risks rivaling those of cigarette smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and high blood pressure. One-on-one human contact volunteers overcome these risk factors, and live longer and healthier lives. They enjoy greater self-worth, self-esteem, and pleasure. They suffer less stress, chronic pain, fatigue, drug and alcohol abuse, overeating, anxiety and depression.
Benefits to Societal Health:
“Strangers” of different religions, races, ethnicities, educational and financial come in contact with each other on a regular basis, and bridge their differences, forming bonds of care, understanding, and trust. Volunteers bring increased job performance, social skills, and productivity back to their workplaces. When unemployed people volunteer, they suffer less depression and feelings of helplessness, and they find new jobs sooner.
How does volunteering work to bring these benefits?
Human beings are biologically hardwired for caring, cooperation, and goodness. When people engage in helping behaviors, they experience well-being, the feeling that things are as they should be. Opening one’s heart and giving to others in need activates the helper’s brain to release pleasure-and-joy hormones: dopamine and endorphins, and these initiate a cascade of physical and emotional changes for the better.
How can we encourage more people to engage in contact volunteering?
Leadership, leadership, leadership! Studies have proved that most people need to be asked repeatedly, and convinced by others, to volunteer. Business and governmental leaders can help in this enormously. Here’s how:
• Reduce health insurance premiums for those who do contact volunteering
• Allow employees to volunteer during work hours
• Promote the benefits of contact volunteering through all media outlets
• Model the excellent habit of volunteering and talk about it! Public figures, leaders, heros and “stars” step up and lead this win-win-win movement!
©Jari Chevalier, 2009
April 1st, 2009
The healing power of doing good! The Living Hero program is honored to present an interview with author, lawyer, non-profit executive and altruistic leader, Allan Luks.
Allan’s steadfast commitment to improving the lives of disadvantaged youth in New York City, and his extraordinary contributions to the success of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of NYC, established the agency as one of the country's most prominent mentoring organizations. Mr. Luks has received numerous awards, including Crain's New York Business magazine's "Public Service Leader of the Year," and the national Lewis Hine award.
Allan Luks has developed programs to meet the special needs of NYC youth, including those affected by 9/11, teen mothers, youth with disabilities, and youth with siblings and/or parents in prison. He has successfully lobbied the New York State Legislature to pass "The Safe Mentoring Act." Allan also created the BBBS Center for Training and Professional Development, in partnership with Fordham University's Graduate School of Social Service, to bring the successful BBBS of NYC model to other city mentoring agencies.
Mr. Luks authored The Healing Power of Doing Good, which outlines the emotional health benefits derived by volunteers. He coined the term helper's high," used everywhere now in popular literature on volunteering. Allan continues to serve as a senior adviser to BBBS.
We talked about:
• alcohol and drug abuse and the necessary 12th step in AA
• wherein lies Doing Good's power to heal?
• helping and its effects on stress
• what is the underlying tension in the human, which needs relaxation?
• the real challenge of society: the common good
• finding the right kind of helping for you
• the basic truth underlying our lives
• the best ways to encourage helping
• the creative process and getting your work done
• the conception of Since I Became a Terrorist Target
• what's next?
Enjoy the show! (The program is 40 minutes)
Listen at your convenience!
March 1st, 2009
Integrative medicine as a creative force! The Living Hero program is delighted to present an interview with holistic health advocate, homeopathic practitioner, and healer, Dr. Lauri Grossman. Originally trained as a chiropractor, Dr. Grossman is an expert in integrative health care, specializing in homeopathic medicine.
She is a graduate of Cornell University, the New England School of Homeopathy and the prestigious Hahnemann College of Homeopathy in Berkeley, California, and is well-known and respected as a practitioner and educator. She has taught at Sloan Kettering-Memorial Hospital, the Hospital for Special Surgery and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and at New York Medical College.
Lauri Grossman developed the curriculum in homeopathy and has taught in the holistic departments of the graduate schools at New York University, the College of New Rochelle and the New York Chiropractic College.
She will serve as Chair of the Department of Medicine and Humanistic Studies at the American Medical College of Homeopathy, expected to open in Arizona in 2009.
