Perception and Perspective

Where?  There!
Where? There! (Photo credit: John Fraissinet)

Perspective is a hot topic for me now. I would like to understand it better. I watched a Ted video that I’m going to re-watch soon. I will add it below. If you’d like, you can watch it now. But please don’t forget that I’m here waiting with bated breath..or something like that.

Through different color variations that had light and shadows mixed, Beau Lotto showed color shapes that looked the same color, but were really very different colors with various shadows or lights.  His main delivery point was how your brain needs color, but also that your brain learns in response. Even in just a few minutes of watching a two toned color with the dot in the middle to fixate on, your brain learns to filter by the two tones side by side. When you refocused upon the scenery,  you see the scenery with a mental color filter. Your very own brain was using the colors and projecting them on the picture you were looking at. That was a fascinating experiment and I would love to learn more.

I wonder if that’s what is happening in our world now. We have fixated upon certain events so that when we refocus our attention on the scenery around us we are prejudiced automatically. Wow. That’s a deep thought. That one will take a bit of time to ponder upon. Very good thought, but also very scary. I have to share this one.

“There’s no inherent meaning in information.  It’s what we do with that information that matters.” Beau Lotto

http://www.lottolab.org/

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Touchstones and Totems and how we handle life

Cover of "Inception"
Cover of Inception

For some, it’s a ritual, the lighting of a candle, the touching of a bead. For others it’s a prayer or a song that brings them comfort. We all have something. In the middle of chaos what helps you find your home? If you  dropped into a foreign land what would you do every morning or every evening to remember yourself to not forget what matters the most to you?

I am often reminded of scenes in movies. One in particular, is the movie  Inception. In the movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, a group of people  (extractors) trained to gather information for the purpose of corporate espionage, with the help of a military engineered machine. The tricky part is not to lose themselves in the other person’s subconscious.

There have been many movies about delving into the subconscious of others and the fear always seems to not to get lost. In Inception, the extractors each carried a personal totem. It had to contain a strong special meaning to the person which held it and only he could control how it would behave. In this case the DiCaprio kept a spinning top which he could spin on a table  to find if he was in his own dreams or in others.

The sun would set, but in the morning it would rise again

In our lives, we develop totems or rituals of our own. They keep us from losing our balance when life gets too difficult to handle. We take comfort in them much as a child would with her blankie. It’s a comfort to know that when I get stressed I can take my hot bath. Candles burning in front of me help to calm my fears. I can say a prayer with the candle flame burning and afterwards I feel the relief as if I really had accomplished a task.

rituals
rituals (Photo credit: The hills are alive)



Once, when I was in a particularly stressful time, nothing seemed to help. I felt completely lost as if my world had spun upside down. My entire nervous system had seemed to shut down and I was a messed up girl. I was standing by the window watching the sun set and it struck me not as beautiful but as absolute. It was the one thing that felt the most steady, the most solid and the most predictable. The sun would set, but in the morning it would rise again in the east and I could once more see its bright rays fall across the lawn.

I learned to take steps once again

That one simple fact got me through. Afterward my faith strengthened. I felt myself grow a bit stronger. I couldn’t control the loss of my marriage but I could trust in a few things. I learned to take steps once again and hold on to whatever brought me comfort and strength again. 

Life is a process

When you’re swimming in the deepest of emotional turmoil, you need something to grab on to. And the time to prepare is before you are treading water. When you are on the dry land and in your sane mind, prepare. The day will come if it hasn’t already. Find one thing at least that you can look to which will remind you that a better day will come.

Remember a song from your childhood. A funny or a simple little ditty that doesn’t have to have any meaning but reminding you of a memory, a beautiful day. It could be a photo album or a diary you have kept. A prayer altar that you can set up with small items such as a dried flower or a river rock that smoothed and worn over time.

Life is a process, a wheel of time that takes us through the seed-time and the harvest. Through this wheel we have births and deaths, but in between the surety of the many sunrises and sunsets.

It’s not the item itself that has any power

Many cultures throughout history have had totems and rituals and yes I do put those two in the same group. In the time of tragedy a child will grab a doll or a blanket, a preacher may grab his Bible, a musician may grab his violin. It’s not the item itself that has any power. As I heard from the movie Practical Magic, the metal star of a lawman,  is just a small symbol. It has no true protective or comforting power of its own. Only the authority that we as people have given it.
In our culture we honor our dead by burying them in their nicest clothes. We place objects that have meaning only to us and that other person in the coffin with the deceased. This is normal for us and we think nothing of it. But there are other cultures that burn their dead. Some even mix their ashes with water and drink together the ashes of their loved one so that person’s spirit continues inside of each of them. Since I’m not from that culture I think I’d have a difficult time drinking the ashes of my grandmother, but I do understand the adoration and the honor that is given.

