Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 25, 2018

If you love who you are being, you love your life.  Period.

Every state of being has a visceral aspect to it.  We feel it.  It forms the baseline for our immediate experience of life.

When we spend time being angry, upset, frustrated, vindictive, petty, or the like, we’re not having a pleasant experience of life.

Spend lots of time there, and our experience of life suffers.

Spend time being content, fulfilled, loving, vital, generous, grateful, amused, fascinated, or any of their ilk, and the experience of life can be most grand.

It’s not about good states or bad states or ways.  Only about our experience of life.

If we find that our experience ain’t being so great, we get to ask ourselves a question:  “Who am I being that my experience ain’t so great?”  Even better: “Is this way of being productive?”

Pause.  Reflect.  Choose.

And step onto the paths towards those experiences of life that we all truly want.

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Friendly Friday

September 21, 2018

Check out today’s Google Doodle!

Wonderful.  Rock on forever, Mr Rogers.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 18, 2018

Listening is a unique thing.

It is also very different thing than hearing.

Hearing is just hearing.  “I hear you” simply means you’ve noticed someone else trying to communicate to you.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re actually getting – or have gotten – the communication.

Listening is a deep art.  It is the ability to go beyond just the audio processing, and even more so to go beyond that little voice in your head that’s continually commenting on everything they’re saying.  Because listening more to the little voice commentary than to the actual speaker is definitively not actually listening.  Nor is that all too familiar grabbing on to that perfect little point you should say next as soon as they stop talking so there’s no point in what more they’re saying, you know what YOU want to say.

Listening goes beyond resisting.  Listening goes beyond judgement.

Listening is getting the communication, without adding or subtracting anything.

Truly deep listening gets all the communication including all the context that surrounds it.

Listening causes completion.  People who’ve been truly listened to don’t need to repeat themselves.

Listening creates dialogue.  People who’ve been truly listened to will often ask, “What do you think?”

Listening creates openings.  People who’ve been truly listened to find themselves grounded and ready to engage with “what’s next?”

When we are listened to, we feel connected.  Franticness wanes, exigency fades, and peacefulness arrives.

Once listened to, something new is possible.

Listening is a unique thing, an art that takes development and learning.

And it is an art most definitively worth attending to.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 11, 2018

I blame Descartes.

Natch, in actuality it likely involved way more dimensions and people that just Descartes, pulling on various conversations and directions of thought that had been already developing, the general thrust of the renaissance, and, given the hundreds of years its been since his death, many more people have continued it and even reinforced it… so really it’s a much more involved thing than just one person.  That statement is not entirely fair.

But it’s more fun and attention getting* to just say, “I blame Descartes.”

For what?  For “cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am”… for the idea and elevation of “rational thought” as the pinnacle, in western philosophies, of what makes a person a person.  Thought is truth.  Reason is truth.  Emotions are suspect.  Feelings are bad.  To be a great human is to be a being of pure detached thought.**

And wow, I assert, did society ever take that and run with it.

In many ways, we are taught to be Vulcans.  Since emotions aren’t “real” and can’t be “tested in the physical world” and can “lead us astray”****, we’re told to ignore them or, even more so, resist them.

Now, in no way will I be saying that rational thought is itself bad, or useless, or even that we shouldn’t engage it.  Far from it, thinking is great.

But the thing is, there’s a huge deleterious effect to all this shaming and vilification of our rich, emotional life. *****

We aren’t robots, and our emotions do influence us.  They do.  And the more we ignore our emotions, the more we discount them, the more we do not develop our emotional intelligence/health/awareness, then the more at their effect we are.

In other words, the less we integrate ourselves as a whole being of emotions, feelings, and thought, the more we’re actually controlled by our emotions, without realizing it.

We are great rationalizing (not necessarily rational) creatures – we can get pushed down a path by that invisible internal world and our “perfect” logical and thoughtful minds will come up with darn good reasons and evidence and justifications for this path we’re barreling down.

We think we’re so smart.  And that’s the problem as well as the punchline… our hubris blinds us and robs us of the very agency we’re trying to attain.

Like many things, there’s a middle path here that has gotten missed.  A wholistic embracement of all of the amazing things that constitute who we are as human beings.  It isn’t a matter of being emotional or rational, of being governed by every feeling that arises or to be the perfect android, it’s a matter of listening to all of the above:  emotions, feelings, thinking, imagination, logic, moods, deductions, and so on.

Emotions and feelings can be great indicators.  They are a signal.  And when we embrace them, we get to use those signals rather than be thrown by them or have them sneakily dictate our actions.  The signals become just that, signals, that we can merge with our active mindfulness to give us presence from which we can then choose.  Agency becomes ours and, as a bonus, we get to enjoy the glorious experience(s) of being alive and the vast catalogue of feelings and emotions.

