Saturday, December 22, 2018

Jungian Archetypes





Scientists have discovered only fairly recently that of all our mental activity, only about 5% of it happens in the conscious mind. That means that a whopping 95% of our mental activity takes place in the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind comprises mental processes that are inaccessible to consciousness but that influence judgements, feelings, or behavior.

According to Freud (1915), the unconscious mind is the primary source of human behavior. Like an iceberg, the most significant part of the mind is the part you cannot see. But this is very real electrical energy that can get blocked behind dams or walls in the unconscious, usually caused by negativity such as pain, fear, trauma, or other kinds of stress.

Medications can sometimes move these blockages around but they may treat symptoms rather than the causes of illness. And medications may only offer temporary relief, or have bad side effects, and can be expensive.

The new biology of epigenetics is the study of cellular consciousness and the biochemical mechanisms of emotions that switch genes on and off. Learning to use our conscious mind to find and deal with our unconscious blockages is an effective healing processes. But since we don't see into the unconscious directly, one way to do this is symbolically using archetypes.

The term "archetype" has its origins in ancient Greek. The root words are archein, which means "original or old"; and typos, which means "pattern, model or type". The combined meaning is an "original pattern" of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are derived, copied, modeled, or emulated.

Carl Jung understood archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior or interaction with the outside world. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures.In Jungian psychology, archetypes are highly developed elements of the collective unconscious.

The existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by using story, art, myths, religions, or dreams. So Jungian archetypes refer to unclear underlying forms from which emerge images and motifs such as the mother, the child, the trickster, among others. History, culture and personal context shape these manifest representations, giving them their specific content. These images and motifs are more precisely called archetypal images.

"There are many Jungian archetypes, as they are called. Jung seemed to have some main archetypes, which he describes in his book Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self. The archetypes include the Self, which each individual might think is just their personality. However, for Jung, the self is the unification of the conscious and unconscious life of the individual. The self is created through a process called individuation, in which all the aspects of the personality are integrated into a unified whole. For Jung, the self as an archetype is best represented by the mandala. The word mandala in Sanskrit means “circle” and they are symbols which are significant in Hindu and Buddhist rituals and spiritual practices, such as meditation. The psychologist David Fontana remarks in his book, Meditating with Mandalas, that the mandala’s symbolic nature can give an individual access to deeper levels of their unconscious, which will ease the process of individuation."  

....The mythologist Joseph Campbell, following in the tradition of Jung, would become famous for looking at the different myths, folklore, stories and religions from around the world and picking out the fundamental, universal elements to them. In his highly influential book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell discusses the journey of the archetypal hero. According to Campbell, all those famous stories involving heroes, such as the labours of Hercules or the life of the Buddha, share a basic structure. Campbell called this structure the monomyth and in short, it involves a call to adventure, a road of trials, the boon (or discovery), a return to the ordinary world and, finally, the application of the boon. This structure is clever because Campbell is able to apply it to history’s most famous stories, such as Homer’s The Odyssey and the life of Christ as depicted in the Gospels.

Campbell seems to justify Jung’s idea that archetypes are something that we can easily identify with and which evoke a strong emotional response from us because they symbolise our evolutionary experiences. The hero’s journey represents the primitive struggle of our ancestors in entering an unknown world of danger, but overcoming the danger and bringing back to the tribe or group some discovery or treasure that will benefit everyone."    - Sam Wolfe

Explorations into both the vast universe, and the nature of the smallest elementary particles that physicists study, seems to leave us with more questions than answers. Apparently all myths, epics and religions are linked in that they are cultural manifestations of the universal need of the human psyche to explain social, cosmological, and spiritual realities.

The collective unconscious was the name that Jung gave to the wellspring of symbols and archetypes from which we derive human narratives. Archetypes represent fundamental human motifs of our experience and they evoke deep emotions which can serve to organize, direct and inform human thought and behavior.

We often find that our feelings don't seem logical. Honoring your feelings isn't a sign of weakness and it doesn't mean you're giving in to them. Indeed, the process of acknowledging your feelings and working through them will leave you feeling more confident and freer. True objectivity can include intuition and emotional intelligence.

