Learn to Heal

Learn to Heal

An examination of the 8 Wonders of Integrated Living: Health, Introspection, Honesty, Courage, Beauty, Solitude, Joy and Balance. As this is a living, evolving document, I encourage each of you to contribute your own responses as you read, so that together we might build a powerful collaborative work that helps to inform and transform ourselves as well as those who follow.

thank you....M. Reynolds

Friday, August 17, 2007

Book Review/The Way NOW. by Mari V.

Part of what I try to impart to my readers is a sense that they already possess all they need to begin to lead a successful life. You will never hear me imploring you to see a counselor or find a guru somewhere, I know that this path is a flawed one, because it presumes someone else has succeeded where you have failed and nothing could be further from the truth.

This is essentially the message Mari V. powerfully delivers in her new book, The Way NOW - Book One of the Lares Teachings. She opens our eyes to how many have been misled by false prophets and soothsayers looking to make a quick buck on truth-seeking individuals who lost their way. Buy this series of tapes, go to that workshop, remember EST and Lifespring? That kind of programming damaged minds and ruined lives and it continues today in more subtle but pervasive pseudo-sciences and spiritual denominations.

This is not a tedious tome that you must digest and refer back to time and time again in order to slowly evolve into some idealized human being. This is an quick, uplifting, empowering wake up call that invites the reader to trust their hearts, rely on their strengths and use the tools they already have to reach their goals, whatever they are.

Buy it on Amazon or Lulu.com and discover the truth about yourself, by yourself without signing your life away.

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Laughing Lime

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Physical Health / Nutrition and Aging

I post at several blogs and today, I wrote in www.laughinglime.com about the importance of antioxidants as they relate to keeping the body protected from free radicals that have the power to alter our DNA. Generally the subject matter for this site is unique to the Learn to Heal model for refining our life. But frankly, all the work we do with mind and spirit will be lost if we do not care for the vehicle in which they are contained. So with that as a preamble, allow me to submit this re-publication of "Honest Talk About Staying Youthful", for your consideration.

Let's face it, even with all of life's difficulties-and everybody has them-one thing is true for all of us, we want to stick around as long as possible. Because as far as we know, this is the only game in town and if your not in, then your out and if you're out, then you're dead. Yeah, I know, no one wants to think about that, and I am no exception. But the truth is that the inevitability of our demise is what gives value to life. If life went on forever, like anything that is in endless supply, we wouldn't appreciate it.
It is this awareness-which in most of us increases as we mature-which infuses passion into the discussion about aging. What is aging really anyway, but another way of saying, 'Whoa, I just did the math dude and I've lived over half my life already and that's if I'm lucky enough to live to the ripe old age of ______(fill in the blank). I'm getting freakin' old.

Okay, if you just focus on the math, it can get kind of depressing, kind of like saying that I'm down 9 points and already in the 3rd quarter. Let's hope I can push the clock into overtime. Well, maybe you can, at least I believe it is entirely possible.

How is it possible to extend life?

By taking care of the body. Your body is your vehicle, it is what makes it possible for you to be on the highway of life. If you're vehicle is in the shop or on it's way to the wrecking yard, no more sight seeing for you. So it is imperative for you to keep the vehicle in tip-top condition. In fact the vehicle analogy is a good one, because, come on, you know you're more likely to pay attention when your car is making a funny noise or running rough than when you bod is in trouble. The problem is that our bodies don't come with a 'Check Engine' light, so its easy to ignore when something is wrong.

But what if nothing is really wrong, should we do anything? Absolutely! If you're not taking extra measures to improve your diet, get more exercise, check your attitude and lookout on life, than there is definitely something wrong. I mean, this metaphorical road trip that we're on encounters a lot of potholes. Wear and tear breaks down the body and without daily attention to maintenance, the necessary repair on the cellular level doesn't take place and that is what will eventually get you, even if you think you're just fine.

What is cellular repair and why is it important?