We end up making the better choices we’re aiming for.  We gain freedom and we love our life more.

Sorry Descartes.  We think therefore we are, but we also feel, and together we do more than just exist, we blossom with relish.

 

* and truth be told in many ways it is completely irrelevant to the true exploration of this post…

** This, of course, is why women were relegated as lesser people, for they are more emotional, “governed” by their feelings, and prone to hysteria… true great humans are all men, and men are the thoughtful, reasoning type.***

*** Which, doubly of course, is all absolute caca.****

**** It gets extra silly and super double standard-y when you realize the accolades and admiration that are lauded onto a guy who “follows his gut” as some sort of honest strong paragon when, well, what is “following your gut” other than being guided by your emotions/feelings?

*****  Which come on here everyone, we’re all seeking love and pleasure and happiness and excitement and aren’t those all emotions and feelings?  Further, why are we being taught to suppress our emotions, yet love is supposed to be a first-sight-head-over-heels type thing and that we should blindly follow our emotion in that instance?

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QotD

September 7, 2018

“Don’t you guys get it?

It’s just personality!”

A nine year old,

speaking with the directness

and clarity

that sometimes only children can,

when asked the question,

(by a researcher)

“Is liking trucks a boy thing/does it make you a boy?”

 

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 4, 2018

By three methods may we learn wisdom:

First, by reflection,

which is noblest;

Second, by imitation,

which is the shallowest;

and third by experience,

which is the bitterest.

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 28, 2018

One of the activities the Black Rock Kwoon often hosted was a push hands* meetup organized by the Dread Pirate Lee.  It was a great time to meet fellow practitioners and to get to push against a wide variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds, lineages, and experience levels.

One year, mid-way through, I began to develop a sense of something.  Taking it on as an inquiry for the rest of the meetup, I began to formulate a principle/theory I quickly coined as the Tai Chi Push Hands Skill Differential Exponential Experience Factor (or TCPHSDEEF for short**):

If I have 1 level of skill, and you have 1 level of skill, to me it will feel like you have 1 level of skill.

If I have 1 level of skill, and you have 1.1 level of skill, to me it will feel like you have 1.25 level of skill.

If I have 1 level of skill, and you have 1.5 level of skill, to me it will feel like you have 3 level of skill.

If I have 1 level of skill, and you have 3 level of skill, to me it will feel like you are a god.

As the skill differential grows, the one with the greater skill gains the multi-whammy ability to be more relaxed, have less openings, sense the other’s movements and openings with greater clarity, and has the techniques to be able to engage those openings, AND those techniques will have greater subtlety, compounding the lesser sensitivity on the other side to respond before flump!  You’re off balance.

The upshot of it was this: when I pushed against those at higher skill levels than me, it almost always felt like I was light years behind (both physically in the movements/responses but also metaphorically), being tossed this way and that.  On the other side of the skill coin, however, it mattered little what my partner would send my way, even if I was unfamiliar with the technique.  I could remain centered and able to redirect with seeming ease.  I felt very much in control.

While the idea of the compounding nature of skill, and the abilities that it grants us, was important enough, it was the experience, the feeling, that came with that really struck me (and stuck with me).

Especially as this, as they so often do, ranges far beyond just implications for the martial arts.

No matter what skill we may aim to develop, whether it be tennis or skiing, drawing or cooking, working or playing, listening, giving, caring, or even in the realm of profound skills such as being peaceful, generous, passionate, expressed, loving… for any of those skills it means that the high level of ability is actually closer than we might think.

For one, that compounding nature works in our favour.  But more importantly, it further means that things that may seem out of reach are not really that out of reach.  We need not accuse ourselves of lacking talent, or fall into “I can never…”, or relegate ourselves to the dustbins along the margins.

It is nigh-well inevitable that we compare ourselves with others and their skill level(s), but any vast gulf that seems to scream at us that we (still) suck is illusionary and, in actuality, an overly dramatic scream.

We may see someone, interact with someone, be with someone, and come away with the feeling that they so own that skill that it must be ingrained, and I must have an equally ingrained difficulty with it.  And yet that feeling is just the Skill Differential Exponential Experience Factor (SDEEF for short…?) at play.

Thus, we can let that feeling be the feeling, and continue to play.  For that is what great push hands is, play.  You play, you teach, you learn, and ultimately grow, enjoying the moment now and enjoying the fruits and fulfillment that comes with the ever-deepening skill.

 

* Push Hands is a practice from Tai Chi to develop the basic concepts of sensitivity, following, emptying, redirecting, and effortless pushing, beginning with simple drills where one partner pushes while the other receives and empties, followed by a switch in roles, continually back and forth.

** Well, OK, not really for short…