Is ignorance bliss?
The more I know the more I want to know.
The more I want to know the more I know that I don’t know.
Yea, neither do I.
I took a survey recently and one of the questions was “ I don’t know.” Choose 1 for strongly agree to 10 strongly disagree. Even surveys are asking us about not knowing or whether we think we know or not?
The origins of the universe ?
The what, why, when, where, or how of anything?
For someone with a lightening fast mind (although slower than it used to be but still sometimes annoyingly fast) I seem to carry so much information from, well, life.
Often I feel that old information has to leave my brain before new information can enter it.
That being said, In this day and age I AM feeling ignorance is bliss on a multitude of levels.
The more I know the more I DON'T want to know in regards to an increasing number of issues.
We are bombarded with information.
On limitless topics.
Some topics are quite controversial, anxiety provoking and frustrating.
Some are just plain annoying and irritating.
Do we need to pick and choose what we know for peace of mind?
Is it possible?
"I don’t know" is a vulnerable statement.
There are people who avoid it like the plague.
They would rather "fake it to make it" instead of admitting they don’t know something.
Isn’t that what “on the job training” is all about (she said slightly sarcastically)?
I’ll admit in my life I fudged my qualifications twice to get a job.
One job I had to type and I didn’t really type, only “hunt and peck”, BUT I said I typed.
On a Friday I interviewed for a job. I was offered the position on the spot. I spent the entire weekend feverishly teaching myself how to type.
Luckily, typing wasn’t the end all and be all to the job.
When I arrived bright and early Monday morning I COULD TYPE!
I figured how hard could it be to self-administer a crash course in typing? After all I took typing class in high school and I typed my college papers.
In the end, it wasn’t that hard to do and no one was the wiser.
Does “I don’t know” make anyone a lesser person?
Perhaps in a job interview - if the skill is crucial - but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a reflection of who a person is.
(Unless life is a litany of I don’t knows. Then it's important to do a some self-examination.)
Is most of life on a “need to know” basis?
Certainly we need to know a great deal of things to survive and thrive.
HOWEVER, when is too much information too much information?
When does the bombardment of knowing adversely affect our daily lives, and our mental, emotional and psychological health?
From my vantage point - quite often.
Media keeps us in a constant state of anxiety and information overload 24/7.
Plus, it’s not the life-altering info; it’s the inane, the repetitive and the down-right useless.
Honestly, I don’t need to know who is dating whom, driving what, earning what, or saying what.
They went where? With who?
Cheated, lied, stole, wrecked?
Went to rehab, divorced, married???
Do I really need to go on?
I find it quizzical that there is so much obsession with people we don't know, never met, worked with, dated, or have as a friend or family member.
Why, oh, why do I need to know any of this and why, oh, why is it a top news story?
I'm still doing my best to decipher how we are going to feed and clothe everyone - not just in my country but in the world?
Then there is the proverbial political blitzkrieg on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the 24 hour news.
We get no relief, no respite, and have little recourse other than to turn everything off and shelter ourselves from too much information.
In the meantime, let’s examine “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”
My take on that phrase?
It says: "I'm secure enough to tell you I don’t know and helpful enough to find out for you."
Can one possibly know everything about their job, business or position?
Can one possibly know EVERYTHING about ANYTHING?
I doubt it.
Even the smallest businesses have unexpected circumstances crop up.
There is a delicate dance between "I don’t want to know", "I don't
know" and "I don't know, but I’ll find out."
When is “I don’t want to know” self-preservation?
When is “I don’t know” vulnerability or just plain lack of information?
When is "I don't know, but I’ll find out” healthy, elucidating and educational?
The answers are very individual and unique.
The only answer I have to all of those questions is:
"I don’t know....
...but I'll find out."
I'll do my BEST to find out, even though some "I don't knows" are just not meant to be known...
...no matter how hard we try to get "the answer".
As always, thanks for reading.
See you again next week.
What is reality?
Is my reality your reality?
Is your reality my reality?
Is "reality" really reality?
Is it overrated?
What I have come to know is that your reality and my reality aren't always the same reality.
AND THAT'S OK!
Then, on the OTHER hand, let's talk about truth.
What is truth?
Is your truth my truth and visa versa?
Is truth fact?
Is fact truth?
Inquiring minds (mine) want to know.
