RSS

Category Archives: Spirituality

The cheapest therapy available…

The cheapest therapy available…
GIIIIRL!

GIIIIRL!

Dear readers,

Want a way to find cathartic relief? The answer may be closer than you think. Often attributed to teenage girls, the answer I have found to prove most effective is that which involves only mere introspection. What the hell am I talking about? Why writing in a diary of course!

Dear diary... Misty is such a whore.The simple act of putting one’s ideas to paper can offer immediate relief to someone have a rough day. I often find that after dealing with a lot of crap during the day, I tend to let all the worry and angst sit in my head. I revisit this worry over and over, and ruminate about my feelings, and my reactions to these feelings. “Why did that guy look at me funny?” Or “I really felt bad about what someone said about me on Facebook. It made me angry and sad.” What I tend to dwell on can vary from superficial to profound. In both cases, it is not important the stimulus. What is important is how I attach myself to the emotional reaction to the stimulus. After all, I have no control over the past. I can choose to keep it all inside and tell myself that I should feel the way I feel. That I am silly and petty. Egotistical. Dramatic. Emotional. A wimp. A sissy. An idiot. I can tell myself these things all day long and not even realize it. It is not the words I say to myself. It is merely the impulse to refuse myself the truth of my feelings. Yes, a superficial thought is superficial, but it may have a big impact on my emotional state, especially if the mere thougBad day...ht of it makes me feel like a fool. “How can I be so effected by something so unimportant? It’s silly! I’m silly! Well, well, well, look who is a fool yet again!”

Sorry, this book's private :-)

I say “therapist” as it seems to me that a lot of psychotherapy involves the patient merely coming to their own conclusions. The therapist is a guide, but the client is walking the path. It can be quite annoying to realize that despite spending hundreds of dollars on counseling, the bulk of the therapy work is often my own. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to the process of guiding one’s thought processes. After all, that is the whole problem in the first place. It is not the stimulus. It is the response. And the response is not based solely on the stimulus. It may be based on childhood experiences and past events or traumas. Merely the thought of an event, a trigger, may be enough to make me feel like that scared kid in pre-school all over again.

Rough day...So I am wired to react a certain way when I encounter challenges. I am conditioned like a dog to respond the way I always have. I can’t help it. I have become a master of my own belief system. (see my previous post – A cloak of invisibility (or fashion in times of Lent) http://wp.me/p1qguS-bs ). I have learned very well to react with negativity to that which scares the shit out of me. The answer is not to blame myself, or my station in life. I am not out to blame anyone. Life is. My life is what it is. No amount of blame will change the past. It is up to me to be a champion of my own future. A shepherd of my soul. I may not pave the road, but I choose to walk it. I am the captain of my ship, but not master of the seas. So what is there to do in times of trouble? Let it be. (Thank you Beatles…)

I choose to write it down in a journal. I find that this frees me of the residue of the day. I still need to practice mindfulness, and all that other good stuff, but when it comes to a quick release, nothing beats a nice journal sesh. Try it! You might be surprised at how great it feels. The more honest you are, the better it feels.

What’s even more fun – reading your old journal entries every time you make a new one. You discover some interesting patterns along the way. These are not bad, but merely facets of your personality. And awareness can bring about transformation over time should you wish to change.

Thanks for reading.

-Jon

Jon Book 2

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , ,

Paradigm Shifts (‘Tis the season!)

Paradigm Shifts (‘Tis the season!)

 

Hi Readers,

Before starting this post, be sure to check out this video below about Paradigm Shifts. It does a great job of showing what happens (quite frequently at times) when we start to TRY to understand what it is like for other people in times of frustration. I can’t speak to the actual intent of the creator of the video, but it’s a really heartwarming message.

So what is a paradigm shift? Quite simply, it is a change from one way of thinking to another (http://www.taketheleap.com/define.html) and is thought to be transformational in nature. I may be offering a mere cursory perspective on the subject, but I’m not here to give a lecture. I would simply like to posit that given a change of perspective, an amazing transformation can occur. For example, imagine you are in your car, driving to… wherever (the drug store, work, or the yarn barn), and you have planned the travel time pretty well (so you think). You are playing Adele at full blast as your scream out your own personal version of “Set Fire To the Rain.” You are thinking to yourself “My singing is pretty good! Maybe I can make a youtube video, get lots of hits, and may my way onto a talk show! I am sooo smart and cool…” As you merge onto the freeway, your focus quickly changes as traffic comes to a dead stop. “F*ck!” you say to yourself, either in your head or even out loud. You planned for traffic, but not this! This isn’t right. Where are all these *ssholes going anyway? Shouldn’t they be working, having brunch, making scarves or something? So you eek your way to your exit, and as you are about to take the offramp, you notice a car quickly sneaks into the lane, YOUR LANE, without waiting their turn with the rest of the folks. They do it so fast that it makes you hit your brakes rather abruptly. “How dare they?!” You want to give them the “I hate you look,” but as they are in front of you, you are S.O.L. (sh*t out of luck.) So you make sure to tailgate them so they know they did wrong. You notice something about them – anything really: their car make and model, any bumper stickers with stupid personal views and opinions, and indication of their age or gender. You want to hate them. You have good reason to. But what of it?

