Blog: Mental Arts

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July 2015 Mental Arts Newsletter

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Welcome to the July Edition of the Mental Arts Newsletter

The past month has been filled with unprecedented accomplishments in our nation along with senseless violence. As far as we have come, in many ways we still have so much further to go. I suppose this is true in any society, however from what I have seen with the recent passage of legalizing gay marriage nationwide, affordable health care, to the removal of the confederate flag – a symbol of oppression and racism…my hope is we are on our way to resolving the places where we have fallen short.

In this edition we have done our best to offer insight, various perspectives and ways to achieve resolution to the issues at hand in our cities and nation. Let us work together to find our way.

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


Good Sense…

by John Worthington, author of “The Office of Shaman”

Every now and again there is a glimmer of good sense in the congressional branch of government. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does we should probably give that bunch some positive reinforcement. Just such an event happened recently. A couple of senators, Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are the lead sponsors of a bill that would allow people to plan for their own demise.

We’ve all been witness to extensive medical intervention as our friends or family near the end of their life. There are times when the medical intervention to retard life-ending events are thankfully in place. It gives family a time to come to the bedside of the terminally ill to share those last precious moments of life. But there are also times when it is just cruel to extend life for the terminally ill. A few years ago

a friend of mine was suffering with the last stages of a particularly aggressive type of Alzheimer’s. His mother had died of the same aggressive type. He had witnessed the medical intervention and the attendant suffering the woman experienced. My friend did not want to have that level of care.

One night when it came time to take his medicine he simply refused. He clenched his teeth and would not take the pills. His wife had the good sense to honor his wishes. My friend passed away in peace not in suffering. As much as I miss my friend I am happy he did not suffer. He told me often that he did not wish to and he didn’t.

Senators Isakson and Warner, I salute your good sense and generous hearts. I do so hope that your efforts bear the fruit you intend.


Mental Arts in Business

by Ken Kaplan, Quantum Floats, Bedminster, NJ

I met Ray (not his real name) about 10 years ago through a mutual friend. As an entrepreneur, most people would say that Ray is really impressive. His appearance is a mixture of hipster and GQ. He’s a smooth talker – not in a polished way, but more in a street smarts way. He spent about a year being homeless living on the streets of New York City. He pulled himself off the streets and started a company, which he later sold. So when Ray asked me about 5 years ago if I wanted to invest time and money in his latest startup I jumped on it, no questions asked. What I saw in Ray was a smart, personable entrepreneur who had a track record for success. What I didn’t see is that he manipulates people and treats them like pawns. As a result, his employees are not committed to the company and the business is struggling. I missed this about Ray because I had some blind spots in my own thinking. The interesting thing about this experience is that in order for me to see these things about Ray I first needed to examine and modify my own thinking. That process started about 3 years ago when I began floating and taking classes offered through the Mental Arts Network. In doing so, I discovered that my blind spots were the result of certain beliefs-in-real that I put in place before the age of 4. Beliefs-in-real include things like “Fire is hot” and “mom and dad are safe”. Most of these beliefs served me well, but some of them (like “I can do whatever I want to do”) were causing lots of frustration in my life and creating blind spots preventing me from seeing things for what they are. Once recognized, I was able to modify the beliefs that were not working for me. Through the process, I was also able to see what Ray was doing and how it was affecting his life and his company. I shared my insights with Ray. Once he saw what was happening he wanted to change. He took the Introduction to the Art of Rewriting and he noticed differences in how he was relating to people. Those differences improved his business. He’s now working with a Mental Arts Network facilitator in the Art of Rewriting to build upon his introductory experience and enhance his business.


Disrespect & Consequence

by Stacey Malloy, Delta Floats/www.deltafloats.com

Disrespect: speech or behavior which shows that you do not think someone or something is valuable, important, etcetera: lack of respect

n.  1.  lack of respect; discourtesy; rudeness.

v.t. 2.  to regard or treat with contempt or rudeness; insult.

