Votercon

I went to vote yesterday, and it was kind of boring. Very bland. Vanilla.

I spoke to a friend who works for a company that hires him to dress as Spiderman, so I suggested that voting would be more fun if he dressed up as spiderman in the voting booth.

He said to me, why don’t we have Votercon, where people come to the polls dressed as their favorite character. That would encourage people who don’t normally vote to come out and vote. And better yet, they can reuse their still fresh Halloween costumes.

I think it’s a great idea, but the woman at the voting booth said she thinks their might be a problem with identification. People might try to dress up as “someone else”. I think that’s silly and not really a problem.

Long story short, I want to make Votercon 2018 happen. If anyone knows anyone in politics or community organizing, send them my way. I’d like to converse with them.

Let me know your thoughts. Stay tuned for an indigogo or gofundme campaign.

Jacob

 

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Can we make something we don’t like in our life “go away”?

Anger, anxiety, fear, loneliness, frustration, ill-health, poverty, environmental destruction, jealousy, homelessness, world hunger, lack of energy in our day.

These are all things we would rather “do away with” than “deal with”.

They are ugly. They are uncomfortable. They make us feel like something is very wrong.

But what happens when we give them a chance? Have we ever tried giving these things a chance? Whether they are a personal issue like lack of prosperity in our lives, or a global issue like lack of world peace, how often do we simply let these issues exist and go on with our lives.

So often, we feel an emotion we don’t like – say anger – and we go into a tailspin of “how do I make this go away?” Okay, “I tried breathing for ten minutes, that helped, but I’m still a little angry.” “I tried going for a walk, but that annoying person is still in my thoughts.” “I even prayed to god and gave an affirmation of gratitude, why is this anger not going away?”

Those of us who are “enlightened” know that negative emotions and negative trends in society need to dissolve if we want a better life on this planet. But how much time do we spend frustrated and angry over things we can’t control? On a global level, how often do we obsess over what this politician said or what that celebrity did. How much do we choose to focus on it, rather than allowing their stupidity to exist and getting on with our day.

The truth is, we allowed them to ruin our day. We allowed some external force to affect us in a negative way. We allowed a negative energy to strike a chord within us to create even more negativity in this world rather than positivity.

Imagine for a minute someone says to you, I don’t like something about you – be it your political beliefs, your choice of gender expression, or your choice of occupation and hobbies. Instead of getting mad at them, say “thank you” to them. Why resist what they have said and try to fight them. This person already doesn’t like you or what you believe in, so how can they be influenced by you or by someone they don’t agree with?

This makes sense. I believe that environmental destruction is not good, but someone who disagrees with me isn’t going to change their opinions just because I put up a good argument and cite facts to support it. They are going to fight, because they’ve been conditioned to believe that their beliefs are true and ours are wrong. They have their own news shows, their own blogs, and their own circle of friends that support their beliefs.

So, if you’ve followed me up till now, you can see that the solution is not to resist. The solution is to flow. If someone says something that you don’t like, you can say to yourself, “wow, that’s not what I believe, but okay”. You don’t have to fight with them, you don’t have to wrestle with their beliefs or your own beliefs, you can simply let go of the need to win the argument.

That is the essence of life. Letting go. When we hold on too tight, we miss the beauty of the moment and we begin to loose track of what’s really important. When we are too aggressive, we are simply showing others how conditioned we are to live in a miserable life condition. And when we show others how wrong they are, they only are filled with a greater sense of bitterness and antipathy.

So, my suggestion is – next time you see something you don’t like or encounter a troubling circumstance, see if there is any possibility of let-go. That is the first step. If you don’t let go, how can the light make it’s way into the room of your life? And if you don’t let-go, maybe you won’t learn something valuable like tolerance, or compassion or friendship.

How many friendships have been ruined because the two partners were so committed to their differences that they couldn’t see the agreement? How many arguments were blown so out of proportion that they took a mole hill and created a black hole, sucking in everyone and everything around them.

The trick is, we let whatever is in our life – be it an uncomfortable emotion or a troubling world event – exist without judgement. Of course we might not agree with what’s happening, but we say thank you because the circumstance is teaching us something valuable.

