Saturday, December 20, 2008

Walking: Meditation for Non-Meditators

I liked this post from Lauren Cahn over at Huffington Post. Because there are different types of people, there needs to be different types of meditation, especially for the kinesthetic folks who can't focus while sitting still.

The upside is that even if it is a "bad" meditation session (which there really never is, other than our judging of it), you get in a walk for you health - and get to spend some time outside.

Walking: Meditation for Non-Meditators

Lauren Cahn
Posted December 7, 2008 | 07:39 PM (EST)

You know who you are. You never do less than two things at once. You read while you eat. You check your email while you're on a conference call. You're restless, and it works for you because you get things done. And when it comes to calming your mind, you have no interest in meditating because that would require you to sit still and do nothing.


Not right.

You don't have to sit to meditate.

To meditate, you only need to focus the mind. In some forms of meditation, the focus is on NOT focusing on any one thought. When the mind realizes that it has attached itself to a thought, the meditator tries to "let go" of the thought and allow it to drift away. In other forms of meditation, the focus is one one thought, a mantra (such as "relax" or "let go" ). When the mind realizes that it has drifted from the mantra, the meditator tries to come back to the mantra.

Meditation is used as a relaxation technique because it helps the mind to rest from its usual state of frenzied thought. It doesn't make life's problems disappear, but it gives us time away. Meditation is like a vacation from our thoughts. Taking time out for meditation can make us more productive in the long run in the same way that taking a vacation from work can make us more productive when we return: time away allows us to come back refreshed. Distance from our thoughts -- our worries, our planning, our soul-searching -- affords us more clarity when we return from our mental vacation.

For some, knitting is a form of meditation. For some, gardening. Many people find that practicing yoga brings them into a meditative state. Personally, I garden throughout the spring and summer and practice yoga on a daily basis, and generally speaking, I find myself calmer for having done so; however, I feel that both of these avocations are flawed as reliable platforms for meditation (and I would imagine that knitting would have the same flaw). The trouble is that inherent in these activities are goals and desired results, which can make a meditative state elusive, if not impossible.

So then what activity can we do that doesn't require analytical thought, that doesn't require us to judge our progress, that doesn't contain a built-in goal?


If you can walk, then you can meditate.

For me, there is no better tool for meditation than walking in the woods. I don't have to worry about crossing the street or bumping into anyone I know. I don't have to dress for the occasion. In the colder months, I simply have to dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes. I don't take music with me on my walks because that would take me out of my focus, "nothing".

So, how do I do it?

I park my car, I set a timer for 15 minutes, and I walk. When the timer goes off, I turn and walk back exactly the way I came. All the while, I'm listening to the leaves crunching under my feet, to the trees rustling, to water flowing over rocks. My eyes are observing my surroundings, and watching for trail markers to make sure that I stay on a marked trail. Other than that, my mind tends to go blank. I don't have to force it to do so. It just does.

You see, I don't specifically set out to not think about whatever it was I was thinking about on the ride over. But within moments of my feet hitting the ground, my mind is seduced by the rhythm of the walking, by the relative consistency of my surroundings, by the general lack of stimuli. When the timer sounds, I'm usually amazed that 15 minutes has passed so quickly. The second half of my walk often passes even more quickly.

If you'd like to try walking as a tool for meditation, you can do it on a well-marked trail in a nature preserve, like I do now that I live in the country. Or a winding path through a public park, like I used to do when I lived near Central Park (I think that it goes without saying that you should walk only where you feel that your personal safety is not in question, and that you should carry a cell phone and identification):


Or you can do it in your own yard, as I have done when it's too dark to go walking in the woods. In those cases, I have simply walked around the perimeter of my property or through the paths that I carved out of the woods along the edge of my property this summer:


If you live in a city, or the weather is bad, you can walk around your home. You can walk around your living room, your kitchen, your bedroom. It doesn't matter how far you go. I've even walked loops around this frozen pond when time or weather has mandated it:


All you have to do is walk. Walk, and focus on the action of walking. Don't make it about exercise, even though it IS exercise. Just make it about walking. If you need a specific focus to get you going, then think, "I'm walking". Or perhaps, "Walk....walk....walk...."

I don't set out to use a mantra, myself, but I have noticed that sometimes I'm humming the same few bars of a song, over and over in my mind. Today, I found myself repeating the names of the trails over which my walk was going to carry me: "birch to blueberry to maple, birch to blueberry to maple"...and so on.