Should we really be that surprised by the amount of disrespect shown by kids these days? Take a step back and look at your own actions. Have you ever yelled, swore, or flipped off another driver? Complain the neighbors are always too loud? Or your boss is a jerk for making you work extra hours? Chances are we all have done some of these things and yes they are all a form of disrespect. Kids pick up on all the things we do and say. I have a family member that was complaining her daughter’s Kindergarten teacher was giving too much homework so they just decided not do it. I just could not believe this! Already teaching her daughter it was more important to do what she wanted instead of what the teacher asked. Just because we may not agree with the rules, the rules still need to be followed. It is easy to see how disrespect is learned, but what’s not being taught is the consequences of being disrespectful. Such as a teen talking back to the teacher, refusing to do homework, and tardy a lot, will probably get suspended. A worker who refused to do his job will probably get fired. A person pulled over by a police officer who doesn’t cooperate will most likely be arrested. It would be wonderful if disrespect did not exist, but until then maybe we should be teaching our children that disrespect does come with consequences.


What’s Behind Police Violence?

by Terri Stangl, Great Lakes Flotation, Swartz Creek, MI/www.greatlakesflotation.com

It seems that every few days we are seeing yet another video of a police officer beating or shooting a suspect. Many of these incidents are disturbingly violent. It is difficult to see how the officer’s violence is reasonably related to either keeping the peace or taking a suspect into custody.

 I doubt any of these officers wake up in the morning consciously intending to hurt or kill people in their community. Yet the videos show how they respond violently to people who are already in custody, who are not resisting the officer, or who are running away. Certainly when on the scene, officers must often rely on reflexes and split second decisions. But these qScreen Shot 2015-07-05 at 4.55.38 PMuick responses do not happen in a vacuum. Our body’s impulses are set into motion by our unconscious thoughts. In particular, they are the result of our earliest experiences, which become the basis for our beliefs about real. In other words, we program ourselves.

 If we are to get at the root of why an officer reacts to non-violent situations with deadly violence, we have to find out what the officer is treating as real below conscious awareness. The human brain is hardwired to rely on pre-programmed impulses and beliefs about what is real – including what the brain perceives as a “threat”. The question is what does an officer perceive as a threat? And to what?

 Other relevant questions may concern what a police officer believes to be real about other people, or about challenges to authority, or what it means to “be in control”. Does a police officer see African Americans or other people of color as uncontrollable unless they are dominated? What is necessary to be “in control”? Does an officer believe that ‘authority’ must be asserted and protected, no matter what the cost? Must those who are perceived as “wrong” or “bad” or disrespecting authority – be punished and humiliated rather than merely detained? If any of these were true for an officer, wouldn’t such beliefs control how he or she responds to a suspect in a fast-moving incident where there is no time to “think”?

 Our beliefs about real – what Dr. John Lilly called ‘self-metaprograms’ – run the body’s impulses and reactions. Lilly said that, once written, a program runs below conscious awareness and becomes “the rule of our lives” until recognized and changed. The problem with at least a few of these beliefs about real seems to stem from the fact that we write them in early childhood – before the age of four. In those early years, children are busy figuring out how the world works and what they can treat as “real”. That

Knowledge concept

includes everything from how far one can lean over before falling down, to how to get attention from mommy and daddy. One’s beliefs about real would also include what is seen as “real” about whether certain groups of people are “different” or dangerous, what behaviors are “wrong”, what it means to be “in control”, about responding to authority, and when punishment is called for. Since little kids lack both life experience and language, it is likely that any given child will have at least a few gaps or glitches in what that child believes to be real. Self-metaprograms become the rule of our adult life because they are seen as “what is real”, instead of as a belief about real that can be rewritten. No one can see what they believe to be real; it’s simply treated as real.

 Understanding how the human brain works, and how our unrecognized beliefs about real control our impulses and feelings and thoughts, has implications for how to fix the problem of police violence. In order to change violent impulses, I think we have to do more than establish more protocols and rules. We need to do more than humiliate and punish those officers who are themselves humiliating and punitive. Police Departments and their leaders need tools with which they can identify and examine what they’ve taught themselves to see and believe as real. Programming is a practical tool that can be used for this purpose.