Well, I'm sure you've has heard the word antioxidant, every time you turn on the TV, or read ads in the paper. Like most advertising, it saturates us with a concept, and so much so that we become inured to its message. Often that message is about some new fangled thing that we can live without, but not this time. We need antioxidants. Why? Because, oxygen is like the good cop/bad cop, we can't live without it, but it is also slowly killing us. As we breath, we take in oxygen, but oxygen is like a lonely step-child, it can't stand to be alone, ever. It always has to be joined at the hip with other elements. But unfortunately, when it does, a dysfunctional relationship usually results. Meaning that oxygen, in its pure form is 02 (2 bonded atoms), but it is easily spit into 2 separate atoms in the presence of other atoms or molecules which have an opposite charge from Oxygen. When this happens, oxygen becomes a radical, like kind of a terrorist.

Radicals, also called free radicals, because they are temporarily un-bonded and available to hook up, do damage in the process of binding with other chemical compounds in the body. When they do this, they change the properties of that compound, often making it toxic to the body, or altering the way it functions. For an example, every time you breath, you take in millions of radical oxygen atoms created by cigarette smoke, radiation and automobile emissions. Every time you eat, you consume free radicals in the form of pesticides and preservatives. Our bodies do have a natural defense against these attackers and prevent some of the damage they would otherwise do. But its not enough to slow or reverse the aging process. We need other anti-oxidants, from sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and fish. You may recognize some of these by their more common names, such as vitamin E, C and beta carotene. Others include lutein, lycopene, magnesium and zinc.

Why do plants have antioxidants?

Plants, which we eat in the form of fruits, vegetables, nuts grains, etc. are subject to the same cellular damage from the environment that we are. They cannot grow and become vital without effectively fighting off the damage done by all kinds of interlopers. For that reason, plants have evolved to produce these antioxidants in powerful forms, some of which were just mentioned. When we eat the freshest, most carefully grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, we get to incorporate these powerful counter-insurgency weapons into our bodies.
Additionally science has found ways to concentrate these compounds into supplements, which boost our defense against these pervasive threats. I did not used to believe in supplements, but I have changed my mind, as I see how my body has responded to the anti-aging effects of neutralizing these free-radicals. I can see it in my skin, hair, muscles and joints. My energy and resistance to viruses has also improved. Can I prove this to anyone? No. But this is my personal experience and it has made me a believer.

What are some of the ways oxidative stress can affect the body?

One is heart disease. The American Heart Association says "Oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad cholesterol") is important in the development of fatty buildups in the arteries. This process called Atherosclerosis, can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Increasing evidence suggest that LDL cholesterol lipoprotein oxidation and its biological effects can be prevented by using antioxidants-both in the diet and in supplements"

What might antioxidants do in the battle against cancer?

Well, the National Cancer Institute says, "Considerable laboratory evidence from chemical, cell culture and animal studies indicates that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent the development of cancer".

Antioxidants may even help us live longer. This is backed up by advanced in a California study of people 50 and older, where it was found that those with a higher intake of vitamin C were found to have a total death rate only 40% of that for those with the lower intake of the vitamin. This decrease in the death rate corresponds to an increase by eleven years in the length of life"
What are some important Antioxidants you should be incorporating into your diet?
Carotenoids - These fat soluble compounds help protect cell membranes. To boost their levels in your body, eat more sweet potatoes and other red and yellow vegetables. Take a supplement containing 50 mg of mixed carotenoids every other day.

Vitamin E - This fat soluble antioxidant has been shown to protect the heart and the brain...as well as enhance the body's immune system. Its hard to get enough vitamin E from grains and other foods sources without also getting too much fat. For this reason, it is best to rely on a supplement. The usual dosage is 200 International Units (IU) per day. But check with your doctor first.

Vitamin C - This water soluble vitamin-found primarily in citrus fruits-protects the parts of the cells that vitamin E and carotenoids cannot reach. The usual dosage is 500 mg, every other day.

Selenium - This mineral, found primarily in seafood and liver, plays a pivotal role in neutralizing free radicals. Yet many Americans are deficient in selenium. The usual dosage is 200 micrograms (mcg) every other day.

In addition to the antioxidants discussed here, it is often a good idea to take supplements of folic acid (1mg per day), Coenzyme Q-10 (50 mg per day) and zinc (20 mg per day). But discuss these with your doctor first to be sure this does not conflict with any conditions you may have or medications you may currently be taking.