If you don't have 30 minutes, try 15. Or five. Or two. If you find it difficult to be alone with your thoughts, try not to judge yourself harshly. Simply acknowledge that fact and see if you can redirect your thoughts. If you catch yourself getting caught up in a vortex of thought, you can stop anytime and say, "just a thought, let it go, just a thought, let it go" until you really do let it go. And if that doesn't work the first time you get boggled up in your own thoughts, then maybe the next time. Or the next time.

And if all else fails, at least you've walked.

Global Orgasm for Peace - December 21, 2008

It's time for the third annual Global Orgasm for Peace event, as if we need a reason.
Global Orgasm

Welcome to the 3rd Annual
Global Orgasm for Peace

This year we’re synchronizing in the two-hour period around the Solstice, which falls on Sunday December 21 at 12.04 p.m. (four minutes after noon) Greenwich Mean Time. So in the U.K., Global-O time will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Check the Global-O Time in your country

The world is celebrating the election of the new USA President, Barack Obama, and the hope for change that he has stirred in our hearts. We are riding the wave of joy and renewal, which gives us a flying start for this year’s Global O! It’s the Global OOObama Factor!

So let’s not waste this energy. Let’s send a wave of positive intention into the quantum field of the Earth. We will spike the charts at the Global Consciousness Project and lay a foundation for the ‘Mindful Alpha Male’ President to build on, to begin healing the damage done to the planet and all its species.

WHO? All Men and Women, you and everyone you know.

WHERE? Everywhere in the world, but especially in countries with weapons of mass destruction and places where violence is used in place of mediation.

WHEN? December 21st,
at 12:04 Universal Time (GMT)

WHY? To effect positive change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible instantaneous surge of human biological, mental and spiritual energy.

TED Talks - Ron Eglash: African Fractals, in Buildings and Braids

Cool TED Talk that I somehow missed when it was originally posted last year.
"I am a mathematician, and I would like to stand on your roof." That is how Ron Eglash greeted many African families he met while researching the fractal patterns he’d noticed in villages across the continent.

"Ethno-mathematician" Ron Eglash is the author of African Fractals, a book that examines the fractal patterns underpinning architecture, art and design in many parts of Africa. By looking at aerial-view photos -- and then following up with detailed research on the ground -- Eglash discovered that many African villages are purposely laid out to form perfect fractals, with self-similar shapes repeated in the rooms of the house, and the house itself, and the clusters of houses in the village, in mathematically predictable patterns.

As he puts it: "When Europeans first came to Africa, they considered the architecture very disorganized and thus primitive. It never occurred to them that the Africans might have been using a form of mathematics that they hadn't even discovered yet."

His other areas of study are equally fascinating, including research into African and Native American cybernetics, teaching kids math through culturally specific design tools (such as the Virtual Breakdancer applet, which explores rotation and sine functions), and race and ethnicity issues in science and technology. Eglash teaches in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and he recently co-edited the book Appropriating Technology, about how we reinvent consumer tech for our own uses.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen on Hallelujah

I love this song, nearly every version of it. In this article, Leonard Cohen talks about the song's meaning, sounding like the Zen priest that he is - awesome! Read all the way to the end - that's where the good stuff is to be found.
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen on Hallelujah

There has been a lot said about Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' ... some of it by me. But here is what the man himself thinks.

Gallery Photo
'I can't finish this song': Leonard Cohen

Cohen on his approach to composing:

"There are two schools of songwriting. The quick and me."

On the writing of Hallelujah

"The only advice I have for young songwriters is that if you stick with a song long enough, it will yield. But long enough is not any fixed duration, its not a week or two, its not a month or two, its not necessarily even a year or two. If a song is to yield you might have to stay with it for years and years. 'Hallelujah' was at least five years. I have about 80 verses. I just took verses out of the many that established some sort of coherence. The trouble that I find is that I have to finish the verse before I can discard it. So that lengthens the process considerably.

"I filled two notebooks with the song, and I remember being on the floor of the Royalton Hotel, on the carpet in my underwear, banging my head on the floor and saying, "I can't finish this song."

Asked why Hallelujah took so many years to write

"They all take quite a long time. And its no guarantee of their excellence. I have a lot of second rate songs that have taken even longer."

On Hallelujah's elastic rhymes

"They are really false rhymes but they are close enough that the ear is not violated. In English, we love to hear these coincidence that we call rhymes. It does delight us for some odd reason, we are delighted by inventive uses of sonic coincidences"

On Hallelujah's universal appeal

"I don't know. It has a good chorus. We basically all lead the same kind of lives, and the more authentically a song touches on those areas, which is gain and loss, surrender and victory, popular music has to be about those subjects.