The Cost of Believing We are Separate

by Lisa Sienkiewicz, iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com

When I read the news about the shooting at the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, SC, a deep sorrow welled up within me. Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 4.31.26 PMThere were many articles and people talking about what they saw as the issues behind this senseless killing. My daughter Brianna began to share some articles on her Facebook page about why the confederate flag should be flying at half-mast and ultimately taken down from in front of the state building because of what it represents… slavery, oppression, racism. A discussion ensued concerning this article and one young man replied with “It’s also a free country, where people can say and stand for what they believe, and if that is flying the Confederate flag, then that’s their right. That’s all there is to it.”

The discussion was turning into an argument about a flag and not about the larger issue that is dividing us as a people and as a country. The fact is, there IS more to it. Below is the response I posted…

 The issue is much larger than a flag, however something that Brianna pointed out in her post is flying the flag is an act of rebellion and more to the point an act of separation, actually a belief in separation, that one way of seeing the world, or a person or group of people or a culture, are better than or less than another. This particular thought has fueled tremendous conflicts and senseless killing as we have seen last week in Charleston, SC and many other similar events over the past months and years.

A friend and colleague of mine recounted a story when he heard about the shooting in SC…he was suppose to be flying home to Boston on 9/11. He wasn’t able to and eventually took a bus to NYC. When he arrived in NYC he cameScreen Shot 2015-07-02 at 12.35.47 AM across a group of people who were talking about what had happened and asking how they could help, ect. One woman said “God bless our country” another person said “God bless our freedom” and another person said “God bless our unity”, he said this with such caring and passion that everyone stopped talking and listened to this man, as did my friend.

When we can come to a place of understanding that we are all one, no matter our religion, race or how much money we make, or what sexual orientation, or where we live, that is when these senseless killings and arguing about who’s wrong and who’s right and who’s better than and who’s less than, will end. That is when racism and discrimination and abuse will end. However that requires actually addressing this particular thinking within us and within our society and that requires more than arguing about whether a flag is at half-mast or should be flying, it is laying out the issues on the table and working to achieve resolution…it requires doing something that has an impact on and in the world so mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, ect. never have to experience the immense grief of losing a loved one to senseless killing or living in fear for their lives because someone didn’t think another human being had a right to be in this world.


The Resolution of Respect

by Wendy Johnson, Delta Floats, Lansing, MI/www.deltafloats.com

Just a few weeks before he graduated, a teen from the small town I grew up in was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. This happening on the heels of Ferguson and Baltimore where awareness is being brought to cops who use excessive force. Yesterday the results of the investigation were released, and no charges where filed against the cop that shot and killed the teen. That is how the headline read.

In the release of the information around the investigation, they also released a video from the teen’s phone, the video from the police officer’s body cam, and from the police car dash cam.

What the videos and the investigation revealed was the teen had not only refused to give his ID, but also to get out of the car…he resisted arrest (physically). The officer had warned him and tried using his taser, which didn’t work. The teen then attacked and beat the officer, who then shot the teen during the altercation.

It took only a few minutes to hit social media, where everyone argued their black and white perspective of the event. That theScreen Shot 2015-07-10 at 4.53.12 PM police used excessive force simply because the boy was now dead and the police officer should be prosecuted and NOT investigated by other police officers who they thought would just protect their own. Or that the teen completely ignored the authority of the police and physically attacked the officer, bringing the consequences on himself.

While I can not argue that there are those police officers that use excessive force, I have to wonder if some of that is because our own society treats police officers as a threat, or an enemy, instead of a civil servant that is there to protect citizens. Why when a teen is pulled over for speeding would he argue that he does not have to show the officer his ID? Why would he not show respect to the officer that is just doing his job, but then physically attack the officer? What happened to the days when officers were respected? And even if the officer was in error of the traffic stop or arrest why wouldn’t it be handled as the law allows?

Where in our society have we decided to divide ourselves into a continued us against them? This seems to be perpetuating the dynamic happening across the country between police and citizens that they are sworn to protect. Are we as a society actually perpetuating the police violence that is being widely reported?

I don’t see this as a black and white issue (right and wrong) I see police that don’t always see why they react. I see that the citizens have somehow justified that they can completely disrespect police officers. And that has probably fueled and furthered the knee jerk reactions of excessive force because they go into every situation in fear of their lives. From this perspective that means that the resolution to this problem must come from both sides of this equation, where we can start with mutual respect and the understanding that we are both physically safe.


