Saturday, December 31, 2011

Occupy New Year!

Sophy's Big News Story !!!

Scott Kalechstein Grace is a wildly talented Eckhart Tolle'an Author, Speaker, and Spiritual Troubadour, only the old Provençal language he's singing is a modern-day, coherent stream of optimal purpose, balance, and focus on mindfulness and global solidarity. 

Scott's music echoes Eckhart Tolle's, The Power of Now and A New Earth teachings. Just as Tolle's words do for the spiritual recognition of universal wisdom, Grace's music "step[s] you out of thought" where you can "see clearly that the thinker is not [entirely] who you are," but a much grander component of a globally conscious shift in universal understanding and enlightenment. 

Scott has distinguished himself as a spiritual entertainer, speaking and performing at organizations such as the Chopra Center for Well Being in La Jolla, California, as well as opening for internationally renowned spiritual leaders such as Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Barbara DeAngelis, and Dr. Bernie Siegel.

While conducting research on humor studies, I came across Scott's extraordinary rendition of "If Dr. Seuss Met Eckhart Tolle" on Facebook. In what could be described as "Noospheric" lightening speed, I immediately "Googled" Scott and found him on Facebook, sending him a friend invite. Scott accepted my friendship, and over the last few months, I've grown to further appreciate Scott's unique talent for brining good energie, awareness, and harmony to our increasingly empathetic and consciously growing global community. 

During a performance at a church, Scott sang "Occupy Love," an anthem for the Occupy Wall Street Movement. 

"We're not fighting greed, we're standing up for love. It is time for everyone to have enough." 

The truthful message in this song is as globally conscious as it gets. Scott Kaleschen Grace has a true talent and gift for delighting our inner child, and soothing our analytical Western mindset to a point whereby we can actually hear the truth in the lyrics he brings to the world. 

Transparent in Scott's musical comedy is a highly imaginative reflection of a greater truth that captivates our spirits - and begs for an encore. 

Check out Scott's Biographybook, and Music Store

Coming Soon! 
Scott's Worldwide Tour 
To be announced here 
and on his website.  

Friday, December 30, 2011

Occupy 2011

It's funny how we store events in our minds, we tag them with keywords. Was the year exciting, or scary? Was the protest effective, or merely invigorating? Then when we encounter a similar situation, we run a quick keyword search of our brains to help us interpret the new event against the data of our memory, latent tendencies and attitudes flowing from our own personal existence emerge until it becomes our personal history. Because of the interplay between the significant experience of the protagonist of a drama, and our own, fully awakened experimental framework, we realize our thoughts according to how we felt about them.
With this being said, let's bring to the surface and forge our very own intimately personal response to The Occupy Movement, its protagonists, its unfolding and its unavoidable denouement

Before doing so, let's consider, first, how memory works. The term 'memory' encompasses our recollections of past experiences, our ability to keep track of what is happening from moment to moment, our stored knowledge, including knowledge of words and their meanings, our habits, our recognition of objects and faces, and our ability to remember to do things in the future. Accordingly, memory is paramount to understanding human behavior. Memory supports our ability to speak and decode language, to find our way around town, to make rational decisions, and to function successfully in society. 

In the study conducted by Psychologists Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer, Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction (1974), Loftus and Palmer tested their hypothesis that language used in eyewitness testimony could alter memory. After having subjects watch a video of a car crash and then asked to estimate the speed of the vehicles, and by forcing their own keyword tags onto subjects' memories, Loftus and Palmer phrased questions like this: 1. About how fast were the cars going when they hit each other? 2. About how fast were the cars going when the smashed into each other? 3. About how fast were the cars going when they collided with each other? 4. About how fast were the cars going when the bumped into each other? 5. About how fast were the cars going when they contacted with each other?

The subjects' memories with the keyword "smashed" estimated an average of 9 mph faster than those whose memories had been tagged with "contacted." Interestingly enough, the tagwords did not simply affect people's estimates about the crash; they changed their memories of it, too. A week later, when questioned if the crash had produced broken glass, subjects whose memories were tagged with "smashed" answered "yes" more often than those whose memories had been tagged with "contacted." Of course, a "smash" can break a glass whereas a "contact" usually does not. 

What has the media told us about The Occupy Movement that has affected our knowledge of it?  Your most vivid memory of 2011 - maybe it never really happened...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Little New Year's Resolution Analysis

I thought I'd conduct a little statistical analysis of historical data to determine what my chances of dying were this coming year as a way to decide just how seriously I should take my New Year's Resolutions. 

