The Human Essence

January 24, 2011 by  
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The Diving Bell And The Butterfly is the memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby a well-known French journalist, author and editor of the French fashion magazine Elle.  A film, by the same title, and based on the book, was nominated for four Oscars in 2008.

On 8 December 1995 at the age of 43, Bauby suffered a massive stroke. When he woke up twenty days later, he found only his left eye had movement. The stroke had resulted in locked-in syndrome, a condition where mental faculties remain intact but most if not all of the body is paralyzed.

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly is Bauby’s memoir. He learned to communicate by blinking his left eye whenever his speech therapist would get to the letter he wanted and thus forming words and phrases.

The title of the book comes from Bauby’s notion that while his body was submerged and weighted down — impossible to move — his imagination and memory were still free and as light as a butterfly’s wings: “My cocoon becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas’s court.” A few days after the book was published to rave reviews in March 1997, Bauby died of an infection.

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Strengthen Your Ego And Find Freedom

October 21, 2010 by  
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Angie Rubin

When our ego is strong and healthy we are no longer vulnerable to other people’s agendas.  We realize that judging other’s worth by such measures as youth, physical appearance, success, money or power is just plain silly.

We know a person’s worth and their journey are complex.  It is the sum of our past, present and future.  And it is our dignity, kindness, strength of character put into practice.

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The Power Of Words

October 16, 2010 by  
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Angie Rubin

We forget how much power we have.   Say something nice and soothing and we bring happiness to others.  Say something mean and disrespectful and we can bring others to tears.  If we say something with enough certainty we can create supporters for good or ill-fated ideas.

What I’m saying is nothing new and yet we seem to withhold kind words but have no problem dishing out hurtful ones. And we mostly do it because we are angry ourselves, and we don’t know what to do about it.

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Why Are We Burning The Quran?

September 8, 2010 by  
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Angie Rubin

September 11 is just a few days away and while most people around the world and especially in this country will remember it as a day of horror others will try to add their own kind of misunderstanding.

I’m not a religious person and seldom get passionate about arguing religion.  I’m more interested in discussing that which brings us together and not what pulls us apart.  My life’s interest is to try to listen and respect other people’s opinions even if they drastically differ from mine and in return receive the same.

It is conflicting to me when a man like pastor Jones of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, discusses burning the Koran.

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Life Lessons 2

August 30, 2010 by  
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I read today on CNN.com about a Sri Lankan woman who went to work in Saudi Arabia as a housemaid.  When the Sri Lankan woman complained about being overworked the Saudi couple went on to hammer 18 nails into her body.

What immediately came to my mind was the fact that the Sri Lankan woman was no more than an object to the Saudi couple.  She was never seen by them as a mother, sister, or a friend.  To them she was just a body.

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The Real Meaning Of Tolerance

July 1, 2010 by  
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Tolerance is a word that gets tossed around by religious leaders, politicians and regular folks as if it was a Frisbee on amphetamines.  But what about the real meaning behind the word and not just that which gets people elected and praised?

It is easy to be tolerant when our immediate social environment is made out of like minded individuals.  It is the old preaching to the choir syndrome.  But what happens when we are confronted by ideas and people that are not only foreign to us but completely opposite?  How do stout Democrats converse with Republicans?  How atheists converse with committed religious individuals?

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Marching Through Changes

June 23, 2010 by  
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Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.  ~Faith Baldwin

Change is unsettling, even if it’s for the better.

We get use to anything, even pain and hurt, and somehow what we know – even if it false – makes us feel secure and gives us some type of referential in life.

My conversation yesterday during my therapy session was about a particular change I’ve been going through the last few years.

Years ago, to cover up my insecurities, I started acting tough.  I remember going to parties and standing in a corner with an attitude that said; I’m too good for this and that’s why I’m standing here looking tough.  The truth was that I was too scared to connect with strangers.  It wasn’t that I sat down one day and decided to start acting tough, it just happened.  But I’ve always also been a very kind person so I started to live in conflict between who I was and how I was presenting myself to the world.  In my tough phase I also found people that supported my behavior.  They too were insecure.

