Sunday, November 18, 2018

Kindness

World peace starts at home, within each of us. Even international events are affected by the willingness of individuals to be (or not to be) kind and considerate. Gandhi and Hitler are two notable examples. No doubt others come to mind.
 
When someone seems to have acted unkindly, or hurt your feelings, or offended you in some way, consider the fact that there just might be more to it than is apparent. Maybe they are acting in response to circumstances you are completely unaware of. Any of a number of other things may be affecting them, such as shyness, stress overload, health, money, illness or loss of some kind. Or there might have been some mis-communication so that expectations were not in sync.
 
Instead of lashing out, or reacting instinctively in a negative way, resolve to just try being the good guy here. Create an opportunity to be kind. Extend yourself, and evoke your higher nature. See yourself as resourceful, serene, refined, confident, and just BE NICE. It feels good! And it is contagious. 
 
There is a difference between Shame and Guilt." Guilt says I've done something wrong; shame says there is something wrong with me. A child raised with lots of strict rules and very little forgiveness gets accustomed to not listening to his feelings. He is emotionally numb, and much more prone to getting out of control under extreme circumstances, to have low self-esteem and feel same and guilt. His parents didn't trust him. He doesn't trust himself.
 
On the other hand, a child raised with principles rather than rules knows how to make a value judgement and do the right thing. His parents trusted him, and he trusts himself to find the appropriate mode of feeling and behavior.
 
A child taught to be ashamed of his own body would quite likely think nothing of being in denial about addictions to nicotine, alcohol, drugs or worse. AlanWatts wrote that like bad parents, religions too often keeps people in tow by forbidding every natural human impulse, and then making them feel ashamed that they cannot live up to impossible or super-human standards. One doesn't need to be religious to be ashamed, but they usually go together.
 
In fact someone raised with very strict rules often ends up in the clergy, the military, or some other situation where their decisions are made for them. They are also much more prone toward escapism of all kinds, obesity and depression or even crime and violence. Someone who has never been treated with respect has no respect for self or for others. But treating someone with respect earns respect in return, and builds the character of that person at the same time.
 
Children certainly want boundaries and deserve to have examples of appropriate modes of feeling and behavior. But where free will is squashed the result is frustration, anger, and ultimately despair. Especially in matters of intimacy, kindness is the best role model.
 
If you weren't parented in the way you wanted, you will find a lot of healing in parenting someone else in the right way. If you find yourself lapsing into unkindness, then find ways of being kind to yourself and see yourself and thouse around you as deserving kindness.
" Perhaps we're too embarrassed to change or too frightened of the consequences of showing that we actually care. But why not risk it anyway? BEGIN TODAY! Carry out an act of kindness, with no expectation of reward or punishment. Safe in the knowledge that one day, someone somewhere might do the same for you."         - Princess Diana
Just as a "Talking Stick" can be used to promote respect and kindness, this page can be used in a similar way. Simply e-mail this page or its location to communicate that you are interested in kindness and understanding. If you send this link to someone it means you are willing to take a step in the direction of compassionate understanding and kindness.
 
The ACTS OF KINDNESS movement was sparked by a book published by Conari Press in 1993 and grew nationally, spreading through classrooms, churches, hospitals, corporations, merchants, municipalities, and service clubs. It has been recognized and applauded by President Clinton; state, county, and municipal governments nationwide; and media outlets such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Leeza Show, and ABC News.
 
The Random Acts of Kindness Week is a grass roots awareness campaign and celebration of the power of Random Acts of Kindness as a counterbalance to random acts of violence. The goal is to reverse the tide of anger and violence in our society by increasing self-esteem and deepening our connection with others through the practice of simple, day-to-day kindness to our fellow humankind. "Random acts of kindness are those sweet or lovely things we do for no reason except that, momentarily, the best of our humanity has sprung into full bloom..." (Daphne Rose Kingma, from the book Random Acts of Kindness, Conari Press.
 
