Dealing with Extremism

Somebody just pointed out that OUR problem is not being Left or Right, it is EXTREMISM of being either the Left or Right. Boulder is more Left and has more extremist lefties and Colorado Springs is more Right and has more extremist right-wingers. So my question is/was how can we personally, locally, engage extremism in ALL of its forms? I say WAS above because I believe that as we develop the ABILITY to listen to one another no matter what is being said, when people are allowed to fully express themselves they will naturally start to see that their extreme perspectives are untenable, irrational, and don’t work for them or anyone. And that when a person has to opportunity to fully express themselves they exhaust the resistance and are open to questions about their perspective. If we are smart enough we can ask challenging questions that get the extremist to question their beliefs, which will weaken their resolve. I see that extremism is always a product of fear, which in itself is a product of ignorance. I don’t think this is the ONLY solution, but I do see it as a good start. Of course, it takes practice to be ABLE to listen to another without reaction either externally or internally (mentally/emotionally). I don’t see a lot of people even caring about themselves let alone others and therefore willing to develop that ability.

Why Don’t I “Just Do It?”

Why don’t I just post things on social media?  Something, anything?  I have a blog that I have not posted to in months if not years.  I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and I just don’t post things.  

Could it be because I am lazy?

Could it be because I am fearful?

Could it be because I am not focused?

Could it be because in my subconscious I don’t think I am worthy or that what I have is not of value to anyone?

Could it be because I am distracted?  

I often think that others are weak because they have not developed their Emotional Intelligence (EI), but could it be because I am lacking some aspect of EI?

This is one post.  Will I continue?  Will I have consistency?  Historically, I have not had consistency.  Why?

Am I overthinking this?  What is “over thinking” and what is just seeking understanding?

I am just going to post this and see what happens.  

Loving the Drama…of Death

Yesterday was a death day for me as a friend of mine, a cat friend, died as I was holding him. It was a dad process. After he died the emotions rose up within me and I had to go outside to dwell in the sorrow for a few minutes.

This whole experience was very rich emotionally. I would not have wanted to have missed this drama. Yet, because of my clarity of mind, I could see that it was not real or permanent, so I was free from the fear of getting trapped in the drama or the discomfort and pain of the sadness. I could enjoy the richness of the moment.

Many years ago when my father died suddenly I was trapped in the sorrow and fear of that experience. I realized my own mortality and the idea of my death sat with me for months or even years. It became a theme of my life, the sorrow, and fear of death and destruction. I was trapped in the discomfort and pain of this idea and it affected all aspects of my life.

It was not until I developed the skills of clarity that I was able to see that death is just a thought, and electrochemical impulse traveling along the neurons of the brain, and that it had no power over me except for my habitual emotional reaction to this thought, which was something I could change.

And so, I started to work on developing the skills of relaxing and not reacting to thoughts.

Meditation in Conversation

I accidentally discovered a “spiritual” hack, a way to dramatically improve the effectiveness of my meditations on the quality of my life experience. AND, this hack also dramatically improve the quality of my relationships and experience with other people. 

I call this discovery Meditation in Conversation. That is because I am basically meditating or practicing mindfulness DURING a conversation or even when listening to a lecture. 

It started for me when I was in college and I would go to various meetings and lectures. Often I found that I violently disagreed with what was being said and it would take me days or even weeks to let go of my inner “dis-ease”. 

Years later, when the stress of the world had finally gotten to me and my mental and physical health was seriously challenged, I went “seeking” a better understanding of myself. This is the beginning of my “spiritual” seeking but I was just trying to understand my mind and body better to have a healthier life experience.

In my seeking, I traveled around the world reading all sorts of books and listening to all sorts of teachers from many different traditions or perspectives. 

One of the things I learned about was meditation. At first, it was very difficult but with patience and practice, I did master it. Because it felt good to experience the inner peace I was gaining I would practice meditation at every opportunity I could get. Most of the time when I was listening to a teacher talk I was just meditating and being mindful of my body/mind’s reactions or behaviors in relationship to what I was hearing. I noticed that I had physiological reactions to some of the things people say. 

