Default Settings: Words of Wisdom from David Foster Wallace

Author David Foster Wallace spoke at the 2005 graduation ceremony for Kenyon College. His message was directed at students who were about to venture into the world as independent, functional humans but his message on thinking is important for everyone to hear even ten years later. In our current global state, perhaps it’s time to relearn how to think.

“Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe. The realest, most vivid and important person in existence.

We rarely talk about this sort of natural basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive but it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you were not at the absolute center of.

The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU. Or behind YOU.
To the left or right of YOU on YOUR tv or YOUR monitor and so on.
Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow but your own are so immediate, urgent, real. Continue reading

Which Universe Do You Want to Live In? It’s Your Choice

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By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Menas Kafatos, PhD

 

The night sky that you can view from your back yard is roughly the same, given a few changes in the positions of stars, as the night sky Galileo turned his telescope on to. But visual similarity is misleading. There have been half a dozen different universes conceived of in the human mind. As each conception changes, so does reality. We like to think that science steadily marches forward, but with each new universe something is lost and something is gained. Here we take the term universe to imply a world view, rather than just the large-scale universe explored with telescopes and deep space probes.

Here’s a sketch of how this has worked: Continue reading

A Simple Life

zen

My Back-To-School Intent is to Keep It Simple.

For these last two weeks of summer, I have been in major organizing mode.

School supplies and uniforms, after-school activities, work strategy and planning, setting up speaking engagements and travel (which means coordination with my husband and mom!), cleaning closets, organizing finances, logistics galore of managing work, home, and getting my kids where they need to be from now through February!

I was laughing this morning as I read a Facebook post by my friend, Dani Modisett, author of Take My Spouse Please, about how her 2-day trip to NYC required a thesis of detailed instructions for her sitter. It’s so true! The only way for me to function sanely, while trying to work and professionally/intellectually keep growing, is to be super-organized and plan ahead.

I’ll admit my meditation practice these last two weeks has been sporadic, but when I am meditating one word seems to be popping up over and over again: Continue reading

Love, Healing and the Journey Home

road

I believe that spiritual growth under the right conditions is as natural as breathing…and the conditions of our world are the perfect conditions for spiritual growth. The person you are right now, with all of your challenges and strengths, pain and joys, failures and victories, is exactly the perfect person for the journey ahead. And your life, exactly as it is, is offering you the exact conditions to stimulate growth.

My intention for this essay is to share with you why I believe that existence is an unending emergence of pure love, a perfect and continuous homecoming, in spite of and in a sense because of, all the tragedy, pain and the unnecessary suffering that is endured by so many of us. I would start by asserting that the degree to which we recognize that suffering is unnecessary is evidence that somewhere we already know that love is the ground of existence.

This universe was born out of love and our desire for spiritual fulfillment is an expression of that love, an extension of that love, and the fulfillment of that love. Human life is challenging. We find ourselves caught in the middle between the Reality of Love and the actuality of suffering. I feel certain that suffering is actual, but not real. Only Love is Real.

What is Love? Love is what we feel when we recognize something that is worth devoting our life to. The things we love are the things that make life worth living. They allow us to feel at home in the world and relax deeply and completely into the experience of being. Continue reading

Rethink Autism — Advice From A Mom That Did The Impossible!

momson

By Marcia Hinds –Ryan’s mom
www.iknowyoureinthere.com

Autism is treatable and recovery is possible.  If I can do it, you can too!

As parents we find ourselves in an exclusive group, the Autism Club. No one asks to be a member but become a member because of our kids. Only another A-Club member understands what it is like to live on Autism Island day in and day out. It’s exhausting and the personal anxiety, stress and isolation you experience is overwhelming. As much as we’d like to, we can’t give up on our children, because sometimes we catch a glimpse of the kid we know is in there.

Please understand that parenting by the regular rules doesn’t apply when you have a kid with autism. I was consumed with self-doubt. I wasn’t a bad mother. But part of me actually believed my son’s behaviors were my fault. At first, I was in denial. I tried to pretend everything was okay. If I admitted that my son had difficulties, I also had to admit I wasn’t doing my job as a mother correctly. My personal hell became worse when relatives, doctors, teachers and other experts couldn’t wait to jump into the chaos to tell me I wasn’t doing it right. Moms sometimes think the reason our children are out of control is because of the things we do, or don’t do, or maybe ate, or maybe touched, or maybe… Continue reading

Why I Stopped Dieting (and you can make it your intent, too)

diet

Dieting sucks.

There, I said it. And, I think we can all agree.

Dieting implies restriction, deprivation, bland, boring foods and frequently guilt, self-hatred, and regret. No one wants that and no body responds well to that. Trust me, I tried.

I tried the low-fat diet, the low-carb approach, vegetarianism, no white foods, all of it. I tried shaming and criticizing my body into losing the weight. And you know what it made me? Fatter and more resentful.

Why? Because dieting doesn’t work on a physical level nor on an emotional level.

Good habits and self-love are what work. Continue reading

Celebrate Women’s Equality Day with Those Who Paved the Way

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Today marks the 95th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote and so, has been named Women’s Equality Day. In that time, much progress has been made and at the same time, it’s hard to believe that women have had a voice in American politics for less than a century. Time Magazine reported that only 20% of the US government is represented by a female while female voter turnout has surpassed males at every election since 1980.

With plenty of distance still to go in the world of women’s equality globally, we celebrate our ladies with words of wisdom from those who have come before and sacrificed greatly and pioneered in a variety of ways for the good of many: Continue reading

Teens Discover Context and Compassion

mindfulness-for-teens-amy-edelstein

I’m sitting at a café having miso-mushroom soup, processing my meeting with an inner city high school principal about expanding the Mindfulness and Cultural Development program next year. The pilot was so successful; she would like to see it reach the entire freshman class. “I want them to have a full 4 years of support from the pressures they are under!”

“I think they are heroes for just being able to pay attention to their teachers in this academically challenging program. Some of them are dealing with such intense problems at home and in their neighborhoods.” The sole school counselor, serving 550 students with everything from college applications to behavioral interventions, nods her assent.

An image flashes across my mind from earlier this month. A lanky sweet looking girl in a yellow and orange bikini roughly kneed and handcuffed by a burly Texan policeman. The infraction? Going to a pool party.

To be a teenager in an inner-city these days is to be faced with issues far more complicated than first loves or summer jobs at the ice cream shop.

There isn’t an easy answer to the complex social, cultural, economic, environmental, and physical problems that face this next generation. But, there is a potent and profound way to empower our young adults, a way to help them cultivate inner strength for outer stability.

That’s where this innovative program Mindfulness & Cultural Development comes in. With all the benefits of classical mindfulness training, students gain objectivity on the thought process and de-stress through focus and non-judgment. Then they cultivate one more skill, which may make all the difference. They look at their experience in a vast context of cultural and evolutionary development. It’s fun. It’s powerful. And it creates space for heart and compassion in spades.

How does “context” create compassion? Continue reading

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