On the meaning of Hallelujah

"Finally there's no conflict between things, finally everything is reconciled but not where we live. This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled but there are moments when we can transcend the dualistic system and reconcile and embrace the whole mess and that's what I mean by 'Hallelujah'. That regardless of what the impossibility of the situation is, there is a moment when you open your mouth and you throw open your arms and you embrace the thing and you just say 'Hallelujah! Blessed is the name.' And you can't reconcile it in any other way except in that position of total surrender, total affirmation.

"That's what it's all about. It says that none of this - you're not going to be able to work this thing out - you're not going to be able to set - this realm does not admit to revolution - there's no solution to this mess. The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say 'Look, I don't understand a f***ing thing at all - Hallelujah!' That's the only moment that we live here fully as human beings."

And this post wouldn't be complete without a couple of different versions of the song.

Leonard Cohen Hallelujah Live

Jeff Buckely-Hallelujah

K.D. Lang sings Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah

"Hallelujah" by Rufus Wainwright (Irish performance)

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) - Allison Crowe live performance

John Cale - Hallelujah

Damien Rice - Hallelujah (Rock And Roll Hall of Fame)

Chogyam Trungpa Interview

I had never seen this before - interesting.

A Few Good Books

It's been a little while since I've done a "new books" round up, so here are a few to consider, possibly as last minute holiday gifts.

Book Review: The Philosopher And The Wolf - Lessons in Love, Death, and Happiness by Mark Rowlands

Written by Dan Schneider
Published December 16, 2008

Philosopher Mark Rowlands is not what one would classically think of as a great writer, in that his prose is not supernally poetic like Loren Eiseley’s, he does not use easily understood but well-targeted metaphors like Stephen Jay Gould, nor does he have the raw power that Friedrich Nietszche did. But he manages to convey highly nuanced and deep concepts in remarkably simple sentences and constructs as he grounds each seemingly pedestrian sentence with its neighbor in ways that crescendo.

Such was my conclusion in reading his latest book, The Philosopher And The Wolf, put out by Granta books. I’d first encountered Rowlands whilst reading his delightful trip through pop culture, called The Philosopher At The End Of The Universe, a book that melded big budget sci fi film ideas with old time big questions. Later, I interviewed Rowlands, and first found out a bit about his relationship with wolves, or one wolf in particular. Now, I’ve read the book, and can report that it is a great book, indeed. And anyone who has read my reviews of books, poetry, films, and pop culturata, knows I do not toss about the G word lightly.

Read the whole review.

Here is another review of the same book, just for a little perspective.
John Gray
The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness
By Mark Rowlands (Granta Books 246pp £15.99)

Exclusive from the Literary Review print edition. Subscribe now!

The idea that when humans are at their worst they behave like wolves has been around a long time. Hobbes used the Latin tag homo homini lupus - man is a wolf to man - to illustrate his belief that unless they are restrained by government, people prey upon one another ruthlessly, while descriptions of rapacious or amoral behaviour as wolfish can be found throughout literature. The notion that evil is the expression of bestial instincts is deeply ingrained, and for the average philosopher as for the average person there is nothing more bestial than the wolf. More generally, a belief in the innate superiority of humans over other animals is part of the Western tradition. Christians tell us that only humans have souls, and though they speak in a different language secular thinkers mostly believe much the same. There are innumerable secular rationalists who, while congratulating themselves on their scepticism, never doubt that the universe is improved by the presence in it of humans like themselves.

The Philosopher and the Wolf is a powerfully subversive critique of the unexamined assumptions that shape the way most philosophers - along with most people - think about animals and themselves. When Rowlands bought a wolf cub for $500, and lived with it for eleven years, he ended up writing: 'Much of what I learned, about how to live and how to conduct myself, I learned during those eleven years. Much of what I know about life and its meaning I learned from him. What it is to be human: I learned this from a wolf.' A part of Rowlands's life with Brenin was sheer delight: 'The wolf is art of the highest form and you cannot be in its presence without this lifting your spirits.' Beyond its beauty, though, the wolf taught the philosopher something about the meaning of happiness. Humans tend to think of their lives as progressing towards some kind of eventual fulfilment; when this is not forthcoming they seek satisfaction or distraction in anything that is new or different. This human search for happiness is 'regressive and futile', for each valuable moment slips away in the pursuit of others and they are all swallowed up by death. In contrast, living without the sense of time as a line pointing to an end-point, wolves find happiness in the repetition of fulfilling moments, each complete and self-contained. As a result, as Rowlands shows in a moving account of his last year with Brenin, they can flourish in the face of painful illness and encroaching death.