In the example given earlier, if a Republican says something to a Democrat and he or she doesn’t like it, the best response is simply “thank you”. If this thank you is sincere and heart felt, and not a fake way to avoid an argument, then the argument will be completely disarmed. The person who initiated the comment may be surprised that the statement they threw out was not met with some level of conflict. They may be surprised that the person didn’t put up a fight. In fact, if the person is reasonable, they may realize that their own comment was insensitive and acknowledge that. So letting go is a gift for you and the other person. It’s a selfless act because you are not letting the wounded or traumatized self be triggered by an external circumstance. This is the greatest gift you could give to yourself or anyone else.

Of course, be reasonable. If someone is looking for a fight and comes to you for that reason, simply tell them, “I’m not interested in discussing right now. Why don’t we grab a cup of coffee or find something else to talk about.” It’s magic.

Let this be your mantra for the day. “I choose to relax and allow anything which may be uncomfortable today to just be”. I might get triggered, and if I do, I allow the pain to wash away, like a hurricane passing through. It might leave damage and destruction. But I’m choosing to witness the storm rather than fighting it.

So enjoy your day and allow the bumps in the road to be bumps. They are uncomfortable when you ride over them, but the next moment you are on solid ground. There will be patches of bumpy road, but if you soften and flow, there is a beauty in the bumpy road. There arises an appreciation for the smooth road.  There is a pattern in the road that might be enjoyable, if you allow it. We’ve been taught to avoid discomfort and fight for our comfort. There is an irony in fighting for our comfort, since fighting is usually uncomfortable for everyone involved. Why can’t we simply try to allow the discomfort to exist temporarily, and then allow the comfort to return on it’s own. It’s not so positive creating discomfort to achieve comfort that would naturally return later. This is important, but it’s difficult, since there are so few people who live this way.

Just enjoy the journey, you will find your peace when you let go and flow. No one will be able to take away your peace or your joy when you have no resistance to their actions or their words. You will be the watcher on the hills, witnessing the insanity of the world while you eat popcorn and enjoy the show.

I suggest allowing what exists to exist, and watch the beauty return, like flora and fauna returning to a land that was previously desolate and depleted. The animals and plants will slowly make their way back, even to the most polluted and the most desperate places on earth.

You can do it, allow the light within you to guide you and become a vessel for it’s expression. You can do it. I believe in you. Enjoy this life and all it has to offer.

I have more to say, but we will save it for next time

Blessings and Peace 🙂

 

 

The Placebo Effect

A soldier gets wounded in war and needs to have his arm amputated. The doctors remove the wounded limb, yet the soldier continues to feel excruciating pain in the location where his arm used to be. This can last for years, and it’s called phantom pain. Until recently, there was no cure. However a unique form of treatment called mirror box therapy was developed in the 80’s where using a body-length mirror, the patient is able to reduce or completely cure themselves of phantom pain. By moving their still-working arm and looking through a mirror, they are able to “trick” their brains into thinking their non-existent arm still exists, and trough a neurological miracle, their pain decreases.

Tricking the brain to heal the body is known by many as the Placebo effect. I love the Placebo effect, for many reasons. First, it’s a hot topic among the well-read, so people think I’m up on the times when I talk about it. Second, it’s interesting, so it stirs up a lot of thought and discussion about heath and medicine. Third, it demonstrates the power of our mind, and broaches the topics of consciousness and the nature of the mind.

What is The Placebo Effect?

For those of you who don’t know what the placebo effect is, I would suggest reading the following two articles. They do a pretty good job of explaining what the placebo effect is and why it’s causing a stir among the scientific community.

The main idea of these articles is that the placebo effect is a phenomenon where human beings seem to miraculously cure themselves of ailments and diseases when they take “fake” medicines. These fake medicines are usually pills made of sugar or some other non-reactive substance, and disguised as real medication that you would get from your pharmacy. The patients take the pill thinking it contains real medicine, such as a pain-killer or an anti-depressant, and by some miracle of science, they seem to show a reduction in their pain or illness. So even though a pill contains no actual anti-depressant drug inside, the patient still receives emotional and mental health benefits as though it did.