Random Acts of Kindness groups of many women and men have signed up to spend as little as 5 minutes a day just making someone else smile. There are 33 Heartfelt "Stories of Kindness" in a Collection of Stories, Random Acts of Kindness Edition,  by Rebecca Ryan Resources. Ellie's Angels is a group of volunteers bound together with a single and simple goal: to create gifts of love and kindness for the terminally ill. There is an extensive list of ways to be of service in your community. Still other suggested Random Acts of Kindness you can practice are here.
 
WALKING IN KINDNESS IS A WAY OF LIFE, by Rose Morningstar, tells of the Native American approach to the practice of kindness. Kindness for Everyone is an interactive magazine dedicated to the promotion of acts of kindness as a way to stop acts of violence. Also, The Buddha's Teaching on Loving-kindness is a classic text on these matters.
 
Meditation is an excellent way to gain inner peace and strengthen inner resources. Here is an introduction and many links on the topic. Kindness Meditation Practice can be used to develop concentration and to develop the quality of kindness, according to a book by the same name, authored by Jack Kornfield.
Bo Lozoff and Ram Dass came up with the idea to help prisoners to use their prisons as ashrams if they were tired enough of seeing themselves as convicts just biding their time until they were released. Motherheart -  a resource that encourages nurturing in all aspects of    life. There are over 300 links plus stunning art with cogent and lucid written commentaries.
 
The Kindness Society reminds us what a happier world this would be if each one of us were to be always just as kind as we could be. Earth would be almost heaven if all unkindness were eliminated from our lives. Links about Random Acts of Kindness - a place to share your stories with others and help spread kindness. KINDNESS Search-Engine(tm) -by Dale E. Friesen. This site helps find other sites about "Random acts of Kindness". Kindness Incouragement lists quotes to provide a new perspective, and you can email a brief description of your act of kindness.
 
Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Beauty is a site is dedicated to recognizing those beautiful, faceless, nameless, people out there that do things of their own free will that help out someone they don't even know. Start a chain of free giving. Join this conspiracy of generosity which will infect the populace with random acts of kindness. Spreading Kindness Home Page will introduce you to an interactive magazine dedicated to the promotion of acts of kindness as a way to stop acts of violence.
 
Studies show that over 80% of all children enter school feeling good about themselves. By fifth grade, that percentage has dropped to 20% and by twelfth grade it is only 5%. It is the day to day peer violence in the form of "put-downs" and bullying behaviors in our schools and families that eventually erodes away the positive feelings of our young people. Students in all grades often show they care by helping others. Here are some random sightings of their kindness in action. Kindness Is Contageous, CATCH IT! Here is a Program Guide For Elementary Schools, sponsored by www.stop-violence.org. Also Helping Young People to Change the World is KJ TODAY.
 
Pay it Forward - Official Web site for the motion picture "Pay it Forward" from Warner Bros. The premise of the novel Pay It Forward, by Catherine Ryan Hyde is one that any person can implement in his or her own life, at any time. It begins with doing a favor for another person-- without any expectation of being paid back. Indeed one would request that the recipient of that favor do the same for someone else: ideally for three other people. The unconditional favors can be large or small.
 
SKM links - Here are more related web sites, which you may like to visit and share others' thoughts on kindness. If you come across similar web sites, do let us know so that we can include them on this list for everyone to share. Everyday Tao - (article) balance in a crazy world.
 
Friendship homepage you can send as e-mail. Or you can just send Hugs.FRIENDS ARE LIKE PRECIOUS GEMS -let someone know you think they are a gem. Angel Friends Greeting  More e-mail friendship cards (this one helps the environment too).  Friendship and Loneliness
 
Purple flower friendship meditation card. If you receive this link from someone it means they honor your capacity to be considerate and caring. If you reach out, even a little, you just might be able to meet in the middle somewhere.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Trauma and Stress








What is Trauma?

The word trauma is used to describe negative events that are emotionally painful and that overwhelm a person’s ability to cope. Examples of such events include experiencing an earthquake or hurricane, industrial accident or vehicular accident, physical or sexual assault, and various forms of abuse experienced during childhood.