I'm not asking these questions to be glib.
I am looking at them from practical, philosophical and existential points of view.
AND I say POINTS not point because there is not one point of view there are many.
Many, many, many, many.
I have many.
You have many.
Do you think if we actually, collectively gave a moment's thought to the questions above that we MIGHT be more tolerant or accepting.
Strike that. I don't like the word tolerant.. It's remarkably limiting.
I actually find it judgmental.
Does anyone really want to be TOLERATED?
"I "tolerate" you."
Yuck, it feels arrogant to me.
How about acceptance and being accepted?
"I accept you."
Doesn't that just FEEL better?
It IS about feelings, is it not?
How you feel.
How you allow yourself to FEEL.
The saying goes: "people may not remember exactly what you did or what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel?"
Within that line of thinking there is debate that someone can MAKE you feel anything.
Do we CHOOSE how to feel, thus taking the responsibility off of another person's shoulders?
There's the rub.
If you tell me how much I "SUCK", will I be evolved enough to say "That's not about me, that's about you, so your words don't affect me." ?
"Sticks and stones...." and all that.
Accordingly is the perception in your reality that it's ok to say 'YOU SUCK" and the perception in my reality to be hurt merely...
OR IS IT...
In your reality I suck.
In my reality I don't suck and I feel that was pretty darn mean.
So who is correct?
In my reality I feel that you're kind of an idiot right about now AND in your reality you feel I'm the idiot. (Or most likely you would not have said I suck, right?)
What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
(Nothing, really, I just like that ambiguous phrase.)
...being a little less esoteric.
To quote Simon Pegg's character Graeme in the film Paul:
Graeme: "Look. Just because your truth, isn't the true truth, doesn't mean there is no truth, Ruth".
Ruth: "That's easy for you to say."
NO, IT'S NOT!
What is truth but our individual TRUTHS?
What is reality but our own perception of it?
Have you ever read eye witness accounts of an accident or incident?
Ten eye witnesses will have 10 different versions. There may be some overlapping but NONE of them read the same.
All of the reports depend on visual angles, emotions, thought processes, filters, the light, the dark, and so on.
Similarly, let's look at the game of telephone.
You remember that game, right?
A group of people stand in a line. One person whispers a sentence to the person next to them. They then whisper it to the next person in line all the way down to the end of the line.
99 times out of 100 its ends a hell of a lot differently than it started.
Start: "The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly In the Plain."
End: "I Took a Train to Jersey and had Noodles with Rihanna."
NOW do you see where I am going with this entire dissertation?
Allow room for perception, individual reality and personal truths.
If it's doing us no harm let's just grin, acknowledge it and carry on.
If it's destructive, divisive or damaging then chalk that up to ego, self-absorption and narcissism, and carry on.
it's in how you carry on that really makes the difference.
I do my best to sideswipe the destructive, divisive and damaging, if I can..
I quickly hit "disengage" and alter my course.
HOWEVER, if it's really onerous, then, yea, I have to speak up.
And speak up I do.
More about THAT another time.
As always thanks for reading.
See you again next week.
Please pass this on to anyone you think may enjoy my takes on life.
Until next time, visit my dear friend, artist and writer, Linda Hough.
She uses her art in incredible, healing collages.
"A man does not show his greatness by being at one extremity, but rather by touching both at once." Pascal
For various reasons I don't use Facebook or Instagram.
They OBVIOUSLY work for some people - many people - but they don't work for me. They are too distracting from actual life for me.
Recently, I got the bright idea to promote my writing; get it out into the world more,
That's not an unreasonable goal, is it?
I decided to try my hand at Twitter.
For the fifth time.
I was on it for about a week and a half, maybe a little bit longer. I acquired about 175 followers in that time frame.
Sans reluctance, I deleted my account.
It felt like another social media obsession that I don't need.
Admittedly, I don’t feel that way about LinkedIn or Google+.
Both seem gentler and kinder - to me.
I found I was getting swept up in politics, partisanship, religion...
...and hatred. Not my hatred but how others' hatred affected me. (AND DANG, there is a lot of hatred and divisiveness on Twitter, Facebook and now, unfortunately, Instagram. I will also add that it is not from just one group, it is groups across the board.)
"You’re right." (So I'm in your corner and part of your tribe.)