Over the years, doctors speculated as to what caused the body to heal when no actual drug was present. An experiment performed in the 1970s demonstrated that the healing came from the brain. Our brains secrete pain-relieving chemicals when given the fake, or placebo, medication. Like Pavlov’s canines, our brains see that we’ve taken a pill, and then on command secrete a chemical that counteracts our ailment. No external chemical needed. Granted, the placebo doesn’t work for all people in all cases, but for most major clinical drug trials, the placebo effect accounts for 20-30% of the cases in which people show improvement or recovery from their condition.

The Interesting Part

In the NPR podcast linked to above, there was a quote from a Doctor Ted Kaptchuk that caught my interest. He observed that the placebo effect works best on conditions, whose symptoms included fatigue, nausea, or chronic pain. He believes that these three symptoms are not actually bad per se, but are signals from our brain that at some level are meant to protect our bodies from harm. Fatigue tells our body to get some Rest & Recovery when we’re low on energy. Nausea tells us to stop eating or vomit when we’ve come into contact with food that might be unsafe. Pain is the body’s way of telling us to stop what we’re doing so we can pay attention to a wound or injury.

In his opinion, chronic pain, fatigue and nausea are the brain sending normal signals in not-so-normal doses. He concludes that the reason the placebo effect is so strong in these cases is because it is ultimately our mind that is creating these conditions. Therefore taking a pill that claims to reduce our discomfort tricks our minds into not creating these conditions any more.

A book recently came out titled “You are the Placebo” by Doctor Joe Dispenza. In it he describes his quest to figure out how the brain cures the body of diseases. He himself had a spinal cord injury as a young man so severe that the country’s top spinal cord doctors told him he would never walk again. Against the advice of all the doctors, he refused surgery and developed his own regimen of meditation, guided visualization and physical therapy to try and heal his injury. After 6 months he was able to walk again, and he credited it to his positive mental imagery. He imagined himself walking again, free of pain and discomfort, for an hour a day for six months.

Since then, he has led training sessions and meditation workshops for people from around the world with supposedly incurable diseases and terminal illnesses. Using meditation techniques he has developed over thirty years, he has helped them achieve partial or total recovery. (If that sounds too good to be true, I suggest reading his book. His stories are much more convincing than my short summary.)

How can we use this at home?

For me, the big aha of his book is that not only can our brain cure the body of diseases, but it is the brain itself that is manufacturing these diseases, and contributing to their ongoing existence. Using meditation and other forms of positive self affirmation, we are able to not only cure ourselves of negative body ailments, but also other habits and limitations which may be holding us back.

A friend of mine told me recently that any time we have the thought “I feel not good enough” or “I feel like nobody likes me” that those are not actually not true statements. He said that we have thoughts that say “I’m not good enough” and then our body manufactures a feeling, whether it’s tightness of breathing, congestion, or a headache, which we then associate with the thought. Samegoes for the reverse, we feel the congestion, and then the thoughts start racing. “I’m too fat, nobody likes me” and so on. It’s almost as thought our thoughts and bodily sensations feed off each other in a vicious cycle.

What my friend suggested is similar to what Dr. Joe Dispenza recommends in his book. By using techniques that are similar to meditation–where one looks at their mental patterns but doesn’t identify with them in that moment–then he or she has the potential to free him or herself from that pattern. For example, next time the thought arises “I am not good enough”, take that as a sign to pause for a moment and witness what happens afterwards. What thoughts bubble up to the surface after the initial trigger? What feelings or bodily sensations are activated because of the thought? Once you start this process, ride the wave, see how long you can stay present and watch the drama unfold.

This will be difficult, since you have spent so many years identifying with these thoughts and potentially fighting with them or trying to make them go away. But with patience, diligence, and presence you will be able to witness the thoughts, feelings, sensations and emotions without identifying with them. You can laugh at them and say “I really believed that about myself?” It’s like a game. No longer do you have to identify with those limiting patterns and beliefs.