The types of trauma that tend to have the greatest adverse psychological consequences are those related to interpersonal or intentional trauma. These include childhood abuse and neglect. Experiencing trauma in childhood can have a severe and long-lasting effect. Generally the more severe the trauma and the earlier it happens to a child, the greater the long-term effects. There is evidence that early childhood experiences can have lasting impacts on the brain. The first stage of dealing with traumatic stress, often called the Fight-or-Flight Response, which causes a person to be ready for a physical activity.

We all have an alarm system in our body and brain that helps us to recognize danger and threats. People who live with Complex Trauma often develop very sensitive alarms. Sometimes this can help to keep them safe. Other times the alarm goes off when something reminds them of bad things that happened in the past, even when they aren’t actually happening. We call that a false alarm. Even a false alarm, however, can sound and feel as loud and scary as a real one. (Our bodies and brains have a hard time telling the difference between real and false alarms).

When youth grow up in situations where they are in danger or are mistreated or neglected a lot, they develop ways of dealing with things that help them survive. Sometimes we refer to this as our “survival system” or “survival brain.” Youth can become good at knowing what other people are feeling, at being able to completely ignore their feelings, or at being ready to fight in a split second.

Although these abilities make it possible for youth to get through very difficult, scary, or lonely times, these survival skills can cause problems once they become habits or when you use them when you don’t really need them. There are many ways to cope with stressful experiences, and many things people can do to relieve stress, decrease tension and anxiety, and make their bodies feel more calm and in control. Perceived stress can cause the same results in the body as actual stress (such as increased hormonal activity and increased heart rate). There are three stages are Alarm, Resistance, and Exhaustion. If the first two are prolonged, then so is the third.

The Exhaustion stage is the result of prolonged or chronic stress. Struggling with stress for long periods can drain your physical, emotional, and mental resources to the point where your body no longer has strength to fight stress. You may give up or feel your situation is hopeless. Some signs of exhaustion include: fatigue, burnout, depression, anxiety, Insomnia, nausea, increase sweating, headache, indigestion, increased irritability, poor concentration and anxiety, and decreased stress tolerance. The physical effects of this stage also weaken your immune system and put you at risk for stress-related illnesses.

Childhood trauma may cause permanent changes in the brain and some of these may heritable. Complex Trauma or child abuse may even shrink regions in the brain's hippocampus which is the region of the brain that is associated primarily with memory. It not only assists with the storage of long term memories, but is also responsible for the memory of the location of objects or people.


The basic human motivation is approach or avoid and much of it is unconscious. Sometimes people very intentionally use strategies to cope: they practice specific skills and actively work at reducing their distress and shifting their energy to a more comfortable level. Other times people do things more instinctively: impulsively or automatically taking steps to change the way they feel, often without even realizing it. Stressed people often tend to avoid social interactions and may also suffer from loneliness.

Whether done on purpose or not, some coping skills are going to be very helpful for some people, and not so much for others. What’s more, some strategies people use to manage overwhelming feelings or release energy can be very powerful and effective in the moment, but also very destructive, addictive, or significantly increase risk of negative outcomes over time.

Since it’s not possible to eliminate every stressor, it’s important to find ways to cope with stress. Regular exercise can help you cope and maintain a healthy stress level. Other techniques for stress management include meditation and deep-breathing exercises.









Saturday, July 14, 2018

Happiness






Happiness writers generally agree that happiness is the result of shifting our attention away from what's wrong, and focusing on better possibilities. It is often said that “happiness is a choice.” But then why aren’t more people happy?

Happiness is complicated. Some people find happiness even in situations that would challenge the most optimistic person; some are unhappy despite having it all. For some, happiness is fleeting and depends on their present circumstances, whereas others seem to be generally happy or generally unhappy no matter what is happening in their lives.

Biologically there are two basic human motivations: approach or avoid. People pursue pleasure and seek to avoid pain. Being stuck in avoidance is when we are imagining what happens when things go wrong, or when we are somehow inadequate, incompetent. It is a pattern in which we doubt our accomplishments, and there is a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud,"  unsuccessful, or unacceptable, unworthy. We dwell on ways things could possibly go wrong and the possible consequences.