Life As We Know It

by Elise Lenhart, Quantum Floats, Bedminster, NJ

Sometimes we reminisce about how things used to be.

Sometimes we want to go back and live there again.

Things will be different this time….

Life as we know it is different at this time.

Where we are now is the reminiscences of the used to be.

The used to be, forming life as we know it.

As we move forward… The weight of the used to be becomes too heavy to carry.

What is the used to be?

What is the different this time?

What is life as we know it?

The used to be as lessons.

The difference as growth.

Life as we know it… Looking forward to the future…

The use of knowledge…

For the future of the generations to come…

Guiding them from the reminiscences….

To become and create a difference in our world.

That is life as we know it.


Bringing Change…

by Lisa Sienkiewicz, iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com

The day after the shooting in Charleston, SC, Jon Stewart interviewed Malala Yousafzai. This young woman as many might know had been shot by the Taliban for standing up for the rights of girls/women to receive an education in Pakistan. She has continued to be a voice for the many girls/women being denied an education, now on an international level, even though the Taliban still threaten to kill her and her Father. I think she is a wonderful example of what one person can accomplish when they stand up against violence and oppression and make their voice heard.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 11.09.06 PM

This is a quote from the interview that speaks volumes to what each and every one of us are capable of…

“Sometimes we wait for others and think Martin Luther King should raise among us, Nelson Mandela should raise among us and speak up for us, but we never realize they are normal humans like us – and if we step forward we can also bring change just like them.” 

~ Malala Yousafzai


Ikigai

by John Worthington, author of “The Office of Shaman”

There’s a Japanese term, ikigai, (ee-kee-guy) which has gained a certain amount of notoriety in the west. Perhaps the best way to define the term to western ears is to say that ikigai signifies what makes you get out of bed or, a more general translation, your life’s purpose. However, as with most translations western ears do not quite grasp the meaning. There has been a good deal of speculation about how that concept is actually lived.

Most writers claim that “finding YOUR ikigai” takes years of hard work and self-searching. It seems that people who are pointed out as actually havingTeacher reading out to students in the library ikigai seem to simply be doing what they’ve always done. They get out of bed in the morning and make a difference for other people. They enjoy making that difference and then go to sleep and sleep the sleep of the just only to arise tomorrow and do it all over again.

The reason ikigai ever came to the attention of western ears is because Okinawa, Japan is an area of the world where people live longer. There are several reasons, according to researchers, why people in these zones live longer lives. Diet, moderate exercise and a low stress life that incorporates family, purpose, religion, and meaning.

In short as Japanese people grow older there are many who stay engaged in their community at large and provide friendship, instruction, company, comfort, knowledge, experience, and other benefits, which result from living life, and having enough age to recognize actual societal value where it lives and how it can be shared.

The ikigai of one woman in the studies seemed to western eyes to be her constant work habits. But in reality her ikigai was that she encouraged people to come together in community projects, sing alongs, story telling and so on. Sometimes the ikigai is a hobby such as teaching martial arts, or perhaps walking through nature to teach younger generations about the land that sustains them.

All too often in western culture retirement is a death sentence. It isn’t that a person’s work was his or her ikigai, it’s that without the challenge of having a reason to get up in the morning the body just simply stops functioning. I’m sure that moderate exercise is great for living longer lives and eating sensibly must certainly reduce life threatening disease risk, but being engaged with the people of one’s community is something that costs nothing and is perhaps even more important than the intuitive things we all do to live longer.


