Monday, 21 September 2020

Hidden Within You Is a Gift Too Big to See

A more practical approach is to find innovative ways to move toward Quadrant Two within the jobs that we already have. What can you do to bring your dharma where you are? When I first left the ashram, I took a consulting job at Accenture, a global management consulting firm. Over the next three years, as he underwent treatment, he ended up in the hospital for days, weeks, and even more than a month after he underwent a stem cell transplant. Greeting cards, small toys, DVDs, and handheld game systems were invaluable to making the hospital bearable, for him and also for his mother, who slept on a couch in his room. Ask your local children's hospital how you can help cheer up a child's stay. In the patient's best interest, they have rules and regulations as to what they can accept, but even a cheery greeting card can go a long way in brightening a child's day. This group collects cards for hospitalized children: http://www. Send gift cards to the parents of hospitalized children. When you send greeting cards to children in the hospital, you might want to think about their parents too. While my grandson had meals served to him, my daughter had to eat food she brought, utilize the vending machines in the hospital, or go to a nearby cafe. The cost of gas to get back and forth to his many appointments and treatment was exorbitant too. Generous donations of gift cards for local coffee shops, fast food places, and gas stations were invaluable. Self-reporting them normally involves answering survey questions to form an aggregate measure of, say, `agreeableness'. Do you `cheat to get ahead, use others for your own ends, believe that you are better than others and have good intentions? But our answers may vary from one day to the next according to our mood, and, in some instances, will be influenced by who we compare ourselves with to reach a judgement. I also wonder how truthful our responses will be: not everybody who is disagreeable will want to admit this after all! Many researchers have tried to circumvent these issues by using third parties to assess the personality traits of others. In practice, though, nobody could know a sufficiently large number of individuals - in a statistical sense - well enough to accurately assess their level of `agreeableness'. Some people will be agreeable when meeting face-to-face, but disagreeable in other situations which the researcher doesn't experience.

Alternatively, if a large number of third parties are involved, each with the task of judging a few people, they'll almost certainly have different standards by which they assess them. With this in mind, it's perhaps no coincidence that the area where the strongest consensus regarding birth order effects exits, is the only area where a truly objective measure is available to test for it - intelligence, as measured by IQ. Both of the recent research papers I referred to found a relationship between intelligence and birth order, with IQ test scores falling slightly from first to later borns on average. There is also a very extreme, off the charts version of narcissistic mothers. These are the ones who commit the heinous crimes against children we sometimes hear about. They are known as malignant maternal narcissists. These women are deranged and inhumane to the core. They either do cruel and torturous things to their children or have others facilitate the abuse and then enjoy watching it. Casey Anthony, the woman who murdered her child Caylee so she could enjoy the single life, exemplifies the malignant maternal narcissist. Malignant maternal narcissists are the ones who emotionally torture their children by hurting or threatening to hurt their beloved pets. They are the mothers who beat their children to death or within one inch of their life. Some sexually exploit their children. You can well imagine the other horrific things they do without me having to be graphic. We were constantly dealing with numbers, data, and financial statements, and it quickly became clear that a talent for Excel was essential in order to excel in my position. But Excel was not my thing. In spite of my efforts, I couldn't force myself to get better at it. I just wasn't interested. As far as I was concerned, it was worse than mucking out the cow stalls. So, while I continued to do my best, I thought about how I could demonstrate what I was good at. My passion was wisdom and tools for life like meditation and mindfulness, so I offered to teach a mindfulness class to my working group.

The lead managing director loved the idea, and the class I gave was popular enough that she asked me to speak about mindfulness and meditation at a company-wide summer event for analysts and consultants. I would speak in front of a thousand people at Twickenham Stadium, the home stadium of England's national rugby team. When I got to the stadium, I found out that my turn at the podium was sandwiched between words from the CEO and Will Greenwood, a rugby legend. Write to your children or grandchildren. When I left home for college, I'd always check the mailbox at the dorm. My parents and a couple sisters did not disappoint; I still have those letters, some forty years later. Even when I lived a block away from my grandchildren, I'd surprise them with a card in the mailbox occasionally, or splurge and have a cookie bouquet delivered, always with a coupon code that made them affordable. Now that I live an hour away, it's even more important to keep in touch. I'm not one for FaceTiming, but I will make sure there's something in their mailbox from Grandma Mary. Mail a postcard to Postcrossing. Like postcards? If you'd like to get postcards in your mailbox, you can register with Postcrossing (http://www. This is thought to reflect the impact of the eldest child (generally) receiving more parental attention than their later born siblings during the first couple of years of life - a crucial period in the development of intelligence. As a younger sibling myself, I hasten to add that the eldest child only has about a 52% chance of having a higher IQ than his/her brother or sister in a two child family! By implication, children with no siblings should presumably also do relatively well in IQ tests once other potential factors, such as genetic influences, are accounted for. Toni Falbo, an expert in the field, looked into this, concluding that only children outperform later borns from larger families (those with at least three children), although they typically underperform first borns in smaller families and those with just one sibling. While it's hard to pin IQ differences on comparison effects, it's interesting that the large study of US, UK and German individuals I mentioned earlier, found that respondents' perception of their intellect also fell in tandem with their birth order position: later borns often believe they're not as clever as their older siblings. As we've just discovered, there may be an element of truth in this, but crucially the effect persisted even when taking account of `actual' intelligence. It seems highly likely that the typical direction of the comparisons made between siblings (upward by the youngest and downward by the eldest) accounts for the result.

The same factor probably explains why studies designed to explore the impact of birth order on self-esteem have usually unearthed a link as well. The results of another Toni Falbo investigation involving 1,785 university undergraduates, for instance, demonstrated that first borns typically have slightly higher self-esteem than last borns. The effects may have been even stronger if it wasn't for those instances where younger siblings consistently outperformed their older brother(s) or sister(s), reversing the normal direction of the comparisons and hence the likely effects on self-esteem. The majority of narcissistic mothers are not that extreme, but they are all a danger to their child's emotional well-being. After a lifetime of seeing your mother as the all-powerful Oz, it may be hard to accept that she is nothing more than a weak little lady hiding behind a curtain. No matter how old and big you get or how old and small she gets, it is hard to shake that frightening image. This is a trick your mind plays on you. The only power your mother has over you now is the power you give her. It is time to put her in her place. It is only natural for mothers, good or bad, to eventually get blamed for something they did, whether responsible or not. If your mother is a narcissist do not feel guilty about placing that responsibility upon her. Take comfort in knowing that it is not you who has the problem, it's her. Narcissistic Mothers and Daughters I sat in the audience listening to the lineup, thinking Crap, everyone's going to laugh at me. Why did I agree to this? All the other speakers were at the top of their fields and so articulate. I started to have second thoughts about what I had planned to say and how to deliver it. Then I went through my breathing exercises, calmed myself down, and two seconds before I went on stage, I thought, Just be yourself. I would do my own dharma perfectly instead of trying to do anyone else's. I went up, did my thing, and afterward the response couldn't have been better.

