Tag Archives: terror

Terrorism, Fear and the Movies

crowd

This week the whole world grieved at the unfathomable murder of 140 students and teachers in Pakistan at the hands of terrorists. A little closer to home for many of us, theaters pulled “The Interview”, a satirical film from Seth Rogen and James Franco about a news team sent in to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong-un, after hackers not only hacked Sony’s computer system but released threats to harm movie theaters and movie goers attending the film upon it’s opening this Christmas holiday.

There are a lot of ways to feel unsafe at the moment and people everywhere are speaking up about it. It seems that wherever there are those seeking to live in freedom, there will be others seeking to take it away. On a small scale, this our hope for you this holiday season: Continue reading

Find Out What You Want – Step #9

include-death

 “Why does God allow children to suffer and die?” read the question.

To which I answered:

“Because God sees death as a beautiful transition, not a horrific disaster.”

And he responded: “Every torturer sees someone else’s torture and death as beautiful.”

And what did I say to that? I said this:

“What if death is actually quite beautiful, and the habitual terror of it blinds humans to that fact?”

You did, I am sure, notice that I did not speak to the suffering. Though maybe I should have … maybe I should have said that suffering is when we deny, refuse, and resist that which we are: nature, god, life, death…

Isn’t it?

Are we prepared?

I read somewhere in the context of spiritual teachers that we often call "Guru" in India:

"Like a potter before making the pot, lots of kneading occurs to prepare the clay and when the pot is begun, he keeps a hand inside so that it will not collapse."

After this point, life tests the pot (disciple). It has to be well-dried and prepared enough to hold what it is supposed to (here self knowledge). A well prepared pot not only holds but can also be used repeatedly to share the contents among fellow beings to quench their thirst. Premature filling can only splash the contents crashing the pot and disturbing the immediate surroundings.

Preparation is a must for not just spirituality or knowing what we all are here aspiring for but also for almost all other aspects of this world. It has been said that when a student is ready, the teacher appears. I have always dwelt on Guru aspect being much more than just a form. A day to day event can serve as a Guru. Everything gives you knowledge when you are sincerely seeking. As and when you get ready for more, it is usually given at that right time. This is the rule that nature follows and each one of us sooner or later will come to that point given that we are in an evolution.

Sometimes knowlege comes to the unprepared as calamities to the living beings. Putting things more into perscpective here, had we been decently prepared for terrorism from the border knowing that we have had several attacks in past., we could have dealt with the recent Mumbai blasts much better.

It is wise to keep preparing ourselves to what the surroundings are going to offer us speculating more and more from statistics or otherwise using memory and intellect.  It is better to get prepared for what we aspire to acheive in our life span- personally, professionally, socially and spiritually.

It has been said about meditation and practices that teach you to lose yourself much before than you actually lose your body. All spiritual practices are nothing but a preparation.

Most of the times it so happens that we are so busy pursuing something that we lose the reason as to why we wanted it in the first place, forget about preparing for when it actually comes to us.

Deciding on what we want and then doing our best meanwhile preparing for receiving it becomes really important for anything to have a meaning. That is why often we see when we get something we are not as happy and excited as we were in the pursuit of it. To graciously receive and maintain, demands lots of preparation on every aspect of humanity.

Are we prepared?

 

Six Tips For Conquering Your Fears (NOW!)

Fear is not something to be taken lightly. Fear, especially for those whose jobs are in jeopardy or

Throw me a lifeline!

Throw me a lifeline!

whose businesses are really feeling a pinch, is not something that can be brushed away like crumbs from the dinner table. Fear saps your energy and makes even basic activities a chore.

So in the cause of support, health and well-being for all of us in this challenging time, I want to hare my list of six steps that take–whenever I enter the "dread zone"!. So here they are “straight from the horse’s mouth,” as they say.

SIX STEPS TO WORKING THROUGH FEAR in Turbulent Times

Step One: Confess to Stress

Do you sometimes feel anxious? Worried? Stressed? I know I do. We like to think these are all independent “symptoms”–and sometimes they are–but more often than not they are multiple buckets in which we attempt to toss away our fear. In almost every case, fear is the real culprit. When we get caught up in anxiety, stress and worry–or feel irritable and cranky–we have a tendency to get fixated on the symptom, and ignore, or deny, the underlying issue. Like my client who says things like, “I’m very anxious about the fact that I worry all the time.” Sound familiar?