It's true, we have a 99.99% chance of dying, assuming we cannot transfer our consciousness via a quantum computer into a carbonnano mechanism without damaging the central processing unit that produces conscious thought. 

With that being said, and admittedly, there was a lot to the above statement, I went to the scientists at Carnegie Mellon to check their Death Risk Ratings data to see what I could find out. 

With my primary comparison being: Causes of Death, and my secondary comparison being: US to Europe; my personal search criteria showed this: 

Traveling between Mexico, the US, and Europe, I have to admit that we have really enjoyed being back in the states. Still, if I want to increase my life-expectancy odds, we might just consider returning to Paris in the spring. Weaving my way through traffic, I seem to have more fender benders in Paris, but stateside, I was literally run off the road by a fire truck, that incidentally, did not bother stopping when I hit the tree. When I spoke to the police department, the dispatcher told me: "Maybe he didn't see you." 

I said, "Yeah, you're probably right. My Navigator is a bit small." 

Thank goodness I was on my way to Hot Yoga and the heat felt great, minimizing any injury I might have otherwise sustained. Unfortunately, for me, I aggravated a spinal cord injury and have been out of Yoga nursing my shoulder and spine back to health for over a month.

Anyhow, I thought this was interesting. Not funny, haha, per se, but it made me giggle thinking that some serious health factors are actually higher in certain areas and that many of us have a choice as to what we do about it. It seems like we spend so much time thinking about death as a society, that we rarely allow ourselves to live. And the worst thing? We don't even get to talk about the event afterwards? We're totally removed from it. What a rip-off! I can't believe I wasted so much time in lecture halls and late-night study marathons thinking about it, only to turn around, die someday, and give everyone else, who hasn't died, the chance to tell me what it meant. No way! No wonder comedy arose from the ancient funeral rite. 

My epitaph is already written: She died laughing. Talk about engaging one's thoughts in heightened vitality, flexibility, inspiration, total freedom, delirious imagination, and an absolute colossal effervescence! It's like that song by Tim McGraw says, "I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying" ... he "went Rocky Mountain climbing, went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Foo Man Choo"...

For anyone really following this blog, this is my story.

Richard Nixon's Resignation Speech

"I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the nation." 


"Oops! I did it again..."

Because the best defense is a good offense. 

"I didn't post it on my Facebook wall, so obviously it never happened." 

Richard Nixon's FB Profile Photo

"I'm really sorry. We were on the Honey Fitz at the time." 

"While there were mistakes made in the handling of campaign contributions, we conducted a thorough investigation and found that, regardless of what you might have heard, no campaign contributors or taxpayers suffered any physical injury whatsoever." 

"Yeah, we did it. So? Wanna take this outside?"


"Free as a bird"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Laughter is a Rainbow of Feelings

Laughter emerges from a rainbow of feelings. It is the peak of the mountain top of felt vitality. Laughter is a profound expression that springs from the subtext of a myriad of feelings that culminate in our joy for living. Until these feelings are synthesized, they remain dormant whereby Dante, that sommo poeta (supreme poet) is our courtly guide. Until we synthesize all of our feelings and experiences in life, Dante does not introduce us to his lovely Beatrice. Dante refers to the journey as the divine comedy for a reason. 

Like history, humor comes from tradition and memory, which is what allows the Muses to be referred to as the daughters of Mnemosyne. Thalia, the muse of comedy, is a joyous flourishing. 

Laughter arises out of this joyous flourishing. A time in our lives when we are growing, thriving, and prospering. After winter comes spring. Laughter is not the flaunting of ones prosperity and evolution, but rather a celebration of life after the defeat of conflict. 

The comedic artist is akin to Dante's Beatrice, who gives us reasons to love life. Expressing the impetus of our soul toward infinity, eternity, toward boundless truth, and peace and love; the comedic artist fills our hearts with existence. 

Humor and laughter are essential to a dynamic unfolding of life, first in their elementary function of exfoliating feelings, then to the advancement and maintenance of well-being, as well as to the spark that bursts forth from us, enveloped in creativity's flame. 

Laughter is a safeguard to the balance of emotional needs we have to heal the pain, sadness and depression that debilitates us, weakens our forces, and hinders our progress. Laughter is the vital reinforcement, courage, soothing and calming expression progress requires. 

Laughter is not fashioned entirely out of delight. The felt significance of pleasure and pain, remorse and satisfaction, despair and joy, contentment and disappointment, chagrin, and a simple lightness of being are all carried by aesthetic enjoyment. 

In simple terms, *aesthetic enjoyment is the enjoyment of being alive! 