But fear is more complex than just forgetting or deleting memories. Fear is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat. It is important to understand that perceived danger can elicit physiological changes in the body are associated with fear, even when there is no actual threat. The fight-or-flight response is an inborn response for coping with danger, it works by accelerating the breathing rate (hyperventilation), heart rate, constriction of the peripheral blood vessels leading to blushing and vasodilation of the central vessels (pooling), increasing muscle tension.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.

Some other hormones involved during the state of fight-or-flight include epinephrine, which regulates heart rate and metabolism as well as dilating blood vessels and air passages, norepinephrine increasing heart rate, blood flow to skeletal muscles and the release of glucose from energy stores.

Fear is about survival and it triggers the Brain's Fire Alarm System. When there's a fire, you run and pull an alarm that tells everyone in the building to get out right away. Fear is a defense reaction which is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. These acquired sets of reactions or responses are not easily forgotten. The animal that survives is the animal that already knows what to fear and how to avoid this threat. Fear responses are often dependent on the reinforcement of a safety signal, and not the aversive conditioned stimuli.

In many cases, it may be true that happiness is a choice. To some extent, we choose our own thoughts and reactions, which impact the way we feel, and can improve our happiness quotient by taking steps to change our thinking (e.g., keeping a gratitude journal, staying mindful of the present moment, accepting what is or developing healthier coping mechanisms). We can view our emotions as a signal that some aspect of life needs to change and take action to return to a better state of mind.

The reward system contains pleasure centers or hedonic hotspots or brain structures that mediate pleasure or "liking" reactions from intrinsic rewards or even euphoria. One definition of pleasure a form of alleviation of pain.  The feelings of pain (or suffering) and pleasure are part of a continuum.

There is a neurochemical relationship between pain and pleasure. However both pain and pleasure originates from neurons in the same locations in the brain. Although we often refer to pain and pleasure as opposites, but in a way, this is incorrect; we have receptors for pain, but none in the same way for pleasure.

The linking of pain and pleasure perceptions together allows us to be able to reduce pain to gain a reward necessary for fitness, such as childbirth.  Fear and disgust signal dangers, and we do well, evolutionarily, to pay attention to them in order to maximize our chances for survival and reproduction.

 Sex, sports, fighting, lying, stealing, gambling, and substance abuse may yield an adrenaline rush. Evolution doesn't suggest why we seek out fear, disgust, or anger. Some people like anything that gets their minds off their own problems. Car wrecks hijack our attention, action films and horror films may distract us away from our own problems and may allow us to feel we are better off than those who are more unfortunate.

Some people are simply wired to enjoy high levels of physiological arousal and wiring may explain why some hate scary movies and some don't. Some have a harder time screening out unwanted stimuli in their environment and are more likely to have intense physiological reactions to fear. For example, childhood trauma can permanently rewire the brain to be more focused on threats.

Happiness is an emotional issue. At any given time each cell in out body can be in one of two modes: growth or protection. Dr.Bruce Lipton writes that the only way to go from protection into growth is through the heart. And gratitude is a good starting point. The latest buzzword is Mindfulness, which is simply a good way to manage our attention span so we can move away from the darker emotions into the light of happiness.





Saturday, August 12, 2017

Plutocracy




Plutocracy or plutarchy, is a form of oligarchy and defines a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens. 

We humans are the most marvelous and complex organism we know of, and here we are on the most beautiful jewel-like planet in the known universe -- but we are allowing a greedy few to literally ruin everything,  just to pile up more money that they don't even need.

If everything is exploited for maximum profit, then humans will also be exploited. Present rates of ocean acidification alone could wipe out humans and most other animals. Scientists say we've entered a sixth mass extinction, and humans are the primary cause -- that's all humans, including the ones trying to ignore the problem.

Recent events have  lot of stunned people wondering how we got where we are. There is so little respect for each other and for our home planet and everything seems to be for sale to the highest bidder. The media has become a sordid portrayal of dystopia -- a "can you top this" grim saga of explicit violence and exploitation.   Where is the heroic dream of helping and caring and pulling together to make things better?