For those of us living with Chronic Pain or Suffering

Now, how do we apply this to a serious medical condition or a pain that has been with us for many, many years and has not gone away.

  1. We need to make peace with the issue. We have lived with this disease and/or chronic ailment for this long, and we have been alright up until now – so why not give a harmless meditation technique a try?
  2. Say to yourself, “this might be painful, but it’s not going to kill me, or at least not right away, so I don’t need to attack the pain full-on right now. I may be able to let it exist for five or ten minutes without trying to make it go away.”
  3. Tell yourself “I’m going to breathe with my pain, and see if there is any way my body can soften.”
  4. Ask yourself – “Is there any way I can view my pain as a friend, and not an enemy?”
  5. This is the simplest, yet most difficult step. You simply let the pain exist. Then you just watch what happens.

It might be horrifying to think “I can just let my pain exist and not fight it or try to make it go away?” Yes, that’s scary. But the truth is, the only way we can truly become healthy and clear once again is to allow the pain to dissolve and melt on its own accord. It may be difficult. At times you will want to run and hide. Or scream till your throat gets sore. But in the end, that’s the pain freeing itself from your consciousness. It’s not easy. But it is the way most enlightened people of the world have dealt with painful situations, both in body and in spirit.

Leave a Comment

This content may be familiar for some, intriguing to others and utter nonsense to the remainder. So I suggest that people who have positive things to say leave a comment and haters keep it to yourselves. Otherwise, I am open to questions and comments.

Enjoy,

Jacob

View the glass as 1% Full

There’s an old adage which says in order to be happy you need to see life with the glass half full. Everyone’s heard this, and for most of us, we know we’re supposed to see life through the positive if we want to be happy. For all but the very few however this is much easier said than done.

This principle is hard to live by because seeing the glass as half empty feels good in a way. There’s a sense of righteousness in being negative. For those of you who need a concrete example, imagine a situation in which you feel something or someone pushes your internal button. It could be a depressing news story reporting on some politician you don’t like, an instance in which someone cuts you off on the freeway, or an ongoing issue in your life which you can’t seem to overcome. The situation occurs, and boom–something shifts internally. Anger, resentment, depression or some other “undesirable” emotion arises, and it feels like there’s almost no control on your part.

Unfortunately, we are left with a no-win situation. We can either take the “high road” or the “low road”. See life with the glass half full or half empty. The problem is, that if we choose to focus on the positive, and ignore our negative impulses, there’s a feeling of missing out, an emptyness that I couldn’t say how I really feel. If we choose the other route and say how we really feel, we risk getting into an argument, falling into old patterns of blame, judgment, and guilt or feeling like our day was ruined.

I know I struggle with a pattern of not getting out of bed in the morning. Of course, I eventually get out of bed

 

 

Well, we may have been raised that way, but I find that a more powerful and true statement is “what you resist, persists.” I know what some of you are thinking – How does my attitude toward what’s going on have any effect on the situation? I am angry that big corporations are polluting the planet, not paying their fair share and raking home billions all the while. How can I not be angry? How can I not be angry that my friend who told me they’d be here at 7 pm ditched me at 6:30? How can I NOT be angry? These situations don’t seem to be ones where I can look at life with the glass half full. What good is there in these situations?

I want to suggest something else. In each and every situation in life. There are two ways to look at things, positively and negatively. The challenge is, if we are in the habit of seeing things negatively, we are stuck. First, negativity is addicting. It seems righteous, and no effort is required to view things from the negative perspective.  It’s the same reason why the news chooses to focus on the negative

these things inside

Reading Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love, I came across this great section on forgiveness that’s even better than the video I posted before about forgiveness healing the body. I have transcribed it for you here.

Forgiveness is “selective remembering”–a conscious decision to focus on love and let the rest go. But the ego is relentless–it is “capable of suspiciousness at best and viciousness at worst.” It presents the most subtle and insidious arguments for casting other people out of our hearts…

Forgiveness is the choice to see people as they are now. When we are angry at people, we are angry because of something they said or did before this moment. But what people said or did is not who they are. Relationships are reborn as we let go of perceptions of our brother’s past. By bringing the past into the present, we create a future…

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