In closing here is my kind of Laughing Lime slant on the whole thing:

The mission of this blog is to explore the relationship between environment and health and what we can do in our daily lives to improve both. Oxidation has been present in our environment since long before we arrived on the scene. But, the burning of fossil fuels, the use of pesticides along with other phenomena of modern living have increased the threat of exposure to this double agent of the chemical world. As we begin to move away from conventional farming practices and to more renewable forms of energy production, we may somewhat reduce the presence of free radicals in our immediate environment, but the potential will never be zero. There will always be a background level of marauding oxygen atoms floating around looking for new victims. Your mission is to pre-emptively defend against these nefarious forces that nature has seen fit to keep around. In so doing, you can literally slow or reverse the process of aging. I believe the continuing search for the fountain of youth will sputter along slowly, notwithstanding some grand discovery in genetics. And most of the progress in this emerging science will be made by revealing new methods of reducing oxidative stress.

Take some time to do your own research on things like Resveratrol (do a search at the top of our main page) or Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, as well as others. Don't wait for science to come knocking at your door to deliver the latest, greatest whatever. You must be your own passionate researcher. Each of us is truly a work in progress, you are the captain of your ship, you are in the driver's seat. Study your options and approach life with the view toward constant refinement, not only in your diet, but in your relationship to self and others and in realizing your bodily potential. Stay active, exercise frequently, travel, enjoy life, eat well, but eat consciously. This will all contribute to a positive feedback loop which will no doubt extend your life, but also make is immeasurably better.

Mark Reynolds

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Beauty/Feed the Senses

My wife and I live in Seattle. A wonderful city, especially in the summer. Additionally, Washington State is blessed with many splendid and varied environments to explore as are so many places in the U.S. and around the world.

Now, take a minute and wherever you live, think of what outdoor activities might await you. How long has it been since you just climbed in the car and took a road trip? Okay, you're caught up with family and or work, and time has just zipped by. But now that you're thinking about it, why not just get out a map and start imagining where you might go in this wild and wonderful world of ours.

Our lives are so scheduled and driven by forces that feel often beyond our control. Yeah, you're coping, but the daily grind takes it's toll in insidious ways. Perhaps you're heading straight for a heart attack and you don't even know it. Think that's extreme? Well, it's not. It happened to me and it hit me like a train out of no where.

Perhaps if I had taken more time off, if I had let off the pressure once in a while. No one really knows. But what I do know and what I want to pass along to you today, is a reminder:

This life is short. Don't spend all of your time working and providing for others. You must treat yourself as a dear friend. Take the opportunity to indulge the senses. It is a wonderful elixir for the soul and body. It is easy to forget that we have a kinship to the elements, we are composed mainly of water. We are literally the offspring of the stars, as it was-eons ago-that the primordial ingredients for life fell from the heavens and you are a direct decedent of that early lineage.

Visit your home in the wilderness. Take the time to reconnect with your real family, the trees, the rocks and the rivers. Yes, you must eventually return to your social existence, but you can bring the silent strength of that connection back with you. Let it permeate you and carry it in your heart. Your life will be better for the experience.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

On the wisdom of seeking friendly advice

Let me mention something that occurred to me after I wrote the post on "Honesty/Vanquish Self Deception. I suggested that readers wanting guidance in their lives seek the counsel of those, in their circle of acquaintances that they admire. Find out what challenges they have faced and how they worked to overcome them.

But I believe that this method alone, could keep one in a circular pattern, unable to rise above their faulty thinking because those that they find worthy of admiration are perhaps not.

How could this happen?

Let me use an analogy-Let us say that you are struggling with an addiction, whatever it is, sexual, substance, patterns of behavior. You know, or have met someone who you learn has struggled with something similar and appears to have been able to wrestle it under control. You ask for their counsel. But in spite of appearances, this person has really not conquered their demons, they have just driven them farther below the surface, where they are not as obvious.

They may profess to be your friend, but really are intimidated by your charm, intelligence, good looks, athleticism, whatever. Either intentionally or unintentionally, they give you advice that is not really in your best interest. This way, instead of helping you to succeed, thereby making you more of a threat to them, they have actually undermined you, given you guidance which will eventually lead you to fail.

