Chopra and Oprah, At It Again

You may have noticed the phenomenon that someone is always socialmedia-sharing their progression through one Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra meditation program or another. They’ve become very popular. After all, who wouldn’t want to take a lesson from these two inspirational people? Plus, who can argue against the benefits of daily meditation?

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My friends and family certainly seem more grateful and shiny as they write about what they have learned about life and themselves on any given day of the programs.

I want in! Not only does daily meditation always sound like a fun and worthy intention, but getting a syllabus and a daily pat on the back might be the right recipe to get it beyond my fits and starts.

So when a friend sent me this……

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…I said, “Sign me up!”

The program begins on July 13th. I don’t know exactly what it entails, but away we go! If you like the idea of guided daily meditation and an online community with whom to enjoy the experience, join us!! I definitely know myself well enough to know that I will NOT be posting regular “Today I am grateful for…” posts, but I’ll try to share some thoughts and updates. It’s always more fun if we do it together. 🙂

You can go to THEIR WEBSITE HERE to register. Or get there through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ChopraMeditation .

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Looking forward to meeting you there!

More Growth, Less Gross

Revel in your imperfections. Be entertained by your problems. And know that once you looked ahead and wished you were where you are now. And once again you will look back and smile.

Negative practice is an evidence-based technique that I like to use in my speech therapy sessions. Once a client has mastered a new way of doing something then I will have them intentionally go back and forth between the old and the new way. By doing so they experience a clear contrast between the two. This in turn builds improved self-awareness as well as control over their own communication. It can be very empowering for the client.  Let me give you an example.

I recently completed therapy with an adult who came in with an /s/ sound distortion. (Use of the slash marks indicated a phoneme, or sound, as opposed to a letter.) After I had taught her the tongue position and airflow for her “new” /s/ and she had practiced it successfully in various word positions, I began to have her say the words the “old way.” She was amazed at how she could go back and forth between the new  /s/ and old /s/. She also began to report that the new way felt more natural while the old way felt odd and more forced. Here is a picture of her old tongue position (top) and her new tongue position (bottom) for /s/.

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I was recently using negative practice with a voice client and it struck me that negative practice helps us in life from time to time as well. Not that I recommend intentionally returning to bad habits. I wouldn’t tell a recovered smoker to pick up a cigarette just to remind himself of how good it feels to NOT smoke. But sometimes situations arise that offer us a glimpse of just how far we have come. A friend of mine might have had one of these moments recently. He posted this on Facebook:

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Sometimes the gross makes us appreciate the good that we have been taking for granted.

This also makes me think of the strange tradition we have of following Thanksgiving with Black Friday.

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I wonder what the shoppers’ spirits experience as they navigate between the sensations of gratitude and kinship versus the feeling of coveting and competition.  Or for some I’m sure it is the opposite. Perhaps Thanksgiving is a lonely time while being in the midst of others at the mall provides a sense of community.

Either way, perceiving that contrast is what opens a door for self-awarenss and understanding of what is a better way for the higher self. Just like my client became aware of her communication and identity as an actress and speaker.

As a last illustration… I heard a song on my iTunes recently that took me back. It was a song that I used to listen to during meloncholy times. I remember I would listen to it over and over because the sadness felt good. It wasn’t a great choice for me to indulge in a darkness like that–it certainly didn’t seem to help much–but it was a time in my life when I had very few other ideas of what to do with my sadness. When this song came on the other day I could feel that sweet sadness began to drip over me again and sure enough, a part of me wanted to melt into it and indulge in that melancholy. But you know what? There is a “new way” that I’ve become much more accustomed to. That I have practiced and trained for. That I have mastered to some extent. I know that telling myself that things WILL pass, making a call to a friend, meditating, lighting a candle, smiling, having a cup of tea, playing a favorite uplifting movie and painting while my cat sleeps next to me and while life goes on in the big city outside my balcony door…well, that all is part of my new way. And one thing that I know that I know that I know: that old way can’t hold a candle to my new way.

So, dear readers, try to notice your moments of negative practice that present themselves to you. When you are reminded of an old habit or pattern that isn’t beneficial to you, recognize how good it feels to NOT do that anymore. Commend yourself for having developed a new way. Give thanks for the chance to see the contrast. Ask for more and more growth and less and less gross.

Here’s to that. More growth and less gross for each of us.

~~~S Wave~~~

Proclamation of Gratitude

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

It has been two years since I began this blog with some dear friends and family. There has been so much learning and exploration in that time. Wondering about connection and coming to understand it more from all sorts of different perspectives. Approaching also an understanding of my own dreams and their possible grander purposes.

A friend recently reminded me that we sometimes teach what it is that we most need to learn and although I don’t know if I have taught anyone much of anything here, I know that I have learned. And I know that it has been a wonderful experience to share that road with many wonderful people.

In this month the holidays are approaching with all of the excitement, nostalgia and odd melancholy that can come with that visitation. A milestone birthday also approaches for me in December causing me to reflect a great deal, with both yearning for the many unrealized hopes of these past years and with affection and not a little awe for those many that are realized and thriving. Finally, it seems social media is saturated right now with sentiments of gratitude in honor of Thanksgiving.

So in light of these events aligning as they are, it seems like a good time to share in the spirit of gratitude…not only to be grateful for this month of thanks, but to remind my own heart of the great unearned blessings and the ever-renewed potential that we are constantly experiencing in life if we will just hold on and believe in them.  And so…..

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Thank you for this life.

Thank you for the beauty I contribute to this life.

Thank you for the divinity that fills us and inspires the beauty I contribute to this life.

Thank you for the people who have guided me toward the divinity that fills us and inspires the beauty I contribute to this life.

Thank you for the love I have learned from the people who have guided me toward the divinity that fills us and inspires the beauty that I contribute to this life.

Thank you for the love I have learned from the people who have guided me toward the divinity that fills us, connects us and inspires the beauty that I contribute to this life.

Thank you for the love I have learned from the people who have guided me toward the divinity that fills us, connects us and inspires the beauty that I contribute to this life as I grow in strength through every experience of both joy and pain.

Thank you for the love I have learned from the people who have guided me toward the divinity that fills us, connects us and inspires the beauty that I contribute to this life on our precious Earth as I grow in strength through every experience of both joy and pain. 

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Much love to you all. Happy holiday season and may you be abundantly blessed through acceptance of the blessings that are at all times at your fingertips.

