March 2016 Mental Arts Newsletter
Welcome to our March edition!
I have been thinking alot about the upcoming presidential election…as the presidential primaries are being held and we are seeing more and more how the candidates are fairing, it makes me wonder where our grasp on reality has gone? Trump, who is more like a foul mouthed, washed up comedian…is winning primaries…how is that possible? As a mother of two young adults, I am not only concerned for the well-being of my children and future grandchildren, but for our nation and the world, if Trump manages to win the presidential nomination. The side-show comedy has been strangely humorous and all, and Trump has been great material for late night talk show hosts and comedians, but enough is enough already. As Americans we must consider more than our little corner of the world, or our particular wants and needs and consider what is best for the nation and ALL people who live here and the world. I think author, Simon Sinek says it well…“Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.”
Lisa Sienkiewicz – editor
Who You Are in This World…
by India (Elise) Lenhart
With world views changing, where does that leave you? As we as human beings have evolved, we have found ourselves in
a place of flux. That place of flux exists in the very place that no one ever wants to look.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
For example, in my family, as in many others, there is a belief that if you are guilty for something, then you must live there forever. That belief alone has caused chaos in families, including my own for centuries. What if what Holmes said is actually true? We would be experiencing ongoing internal conflict because the old way of “being guilty” and the experiences that have stretched our minds to see the world and ourselves differently, don’t fit together when it comes to actually living life now. Being “guilty” is only a perception. The meaning can be infinite, or it can mean nothing at all. It only has weight, if we give it weight. It can also be true that the experiences, which stretched our minds, were just as they were meant to be.
We have carried beliefs of our ancestors and family for centuries. The problem with that is times have changed. It is no longer about, “That is just how I was raised and if it worked for them, it works for me too.”
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
In a world of technology like we live in, the old school ways of thought don’t necessarily serve us as well as we would like them to. The reason for that is because we must solve our problems in a way that we may have never considered before. We would have to do things differently than we have always done. Even if doing one thing differently everyday or every week is all you can do, chances are you are still resolving a conflict in you. If you see a difference in yourself and the world around you, you know that your thinking has shifted to a more advantageous way of living.
In this busy world, we have to slow down, relax and take the time to observe the world, instead of reacting to what we perceive is going on. That would be solving our problems with a different view of ourselves, and the world. Believe it or not, when we do that, we can get more done, think through things more quickly and live much happier lives with less chaos.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t live as I always have. I must live the life that all of my experiences, which brought me here, insist that I live. The views of the world that I have aren’t just about what my family said or did, says or does, or what I think I should say or do. The experiences and views are unique to me so that I can live in this world of constant change and evolution with other people.
What are your experiences about? Where have they brought you? What is your place in this world?
The Only Way Out of the Trap is Through….
Poem and Illustration by Brianna Sienkiewicz, iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
A light appears,
A burning sun on the horizon
It slices through your darkness
This light never fades
It grows in intensity.
This light, miles away
Beyond the briars and the thorns
Beyond all the fears, the self pity, and indulgence.
And slowly you turn towards this light, this thought of something more,
Through the darkest spaces in your mind you move
You traverse the depths and widths,
And keep going,
You need to.
Reaching that light is the only thought,
Because you know the only way out of the trap is through.
Why Intimacy Matters
by David Conneely – iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
I am in the business of intimacy. As the owner of iFloat, and a consultant and facilitator offering Mental Arts seminars, every part of my life is about helping other people be at one with themselves and in harmony with others. To do that, I communicate with people about intimate topics, such as where they are getting in their way, or where they are disrespecting themselves and others. Despite my training and expertise in the mind and communication, I recently saw the depth at which I have not been intimate, and what it has cost me.
I always thought of myself as someone who was close to people, but some of my good friends recently helped me see that was not the case. “Who do you trust?”, my good friend, Anne, asked me recently. Her question was the beginning of many discussions, evasions, frustrations, and (ultimately) resolutions. I eventually saw how I politely maintained a distance from people in my life, and how that upset some of my closest friends. When I slowed down to listen to them, I was devastated by my actions. I love them. Why push them away?
Questions such as, “Who do you trust?” and “Why do you push people away?” do not always have clear-cut answers. The first answer is merely an opening into the depths of one’s mind, which is sometimes like a labyrinth. For me, I had to look at the facets of what I believed in order to see into where I resisted intimacy. I had to communicate about it in order to see it. Doing so helped me change it and see possibilities that were always off my radar. For example, at our recent Holistic Happy Hour, my friends suggested I just enjoy the event while they ran the event. By sitting back and enjoying myself, we shared an intimacy I never experienced. I was trusting them to do everything, which brought us closer together. It was beautiful, and not something I had experienced before.
Intimacy is necessary for success. By being intimate with other people, we let them in to see the parts of ourselves working and the parts not working well. Only by letting people see what isn’t working well can we have any hopes to change them. Walking through life saying, “I’m fine,” keeps everything the same. Smiling your way through life keeps everything the same. However, when we stop and look into the eyes of a good friend or family member and we tell them what is going on for us, we reach a place where the reality we create can be altered and enhanced. In that moment, we communicate from the depth of who we are and our friend or family member can help us transform our communication into something real, something different, something better for ourselves and our community, our business, and our world.