"I’m right and you’re wrong."
"Join the resistance."
"Be a part of the blue wave,"
"You're a deplorable."
"Velcro shoe." (That one is totally new to me.)
There is certainly a lot of name-calling going on out there.
"F* this person, and f* that person, and f* this and f* that and...."
STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF!!
Somewhere down the line we missed the course on non-violent communication.
Or we need a refresher.
What the heck IS non-violent communication?
According to Wikipedia:
"Nonviolent Communication (abbreviated NVC, also called Compassionate Communication or Collaborative Communication) is an approach to nonviolent living developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s.
It is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behavior that harms themselves and others when they do not recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs. Habits of thinking and speaking that lead to the use of violence (social, psychological and physical) are learned through culture. NVC theory supposes all human behavior stems from attempts to meet universal human needs and that these needs are never in conflict. Rather, conflict arises when strategies for meeting needs clash. NVC proposes that people identify shared needs, revealed by the thoughts and feelings that surround these needs, and collaborate to develop strategies that meet them. This creates both harmony and learning for future cooperation."
Sounds pretty daunting in today's world, does it not?
Maybe it is and maybe it isn't.
NVC takes intention, getting out of one's ego, and execution (i.e. effort).
Ok, slightly daunting.
We can quote non-violent activists but can we follow their examples?
I can't recall Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, The Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela (to name just a few) ever using any of the aforementioned types of phraseology - at least not in public.
I found myself wanting to be on Twitter several times a day. I found myself wanting to be part of a community, part of a movement.
I did my best to bolster other people and support them.
It COMPLETELY distracted me from my writing.
Writing that IS part of a community, part of a movement.
It just so happens that I have created the community and movement with my words.
I initially got on Twitter to increase my readership. and I discovered that your chances of making inroads with your work are marginal at best.
Nil at worst.
UNLESS you are an additional voice in a movement - then you make connections quickly.
But if that movement or group causes you anxiety, frustration, or you are swept up in their behavior, language, and tactics just to feel heard, seen or accepted is it really worth it?
It wasn't for me.
I don't mind being a bit of a lone wolf.
There is NOTHING wrong with being original and not following the leader.
Someone recently said to me:
"Being a loving person on some social media is like going to an orgy with people who are (already) promiscuous then asking them to practice safe sex out of love and mutual respect.
It just doesn’t work. (Quite the analogy, isn't it.)
Is it easier to create an emotional reaction to words that are attached to hate than it is to create an emotional reaction to words attached to love?
I don't believe it is. As a writer I love the written word and KNOW words have immense power of love.
I also love the spoken word and believe the same for spoken words.
I've read that poems aren't as popular as they need to be because very few people connect words with love except those who enjoy poetry.
Is it easier to create hate than love through words?
If we don't want to utilize the word love because it's platitudinous, Pollyanna, over-employed or misinterpreted how about:
I say we need to be much more judicious with our words.
Don't give up on expressing love, humor and compassion.
Some days the love needs to be really firm, but it's still love.
Love - who needs it?
We ALL do.
We all want to have love in our lives. Psychologically, emotionally and physically we all need love in some form.
Those who say they don't are dealing with pain that is preventing them from having, or being the love.
I have never met a single person, no matter how hardened, who did not at some point, bring love into the conversation, or allude to it.
Needless to say, the brain is prewired for negativity, and positivity takes work.
But like RuPaul says “ You better work!”
DO THE WORK.
Reprogram your brain to be more positive, realistic, solution oriented, problem-solving, trouble-shooting and less knee-jerk, confrontational, easily offended, and reactionary.
Use social media, don't use social media, or use a little bit of social media. That is up to you and the lifestyle you lead.
If it's your daily focus and you can't wait to "share" with the world, then perhaps it's time to re-examine your relationships with social media and yourself.
It’s not self-righteous to stop using social media; in many instances it’s self-preservation.
As always thanks for reading.
See you again next week.
In the meantime, take a look at the work of a friend and colleague:
Love Your Life Healthy
,*This is an excerpt of a discussion I had with a BBC reporter immediately after Anthony Bourdain passed away. I have extended this post because my site was down for a few days and I feel it is really worth reading and extending its emphasis.
"I have co-owned two restaurants in Canada.
More like they owned me.
What I found out about owning restaurants is that I was no good at owning restaurants.