I am not saying this has to be the case, but insecure people often have a tremendous capacity to cover their weaknesses. They can easily trick you into believing they have your best interest at heart, when they are really about the business of pushing you down to bolster their own flagging egos.

Therefore, I would like to recommend a couple of books. Books are great because the guidance they offer is anonymous to some extent. The author doesn't know you, they have no vested interest in your success of failure. They have written the book, more than likely, because they are passionate about the subject. As such, they may have studied, for an example, the mechanics of addiction or of relationships and arrived at some interesting insights. You can learn these insights at your own pace and refer back to them when you need a refresher. And best of all, you won't have the interference of human dynamics clouding or distorting the free flow of information.

So here you go: First book - Codependant No More , by Melodie Beattie. This book has helped many people over the years. It is compassionately, yet articulately written and I highly recommend it. The link above is for a hard cover version from Amazon. I recommend finding the paperback version in your local library or buying it used somewhere, for much cheaper.

The other book is a real eye opener. It is from an interesting man, now passed away named Alan Watts. It is to some degree a cult classic, meaning that its views informed and transformed a generation of revolutionary thinkers, but its message is no less powerful and poignant today.
The book is called The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. As you read, make sur to have a highlighter in hand to mark important little tidbits you will want to refer to again and again.

These 2 books should help you make strides in the areas of "Self Awareness" and breaking "Unhealthy Patterns"

If you have feedback on these books, please send it along.

The Latest News and Views on Health and Environment
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The Wonders of Healthy Living (Re-posted)

This important post, which was made much earlier, is so fundamental to the success of the Learn2Heal program, that I am re-posting it here. Read it and begin to see the stair-step process by which we can move into the light of self-knowledge and leave destructive patterns behind.

All future postings will be based on this system and you should refer back to this framework periodically to understand how far you have come and what remains to be done.

Here it is:


Physical Health
· Passion for understanding your body.
· Exercise
· Nutrition
· Stop Smoking, Drinking.
· Adjust Attitude
· Adequate rest

Emotional Health
· Keep anger in check
· Observe patterns and reactions that elevate stress and modify them
· Organize your life to reduce frustration.

· Take inventory of your emotional and psychological health the way you should with your physical health.
· Talk to yourself as you would a dear friend
· Take notes, review them frequently.

· Vanquish self-deception.
· Seek to understand the structure of your life and how it benefits or undermines your overall well being.
· Evaluate relationships, healthy or unhealthy, what can be improved, what cannot? How would life be different without them?

· Take steps to act on the revelations of your introspection and honesty.
· Fix what is not working in your life.
· Modify or leave relationships that are destructive or counterproductive.

· Surround self with beauty
· Seek beauty
· Develop internal, external beauty
The sensual life in not a hedonistic, unhealthy life, on the contrary, the senses must be exercised, indulging them provides psychological and physiological benefits.

· Have special places to be alone.
· Take frequent walks alone. Walking elicits thought, creativity and improves overall health.
· Be spontaneous, when you see or hear about a place or thing that is intriguing, take yourself there.
· Be romantic with yourself.
· Take time to be alone, to experience and explore your emotions completely, truthfully.
· Get to know yourself apart from the way others view you or the way you wish to be viewed.

7. JOY
· Feel your spirits lift in the presence of beauty and the miracle of experience, remember the sensation, let it become part of you. Revisit it often in your mind.
· When you feel happiness and satisfaction, temper it with humility and gratitude. ·Recognize the rare spontaneous nature of joy and accept it as only part of a complete life. Understand that it arises on its own, only when we have created the opportunity, through healthy living.

8. BALANCE (Work vs. Personal Time)
· Take inventory of time spent at work and in repose.
· Is there other work you could do that would be more satisfying?
· How could you enhance income while increasing personal time?
· Do research, find ways to improve your financial health today and in the future.
· Pay off bills, streamline expenses. Live simply, material goods are fine, but evaluate the cost to your free time, sanity, etc.

