Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Jeannie Zandie on "Living from the Unknown...the song of the Holy"

Living from the Unknown

Actual reality, where all is utterly well, underlies, surrounds and interpenetrates our sense of what needs to happen for us to be okay. That set of conditions is learned and not real. This emptiness, the sense of the unknown, of no one going nowhere, seems so out of reach when we read about it, but when we give ourselves to a moment of  'I don't know' we are completely immersed in it. This is what we become--no longer a person, but the song of the moment, the song of the Holy.  Simultaneously nothing and song.    - Jeanie Zandie

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Self Compassion Meditation from Lyons' Roar

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Parenting: Are We Teaching Our Children to be Slaves to the Expectations of Others?

Parenting: Are we teaching our children to be slaves to the expectations of others?

Here are some seemingly controversial excerpts from an interview with Daniel Kish on PBS this morning:

By protecting our children or projecting our fears of them getting hurt, we are creating slaves to others' expectations... When we lighten their load, we limit expansion... Rescuing robs children of the learning mode...Not wanting your child to suffer can hold your child back.

Daniel, 100% blind from infancy can ‘see’ with no eyes. Brain scans show the visual centers of his brain light up as he ‘sees’ three dimensional images while he rides a bicycle in traffic, hikes long distances in the wilderness alone, rock climbs, cooks for himself and more. All of this, he says is because his mother never limited his activity by trying to protect him from things most of us would say a blind child cannot do: climbing trees,  riding  bicycles, etc. She raised him not as a 'blind child' but as "a child who happened to be bind." 

Add to this, research on the effects of our expectations on animals and even inanimate objects such as the studies with rats running mazes more quickly when their human handlers believed they were smarter than the rats in the other test group and the HeartMath studies of  the measurable effect of  negative thoughts on dishes of yogurt; and you begin to grasp the value of an accepting, allowing, appreciative childhood, not just for blind children, but for all of us. Not just in childhood, but at all times, in all our relationships.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Untethered Soul: Twelve-Step Guide to Spiritual Awakening (Michael Singer)



The Untethered Soul: Twelve-Step Guide to Spiritual Awakening

Spirituality is meant to bring about harmony and peace. But the diversity of our philosophies, beliefs, concepts and views about spiritual matters often leads to confusion or even conflict. The fact is that the very act of seeking spiritual freedom causes notions of success and failure, and these notions serve only to bind us to our own self judgments: Am I growing? Have I done anything wrong? Am I meditating enough?

Truth is only complicated because we pass it through our habitual thought patterns. When we step back from ourselves, truth becomes simple. There are not many paths to freedom, there is only one. In the end, no matter what particular patterns of thought we have managed to build in our minds, freedom always means transcending these personal thought patterns.

But how does one go about transcending the personal self and awakening to spiritual freedom? What is needed for this journey are succinct steps that are so universal that they can echo through the halls of any religion as well as support intellectual understanding. The following is a universal road map to Self Realization.

1. Realize that you are in there.
You must first come to realize that you are in there. From deep inside, you are experiencing this world. You are experiencing your physical body, your thoughts, and your emotions. You are conscious and you are experiencing what it is like to be human.

2. Realize that you are not okay in there.

Look to see what's going on inside. If you want to understand why you've done everything you have ever done, if you want to see what's really going on, just observe your mind and emotions--just experi­ence your inner state. If you objectively look, you will see that you are never completely at peace. You will see that you are not okay in there.

3. Realize that you're always trying to be okay.
At any point when you look at the state of your inner being, you will see that something is bothering you. You will then notice that this causes urges, drives, and impulses to do something about it. You will find yourself constantly trying to either get something or avoid something. All of this is done in an attempt to be okay.

4. Realize that your mind has taken on the job of figuring out how everything needs to be for you to be okay.
If you watch, you will see that your mind is always telling you what you should and should not do, what others should and should not do, and how things should and should not be. All of this is the mind's attempt to first create a conceptual model of what would make you okay, and then try to get the outside world to match it.

5. Realize that the process of defining how the outside needs to be is not going to make you okay.
You must seriously look at this process of trying to be okay. You've been at it your entire life--you've just tried different things at different times. While it's true that sometimes you manage to make it better for short periods of time, you know that you've never even come close to reaching a state of permanent peace. Watch very closely how you react to the things your mind has preferences about. You will see that if your mind gets what it wants, you feel joy; if it doesn't get what it wants, you feel disturbance. Likewise, when your mind experiences what it doesn't want, you feel disturbance, and when it avoids what it doesn't want, you feel relief. You will never be okay playing this game because the world will never match the conceptual model your mind has made up. Eventually, you will come to see that struggling to be okay does not work. At some point, you will try to find a different way to be okay in there.