Changes your perception, change the worldDo you want to hate them? Do you want to teach them a lesson? Do you want them to suffer? Do you want them to feel the anger that you feel being slighted? Possibly. Probably. Maybe. Only you can answer that. Chances are you feel compelled to see the other person in a negative light. But holding that negativity, with nowhere to go, may not be good for anyone. After all, long after they pull away and leave your sight, you will still have unresolved anger towards a person you might possibly never meet. Like holding on to a toxic poison. Another driver may piss you off, and probably will during the holidays, and that driver will get the wrath of the first driver. By the time you get home, who gets the wrath next? Your family? Your neighbors? Your pet parakeet Charlie? When you’re on edge everyone is annoying. And what’s worse, if you are alone, the only one to beat up is yourself. Nice. So instead of enjoying your reruns of NCIS, GLEE or Jersey Shore, you are marinating in stew of your own vitriolic hatred. Bravo!

So… where is this going? You can change. You can release the anger. You can change your perspective on things and release that which causes you discomfort. This is only my personal viewpoint here, so please take it as such. This has helped me deal with the anger I feel towards others, and I am simply showing you all how my mind works in such instances.

So here goes. Take this person. Hmmm. Her name is Laura Spaghetti. She drives a beat up Honda Civic 1998. On the bumper there is a faded blue sticker which reads “My child was student of the month at HoneyBees Elementary.” So they cut you off. They are horrible people. They deserve derision right? RIGHT? Well… what if they didn’t? Hear me out. What if they weren’t out to get you, weren’t doing it to get the better of you? What if they had a really good reason for doing their driving faux pas?

ImageNow here’s the fun part. What IS the reason? What COULD be the reason? Have you ever been so pressed for time you absolutely had no regard for the feelings of other drivers? Ever? I have. I have had some times where I have been seriously late for something very important. I have been in a hurry at times when I fear for the safety and well-being of a friend or a family member. I have had horrible days – truly dismal days, where I was so distraught I simply couldn’t get my sh*t together and where driving was even difficult. I have been nervous, distracted, in love, in jealousy, in hatred, beyond worry, and damn near hysterical. When it comes down to it, I have had times when I have driven like a jerk, and was grateful that the other person didn’t take it out on me, didn’t blame me, didn’t hurt me or make me feel worse than I already had been.

So I think of Miss Laura Spaghetti, and what she might be dealing with. I think that she might have a child but can’t afford a new car. I think that also that she might not truly like her job if she has little choice but to continue just to support her family. She could have just gotten fired and is wondering where to go to make sure she has food for the next week.

I think of these things not because I believe them wholeheartedly. Truth be told, she could be on her way to IKEA to buy some forks, and didn’t want to wait all day to get off the freeway. Hmmm… But… one way of thinking puts me in a bad mindset, and carries forth through my day. The other way of the thinking, where I try to understand the other point of view, allows me the freedom to truly rid myself of that poison.

The holidays can bring out the best in people and consequently the worst as well. I sometimes hate to try to see the other point of view, because it isn’t fair. But what’s less fair than that is having to argue with that stranger in my head all day long. I really don’t have the time, nor do I care to take on that task. I want to be happy.  I want to understand rather than judge.

I want to be free – and so I am.

-Jon

Image

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dream a little dream of me

Dream a little dream of me

Nothing to see here folks…

As he snuggled in his somewhat warm bed, he is only but a bit awake. He smiles just a bit, with eyes still closed. He realizes that the muscles in his face have contracted to express his inner joy, but he has little idea why he is so happy. Happy may not be the right word for it. Satisfied may be more like it. He has definitely had a nice dream, and it is unfortunate that he can’t remember what it was about. This has happened before, and he could usually rouse his memory eventually, but only after careful introspection. Although he has only a couple clues to go off of, he uses what he can to piece things together. It comforts him to remind himself that he is capable of doing this. As if a memory, as precious as gold and as elusive as a fabled creature (a unicorn, elf, angel, etc.), would hold deep meaning. Not just in an educational “oh that’s cool” sort of way, but in a “this is something personal to me – something sacred and therefore important.”