~~~S Wave~~~

Aside

The Gift of Hard Questions

There was an incident in Hawthorne, CA this week in which a man was being arrested for allegedly hindering an investigation. (He was taking video of police activity with his cell phone which I thought was legal. But I digress until the whole story is told.) While the police were arresting him on the sidewalk his rotweiller who was in his car became distraught and escaped from the car. The dog came near the police officers and when one of them tried to get a hold of his leash the dog snapped at the officer at which point they shot the dog. The whole scenario is on youtube and has received over 3 million views.

Source: NBC

Source: NBC

I guess we all have opinions about this, right? I’m sure there are lots of blogs being written about it and Facebook posts being posted for it. It’s one of those events that elicits lively debate and strong opinions especially because there is a video to make it “real” and because the dog is suffering in the video, not just falling over dead. Most of the commentary surrounding the event is regarding the officer’s action and whether shooting the dog was necessary. Were other options available? Was this a case of poorly trained—or worse, trigger-happy—police? Of course the wider discussions then can touch on police brutality, gun laws, and individual rights to record police activity. All valid discussions.

But there are other reactions elicited by this video that bring us to the topic of this post. When I watched the video, I was like many people rattled by the scene of the dog flailing on the ground after being shot trying to defend it’s owner. Many other viewers had similar reactions. “Poor dog.” “He was just trying to defend his owner.” “He didn’t deserve to get shot.”

I agree. Yes, of course it is sad. But what I noticed was that when I watched the video my physical and emotional reactions were similar to those I have while watching undercover vivisection videos or even watching fishing videos. I think my reactions are the same because no matter what the purpose of the activity, in my mind it is a moment of suffering without homage to the life that is being taken. This made me wonder if those who becry the suffering of Max have becried the suffering of the animals on their dinner plate or in their clothing. The fact that we tend to condemn some animal suffering while supporting others is interesting to me. You’ve heard the kind of question before…why do you care if someone hurts a dog but you eat pigs?

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It’s easy to answer that question: because we view dogs as family, as friends. Cultures in which dogs and cats are pets have occasional outcries against those in which cats and dogs are dinner, sometimes putting extraordinary efforts into having the practice banned. But really is there anything different about these two pictures of animals being prepared for slaughter?

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Photo: Reuters

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Sadly for our anthropomorphic tendencies which would like to say “yes,” when it comes to life being taken for pleasure no, there isn’t. In both cases animals will suffer and will die to sustain us. In both cases the person who eats the animal will be connected to its experience. I don’t see a way around our complicity in suffering when we eat animals and I have looked at it from many points of views. I chose at a point in my life that I didn’t want to be complicit in that kind of suffering anymore. It wasn’t for me.

That choice came after much self-reflection and honesty with myself. I am still in the process of that reflection in a myriad of other areas of life where my actions may be causing suffering. I had a friend who recently told me that he only buys clothes made in countries with strong labor laws and later he mentioned that he invests his money based on his requirement to know exactly what his money is supporting. No vague mutual funds for him. Honestly these are two things I have rarely and never thought about, respectively. 🙂 What a great moment that was for me. My mind had just been opened up to two new things I can be aware of in my own life and in the moment-to-moment choices I make. I might not overhaul my entire wardrobe and IRA portfolio tomorrow, but now I have placed my foot on the path toward that betterment.

Some people don’t question their own complicity in suffering–whether it be animal suffering or human suffering.  Some think a little. Some think a lot. Some probably even think too much to the point of self-induced paralysis. We’re all somewhere in the process of self-reflection about our choices. Taking an active role in that process is what is important. Asking ourselves the hard questions whose answers will possibly require us to change our behavior isn’t an easy thing to do. Those questions are easier to ignore. I’ve had many people say, “I just don’t think about it” when veganism becomes part of the conversation. But isn’t choosing silence complicity? Even silence within ourselves?

“An unquestioned mind is the world of suffering.”
― Byron Katie

I guess the lessons I have learned are 1) to be honest with yourself about where you are avoiding some hard but worthy questions, 2) to have the courage to engage with those questions and 3) to be prepared to make changes in your life knowing that it is can be a difficult process, but one with great potential for good.

The next time you talk to someone who is making one of those changes in his or her life, stop before you say, “Oh I could never do that” and contemplate the possibility….                                   “What if I did that?”

May we all keep getting better!

~~~S Wave~~~