The crucial first step to releasing fear is actually a two-fer: acknowledging and sharing. Fear needs to brought out from under its cloak of stress or worry or whatever you use to cover up the deeper truth: you’re scared. Real problems arise, not so much from the fear itself, but from our tendency to avoid/deny facing it. Especially if you are a business owner or leader with responsibility for the welfare of others, you may want to “put on a face of hope” and “be the rock” for your people–your employees, your family, your customers.

Yet, if you have no place to share your own vulnerability, to acknowledge that you too, are frightened and unsure, at some point the facade may crack. In my practice, supporting senior executives and type-A entrepreneurs, the most dangerous “symptom” of all appears all too often: isolation. Feeling fear is one thing, feeling fearful…and alone...well, now you’ve entered the danger zone.

My suggestion: find a buddy. You may not be able to share your fears (at least not completely) with your organization or employees, and you may be concerned about upsetting your family–or adding to their fear. So seek out at least one close friend and confidante–a coach, a therapist, or at least a pal–and express your deepest fears. Ask for help. It may just be the most courageous and “leaderful” step you’ll ever take.

Lean on Me

Lean on Me

Step Two:

Reflect, Don’t React

Once you have taken the first step, and acknowledged that fear is the driving force behind your anxiety, stress, worry and all-around bad mood (for many of us!), there is a new decision to make: how to respond. The issue here is learning how to practice being responsive rather than reactive. This may sound simple, and it should be, but in our action-oriented, results-driven culture, we are often pressured to “shoot before we aim” and many of our so-called “role models” in politics and corporate America (think Trump!) appear to be focused, driven, and decisive…anything but reflective.

Act first, think later — is a recipe for disaster, and not, in fact, the way even the most action-oriented leaders, if they are successful in business and in life, really work. Reality TV and journalistic sound bite newsreels portray leaders as always ready to make a move…but very likely, (I suppose during the commercials), those same action heroes sat quietly for long moments, and hopefully, have thought long and hard about what to do.

I call it “Minding the Gap”: create space between your reaction to something that comes at you and the action you take in response. The “gap” is crucial. Without space to breathe and reflect, you are likely to make missteps. Ask yourself these questions: how much space-time-breathing room do you give yourself before you make a big (or even small) decision? Do you wait 24 hours before hitting “send” on that angry email you’re dying to write? Do you walk around the block a couple of times before heading into the house — and careening into dinner — after a stressful day at work? Do you take time to release the toxins of fear and anxiety from your body through yoga or exercise?

The size of the gap is not what matters here. It could be two minutes, two days, or two months–if you have the luxury. What is crucial is to CREATE SPACE for reflection. As Eckhart Tolle might put it: to find your way back to NOW.

Step Three: Stay in Focus

It is a common refrain to hear that you need to “stay focused” during difficult times. This is a no-brainer. What you hear less about is WHAT to stay focused on –or how to determine if you really are staying focused. For many of my clients, staying in action “feels” like staying focused. But is it? Or perhaps even more common: focusing on fear! (I guess that’s what I’m doing right now. Ummmm). The point is this: just telling yourself, or others, to “stay focused” is not particularly helpful. We are all, always, focused on something.

I break “focus” down to a more granular level. What you really need to attend to are two fundamental dimensions of focus: internal/external and time-based (past, present, future).

In the first case, you have to become aware of whether you are overly “externally” focused –taking care of everything that is right in front of you but ignoring your own needs–or vice-versa: withdrawing into your own emotional world, becoming distracted and dis-engaged from what is going on around you. The key is balance–moving back and forth between inner/outer focus as needed (see my blog post June 2007, titled, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom for more information on this particular form of focus).