Read the whole review. YES! This sounds like an amazing book, one that is now on my Amazon wish list. Too bad it won't be published until April.

* * *

The Rise of Psychotherapy in the United ­States.

By Jonathan Engel. Gotham. 352 pp. $­27.50

Psychotherapy has been a series of generally ­well-­intentioned attempts to throw mud against a wall to see what sticks. Over the past century, that method has told us this: Psychotherapy works. ­Two-­thirds of patients improve within six months of starting treatment (longer treatment yields few further results). The therapist’s training and the school or philosophy of therapy in use make little difference. What does matter is the empathy level the patient perceives in the therapist, the patient’s willingness to engage in therapy, the severity of the patient’s illness to begin with, and the appropriateness of match, or treat­ment alliance, between patient and ­practitioner.

The pursuit of ­therapy—­if not ­happiness—­is a largely American phenomenon, Jonathan Engel tells us in American Therapy. By the 1960s, the United States had more clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychiatric social workers than the rest of the world combined. “The history of psychotherapy in the United States . . . is a classic American tale of discovery, entrepreneurship, and ­self-­promotion,” writes Engel, a professor of health care policy and management at Baruch College.

For it was in America, in the early 1900s, that Freudianism and psychoanalysis took hold as nowhere else (despite Sigmund Freud’s personal antipathy toward the United States). A therapeutic parade has followed: behaviorism (which views human beings as stimulus-­response machines in which only observable, measurable behavior matters); humanistic approaches (which focus on social relationships as the key to wellness); cognitive therapy (which posits that thinking and beliefs drive our behavior and emotions); populist ­self-­help programs such as Alcoholics Anony­mous and Narcotics Anonymous; the largely ­1960s-­vintage therapies such as electroshock, transcen­dental meditation, and primal scream (the latter favored, briefly, by John Lennon and Yoko Ono); and so ­on.

Engel writes, but does not write enough, about the characters who invented these various approaches. These doctors and visionaries were typically ­brilliant—­and many were famously troubled.
Read the whole review.

* * *
The Dreams of Interpretation: A Century down the Royal Road
by Catherine Liu, John Mowitt, Thomas Pepper and Jakki Spicer (Editor)
University of Minnesota Press, 2007
Review by Kevin M. Purday

This is a collection of essays written by psychoanalysts but also by theorists in the areas of culture, film and literature. It is trumpeted as a major re-examination of the legacy of Sigmund Freud. Several of the essays also attempt to combine psychoanalytical and hermeneutic insights and the book as a whole adds up to an attempt to reinforce the notion that Freud -- and especially his The Interpretation of Dreams -- has radically altered the way in which we understand ourselves and express ourselves in our culture.

There is an introduction: "What Are You Doing Tonight?" by Catherine Liu, John Mowitt, Thomas Pepper, and Jakki Spicer and then the essays are grouped under seven headings....
Read the whole review.

* * *
The Watkins Dictionary of Symbols
by Jack Tresidder
Watkins, 2008
Review by Rob Harle

Jack Tresidder has undertaken a huge amount of research to compile this comprehensive dictionary of symbols. There are over one thousand entries, in alphabetical order, starting with Acacia (a symbol of immortality) and finishing with Zodiac (a celestial power path).

It is fully cross referenced, so that within the textual explanation of a symbol, words emboldened refer to other symbol entries in the dictionary. In addition to the main dictionary there is an Index of Supplementary Words. These cover real or mythological people, places, events and symbolic themes that are discussed in the main dictionary but do not appear as separate entries.

Symbols are not signs, a sign points to a location for example, whereas a symbol leads beyond itself to different layers of meaning, quite often metaphorical. "Traditional symbols form a visual shorthand for ideas – and yet their functions and meanings extend to much more than that. For thousands of years they have enabled sculptors, painters and craftsmen to embody and reinforce deep thoughts and beliefs about human life in single, immediate and powerful images" (p. x)
Read the whole review.

* * *

The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy

Brian Leiter and Michael Rosen (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2007, 812pp., $155.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780199234097.

Reviewed by Pol Vandevelde, Marquette University

This voluminous handbook is a very welcome tool that brings out many fundamental aspects of continental philosophy and puts them in a new light in order to show their importance and relevance. By "continental philosophy" the editors mean primarily the philosophy in France and Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries. The handbook is intended for people who have been trained in the conceptual framework typical of Anglophone departments. This means that the contributors have undertaken to translate into another framework what they take to be the crucial and original points of the continental trends or philosophers they treat. Consequently, contributors have eliminated most jargon specific to authors, have chosen to focus on the aspects they deemed most important, instead of trying to be exhaustive, and have offered a critical account, instead of a general overview.