So yes, it should comfort him to know that he can do this. Well, mildly comforting, as he has yet to use this knowledge to conquer the world, or cure Cancer. So what good is this sacred knowledge? Will it get him laid? Will it get him into Yale? Yes, and no. Yes as much as any self-knowledge can lead one to gain insight into the future. And no insomuchas one can easily dismiss such wisdom as mere hedonistic voyeurism or plain old nonsense.

The Schizophrenic brain – A “Split” mind

Sometimes it can be hard to see the real meaning in a dream. What one sees in the past and present could potentially help in the future, but as for this dream, his dream, who is to say? Having a good old-fashioned sex dream about someone you adore may not hold the key to immortality, but it certainly makes for a good morning. And that is good enough for today. But he still can’t be sure what he can barely recall. What the hell was that?

Ok, so this is the process. Think of ONE thing that brings up a strong emotion. Scan your brain for anything that mildly or remotely resonates with emotional harmony or discord.

Hmm… so… is there a person involved? Can’t recall. Was there a place? Well… somewhere… barren. A desert? No… yes! But a cold desert. It was nighttime… Ok… this is a good start. Who was there? Hmm… Still no one comes to mind.

And suddenly it hits him. Death! What?! He thinks to himself, and almost shows his outright shock by uttering a “wha…!” This was supposed to be a good dream, right? So what the hell is death doing playing a part? And then it struck him again, almost like a shock or jolt of electricity.

Death! That was the person I saw, or moreover, Death is who was present.

But it wasn’t a scary death. It was a comforting one. Death, usually a suspect of terror and source of fear and pain, was no longer playing the part of malice, but rather of comfort. This was a dream after all. These things are not meant to be taken literally, right? What the fuck does he know of dream interpretation anyway?

He took some courses in Cognition in College, and learned some interesting theories on how the mind works. He didn’t, however, learn any absolute meanings here. Theories. Just theories. Plus, the Freudian school of thought seemed like a lot of bullshit anyway. He always preferred the most logical explanation. So what was it? Ok, so with very little to go on, let’s continue the fact finding search, shall we?

Ok, Death. Death was there, in the desert. The cold, night desert. And I’m happy. Why? Why am I happy? Am I actually happy? Am I just relieved? Could be…

It has been a hard week, and certainly the idea of getting away from it all does pose a certain amount of comfort on his weary mind. Or should I say heart.

What else was present?

More information usually lent itself to deeper analysis and subsequent understanding. So he picked his brain for more. He was still pretty drowsy and with milky sight still masking his vision, he looked around his room to check for additional emotional triggers.

The TV, nothing. The dream catcher above his bed? Nothing. His desk, pen, computer – nothing. His trash. N.. wait. Something. What? Did I lose something? he thought. Was that the emotional trigger? Yes, I lost something very valuable, and then I found it. What was it?

As his alarm clock sounded with the automatic playlist programmed on his ipod, the sounds of Amy Winehouse roused him from his contemplative state.

It was… Damn! It was…

And then he saw it. What he was missing. It was the key. Literally. A key.

This struck him as if he had just came across the solution to a complex algebraic equation he had been struggling with for a long time. He had no idea what this meant. A key? Surely his keys were not that important to him. But, despite knowing that in his mind, he knew, really knew, and believed, that if he lost the “key” he would be in serious trouble. He turned off his alarm before Amy got to the chorus of “Valerie” and forced himself out of bed. He would get no more sleep this morning.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Good friends (the only social security I will ever know)

20110928-124507.jpg
Wow, so there is really nothing like a hard hit to my ego to remind myself of what’s important. I can get upset so damn easily sometimes, it makes me wonder where in lies my true faith? Do I place it rightly upon those who care for me? Or do I place it upon false idols and hollow dreams?
I often take a chance and try to dream, try to wonder what if I could be better, faster, stronger, more popular, less afraid, more attractive, smarter or wiser. I wonder what is wrong with me if I can’t simply achieve such things. I beat myself up for all my shortcomings. I do this not for lack of love and support, but for apathy in not seeing the invisible strings of love and attachment which bind me to the world. Ok, maybe I’m getting a little out there for a blog post, or maybe I just can’t articulate what I’m feeling. Either way, I feel like gratitude for friends always gets me out of this funk. Recently I spoke with my brother who lives in New York and has a rather busy schedule. We talk when we can, bit it is often hard to match schedules. When we do talk, I always feel better, I always feel like things will be alright. The same goes for my friends. Although I didn’t grow up with most of them, they still hold a special place in my heart. I know I fail to mention this to them as often as I should, and show them even less than I tell them, but they always seem to be there when I am in a bad place and need some support. So it is to you, my friends, my family, and friendly strangers, that I dedicate this blog. Without your support I’d never dive into the inner recesses of my mind and pull out that which pulls at my heart strings. I find very few things in life that can have the same healing impact as a good friend. And in a world of social climbing, status seeking, multi-tasking, body centric consciousness, risk taking, and perfection seeking, I need that safety. I crave that security, a social security, and probably the only social security I will ever know. Cheers to you buddies.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment.

