Monday, 13 July 2020

I sound like a philosopher

And if that's the idea held by the parents, the teachers, and the administrators, you can bet your life that's the idea the kids will have. They don't want to go to school, and they don't want to learn. And when they don't learn, they feel angry at themselves and others and totally frustrated in their efforts to know the world and themselves. And they suffer false guilt which, in turn, may become real guilt as they aggressively fight back at the system through acts of violence or vandalism. We are expected to feel good about ourselves and our parenting as we raise our children naturally and intuitively, while poring over more parenting articles and magazines than ever about how to raise smart and creative and empathetic children who practice piano on their own, sleep nine hours a night, and play varsity soccer as freshmen. We are expected to take up the mantle of those authoritarian experts we abandoned in the fifties and function as professionals both at home and at work. As we sift through the reams of parenting advice, we are left to strike our own balance between work and home, trust in our instincts, and trust in the experts. Today, parenting is less oxytocin-soaked rosy glow, more adrenaline-fueled oncoming-headlight glare. According to a post on Parenting magazine's website about today's most pressing parenting questions, we parents are concerned with the minutiae of parenting, such as Will I spoil my baby if I pick her up every time she cries? Should I be worried? While our focus has shifted from matters of life and death to the small details of children's mental, physical, and emotional development, the concluding item on the list exposes the concern at the root of all these parenting details. When we beg for answers to all those other nitpicky, insignificant questions, what we really want to know is How will I know if I am a good parent? The answer, for most of us, is found in the moments when parenting feels good. I feel good when my children are safe, warm, and fed, of course, but what really feels good, what makes me feel like an A-plus parent, is when I show my kids I love them by rescuing them from disappointment. Attention to a relaxed yet strong posture is also conducive to comfort. The way I've been taught to attend to posture during meditation is to keep my heart open--open heart and strong back. Actually it's a gesture of enormous bravery to sit up when you find yourself slumping, when you find yourself closing down. You can actually help your mind and heart to open by sitting with an open front. So the head and the torso, which is from below your neck to your waist, is like a straight line that just drops from the top of the head down through your body. Whenever you find yourself slumping, just lift up again.

Open your heart. Good posture for sitting meditation--a posture that allows us to be relaxed and settled in our bodies--involves attention to six points: seat, hands, torso, eyes, face, and legs. To begin, you want to find a nice, stable base. Sometimes I call it a flat bottom, but it's basically just a stable base. In the words of Errol Morris, filmmaker of A Brief History of Time, philosophy aims to know the underlying order in the world,4 or as Victor Cousin said, It describes and establishes what is. As Wilfred Sellars writes, Philosophy in an important sense has no special subject-matter which stands to it as other subject matters stand to other special disciplines. This is why we have the philosophy of science, the philosophy of politics. Sellars continues, The aim of philosophy. It is therefore, the 'eye on the whole' which distinguishes the philosophical enterprise. Philosophy for this reason gives us a unique way to come up with answers which may lead economists, historians, and even mathematicians to look at their work differently, even though their own fields limit such an exploration for these answers. Knowing this, it's little surprise that philosophers, as a profession, lead the top 10 of the most influential people who ever lived as seen in MIT's pantheon list. Sadly, many today see philosophy as outdated and useless. Using complex words and jargon makes it sound like it's from an alien civilization. Religions have priests to help explain any unclear messages in their holy articles, but philosophy lacks such teachers. Experiments on the effects of one or two weeks' separation of monkey babies from their mothers can therefore be viewed with interest. It has been found that when a monkey baby is separated from his mother he undergoes a period of extreme distress followed by apathy and inactivity. After being reunited with his mother there is a marked increase in the baby's clinging, and in some cases tantrums occur when the mother rejects the baby. In one such study monkeys were separated from their mothers for six days when they were about twenty weeks old. At the age of thirty months they still showed signs of disturbed behavior, less locomotor activity and less social play. They were also more timid and less adventurous than monkeys who had not experienced separation.