“Cosmic Love is absolutely ruthless and highly indifferent: it teaches its lessons whether you like/dislike them or not.” ~ John C. Lilly
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…
by John Worthington – author of “The Office of Shaman”
In the history of the United States each new wave of immigrants have elicited their fair share of hate and hate crimes. We’ve hated the Irish, people of African Origin, Latin people of all flavors, Italians, Slovaks, Poles, and of course, a perennial favorite, people of Jewish ancestry. None of our hate has ever been founded on anything substantial. It always was and always will be based on a group of people being different, or their customs and ways of thought being unknown to us.
I’m not apologizing for the amazingly childish nature of hate and bigotry but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had to grow out of it myself either. I never met a kid who was black until I was more than 20 years old. I never met a Latin individual until I was nearly thirty. You could say that I was parochial at best and ignorant at worst. But the reality was that I just didn’t know anyone who was different than me either by skin tone or by language or even by thought processes.
I’m sure you can imagine my indignation when I learned that a young man I worked with every day had been denied water as a kid, because the only water fountain was for white people only. My parochial and ignorant moral sensibilities were offended to the utmost. That was not fair. After all the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence stated that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Surely that had to extend to a 12 year old kid getting a drink of water, didn’t it?
Well, yes it did. Even though good Christian men and women insisted that their hypocrisy was justified and their prejudice was ordained by God. So I suppose I should not be as profoundly saddened as I actually am today to witness at Trump rallies how hypocritical and prejudiced people are against human beings who happen to have been raised Muslim. I suppose I should not even be surprised that “business man” Trump, who specializes in making money off human frailty, panders to those parochial and prejudiced people who do not know any human beings who happen to have been raised Muslim, simply to “make the deal.” It’s times like these that make me wonder if we ever obtained freedom to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I Thought I Knew…
by Terri Stangl
It seemed so clear:
paper covers rock
rock crushes scissors
scissors cut paper
two tight fists
pounding into air
insisting on a win.
I had yet to see the mystery:
how rock guides water
as water carves rock
how wind sprays water
as water warms wind
how hands connect,
with fingers intertwined,
waving to each other,
while reaching out beyond.
Are You Living a Drive-Through Life?
by John Worthington – author of “The Office of Shaman”
You know, dear friends, Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.”
I suppose this list should also include a time to drive-through and a time to sit down and enjoy. A time to listen to our young people and a time for young people to liven to their elders.
We who are involved as facilitators for Mental Arts encounter the devastating effect of telling ourselves goofy things as people. Such as there’s not enough time, or there’s too much to do, or I can’t take time to relax… Are we so stressed that we cannot take time to think and consider what we say to ourselves and what we do to ourselves because we say those things?
Years are lost and lives end early merely because we try to drive-through life. We even lament “we do not have patience” as if patience is required to enjoy a sunset or a child’s laughter or even to relish the accomplishments of people we know. Patience is not required to reflect on the passing of those who have affected us or have even devoted their lives to us and our life and times.
I for one do not wish to drive-through such unique events in my life. I do not require patience to live life. I require enjoyment, fulfillment, and the honor of the life I have made for me. It really isn’t important if I’ve done dumb things. We all do all the time. It isn’t the brilliant things I’ve done either. Everyone does brilliant things all the time.
No, I don’t think I want to wallow in guilt over the dumb things I may or may not have done or to walk proudly in a world that I only think I control. Neither my deeds nor my misdeeds are what makes life. What’s important is that my life, what I enjoy and what fulfills me, the errors I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned can be shared in relationships with dear friends. Don’t you think?
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” ~George Bernard Shaw
The Lesson of Pumpkin Pine
by Terri Stangl – Quantum Floats. Bedminster, NJ/www.quantumfloats.com
I recently moved into a home in Bedminster, New Jersey, which was built in the late 1800s. It sits on the property where Quantum Floats will expand later this year. One of the first things I noticed when I moved in is the wide plank flooring that is throughout the home. The flooring has a beautiful coloring that is a deep orangish brown. What I was surprised to learn recently, is this flooring has a specific name and legacy. The flooring is called “Pumpkin Pine” and the lumber itself comes from mature Eastern White Pines, that in colonial times was used to create flooring and furniture. The rich orange color is not from stain though; what is unique about the flooring is it takes several generations to be realized. The creation of the flooring begins with the layering of straw between each floor board. Every few years, the boards were wiped, turned, and the straw replaced. It took as long as 70 years for the wood to develop the full depth of color I see now. Pumpkin Pine was not for those seeking instant results. It was an investment in future generations, to whom it was often given as a gift and the individuals who started with the fresh white pine lumber rarely saw the finished product.
I was struck by the story of how and why Pumpkin Pine was created, because it represents a worldview that is different from the drive-through, fast food world I grew up with and still see all around me. Too often I have found myself impatient when things have taken longer than I thought they “should”. The sun doesn’t care when I want it to rise, a garden grows according to the requirements of what is planted, and a business needs what it needs to thrive regardless of what I or anyone else may want on a given day. And the reality is how I think and what I do today continues long after I’m gone. Just because I may not be able to observe the impact in the next five minutes – or even within decades – doesn’t mean that there isn’t an investment in what one leaves for the next generation. The question is, what kind of investment am I making here and now? Am I making Pumpkin Pine floors or a bonfire for the day? Isn’t that the kind of long-term view at the heart of the debate over such important issues as climate change, water quality and quality public education?
If our colonial ancestors could make a commitment to tend to boards and straw for over 3 generations in order to leave something of beauty and quality to posterity, surely we can do the same thing with our own thoughts and actions. Those thoughts and action make things that are just as real in the world as pumpkin pine floors.