The director who had organized it said, I've never heard an audience of consultants and analysts stay so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Later, she invited me to teach mindfulness all across the company in the UK. This was a tipping point for me. When you send a postcard, you'll receive a postcard back from another participant somewhere in the world. With nearly 800,000 members in 210 countries, approximately 350,000 postcards are traveling to mailboxes right now in this manner. Have a secret? Share it with PostSecret. Whether it is a secret regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, or childhood humiliation, you can reveal anything, anonymously, on a postcard, briefly but creatively. This is a group art project, and shared postcard secrets can be viewed at www. Get creative with envelopes and stamps. You can find envelope templates online, or take apart an envelope and lay it on an old map, decorated scraparticle paper, or even a article from your favorite magazine to cut out your own envelope pattern. Fold, and glue the edges shut. Use blank white address labels or a black marker to write the recipient's address. Also, as with personality traits, it's not necessarily straightforward to accurately quantify people's self-esteem. A more helpful framework than Adler's, designed to explicitly assess the impact of comparisons on siblings' psychological well-being, was devised by Abraham Tesser in the late-1980s. His `Self Evaluation Maintenance Model'6 suggests that siblings' reactions to comparisons depend largely on three factors: How they perform relative to their brother or sister in a particular task - do they win or lose? How (psychologically) close they are to their sibling - is he or she somebody they frequently compare themselves with? The relevance of the task to their `self-concept' - does the task matter to them? Tesser proposed that a child who underperforms a sibling they're close to - particularly a younger one - on an activity that's important to them will experience the most negative effects, feeling worse about themselves as a result of the comparisons they've made.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Some people take the road and help others along the way,

She has an innate sense of how to manipulate others, especially those in charge, and get away with it. Family members do catch on to her ploys but are no match for her manipulative abilities. The mastermind may also be a jokester just as is the mascot, but her humor is more sardonic and caustic than soothing. Her sugar-coated, backhanded insults serve to cover up her own feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and lack of emotional safety. Masterminds are well-known for saying, What's the matter with you? Can't you take a joke? This is a role she will take with her into adulthood--once a manipulator, always a manipulator. That will be thirty thousand dollars, he says. Picasso, the woman says, how can you charge me so much? This drawing only took you thirty seconds! Madame, says Picasso, it took me thirty years. The same is true of any artistic work--or, indeed, any job that's done well. The effort behind it is invisible. The monk in my ashram who could easily recite all the scriptures put years into memorizing them. I needed to consider that investment, the life it required, before making it my goal. When asked who we are, we resort to stating what we do: I'm an accountant. I'm a lawyer. He also discovered that healing writing didn't have to be trauma-focused; None of this requires writing talent. There's just something about putting pen to paper that is beneficial, whether it is journaling, blogging, or writing for publication.

Even writing letters counts. In one study, Kent State professor Steven Toepfer discovered that having students write three letters a week, spending fifteen to twenty minutes on each letter, decreased depressive symptoms and increased happiness and life satisfaction significantly. I experienced the letter-writing benefit after David's death. Because he'd died on a Tuesday, I began dreading Tuesdays, a weekly reminder of my loss. When I made the decision to reach out to someone else every Tuesday, through a card or handwritten letter, I began looking forward to Tuesdays. Writing letters to others ending up helping me. While I have maintained throughout this article that being more creative means opening up your mind, trying new things, allowing yourself to fail, and finding ways to work creativity in your everyday life, expressive writing is the one craft I have specifically and consciously honed since I was a teen. They want to know the exact steps they'll take and what might happen along the way on the road to their dreams and goals. Life doesn't work that way. This is precisely the reason these same people will never change their lives and do something different. The fear of not knowing is much greater than the happiness of experiencing and achieving. Can I let you in on a little secret? You simply don't need to know exactly how, when and where things will happen. In all probability, it will end up being way different from what you first imagined. You just need to get in the neighborhood. When deciding what you want to do with your life and which direction you should go, all you need to do is just get in the vicinity and the rest will become crystal clear. Realize that whatever you do, your first experience will not be your final experience. Unless identified, dealt with and modified, the hero, caretaker, mascot and mastermind roles assumed by children in emotionally abusive narcissistic homes will become lifelong mindsets. Relationships, friendships, parenting, scholastic endeavors, and careers will all be impacted by these dysfunctional adaptations. Children raised in families with narcissistic parents suffer tremendous emotional abuse.

Healthy coping mechanisms are never taught, therefore never learned. In order to adapt and survive in this painful, hostile, confusing environment these children must find ways to cope. Unless addressed and altered, their childhood coping methods, always maladaptive, are the ones they will use for the rest of their lives. The Siblings Good parents promote close relationships among their children. It is up to them to teach siblings how to get along with each other and work through their conflicts. If a child needs more attention, the parent should find ways to provide it. I'm a housewife/househusband. I'm an athlete. I'm a teacher. Sometimes this is just a useful way to jump-start a conversation with someone you've just met. But life is more meaningful when we define ourselves by our intentions rather than our achievements. If you truly define yourself by your job, then what happens when you lose your job? If you define yourself as an athlete, then an injury ends your career, you don't know who you are. Losing a job shouldn't destroy our identities, but often it does. Instead, if we live intentionally, we sustain a sense of purpose and meaning that isn't tied to what we accomplish but who we are. If your intention is to help people, you have to embody that intention by being kind, openhearted, and innovative, by recognizing people's strengths, supporting their weaknesses, listening, helping them grow, reading what they need from you, and noticing when it changes. That served me well when I turned to writing to get through situations much tougher than a doomed teenage romance. The ease with which I wrote articles, essays, and even an entire article (Refined by Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace) about the loss of my husband caused me to wonder why I hadn't written more about Jacob, the grandson who died some seventeen months after his grandfather. It was as though I'd decided the loss was more my daughter's and her husband's, as the parents.