At some point, I remembered what I had learned in college psychology classes about Pavlov’s Dog and how that dog was programmed or conditioned to have a physiological response to artificial stimuli. For those who don’t know what I am referring to let me explain. Pavlov was a Russian behavior scientist. In his lab, he had a dog and every day he would bring the dog his food. When the dog saw the food he started salivating, a natural part of the digestive process. So Pavlov started ringing a bell when he brought the food and that conditioned the dog to associate in his mind the bell with food. Eventually, Pavlov could just ring the bell and the dog would salivate. The sound of the bell was an artificial stimulus that was producing a physiological response in the dog.

I recognize that I, too, had been “programmed” or conditioned to have psychological and physiological responses to words. For instance, if someone were to say to me that I was “bad” I noticed I would physically contract to greater or lesser degrees, probably because at some point or several points I was spanked for being “bad” as a child. Either way, the physiological reaction was a contraction and that was not comfortable. 

Naturally, our ego does not like to think that we can be programmed like a robot or dog to have certain reactions, but the reality is we can and are programmed. People who are honest enough with themselves to admit this can then start working to re-program or condition themselves away from reactions or behaviors that no longer work for them. 

That is what Meditation in Conversation is all about. The first step is just mindfulness; watching our mental, emotional, and physical reactions to what people are saying (or what we are reading or seeing). 

I want to relate this process to “potty training” a child. We all went through that (I hope) so we can somewhat relate. I remember my parents potty training my much younger brother. At first, they would just ask Mike, my brother, if he needed to go potty. This was, of course, trying to get him to FEEL what he was feeling in his body or to raise his consciousness of his bowels and bladder. Could he detect the need to relieve himself? Normally, at first, he couldn’t tell and he would soil his diapers, but eventually, he would say, “I think so” and off to the bathroom he would go with my parent. In the bathroom, they would put him on his little potty, turn on the water dripping (to stimulate peeing) and say, “OK, now go potty.” This second stage of the process is where Mike was supposed to learn HOW to control his bladder and bowels within his body. This is gaining mastery over his body. Of course, this does not happen instantly but eventually, we all figure it out and gain control of an inner function of the body.

That is part of the process of Meditation in Conversation, we first practice mindfulness to gain awareness in our body then we can gain mastery over that process. In so doing we are stopping “soiling” ourselves with messy emotional responses to what life is offering. 

I am sure that everyone can relate to times they were in conversation and got angry or upset in some way that causes them to blurt out something that they regretted later. This is to say nothing of the discomfort or even pain of our emotional reactions to what is said. Well, this Meditation in Conversation process will help you gain mastery over yourself in a way that enables you to control your responses so that you can “relieve” yourself when it is appropriate. 

And, as in normal potty training, we are not trained to constrict our bowels or bladder, only to do so until we are in the bathroom. We don’t want to constrict our emotions or expressions either, but we would like to have civil conversations instead of acting like a two-year-old and blurting out whatever we are feeling and interrupting whoever is currently speaking. 

More so, after a conversation, we don’t want to be left with an emotional trauma that scars us. This type of damage is only a product of our emotional reactions to a situation or conversation. 

Sometimes it is not possible to express ourselves to someone, so with the skills one develops in Meditation in Conversation we can even totally release the “need” to express ourselves. I did this after my father died and I felt a very strong desire to express to him how I felt about him. Of course, I could not express it to him so I had to let that desire go. Some people have journaled to do the same thing or wrote a letter then burned it. We don’t always have the opportunity to sit down and write something, so the skill to let it go internally is better.

The second step is to learn to relax and let go of our conditioned response to various words or the thoughts they produce. Normal meditation says to just watch the thoughts come and go and EVENTUALLY, they will diminish in intensity. But I learned a “hack” here from studying psychology, physiology, and substance abuse. I learned that thoughts were electrochemical impulses traveling along the neurons of the brain and down into the body. The “electro” part is an electrical charge that travels along the outside of the neuron but when it gets to the end of the neuron or synapse then a chemical process happens where it/we release various neurotransmitters that either enable or suppress the electrical impulse. Neurotransmitters like cortisol, noradrenaline, and adrenaline enhance the electrical impulse which then dissipates into the muscles causing them to contract. You may remember this from biology class in high school where if you were like me you bisected a frog and as part of that process, at least we did this, we shocked the separated leg of the frog and it jumped or the muscles contracted. So when these “negative” neurotransmitters are released they cause contraction in the body, which, if held, we experience as stress, discomfort, or even pain. Thus I call those negative.