*Anna-Teresa Tyminiecka, Enjoyment

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Angry Bird Report

Like other negative reactions, anger, when under control, can be harnessed positively. Doing so fuels our sense of justice and strengthens our resolve to do right by ourselves and others, which is a key component of solidarity. However, anger when out of control, can leave us feeling weakened and needlessly depleted. 

The danger anger invites is that it skews our judgment with a bias toward general negativity, which is not energetically symmetrical. This inevitably leaves a person feeling "out of sorts" or out of balance. When this happens, it is best to reserve judgment on all matters until a positive shift can arise. Once you have returned to a state of balanced equilibrium, issues that appeared threatening may be seen from a new light of understanding, increasing the empathetic experience and value they can bring into our lives when corrected.

Just the words anger management sound negative, so let's instead choose to use the words HAPPY MANAGEMENT or POSITIVITY MANAGEMENT. Positivity management is the self-regulation of the flow of positive images, thoughts and emotions into your daily life. Focusing on positive messages and thoughts fosters optimism, increases a sense of gratitude, and minimizes negative thinking. 

Allowing yourself to focus on a positive future makes it more easily envisioned, increasing your chances of experiencing it. For example, teenagers who hang up pictures of the car they are working to buy is often times reported as a happier feeling than actually receiving the car. When focused on the purely positive, we can more easily see the benefits that achievement offers us and others. However, if or when gratitude is replaced with entitlement, it's time again to start over. Searching for the proverbial silver lining by looking for the positive in a situation may sound cliché, but even clichés are worth revisiting if we cannot internally maintain a constant state of positive well-being. 

Negative self-talk shifts our thoughts to the point that we change our brain, limiting our mind's ability to perceive positive emotions and thoughts. Running negative messages through your brain causes serious cognitive damage, which over time, separates you from your ability to feel happy emotions. Embracing positivity is not disrespectful to negative experiences from which growth may have arisen, but rather an honoring of the fact that the experience is no longer required to correct an imbalance. Once the lesson or experience is no longer benefitting us, it's time to let it go. 

If you feel justified in your anger, ask yourself if holding onto it is truly benefitting you. When thoughts of when you were disappointed or disappointed yourself travel through your brain, immediately remind yourself of a time when you were successful or felt happy, inspired, or loved because of another. 

Noticing and appreciating the people that bring joy and love to our lives is another way to avoid contracting the Angry Bird Syndrome. Thanking someone who has been particularly kind to you allows another to share in your gratitude. If you're looking for something more personal and instantaneous, consider keeping a gratitude journal. Write down what makes you smile, big or small, include crowning achievements, touching moments and great aspects or experiences of positive personal relationships. Giving yourself time to reflect on the positive aspects of life reminds you to slow down enough, even if only for a brief time every day, to stop and truly smell the roses. No wonder sending flowers to those we love has never gone out of fashion. 

Think about the advice you'd give a friend who was worried, and give yourself the same hopeful advice and encouragement. One simple rule is to ask yourself whether anger is making you feel righteous. If that sense of righteousness does not immediately lead to positive action, it's not righteousness you're feeling - it's an overinflated sense of ego. Ego causes us to take things too seriously. Be mindful of your reactions. The expressions on your face will give you away. If you're frowning instead of laughing, recognize it and forgive yourself for the infraction - then move on. 

Mindful Humor

Mindfulness, or being fully present and attentive to the moment, not only improves the way we interact with others but also mitigates the stresses of life. 

How do we remain mindful with a constant barrage of demands and pressures? Learning to meditate as part of a mindful training regime is one way. 

Another way, is to measure and then work on consciously regulating your biofeedback or various physiological functions using instruments that provide information on brainwaves, muscle tone, skin conductance, heart rate and pain perception. Like with meditation, improved health and physiological changes often occur in conjunction with changes to thoughts, emotions, and behavior. 

Mounting paperwork demands and other time and productivity pressures can lead to burnout, which causes a loss of enthusiasm and engagement that can lead to more errors and decreased empathy and compassion toward others. When compounded over an extended period of time, these problems can lead to substance abuse, abandonment of responsibilities and severe depression. 

Over the years, few remedies have alleviated these issues. Traditional medication does not address the skills necessary to handle the stressful events that arise daily in life, nor does it cultivate the emotional and interpersonal intelligence required to form effective relationships even in the midst of these stresses.  

The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire allows you to conceptualize mindfulness as a set of skills that can be learned and practiced in order to reduce psychological symptoms and increase health and well-being. The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies offers research and assessment tools on mindfulness that can be taken for free online. 

