September 2015 Mental Arts Newsletter
Welcome to the September 2015 edition…I was having a discussion with my daughter’s boyfriend about someone on Facebook who was saying how black people, gay people, any race of people should watch out for there own and that we should stay separate, that somehow that worked better in this person’s mind. However, if we pay the least bit of attention to the news, that very mindset of separatism is at the root of most if not all of the issues that plague our communities our nation and the world. There are even some in the presidential race who are using this mindset/belief as a platform to try and be elected president of the United States…The anniversary of 9/11 should remind us how devastating that way of thinking is. That particular event shook the world and I think began or maybe even continued a ripple out into the world of another way of thinking, another way of seeing that we are a global community and if we begin to pull towards each other and break down those illusionary walls, we just might find a common ground on which to stand together.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field, I will meet you there.” ~ Rumi
Trump, Palin and the Rise of Neo-Fascism
by John Worthington, author of “The Office of Shaman”
Here’s a scary ride for your bucket list of all nightmarish carnival attractions. What if Donald Trump were to win the Republican nomination and pick Sarah Palin as his running mate? What would the planks in their campaign platform be? Well, I’ve spent some time considering this and would like to offer the following as a highly probable platform.
*To be anti-liberal; anti-conservative and anti-communist.
*To be a ‘Third Way,’ rejecting both capitalism and communism.
*To establish a nationalist, authoritarian regime.
*To meld labor and management into a nationalist whole.
*To actively pursue U.S. interests first, and also to expand U.S. territory.
*To reject reason and rationality.
*To encourage the total militarization of society.
*To create private para-military militias.
*To relegate women to subservient roles in society.
*To be a movement of the young.
This is probably as concise of a statement as can be expected from such a candidacy. The reason being that it is pretty much an exact replica of the basic qualities that all Fascist movements have in common, and Fascist movements are noted for a lack of unified thought characterized by reactions to a perceived threat which is most often verbalized by the Capitalist elite.
In other words, Fascism is not a clearly defined political system but rather a loosely defined system, which preaches national unity while enforcing party ideals with para-military hierarchies. It must depend on such dichotomies as us vs. them, or white vs. black, or Americans vs. Hispanics. But always the incurrent of all rhetoric is rooted in hate for anyone who is not in “my tribe.”
On the other side of the fairground is the family oriented rollercoaster ride of the possible candidacy of Bernie Sanders and Elisabeth Warren. Both Sanders and Warren are espousing a few planks in their platform that defies normal Right vs. Left political views.
To explain this position we have to refer to the rebuttal to Socialism written by the economist Oskar Lange. Lange stated, “The real danger of socialism is that of a bureaucratization of economic life. Unfortunately, we do not see how the same or even greater danger can be averted under monopolistic capitalism.”
Lange was responding to an argument posited by Nobel Prize winner Friedrich Hayek and free market economist Ludwig Von Misis, which stated that Socialism was bound to fail because it lacked the signaling system of supply and demand. Lange had stated that inventory was just such a signaling system, then added that the problem as he saw it was bureaucratization in both Socialism and Capitalism.
A Warren/Sander ticket would, on paper at least, combat just exactly such a shortcoming in our current Capitalist system.
In the meantime enjoy the fair. I hear the midway is spectacular this year. Political comedians of all sorts are playing nightly. And, as Will Rogers once said, “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
The Difference Between Talking and Communicating
by Ken Kaplan – Quantum Floats, Bedminster, NJ
I recently joined the board of directors of a local company. I jumped at the opportunity because it’s a great way to support a local company and the community. As a board member, one of the things I do is attend monthly meetings with the other board members to discuss the affairs of the company.
After attending a couple of these meetings it was obvious that there was lots of talking going on, but no communication. The meetings were supposed to follow a set agenda where the President made his report about the company and the board asked questions. The President made everything sound rosey and most of the board members were interested in dispensing advice without finding out what’s really going on in the company. There was no depth to the discussion. I asked the President how things are going for him at home.