Now, follow along as we begin to explore the meaning behind each one of these concepts and how to integrate them into your life. The content will be posted as it is written as this is a living document, an honest examination of my own counterproductive patterns and the methods I have used to transform them.

I encourage you to post your own responses as you read, so that together we might create a truly powerful collaborative work that helps to inform and transform ourselves and those who follow.

The Latest News and Views on Health and Environment
Check it out today! www.laughinglime.com

Laughing Lime

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Honesty/Vanquish Self Deception

Hello again Dear Readers:

It has been a while since I visited with you. As happens with us all, I have been consumed with life's challenges, but feel I am now so much better for it, and best of all, I have stored up so much I wish to share with you. So let's get right into it.

Honesty/ Self Deception

This is one of the core fundamentals to becoming more integrated in your personal and spiritual life. Most of us do operate under some type of illusion about ourselves and or those with whom we live or work. I believe these are coping mechanisms that develop early in our lives to help us deal with nebulous revelations about ourselves or our families.

Let's imagine your parents are really flawed people (easier for some of us than others). You're 7 years old. As a child, you are naturally curious and observant of the world that surrounds you and you become aware, on perhaps a subconscious level, that your father is a drunk and your mother is an enabler. Your father has your mother call his work to say he is sick, about once a week. You observe that this usually occurs after a long night of drinking. They fight and keep you awake into the early hours of the morning. You come out to the kitchen, your mother is making coffee and cooking breakfast as if nothing is wrong, but your father is predictably absent. You know what's going to happen next. You have that sinking feeling in your gut. Suddenly your appetite is gone and you just want to be on your way to school. The pattern sickens you. But after you leave the house, the resilient spirit of the child dispenses with the dark visions and optimistically looks to the day ahead.

When you return home, your parents seem normal again. They're in their functional phase and the awareness of the morning events fades, like the ephemeral particle of a dream. A separate reality that you choose to put on the back burner. This is your instinctive way is disengaging so that you can avoid spiraling down the same vortex as your parents.

Of course you don't have the language to define this behavior, or the wisdom to understand it, but nonetheless, you see that something is off.

But, for better or worse, these are your caretakers. You are completely dependant upon them for your well being and sustenance. Therefore, to maintain a sense of security, you cannot permit the truth of your observations to define your relationship. You allow the suspension of these observations and focus instead on the good in your parents. For instance, your father is a large man, strong. He can probably kick anybody's ass if he had to. Your mother is intelligent. She reads all the time and drops interesting quotes when conversing with acquaintances at parties. This is what you choose to believe about your parents, that they are strong and intelligent.

How would it serve you to focus on the darker realities of parents? It would only make you feel insecure, so you put the observations out of your mind for now.

But in spite of your resistance, it stains you. You grow into an adult and the disillusionment of the past becomes an obsolete vestige, yet still you cannot completely come to terms with the truth. Some part of you is still depends on believing that your parents are worthy of your admiration. Sure they raised you, thanks to their efforts you survived the flu and they took you to the hospital when you broke your arm. They kept food on the table and drove you to school when it rained, so they couldn't be so bad. Right?

Yes, this is the truth, but not the whole truth. There is a hole inside of you. A place where you feel weak and vulnerable. In challenging times, you find yourself drawn to addictive behaviors. Where did these come from? These came from those innocent observations you made as a child. You attempted to put them out of your mind, but nonetheless, they branded your subconscious. You are now imprinted with the stain of your past and the denial of that is part of the sickness.

To make it worse, you now extend this denial to other parts of your life. Your inability to see the reality of your friends, your wife or even yourself are hampering your development, putting a wet blanket on your happiness. Because, even though you succeed in deluding yourself temporarily, the truth weighs you down. You are to some degree still the small child seeking to break free, to have a "normal" life.

OK, as you read this, you can agree with much of what I am saying. But even though you are an adult, how would revealing the truth to yourself in all of its unpleasantness be of benefit to you? This is a legitimate question. Does maintaining a veil of illusion serve the greater good? Perhaps you are married, your wife, in fits of depression, runs up huge charges on the credit card, then promises to never do it again. But she never keeps her promises. You have to work overtime to pay the bills. But you have children. Wouldn't it be selfish to pull up roots and start over again? To find someone more like your friend's wife? Thoughtful, caring, a team player.