Her film, Natures, produced with the assistance of the National Geographic Film Archives, highlights the philosophy of homeopathy and its connection with the order found in nature.
Visit her website at homeopathycafe.com for more information.
We talked about:
• Lauri's life-defining emergency introduction to homeopathy
• how homeopathy differs from other natural therapies
• how a homeopath takes a case, makes a diagnosis and treats illness
• how homeopathy heals
• the scientific method and energy medicine
• the politics and history of homeopathy in America
• homeopathy on the rise
• the disorders for which homeopathy is most effective
• homeopathy, creativity and sensitivity
Enjoy the show! (The program is 54 minutes)
Listen at your convenience!
November 1st, 2008
The Living Hero program presents an interview with celebrated neuroscientist, Dr. Richard Davidson. Dr. Davidson is a William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He directs the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior where he conducts research on the short- and long-term effects of meditation practices on human emotion and the circuitry of the brain.
He holds a doctorate from Harvard University and has published more than 250 articles, chapters and reviews. The founding co-editor of the new American Psychological Association journal, EMOTION and he has also edited 13 books.
One of Dr. Davidson's most valuable findings is that happiness and compassion are trainable skills that can be developed, just as we can learn to play a musical instrument; that it is possible to train a mind to be happy and peaceful.
We talked about:
• What prompted Dr. Davidson's career path
• Meditation as a path of transformation
• The different forms of meditation
• How meditation changes the brain
• Meditation in health and in education
• Long-term effects of meditation on brain function and gene expression
• Meditation and Christianity
• How to learn more about Dr. Davidson's work
Numerous honors and awards of distinction have come to Dr. Davidson, including the most distinguished award for science given by the American Psychological Association – the Scientific Contribution Award. He has also received the Research Scientist Award and the MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH); and many other honors recognizing his groundbreaking contributions.
In 2003, Dr. Davidson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2004, to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. In 2006, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.
Davidson maintains a close, collaborative relationship with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the world's best-known practitioner of Buddhist meditation. The Dalai Lama first invited Davidson to his home in Dharamsala, India, in 1992 after learning about Davidson's innovative research into the neuroscience of emotions. Dr. Davidson has had the opportunity to study the brains of many of the world’s most advanced meditation practitioners.
Visit these websites for more information:
Waisman Lab website
U of Wisconsin Psychology Department website
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 25 minutes)
Listen at your convenience!
October 1st, 2008
The Living Hero podcast welcomes our distinguished guest, clinical psychologist and bioenergetic analyst, Scott Baum, Ph.D.
Dr. Baum is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology. He is also a certified Bioenergetic Therapist, and a member of the Faculty of The International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis. He has been affiliated with the DiMele Center for Psychotherapy since 1994.
Scott Baum views psychotherapy as an experiential, problem solving process. He believes that the deepest, fullest, and most complex understanding of a person’s problem yields the best, most creative and enduring results.
We talked about:
• The premise that underlies bioenergetic analysis
• A more refined view of stress
• How human beings are biologically organized
• What goes on in a bioenergetic session
• Males, fathers, patriarchal society, power and the unknown
• The disparity between mothers and fathers
• Why men don’t ask for directions
• Healthy narcissism, narcissistic disorders and the true self
• A dividing line among therapists
• What’s possible with therapy
• How to learn more about Bioenergetics.
Visit the website for the New York Society for Bioenergetic Analysis
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about an hour)
Listen at your convenience!
September 1st, 2008
The Living Hero show is very proud to present an interview with Marcy Axness, Ph.D.
Dr. Axness is an early development specialist who writes and speaks internationally on parenting, society, and the needs of children. She is an authority in such wide-ranging fields as neurobiology (brain development), prenatal and developmental psychology, attachment theory, and consciousness research. Marcy’s particular specialization is in very early development--beginning even before conception--and she is one of the world’s few experts in prenatal / neonatal issues in adoption. She is a professor at Santa Barbara Graduate Institute and has a private practice in Los Angeles, counseling parents and prospective parents.
