Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Life is routine and routine is resistance to wonder.” Our brains are set up to make things in life routine and a phrase many of us unfortunately habituate to is “I love you.”
Think about how many times you say goodbye, get off the phone, or leave for work in the morning with a cursory, “I love you.” What was once a meaningful phrase has now become a habit stripped of its intent. So I’m going to propose something to practice that your mind will likely try and dismiss because of some underlying fear or discomfort. Here it is…
Thanksgiving can be considered a reminder to intentionally consider what we’re grateful for. But what would it be like if we treated this thanksgiving as a launch pad to really begin integrating more gratitude into our lives?
Sometimes the suggestion to integrate gratitude can seem trite or too simple to really be a remedy for our difficulties in life. So, why would we want to do that?
For the same reason that neuroscientists are finding that discipline can retrain our brains (e.g., neuroplasticity). So when we’re exercising or practicing meditation, the idea is not to do these with the goal of “being relaxed” in mind, but to do them to lay down new tracks in the brain so that our “auto-pilot” doesn’t automatically default to ineffective and destructive habitual strategies in the future.
So here we are, a few days before Thanksgiving in the United States and so taking this moment while reading these words to really consider what you are thankful for. When we think of what we’re thankful for we often think of the light in our lives. Who and what represents the light in our lives?
The poet Hafiz writes in his poem “It Felt Love”:
How did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its being,
We all remain
This is so true. It becomes easier to open up and reveal our own gifts to this world when we feel positive loving encouragement within. While for some the holidays are a time of connection and being with family and friends, for others it’s a source of stress only reinforcing a sense of loneliness and difficulty.
Here it is, thrust on us again. Thanksgiving is coming up for all of us in the United States and it urges us to consider all the things in life that we are grateful for. The mind may resist this for all its mysterious reason, but the fact is, practicing gratitude has been found to have enormous benefits to our mental health.
Meister Eckhart said,
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
So here we are in this moment, reading this post, and I’m inviting you to do a 1-minute practice of the things in life you are grateful for.
In the villages around Reggio Emilia Italy lived a man named Loris Malaguzzi. After World War II Loris and other parents felt that children were inherently curious and needed a curriculum that was more play based and self-guided. They thought that in these critical early years, it was the children’s interests that should be of utmost importance.
Loris Malaguzzi said:
“Each child is unique and the protagonist of his or her own growth. Children desire to acquire knowledge, have much capacity for curiosity and amazement, and yearn to create relationships with others and communicate.”
Well, the fact is, we were all children at one time or another and have an innate sense of what children need.
So today this is your blog, take a moment to think and contribute below an answer to the following question:
Question for you: What is it that children actually need to thrive?
Let’s send this around the world and put our heads and hearts together here, your contribution below provides a living wisdom that many generations can benefit from.
I’ll start…see below.
Today it’s my pleasure to bring to you Dr. Les Fehmi who is the co-author of Dissolving Pain: Simple Brain-Training Exercises for Overcoming Chronic Painand The Open-Focus Brainand has been a leader in brainwave biofeedback (also called neurofeedback), training individuals how to balance and regulate their brainwave patterns to improve mental, emotional, and physical health.
Today Les talks to us about how we can use our attention with an open focus to work through chronic pain for good and also some tips on what we can do.
Elisha: You mention that pain doesn’t exist in the body, but only in the brain, can you say more?
In the past post Feeling Disconnected from Life: 9 Steps to Reconnect Today I quoted Abraham Joshua Heschel saying:
“Life is routine and routine is resistance to wonder.”
The purpose of this was to bring awareness to the fact that our brains are inclined toward automaticity and the thing we do in life and the ways we are tend to become habit. What was once interesting or what we used to put heartfelt attention into tends to become rote.
Six months before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967 in a talk titled “What is Your Life’s Blueprint.” In this talk he said:
“And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.
Today it’s my pleasure to bring to you Bodhipaksa, a longtime meditation teacher, author of Living As a River: Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change. Bodhipaksa also started a wonderful site called Wildmind that has a number of self paced guided meditation courses and an ongoing blog to help us sew our seeds of mindfulness and compassion. As a short note, Bodhipaksa means “wings of enlightenment.”
Today Bodhipaksa shares with us what it means to live as a river, how we might gain freedom from seeing the ever changing nature of ourselves and what we can do when we’re suffering.
Elisha: What does it mean to live as a river?
Bodhipaksa: To me, living as a river means accepting the reality of impermanence and also recognizing the reality of anatta, or non-self. Our minds try to “fix” things and to see them as more permanent, static, and separate than they actually are. And one of the “things” that we treat in this way is ourselves.
As soon as we open up our eyes in the morning, stories are running in our minds that influence the way we see people. We have preconceptions about who our wife, husband, kid, roommate or partners are. When we walk out the door we already have ideas about who the neighbors, baristas, grocery store clerk, colleagues, and even strangers who are walking up the street are.
So the question is: Do we actually even see the person behind our conceptions of who they are?
Most of the time the answer is a resounding no.