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Kindfully + Mindfully

May 8, 2010 by  
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A very simple and effective post by Leo Babauta



How you treat others is how you treat yourself.

“Do every act of your life as if it were your last.” ~Marcus Aurelius

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on twitter or identica.

There’s something so powerfully simple, profoundly beautiful, about the Dalai Lama’s quote: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

It’s a philosophy I’ve been exploring for awhile, and though I don’t claim to have even come close to mastering it, it turns out this is a single word that can become the central tenet of your life, if you let it: “kindness”.

Kindness can guide every interaction you have with others, can guide your life’s work, can give meaning to your life, can even guide your eating, parenting, marriage, and more.

All else will melt away, if you let go of it, and leave only kindness.

Doing to others IS doing to yourself

The Golden Rule goes something along the lines of, “Treat others as you’d want to be treated (in their place)”, but in another conception, how you treat others is how your treat yourself.

Consider: when you react to others with anger or meanness, you are putting yourself in an angry mindset, a bad mood. You’ll likely feel pretty crappy for at least an hour, if not all day.

When you are uncaring or indifferent to others, you also create an empty, blank feeling in yourself, a void that cannot be filled with gadgets, social networking, shopping, food, or possessions.

When instead you are kind, you build a good feeling within yourself, you make yourself happy. In effect, you are being kind to yourself.

Other outward-facing actions have a similar inward effect: if you want to learn, teach. If you need inspiration, inspire others. If you’re sad, cheer someone up.

mindfulness + kindfulness

It is near impossible, in my experience, to transition towards kindness without being mindful. Thoughtlessness leads to unkindnesses.

You must be mindful of every interaction with another human being. Approach each person mindfully, with your full attention, smiling, seeking to understand them, trying to interact with gentleness, warmth, compassion.

When someone comes to talk to you, when your kid tugs on your pant leg for attention, when your spouse or best friend starts speaking, turn to them without distraction, putting everything else away, and give your full attention. Listen.

Here’s something beautiful: by treating others with kindness, you will create a happy feeling within yourself, effectively creating a positive feedback loop for your mindfulness. This will encourage you to be more mindful throughout your day, which will help you to treat others with yet more kindness, and so on.

Mindfulness and kindfulness feed on each other in a wonderful cycle.

Practicing the religion of kindness

This all, of course, takes careful practice, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it.

There’s an evolution in kindness, a process in which I’m still only near the middle (more likely in the beginning and just don’t know it), where kindness can slowly infuse your life, transform everything you do.

Relationships: Your interactions and eventually your relationships with others, including friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, will slowly grow more positive, stronger.

Parenting: If you are a disciplinarian parent, learning to make every interaction with your child one centered on kindness will create a new type of relationship, and will teach your child how to be kind to others, by your example. Your actions are a much better teacher than your words.

Work: It might seem unrealistic, but it is possible to center your work around kindness. Gradually and purposefully make your work a living expression of your kindness, your love, in your interaction with your customers, co-workers, colleagues, the world … in what you produce and put out there.

Eating: A vegan diet is perhaps the kindest diet, all things being equal. This is from the belief that animals suffer when we put them in miserable living conditions, maim and shock them, kill them, for our pleasure. I’m not saying this to be self-righteous, or to make anyone feel guilty, but only for your kind consideration — to consider the animals as you eat. Consider also, as you are contemplating kindness, your eating’s effects on farmers and workers, on your health and the health of your family, and on the environment.

Conclusions

It isn’t easy to be kind on every possible human transaction, on every interaction we have throughout the day. It’s far easier to be thoughtless. It can feel better to get back at someone when they are unkind to you (at least, it feels better at first). It takes less effort to not care.

But when we touch another person’s life, our lives are being touched as well. What shape do you want your life to take? That will be completely determined by the effort you take to be mindful, and to be kindful.

“Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for kindness.” ~Seneca

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5 Reminders That Will Affect Your Life

September 26, 2009 by  
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I am actively working on affecting changes in my life.  I fully realize that I have within me all the tools I need to have a great impact in the way I feel on a daily basis.  I also know that my life is my creation and my master piece.  All the situations that happen in my life give me the choice in how to sculpt my existence.