We talked about:
• Raising generation PAX
• Quantum parenting
• The fundamental question every human is always asking
• The peace-creativity connection
• P-A-R-E-N-T-S, Marcy's parenting To-Dos
• The surprising single strongest predictor of a child's healthy attachment
• The dominant reality engine of our time
• How to behaviorally reduce ADD and ADHD
• What drives the viscious human cycle
• Tapping into the unseen dimensions of experience
Visit Marcy's website at http://www.marcyaxness.com
Enjoy the show!
Listen at your convenience!
April 7th, 2008
I am writing to you from The Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois, a lovely northern suburb of Chicago. Ragdale is an artist residency program that grants support to working artists by providing work/live space and meals (the chef is great here!) so they can concentrate on creating new work.
Immersing myself again in the making of visual art has been healing, surprising, and nourishing. I’m here for a month with other visual artists, fiction writers, and poets. Many of those here since I got here on March 27th will be leaving on Wednesday, opening the space for another group of ten whom I’ll meet, since I will stay on until April 23rd. I’ve met Anne LeClaire, Debra Darvick, Lucy Ferriss, Larry Thomas, Johnny Horton, Anita Garza, Katie Rodrigues, Rone Shivers, Lori Kagan and Amy Walsh. . . I am honored to be in this fine company.
Places like Ragdale acknowledge the need for free time and space to simply BE, to allow oneself to enter a passive-receptive state, a state of quiet engagement and inquiry, which provides the prime conditions for insight, intuitive leaps, and breakthroughs in composition.
You know, all artists are composers: it’s all about composition.
The artist combines and arranges elements to produce a harmonious whole through non-analytical means; a piece of work that has a formal coherence is born of synthesis (as opposed to analysis), which includes both conscious and unconscious layers of experience and that reconciles, in a fresh and new way, the multivalent human experience. This happens through the artist's own visceral and emotional powers of deduction, which are cultivated with practice, enabling something ordered and fixed to be born from the most general, encompassing and ineffable aspects of existence.
Whereas philosophers and scientists seek to encapsulate themes of the human universe and experience through mathematical equations and contextual theories; artists do so through their compositions. In any case, the construct is meant to stand in, reductively, for that which is overwhelming and mysterious, yet ever-present.
Composition provides a resting place for the viewer or listener, a place of contemplation, recollection, absorption. It can do so because it represents and displays a synthesis of the artist’s own many hours of reflection, self-confrontation, and composure.
Works of art thereby become highly fertile common ground for fresh perspectives and cultural progress, not as objects in and of themselves, but as catalysts for insight and understanding: the artwork is where the strange seeds of consciousness, of both artist and audience, meet and take root. This is perhaps why dictators and tyrants seek to either squelch or use the artists.
But in the complicit tyranny of our society, people have allowed themselves to become so busy and distracted that so much of art goes unperceived and thereby rendered impotent and inconsequential. Because even the greatest music, art, books, and dances are nothing if no one is sensitively and receptively listening, watching, reading, and engaging with them. Artist and audience are of equal importance to the enterprise of realizing art. It is vital to take the time to compose yourself and reflect on what is real, true, and beautiful in life; it’s crucial to civilization and human care.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
March 8th, 2008
When you focus and hold your attention on a single object or on your own mind-body processes, you are meditating. An age-old metaphor for thought, captured in the phrase “a train of thought,” can be helpful in differentiating thought from meditation.
If you are riding inside a train of thought, carried along in it, you are thinking; but in meditation, you are watching multicolored train-cars passing through the station of your mind. You are observing thought, rather than being carried within it.
When you become adept at meditation, the station may be quiet for stretches of time: no trains. Sometimes you faintly hear a train approaching from a distance, yet it does not end up coming through . . . your attention dissolves it and it never arrives.
Why set aside time in our busy lives to recondition our minds through meditation?--To be awake, yet quiet, peaceful, aware and focused. Peace. Awareness. Focus.
So, why aren’t more people meditating? Well, actually, we are. But for those who aren't, it may be because changing our habits is hard, even when new habits can mean the difference between life and death. For instance, in many studies of patients who have undergone coronary bypass surgery, only one in nine people, on average, adopts and stays with a new exercise and dietary program.