I'd hesitated to claim it as my own. Elizabeth had noticed. You didn't write enough about Jacob, she'd lamented after reading Refined by Fire, and I'd replied that it was her story to tell. It wasn't until working on this article, nearly five years after his death, that I wrote a poem about Jacob. I'd been encouraging members of a writing group I facilitated to enter a poetry contest. In turn, they challenged me to do the same. I struggled to write a poem about rubbing the feet of those I loved; Knowing that takes the pressure off you and helps you to understand that it's not a big deal if only you get in the neighborhood, so to speak, the first time out. Here's what being in the vicinity of what you think you want to do, will do. For years, you may have dreamed that only being an actor will bring you your greatest happiness. So, you get a job at a studio as a production assistant and in a short time, you find that the politics, the hours and the people weren't anything like you imagined it would be all those years. You may also find out that the passion for acting may not be as strong as you once thought it was. But in a few short weeks or months, look what you've learned. And look at how much time and possible headache that you've saved. And it's all because you were in the vicinity. Do that for anything and everything in your life and you'll be amazed at the time, energy, emotion, effort and money you'll save along the way. When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. If a child needs to assert his or her individuality, it is the parent's job to help facilitate it. With proper parental guidance, the siblings will grow out of their need for sibling rivalry and mature into relationships of mutual love and respect. This scenario plays out very differently in families with narcissistic parents who typically withdraw attention and dissuade individuality.

Narcissistic parents do not want their children to be close. Allied sibling relationships mean less control for them, so instead of promoting harmony among their children, they instigate conflicts between them. The only needs narcissistic parents care about are their own. They do not have children to give love, only to receive it--basically to grow their own narcissistic supply. In place of love, they offer favor--favor that has limited supply. There is a stream of favor always available to the golden child. Whatever remains unused is occasionally accessible to the other children, but rationed in small quantities. If your intention is to support your family, you might decide that you have to be generous, present, hardworking, and organized. If your intention is to live your passion, maybe you have to be committed, energetic, and truthful. When you identify your intentions, they reveal your values. The intentions to help people and to serve mean you value service. The intention to support your family means you value family. It's not rocket science, but these terms get thrown around and used interchangeably, so it helps to know how they connect and overlap. Living your intention means having it permeate your behavior. For instance, if your goal is to improve your relationship, you might plan dates, give your partner gifts, and get a haircut to look better for them. Your wallet will be thinner, your hair might look better, and your relationship may or may not improve. But watch what happens if you make internal changes to live your intention. I'd even chosen the title: Love's Disciple. I wrote, revised, reworded, and rewrote again. I was ready to give up on poetry altogether when, almost as if it had a mind of its own, the words began flowing seamlessly and a new poem formed.

What Your Hidden Heart Really Wants

While my writing certainly hasn't reached masterpiece level, it's evident I do have a history of writing my way through difficult periods of my life, beginning with teen angst then through my husband's cancer in 2006 to my mother's death in 2010. I'd assumed the reason I turned to journaling as I mourned my husband was because I was a writer. Weeks into my grief journey, however, I wondered how anyone could survive the experience without writing about it. In an attempt to understand my own, I began researching the topic of grief as though studying for a final exam: reading dozens of articles and articles about the grieving process. In doing so, I stumbled across repeated references to expressive writing as a healing tool. While diary-keeping is nothing new, the therapeutic potential of reflective writing came into vogue in the 1960s, when Dr Ira Progoff, a psychologist in New York, began offering intensive journaling workshops and classes. He'd been using a psychological notearticle method in his therapy clients for several years before that. THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF ONE One person, one voice, one vote and one action can make all the difference and even change the world. We live in a country in which, despite the horrendous price for freedom men and women paid before we were born, we hardly take full advantage of our liberties and exercise the greatest power that was ever to be bestowed upon us. I'm talking about the power to vote. But it goes way beyond just voting. It's the power of one. That's right, one person, one voice, once cause and one action that can change the world. Most people still live with the belief that what they do or what they say couldn't be that important. But they are wrong. Take a good look at what the power of one did to change the course of history: This child takes responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family, but in a very different way than the caretaker does. The mascot assumes the job of social director, constantly kidding and clowning around to divert the family's attention away from its prevailing pain and anger. She is the one the family counts on to lighten the mood and make them feel better.

It appears by her happy-go-lucky attitude that problems just roll off her back, but her resiliency is only a defense mechanism. The mascot deflects the reality of her tragic circumstances and expresses her pain through comic relief. Masquerading as the cut-up at home and class clown at school, she ambiguously expresses her feelings of powerlessness, sadness, anger, and resentment. She exemplifies herself as an object of ridicule through self-deprecating humor, ditsy behavior, or foolishness. Representing herself as a caricature of a human being, no one (including herself) takes her seriously. As adults, proficient at mitigating suffering through humor, many mascots become entertainers. Sadly, they will never enjoy the happiness they give others. It is only a matter of how consciously you do these ordinary things. LIVE YOUR INTENTIONS Of course, simply having intentions isn't enough. We have to take action to help those seeds grow. I don't believe in wishful manifesting, the idea that if you simply believe something will happen, it will. We can't sit around with true intentions expecting that what we want will fall into our laps. Nor can we expect someone to find us, discover how amazing we are, and hand us our place in the world. Nobody is going to create our lives for us. Martin Luther King Jr. When people come to me seeking guidance, I constantly hear, I wish. In the 1970s, he wrote several articles, including At a Journal Workshop, detailing his intensive journal process. Around the same time, Christina Baldwin released her article One to One: Self-Understanding through Journal Writing, based on the adult education journal classes she taught. But it is Dr James Pennebaker who is often lauded as the pioneer in studying expressive writing as a route to healing.