On the other hand, there are “positive” neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These neurotransmitters diminish the electrical charge traveling down the neuron so that that charge does not dissipate into the muscles causing them to contract but instead cause the muscles to relax, which we experience as positive or pleasurable. 

When we are “doing” emotions such as joy or anger or love or depression or gratitude we are just intentionally (if not consciously) releasing the related neurotransmitters based on particular thoughts we have. For instance, if we are afraid we are having thoughts of the future, maybe the very near future but still the future, and then we are releasing the “negative” neurotransmitters that can give us power on how to deal physically with the danger of some sort. But if those perceived dangers are not immediate then the electrical charge just disparate into the whole body cause all the muscles to contract, which we call stress and experience as uncomfortable, painful, or negative. If we are experiencing joy we are releasing the “positive” neurotransmitters that cause us to relax and feel good. 

Another benefit of Meditation in Conversation is that the skills one develops liberate us to be more open and honest with others. Why? Well, as we gain skill in relaxing around our thoughts we no longer will fear OURSELVES and our reactions to what people say to us. We have learned how to relax and let go of the sometimes hurtful words.

“Blessed be those who are not offended in me.” Jesus

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was all about blessedness, which means a state of supreme happiness. This is what we all want. Meditation is blessedness training. Nobody wants to be offended, upset, or angered. These behaviors are just our habits. Meditation in Conversation is developing the skill of respecting and loving ourselves; learning to NOT abuse ourselves physically or emotionally.

Where have all the Seekers gone?  

In my town, Boulder, Colorado, there used to be lots of Seekers, spiritual seekers. Today, it seems the town is mostly filled with seekers of money. 

Oh, there are the Fighters here too, people who want to fight anyone who disagrees with them. These are the those who think of themselves as the Left or Right, Democrats or Republicans, religious, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and the like. But the fighters are only creating more darkness and they live in Hell with their constant battle to change the world. The Fighters are motivated by fear and hatred, war dominates their life. 

Seekers are people aware enough to recognize that the only real change comes from within, FIRST. Seekers want to find the light within so that they can share that with others.

I used to be a Seeker until I found what I was looking for. Now I feel attracted to being around Seeker so that I might be of service to those who seek that light within. For a while, after finding I traveled the world over and particularly this country looking for anyone who might be seeking the light. But after years of seeking the Seekers and not finding them, I came back to Boulder where I had found many Seekers before, but they were gone. Seekers don’t tend to be into money and Boulder had become so expensive that the Seekers left, I guess. 

I am sure that there are others here, who like me have found a way to stay in beautiful Boulder with all the physically healthy options. But have those who were Seekers found that light within that they no longer seek it, or have they given up seeking that light and still see the world as all screwed up?

On NextDoor, there seem to be more fighters and those who have surrendered to the darkness than Finders. If there are more people like me who found what they were looking for then are they interested in finding team members to help them practice that light, to practice a healthy lifestyle for BOTH body and mind?

Or are there still some Seekers here who want to hang out with Finders so that they can develop the skills of the light?

If so, let me know and I will create a way for us to connect. 

Communication Skills

We all have been taught or trained to have emotional reactions to words.  And we have been taught to lie to ourselves and blame others for our uncomfortable emotional reactions.  

Communications Skills 101

    For thousands of years, people have tried to encourage and teach others to take responsibility for their own reactions, and to practice not taking offense at what people say. It takes effort to re-train ourselves to not be emotionally reactive to what people say.  In my experience, few people have the desire or willingness to make the effort to overcome their conditioning.  BUT, it is possible to overcome the world’s influence on us IF we are willing to make the effort.