There’s no simpler thing than helping someone else that is hurting

These are totems, these are rituals, these are steps we take together to honor each other, and to keep our civilization intact. We, like the sun that sets in the west and rises in the east remind ourselves with rituals and customs that there is love and there is good and there is comfort. Even though that today is difficult and we are in pain, tomorrow will come. And that day may bring more pain but hopefully that pain will not last forever.

When a person has nothing left to hold  they go into a blackness which they don’t know how to pull themselves out. That is why I am encouraging you to find something to help you balance. I realize that a candle will not replace a lost child. Nothing can ever take their place. But you have to continue on.

Those that we love that have died are gone. They are in our hearts and in our memories and we will miss them dearly, but what reason, what comfort can you find that will help you find your balance? If you need encouragement to make it one more day or if nothing makes any sense to you anymore because someone you believed in betrayed you, what will help you?

It was once said that if you are grieving, comfort someone else and if you have loss, give to someone else. If nothing else in life makes sense, bring your life down to the basics of humanity. There’s no simpler thing than helping someone else that is hurting. There’s no purer love than giving a cup of water to someone thirsty. It may not take all of your pain away but you have made a choice towards life and the living of it.

And at that moment that is what totems and rituals are all about.

Straight and Narrow

Healthy Couple 7“Tigers don’t know if they like ice cream until they try every flavor there is.”  Calvin and Hobbs

Sometimes I have to risk being foolish to find my potential. I have to stray from the safe. I have to make a mess.

I admire the straight orderly lines that others make. I’d like to follow them and order my life in such a way. I’ve always been fascinated by the minimalist with their neatly trimmed greenery and lack of clutter. Buddhist monks with their orderly lifestyle. No frills. I’ve tried to convert to the Macrobiotic diet and vegan-ism.  I crave simplicity, but only for a time.

A beautiful landscape with green grass, trimmed shrubbery. One or two outfits. Utilitarian shoes. Practical flooring. Food for a day. Why does this intrigue me? Could life ever be so simple? Could I actually live in a house decorated only in white? Or black?

In one of my many times of wandering around the internet, I bumped into this: The Minimalist Religion.

“At its heart is reverence for a divinity. This is a single being for, as the medieval philosopher William Occam said, why multiply entities (or assumptions) unnecessarily?

We may pray to this divinity for guidance or assistance in serious matters (why shouldn’t we?).

We should avoid giving attributes (either limbs or supposed qualities) to the divinity because the more we attribute, whether by imagination or inference, the more likely we are to make mistakes. As we don’t really need a portrait to revere God, mystery seems preferable to misconception.”

After mulling some of these things over, I understand my fascination with minimalism. There are no decisions.Thinking is optional and absolutely no conflict. In the choice for dishes to eat from, no worries. White. Clothing? The white shirts please. It limits your options so you can concentrate on other areas of your life.

But I love color. My walls are yellow. I have red, turquoise, yellow, gold, brown and many other colors and it makes me very happy. When I am trying to keep things simple, I become obsessive. Afraid to move. I feel constricted and agitated. That’s not a good way for me to live. Life is messy. I’m good with that.

If you draw a straight line and EXPECT to follow it perfectly, then watch out. You will fall short of the mark. But, if you are using that line as a general guide and realize it is only a focus point or a mark to help you keep your bearings, then you will wander and stagger but you will be able to right yourself easily. You will be able to find your way back to center. In that way, having a line, a religion, a moral stance can help. Somewhere inside us,  we have our center. The place we can return to if we have spun off the center pole. The irony is,  even the North Pole shifts.

Some find Buddhism as that foundation. If you have a favorite color, theme decorating may be for you. Many would agree that it’s smart to buy only quality items, especially for expensive purchases. In that case, staying with the tried and true name brands would be good. Many of the philosophies of minimalism rings true. I will always lean towards being a vegan since my digestive system prefers it. But there are moments that I crave variety. I like messy.

Lessons from my yoga instructor

ImageI believe that we can learn from many places, if we are only willing to listen. Children’s books are often a favorite. Who hasn’t ever wondered if they are Tigger or Eeyore? Which one of us would love to have the simple faith of Winnie the Pooh?