Only you can answer that. But consider this. How would your life have been different if your parents had divorced. If your father didn't have your mother to enable him anymore. He got help and stopped drinking. Your mother, instead of plunging her head into a book in an act of avoidance, became more engaged in life. Without the weight of your father's addiction, she felt free to continue genuine development in her own adulthood and as a mother.

Maybe it wouldn't have turned out that way. You will never know. But this is your life. You are the captain of your ship. The illusion of security you maintain is just that. Life is always about uncharted waters. Maintaining the status quo when your ship is clearly off course may not be the wisest decision.

Do an honest inventory of what is wrong with your life. How much of your troubles are self-generated? Did you bring demons from your childhood that now cast a cloud over your happiness? Find out. Learn about yourself. Ask for recommendations from those you admire. What were their challenges? How did they overcome them? Take a scientific approach to your own development, to becoming whole.

Then, and only then can your make an considered evaluation of your relationships. Then and only then can you make decisions about your future that are based on truth and not illusion.

You cannot change others, you can only change yourself. So do it! Then, be brutally honest about the rest of your life and how it can be made better. Will you make mistakes? Most certainly. But remaining stagnant, stunts your growth, deflates your hope for true happiness and this is a mistake you can begin to correct now.

Consider this: Is there an afterlife where you will be free and happy once and for all? We cannot know. But why not live this life now, as if it were true?

The Latest News and Views on Health and Environment
Check it out today! www.laughinglime.com

Laughing Lime

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Anchor of Reality

“Reality, what a concept” as Robin Williams so famously quipped, but indeed the term itself would infer a quality of immutability, a constant which would always be exerting a gravitational pull on us, so that no matter how far astray we allowed our minds to travel, we could always have a psychological home to which we could return when we grew weary of the world of thought and experimentation. But with belief systems so disparate, how can the Christian and the Jew or the agnostic, the fundamentalist and the scientist all agree on what reality is? Does it exist or is it in fact as Robin Williams eluded, just another concept? Is everything a matter of faith or belief and if so, isn’t everything relegated to interpretation, an amorphous cloud of deception, leading us further away from any sense of connectedness to each other or the universe?

With the following, I hope to help you answer these questions for yourself, because adopting the assertions of any self-proclaimed prophet robs each of us of the opportunity to have our own epiphanies, to discover truths for ourselves in an empirical way that goes beyond faith and belief, but instead becomes for us, a tangible foundation upon which to build the complex and at times unwieldy structures of our lives.

So with that said, now collect yourself, stop, feel your feet on the floor, your butt in the chair and listen to the sounds around you, what are you hearing? Are these sounds real or imagined? Now, go deeper, become aware of your breath, notice how the expanding of your lungs happens without thought, in fact, it is only when I draw your attention to it that you again become aware of it. Can you feel your heart beating inside of you? Is this not an example of a reality or an imagined concept? In fact, there are many such miracles of reality happening inside of us right at this minute. Perhaps that is plenty for you to digest for now, as you go through your day, draw your awareness inside of you to the fantastic phenomenon of reality that sustain your life. This is an example of the macro-attitude, which was discussed in the last installment. When you become more invested in your senses, more aware of the constants happening inside and all around you every second of your life, you realize that there is an anchor of reality upon which we can all rely when the storms of adversity rain down upon us. Later, perhaps today, tomorrow or this week, get out in Nature, look around you with the eye of a scientist and discover for yourself other realities that have perpetuated since the beginning of time. These realities do not exist on some remote plain of cosmology, but are part a parcel of the very forces that sustain you in this moment. Are the tide and the wind, the rain and the sun not real? Indeed they are the most obvious examples of the incredible truth of our existence, as we are quite literally the offspring of the sun, benefactors of the rain, we share a mineral kinship with our earth’s crust and our hearts, like the tides do the weather, sustain us, regenerate us and bind us the truth that our spirits and bodies do have a home, even if we drift off into the imagined world of our thoughts, we are always tethered to the umbilical cord of life, and that is a reality that no one can deny.