In the second case, the issue is knowing whether you are too focused on the future (living in your fantasy or vision) and ignoring the present needs of the business. Likewise, you don’t want to get caught up in ruminating about the past– bemoaning lost opportunities or lamenting the “good old days” — and again, miss the issues right before your eyes. You need to have awareness about where you are putting your attention: be in the present, but thinking of “possible futures”…be focused on others, but caring for self, etc. The key again is balance: crafting a vision for the future, but living moment-by-moment in the NOW.

For more information on the subject of focus, I highly recommend The Power of Focusing, by Ann Weiser Cornell.

Step Four: Don’t Blame, Re-frame

The issue here is that we all have a tendency to “play the victim” at times. When there are so many things that impact our businesses that appear to be out-of-our-control, it is natural to get discouraged and want to point fingers…or blame the messenger. The key to staying positive and on-track in the midst of the mine field of economic bombs being dropped on you from all directions is to remember one key principle: there is only one thing you can truly control and that is how you SEE THE EVENTS.

We are always creating a “story” — a narrative– with which we explain what happens in our business…and in our life. The key to “staying afloat” during rough seas, is to not get caught up in the negative frame, but rather to “re-frame” the story — to look below the surface of what might appear to be bad news– and find the gold. You can always re-interpret the story as one in which opportunity abounds, no matter how bleak the picture looks in the moment. As Jim Kramer says on his TV show: “there is ALWAYS a bull market somewhere…it is your job to find it.”

Step Five: Stay in Balance

This subject of this step, like focus, is something that we hear in mantra form all the time: “Get a life.” Of course, as nice as that sounds, we all would likely admit that true balance is the first thing that gets thrown out the window as soon as we find ourselves in “fear-mode”. Anxiety breeds over-activity (and less sleep), and stress breeds exhaustion and irritability. The idea that we need to maintain balance (e.g. work/life balance) is certainly not new. What is missing, however, from most of the “self-help” literature on the subject is the answer to a key question: what, exactly, do I need to keep in balance?

Huh?

Huh?

It is not enough to maintain a balance between work and life (in fact, the colloquialism “work/life balance” is an oxymoron: since when is work NOT life?). For most business leaders working “under the gun” of stress and fear, work becomes life, and vice versa. It is not enough to find a temporary median point on the see-saw of “life” and “work”. In order to release fear and stay energized, optimized and optimistic, there is a balance more fundamental than that between work and life: the balance between head, heart, and body.

What really matters, at the end of the day, is that you balance your “thinking” side with your “feeling” side…and that you align both with your physical well-being. If you spend all your time thinking about the business and forget to sleep or eat, well, I can predict the outcome: disaster. If you spend all your time in “emotional meltdown”–crying jags, screaming fits and the like–well, here too, I can predict the outcome: disaster, but worse, you’ll be alone. Everyone who might support you, will flee! The key to “staying in balance” is not to focus on work vs. life (not possible anyway) but to focus on keeping aligned: mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Suggestion: reflect back on a typical week (especially one when you were in “stress/fear” mode). How much time did you spend attending to your feelings? How much time did you spend doing mental gymnastics–thinking, thinking and more thinking? How much time did you spend tending to the vehicle that seemingly effortlessly carries around all those heavy thoughts and feelings–your body? What is the balance between the three?

Step Six: Watch for Blind Spots

The issue here is that when business leaders (or all of us for that matter) are in “fear-mode” they have a tendency to deny/avoid confronting the truth. As in step #1 above, it is crucial that a leader be open and honest about his/her experience of anxiety and stress. We have to remember that even as the CEO, you are a human-being…vulnerable to the same fears and stressors as the lowest person on the totem pole.

Step six, however, is not just about “confessing” and naming your fear…it is about being willing to get clear, objective and tough-love feedback from people who will tell you the truth about what you may be doing that is unproductive and hurtful, or what you may be missing (e.g. the big picture?). As the leader of an organization, of three or three thousand or more, you are not immune to the darker aspects of human nature.

Often, denied fear–or avoided stress if you prefer–shows up in the outer world as something rather unpleasant. Do you recognize any of these behaviors from a place you may have worked: raging employees,

We've all been there

We’ve all been there

angry bosses, nasty co-workers, arrogant customer-service agents, condescending superiors, dismissive department heads?

