Today I’m picking up the talking stick.
In a little while, it will go to someone else--maybe you.
In the warmth of the campfire, we can tell our secrets. We can share our dreams. There while holding the stick, we cannot be argued with, interrupted, or ridiculed.
The talking stick gives us time, and a platform to say our piece.
Others may disagree with our statements, that’s okay, they will have their turn.
After a while we see each other for who we are--we are The Wisdom Seekers.
You know that the talking stick is a Native American practice. It’s a physical item, a decorated stick that gives the one holding it the right to talk. The others do not interrupt, make snide comments, or argue. After the first speaker is complete the stick passes to the next person who wishes to use it.
I saw the stick lying on the floor this morning vibrating as though it had been attached to an electrical wire.
Yet, as I, with a quivering hand, picked up the stick I wondered if I would be thrown out of the group. I feared ridicule and laughter. You don’t know what you’re talking about some might say. You’re crazy, says another.
Wait, you will have your turn.
I know I’m not crazy. I know that there is a truth buried deep within me from old times, from ancient cultures, from present teachers, and from my own experience.
It is our duty to share what we have gained from the privilege of living on this beautiful planet. (I am in awe. If you don’t value this planet watch “This Strange Rock,” on Netflix, and see how our earth is fighting for us daily.)
We have a duty to teach what we know and to counter the negative bias that permeates all of us as human beings.
You know how anything negative sticks like Velcro to Velcro.
We can have one hundred positive comments aimed at us, but let one negative slip in and what sticks?
The world preys on negativity daily. It feeds us with danger, with stories of war or rumors of more war, murder, someone falling or getting trapped, animal harmed, the atmosphere in danger, the ozone leaving, asteroids crashing into us, and the sun swallowing us up.
It’s enough to make a stalwart soul quiver in the closet.
But, we’re made of stronger stuff.
We know that for the 600,000 years of evolution that built negative bias into us, it helped us to survive. It kept us away from Saber-toothed tigers, for if we didn’t jump from danger, or learn what it was, or what its habits were, we weren’t there the following day.
Except our brain is not equipped to face tigers every day. It isn’t equipped to face the ills of the entire world on a daily basis. It’s too big for us. We evolved in tribes, a small group of people we could love, care for, and feel with. But the entire world? That’s overwhelm.
We can’t do anything about the past. We can, right now, be advocates for our own happiness. We have a big thinking brain, we can learn and grow from RIGHT NOW.
When Marie Forleo asked Rick Hanson what the difference between the BRAIN and the MIND was, he said the brain is the hardware. The Mind is the nervous system that took those 600,000 years to evolve. It processes information. For example, the brain sees the traffic light, the red, yellow, and green. The mind interprets them.
We can use our mind to actually change our brain, for thought patterns leave behind lasting traces. “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” says Hanson,
“Pat the lizard, feed the mouse, and hug the monkey,”
The lizard is the Reptilian Brain, you’ve heard of that one. It is our primitive brain whose purpose is to see that we survive. (Fight, run, freeze.)
The mouse is the mammalian brain. It is called the limbic system and is the center of emotion and learning.
The amygdala in the mammalian brain is the filtering system—the security checkpoint of airports. It scans for threats or danger, then it authorizes admittance into the higher brain, neocortex.
The amygdala has no concept of time. Past, present, and futures are all one and the same.
That explains how traumatized individuals are stuck in the past. For them, their trauma is happening right now. And the amygdala was never designed to store long-term.
Hanson’s instructor said, to go ahead and repeat your bad experiences as long as you want. But 10 times is enough.
Sometimes the amygdala is called, the joyful amygdala for it has a wonderful characteristic.
IT SEES OPPORTUNITY.
You can train your amygdala away from trauma. The more you know yourself, the more resilient you are.
The more resilient you are, the happier you are.
Find an opportunity to be happy. Stay with it. Feel the emotion. Allow it to penetrate your entire being. Remember, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Too often we let the good slip past us, that compliment where we say, “Oh, that old thing.”
Stop, allow it to settle, allow those neurons to wire.
Find an opportunity to be joyful.
Emotionally Intelligent people use their thinking to guide their emotions rather than their emotions to dictate their thinking and behavior.
Now, hug the Monkey.
The monkey represents the primate, the higher brain, the neocortex. The monkey focuses on relationships. It is our need for social connections. Hanson says that LOVE is the multivitamin.
We as humans are good at having experiences, so position yourself to go for the better.
“Be happy for others, when you are happy for others, you will always be happy.”—Dali Lama
“Learning is the superpower of superpowers.”
“The highest treason a crab can commit is to make a leap from the rim of the bucket.” –Steven Pressfield
Have you ever decided to start a diet or spiritual practice, maybe you would like to sponsor a child in some far-off land, or maybe you wanted to run for office. Maybe you wanted to get married or have a child, or campaign for world peace.