Everyone in the room already knew that he had recently separated from his wife. There was a brief moment of awkwardness, but then the entire meeting changed. The President talked about how he has been distracted by what’s going on at home and how that distraction has affected his ability to pay attention to the job. Everyone chimed in and shared their own struggles and how those struggles affect their own businesses. It was as if a veil was lifted at the meeting and everyone was given permission to let their guard down and talk about the stuff that really affects business. In addition to talking about personal struggles, we talked about how people are getting along (or not getting along) in our businesses. We also talked about how communication within companies would benefit if everyone was given permission to let their guard down and talk about the stuff that really matters.
The meeting served as confirmation for what I think everyone in the room already knew; that the issues that affect business are the same issues we carry around with us all of the time. The meeting was also a reminder that there’s a difference between talking and communicating.
Are You “Happy”?
by Wendy Johnson – Delta Floats, Lansing, MI/www.deltafloats.com
For how much the word ‘happy’ gets thrown around; I am not happy, I just want to be happy, he/she doesn’t make me happy; it sure seems to be a confusing word. When asked what people want exactly or what exactly makes them happy they can rarely say,
or even if they do and they get that thing they still aren’t ‘happy’.
Nearly, everyone seems to think that happiness comes from outside of them or that something or someone can make them happy. The focus is just put in the wrong place and that seems to not only confuse, but frustrate people to no end. I think people just miss that life may not be about happiness as much as it’s simply about what you need to do. You only have so much time here on earth, what do you need to get done in that time?
I like how Gandhi put it: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in Harmony”.
by Elise (India) Lenhart
What if we were to really acknowledge just merely breathing…
The flow of our blood pumping through our veins…
The cerebral spinal fluid flowing through our very being…
The beating of our heart…
What does that mean for us?
It is a reminder that we are alive.
Every contracting muscle…
Every blink of an eye…
Every bodily movement that it takes to keep going.
One foot in front of the other.
Walking at our own pace through life.
Finding out what that means for us.
Turning points leading us to the next adventure.
Our trials and tribulations.
Our lessons to be learned.
We are alive.
Too many taking life for granted.
Too many missed moments in time.
Too many rocks unturned.
Sometimes it’s what we find as the little things in life that are left unnoticed.
What about right now?
Are you missing anything?
Would you notice if you were?
Are you acknowledging that you are alive?
What Are We “Protecting” Our Children From?
by Terri Stangl – Quantum Floats, Bedminster, NJ
An unprecedented number of young people are now staying at home with their parents well into their 20s. According to the New York Times one in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents and 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from their parents. Just a generation ago, only 1 in 10 young adults moved back home and few received such financial support. Indeed, a number of my younger float clients are still living at home with their parents and depending on them to supplement their earnings and to maintain the household. They are sometimes resentful and rebellious when they are asked to help with chores, bills, or other responsibilities. Is it any wonder that these same young people have difficulty in forming and maintaining a long term relationship with a partner?
The media discusses this trend as the result of significant student debt, limited high-paying job prospects, combined with the reluctance of many young people to give up the standard of living and comforts they enjoy while living at home. While all of this may be the case, I think it is more important to consider the assumptions and beliefs about real – among both children and their parents – that are producing this societal shift.
This pattern of protecting children starts in early childhood when parents seek to “protect” their children from ever “feeling bad”. Everyone wants their children to live in Lake Wobegon where ‘all the children are above average’, where ‘everyone is a winner’, and well-tended self-esteem is valued over grit and resilience. The sad part is that these parents are not being honest with themselves. What they are really doing is protecting themselves from “feeling bad” when their child is upset. When mom or dad protect a child from the inevitable scrapes and bumps of life, what are they communicating to that child about what the child can and should expect from his or her own life partners? Or life, itself?
Our model for our life partners starts in early childhood with what we perceive while watching the adults around us. We form beliefs about how men and women should act with each other and what “caring” looks like. When a man expects his partner – or that partner tries to be – like a protective mommy who makes it all better, or when a woman wants her partner to take care of her like she thinks daddy did, both partners in the relationship inevitably experience frustration. Neither partner is a parent or child to the other. Yet they blame each other instead of seeing where their frustration stems from their own expectations. Couples can and do maintain such fantasies for years, but there is a cost for them and their children. They aren’t actually communicating, but merely talking at who they think each other is or should be. And this becomes the dyadic model for their own children.
When partners can learn tools to help them sort out how they think they “should” be treated by or behave toward a partner, and what they still believe about mom and dad, they can begin to see what is actually real instead of their wishes and fears. And starting with what is real is necessary for partners to communicate with each other and to accomplish their shared goals.