Ok you get the idea. We all have our “shadow” side. As Carl Jung pointed out so profoundly many years ago: “The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate.” The fear and hurt in our hearts that we would deny and push away, shows up in the world anyway, as projection. We unconsciously toss on to others what we refuse to own in ourselves.

This step may be my last (for the moment) but it is key: when in fearful mode in business, and in life, we all need to find someone–or maybe a whole community of someone’s–who will give us the hard, cold skinny on how we are behaving. Only then, with a little reflection and humility, can we bet back on track…and show up as the leader/role model that we know our best self to be.

Question to reflect upon: How often do you get real, useful feedback in your life? Do you take the risk and ask for it? Do you have someone who will tell you the truth, no holds barred?

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So…there you have it. My recipe for riding out the storm of anxiety, stress, and worry–FEAR–that is likely gripping you, and me, and everyone else, at least now and again, as the economic tide of woe flows by. We all know that economic tides, just like the ones pulled by the moon, will turn and ebb and and change. We are not on the Titanic, and I, for one, don’t believe there is an iceberg ahead.

We're all in the same boat

We’re all in the same boat

Times will get better. But for now, we all have to do whatever we can to keep our backs up straight, our hearts open, and our heads above water. We are all in this boat together–so please send along your additions to my list…there is plenty of room in this life raft!

Dr J 

www.life-shifting.com

“Thank You India…Thank You Terror”-Alanis Morissette

As posted on Meady’s Musings

The night before Thanksgiving day in the US this year…just a few days ago really Mumbai in India underwent a ‘terror attack’. On Thanksgiving day fellow blogger Elspeth Duncan put up this post about how she was talking with a friend in the car on the way to an event and they decided to honour the North American festival in a sense by saying thank yous to each other…then right after they said their thank yous…well guess what?…Alanis Morisette’s Thank You came on the radio!

That got me to thinking bout how often when were are chatting or reading or saying something the word is then said right after on TV…what’s up with that? coincidence or some kinda of network or fabric in the universe that hooks us all up in some way…transcending space and time and all of that! And Elspeth’s post came up just after I had done two posts one, about how things seem to be just coming together in some way like I guess it is what can be called networking but I just kept meeting this person or doing this thing that leads to this thing and I visualized it like water droplets coming together. And another one bout the power of visualization and how I had visualised or perhaps even in a sense had a premonition of a tree!

Then within all of that I read Elspeth’s blog and looked at the words she pasted for Alanis Morissette’s lyrics for the song-Thank You. And just makes you wonder…can all these things further be linked to the fact that just the night before India had the terror attacks…pure coincidence? A terrorist fascinated with her music? Or the same thinking that India representing a land of peace especially to so many Americans nowadays with the New Age religion etc and being the land of Ahimsa-Non-Violence and Mahatma Gandhi and all was it the terrorist sick way of contrasting peace versus terror…putting them side by side on America’s Thanksgiving? And in doing so they coincidentally expressed with actions what Alanis expressed in song? You know Thank You India-as it has given us the Mahatma and Ahimsa and Satyagraha…Non-violence and the practice of using non-violent resistance started by the Mahatma to resolve political issues versus Thank You Terror-as in being the total opposite in this is the use of violent acts against civilians to resolve political issues and God knows how resolution is sought by this anyway. But I guess in song it is Alanis Morissette’s way of embracing the opposites…the yin and the yang and thanking them all for it is all that propels her and the universe itself to unfold as it should?

I still can’t Thank Terror cause of the hurt it causes but perhaps those souls involved it was their purpose on earth to take part in the dance so that the universe could unfold…perhaps such acts are what propels us forward for it makes us wake up as a world and look, listen, feel and causes us then to be the change we want to see…so perhaps what we do now post terror will decide how things will continue to unfold…? And I leave you with that Alanis song that leaves us with much more to think about too…

No Traffic in Mumbai-Indeed a Time for Universal Collective Prayer

As published on earlier on my blog Universal Collective Prayer
Above is a murti of Ganesh or Ganapati after I had done worship or pooja to the universe in his form a few months ago for the Hindu festival of Krishna Janamashtami as in Hinduism the way I practise it Ganapati is worshiped at the start of all poojas no matter which form is being worshiped. However tonight I start my blog with this image to use it to symbolize the Indian city of Mumbai as Ganapati is seen as the deity of the state of Maharashtra or I like to call it the patron saint of Mumbai and normally Ganesh Chauth/Chaturthi/Ustaav are the biggest there in all of the Hindu world.

