(Books I am currently reading. --Alex Chapunoff)
* The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle)
Every now (pun intended) and again, I like to read from this book. Just a few pages can do a lot to refresh me.
* Against the Day (Thomas Pynchon)
Epic 1,100-page novel about the cutting edge of science and politics in the Belle Epoque. Funny, brilliant, poetic. Reveals how every time period is “modern” to those living in it.
* Using Your Brain—For a Change (Richard Bandler)
Lectures, by one of the founders of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), on submodalities (the different ways you see, hear, and feel mentally) and how you can work with them to improve your psychological patterns.
* From Power to Exile: How I Was Overthrown and By Whom (Juan Perón)
Reprint of a rivetting and articulate magazine article written in 1956 by the then-recently-deposed president of Argentina (yes, Evita's husband).
The Midterm Elections are almost upon us. Left, right, or center, there is much passion, animosity, and stress. Drama. Pressure. Anger. Villifying the other side and getting villified by them. Then press “Repeat.”
But is it possible to be a proactive, politically committed person without getting too worked up (more distressed than is helpful or necessary)?
Is it something even worth considering? After all, the adrenaline rush can be mighty addictive.
At the end of the day, though, is it good for you?
The key may be to remain committed to your political values and views – and respect the fact that your opponents’ values are different, even contrary.
As incredible as it may seem, those bastards believe they are “good” and “righteous” and “moral” and that we are NOT.
Just … like … we … believe … about them.
How could this be?
It’s not possible. It simply isn’t.
But then, THAT’S what they think about us.
In today’s toxic environment, respecting your opponents’ right to differ can seem unacceptable. And yet it could help keep politics from becoming deeply personal. It may help keep the conversation civil without igniting a civil war.
If nothing else, being driven by your cause – without getting agitated about it – may make you a more effective person and citizen.
The main thing, of course, is to vote.
Feeling compassion for others is highly associated with emotional well-being, interpersonal connectedness, and stress management.
Here is a pithy article on Compassion by Jason Louv of Ultraculture: Compassion: Understanding the Buddhist Teaching of Radical Equality
There is an opioid epidemic in the USA. These highly addictive synthetic opiates are being purchased on the street, in pill mills, or with legal prescriptions.
They were designed to alleviate pain but are causing disease.
This is not a new phenomenon but simply the latest version of a long history between opiates and big business.
Did you know that Bayer released heroin as an over-the-counter cough suppressant in 1895? (In fact, “Heroin” was Bayer’s trademarked brand name for what is really called diacetylmorphine.)
Did you know that in the 1800s England fought – and defeated – China in two wars (called the Opium Wars) to “earn the right” to sell the Chinese people abundant amounts of opium and keep them addicted, contributing to China’s decline?
There’s money to be made in addictive substances since they create their own increased demand. There’s money to be made in pain relief since people want to feel good.
There is a legitimate role for effective physical pain relief in medicine. Having said that, much of the pain people who abuse opioids try to avoid is emotional pain. They may feel nervous, guilty, depressed, traumatized, bored, angry, indifferent, and so on. This is natural … a normal response to life stressors.
Their emotional pain is a signal from their mind-bodies telling them something is wrong and needs to be looked at and changed.
People are spending a lot of money, committing crimes, and abusing their minds and bodies to not have to feel some of their human emotions.
Ultimately, people who have opioid addictions may want to ask themselves: Could it simply be better to feel my emotions than be addicted to opioids?
To meditate instead of medicate?
Something to ponder….
In the early days of psychology, dreams were considered very important, therapeutically. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, among others, dedicated much of their lives to understanding dreams and their function -- the role they play in our lives and how they can help.
In more recent times, the role of dreams has been played down by mainstream therapy. And yet dreams come from the unconscious mind, the part of our mind we're not usually conscious of. By paying attention to our dreams, therefore, we can become more aware of our unconscious, at which point that info becomes part of our conscious mind.
One way of accomplishing this is to keep a notepad and pen by your bed. When you wake up, jot down whatever you remember from your dream(s), even if it's just an image or two. (Some people may prefer to keep a smartphone by their bed and audio-record their comments.) Do this consistently -- each morning. With time, you may find that you're writing (or saying) more and more -- just from paying attention to dreams and taking note. Dream recall is getting activated.
There are many books on dream symbolism, and you can check them out at your local bookstore and find one you relate to. Ultimately, though, your dreams are speaking to you, and you may develop your own dream symbolism.
Either way, dreams are the unconscious's expression of knowledge, feelings, concerns, issues, hopes, and fantasies. And it can be healing -- and conducive to improved self-understanding -- to receive and process that communication.
With the suicide of renowned chef and TV presence Anthony Bourdain last month, more attention has been paid to the issue of suicide in the United States. There has been some recognition that suicide, and suicide prevention, needs to be understood better. It follows that a closer understanding of depression is also called for.
One thing I've learned, from my years of working with clients who considered suicide, and with those who had attempted it in the past, is that a suicidal crisis often indicates forthcoming growth and change. A suicidal person sees no hope or redeeming possibilities but it's usually because they still use their habitual frames of reference. Abandoning these frames can be terrifying and demoralizing, often to the point that it seems there can be no life worth living without them. Something does need to die, but it's not necessarily the person. Rather, it's some of their old ways, their old mentality: pain and despair can be signs showing they don't work anymore.
Pain and despair are messengers asking to be heard and understood. Suicide can be an attempt to avoid these messengers. I feel a key approach to suicide prevention is helping people understand that pain and despair are part of their own inner communication. We've all had false friends before: people who say nice flattering things and comfort us while they secretly try to harm us. What if pain and despair were false enemies? Apparently harmful but actually supportive and encouraging once embraced.
Hopefully, the dialog around suicide will expand to include these underlying issues and concerns.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
This relevant article discusses some well-meaning spiritual tropes and shows how they can be harmful when misapplied. Especially to victims of abuse and other forms of trauma. Click here
By Alex Chapunoff, LMHC
By now (pun intended?), you may have heard of “mindfulness” – living in the present instead of getting caught up in thoughts and feelings about past or future. Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now is a modern classic and a great book. But recently I started wondering about the Power of Here – living in the present instead of getting caught up in thoughts and feelings about elsewhere. Working with space (Here) as opposed to time (Now).
For most people, time is a more abstract quality than space; space is, or appears to be, more straightforward. So it could be an easier way for some to approach Presence.
Tolle makes many references to living in the Here: occupying your body fully, feeling all your emotions as they are, paying close attention to everything your five senses receive – really seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. He just includes all this under the word Now.
Some writers and teachers refer to the Here-Now.
When you live in the Now, you check the mind’s tendency to think of past and future. When you live in the Here, you check its tendency to think of other places: the fantasies, memories, ruminations, and so forth, about other locations that keep you from attending to where you are: thus, you can stay present. Wherever you are, that’s the place to be. And you’re there (here) fully. Wherever you are is Here.
And you engage that place – being conscious, awake, present.
You are “in the building.”
The lights are on.
Your body is always in the Here, so this is about aligning mind with body so they work together, occupying the same space.
Here and Now complement one another, and living in the Here can make living in the Now that much more accessible.
Relationships can be challenging but this article shows how some things shouldn't be compromised. Instead, they could be communicated. Click here
This piece shows how hiking (walking in nature) can benefit both body and mind and help with stress management, mood stabilization, memory, and overall health. Click here.
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