None of us are different from anybody else.  We all want the same things we only go about getting them in a different way.

So I wanted to share with you the things that I’m now reminding myself of every moment in order to affect the changes I want and I hope you’ll find these concepts helpful as well.

1 – Slow down – The misguided idea that by not having a minute to breath we are accomplishing lots and so deserve some type of reward it is just stupid.  All we do is create stress and miss out on all the simple things that are the basis of real happiness that happen all around us without any appreciation or recognition from us because we just don’t have the time.   Even sex which is mostly free and if you have a partner easy to do falls in the, I don’t have time for it category.  How much time do you dedicated to explore your body and your lover’s body and experience love and pleasure knowing that if you did it would bring you happiness?

2 – Commitment – Whatever it is that we decide to put our minds and energy into should be done with full commitment.  That means no fear of failure.  Fear of failure makes us not fully commit.  Somehow we think if we don’t share with ourselves and others how much we really want something, we have the illusion that if it doesn’t happen we won’t look bad.  The truth is that without full commitment we are going after something with only half a brain and half a heart.  How many of us have actually seen others succeed because they declared to the world what they wanted and went after it with gusto?  Who cares what others think of our successes of failures?  What we should be caring about is stretching our personal boundaries and experience the best life we can for ourselves.  No one knows us and where we have been and what we want like ourselves.  The only person we need to care about in committing is ourselves.  As we don’t have a clue what takes for anybody to get something the reverse is also true.

3 – To Be of Service – Giving and sharing is the best way to get us outside our own heads and make us feel part of a community and to feel and that we have a voice in how the world gets shaped.  We can have a positive impact in the world.  That’s a huge thing.

4 – Live in the Present – The past has happened and the future is yet to register so the only time frame we can experience is the present.  By focusing on the present we can impact the future.  By focusing on the future, we missed the present and become very passive in the outcome of our lives.

I believe in the basic quantum physics concept that the past, present and future co-exist simultaneously.  But that is not to say that we get a second chance to re-do or to experience something in a different way because once the energies of the world shift ever so slightly that moment will never happen again.

5 – Love.  Let’s not ever miss the chance to love a friend, a pet, a neighbor a flower, a family member and a partner.   Giving and receiving love makes us feel safe,  protected and gives us courage to have a bigger life.

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A Small Act of Kindness Goes a Long Way

June 1, 2009 by  
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Cedars’ infusion center is a big room that looks like a medical concrete tent. The first time I walked in there with my husband Chris I thought of M.A.S.H..

As we stood frozen at the entrance, we saw people of all ages and colors hooked up to IVs getting their drugs.  Some patients were asleep, some just looked out into the distance and a few sat with their friends or family members chatting like being there was the most normal thing in the world.

Chris’ doctor was away at the time and the nurse who was supposed to walk us through the process was nowhere to be found. 

I don’t remember which one of us took the first step but we finally walked in holding each other’s hand.  At the nurse’s station we waited a few minutes before one of them thought we deserved some attention.

I got really mad and told them that it was frightening enough to take the steps from the entrance to their station without having to wait by their desk being completely ignored.

They apologized but I could see in their expression that they were thinking “not another one telling us how to do our jobs”.

Chris stepped on a large scale and after his weight was taken we went to sit on one of the recliners.  I sat next to Chris and as I looked around tears started to flow down my face.  I turned away from him as I didn’t want him to see me crying.

A heavy set couple sat a few feet from us.  The man was hooked up to an IV getting whatever drug his doctor thought had a chance to beat his cancer.  His partner sat next to him.  She watched me for a couple of seconds before getting up.  Without saying a word, she walked up to me and handed me a tissue.  It was a simple gesture in which she was letting me know she understood, she knew in her gut what I was feeling.

I didn’t feel alone anymore. At that moment I knew also in my gut that somebody else was already travelling the road I was just about to go on and she was still standing.

That woman allowed me the strength to sit in that infusion center for the next ten months, her gesture a small one but of magnificent power.

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