You either didn’t do it, or else the whole idea quickly drifted away.
Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter that doesn’t paint, or an entrepreneur who doesn’t begin a venture?
Then you know what Resistance is.
Resistance is a word I got from Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art. It means not doing the work you were meant to do.
Did you know that Hitler wanted to be an artist? At eighteen he took his inheritance and applied to the Academy of fine arts, and later to the School of Architecture. Pressfield’s asked if we had ever seen any of his drawings. He said, and this was a stretch, but it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than to face a blank canvas.
Actually, Hitler was ravished by defeat. He flunked out of high school, and both entrance exams to the art schools he wanted. He was selfish, egotistic, and lazy and would not take any criticism, and this man rose to prominence. You figure.
Many people have been told they have no talent, would never make it, and said, “They’re nuts,” and went on to do the thing they wanted to do.
Pressfield’s point is you do your work anyway—even if it’s terrible. You show up. You put your butt on the chair.
Resistance hits any health regime, spiritual advancement, diet, any calling in writing, music, education, or political movement.
The awakening person must be ruthless with themselves and with others who sabotage their efforts. You know how many times, “The starving artist,” has been played. Me neither.
Procrastination? Well, what can I say? You know about that. There are always distractions. Ill health, getting into trouble, soap operas—nothing like dad getting drunk, mom getting sick, and junior showing up with a swastika tattoo, to set a family spinning out of control.
Do we believe in freedom, affluence, stability, and enough resources to permit the luxury of self-examination? Do we believe that the world is advancing, however haltingly, toward a better world?
Or do we view humanity as fallen from a higher state? Do we believe in a philosophy of powerlessness? Do we need a doctrine to tell us what to do, rather than decide for ourselves?
I work up this morning humming, “We’re simply soldiers in petticoats.” Remember Mrs. Banks in the movie Mary Poppins? The original Mary Poppins, that is, released 1964. That was 55 years ago! I saw the movie with my mother and little sister, and my mother didn’t quite get the laughing on the ceiling bit—what a shot. Ed Wynn was perfect.
“Although we adore men individually, as a rule, they’re rather stupid.” See what Mrs. Banks could get away with.
That is art.
Don’t be insulted men, we adore you individually, but as a rule, we’ve had some pretty stupid men circling the globe recently.
Some people might see Mary Poppins as a frivolous child’s movie, but think of this, Mrs. Banks was a suffragette. The Fiduciary Bank, where Mr. Banks worked, was greedy and controlling. The altruistic little boy, Michael, wanted to feed the birds with his toppin. The parents were distracted and shuffled their children off to a nanny.
I hope I didn't use too many of the song lyrics for *"Sister Suffragette," by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. My publisher says that a song company can make you shred your book if you use too many song lyrics.
Don’t shred my blog.
Song titles are okay.
Okay, I go to the computer to do “my work,”—but first resistance, check my email. Hey, one of you might have sent me something grand.
This popped up.
$500.00 off coupon for a coaching course to make me beautiful.
“Enrol here,” they said.
Doesn’t enroll have two L’s?
Ha ha. Don’t get too serious.
*“Our daughter’s daughters will adore us…”
A bit of trivia; In the Walt Disney World in the lost and found, there is a wooden leg with the word, "Smith,” on it. You know the joke, "I know a man with a wooden leg named Smith."
"What's the name of his other leg?"
I just held the palms of my hands over both eyes while thinking of a time when I walked through our cherry orchard to an open field to where my horse was tethered on a chain long enough for him to graze a fifty-foot circle.
He whinnied in greeting, I unclipped the chain and climbed aboard. Together we galloped back through the cherry orchard up to the house for water, and an evening together.
Sitting here now, I was following a suggestion offered by The Bates Method of vision training. That is to rub your palms together, cup them over your eyes and think of something pleasant.
The idea is to relax the eyes.
I mentioned The Bates method on my January 25, 2019, blog after I stumbled upon Aldous Huxley’s book The Art of Seeing, and read:
“Suppose crippled eyes could be transformed into crippled legs,” Huxley quoted Mathew Luckiesh, Director of General Electric’s Lighting Research laboratory. “What a heart-rendering parade we would witness on a busy street. Nearly every other person would go limping by. Many would be on crutches and some on wheelchairs.”
Huxley states that when legs are imperfect, the medical profession makes every effort to get the patient walking again, and without crutches if at all possible. "Why should it not be possible to do something analogous for defective eyes?"
Well, look who's talking. I wear glasses, and I took the Bates method of vision training.
That was 30 years ago. (A time when that Phone Book print became minuscule and blurry.)