War on Drugs? Or War on People?
by John Worthington – author of “The Office of Shaman”
I doubt that anyone can deny, not realistically at least, that the infamous war on drugs is a failure. It just has not stopped the flow of drugs. The reason is another concept from the same time; that of supply side economics.
You see the war on drugs is based in the idea that if you tax the supplier sufficiently then he will no longer supply. In the war on drugs scenario the tax comes in the form of interdiction. Whether that interdiction is the arrest of the heads of cartels, the confiscation of product, or even the building of physical obstacles to impede the delivery of the supply.
The other two tenets of supply side economics, which are regulatory and setting of monetary policy have been of little or no use at all. This is all in stark contrast to a perhaps more realistic view of economics known as the Keynesian Theory. This theory of economics holds that the consumer and his desire for supply is what actually drives economic growth as opposed to the supply side theory which holds that the supplier’s willingness to produce drives economic growth.
Fortunately at least more than a few states are beginning to understand the enormous cost of the supply side theory failure. While it looks good on paper in the real world taxing the drug supplier has not curtailed demand nor slowed economic growth in the drug industry. It didn’t work during Prohibition either.
However, I’ve not yet addressed the enormity of the actual cost of our war on drugs. Consider these numbers for a moment. Since 2001 there have been 26,000 civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan. Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq there have been 160,500 people who died. In Mexico
just between 2007 and 2014 there have been 165,000 confirmed homicides. Those are the years that Filipe Calderon upped his war on drugs game. These numbers indicate that the war on drugs is really a war on people.
The people of Mexico are paying with their lives for the demand in the United States for drugs. The casualties in Mexico are greater than in Iraq in half the time. That does not count the toll in Central American countries such as El Salvador where gangs virtually rule urban areas. The so-called Central American Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador is one of the most violent places on earth. But, hey, I’m sure that has nothing to do with drug trafficking. Let them kill each other. Right?
We all know that is a deplorable idea but we all look the other way lest we have “those people” in our backyards. Wouldn’t it make better sense for the war on Drugs to end, to allow people to do what they’re doing anyway? What they have the right to do? The drug war hasn’t stopped the flow of drugs any more than prohibition stopped the flow of booze. People want to get high. To drink. We’ve learned to work with alcoholics as a society. I’m sure we can do the same with pot heads. We HAVE for years
The problem is that in the land of the free and the home of the brave there exists an attitude of intolerance for any and all people who are different than me. It is inconceivable that any individual can represent normal. It is nearly inconceivable that there is such a thing as normal. But that does not mean that just because another human being has brown or black skin that their heart does not swell with pride when they look upon the accomplishments of their children nor does it mean that they feel the loss of those children any less than the heart that beats in a white body. This horrible war on drugs is denying the basic premise that we Americans live our life by. It is a return to separatism. We are part of a global community whether we’re willing to admit it or not.
Perhaps we can begin to reclaim our freedom with the help of the words of Abraham Lincoln:
“…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
I Am What I Am…
by Tyler Blodgett – client at iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
I am what I am
We hear it all the time. Oh, I just have an anxious personality. I’m just an angry person. It’s not my fault, I was just born that way.
We accept this as reality, a softly spoken lie grafted into our psyche, telling ourselves this is just who we are. Unalterable. Just me. We embrace it, like we would our hair color or the hue of our skin. I am what I am. And if that keeps the world at bay, then so be it, I’ll remain, a martyr to my own perception.
You are not alone.
We all “believe” these truths as such. But you are not what the world has fashioned you to be. We all experience anger. Fear. Anxiety. Shame. Loneliness. Regret. Sadness. We have all bore witness to the power they appear to hold. But unlike those feelings, you will outlast.
Only you can decide if they will become you.
For the tendrils of those emotions run fathoms deep, rooted in the bedrock of your mind. Bound to those pivotal moments when life convinced you that you were what you were.
I am what I am.
You are who you want to be.
I am a happy person.
Do I feel anger? Of course. Do I feel despair? Of course. I am human. It’s those feelings that help us communicate. But I realize they are just feelings. They are not who I am.
I am what I chose to be.