Pennebaker, Regents Centennial Chair of Psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, discusses his findings in his article Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressive Emotions, revealing how short-term, focused writing can have a beneficial effect for anyone dealing with stress or trauma. In his original study in the late 1980s, college students wrote for fifteen minutes total on four consecutive days about the most traumatic or upsetting experiences of their lives, while control subjects were instructed to write about superficial topics. Those in the experimental group showed marked improvement in immune system functioning and had fewer visits to the health center in the months following the study. Not only that, but despite an occasional initial increase in distress during the first session of writing, there was a marked improvement in their emotional health. In another one of Pennebaker's studies, fifty middle-aged professionals who were terminated from a large Dallas computer company were split into two groups. The first group wrote for thirty minutes a day, five days in a row, about their personal experience of being fired. The second group wrote for the same period of time on an unrelated topic. In 1645, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England. In 1649, one vote caused Charles I of England to be executed. In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German. In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the Union. In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment. In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency of the United States. In 1923, one vote gave Adolf Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party. The point is, anyone can make a difference in changing the course of events in their lives and for those people around them. We think that we can't change laws in this country, yet, many powerful politicians say that isn't so. After a lifetime of repressing their own pain, they are likely to suffer from chronic depression. Never having developed an authentic self, they will always struggle with feelings of emptiness and loneliness. The Mastermind/Manipulator Child

Unlike the other three roles, the mastermind/manipulator has no positive virtues. She is sinister, selfish, and abusive. The mastermind controls the family. She is cunning in her survival skills. She copes, not through passivity or deflection, but through manipulation. The mastermind's manipulations are driven by haughty feelings of entitlement, quite like the narcissist himself. She is opportunistic, callous, and unrelenting when it comes to fulfilling her own needs, though shrewd enough to operate just below the radar. I wish my partner would be more attentive. I wish I could have the same job but make more money. I wish my relationship were more serious. We never say, I wish I could be more organized and focused and could do the hard work to get that. We don't vocalize what it would actually take to get what we want. I wish is code for I don't want to do anything differently. There's an apocryphal story about Picasso that perfectly illustrates how we fail to recognize the work and perseverance behind achievement. As the tale goes, a woman sees Picasso in a market. She goes up to him and says, Would you mind drawing something for me? Sure, he says, and thirty seconds later hands her a remarkably beautiful little sketch. Within three months, 27 percent of the expressive writers had landed jobs compared with less than 5 percent of the participants in the control group. Initially skeptical of Pennebaker's remarkable findings, Dr Edward J. Murray, a professor of psychology at the University of Miami, conducted his own investigations, eventually agreeing that writing seems to produce therapeutic benefits that include health, cognitive, self-esteem, and behavior changes.

Writing seems to produce as much therapeutic benefit as sessions with a psychotherapist, he concluded. Pennebaker's original expressive writing paradigm has been replicated in hundreds of studies, each measuring different potential effects of expressive writing. Not only has subsequent research confirmed his original findings regarding physical well-being, writing about emotionally charged topics has been shown to improve mental health, reducing symptoms of depression or anxiety. This has proven true in studies with those who have experienced loss, veterans experiencing PTSD, and HIV and cancer patients. Expressive writing now seems to be an accepted alternative holistic and non-medicinal form of therapy for emotional health. Pennebaker's research did reveal that the type of writing mattered; It was important to look for meaning in the experiences. So few people write or call them to express their views that the silence of the majority is taken by these politicians to mean that everyone is happy with the way things are going. No wonder these same politicians tend to listen more to those few who do call or write. Your voice, your ideas and your beliefs are just as important as those of anyone else, regardless of their money, power or prestige. Power is simply something we give somebody else because we choose to. Just as easily, you can take it away. It all begins with you, the power of one. JUST GET IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD The more I believe I will reach my goal, the less I need to know how. The more I think about having already arrived at my goal, the quicker I actually get there. So many times, people can't decide what they want to do with their lives, and it stops them from ever taking action or experiencing in the first place. Recognizing the dysfunction of her family, she uses it to her benefit. This child capitalizes on the weaknesses of her family members to get what she wants. In that pursuit, she will lie in wait, create conflict among family members, or pour on an insincere charm.

Eight Indications of a Broken Heart

When they lived in Sidney, Iowa, Sue worked as assistant director and did tech with a professional dinner theatre while Sig did tech and acted. Later, though both were teachers at the time, they did computer portraits and made homemade egg rolls on the NE Iowa fair circuit during summers. In 1991, Sue became director of a theater group that she ran for ten years. The two also taught English, speech, and drama at the high school I graduated from, Maquoketa Valley in Delhi, Iowa, for many years before their retirement. We were always up for adventure, doing things other people wouldn't even think of doing, Sue said, an understatement considering her husband had once been a trapeze artist. The couple hadn't planned on becoming alpaca farmers when they visited an alpaca farm in 2003. Looking forward to retirement, they'd had a brand-new house built. You truly cannot and will not rise above your words. Your words are incredibly powerful, so tell yourself only what you want to happen, what you want to be, and what you want to experience. And make those affirmations in the present tense, like they are already happening. Here's what I'm talking about. I look and feel great. I enjoy eating healthy foods and am always full of energy. Incredible wealth, success and opportunities are flowing into my life right now. I know exactly what I need to do at the perfect time, and I do it. I am guided unerringly in all that I do, every day. And one of the most powerful of all affirmations was the one that late Emile Coue gave to his patients that profoundly changed their lives: Prone to severe depression, the invisible child may easily fall prey to substance abuse, eating disorders and other addictive behaviors The three roles--golden child, scapegoat child, and invisible child are given by narcissistic parents for self-serving needs. They are not meant to benefit the children in any way.

But these roles are not the only roles children in narcissistic families play. As a way to bring some semblance of order to their chaotic world and ease their pain, children in these families adopt roles of their own. The four additional roles adopted by children in narcissistic homes are: hero/responsible child, caretaker/placater, mascot/clown, and mastermind/manipulator. Children may adopt one or more of these roles. Only children usually take on a variety of roles for emotional adaptation. The Hero/Responsible Child The hero/responsible child is often, but not always, the oldest sibling. Every answer provokes deeper questions. Sometimes it helps to sit with a question in the back of your mind for a day, even a week. Very often you'll find that what you are ultimately searching for is an internal feeling (happiness, security, confidence, etc). Or maybe you'll find that you're acting out of envy, not the most positive emotion, but a good alert to the need you are trying to fill. Be curious about that discovery. Why are you envious? Is there something--like adventure--that you can start working on right away? Once you're doing that, the external wants will be more available to you--if they still matter at all. TRY THIS: A QUESTION MEDITATION Take a desire you have and ask yourself why you want it. They'd only wanted to see in person the domesticated species of South American camelid Sue had heard about on late-night television commercials. When a colleague told them of a farm nearby, they planned a one-hour visit. They stayed for seven hours.