Over a 100 different archetypes can be distinguished, the most well known are the following basic archetypes:
  • The Child archetype is young and innocent.
  • The Self archetype shows the authentic self, the complete personality of someone when they have developed themselves.
  • The Anima reflects the feminine part of the psyche, present both in men and women.
  • The mother archetype is the protective, kind mother who possesses a lot of healing power, the mythological goddess.
  • The maiden archetype is the pure and innocent young woman, like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
  • The Queen archetype is the feminine soverign who can take charge of situations and set the good example.
  • The Animus is the male part of the psyche,also present both in men and women.
  • The youth archetype is the innocent young man who is sensitive and refined like Apollo and Peter Pan.
  • The hero never loses and always has a solution. Think of mythological demigods and Superman.
  • The trickster is untrustworthy and very sly. He carries out plans for personal gain.
  • The wise old man or the philosopher knows a lot and supports others and teaches them.
  • The King is the direct mediator between God and the people, serving as a conduit for the Divine, the exemplary spiritual father.

The Persona is a social mask that people use to make a good or bad impression to the outside world. Each archetype has a positive and negative aspect. The shadow archetype is the unconscious darker side of a personality that a person represses. So a shadow king or queen become tyrannical, the shadow child is a brat, etc. Examining both positive and negative aspects makes for a well rounded understanding and helps us deal with the fear of failure when setting goals.




Thursday, December 13, 2018

Journalism Crisis





American journalism is collapsing before our eyes.

Social media has swallowed the news – threatening the funding of public-interest reporting and ushering in an era when everyone has their own facts. But the consequences go far beyond journalism. Social media hasn’t just swallowed journalism, it  has swallowed political campaigns, banking systems, our personal histories, whole industries, even government and security.

" Now, we are caught in a series of confusing battles between opposing forces: between truth and falsehood, fact and rumour, kindness and cruelty; between the few and the many, the connected and the alienated; between the open platform of the web as its architects envisioned it and the gated enclosures of Facebook and other social networks; between an informed public and a misguided mob.

In the digital age, it is easier than ever to publish false information, which is quickly shared and taken to be true – as we often see in emergency situations, when news is breaking in real time.

The impact on journalism of the crisis in the business model is that, in chasing down cheap clicks at the expense of accuracy and veracity, news organisations undermine the very reason they exist: to find things out and tell readers the truth – to report, report, report.

Above all, the challenge for journalism today is not simply technological innovation or the creation of new business models. It is to establish what role journalistic organisations still play in a public discourse that has become impossibly fragmented and radically destabilised."  Katherine Viner

Mainstream white America has had its way for most of the history of the United States. In the last 50 years, as we have all seen, things have begun to change." Over the last three decades, the social contract has been shredded and there is an ongoing restructuring of the global news industries. The recent rapid rise of electronic social media has resulted in an equally rapid decline in journalism, killed by the internet.

"... one of the most important roles of journalism in democracy is not just calling out corruption, but deterring it. It’s just human nature that we tend to stand up straighter and behave better when we know someone’s watching. When we think we’re on our own, it’s easier to fall prey to temptation...you feed democracy with facts and information, and informed voters make better decisions."  Bill Moyers.com

We became a republic of consumers. Fake news is talking heads instead of issues. Powerful public figures choose lies over truths, prefer supposition over science; and select hate over humanity.

The largest broadcast networks — CBS, NBC and ABC — and major newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post have jettisoned all pretense of fair play. No future producer, editor, reporter or anchor can be expected to meet a test of fairness when that standard has been trashed in such willful and blatant fashion.

In the past the top newspapers in the nation established a meticulous program that was designed to train and nurture young reporters writing stories carefully vetted by editors and the rewrite desk. Whatever happened to who, what, where, when and why? Now its only standard is a double standard, one that it proudly ­confesses. Shame would be more appropriate.

For a long time we could scan the daily news with morning coffee and learn about the nuts and bolts of democracy in ways that  inspired us to be optimismistic about the future. But there has been a rapid decline in that optimism.

Ben Fountain tells Bill Moyers that Trump was supposed to give white America psychological, emotional affirmation as an antidote for all the anxiety, all the resentment they’d been feeling.

"Ben Fountain’s Beautiful Country Burn Again is the boldest, bravest and most bracing book about politics that I have read this year." —Bill Moyers

Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor of  The Atlantic asks a single, urgent question: Does democracy have a future?"

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.