The contributors were able to do this given the editors’ decision not to present topics like "intentionality" or "phenomenological reduction," but rather themes or theses like "phenomenology as rigorous science" or "the humanism debate." The advantage of this hermeneutic decision is that all these contributions are scholarly essays in the full sense, not surveys, reviews, or general presentations. In addition, these essays are relatively long for a handbook: from 20 to 51 pages. The contributors thus have the space and the freedom to present theses, however controversial some of them may be.

Read the whole review.

* * *
The Book of My Enemy: Collected Verse 1958-2003
by Clive James (Picador, £8.99)

Angels Over Elsinore: Collected Verse 2003-2008
by Clive James (Picador, £14.99)

I've been reading Clive James since I was in short pants and he was in flares. Back then, it was impossible to predict where he would end up, because he was shooting off in all directions at once like a burning box of fireworks. What couldn't he do?

From 1972 to 1976, James's Observer television columns used riveting language to nail down the ephemera of an entire culture as it moved into a democratic age. It was only after the tapes were wiped that people realised it had been these ephemera that showed you what was happening. He twigged it first. In 1979, his Unreliable Memoirs did to its genre what Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint had just done to the novel. James admitted to flaws and inadequacies that nobody who wrote that well had ever owned up to before: the minor ones; the embarrassing ones. Liberating, brave, Unreliable Memoirs was also hugely influential; Russell Brand's My Booky Wook is its charming but undisciplined bastard child. Then, from 1982, his ITV show Clive James on Television invented the reality TV aesthetic: a celebrity chuckling while ordinary people ate ants to get on television. The ordinary people were Japanese, from imported gameshow clips; but the British, shown it was possible, soon evolved into anteaters.

After the show, he'd go home (reading Tacitus on the tube, in the original), and write a poem about Egon Friedell. James was the barbarian who had travelled to the capital of the old empire and, casually mastering its every art, become more civilised than its natives. He was, and is, an inspiration to younger writers worldwide, whose backwaters lack role models.

In the later volumes of the memoirs, James constantly attacks himself for his selfishness, his ego. But I always used to think that—especially in the novels and poems—he wasn't selfish enough. In looking up to so many writers and thinkers, he put himself down, and thus risked failing to reach the heights of his true potential. I now realise that what I saw as a flaw was in fact his greatest virtue as a poet and essayist.

All through these early and middle years, the essays and poems quietly punctuated the bigger stuff. Now, though, something unexpected is happening. The small stuff is starting to acquire a shape: it turns out to have been a grand, unified project after all. And it is noble; and it is successful. Here, he has achieved greatness. While our attention has been on the big fish—the novels, memoirs, television—the essays and poems have accumulated, year by year, like polyps making coral; until you realise that the most important thing isn't the fish, it's the reef, which makes all else possible.
Read the whole review.

Susan L. Smalley - Group Meditation as Non-Religious Ritual

A nice article from Huffington Post on the idea of ritual outside of religion, as embodied by group meditation. Thoughts below.

Ritual Outside Religion: The Power of Group Meditation

By Susan Smalley
Posted December 18, 2008 | 08:14 AM (EST)

A few years back I discovered that meditation or contemplative practices done in a group setting are quite different than practices done alone. At the time, I was reading Steven Strogatz book 'Sync' about the science of synchronicity (the phenomenon of naturally arising sync in nature) and saw that the group experience was a syncing of individual transformative experiences.

The acronym SIT (Synchronized Individual Transformation) seemed perfect for describing this effect as it often arises when we sit together in meditation or contemplation.

Religious rituals likely arose because they provided a means to experience synchronized individual transformations. Rituals support individuals in their own inward investigations by providing a group experience that can strengthen it. Furthermore, they play a vital role in giving people an experience of being 'part' of something larger than themselves, particularly at times when this is needed most (times of great change - birth, marriage, death).

However, finding community rituals outside of religion is challenging because so many are circumscribed within belief systems.

Three years ago, my friend and I began a 'Friday morning SIT' at my house. A group of us meet each Friday to 'sit' together in meditation for 30 minutes. No one leads the group, no ones teaches. We merely come together, someone reads an inspirational quote from a glass jar full of quotes we each submitted, we sit together for 30 minutes (with a timer to keep track of time), then go our separate ways. In this weekly ritual, we experience synchronized individual transformations (and deepen our friendships as well).