When the farmer drove the herd to the barn, there was no sound. It was that silence that won them over. In high school, when the bell rings, it's chaos--organized chaos, but it's always loud, Sue said. When the herd of eighty alpacas ran past us on their way to the barn, there was no sound. I thought then that this would be heaven--you get out of a noisy school and there would be silence. They purchased a male and two pregnant females, boarding them for eleven months before they sold their new house in town and moved to an acreage in Earlville, Iowa, where they now raise alpacas and Shetland sheep. It actually didn't surprise their children, who had grown up being involved in their parents' many adventures. Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better. Remember this: The experiences and words you heard helped create your beliefs. Those beliefs helped create your attitudes. Those attitudes helped create your feelings. Those feelings helped you decide what actions you'll take. The actions you've taken have given you the results you've experienced. Always say the best words to yourself. Really believe what you say, even though at this moment, it may be the furthest thing from the truth. For soon it will be true, if only you'll say whatever it is you want. This child becomes overly conscientious and independent. She assumes the role of a responsible parent at an inappropriately young age. With a perfectionist nature, the hero child strives to achieve the highest level of success recognized as impressive by her family.

She is the perfect student, best athlete, or most talented. A shining example of what outsiders assume could only be attributed to perfect parenting, her job is to mask the true dysfunction of her family to the outside world. Since the hero child relies on outside approval as her compass for success, and her worth is always defined by others, nothing she accomplishes ever feels good enough. Nothing others do is good enough either. She does not like to engage the help of others and tends to be controlling, because she believes no one can complete a task as well as she can. Proficient at all she undertakes, the hero child suppresses her emotions to a degree that she can no longer feel them. Deep inside, she secretly harbors feelings of insecurity and adequacy. Keep asking until you get to the root intention. Common answers are: To look and feel good Don't negate intentions that aren't good, just be aware of them and recognize that if your reason isn't love, growth, or knowledge, the opportunity may fulfill important practical needs, but it won't feel emotionally meaningful. We're most satisfied when we are in a state of progress, learning, or achievement. SEEDS AND WEEDS As monks, we learned to clarify our intentions through the analogy of seeds and weeds. When you plant a seed, it can grow into an expansive tree that provides fruit and shelter for everyone. That's what a broad intention, like love, compassion, or service, can do. The purity of your intention has nothing to do with what career you choose. They just shook their heads and murmured, There they go again. When Sue joined my lifelong learners group, it had been over fifty years since she'd had anything published. She hadn't stopped writing the poetry that had brought her and her husband together--she just hadn't submitted anything, the surest way to avoid rejection.

But when she read one of her poems aloud, I was in awe of her obvious talent. With a little guidance and encouragement (and sometimes that's all it takes), she was off, polishing poetry and prose pulled from her file folders. Once she took that first step, she admitted she couldn't stop writing and submitting. It was as if a fire had been lit beneath her. That fire continues to spread to other ventures in creativity. Though she has been taking painting lessons for five years, she recently began entering paintings in the county fair, as well as continuing with her photography, winning several blue ribbons in both categories. I don't plan on stopping either, Sue says. THE IMAGES YOU KEEP PLAYING IN YOUR MIND KEEP BRINGING YOU THE THINGS YOU HAVE All day, every day, you speak in words, but think in images and pictures. This is what our ancestors did when they didn't have the language we now have. They drew pictures on walls, in caves, in the dirt, on wood. Each image had a specific meaning. The same is true today. The problem is, most people picture in their minds that which they want to avoid. Very few vividly picture that which they want. But when they do, they find themselves irresistibly drawn to it, as if something magical is happening. Well, something magical is happening. Fearing her true self will be exposed as defective and incapable, she compensates by compulsively driving herself. Never feeling good enough within, true success can never be attained. When one goal is reached, she must strive for another.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Making Friends with the Mystery of Ourselves

Who would have thought kindness could be so powerful? A lot of people, actually. A quick Amazon search reveals over 7,000 articles on the topic. Google the phrase random acts of kindness or the word kindness, and it's evident an entire movement on the virtue has evolved. The globally recognized World Kindness Day is celebrated every November, and the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation has extended that concept to a Random Acts of Kindness week in February. You can find an entire website, KindnessRocks. And then there's the World Gratitude Map, a crowdsourcing project with the mission to share gratitude. Each day, the clock of your life is ticking. The time you waste today is the time you won't have tomorrow to enjoy all the incredible rewards you'll experience from pushing yourself beyond that which you've been. Make not your thoughts your prisons. TEAR DOWN YOUR FENCES You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. You were born with only two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Every other fear is learned. Silly isn't it? Big, strong you, after all these years accepting so little of yourself and being so afraid to do something new or go after your dream. Think about something with me for a moment. She is seen as an inferior person. Her primary job is to carry the shame and anger of the narcissistic parent on her shoulders. She is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family.

The narcissistic parent is unrelentingly critical, cruel, and abusive to this child. Not only is she unappreciated, she is humiliated in front of other family members, often called crazy, and made to feel unaccepted. Since the scapegoat child is the most truthful, well-meaning, and personally sacrificing member of the family, she is constantly getting hurt. She remains authentic no matter how many times she is used and abused by her parent. The narcissistic parent sees the scapegoat child as having no needs of her own, though she is expected to do all the caring. Her entire childhood is spent trying to live up to the expectations of the parent. That proves futile every time. When I'm trying to get to the root of a desire, I start with the question Why? This monkish approach to intention can be applied to even the worldliest goals. Here's a sample goal I've chosen because it's something we never would have contemplated in the ashram and because the intention behind it isn't obvious: I want to sail solo around the world. Why do you want to sail around the world? It will be fun. I'll get to see lots of places and prove to myself that I'm a great sailor. It sounds like your intention is to gratify yourself, and that you are motivated by desire. But, what if your answer to the question is: It was always my father's dream to sail around the world. I'm doing it for him. It is moving your mind over to this place where I think we should all be, which is to keep our eyes on all that is good, beautiful, and possible in the world, Jacqueline Lewis, one of the project's creators, said in a 2013 LiveScience article on the gratitude project. Lewis, a writer with an interest in human resilience, has a vested interest in the project. When her mother, Joan Zawoiski Lewis, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, all she asked was that people do good deeds in her name.