This morning India time there was no traffic in Mumbai …no traffic! How come you ask? Well if you don’t know as yet it is as a result of the terror attacks that were carried out the night before at one or two of the city’s major hotels, a famous cafe and a railway station. It is currently being paraded all over CNN and BBC and they keep talking bout how Brits and Americans may have been singled out as the terrorists asked for passports from people of these nationalities. So it begs one to consider whether the terrorist chose these targets this time and this approach so that CNN and BBC would jump on it…after all say the word Brit or American…show me your green card or your American or British passport and now you are a person and the world will decide if it jumps or if it mourns!? I mean terror attacks go on globally all the time and in India itself on several different occasions this year including Mumbai. What makes this particular attack so highlighted? Aren’t all the people of the earth and the Universe important? Isn’t all life important?

As America prepares for it’s annual turkey fest I had originally thought I would be putting up a short blog about that here before I continued on my Christmas theme…but then this happens…I was going to post bout how I think Thanksgiving would be and is essentially a lovely festival minus the massacre and praying over the dead turkey bit…I mean why not… a family gathering to give thanks…what could be bad about that?

It makes me reflect that I am also thankful cause I live on a little island that for now with all its other problems is basically terror free although sadly even here we had our own localized version of terror in 1990 and sorry for the religious stereotyping but even that insurrection was by Muslims…I’m not against Islam or Muslims however and this blog is about Universal Collective Prayer …Islam included…but prayer can never take the form of violence…not to a man and not to an animal…

But we are all animals only thing though as George Orwell’s Animal Farm characters remind us… “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. So we can eat turkeys and then be thankful for our happiness and we can give token acknowledgment to India the world’s largest democracy now but not cause despite all the terror attacks they have all the time we are really only worried bout this one cause it’s just the Brits and Americans we are really worried bout…then we might mention some of the Australians one or two other important European nationalities you know…then we will talk bout India a bit…well it’s how CNN and BBC does it…don’t know if their people’s hearts are like that though. And I’d like to be hopeful and say no people globally aren’t like that by and large especially since on the Intent community I hear/read so many warm stories by mostly Americans…

I can go into how hurt and bothered I can sometimes get in the world …and all of the possible political and this and that reasons why all of this is happening and the possible ramifications of it according to little ole my brain (ego)but as I always say its not why I started Universal Collective Prayer …why not at all…But without getting into it again I will quote myself from a comment I made earlier tonight on Intent when and a lovely lady (I’m assuming American) started a blog called Pray for India!!!:

“Thanks for starting this Blog Lynn I was thinking to send prayers too…might put up a full call to prayer blog on my Universal Collective Prayer blog later tonight…hope others do too and things calm down…it’s sad too that the reality is this happens a lot in India but this one is more highlighted as perhaps the terrorist envisioned it…cause a lot of foreigners are involved and tourists etc and so now it’s getting a lot of TV coverage…India is really a place that is at the mercy of terrorists much more so than the US and the UK etc…and it made me remember as a person also living in a ‘third world country’ how sometimes many dead here isnt a concern but a few in a developed place is so highlighted…luckily I dont live in a land of much terror…but feel sorry for those in India that have to live at the mercy of it daily in many parts and in so many other countries too….”– Me on Intent earlier on.