Trying to change our habits requires a lot of attention. At first, looking closely and steadily at things as they are, as one does in meditation, can lead to feelings that many people find uncomfortable. So they opt to avoid really looking. But, if you will persist, stay with yourself, hang in there and refine your observational abilities through the practice of meditation, you will find that the mind is, in fact, not as hardwired as you thought.
Aside from the many health benefits of meditation, which are now widely known and accepted, meditation strengthens your ability to modulate your own reactivity, so that you do not resort to self-destructive coping mechanisms; such as, drinking alcohol or other palliative forms of escape from the feelings that can arise while facing reality. You also are less reactive to others, kinder, more compassionate.
Meditation gets to the root of distress and equips you to live a more wholesome, meaningful, relaxed and insightful existence, even when uncertainty, hurt feelings, or doubt come through the station.
In a world of meditators, we would find many social problems dissolving and evaporating. Big-picture and long-view thinking, grounded in wisdom, would be commonplace. Consideration of and reverence for the natural world would be central. Enjoyment and fulfillment in life’s simple pleasures would be written on our faces. Appreciation of diverse cultures, habitats, spiritual expressions and perspectives would be manifested in steadfast investment in and preservation of them. A large-scale maturation of the human animal, a new evolutionary stage would be evident everywhere.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
February 19th, 2008
Living Hero is pleased to present an interview with author and futurist Daniel Pink
• The increasing value of right brain skills and capacities • The global forces giving rise to A Whole New Mind • The one cognitive skill common among corporate star performers • Reckoning with unfulfillment • Dan’s own creative process and methods • The Adventures of Johnny Bunko
Listen at your convenience!
Link to Dan Pink's Feb 2005 Wired magazine article "Revenge of the Right Brain"
Click through to buy his books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left. Don't miss them!
February 13th, 2008
For the sake of this exploration, let’s just agree to use the word holic for an addicted, compulsive, obsessed individual. In spite of knowledge (a holic knows what is healthy, reasonable and good) she “loves” stuff that is ultimately self-destructive and cannot forsake indulgences for health or well-being, cannot manage, even through force of love or will to stop repeating damaging behaviors.
Now, let’s consider, in contrast, a holistic person. This person’s actions, whether they be in the realms of buying, eating, traveling, pleasure or work, are an integral part of a conscious life, borne out from the person they wish to be, the contribution they wish to make, and the world in which they wish to live. Such a person is capable of self-soothing and self-regard and lives with a genuine love of life. Such a person feels responsible.
People generally either soothe their existential angst and cope with life through a healthy selfhood (holistic) or through a set of defenses and fixes (holic).
Since I'm posting this on Valentine's Day eve, I have some love questions for us:
Is it love to buy someone chocolate, if sugar decays internal organs like it does teeth? Is it love to send dozens of cut roses here and there, if tons of hydrocarbons are thus released into our shared strained atmosphere? How about diamonds and that whole business? How about greeting cards, the paper industry pollution involved, the shipping and trucking of all that? Fine dining on fois gras—does this force-feeding of geese to fatten their livers deliver a culinary treat for our true love?
A holistic person thinks of these things. A holistic person sees the inseparable connections among all things in reality.
The phrase Just Do It made famous by Nike, a corporation notorious for sweatshop labor practices and all manner of exploitation, has perhaps provided us with an apt mantra for our times: Just Don’t Do It!
If we have told ourselves to change our habits and yet haven’t—guess what?—we’re holic and the waters are rising, the world is heating up—and how are we going to stop ourselves from doing the self-destructive things we’re in the habit of doing?
Join me as I take this on and share what I'm doing on these posts from time to time. I am upping the ante on myself to be ever more holistic.
Please click through to this article and then write to me and let me know what you think—could this environmental nightmare really be true or is it some mistake, a gross exaggeration?