Her spirits were lifted by the reports of family and friends throughout the world doing just that. Jacqueline was certain that kept her mother alive for nearly twenty months longer than expected. While dying, her focus on these good deeds done by others kept her alive with end-stage pancreatic cancer past all reasonable prognosis, Jacqueline said. The [World Gratitude Map] gives the rest of us a chance to move our eyes in the same direction, perhaps derive the same benefit. My daughter Elizabeth and I weren't aware of any of this when we designed Random Acts of Kindness cards after my grandson Jacob died. All we knew was that his life had been much too short and we were determined his death would have meaning. He'd spent a great deal of his time in the hospital during the nearly three years he'd battled cancer. When you were born, you had every possibility for becoming that which you want to be and doing that which you want to do. A life of unlimited possibility and greatness was yours. Each year as you grew older (only in years), you began listening, believing and accepting without question the limits that your family, friends, co-workers and society placed on you and the future possibilities for your life. These limits became your fences. And each year, you accepted more and more of what these people told you. And as you did, those fences began to surround you and came gradually closer and closer to tightly fencing you in to where now, you can only go forward and backward for a few steps and that's all. And after all these years, you've come to actually believe that these limits and imaginary fences are real for you, even though in reality they never existed except in your mind. Yes, you were born with an ocean of possibilities--unlimited in abundance and impossible to see the end of it--but now the only ocean of possibilities you see for yourself is a small bucket with a little water. It's time to throw the bucket away. The great news for you is that every single one of those dreams you had as a child and that ocean of unlimited possibilities have always been there for you and they're still there right now, waiting for you to push those fences over and enjoy them. No matter what she does she is never good enough. Many of her ideas and achievements are worthy of praise but the parent never gives her the accolades she deserves. Her successes are either attributed to someone else or given no worth at all.

The scapegoat child is the most honest member of the family. Unable to repress the injustices placed upon her, she is the one most likely to argue, act out or rebel. Since she is labeled a troublemaker whether her behavior is good or bad, she has little to risk. This child seeks attention. Whether negative or positive it is still attention. Preferring that the attention is positive, the scapegoat child is tenacious in her efforts to gain admiration from her narcissistic parent. Sadly she never succeeds. In this case, your intention is to honor your father, and you are motivated by duty and love. I'm sailing around the world so I can be free. I won't be accountable to anyone. I can leave all my responsibilities behind. This sailor intends to escape--he is driven by fear. Now let's look at a more common want: My biggest want is money, and here's Jay, probably about to tell me to become kind and compassionate. That's not going to help. Wanting to be rich for the sake of being rich is fine. It's firmly in the category of material gratification, so you can't expect it to give an internal sense of fulfillment. A dedicated band of Child Life Committee volunteers at the University of Iowa Hospital visited his room, bringing toys and involving him in activities designed to entertain young patients. Jacob, who sorely missed his siblings while he and his mom were in the hospital, would save the cupcakes he made with the volunteers to share with siblings back home. He'd raid his own piggy bank to purchase gifts for his big sister Becca at the hospital gift shop.

And during a brief period of remission, he collected toys to take to other children in the hospital. On his deathbed, when he heard his mother complain about stiffness from sleeping on the floor next to him, his thin arm reached out from underneath the blanket to rub her back. The best way we could honor such a precious child was to be more like him, to become better people because of him. To be kinder. We designed cards that included his name and the Jacob's Ladder Facearticle article and began doing random acts of kindness in memory of Jacob. All over the country there were people following his cancer journey who vowed to do the same. Medical bills were paid off anonymously, groceries purchased for needy families, and acts of kindness shared on the Facearticle article. When it comes to having the kind of incredible life you want, it's never too early or too late to go for it. Who cares what others think. For years, you've cared too much of what others thought, and look at how it's made you feel. You were meant to have the kind of life you've always dreamed of. Those dreams were placed inside you for a reason. It's time to tear down your fences. Every time a person admits to himself--usually much later--that he has made a fool of himself, he can trace it to a lack of patience; SAY WHAT YOU WANT Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better. You can be whatever you tell yourself you want to be, so why is it that you keep telling yourself what you are and what you don't want? She is forever deemed an underachiever or loser. The scapegoat child actualizes these self-destructive labels and the defining mindset follows her throughout life. The scapegoat child ultimately has more freedom than the golden child does, so in that aspect, she fares a little better in life.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Some travel with clowns and animals

What will people think? No one is allowed to know about the narcissistic family's problems or the dysfunctional dynamics of its relationships. Children are admonished not to share the secrets existing behind the four walls. They are to always pretend that everything is fine. An idealized perfect family image is everything to the narcissist. Narcissistic parents will insist that nothing is wrong with the family and that the children show a perfect face to the world. My Life, Close Encounter Five Because our search is never for a thing, but for the feeling we think the thing will give us. We all know this already: We see wealthy and/or famous people who seem to have it all, but who have bad relationships or suffer from depression, and it's obvious that success didn't bring them happiness. The same is true for those of us who aren't rich and famous. We quickly tire of our smartphones and want the next model. We receive a bonus, but the initial excitement fades surprisingly fast when our lives don't really improve. We think that a new phone or a bigger house will make us feel somehow better--cooler or more satisfied--but instead find ourselves wanting more. Material gratification is external, but happiness is internal. When monks talk about happiness, they tell the story of the musk deer, a tale derived from a poem by Kabir, a fifteenth-century Indian mystic and poet. The musk deer picks up an irresistible scent in the forest and chases it, searching for the source, not realizing that the scent comes from its own pores. It spends its whole life wandering fruitlessly. When we are stressed, we are using an industrial, assembly-line type of thinking, instead of creative, out-of-the-box thinking. As we've touched on in previous articles, that assembly-line mindset is counterproductive to creativity. According to Sulack, cultivating gratefulness as a habit can change that type of thinking.