Anyway I can’t say I’m my usual joyous self tonight… dancing like Rumi I’m not…but I have to dig deep and find a way to inspire myself and ask others to join me in Universal Collective Prayer. I don’t know what to say so I will find a way to say it with a song so listen and watch the good ole YouTube vid below and to it I should add that it not only matters if you are Muslim or Hindu etc…but it also doesn’t matter if you are born in Iraq, Trinidad, India, Pakistan, Barbados, USA (or got your greencard!) or are a Brit…but don’t tell CNN and BBC that! Anyway hope the song brings some prayer, peace, beauty and love for all! And to all fellow intenters and Americans HAPPY THANKSGIVING! And I know the vid clip is in Hindi but if you scroll down in the comments on YouTube you will get the gist of the meaning but it is basically about saying that it doesn’t matter if you are Hindu or Muslim just like Michael Jackson once sang "it doesn’t matter if you are Black or White".

If it Bleeds it Leads – Why do People Love Bad News?

Have you watched your local nightly news lately?  Probably not if you’re like most Americans under the age of 61, but you’ll still get my point.  I’m guessing you’ve watched more financial news in the last month than usual in reaction to fear around money, stocks and the economy in general.

I accidentally saw the first few minutes of local news recently and noticed that it looked just like it did when I was a kid and my parents watched it. 

They have the same formula as always: An intro with visuals that include flashing police car or fire truck lights and an audio track of a reporter talking in that ridiculous reporter-sing-song voice telling you that the content they’re sharing is VERY important and significant.  If they’re lucky they can splice some security camera footage into the piece too for an extra scary effect.

I’m sure they still cover the weather at exactly 17 minutes after the hour too, but for the sake of this post we’ll stick with the intro.  News, whether it is on broadcast or cable television, on the web or in newspapers, generally leads with some story aimed at reminding you that the world is not a safe place.

It’s probably even a little worse since they created the oft-used phrase, “In a post-9/11 world…”  The truth is that we don’t live in a country where suicide bombers are blowing up cafes and you’re more likely to get hit by lightning or win the lottery without a ticket than to be harmed by a terrorist in America.

This truth is exactly the same now as it was 5 years or 50 years before 9/11.  That’s just a fact and it has nothing to do with how much our president has or has not protected us or that you aren’t allowed to carry a regular sized can of shaving cream on to an airplane anymore.

It has to do with the low number of terrorists who have the inclination or means to harm us.  We don’t live in Columbia or Israel where terrorist violence is a reality.

We live in America where impoverished drug addicts with guns are actually a bigger threat than terrorists.  And when was the last time you or someone you love was car jacked by a crack addict or directly threatened by a terrorist?  That’s my point.

Back to the media, it’s not that they like to scare people.  (At least I hope not.)  It’s because consumers are reactionary creatures that respond to emotional content.  That’s also why they always ask the asinine question of, “How do you feel?” to the woman whose son got killed an hour ago in a car accident or the guy who made the 3 point shot to win the basketball game.

Have these interviewees ever given a surprising answer even once in the history of the world?  Nope.  Guess what, the guy whose house burned down says “I’m in shock and upset that I lost everything, but I’m grateful that my family made it out in time.”  Surprise!  You never here him say, “I’m excited and going to Disneyland on the insurance money.  It’s a godsend that my shack is gone and I can cash in!”

The fact that many news consumers forget is that the news is a product.  Therefore, if you study advertising you’ll understand why the product of news is sold with the same methods as selling the product of beer or the product of voting for a politician.

Consumers are emotional creatures that unconsciously react to advertising.  Add to this fact that people react more strongly to negative advertising than positive advertising.  If my news program makes you afraid by making you think crime is up it concurrently attracts you to watch my news because you think I’ll give you information on what’s happening that will make you feel safer.

I create the problem that you should be afraid while positioning myself as your answer to feel safer.  It’s the same schtick for self help gurus who tell you they have the answer for your health, relationship and money issues. 

The day you feel safe is the day you lose dependence on being a daily news consumer and the day you believe your life is not broken you lose the desire to spend money on books, CDs and seminars to fix yourself.

Ironically, crime in America has consistently been going down for well over a decade even though most people who regularly consume news think it’s always going up.  If you see a petty crime reported as the lead story every night the images of flashing lights repeated daily is what your brain remembers.

Perception is reality when you’re being blindly influenced.  If they want good ratings they need to give you a perceived threat so you’ll tune in to “stay informed.”  It may be worthwhile to question how informed you really become blindly consuming what others determine is “news.”

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