On the one hand there have been such a lot of real technological progress and inventiveness that improves the quality of communications, transportation, housing and health. But climate change and the depletion of water and soils looms, threatening food supplies and a healthy environment for all creatures, including humans. All this begs a closer look at the big picture and a better understanding of the changing paradigms and moral values.

At the end of the last Great Ice Age, humans changed from being nomadic hunter-gathers as agriculture allowed people to stay in one place and build permanent dwellings. This fostered the development of essential changes in our social relationships and human values so that the acquired skills and knowledge of individuals could be bartered or exchanged. And from this a monetary system evolved along with ownership and wealth and a system of the rule of law. Gradually governments evolved to regulate human behavior and commerce.

By about 2500 years ago several moral or religious traditions had been established, such as Judism and Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Muslim-ism and others. These became institutions of moral and legal governance which conferred or concentrated political power and wealth into the hands of a few. And with the development of gun powder and metal weapons, a few rulers could demand and achieve compliance of the many.

Gradually, educational institutions were established which began to systematically sort fact from superstition. And the invention of the printed word in about 1450 greatly enabled the literacy of the many rather than the privileged few as had been previously. Within just a few decades the ideas of the ancient Greek philosophers were translated and revived in the popular imagination, so that ideals such as democracy became a real threat to the corrupt aristocracy and the church that had been virtually all-powerful for a long time.

That aristocracy feared implied spiritual and political dimensions of the new enlightenment, and began wielding their powers against it. But the new autonomy of an educated populace only grew stronger. The ensuing struggle cut man in two, setting one half against the other.

Luther and Calvin accused the church of misleading the believers of Christianity, and Descartes, a Roman Catholic follower from cradle to grave, was concerned not only about the schism in the church, but the rise of skepticism. He and others discounted the value of empirical knowledge in favor of divine revelation which gave rise to Cartesian materialism. 

Materialism is a preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual values. This soon led to Scientism, which is the belief that science and its method of skeptical inquiry is the most reliable path to the truth. The scientific paradigm ignores or devalues anything that cannot be weighed, measured or sold. People have come to trust science so much that all else is being lost at great pearl to our very survival.

The Renaissance was a period in European history, from the 14th to the 17th century, regarded as the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages and modern history. The effect was to give rise to a middle class when there had previously been only the rich and poor. Out of this middle class there soon arose a powerful group of merchants, bankers and military men who rapidly gained political power.

They built fleets of ships that greatly enhanced commerce and military exploits. Colonialism began with the pre-colonial African empires which led to the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans who all built colonies in antiquity. But with the discovery of The New World, the Earth's Western Hemisphere afforded European monarchs a new opportunity of Empire over a number of territories and peoples who could be subjugated and exploited under their sovereign authority. And this trend still continues as machines, and machine-like hierarchies in large organizations, deliver efficiency for the wealthy.

For 800 years, Europe, and later America, progressed through the expansion and energies of the rising urban middle classes, resulting in economic growth and advances in personal and political freedom. Industrialism tore this happy conjunction apart. In 1982 there were just 13 American billionaires. Now there are hundreds.

 The three wealthiest individuals in the world have assets that exceed those of the poorest 10 percent of the world's population. The net worth of the world's billionaires increased from less than $1 trillion in 2000 to over $7 trillion in 2015 so the gap is growing up dramatically.

"...nearly 80 percent of the national wealth generated since 1973 has gone to the upper 2 percent, 65 percent to the upper 1 percent. Estimates as to the rise in real income for salaried workers over the past 40 years range from 0 percent to 28 percent. In that period, real GDP has risen by 110 percent — it has more than doubled. .... In short, the overwhelming fraction of all the wealth created over two generations has gone to those at the very top of the income pyramid. That pattern has been markedly accelerated since the financial crisis hit in 2008. Between 2000 and 2012, the real net worth of 90 percent of Americans has declined by 25 percent.