6. Learn to not participate in the mind's struggle to be okay.
This step is about learning to sit in the witness, the part of you that notices the inner urges to be okay. You must become comfortable with sitting in there and not participating in the inner energies. You learn to relax in the midst of them. You come to see that there is a habitual process in which the moment you feel inner disturbance, you are drawn into doing something about it. You must learn to sit inside and not participate in this process. If you truly understand that going outside to try to be okay inside doesn't work, then you'll be willing to sit inside and simply allow the disturbance to pass through. It is not difficult. If you can do this, all disturbance will cease by itself.

7. Learn to go about your life just like everyone else, except that nothing you do is for the pur­pose of trying to be okay.
If you aren't so preoccupied with trying to be okay, you will be free to sit inside and quietly love, serve, and honor whatever naturally unfolds in front of you. When you reach this point, you are no longer living for yourself. You are interacting with life, but not for the purpose of being okay.

8. As you sincerely let go of the inner energies you are watching, you begin to feel a deeper energy come in from behind.
Up to this point, everything you were watching inside was in front of you. But now that you are no longer being drawn into those personal energies, you'll realize that your inner universe is actually very expansive. You will begin to feel Spirit flow in from behind. It lifts you and brings you great love and joy.

9. Your inner experience becomes so beautiful that you fall in love with the energy itself, and you develop a very deep and personal relationship with it.
It will become completely clear to you that there is an absolute trade-off between your personal ener­gies and the amount of Spirit that you feel. The more you get drawn into your personal energies, the less Spirit you feel. The more you don't participate in your personal energies, the more Spirit you feel. You now have a direct relationship with the spiritual energy, and you will find yourself constantly longing to experience it.

10. You begin to feel the energy pulling you up into it, and your entire path becomes letting go of yourself in order to merge.
Will is no longer needed. Now your path is strictly about releasing yourself into the pull of the higher energy. You must surrender deeply enough to be able to overcome the fear of losing your connection to the personal self. You must to be willing to die to be reborn.

11. Once you get far enough back into the energy, you realize that your personal life can go on without you, leaving you free to become immersed in Spirit.
This is the greatest miracle: You've surrendered and your entire life is about Spirit, yet people, places, and things continue to interact with you. The difference is that these interactions require none of your energy. They happen naturally, by themselves, leaving you at peace and absorbed in Spirit.

12. Now you are truly okay and nothing inside or outside of you can cause disturbance--you have come to peace with it all.
Because you are now completely okay, you don't need anything. Things just are what they are. At this point, you know yourself as Self. The world, mind, and heart cannot disturb you. You've transcended them all. What is more, instead of feeling drawn into Spirit, you now actually experience yourself as Spirit. You have no boundaries in time or space. You have always existed and you will always exist. You have no form, shape, gender, or body. You simply are, have always been, and will always be--Infinite Spirit.

"Oprah and Michael Singer: The Untethered Soul" will premiere on the Emmy® Award-winning "Super Soul Sunday" August 5 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and will simulcast online worldwide via Oprah.com and Facebook.com/OWNtv.

For more on spiritual development, click here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Laughter the Best Medicine