-Jon

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Emotional Wellbeing, Spirituality, Wellbeing

 

Giving It Up! or “How liberating my money liberated me”

Giving It Up! or “How liberating my money liberated me”

The idea of giving is not a completely new concept for me. Despite this, I have only recently discovered the utter joy of giving. By giving I mean money, cash, dinero, moolah, ducats, and scrilla. I’ve often felt joy in volunteering, but sometimes people don’t want my help, they want some dough. So why debate the seemingly unspiritual nature of money, and offer people exactly what they are asking for?

MK Gandhi

In the past, when people asked me for money, either a homeless person, or for a charity, I would often think “wait, I’m young, and barely making a living, I have tons of bills, and I can’t even afford a decent pair of pants!? Grumble, grumble.” And my head goes to a place that is utterly shameful. I began to think “why don’t they simply (insert unreasonable expectation here)” or those people always “yadda yadda yadda.” Looking back on this, I really feel like I was not doing my Berkeley education justice. Yes, if I give someone five bucks, I will not have that five bucks. But if I am someone who gives five bucks regularly, and still manages to have a happy life, I am more effective and connected than before. I would have learned how to be happy with less. And despite the fact that I have no clue what people will actually use the money for, I enjoy giving, I enjoy seeing someone hold their head up a little bit more than they did before they met me. I want that to be my life. I want to be that change that I want to see in the world. (Thank you Mahatma Gandhi!) 

Animated by positive thoughts

Well, at first I experienced a lot of hesitation. I was scared. After all, what will happen if I give my money away? Will I go hungry? No. Will I become homeless myself? Probably not. Will I become utterly miserable and regret my decision for years and years to come, pining at all that I could have afforded had I not helped my fellow man (or woman)? NOPE! In fact, I feel more secure in my happiness. I feel free from the bonds of money. I would hold onto my money with such a tight grip when it comes to others, but when it came to my own spending, I was often quite reckless. Now, don’t get me wrong, giving away money will not help you necessarily save up for that hawaiian vacation, but maybe, just maybe, I will find so much joy in life that when that Hawaiian vacation does come around, I will have already experienced joy before I had even left the mainland.

Nowadays, I find that giving makes me feel more involved. I feel like I can actually make a difference. I can

The awesome Humpback Whale.

volunteer and help with my physical presence, and expertise. Or I can help by feeding some of the benefits I’ve been afforded to those to whom they haven’t been afforded. I had to struggle to get where I am today, but I see how I can pay it forward. I am not going to clear my checking account to save the whales any time soon, but I won’t say never. 🙂 By being a part of possibility for others, I AM possibility. I AM giving. I AM love. These are gifts I have given myself. The money may not always be there, but I have granted myself something much greater in return. The satisfaction that I can BE who I set out to be. If I create that world around me, then I am, in essence, creating the world I want to exist in. So I choose to live in a world full of possibility, generosity, kindness, understanding, and empathy. And let me tell you, it sure ain’t bad. In fact, maybe I will help them Whales!

Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment.

-Jon

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Passage of Time…

Passage of Time…

I was looking at my calendar on my iPhone recently, and was oddly temped to continue flipping through the dates. As I was passing days, weeks, months, and subsequently years, I began to feel something. I’m not exactly sure how to articulate the feeling, but I believe it was a combination of sadness and nostalgia. I began to think, where will I be on this particular day? What will my life look like? Will my friends still be alive? Will I be alive?! The initial onslaught of emotions took a brief holiday from my conscious and allowed me to continue with my silly calendar-flipping.

I first stopped on February 16, 2012 where I would be turning 30 years old. I assume not much will have changed from now until then. In fact, I am very much looking forward to my 30’s. My 20’s were full of many not-so-fun life lessons, and various financial mistakes (did I really need that many ipods?!?). No, my thirties will be great. Not necessarily less chaotic, but just different – a whole new set of life lessons. Having survived this odd adulthood transition, I feel confident enough to face those challenges to come. No more Top Ramen! I swear. So on I go, into the future…

I stop next on February 22, 2022… Cool date! Well, it sounds cool anyway. I makes me think about what kind of world it will be in 10 and a half years. Will things be better? Will robots replace most workers causing mass-joblessness? Will we have blown each other all to bits, save a few post-apocalyptic survivors a la Mad Max beyond Thunderdome?! Well, by this point I will have turned 40… Wow, I wonder if I would have gotten my life together enough to have kids? Or even a house? God, time is moving fast! I might start to get down about losing friends and loved ones… I have many friends older than me, and this will definitely be a difficult thing to deal with… Ok, well on I go again….