Oxfam International has released a new report called, "Working for the Few," that contains some startling statistics on what it calls the "growing tide of inequality." Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.

"Wealth inequality in the US is at near record levels according to a new study by academics. Over the past three decades, the share of household wealth owned by the top 0.1% has increased from 7% to 22%. For the bottom 90% of families, a combination of rising debt, the collapse of the value of their assets during the financial crisis, and stagnant real wages have led to the erosion of wealth."

America is losing it's image as the gatekeeper of peace and freedom. A truly peaceful world can never be achieved unless we create a planet where the rule of law rises above the strength of individual nations and the sovereignty of the people is above the egos of their leaders. That world is still within our grasps. But a blink too long and we may lose it.

When fascism was on the rise in Europe, indifference made it possible. 9 to 15 million peoples died in world war I and at least 50 million people died in world war II. Now every 10 seconds, a child dies from hunger-related diseases. About one out of three people on earth don't even know where there next meal is coming from. And almost half of us will get cancer, heart failue, diabetes or or start taking dangerous psychological medications for stress or depression. Sadly, the big pharmaceutical companies  are the world's most profitable industry.

The West and machine-based economies,  may have led the world to the brink of ecological suicide. And that has a big part in the radicalizing for a new world order and a battle against violent extremism and what is typically a male symphony of violence rather than a rational and humane approach to the dilimma.

American political system is being rewritten by billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon, and the officials of the national security state. A Plutocracy is emerging:
The average price of winning or holding on to a six-year term in the U.S. Senate averaged $10,476,451 in the 2012 election cycle. Most of this pays for media advertising and that money goes back to the very wealth media owners. The 2016 US presidential elections could cost as much as $5 billion, about double the cost of 2012 election, according to top fundraisers.

That much money can realistically come from very wealthy doners. Following the Supreme Court's 2014 decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, there is no longer an aggregate limit on how much an individual can give in total to all candidates, PACs and party committees combined.

Democracy for sale to the highest bidder is no longer democracy, but plutocracy, or autocracy drifting toward fascism. A report published by Freedom House found 48 countries to be "not free."





Monday, August 7, 2017

Herbicides in Food



Almost 300 million pounds of glyphosate weed killer was used on crops in the U.S. in 2013, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  It is the most widely used agricultural chemical in history.

And genetically engineered (GE) seeds (herbacide resistant) are planted on more than 80 percent of U.S. corn acres and more than 90 percent of soybean acres. Chemical companies are making a killing on this, since they produce both the unnatural GE seed and the herbacide used on those crops.

Roundup is a systemic chemical, meaning Roundup is taken up inside of the plants that we—and farm animals—eat. In fact, Norwegian scientists studying U.S. soy found "excessive" levels of glyphosate inside of the food crops.

Common wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the harvest. It has since become routine over the past 15 years and is used as a drying agent 7-10 days before harvest within the conventional farming community.

Roundup significantly disrupts the functioning of beneficial bacteria in the gut and contributes to permeability of the intestinal wall and consequent expression of auto-immune disease symptoms. Gluten intolerance isn’t a food allergy. It’s a physical condition in your gut when undigested gluten proteins (prevalent in wheat and other grains) hang out in your intestines and are treated by your body like a foreign invader.

You're Probably Eating Roundup In "Excessive" Levels. Data collected by the United States Geological Survey scientists reveal exposure to Roundup could potentially alter your hormones, leading to obesity, heart problems, and diabetes.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported an association between non-Hodgkin lymphoma and glyphosate, significant evidence that the chemical caused cancer in lab animals, and strong evidence that it damaged human DNA.

In 2009, French researchers published a scientific paper in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology showing that low levels of four glyphosate formulations kill human cells within 24 hours. According to Dave Mortensen, PhD, weed scientist at Penn State University repports that 2,4-D has been linked to hypothyroidism, suppressed immune function, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer, among other ills.

So how can we get Roundup out of the air, soil, and our bodies? There's only one way: Buy organic food. In doing so, you're sending farmers a clear message.