Separation anxiety occurs when a mother leaves her child for only a few days. It also results from mothers going to work, or from a child being sent to nursery school before he is ready. Bowlby has discovered that the longer the separation, the `worse and more prolonged are the effects. There are mitigating factors, however. The unwelcome fact is that sexual passion and arousal, in particular, are uniquely prone to habituation. Laboratory experiments that track changes in sexual arousal in response to repeated presentation of erotic pictures or instructions to engage in sexual fantasies have found that both men and women show reduced arousal (assessed both by simply asking them and also by measuring actual genital engorgement) over time. In Raymond Chandler's words, The first kiss is magic. The second is intimate. The third is routine. By contrast, novelty can serve as a powerful aphrodisiac, as illustrated by the Coolidge effect. According to legend, one morning former president Calvin Coolidge and first lady Grace Anna Goodhue were visiting a Kentucky poultry farm. During the tour, Mrs Coolidge asked the farmer why so few roosters yielded such a large number of eggs. The farmer proudly explained that his roosters performed their duty dozens of times each day. Coolidge was very impressed by that and pointedly replied, Tell that to the president. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase during strenuous activity. Add the body's natural response when exposed to the cold--constricting arteries and narrowing blood vessels--and you have a perfect storm for a heart attack. If you shovel for 30 minutes, you'll burn 200-250 calories. In order to minimize the frequency and effect of the injuries, follow the principles of the PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method of treating minor injuries. Not surprisingly, the first step is protection. If you know that a certain body part is hurt or weak, do not overuse the muscle and, if possible, use a wrap or brace during exercise to give the area more support and minimize your risk of injury.

There are all types of knee, ankle, wrist, and elbow protective wraps commercially available. In addition, you'll likely need sunglasses if you are rowing; Notice how professional golfers always have hats or caps to protect their eyes, as well as a driving glove; Men planning on cycling will surely need a helmet and a brightly colored shirt/jacket to make them visible to motorists. That's the bad news. The good news is, what has been learned can be unlearned and changed. Listening to Your Automatic Thoughts Hearing your automatic thoughts is the first step in gaining control of unpleasant emotions. Most of your internal dialogue is harmless. The automatic thoughts that cause harm can be identified because they almost always precede a persistent painful feeling. To identify the automatic thoughts that are causing an ongoing painful feeling, try to recall the thoughts you had just prior to the start of the emotion and those that go along with the sustained emotion. You can think of it as listening in on an intercom. The intercom is always on, even when you're conversing with others and going about your life. You are functioning in the world and are also talking to yourself at the same time. Whether you like it or not, if you're human, you have a shadow. If you can't see it, just ask the people in your family, or the people you work with. They'll point it out to you. We think that our masks keep our inner selves hidden, but whatever we refuse to recognize about ourselves has a way of rearing its head and making itself known when we least expect it. Embracing an aspect of yourself means loving it--allowing it to coexist with all your other aspects, not making it more or less than any other part of yourself. It is not enough to say, I know I am controlling.

We must see what controlling has to teach us, what gift it brings, and then we must be able to view it with awe and compassion. We live under the impression that in order for something to be divine it has to be perfect. We are mistaken. In fact, the exact opposite is true. It was, therefore, not surprising to most people that young Crazy Horse demonstrated a sincere concern for the welfare of others; So, while his battlefield exploits drew the attention and loyalty of other fighting men (and the focus of non-Indian historians), his quiet nature and compassion endeared him to everyone else. In Lakota social structure the number of leaders was not as important as the qualities a leader possessed. Or as one Lakota elder put it, One man with good character is better than ten who have none. Men such as Gall, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse epitomized the Lakota ideal of leadership. They accomplished this not only through their bravery or powers of persuasion, but most importantly through the depth of their character. THE FIRST PRINCIPLE: KNOW YOURSELF The best that any of us can do is face life with our strengths and weaknesses--but to do so we must be brutally honest with ourselves about both. Anything less is misleading at best, and potentially dangerous. Skills and abilities not applied consistently become dull or rusty over time. It can be hard to find the confidence to leave behind the way things once were, but a certain amount of fluidity and communication can really help. Your Partner Partner relationships are tricky on their own--we've all dealt with a certain degree of drama, I am sure. Add pregnancy and a new baby into the mix, even with a solid relationship, and things can escalate. Numerous studies indicate that, on average, couples' satisfaction decreases after the birth of their first child and continues to decrease with each additional child. That doesn't have to be you, though, especially if you actively decide to prioritize your relationship.

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