Thousands of years ago when people started talking about this they called this practice “watching”, but today we call it mindfulness.  It is just the practice of watching ourselves and our reactions to what people say and deeper than that is to watch our thoughts and our reactions to our thoughts.  Then it is about learning to relax or let go of those uncomfortable emotional reactions.  There are lots of “hacks” or shortcuts to learning how to relax if a person is open to them.  Seek and you will find…or ask me.

Audio Combining Both Eastern and Western Spiritual Strategies

The eastern spiritual traditions are about finding peace; the western traditions are about passion. By combining BOTH strategies we can expedite our spiritual evolution and increase the quality of our life experience.

In this podcast, I talk about how I unintentionally combined the strategies of the east and west and how that profoundly helped me on my journey to Heaven/Nirvana/Enlightenment.

Video Heaven, Nirvana & Enlightenment

Ancient words that point at an experience that anyone can have who is open to it. Modern understanding has given us new insights into ancient methods that help a person open up to these experiences or states of consciousness. It is also important to recognize that a large segment of society does not want anyone to experience Heaven, Nirvana or Enlightenment, which is why they condition people to reject the very idea that anyone can experience this.

Outline of conversation:

  • • Most people have heard these words but don’t know what they really mean.
  • • Words that point at something very good
  • • Ancient people have talked about them
  • • Religious and spiritual people talk about them
  • • Often talked about or imagined as impossible to experience
  • • The everyday experience that we don’t realize is amazing
  • • Enlightened people just realize its value
  • • Practice makes perfect
  • • How to practice
  • • A community can help to remember
  • • Mind programmed by society to forget;  Others benefit by our forgetting
  • • NOW is all that is real; thoughts of past or future are distractions from the reality of NOW; ego/survival mechanism over activity motivates us to look at past and future and ignore NOW
  • • Heaven is healthy; relaxes the body and removes dis-ease, tension, and stress
  • • How Neurotransmitters work
  • • How the practice serves humanity, radiating outward that others can feel.
  • • Often to simple for complex minds to accept o Jesus pointed this out when he talked about being like a child to enter heaven
  • • Thoughts as toys to play with and enjoy.

Getting on the right track to long-term recovery

by Adam Cook (www.addicationhub.org)

Rebuilding a life after addiction isn’t easy. Addressing the physical and psychological issues that caused your substance abuse in the first place is an around-the-clock battle in many cases. Combined with the pressure of providing for your needs and those of your family, it can feel like too much to bear. To minimize stress and frustration that could threaten your sobriety, you must be patient, both with the process and with yourself.

One day at a time

Getting On The Right Track
Getting On The Right Track

Whether you are in a 12-step program or another type of recovery process, the “one day at a time” adage is true for everyone.  Getting your life back on track takes time. Focus only on handling the matters of the day to avoid overwhelming yourself.  Some days it will be all you can do to stay sober, but doing so will give you a win even if you do nothing else.  Other days you may have the constitution to tackle additional matters or self or everyday life.  Either way, all consideration of the future should be in relation to what you can do here and now to make it positive.

Employment matters

Finding employment helps those in recovery maintain a purpose for continuing that journey and builds a positive routine.  It’s important to be patient, network continuously and utilize all resources that are available to you.  Leverage people within your recovery network to help you find your next opportunity. Be sure to express your gratitude to those who offer assistance, even if the opportunity doesn’t work out.

Changes with dual purpose

Part of the recovery process includes making changes to yourself and your routine to help avoid relapse.  While it is incredibly important, those changes don’t have to be simply for the sake of changing.  Instead, focus the changes on other goals to help you get double the benefits.  If you’d like to gain weight or slim down while toning up, focus your fitness routine on weightlifting.  If you are environmentally minded, your healthy and nutritious diet might mean avoiding GMO products.  Whatever your passions or personal beliefs, actively incorporate those into your decisions.

If you are changing your appearance by getting a new haircut or clothing, opt for a style that will help you look the part as you search for your next job opportunity.  If you plan to move so you can avoid relapse, consider a supportive area that puts you closer to family, work, a gym or even somewhere you find relaxing.

Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.  Taking each day one at a time means tackling each challenge.  Focus on finding employment and making changes that matter.  With determination, purpose and motivation to change, it won’t be long until the successes out number the setbacks.