The Latest News and Views on Health and Environment
Check it out today! www.laughinglime.com

Laughing Lime

Friday, January 27, 2006

Adjust Attitude / Emotional Health

Attitude: manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc. with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind, a cheerful attitude.
This is the Webster’s Dictionary definition of attitude and I would like to explore and expand on that somewhat, as this is an important component of the Emotional/Physical Health connection to the 8 Wonders of Integrated Living.

Consider the following questions as you read. Your answers will determine how valuable the following concepts and exercises might be to improving your life:

1. Are you happy with your life?

2. Are you happy with yourself, the way you are this moment?

3. Do you have a clear vision of your future and how to get there?

4. Do you feel that, to the best of your ability, you are in control of your future?

5. Do you feel at odds with yourself or the people around you, coworkers, friends,family?

6. Are you easily irritated by events occurring around you?

A new light on Attitude

If you will indulge me, I am going to coin two new terms, at least I think they’re new; micro-attitude and macro-attitude. A micro-attitude is the way we relate to friends, family, coworkers, our extended nuclear community if you will. Macro-attitude is the way we relate to the world as a whole, which includes our community, but extends beyond to our relationships with nature, our inner universe and humanity in general. We will be focusing on the macro-attitude, for an adjustment on that level will affect every other level of interaction as well. Though it is important to understand the distinction between the micro and macro, the macro reality originates in the higher functioning realms of the subconscious, where the codes to our behavior and attitudes are formed and stored.

Because the realm of the subconscious is not tangible, like a car or house, we cannot presume to understand or connect with it in conventional ways. We must gain access to these codes through specific pathways or activities that open the subconscious to transformation. These would include, but are not limited to: meditation, walking (especially in a natural environment) reading and writing (we will explore these individually later). Viewing evocative art is also marvelous way to unlock the subconscious. The visual queues stimulate the mind as would a physical experience. For an example, have you ever felt yourself being drawn to a painting or photograph as you pass a gallery or while waiting in the doctor’s office? Did you feel yourself being transported somehow into the imagined world represented by the art? This is because experiencial centers of the brain are stimulated by certain visual triggers. These triggers are different for each of us, depending on our personalities and unique events which shaped the view of our world. The surreal nature of the work gives us pause as we take the time to contemplate its meaning for us on a deeper level. This is what it feels like to have the subconscious open and available for transformation. For that moment, we are reminded that there is a larger world beyond whatever little problem we might have been thinking about. That is when the shift from micro to macro-attitude occurs. The challenge is to retain the macro-perspective even when the vortex of details in our immediate lives compels us to condense our existence to the head of a pin. How is this accomplished?

Most of us operate on the micro-attitudinal level throughout the day, indeed throughout our lives. With such a myopic view of the world, it is understandable that small changes in our environment would be unsettling, leading to one being in a constant state of perturbation: hence, a bad attitude. However, when we routinely expose ourselves to the experience of the macro world, slowly, subtly, these perturbations diminish in the same way a stone creates less disturbance when thrown into a large body of water than a small one. But this ‘open-minded’ view, it would seem, is not automatic in most people, perhaps one might assume because the infinite number of small details with which we must grapple on a daily basis requires a sort of focused micro-management. While that may be true, I submit that the micro and macro perspectives are not mutually exclusive, they can exist in the mind simultaneously, but it takes work and repetition to mold the mind to this new paradigm.

Is religion the answer?

Ritual plays an important role in the transformation of our minds and our lives. Certainly when one thinks of ritual, the natural inclination is to presume a religious context. While ritual is intrinsic to religion, the goals of religion are often focused on the spiritual realm, improving the odds of a blissful existence in the afterlife. Whereas the shaping of attitude is more akin to behavior modification, a more practical application of ritual that can be applied today with the potential of a cause and effect result. However some of the really valuable aspects of religion are belief and faith: a strong conviction about one’s relationship to a spiritual constant, a sturdy anchor when the storms of change conspire to rip us from our underpinnings. How can we harness the galvanizing forces of belief and faith into our daily lives, without the dogma so often associated with a religious life?

Perhaps the answer is best expressed by the following poem by Rudyard Kipling :

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

More later

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