To be creative and get beyond those compensatory behaviors and try new ones, we must address the stress response, he says. Gratitude is one powerful way to do that. When you are grateful, your stress is reduced and you experience positive emotions. These in turn help you remember peripheral details more vividly, think outside the box, and recognize common themes among random or unassociated ideas. All of this adds up to a more creative response. A grateful attitude doesn't happen overnight. We can't just tell ourselves to look on the bright side. Only you can say which. For any choice you make or anything you set your mind to achieve or experience, there are consequences you must experience. Look at your desires and ask yourself why you want the things you do. Listen to the answers, for they will reveal a lot about why you've devoted so much of your life to chasing after the things you have. Keep the fire of desire burning inside you. It will change your life. Having the right desire will change it for the best. YOUR ENVIRONMENT IMPACTS YOUR REALITY Our life is what our thoughts make of it. Each environment you experience carries its own set of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and values. To the outside world, my family looked like the picture perfect, happy family, perhaps even enviable. We often had visitors on Sundays. In those days, nothing was open on a Sunday, so that was when families took drives or visited other family members or friends.

Our family of five was notorious for gathering around the piano and singing songs to entertain our guests. No one could have imagined the chaos and hostility to which my mother subjected us in the hours before company came and after they left. My mother's behavior was typical of narcissistic personality disordered parents. They are typically cold, cruel, and distant to their families when no one from the outside is looking. When others are around, they put their perfect family on display. Everyone is expected to perform to the parent's standards. The entire family revolves around the narcissistic parent and his needs, whims, and desires. In the same way we search for happiness, finding it elusive, when it can be found within us. Happiness and fulfillment come only from mastering the mind and connecting with the soul--not from objects or attainments. Success doesn't guarantee happiness, and happiness doesn't require success. They can feed each other, and we can have them at the same time, but they are not intertwined. After analyzing a Gallup survey on well-being, Princeton University researchers officially concluded that money does not buy happiness after basic needs and then some are fulfilled. While having more money contributes to overall life satisfaction, that impact levels off at a salary of around $75,000. In other words, when it comes to the impact of money on how you view the quality of your life, a middle-class American citizen fares about as well as Jeff Bezos. Success is earning money, being respected in your work, executing projects smoothly, receiving accolades. Happiness is feeling good about yourself, having close relationships, making the world a better place. More than ever, popular culture celebrates the pursuit of success. It's a process we need to practice and develop as a habit, training our mind to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. One way to do that is to reflect on a time in your life when you faced adversity and then consider good things that happened because of it. My husband did this naturally after his cancer.

After suffering through six months of grueling treatment, he'd often take my hand in his and remark, If it took cancer to get this kind of relationship, then I'm glad for the cancer. I can look back and see how losing three important people in my life in the space of three years changed me in positive ways. I'm more empathetic, open, and eager to help others. I became a certified grief counselor and founded an annual grief retreat because of my loss, not in spite of it. I have intimately seen how God can bring good from bad. When times are tough, you can always be grateful for the push adversity gives you to learn and grow, Sulack explains. While it is easy to take the path of least resistance, griping and complaining about your situation, true leaders know that pain is part of life, but suffering is optional. Whether it be your job, home, gym, school, social gatherings or anything else, each can trigger things inside that cause you to think only in the certain ways you'd think when you're in that environment. You think, act, believe, perform and see yourself as different kind of person whenever you're around certain kinds of people and in certain kinds of environments. Think back to various environments you've been in or are currently in and you'll see this is true. The important thing to always remember is that the environment is neutral and causes you to do nothing that you haven't allowed yourself to think and accept. It all begins with your perception of whatever it is you're experiencing. You can change how your environment affects you by changing your thoughts towards it and how you perceive it. Choose a new set of beliefs and attitudes that will empower you instead of taking your power away and causing you to feel unhappiness. Create the reality you want by seeing and feeling yourself in the environment you choose. WE REMEMBER MOST THOSE WHO WERE HARDEST ON US I love you for what you are, but I love you more for what you are going to be. Children are not permitted to have their own feelings or needs, or question those of the parent. There are few if any boundaries, physical or emotional, in the narcissistic family. Narcissistic parents believe they own the rights to their children's lives.

They feel entitled to know and comment on everything their children think and do, no matter how old they get. Until clear boundaries are established, adult children will forever be subject to this violating invasion of privacy. My Life, Close Encounter Six My parents hated closed bedroom doors, resented the feeling of being shutout. They wanted full access to their children all the time. We could never create a physical barrier to escape from the madness of our home life without the risk of further angering our parents. There were exceptions to the closed-door rule that only took effect when mandated by our parents. TV shows aimed at adolescents focus more on image, money, and fame than in the past. Popular songs and articles use language promoting individual achievement over community connection, group membership, and self-acceptance. It's no surprise that happiness rates have consistently declined among Americans adults since the 1970s. And it doesn't just boil down to income. In an interview with the Washington Post, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development and an editor of World Happiness Report, points out: While the average income of people around the world definitely affects their sense of well-being, it doesn't explain all that much, because other factors, both personal and social, are very important determinants of well-being. Sachs says that while generally American incomes have risen since 2005, our happiness has fallen, in part because of social factors like declining trust in the government and our fellow Americans, and weaker social networks. Duty and Love If fear limits us and success doesn't satisfy us, then you've probably already guessed that duty and love have more to offer. We all have different goals, but we all want the same things: a life full of joy and meaning. Monks don't seek out the joy part--we aren't looking for happiness or pleasure. Choose gratitude. Choose joy. This will make you more creative and innovative--and ultimately more successful in any endeavor.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

No more fasting

She is unable to defend herself. There is no reasoning with him. This turn of events is very confusing for her. She cannot understand why the love of her life has suddenly turned on her. She does not understand where the perfect person she fell in love with went. She thought he loved her and now he doesn't even seem to like her. Everything has changed. She is miserable. We'll never be able to fix our economic, social, and political climates to entirely eliminate conflict and uncertainty, not to mention our everyday interpersonal challenges. And that's okay, because fear isn't bad; Something might go wrong! It's what we do with that signal that matters. We can use our fear of the effects of climate change to motivate us to develop solutions, or we can allow it to make us feel overwhelmed and hopeless and do nothing as a result. Sometimes fear is a critical warning to help us survive true danger, but most of the time what we feel is anxiety related to everyday concerns about money, jobs, and relationships. We allow anxiety--everyday fear--to hold us back by blocking us from our true feelings. The longer we hold on to fears, the more they ferment until eventually they become toxic. I am sitting cross-legged on the floor of a cold basement room in the monastery with twenty or so other monks. I've been at the ashram for only a couple months. In 2015, Zomorodi, host of WNYC's popular podcast and radio show Note to Self, led twenty thousand listeners to sign on to the Bored and Brilliant Project, an experiment to help them unplug from their devices, get bored, and jumpstart their creativity. Mind-wandering allows us to do some of our most original thinking and problem solving.