What Happened to All the Laughter?
// Altucher Confidential

Dan Harris, the anchor of the ABC show Nightline, had a total panic attack on TV in 2005 in front of 5 milion people. He simply shut down and couldn’t continue while live on the air. Everybody saw it and he thought his career would be over.
He wrote a book about it, called “10% Happier” and we talked about it on my podcast. I won’t give it away. I hope you listen to it.
But I thought of my post the other day about endorphins and one statistic I found:
A kid laughs on average 300 times a day. An adult laughs on average….five times a day.
What the…!?
How did we go from 300 to 5? What the hell happened to us? That’s why we start to panic during the day!
Did we cross some bridge of crap and tears and now here we are: drones that wake up, go to work, backstab each other in office politics, watch Breaking Bad, and then go to sleep and Die? Every single day?
Did someone slip a pill into the Starbucks coffee we drink every day? A no-laughing pill?
Laughter is really hard as an adult. It has to be. Else, how did we go from 300 to 5! That’s a HUGE gap. There is no arguing that something really bad and scary and sad happened to us between childhood and adulthood.
And laughing is so critical.
How many times have you heard the story: So-and-so got diagnosed with chronic bad terminal disease XX and was given three months to live so she decided to watch a comedy movie a day for the next three months and now 15 years later she’s still alive.
Doctors even call laughing, “inner jogging” because it does all sorts of good things for our health, our brain, releases endorphins, and makes us happier, etc etc.
So let’s go back to 300. I thought about why the gap exists. Here’s what I came up with:
In my podcast with Charlie Hoehn he told me he basically solved his anxiety issues by “playing” more. What does this mean? If someone called him up for a meeting he would say, “Sure, bring a ball and let’s meet in Central Park and play catch”.
When I was a kid we’d all go to school, play for 20 minutes or so in the playground, then play for an hour at lunch, and then after 3pm it was ALL SYSTEMS GO and my friends and I would play until about 6 or 7. Until it was DARK and there was no more play to be squeezed from the day.
Every day, from now on, I’m going to play. Forever.
We wear the right uniform to work. We say the right things. We politically figure out which “us” versus “them” we belong to.
People think kids are afraid to be embarrassed in front of their peers. But I can tell you it’s much worse as an adult. Your judged on looks, opinions, what we do moment by moment. I mean, kids cry if they don’t get what they want. Adults can’t do that.
Kids also jump for joy when they are happy. I don’t remember the last time I saw an adult do that.
And kids hit each other. Just for fun. They just slap each other in the face. Go ahead and try that now!
And then later at night, I can speak for myself, I wonder what people think of me. What I wrote. What I said on a podcast. What I said at a party. It’s like I rewind part of the day and replay it, totally wasting more opportunities for fun and laughing.
Did I say or do something wrong?
Answer: yes! Just by thinking about it.
Kids used to fart and then laugh about it. In basements all across the country we even came up with the same rhymes. “If you smelt it, you dealt it”.
Adults don’t rhyme about farts anymore. Instead, they go to the opera. Opera is not funny. At least, none that I’ve been to. Correct me if I’m wrong.
I don’t mean to be a downer on alcohol. People drink. I get it. It’s social.
And, for very very short-term, it helps you loosen inhibitions and there’s a variety of reasons (sex) why one would want to do that.
But the reality is: Alcohol is a depressant. Which means it makes you more depressed.
And everyone basically drinks at night and then wakes up slightly more depressed than their baseline depressions and then goes to work where they become more depressed because works sucks and it’s filled with other depressed people.
Then we feel “stuck” and that we are “trapped” and we need to reinvent ourselves but we don’t know how. We get these vague feelings that we are not fulfilling our purpose in life. Which brings me to…
Purpose is largely a myth that gets encoded into our brains sometime in our 20s and NEVER leaves us again. When I was nine I thought my purpose in life was to hit the ball better in little league baseball.
But when I was 25 I thought my purpose in life was to do something that would CHANGE THE WORLD.
That is a lot of responsibility. Somehow between nine and 25 I went from hitting a ball with a stick to creating a one government world where nobody was angry anymore. And I would be rich.
People get depressed now if they feel they are not fulfilling a purpose in life.
Here’s what I think purpose is: the universe doesn’t know anything. So it cut off tiny pieces of itself to go out there and experience things, any things, and then come back home when they were done.
That’s it. So whatever you are experiencing today, good or bad, the universe is learning and happy and grateful to you because it is exploring new things about life.
No other purpose.
Back to hitting a ball with a stick.
We have responsibilities. And they are sometimes cruel and inhuman. Like not only do I have to pay for myself to go to the movies (and everything else) but I have to pay for two kids. And then the IRS. And then whatever else.
And it is really not fun when we can’t take care of our responsibilities, which inevitably happens more than once in a lifetime.
You feel like killing yourself and crying and you take medicine to feel better and it’s really hard to laugh.
Although maybe laughing more is the cure for terminal responsibilities.
Kids do also. Kids get grades. And…that’s about it. So adults teach kids how to rank themselves by starting to give them grades.
I tell my kids I’m disappointed in them if they get all As. It just means they are not pushing themselves at all and that the school is just indoctrinating them into thinking life is pretty easy and everyone should be the best at everything.
It’s also the school’s way of getting more money from the state (I’m assuming) by showing that everyone gets all As all the time. Whoopee!
Then when my kid loses a game of tennis she gets upset. That’s the real world, bitch!
But adults rank themselves TOO MUCH. There’s how much money in the bank. There’s “what’s my job title”. How big is my house? How many twitter followers? How expensive are my clothes? How hot is my spouse (very hot! Thank you Claudia Azula Altucher! ). I shouldn’t say “adults”. I am guilty of all of the above. So…”me”. But maybe you do also. I don’t know.
All I know is, when I was a kid, I didn’t rank myself at all. I didn’t care about grades and I was afraid to look in a mirror so didn’t really care how I looked.
Ranks are rank! The less ranking you participate in, the less thinking about it you do, the more room you have for laughing.
When I was a kid the best TV show was “Happy Days”, starring a Jewish guy who played an Italian guy who could get all the girls just by banging on a bathroom door. Ok, whatever. But still – childhood fantasy.
Then when I was a little older the best TV shows were about “nothing” and about a group of “friends” who lived in amazing apartments.
Now the best TV shows (and they really are the best) are about meth dealers who kill people, ugly mafiosos in NJ, and a guy who sells ads who cheats on his wife and lies to everyone else.
Oh, and now a show about a guy who throws a pretty girl in front of a subway and then becomes President of the United States (uhh, should I have said “spoiler alert”?). The scary thing about the last show is the number of people who are now saying, “yeah, that’s how it really is”.
There’s a lot of funny shows on TV. I will give you a quick list. Stop watching the scary shows and watch the funny shows. You can find all of these on iTunes or Netflix:
“Arrested Development”, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, “Peep Show”, “The League”, “Louie”, “Family Guy”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Hello Ladies”.
Start with those. I left out shows that are no longer on the air but are also fantastic because the list is huge.
If you want to add to the list, I’d be grateful.
Are you kidding me? Do kids care about the Ukraine? Or Crimea? Somehow we think we need to be “informed” or we will be stupid and have nothing to say at cocktail parties.
People tell me I should care about the Ukraine but I don’t see anyone volunteering for the Ukrainian Army.
Here’s this week’s table of contents of “The Economist”:
  • American and the IMF
  • France’s National Front
  • Myanmar’s Oil and Gas
  • Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa
and so on. I can’t write them all. It was a hard enough to spell “Myanmar”.
Somehow they’ve scammed you into thinking that’s interesting. That these are things you need to care about or the world will be worse.
I will tell you, the world will be worse if we read that crap at the expense of everything fun in our lives.
Here’s what I’ve listened to this past week (I see on my Youtube history) that I thought was funny:
  • “Bo Burnham’s best vine videos”
  • “The Lonely Island – Spell it Out”
  • “Louis CK sums up a bad relationship perfectly”
  • “Lip-sync battle with Joseph Gordon Levitt, Stephen Merchant, and Jimmy Fallon”. Particularly the Stephen Merchant part.
  • “Marina Funny Bits” -”Ellen Degeneres Here and Now”.
I have more Louis CK on there and more Lonely Island (“YOLO”) but don’t want to make the list too lobsided. Those are my go-to guys now but every week it changes (oh, I rewatched “Andy Samberg’s Harvard Speech”).
Good comedians are the funniest and smartest people in the world so I always prefer listening to them than learning about Myanmar.
* * *
I don’t think I’m back to 300 laughs a day yet. I think about too many things a day. I think about writing and podcasts and reading and my kids and Claudia. I think about outer space. I think about business and money and I think about my past and my future. I try not to time travel too much but sometimes a good chunk of today is spent in either yesterday or tomorrow.
I have to learn how to take my 50,000 thoughts a day down to about 15,000 so I have room for more funny thoughts. But I’m working on it.
But I have an idea for today. Today I’m going to play a practical joke on Claudia. Don’t tell her.