The first restaurant we simply invested money. (Yep, I've yet to see a return on my investment. Total newbie F-up.)
The second restaurant, we were all in.
My partner and I were the investors. He hosted, dealt with paperwork, ordering as per the chef's instructions, upkeep, et al.
I hosted, designed menus, picked out the organic wine (I DID have some knowledge there) and hired the entertainment. Pretty basic stuff because I was a pretty basic restaurant owner.
Our partners were chefs and former restaurant owners. We entrusted them as the experts. (Another flippin' mistake, but that was because I didn't know enough to see the signs of a doomed partnership.)
I was a wet behind the ears, green, newbie, riding by the seat of my pants owner with what appeared to be money to burn (and burn it we did). I take full responsibility for my choices.
Our chef, who was immensely talented and a total what-you-see-is-what-you-get person, handed me a book one day.
I will never forget what he said to me:
"KaZ, if you want to know and understand me, and what goes on in a restaurant, you need to read this book."
He handed me "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain.
I said "Thank you?"
It's not that I wasn't up to being schooled by my chef, I just had NO idea what I had gotten myself into and he knew it.
It was the one of the kindest things ANYONE has ever done for me.
I read the book from cover to cover. Some chapters and paragraphs I read more than once or twice.
Some passages I just could NOT believe and some made complete sense to me.
After I "studied" the book it changed how I looked at my chef and at the restaurant business.
It helped me to look for the signs of theft of money and goods from the restaurant (there was both).
It helped me regard my chef as an artist, a humble but proud creator and a master of his art.
The book gave me insight into what I needed to do in the back and front of the house to insure my staff had what they needed.
I also learned the times to tighten the reins when things got out of hand.
Pointing out financial and operational issues did not make me popular with my staff or my partners, BUT it DID make me savvy.
Were any of my staff on drugs, stealing from me or f'ing off? You bet they were.
Were any of them busting their butts? You bet they were.
Was my chef an adept and more than capable craftsperson? YOU BET HE WAS.
Would I have recognized ANY of this without the book?
Probably, but it would have taken SO MUCH LONGER.
My son bussed tables at 8, 9 and 10 years old. He loved it. He loved being in the restaurant. The staff treated him like a valuable person, not just the owner's son.
His dream was to be a chef and as he pursued that dream Anthony was his hero and still is.
Why Anthony and not other notable chefs? I don't know, but I'll ask him.
We both cried when we heard of his death.
I owned a small bistro that was a blip on the world map, but it WAS a blip, nonetheless.
My point is that Anthony did more for me and my son than he will ever know."
If you or someone you know and love is suffering from mental health challenges, seek assistance.
National Suicide Prevention Line
Available 24 hours everyday
Crisis Text Line Text “home” to 741741
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Help Line: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
As always, thanks for reading!
See you next week.
Boy, this is the type of article I find exciting and difficult to write.
Exciting because I believe mental health is as important as physical health.
I am thrilled we are having these conversations, getting it out in the open, and releasing stigmas.
Difficult because it comes on the heels of the deaths, by suicide, of (in my book) two brilliant creators and artists. People who affected the lives of more individuals than they will ever know.
BUT we HAVE to have these conversations.
We have to look at the statistics.
We have to be informed and unafraid to talk about it.
Some of us have to reach deep inside and reveal some intimate truths about ourselves FOR ourselves and for others.
It takes a village to raise EVERYONE!!!
Feeling heard and knowing that we have options is crucial.
Let's start with: 1 in 4 people are dealing with mental health challenges.
Stand in a group of 4 people and one of them is suffering.
Or is it you?
The more we say "I deal with mental health issues" the more it becomes a part of HEALTH.
An accepted, acknowledged part of health.
Chemical imbalances and neurological deficiencies are no different, in my eyes, than heart attacks or cancer.
We can accept a stroke, aneurysm or seizure in the brain but we can’t accept brain disorders that manifest as mental health illnesses?
The brain is an organ just like the lungs, heart and liver.
We need to look at the whole person.
Hiding our anxiety, depression, anger, bipolarism, or personality disorder results in the cataclysm of suicide.
Everywhere we go there are living testaments to quality of life with mental health issues.
It's the retail salesperson, hairdresser, bus driver, restaurant server, housekeeper, cable person, and, yes, even your doctor.