Since I was 15 years old, I have practiced yoga. Many of the lessons I have learned, came from my practice. With yoga there is no goal line, there is only the daily practice. It’s not a competition or a speed race. You simply do. It relaxes my nervous system. I am a rather competitive person generally and I don’t quit easily. If I want something I can at times be too bull-headed to realize when I need to stop. Just like water that rounds out the stones in the river bed, my practice reminds me that my current quest (obsession) isn’t everything. Life is more than being perfect. It’s more than always finishing.

In yoga practice a stretch or a movement is held for a time and during that time many thoughts go through your mind. At that moment we bring our mind back to our stretch. To where our feet are or where our balance is placed. Sometimes in the practice of yoga we have a bittersweet moment. The stretch feels good, but it at the same time can have a bit of pain. I reached a moment like that yesterday. I was thinking about my sons, who are grown. I enjoyed raising them more than anything in the world. There was no other pleasure that I could imagine that would be better than watching them grow up. If you are a parent you know it’s true. There’s the bittersweet part in there that you remember. The early morning feedings, the midnight earache, the bruises, and the skinned knees.

Life has many bittersweet moments. You’re stretching yourself and doing everything you know to do. You’re loving it but you’re also a bit tired. Of course if someone asked you, there’s no way you’d stop. You’re on a mission! No quitting here. You will hold your pose and then as in yoga, you will release.

~There are those bittersweet moments when the stretching feels both pleasurable and painful.~


If you are trying a pose in yoga and your body isn’t as flexible as others, that’s alright. We use “props” for adapting. There are blocks for when you are bending from a stance and your arms don’t quite reach the floor because your hamstrings are tight. You can roll towels to place under your knees or under your neck for support. We use mats that have a slight sticky or tacky feel so our hands or feet don’t slip. You want to remain stable so you can give in fully to the pose or your focus will only be on falling.  The purpose of yoga is often misunderstood. It is not only to create a more flexible body. It is about knowing your body and working with your body.

Many years ago my favorite instructor worked with me in a time of crisis. She taught me how much the body knows and how we can do incredible things when we support our bodies. I was lying on my mat, flat on my back in shavasana, also called corpse pose. She noticed that I was having difficulty relaxing. She took a couple of heavy, folded, Mexican blankets and placed them over my chest and stomach area.  My body responded immediately. I relaxed, but not only did I relax.  I started quietly sobbing. My entire nervous system started releasing pent-up emotions. I’ve never experienced anything like that before and I loved it.

~Life has its own flow~


The point is, the body responds to the information it receives everyday. In yoga we support our bodies. We listen to its urges and we respond to its needs. If a pose is too much today, then we don’t force the pose. We coax it and allow it time to respond. If today we are feeling ill or tired we allow our bodies to decide the amount it can handle.

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. 

B.K.S. Iyengar


Yes there are times to stretch a little further and to try a little harder. There are those bittersweet moments when the stretching feels both pleasurable and painful. There is also a time to release. Rest is as important as work.

~We will not all rule~

The one thing that I have the most difficulty remembering is my breath. I forget to breathe in and out. If you hold your breath, your energy cannot flow. Your movements will be stiff and brittle. We need to breathe in while we are stretching and breathe out as we release. Life has its own flow. Its breath is as real as our breath and we can become just as aware of it. Sometimes we hold our breath in life. We are out of sync with what is going on around us. Out of step with the dance.

When I am shaky in a pose, I remember to breathe. I check my pose. I feel my pose with all of my body. If the holding is causing me pain, I release to an easier level of the pose and hold that just as diligently as I would have held a more difficult pose. We are not all to be presidents or CEO’s of large corporations. We will not all rule over anyone. Many of us are teachers, doctors, nurses, or organizers. We all have our positions, our poses to hold. If you are in a high post and it becomes too painful, it is not shameful to release to an easier post. If you are needing more of a challenge then it’s fine to push yourself a bit more. Just remember that there is no pride or gloating in holding a more difficult pose.  If something is too painful, release and ease up. If you are needing more of a challenge allow yourself the  extra nudge.

~I must let life cycle~

The truths I’ve learned in yoga are the give and the take, the ebb and the flow. The inhalation and the exhalation are always there. I cannot hold any stage of my life. This too shall pass applies to the pleasant as well as the unpleasant. I must let life cycle.

As in yoga, so in life – Namaste.

Alive and Well

yellow flowerYes, I am alive and well.

I almost put that I was alive and blooming, but the picture of flowers popping up all over my head didn’t fit my mood. To demonstrate my mood and what this site is about I will include a video link. I hope you enjoy it!

http://www.vevo.com/watch/onerepublic/feel-again/USUV71201233?source=instantsearch#