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Sunday, February 23, 2014

How Snap Judgments Create Stress

Living with Pain and Stress: Your Worst Habit May Surprise You

elisha goldstein  
Editor’s note: Elisha Goldstein, PhD, is the bestselling author of The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life.  

One of the irrefutable truths of life is not only that there will be death and taxes, but also stress and pain. For all kinds of adaptive purposes, our brains are wired to tag stress and pain as negative experiences and trigger us to avoid it. We do this through a variety of behaviors, such as checking out on our smartphones, eating, drinking, shopping, watching too much television, or even checking out of our relationships. But these habits are all secondary to the primary bad habit that disconnects us from our pain and stress.
What is it?
The first thing our brains do when there is anything aversive in our internal or external environment is manifest a snap judgment that this is bad, wrong, unfair, etc. Only after this occurs does our nervous system jump to attention and begin to affect our bodies in a way that amplifies our stress. As this feedback loop between the mind and body continues, eventually it becomes overwhelming and we check out through our habitual, avoidant, numbing behaviors.
Ultimately, what we practice and repeat becomes automatic. This habitual practice only leads to a degradation of the self-awareness necessary for healing ourselves.
One of my favorite quotes that points to this is by Rumi: “Don’t turn your gaze away. Look toward the bandaged place, that’s where the light enters.”
One of the primary messages in The Now Effect is that while we can never catch these snap judgments, any moment is an entry point to breaking out of that unhealthy feedback loop and starting to pay attention to what matters.This puts us more in touch with choice and gives us that internal locus of control that is the opposite of anxiety and depression. If what we practice and repeat becomes automatic, then we can train the brain to get increasingly better at noticing this loop, disconnecting from it and applying what we need in any given moment.If we look to Rumi’s quote, he says the bandaged place is where the light enters. When we begin to come down from our busy minds and learn how to hold the pain with a curious, loving awareness, we start to recognize that everything is going to be OK.
What would the days, weeks, and months ahead look like if our brains were programmed to be more mindful when this loop was operating and to apply what we needed in any given moment? What would it be like if there were more moments of, “It’s going to be OK”?
What an amazing gift this is.
Be on the lookout for this instant reaction to discomfort and play with turning toward it and leaning into it with more mindfulness.