We can treat and even cure many diseases; mental health issues are among them.
I come from generations and generations of mental health challenges. From family members in the earlier 20th century who received electric shock therapy, to current family members, and close family friends, who thrive being on talk therapy, exercise, mindfulness, healthy eating, proper rest, supplementation, pharmaceuticals and/or medicinal marijuana.
IT'S THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY, BABY!!!
If you FEEL something, say something.
SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOUR BACK!
I'm one of them.
As always, thanks for reading.
If you enjoyed this or any of my articles PLEASE pass them on to help me grow my readership.
See you again next week!
I interrupt the regularly scheduled Part Deux of the thread on "Imitation" to bring you this:
With everything happening in the world today; the upheavals in politics, religion and entertainment, I felt a bit "de-motivated" to write anything serious.
As a matter of fact, I'm feeling de-motivated to write anything very serious at all, ever.
Finding the funny is what gives us a break in life.
A break from troubles, strife, trends, competition, the global economy, and the bombardment by the media of continual "breaking news" 24/7/365.
We are in a heightened state of alert at all times.
We are apprised of anything and everything within a millisecond of its discovery.
There is also very little filter in the news, or in people.
Say whatever comes to your mind.
Just let 'er rip.
We have a zillion outlets for our "expression" and we use them ad infinitum. (Or should I say ad nauseum?)
Wow, it's a lot to absorb.
We get some relief by putting the topics across in a humorous way.
Or do we?
When we point out the foibles of human existence should we do it with laughter?
Is laughter the best medicine?
I wholeheartedly believe there is truth in jest.
Does that jest have to be at the expense of anyone?
It appears lately that it does.
(You may have thought this article was going in one direction and I sent it in another. I'm like that.)
We make fun of what we don't like, understand, or accept.
We take that kernel of truth and we wrap it in a "funny" moment and put it on display.
We have "roasted" people, places and things for centuries.
So if we laugh about it, is it wrong or unkind?
Is it our right to package life in such a way that we get a laugh?
Does that makes it ok?
Does humor release us from responsibility?
I don't think it does.
That being said...
I love laughter.
Especially at myself.
I love taking my life moments and encasing them in humor.
It helps me accept the good and the not-so-good.
As Monty Python said "Always look on the bright side of life." (Dee Dum Dee Dum Dee Dum Dee Dum).
I couldn't agree more.
BUT if the bright side of life is to denigrate, bully, harass, insult, vilify, defame, humiliate, oppress, discriminate, slur or persecute ANYONE is it REALLY funny?
I say, no.
It's a thinly veiled punch in the gut.
(You may not agree with me, and I am totally OK with that.)
Much of the work in my life has revolved around humor.
Early in my career I chose musical comedy instead of drama or tragedy.
Even in the meditation I taught I infused classes with humor to lighten people's burdens.
Literally no one goes to meditation because they have it all together.
At the very least they need a boost.
Granted, there are days I meditate to enhance the peace in my life and there are days I meditate to bring me peace.
The latter is more frequent than the former.
As human beings in the world, life is nothing without ups and downs.
They make us resilient and appreciative.
BUT I digress...
Does he who has the last laugh win?
Laugh together or cry alone?
Does hilarity have to be hurtful?
Facts ARE funny.
There is no doubt about that.
I love comedians who report the facts and how comical they are.
Truth is MUCH funnier than fiction.
I'm not talking about propaganda, hearsay, or opinion.
I'm talking about pick up the newspaper and start reading.
Or watch a very unbiased, neutral newscast like BBC or the English version of Al-Jazeera.
Both sides of any story get representation.
I guarantee if you don't cry and if you look at the "fact's" with new eyes you will:
2) Roll your eyes.
3)Roll on the ground laughing.
Nobody wins if the purpose of humor or communication is hurtful.
Sooner than later this type of humor bestows a swift kick in the $?!
As always thanks for reading.
See you again next week with Part Deux of "Imitation".
This is an excerpt of a much longer essay I am writing on "Imitation and Originality":
We begin our lives imitating.
We imitate our parents for motor skills, gestures, language, emotions, beliefs and ideals.
We imitate things in our surroundings.
We imitate friends, and those we admire.
We imitate what we believe others want to see.
We imitate movement.