United We Stand

by David Conneely, iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com

The horrible killings in South Carolina reminded me of something from many years back. When the 9/11 attacks happened I was waiting for a flight out of Ithaca, NY. I ended up having to stay in Ithaca for a few days and then taking the bus to NYC and then to Boston the next day. When I walked out from the bus station into Manhattan in Times Square it was astounding. Everyone was saugatuck bridge_Fotorwalking around and talking to one another almost like in a daze. People were confused. I ended up standing with a group of people who were asking and answering questions. They were from all walks of life, all races, men and women of different ages. They asked questions like, “How many people have died? Was that the President driving up in that motorcade that just drove past? Where do they need volunteers?” At one point a woman said to the group, “God bless our country.” Another man said, “God bless our freedom.” Others chimed in and then one man (an African American man) said with a clarity that will stay with me until I die, “God bless our unity.” The sense of nobility, passion, and caring in his voice penetrated me deeply. It was as if he was sending that prayer out to the deepest reaches of the universe. His statement and voice was so powerful everyone stopped talking and nodded. He was right. That was the key statement, the key idea. What mattered most in those days after 9/11 and in these days and in all days is our Unity, our willingness to work together and to slow down and see into the minds, hearts, and souls of everyone in our communities, our country, and our world. I took this picture two days ago while walking across the bridge in downtown Westport, CT. Something about the flapping of the flags stirred me. To me the American flag with all its hard won stars and stripes represents an Objective and Prime Directive to do everything and anything to be United. It does not mean we nod our heads and just agree with one another. It means we communicate and hash things out so we come to understand one another. God bless those who lost their lives last night, and may God bless their families and friends as they mourn the sudden loss of their loved ones. And may the hearts and minds of those who insist on conflict awaken so they may see how to be united with All.


Can We Afford Another “Comfortable Silence”?

by Lisa Sienkiewicz, iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com

A friend of mine posted on social media that 8 black churches have burned in 10 days. Where is all the news coverage? Where is the outrage to these acts of violence? What saddens me, is even my own family members are posting on social media in favor of the violence and idiocy. Lamenting how their freedoms are being taken away by our current president, how the law allowing same-sex marScreen Shot 2015-07-10 at 5.48.09 PMriage nationwide should be revoked and that Obama and the democratic party are somehow ruining this great nation.

With the heartbreaking violence that is being wrought upon human beings that make up this nation, how can anyone agree with that? I don’t care what race or religion or political party someone is…it is mind-boggling to me that in the year 2015 people are still having to fight for the right to exist. What is it going to take for the violence to end?

As I listened to the eulogy that president Obama gave at the funeral of Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the Emmanuel AME church, one of the things that he spoke about stood out…it is how as a nation we come together during times of tragedy and begin to talk about what needs to be done, what needs to change, but then fall into a “comfortable silence”. He cautioned against this happening again, that we have come to a point where we must take action, that we must move forward as a nation united. Everyone in that church rose to their feet in acknowledgment.

8 black churches have burned in 10 days…9 people are dead due to hatred and prejudice. Will we once again fall into a comfortable silence or heed the call for change? I believe we will heed that call.


Keeping One’s Word…

by Terri Stangl, Great Lakes Flotation, Swartz Creek/www.greatlakesflotation.com

I recently spoke with a client whose family were among the first farmers who founded the local community where she now lives and works. Those were not easy times. As she puts it, “When I grew up on the farm, we were so poor that all we had was our word.” She currently works for a small business and was deeply frustrated about how the value of keeping one’s word has eroded among some of the business owners with whom she now deals. First, she told me about the business owner who had overcharged her for his services. Then about the owner who never followed up with the potential customers she had sent his way. Finally the owner who kept making lots of fancy excuses about second rate work.

 I wonder if these business owners realize, in their efforts to make a quick buck, how much good will and trust they have lost from someone who holds deep and wide ties to the surrounding community? About how a woman who cares about her friends and family wants to protect them from the businesses that she no longer trusts? About how fast and far a story about a business owner’s failure to keep his or her word will extend? I wonder how many of the business owners who tell themselves that no one will remember or care what happened a year later will still be in business when that time arrives?


June 2015 Holistic Happy Hour at iFloat

iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.comIMG_3960_Fotor_Fotor_Collage

On Friday, June 19, iFloat in Westport, CT along with several holistic practitioners hosted the Holistic Happy Hour. Everyone had an amazing time meeting the practitioners, networking, enjoying great food and great conversation.

Co-hosts included Adrian Garce-pesonal trainer, Beth Leas-Tarot/TLC Center, Katherine Styne Type and Barbara Goldsmith – Beauty Counter, Stefanie Stavola – DoTerra, Sam Jacobs – Massage Therapy.

iFloat hosts the Holistic Happy Hour every two months and invites local holistic practitioners to co-host the event to aid in bringing together the community and sharing the value of integrating holistic wellness into one’s life.

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