At the end of my training, my vision tested 20/20, and I could read the phone book.
A testament to the training was that during my training, while sitting in a dimly-lighted restaurant, I was the only one, of six people present, who could read the menu.
Many of the students who were taking the training the same time I did—although the training was one on one--used as a goal the passing the DMV’s Driver’s License eye test without glasses.
Now I wear glasses, a must to read and to view the computer screen.
Some could say it’s aging.
I say I’ve been negligent.
I wonder, too, since the eye is an extension of the brain—reaching right out there via the optic nerve, how that differs from let’s say our legs. Do the eyes have a more brain/eye influence?
My Naturopath told me that my brain doesn’t care if my legs fall off. It’s concerned about itself, the brain and the heart. I guess it has its priorities in order.
I googled the Bates method, and what did I find? Dr. Christiane Northrup right there on YouTube touting the Bates Method.
Northrup’s book is Women’s Minds, Woman’s Bodies. What a woman. An OBGYN of enormous grace, wit, and wisdom who isn’t afraid to talk of Intuition, angels, the loving God within, that aging is a matter of the mind, and that you can help your vision with exercises. She has worn contacts since the age of 16, still does, however, her vision has not deteriorated.
Northrup speaks of epigenetics, how the environment, thoughts, affect our genes.
Remember how we were taught that genes are compact little gems that gather together to make us. We considered them unalterable and unchangeable—not now.
“Remember, you are in the driver’s seat of your health and you can make a profound change.”
–Dr. Christiane Northrup
Northrup told of a study on two groups ages 80 plus. After testing their vitals, hearing eyesight and such, they were told to go to a quiet place, like a monastery, and pretend they were living in the 1950s. They were to speak as though they were living then and to watch TV and films at that time. At the end of the study, all their vitals were better, and they looked 10 years younger, while the test group who went on as usual showed no change.
You know how easy it is to take a pill for some disorder, or go to the optometrist for a prescription for glasses, slap them on, and to go on our merry way?
I’m not saying don't to go to the optometrist, indeed, go. Get a diagnosis, and don’t throw away your glasses until it is possible to see well without them. Maybe that will never happen but wouldn’t it be great if our eyesight never got worse?
A few things I remember from my Bates training which will not change the basic structure of the eye—unless it does with relaxations strengthening the muscles, those sorts of things. Oh, yes, and sunning the eyes—that may be controversial, for DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. The idea is to close one eye, look down so that the pupil is below your eyelid, hold the eyelid up with your hand and allow the sun to shine on the white of your eye.
Looking near to far will help your accommodation. When sitting at your desk find a spot out the window and every so often focus on that far-a-way spot. Or place a big letter down the hall and look to that if you have no window. No Window! Yipes.
All those exercises seemed to have little change on my vision until she brought in some cards where she could slide the cards apart or together, as I focused on them. It seemed that I was crossing my eyes, but it taught me how it felt to have my eyes come into alignment. A bio-feedback sort of arrangement.
One of the most amazing experiences related to that training was that one day while looking at a magazine picture it looked three-dimensional. I knew it was a two dimensional, picture on a page, but I clearly saw depth between the images.
A friend's little boy in Riverside California had some eye condition, I think his eyes weren't converging properly. The treatment although not the Bates Method, was for him to jump on a trampoline behind a wall just high enough so that when he jumped he could see over the wall. Something on the wall behind the low wall gave him a focal point. That treatment must have worked to correct his vision, for he didn't wear glasses and went on to become a professor, so I would say he could read.
In the preface to the book, The Art of Seeing, Huxley describes how, at the age of sixteen, he had a violent attack of keratitis punctat which made him nearly blind for eighteen months and left him thereafter with severely impaired sight. He managed to live as a sighted person with the aid of strong spectacles, but reading, in particular, was a great strain. In 1939 his ability to read became increasingly worse, and he sought the help of Margaret Corbett, who was a teacher of the Bates method. He found this immensely helpful, and wrote: “At the present time, my vision, though very far from normal, is about twice as good as it used to be when I wore spectacles, and before I had learned the art of seeing.”
The book is rather spendy $21-$36 dollars, but you can find it for free online at:
P.S. Did I show you the cover of my upcoming book, The Frog’s Song? I hope not, for I just learned from my publisher that I ought not to show it until it can be purchased. Ah, and I was proud of the cover too.
Since this book is taking two years from acceptance to printing, I need to read it again to find out what I said. And now with the snow, dreaming of Hawaii sounds terrific. Breeze smooth as silk, bathtub warm water, swaying palms, falling coconuts—whoops.
The Frog’s Song will be released on May 19, 2019.
Her travels had taken her beyond the shores of her native continent, but she is back where she started, in Oregon.