We adopt behavior we feel is pleasing or that will elicit what we desire.
We adopt expressions, old and new.
We adopt slang and colloquialisms.
We adopt others’ style, fashion and trends.
We are raised from birth to imitate.
Is anyone TRULY unique and original?
Can we ever have an original thought, idea, or way of expressing ourselves?
We procreate and produce generation after generation and pass on our thoughts, beliefs, morés, standards, language, gesticulations and mannerisms.
We are wash, rinse and repeat.
In many ways this is a bitter pill to swallow.
A world of people doing their best to survive.
A species dedicated to "discovering" who we are as individuals.
Nonetheless, history repeats itself.
What goes around comes around.
Myriads of people asking “who am I?”.
We are millennia of mass-production.
We are the Xerox of humanity.
HOWEVER, don't lose heart.
Although each of us may PHYSICALLY look different (save the occasional dopplegänger), we still resemble and carry the traits, looks, and behavior of ages of our predecessors.
Is that necessarily a BAD thing?
Does it matter that you and I are simply expansions of our previous generations?
Why all the struggle to be unique, one-of-a-kind, original, unequaled?
Is it insecurity, rebellion, or a cry to be acknowledged and valued?
Here's your weekly "FOOD FOR THOUGHT".
Let's explore the idea in the coming weeks.
As always, thanks for reading!!
See you next week.
There is no such thing as being in balance.
This is in alignment with changes I've been experiencing in my outlook on some of life's lessons.
It may sound like a total contradiction to the meditation I have been teaching in the last 24 years.
Actually, it is directly in rhythm with experience, and exposure to new information.
"KaZ, Isn’t that what you teach, BALANCE?"
"Being in balance?"
The wisest quote I have EVER read is from a character in the film Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced
To lose balance in LIFE is part of LIVING a balanced life.
Let me take that a step further and say that being out of balance is part of life and a part of appreciating the balance IN life.
None of it is perfect.
It's not perfect for world class athletes, prima ballerinas, diva opera singers, circus artists, life coaches, inspirational leaders, mental health practitioners, healing arts teachers, gurus, ascetics, monks, or nuns.
Not for ANYONE, all of the time.
Don't buy it.
The ups and downs, ins and out, and highs and lows of life are navigable.
HOW we approach them, address them or bob and weave with them is THE KEY.
Anyone who says that complete balance is attainable or that being out of balance is a negative (overall), is selling you a bill of goods.
We measure ourselves with an impossible yard stick and always find ourselves lacking.
Many "professionals" we seek for advice have marketed their technique, idea, teachings, template and guidelines into a movement that says it brings you into balance or cures your ill. It works for some, doesn't work for others, or is flat out hogwash. (Yes, I said HOGWASH!)
Many religious professionals are steeped in their religious philosophy and tenets 24/7 and can only speak from that view.
The view can be pretty stunning from the mountaintop.
But, HELLLOOO, we are down here on the ground.
If we can live within these parameters I imagine it's simpler to live a
Yet, we are living life as employees, parents, employers, tax-payers, homeowners, siblings, you know, regular human beings. Clearly living in this world presents challenges on a daily basis.
Challenges that depart from our daily routine, throw us off of our center (if we have one to begin with), appear out of the blue, or are due to our chemical makeup
When we are bombarded with the message that we have to be balanced, find balance, or stay balanced ALL THE TIME that pressure is the antithesis to the idea of being in balance.
This pressure presents us with an open door on the road to "I'm not good enough. What's wrong with me? Why can't I get it together?"
What may be balance for me, may NOT be balance for you.
Balance is not generic.
It is case by case.
If I tell you that you are out of balance, it's like telling someone to "CALM DOWN!". Does that ever work?
It opens the door to self-recrimination, self-judgment, self-flagellation and disappointment for being a "big ol' mess" because we aren't good students or our lives aren't tied up neatly with a bow."
I am by no means advocating anyone be a slacker about their life or sitting back and acquiescing to life's trials. Life doesn't' have to take you on a never-ending roller-coaster without a way to get off of it.
Just throwing up our hands and crying "Uncle" gives us permission to be victims.
We aren't victims, we are voyagers. Sometimes the voyage is rocky and sometimes it's as smooth as glass.
In my book, THAT is balance.
As always THANKS FOR READING.
See you next week.