Harmony Class July 2015: Learning about Community
by Jean Simon – client of iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
I attended the harmony class in July because I noticed changes in myself from taking the introductory Mental Arts classes. For most of my life I held strongly to the belief that “it is all good.” For example, in the past I always had a difficult time communicating with people about uncomfortable topics. After taking the introductory class I noticed that I was able to communicate with others easier.
Harmony class was a week of exploring what I started to learn on a deeper level. The class was seven days. Each day was a surprise. The students never knew what topic was going to be discussed or what we would experience the next day.
One of the most impactful days for me was going to an ancient pyramid site. Our guide Chavez, told us about the local community where he lived. He spoke about how the people in his small community pay close attention to the details of everyone who lives there. His stories redefined my idea of community. This event was related to several discussions throughout the harmony class about my tendency to isolate myself from others. The combination of Chavez, the pyramid site, and discussions in class helped me reassemble my world in a way that I no longer saw myself as being alone. I saw myself as being in and part of community.
Harmony class was the experience of a lifetime. The experience has enriched relationships with others including family, co-workers, and friends.
Treat People Like People
by David Conneely – iFloat, Westport, CT/www.ifloatct.com
The manner in which someone answers a question says a lot about who they are. My friend Janet recently told me about how she went on a date with a man. During the date Janet asked the man if he had ever been married. He looked uncomfortable and said, “Let’s not talk about such personal things.” Janet was dumfounded. She told him, “This is a date and you’re a person. We are going to talk about personal things or I am going home.” The guy did not want to communicate and so Janet went home. Janet told me one of the key characteristics she is looking for in a future partner is that of communication. Since her date would not even communicate about such a basic question she knew it was not the right match.
It is important to communicate in order for people to know who you are. How often do you hold back from communicating with people because you are afraid of making them mad? How often have you noticed something important but you hold back because you do not want to make the person uncomfortable? For example, if someone has a piece of food in their teeth, will you tell them or pretend it is not there because it is socially awkward to say something? Sitting back while someone has food in their teeth is disrespectful to that person.
Part of letting people know who you are involves letting people know where you stand on important issues. I recently talked to a guy who made a disparaging statement about women. He ended it with “Oh, women!” I pointed out how what he was describing was not about “women,” and that men also wrestle with similar challenges. He agreed and he reconsidered his point of view. Do you stand up against general statements about women, men, or people of a certain class or race? If not, why not? When you communicate it helps people know who you are. If the guy had not reconsidered his point of view then I probably would not invite him out for a beer again. I prefer socializing with people who respect themselves and others.
The upshot is treat people like people. Ask questions. Communicate. When we communicate, ask personal questions and treat people like people we open doors that can lead to wondrous things. You will find out more about the world, and people will have the chance to get to know you. At the very least, you will be at one with yourself. You will sleep better. Your stress level will go down. You will also have stronger relationships. That sounds like a good deal, don’t you think?
Reflections on the Intro to the Art of Rewriting Class
by Chad Jandrew – client at The Art of Floating, Bloomsburg, PA/www.artoffloating.com
Wow, Why Was That so Hard…
What I mean is, why is it so easy for us to lie to ourselves and not even blink an eye over it. We lie to each other every day without even recognizing or acknowledging that we’re even doing it. WHY?? Because we believe it’s easier just to avoid and hope the situations just resolve themselves…Or wait for a day that never really comes when we think we might be ready to deal with it.
All the times we think were being honest with ourselves, we find ourselves once again accepting our own little excuses not to be. If we can’t be brutally honest with ourselves… Then who are we really kidding but ourselves? This is something much harder to do for ourselves than it should be.WHY?…That’s where the Intro to Rewriting Class comes in.
I know now, that we ourselves are the only ones responsible for what we say and do. We can’t control what others do or blame them for our actions. We are the only ones that really know why we do the things we do.
This class has begun to show me tools that I can use to begin to see through my own “B.S.” and excuses, long enough to actually, honestly, listen and pay attention to what my true self was trying to tell me the whole time. Now, I just need to take advantage of the “opportunities” I give myself on a daily basis and learn from them.
Also, just by brainstorming while trying to write this, has helped me see other things that need my undivided attention.
I like where this is going…Thanks to the Mental Arts Group.
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen”. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)