Next stop, December 25, 2031. I am 49, and the same age as my mother when she passed away (God rest her soul). Aside from pondering my mother’s existence, I would also look at my own. Maybe by this point I will have settled on a house, had at least one major relationship (over 10 years I hope), looked at adoption, and began to build a nice nest-egg for the future. Retirement is still quite a ways away, but not nearly as far as it was when I began writing this blog. 😦 Hmmmm… Well, more friends, family and possibly lovers leaving/passing on… and young ones growing up… Grandkids for some on the horizon… It’s the circle of life I suppose. Ok, so on the road again…

I go a little spin happy and end up on June 2, 2044. So at the age of 62, I should hope I have gotten all my daredevil stunts out of my system, because things will always tend to fall apart, eventually. I am no exception. I might look at retirement soon, but this might not be an option for me. If I have any sort of medical issues or other unexpected financial struggles, I might not have much of a savings, OR retirement. Chances are I won’t collect social security for another 20 years after, so I guess it’s no end in sight quite yet. Although I am getting up in age, I still have to stay on top of things. I still have plenty years of work to do yet.

Ok, so at February 15, 2052, the day before my 70th birthday, I pause. I got such an eerie feeling. Something tells me I might not make it to this day. I know it sounds oh so morose, but I feel compelled to write the truth. After all, I can’t lie to you (whoever you are…lol). But who knows, this might be another marker in my existence. Just another milestone. God help me if I’m not actually able to retire yet… Man! I would definitely begin my crusade to become the crankiest person I know. Haha j/k…I am not sure where I will be living, but I sure hope I still have friends, I hope I still have my spirituality, and, most of all, I hope I still have my sense of humor, for that’s what will get me through the years. Friends, Faith, and all that is Funny…

Thanks for reading,

Feel free to comment (and if you don’t have plans on Feb 15, 2052, please let me know, maybe we can have coffee).

-Jon

 

The anti-socialite…

The anti-socialite…

20110921-123341.jpg
After talking with a coworker regarding her recent trip to Latin america, it occurred to me how much we value our privacy here in the United States. Ok, so the typical disclaimer still holds, not all of us are like this. Some of us actually have healthy networks and close family ties, and yet some of us distance ourselves from family and friends and pride ourselves on our independence. But is it independence we are seeking, or interdependence? As the song goes “we get by with a little help from our friends” but to what extent? As adults we have our own schedules, and must “make time” to be with those we care about. WTF? And as much as I hate the fact that I am included in this group of borderline anti-social “date makers”, people from other cultures allow me to look more critically at that strategy, and force me to look at my priorities. (As I blog, I realize the irony of writing about anti-social behavior rather than engaging with my fellows.)
I have been trying to negotiate this scheduless frame of mind where people aren’t “time slots,” but rather priorities. Having a set schedule allows me to do what I want and have some sort of advantage by being uber productive. Even if this were true (which it may not be), does it necessarily make me happy? No way! I often find myself happier when broke and in the company of friends than well off and alone. This is a total oversimplification, but it makes sense. After all if we as humans were meant to exist with others and bond socially, then it would follow that we should thrive when amongst others. This is easier said than done. After all, people can be manipulative, greedy, mean, hurtful, jealous, ignorant, annoying and negative. There is a veritable fountain of reasons NOT to talk with other people. But then again, there are those people in our lives that are like gold.

These people just hit all the right points and really make me feel good. These people are rare and do not come by easily, for they have good boundaries and self-respect. They won’t follow me down that negativity rabbit hole or attend my sad and pathetic pity parties. No, they have better things to do. But they can really offer a lot – guidance, a tether for emotions, empathy, support and understanding. They provide that interdependence that I so crave without being dependent or so independent that they don’t need my friendship or even want it. They are to be cherished, for it takes a lot of sifting to get to these people. But boy is it worth it! I assume you all can think of such people in your lives that play this role.

So can I be interdependent and still have a schedule? Well yes! But that’s not quite the point. The point is that schedules can be helpful, but unless I am actually willing to be flexible, I lose all meaning my life. I may be dedicated but I am not hard-headed.

Bend, not break, like the reed.

Thanks for reading,

Please feel free to comment,

Jon

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,