You are about to read something extremely controversial and eye-opening for me.
This is NOT a 180° departure from my long term love affair with meditation, as a practitioner and master meditation instructor. HOWEVER, it IS a realization that has dogged me for the last few years in respect to the implicit values of meditation and mindfulness
My realization has put things into perspective where meditation and mindfulness are concerned. It’s a crystal clear understanding for me. Realistic and pragmatic.
I recently found an article from the BBC. It expresses my feelings on the impact of mindfulness and meditation. I have put a link at the end of this post. It is well worth reading.
I have been a meditation teacher for 24 years.
I taught mindfulness and meditation to veterans, seniors, those in recovery, teens, tweens, juvenile justice, LGBTQ, business professional, and many others.
Despite the claims of these techniques, and the fact that meditation and mindfulness has become a billion dollar industry, I have to, in good conscience, debunk a few myths.
First, let me say these practices are helpful. They induce calm and relaxation, and encourage feel-good hormones to be released bringing us more peace, or energizing us.
Here's the kicker:
On their own they are a panacea and a temporary respite from our ills.
They are NOT a curative.
They won’t rid anyone of PTSD, bio-polar disorder, anxiety, depression, chemical imbalance, or physical or emotional pain.
They MUST be implemented with other therapies, techniques, medical intervention and activities.
I hear some groaning out there. Hear me out.
Regardless of the hype, and the overuse of the buzz words meditation and mindfulness, they DO bring relief and release.
They help us transcend and navigate our issues in the short term.
That is why they must be practiced regularly if we desire any continual peace.
Just as those with substance abuse challenges find solace in regularly attending AA or NA meetings mindfulness only works with regular practice.
In brain scans meditators exhibit a change in their brain structure. This occurs while they are meditating and for a short period afterwards.
As that wanes you have to revisit the technique.
There are so many ways to reach a meditative state other than sitting in silence, breathing exercises, repeating a mantra, chanting, visualization and guided exercises.
I remind my students, who complain about the difficulty of maintaining a practice outside of the classroom, that a meditative state can be reached in many ways: walking, time by the ocean, a lake, river or stream, in the mountains, with animals, playing an instrument, listening to music, dancing, exercising, and so forth.
Classroom work is successful because there is structure. The benefits are palpable immediately in class via a good teacher.
Today teachers are riding the "miracle" wave of meditation and the press it receives.
Still, my students complain that their practice is hit and miss.
Short of watching a DVD or streaming a class - thank you, YouTube - maintaining a practice at home is difficult because of the distractions. Few people have their own meditation room where they can mimic class by closing out the world dedicating consistent time to mindfulness.
At best meditation gives the practitioner relief or a temporary high.
At worst it is a proverbial Bandaid for deeper issues that require more and different therapies.
Talk therapy, a change in diet, exercise, visits to a psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health professional, and sometimes medication are all important components to a healthier life.
There was a wonderful Zen master teacher who in all outward appearances had it completely together. Unbeknownst to his students he suffered from some debilitating mental health challenges. He was under a doctor's care and medicated. He avidly pursued meditation and yoga for relief.
From here the story is all-too-familiar.
Once he began to feel better he stopped taking his medication. It happens frequently. Patients begin to feel better and, for whatever reason, feel medication is no longer necessary.
I’m not advocating pharmaceuticals or medication.
THAT BEING SAID, in some instances when conditions are acute nothing works like medication in conjunction with other treatments.
Once he began experiencing drastic symptoms without the medication meditation, yoga and mindfulness did not alleviate those symptoms. He turned to a facility for treatment. He was rejected. Sadly, and out of desperation, he turned to street drugs for his pain. That resulted in an overdose and his death.
Even as an educated, beloved and very adept Zen master teacher he succumbed to the belief that these techniques can cure our ills.
They are wonderful tools. Period.
I was deeply affected by this story.
It changed how I teach, what I teach, and why I teach.
It changed my outlook on how meditation and mindfulness are being presented.
I hate to burst anyone’s bubble - especially my own - but we must be informed when we pursue meditation and mindfulness practices.
It's not a magic bullet, BUT it CAN be a valuable tool, along with other lifestyle interventions and support.
I'm in NO way trying to discourage ANYONE from participating in mindfulness or meditation.
We must look at the mind and body as a whole, not individual parts.