Dr Jonathan Smallwood, professor of cognitive neuroscience and an expert in mind-wandering at the University of York, explains it like this: In a very deep way, there's a close link between originality and creativity and the spontaneous thoughts we generate when our minds are idle. I'd often let my mind wander in grade school, reading articles from beneath my desk or staring out the window thinking about other things. Mary has a problem paying attention, my fourth grade teacher had written on a report card that still reflected all As and Bs. I continued my daydreaming through high school and into college, mostly about the man I was dating who would soon become my husband. David always seemed surprised when I'd hand him a letter or note I wrote during particularly boring lectures. Weren't you even listening? He never understood how a girl who lived so much inside her head could function so well out of it. Years later, when I shared how I'd often silently narrate my own life (Mary tentatively reached for the door handle, unsure what she would discover on the other side), I was astonished to discover he'd never even heard of such a thing. By doing so, you guarantee yourself that you will experience only those learning experiences and growing lessons that stem from your having chosen the life you want and not something else. You are here for a reason, and whatever happens to you happens for a reason. Embrace it. YOU WILL CATCH MORE FLIES WITH HONEY THAN WITH VINEGAR Develop the attitude of gratitude and your life will never be the same. How does it make you feel when someone goes out of their way and says thank you for something you did or said to them? If your self-image and self-esteem is strong and healthy, it makes you feel great. If it isn't, it makes you feel uncomfortable, and you show that discomfort by downplaying and minimizing those things that caused others to be thankful to you. But wherever you travel to and whomever you meet, you'll find that one of the strongest needs of any human is the need to feel needed, wanted and appreciated. And if you can help make them feel that way, you'll have more friends, joyous experiences and happiness than you can shake a stick at. But she will not give up on him or the relationship. If there is a way to get things back to the way they used to be, she is determined to find it.

She tries to be more understanding with the narcissist's erratic moods, but the narcissist sees her compassion as weakness and uses it against her. Fearful of losing his supply, he may occasionally play along with her efforts. To keep her on the hook, he convinces her that everything will work out. He feeds her just enough crumbs of praise and attention to get her trust him. Once she lets down her guard he attacks again. Every interaction she has with him seems to provoke his irrational fits of anger, and she does not know why. Craving the love she felt so strongly before and trying to get the relationship back to its original state, the victim works harder and harder to please him. She tries everything but is unsuccessful at every turn. Gauranga Das has just discussed the scene in the Gita when Arjuna, the hero, is overcome by fear. It turns out that Arjuna's fear makes him pause instead of charging directly into battle. He's devastated that so many people he loves will die that day. The fear and anguish lead him to question his actions for the first time. Doing so provokes him into a long conversation about human morals, spirituality, and how life works according to Krishna, who is his charioteer. When Gauranga Das concludes his lecture, he asks us to close our eyes, then directs us to relive a fear from our past: not just imagine it but feel it in our bodies--all the sights, sounds, and smells of that experience. He tells us that it's important that we not choose something minor, such as a first day at school or learning to swim (unless those experiences were truly terrifying), but something significant. He wants us to uncover, accept, and create a new relationship with our deepest fears. We start joking around--someone makes fun of my overreaction to a snakeskin I came across on one of our walks. Gauranga Das acknowledges our antics with a knowing nod. I'd thought everyone did that to some degree. I remain a world-class daydreamer, some of my best ideas coming to me when I'm not trying too hard to bring them forth.

Positive constructive daydreaming was a revolutionary idea when Yale psychologist Jerome L. Singer began groundbreaking research on the topic in the 1950s. In a 2013 paper, Ode to Positive Constructive Daydreaming, coauthors Scott Barry Kaufman and Rebecca L. McMillan review Singer's contributions to the research, looking at other supporting documents. They note that some people spend as much as 50 percent of their waking time daydreaming. Jonathan Schooler, another pioneer in the study of daydreaming, discovered that people who daydream score higher on creativity tests. That's not to say that all daydreaming is created equal. The mind-wandering, daydreaming state that is most conducive to creativity is the kind that happens when you are mowing the lawn, in the shower, or taking a walk. People want you to praise them and love them for who they are and what they do. We all have that need, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. And we develop the ability and desire to praise others when we embrace the attitude of gratitude in ourselves and in our lives. Be thankful for everything that has, is and ever will happen in your life. For every one of those things has made you who and what you are. Kind words of gratitude are like honey that is sweet to hear and even sweeter to taste. For you will win more people to get behind you and your dreams if you will only show them kindness and gratitude for everything they do for you. One of the most powerful lessons my mother instilled in me was to always say thank you for anything anybody does for me. I can't even begin to tell you how many doors to success in life have been opened to me as a result of the kindness that I showed to other people. The same can and will happen for you too. Fearful of provoking his sudden frightful rage, she begins walking on eggshells around him. She is a perpetual nervous wreck.

This is exactly the state of mind the narcissist wants her to be in. As the third phase of gaslighting begins, the narcissist is tiring of his victim's weakness and the gross inferiority he believes she has to him. The well of narcissistic supply is drying up and she is becoming more and more useless to him. He is considering moving on to a fresh victim who is chock full of narcissistic supply. She may have an inkling that he is slipping away, but defaults to denial. The belief that she loves him and somewhere deep inside he must still love her keeps her stuck. She holds on for dear life. A shell of her former self, she loses all joy and vibrancy. If you want to do this activity properly, he says, you have to push beyond the part of your mind that's making fun of it. That's a defense mechanism keeping you from really dealing with the issue, and that's what we do with fear. We distract ourselves from it, Gauranga Das says. You need to go past that place. The laughter fades, and I can almost feel everyone's spine straighten along with my own. I close my eyes and my mind quiets down, but I still don't expect much. I'm not scared of anything. Not really, I think. Then, as I drop further and further into meditation, past the noise and chatter of my brain, I ask myself, What am I really scared of? Flickers of truth begin to appear. It's the kind that author Brenda Ueland describes in her article If You Want to Write: A article about Art, Independence and Spirit. It is the dreamy idleness that children have, an idleness when you walk alone for a long, long time, or take a long, dreamy time at dressing, or lie in bed at night and thoughts come and go, or dig in a garden, or drive a car for many hours alone, or play the piano, or sew, or paint ALONE.