In the convergence of science and spirituality (by that I mean the recognition of two viable ways of knowing, one objective and focused on the outer physical world, the other subjective and focused on the inward experience of mind), non-religious and fluid sorts of rituals are needed.

By fluidity, I mean that a ritual may be shaped by the members creating it; not by rigid doctrine of the past. Over the summer I performed a marriage ritual for two very close friends. Their marriage was secular (by that I mean without reference to God or any religion) but the content drew all participants together in a synchronized experience of love and connection.

Perhaps Synchronized Individual Tranformations (SITs) is a useful term for describing non-religious community rituals that enhance our individual growth by the group experience.
My personal experience is that sitting in a group is a more powerful experience. I don't know why I don't make more of an effort to be a part of a sangha here in Tucson. I know that I "should," but the social anxiety has always been my "excuse."

That doesn't apply so much anymore. Maybe it's time.

A.V. Club Talks to Darren Aronofsky

[image source]

Darren Aronofsky is one of my favorite directors - Pi and The Fountain (critics be damned - the film is brilliant) are among my favorite films. The A.V. Club talks to Aronofsky about his new film, The Wrestler.

Darren Aronofsky

By Keith Phipps
December 17th, 2008

Darren Aronofsky’s feature debut, Pi, proved he could create arresting images and a compelling story with little money. From there, the budgets got bigger but the focus remained tight, and he crafted another two more challenging films—the well-received Hubert Selby depths-of-addiction adaptation Requiem For A Dream and the less-well-received The Fountain, an interlocked story of love and death rejected by the public and many critics, but adored by a growing cult audience. Working from a screenplay by Rob Siegel (a former Onion editor and—full disclosure—a friend of this writer), The Wrestler finds Aronofsky peeling back to a style even starker than that of his debut to explore the world of a professional wrestler (a revelatory Mickey Rourke) coping with the strong possibility that his best days are long gone. Shortly after winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Aronofsky spoke to The A.V. Club about the secret language of wrestlers, getting people to take wrestling seriously, and directing his own parents.

The A.V. Club: The last time we talked to you, there were around eight different movies you were about ready to direct. Why this one?

Darren Aronofsky: I spent about a year and a half doing technical post work on The Fountain. Although I do like the process, I think my favorite part of filmmaking is the actors. I kind of wanted to just do a piece that was all about acting, with very few visual effects. I looked over all the projects we had been developing, and The Wrestler with Rob [Siegel] was in pretty good shape, so we started to put all of our powers toward that.

AVC: As big a phenomenon as pro wrestling is, there have been—

DA: Well there’s been no serious films, I would say, not that I really know of. Years ago, when I graduated film school, I wrote down a list of possible films, and one of them was called The Wrestler. There are so many boxing movies that it is a genre, yet no one had ever really done a wrestling film. The more I started to check out that universe, the more unique I realized it was.

AVC: Part of the problem is that with boxing, there’s some question about the outcome, about who’ll win. But it’s different in wrestling. What kind of difficulties did that present?

DA: That was a challenge, as to how you would make a match at the end of the film that isn’t about the outcome as an athletic competition, but an outcome of a personal decision. So that was a hard challenge—and also how to portray something that people perceive as silly and fake, and basically blow off. How do you do a sincere examination of that world?

AVC: So how do you?

DA: Well I think the whole line between what’s real and fake became a big theme when Rob and I were talking about it early on, because there’s this whole idea of “Where’s the real world—is it in the ring or out of the ring?” That was a main reason why Rob fought to keep the stripper in the film. I was open to changing it, because an independent film with a stripper… I was nervous about it. The more we thought about it, the more we realized the connections between the stripper and the wrestler were really significant. They both have fake stage names, they both put on costumes, they both charm an audience and create a fantasy for the audience, and they both use their body as their art, so time is their biggest enemy.

AVC: Did you look into the fate of wrestlers and strippers after they age out of their games?

DA: Well, aging strippers, we didn’t do that research. [Laughs.] But it was clear what happens to them. Aging wrestlers, because many of them had great fame at one point, their lives as wrestlers continue. We met with a lot of the great older guys, from Greg “The Hammer” Valentine to Nikolai Volkoff to Superfly Snuka to Tony Atlas. We talked to a lot of those guys, and had long conversations about it.
Go read the rest of the interview. Here is the official trailer:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

List of SAG Awards Nominations

Here is the full list of Screen Actors Guild Award nominees, courtesy of CNN.
The nominations for the 15th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced Thursday morning.