It takes many techniques, practices and elements to live a more comprehensive life.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week!
Here's the link to the BBC article:
I was thinking (as I do with regularity) about HOW I want to move forward in my writing, teaching and speaking.
I am a voracious THINKER.
Sometimes to distraction.
SO HOW may I use that to my advantage instead of its driving me batty?
Meditation has been wonderful to calm the thoughts and to release the thoughts, however, I don't want to STOP the thoughts. Thoughts are important. Thoughts make us human. Thoughts can be malleable, and flexible. We can also work WITH our thoughts, not have them work against us.
As my "bio" to the right attests, I have had a VERY full, busy and
adventurous life. A life that entails A LOT of thinking.
What came to me is that I am a "THOUGHT PROVOCATEUR". Provoking thought about...whatever.
This "provocation" is not to get into a confrontation, an argument, or to incite disagreement, just to contemplate subjects, then discuss them.
Or to provoke people to think before and when they speak, act or react.
Is that possible?
I totally believe it is.
Here’s a question I received online after I posted my "Thought Provocateur" idea:
"KaZ, how can you effectively and efficiently get all those provocative thoughts into a form that can be shared with the universe??? A question I often ask myself...."
Once I realized that having a wickedly fast and active mind was NOT a detriment, I started allowing myself to USE it to my advantage.
Instead of saying I only write this genre or that, I allow myself to write many.
One of the threads is humor.
I always have to have humor in it, even if it is dramatic writing. There has to be some relief.
That is also a HUGE part of my personality, so it comes easily.
I have folders with all my projects and as something strikes me I write it down and compartmentalize it, as it were. That keeps me from having so much rattling around in my head.
I write anywhere the inspiration strikes me. I don't give myself boundaries on that.
I don't necessarily sit down and say "now it's time to THINK".
The thoughts and inspiration come to me when I am relaxed and doing other things most of the time. I am not a writer who says "I am going to sit at the computer for 5 hours and write this or that". That is too confining for me.
I do sit at the computer and write but mostly it is things I have gathered and am transposing.
I'm a free-flow thinker and writer. That works for me. It could be too unstructured for someone else.
I always have my voice recording or Pages apps ready and waiting. OR a scrap of paper. Even a restaurant napkin.
Like just now you helped me write another article about being a thought provocateur...through your question we started a meaningful dialogue and I imagine you are not the only person with a question like this!
Of course, as a caveat, it has to be something that interests me, appeals to me or I can speak to with some knowledge.
I'm not wont to go off half-cocked about things solely for the sake of conversation, just to see my words in print, or to hear myself talk. I will avoid that stuff like the plague."
So there you have it.
Self-proclaimed "Thought Provocateur" - when over-thinking is a good thing.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week.
KaZ has been in many facets of entertainment, plus the co-owner of two restaurants, a fitness center, a television production company and the owner of a cinema. She did a stint in politics, and in veterinary medicine, She now focuses on writing.
In addition to the above, KaZ is an award-winning vocalist, a former dancer, stunt actor, circus artist, & professional water skier. She has worked as a theater artistic director & writer.
KaZ has been a published writer in magazines & books since the age of 15. She has written plays that have been produced in New York, Florida & New Orleans. She has a featured chapter in the book How To Survive A Move. (Up-to-date she has moved 45 times!) She wrote an article for Organic Wine Journal, and also wrote an article featured at the Ground Zero Memorial.
KaZ co-wrote 2 television informational series & 3 television pilots. One of the pilots, a sit-com, was produced as a reality pilot. KaZ has revisited it and it's now a one season cable series.
“(And ) Then This Happened.” based on life, love, and everything in between in the mid-life years. Loosely based on her life and the life of two of her best girlfriends.
KaZ's many high pressure pursuits led her to meditation.
She began studying meditation in '91. Her initial training focused on Kundalini Yoga with Yogi Bhajan and his teachers. She is a certified Master Meditation and Qigong Instructor, having taught
throughout California, Florida, New York & British Columbia, Canada and online worldwide.
Most recently KaZ taught in a juvenile justice facility, and lectured on mental health in juvenile justice.
With writing being her first love, look for KaZ's upcoming children's books:
from the tales of two grandmothers.
Plus, a play based on letters from her two great uncles during the Second World War.