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
January 28th, 2008
In our language, we have two similarly named thresholds of awareness. One is the subliminal, “that which lies below,” that which we generally refer to as the subconscious. The other is the sublime, which we speak of mostly at times when we have briefly transcended that upper limit, when we are momentarily sent “over the top” with feeling, with awe, surprise or beauty, surpassing our usual realm of sensation and awareness. People have been known to faint from being unable to sustain the sublime.
We would not know these boundaries if we didn’t, in unusual states and circumstances, access what is beyond them. Symbols, metaphors and buried memories do break into consciousness from the unconscious. And we do have wondrous and sublime experiences in nature, through love, in beholding our own newborn child, in moments of discovery, and through the experience of insight.
These thresholds of awareness frame not where you have been and what you have done, but the range of perception and feeling you were fit to bear, whereever you went and whatever you did.
Our ability to access both the subliminal and the sublime is integral to our capacity to accept and bear their truth and their gifts. These thresholds in the self are not fixed. They can go from brick walls to accessible doorways to a mere change in the landscape within yourself. As you develop yourself as a human being and become someone more psychologically mature, of greater spiritual fortitude, your range of awareness and capacity to feel into both the subliminal and the sublime will grow. You will be able to experience more feeling without fear, awkwardness, overwhelm or discomfort. You will also be much more in touch with the tremendous creative and integrative forces that are within you.
How do you open the range of your awareness and enlarge your capacity to feel and know more of your own life’s forces and riches? The best ways I know involve yoga, creativity and meditation.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
January 23rd, 2008
Control. Constraint. Inhibition. Constriction. Fear. Tension. Anxiety. Angst. Anger. Angina . . . these last four all share the same Latin root, angere, which means to strangle or choke.
Do you know how to release the grip, to relax, unbind, let go, let down, and "uninhibit" your mind and body? Let me ask this again: do you know how to relieve and relax your own mind?
I have discovered that we can learn to relax right in the midst of fear or pain and, in doing so, more permanently influence and change the state of our minds and bodies.
In the early 1990s I suffered from acute sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the largest bundle of nerves in our bodies and mine was severely inflamed. This ranked right next to childbirth in intensity of pain. I had to ice the area constantly and I lived on Vicodin (Tylenol with codeine) for days.
I had two of these severe attacks before I learned how to use yoga on a regular basis to prevent them, and also how to completely relax both my mind and my body whenever I first started to feel the nerve clenching up. Prior to this time, the nerve would tend to tighten up even further, then go into spasm and have me close to screaming.
But I taught myself to apply consciousness, awareness and intention to muscles and nerves. Then, having experienced the success of this in relation to the sciatica, I began applying this same technique, whenever anxiety and worry started tightening its debilitating grip on me. And I’m here to say that it works quite well.
I do credit this ability to the kind of awareness that develops through the practice of meditation. Meditation develops one’s sense of aliveness and attunement to mind-body processes to an extraordinary degree. We can catch ourselves thinking and feeling with quite a different sensibility than we used to have, or that non-meditators have. This provides a greater freedom of choice, moment to moment, on how life will go for us and those around us, and what we will experience.
In her book The World I Live In (which was out of print for nearly a century and published again just in 2003) Helen Keller says: “The sense of smell has told me of a coming storm hours before there was any sign of it visible. I notice first a throb of expectancy, a slight quiver, a concentration in my nostrils. As the storm draws nearer, my nostrils dilate the better to receive the flood of earth-odors which seem to multiply and extend, until I feel the splash of rain against my cheek. As the tempest departs, receding farther and farther, the odors fade, become fainter and fainter, and die away beyond the bar of space.”
I believe that just as Helen Keller could sense the coming of a storm through her sense of smell, we can sense the coming of anxiety through our awareness. And, before it comes on full strength, we can dissipate it so the storm doesn't happen, or if it does, it may rain, but not be torrential.
Whenever you first sense anxiety’s presence and its encroachment into your mind and body processes, acknowledge it, take a full breath and, staying with yourself, let it out, relaxing completely. This, of course, will not remit the inner or outer conditions that may be giving rise to the anxiety or pain. But, you can head off the intensity of the debilitation in the moment and be better able to function, so as to discern, and then remedy or remove the inciting causes and bring yourself more peace of mind.