The nominees for outstanding performance by a cast are "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Doubt," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk" and "Slumdog Millionaire."

The nominees for outstanding performance by a lead actor are Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor"), Frank Langella ("Frost/Nixon"), Sean Penn ("Milk"), Brad Pitt ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") and Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler").

The nominees for outstanding performance by a lead actress are Anne Hathaway ("Rachel Getting Married"), Angelina Jolie ("Changeling"), Melissa Leo ("Frozen River"), Meryl Streep ("Doubt") and Kate Winslet ("Revolutionary Road").

The nominees for outstanding performance by a supporting actor are Josh Brolin ("Milk"), Robert Downey Jr. ("Tropic Thunder"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Doubt"), Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight") and Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire").

The nominees for outstanding performance by a supporting actress are Amy Adams ("Doubt"), Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona"), Viola Davis ("Doubt"), Taraji P. Henson ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") and Kate Winslet ("The Reader").

The nominees for outstanding performance by a TV drama series ensemble are "Boston Legal," "The Closer," "Dexter," "House" and "Mad Men."

The nominees for outstanding performance by a TV comedy series ensemble are "30 Rock," "Desperate Housewives," "Entourage," "The Office" and "Weeds."

The nominees for outstanding performance by a lead actor in a TV drama are Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Hugh Laurie ("House"), William Shatner ("Boston Legal") and James Spader ("Boston Legal").

The nominees for outstanding performance by a lead actress in a TV drama are Sally Field ("Brothers and Sisters"), Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"), Holly Hunter ("Saving Grace"), Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men") and Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer").

The nominees for outstanding performance by a lead actor in a TV comedy are Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), Steve Carell ("The Office"), David Duchovny ("Californication"), Jeremy Piven ("Entourage") and Tony Shalhoub ("Monk").

The nominees for outstanding performance by a lead actress in a TV comedy are Christina Applegate ("Samantha Who?"), America Ferrera ("Ugly Betty"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock") Mary-Louise Parker ("Weeds") and Tracey Ullman ("Tracey Ullman's State of the Union").

The nominees for outstanding performance by an actor in a TV movie or miniseries are Ralph Fiennes ("Bernard and Doris"), Paul Giamatti ("John Adams"), Kevin Spacey ("Recount"), Keifer Sutherland ("24: Redemption") and Tom Wilkinson ("John Adams").

The nominees for outstanding performance by an actress in a TV movie or miniseries are Laura Dern ("Recount"), Laura Linney ("John Adams"), Shirley MacLaine "Coco Chanel"), Phylicia Rashad ("A Raisin in the Sun") and Susan Sarandon ("Bernard and Doris").

Common Dreams - Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2008

Ah, yes, the worst in journalism acknowledged for their lack of subtlety, skill and/or functional brain cells. Some of these are so absurd that they seem made up, but anyone who spends any length of time watching the cable news shows will hear equally absurd and ignorant things on a regular basis. Cable news is the death of legitimate journalism.

Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2008

by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

Now in their seventeenth year, the P.U.-litzer Prizes recognize some of the nation's stinkiest media performances. As the judges for these annual awards, we do our best to identify the most deserving recipients of this unwelcome plaudit.

And now, the P.U.-litzers Prizes for 2008:

This award sparked fierce competition, but the cinch came on the day Obama swept the Potomac Primary in February -- when Chris Matthews spoke of "the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often."

In August, a teaser for the "O'Reilly Factor" program said: "Obama bombarded by personal attacks. Are they legit? Ann Coulter comments."

UPSIDE DOWN "ELITIST" AWARD -- New York Times columnist David Brooks
For months, high-paid Beltway journalists competed with each other in advising candidate Obama on how to mingle with working class folks. Ubiquitous pundit Brooks won the prize for his wisdom on reaching "less educated people, downscale people," offered on MSNBC in June: "Obama's problem is he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who could go into an Applebee's salad bar and people think he fits in naturally there. And so he's had to change to try to be more like that Applebee's guy." It would indeed be hard for Obama to fit in naturally at an Applebee's salad bar. Applebee's restaurants don't have salad bars.

GUTTER BALL PUNDITRY AWARD -- Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball"
In program after program during the spring, Matthews repeatedly questioned whether Obama could connect with "regular" voters -- "regular" meaning voters who are white or "who actually do know how to bowl." He once said of Obama: "This gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody. But the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder."