A few Sample Questions

1 = never or very rarely true
2 = rarely true
3 = sometimes true
4 = often true
5 = very often or always true

1. When I'm walking, I deliberately notice the sensations of my body moving. 
2. I'm good at finding words to describe my feelings. 
3. I criticize myself for having irrational or inappropriate emotions. 
4. I perceive my feelings and emotions without having to react to them. 
5. When I do things, my mind wanders off and I'm easily distracted. 
6. When I take a shower or bath, I stay alert to the sensation soy water on my body. 
7. I can easily put my beliefs, opinions, and expectations into words. 
8. I don't pay attention to what I'm doing because I'm daydreaming, worrying, or otherwise distracted. 
9. I watch my feelings without getting lost in them. 
10. I notice how foods and drinks affect my thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotions. 

Increasing our awareness requires training and practice. If you find yourself judging or easily jumping to conclusions, it often times has more to do with your state of mind than it does with the person whom you're judging.

People with self-purported "good intentions" tend to judge others the harshest, telling them what they're not doing, what they should be doing, and touting what they're doing without even asking a single question or truly understanding another's challenges in life. Their limited perception creates an illusion that they can advise effectively from their own experience, which may or may not be relevant to another's life. 

As frustrating as this can be, it's best to simply remember that everyone evolves in their own time. This behavior is not necessarily indicative of another's true level of awareness, but rather a specific need for growth in the area of judgment. 

In this case, just let it go. If it is someone close to you who is doing this, you might consider sharing with them that their judgments make it more difficult for you to reach your goals and ask them to please allow you some freedom to achieve your goals rather than giving you more to carry by pointing out past or incorrectly perceived (on their part) failures. 

The real challenge of acquiring mindfulness is setting aside the time to practice it. 

It's easy to fall back into old patterns, but remaining optimistic and focused on the self-awareness mindfulness cultivates can free you from a case of chronic "Old Schoolness" and bring about the transformation that frees you from the constant chatter of our and other's minds that we carry around with us (technology keeps us connected to the noise all the time). 

Cultivating mindfulness seems almost counter intuitive in an era that makes little room for contemplation. It is an art to cultivate that requires skill, practice, creativity and dedication. If you're committed to becoming more mindful, surround yourself with people who rarely complain, who do not criticize, and who often times, compliment others, inspiring them to reach and fulfill their potential rather than remaining fixated in old patterns. Mindfulness isn't just about thinking positive thoughts, it's about harnessing them to achieve all of our dreams. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pigs Can Fly

"When pigs fly" is an adynaton - a figure of speech that uses a type of hyperbolic exaggeration for effect as a way of saying that something will never happen. John Steinbeck was reportedly told by his professor that he would be an author. The Pigasus was Steinbeck's personal stamp with the logo "Ad astra per alia porci" (to the stars on the wings of a pig). It was supposed to symbolize Steinbeck as "earthbound but aspiring...A lumbering should but trying to fly...(with)...not enough wingspread but plenty of intention."

Pink Floyd had a flying pig on the cover of their Animals album, and has uses the flying pig as a prop for their concerts. The image rights for the pigs followed Roger Waters when he split from the group. Waters went on to stage the largest rock concert in history, The Wall - Live in Berlin

Humor opens up a highly conscious shift in being. Tragedy is universally appealing in that it awakens the empathetic experience, however, comedy transcends it. 

Throughout time, it was thought that only tragedy was worthy of scholarly exploration because only tragedy would manifest itself "by reaching to the very depths of subliminal emotions and bringing them to the surface...allow us - through an emotive identification, empathizing with heroes and heroines - to crystalize our own latent feelings, which are dispersed in various networks of significance playing there a chaotic role, bringing them into focus so that our entire personality may distill their deepest and most essential, experimental material. From a brute sensible moulde they pass through the subliminal work of the creative forge and acquire an aesthetic spread tending toward the sublime." - Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, Analecta Husserliana, The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research, LVI.

Becoming empathetic means reaching into the deepest part of our being, binding together latent moments of pre-experience that form the foundation of our beingness, and allowing them transcend our tendencies and attitudes from our own personal experience to that of another. 

Empathy has been the most recent crystallization of our evolution.

Crystals grow. 

Humor belongs to the other side of our primordial network. The other side of the wall. This aesthetic enjoyment is an enjoyment of life and of our gratitude in existence. It is where the thread of existence reverberates through our entire beingness. In return, we awaken with "pleasure and pain, remorse and satisfaction, a simple lightness of being, despair and joy, contentment and disappointment, chagrin, sadness and delight that defines aesthetic enjoyment. Each emotion equally delighting us in the aesthetic enjoyment of being alive. Life is funny.