STRAIGHT SKINNY PRIZE -- Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Chozick
In August, the Journal's Chozick went beyond the standard elitist charge to offer yet another reason that average voters might be wary of Obama. Below the headline "Too Fit to Be President?" she wrote of Obama: "Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them." Chozick asked: "In a nation in which 66 percent of the voting-age population is overweight and 32 percent is obese, could Sen. Obama's skinniness be a liability?" To support her argument, she quoted Hillary Clinton supporters. One said: "He needs to put some meat on his bones." Another, prodded by Chozick, wrote on a Yahoo bulletin board: "I won't vote for any beanpole guy."

"OUR CENTER-RIGHT NATION" AWARD -- Newsweek editor Jon Meacham
With Democrats in the process of winning big in 2008 as they had in 2006, a media chorus erupted warning Democratic politicians away from their promises of change. Behind the warnings was the repeated claim that America is essentially a conservative country. In an election-eve Newsweek cover story with the sub-headline "America remains a center-right nation -- a fact that a President Obama would forget at his peril," Meacham argued that the liberalism of even repeatedly re-elected FDR offended voters. And the editor claimed that a leftward trend in election results and issues polling means little -- as would Obama's victory after months of charges that he stood for radical change. Evidence seemed to lose out to journalists' fears that campaign promises might actually be kept.

BAILOUT BLUSTER AWARD -- Pundit David Brooks
On Sept. 30, just after the House defeated the $700 billion Wall Street bailout measure, Brooks' column in the New York Times denounced the balking House members for their failure to heed "the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed." But a week later, after the House approved a bailout -- and with the credit crunch unabated and stock market still plunging -- Brooks wrote: "At these moments, central bankers and Treasury officials leap in to try to make the traders feel better. Officials pretend they're coming up with policy responses, but much of what they do is political theater." Now he tells us.

In late November, corporate media outlets began to credit Barack Obama with making supposedly non-ideological Cabinet picks. The New York Times front page reported that his choices "suggest that Mr. Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists rather than ideologues." Conservative Times columnist David Brooks praised the picks as "not ideological" and the economic nominees as "moderate and thoughtful Democrats." USA Today reported that Obama's selections had "records that display more pragmatism than ideology." In mediaspeak, if you thought invading Iraq and signing the NAFTA trade pact were good ideas, you're a pragmatist. If not, you're an ideologue.

The Times op-ed page marked the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion in March by choosing "nine experts on military and foreign affairs" to write on "the one aspect of the war that most surprised them or that they wish they had considered in the prewar debate." None of the experts selected had opposed the invasion. That kind of exclusion made possible a bizarre claim by Times correspondent John Burns in the same day's paper: "Only the most prescient could have guessed ... that the toll would include tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed, as well as nearly 4,000 American troops; or that America's financial costs by some recent estimates, would rise above $650 billion by 2008." Those who'd warned of such disastrous results were not only prescient, but were routinely excluded from mainstream coverage.

Described as "the longest-serving foreign correspondent in New York Times history," Burns seemed less a skeptical reporter than a channeler of Henry Kissinger when he offered his world view to PBS' Charlie Rose in April: "The United States and its predominant economic, political and military power in the world have been the single greatest force for stability in the world, such as it is now, certainly since the Second World War. If the outcome in Iraq were to destroy the credibility of American power, to destroy America's willingness to use its power in the world to achieve good, to fight back against totalitarianism, authoritarianism, gross human rights abuses, it would be a very dark day."

Jeff Cohen, author of "Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, is founder of the media watch group FAIR, and director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College .Norman Solomon, author of "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" is a columnist on media and politics.

Integral Recovery - John Speaks with Bill Harris on Addiction & Recovery

Interesting podcast, even though I am more than a little skeptical about Harris's holosync thing.

John speaks with Bill Harris on addiction & recovery

Bill Harris & John Dupuy discuss Holosync’s role in Integral Recovery

For those unaware, holosync is Bill Harris's system of meditation that can "transform" your brain with one little CD. The hype is pretty intense:

The lazy man's way to meditate

Listening to this amazing, scientifically proven brain technology gives you all the benefits of meditation—in a fraction of the time—easily and effortlessly

Try it yourself, FREE!

Did you know that people who meditate everyday are many times happier than those who don't?

They're also healthier, and live longer. And, their sense of well-being is much higher than that of non-meditators. In fact, meditators are so much healthier that some insurance companies charge lower premiums for meditators than for the rest of the general population.

Meditators' minds are also sharper, and their problem-solving abilities are better.
That's one reason why many high-powered executives, and even CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, meditate.

Did you also know that meditators make a LOT more pleasurable brain chemicals—the ones you feel on those days when you feel REALLY good—and, they make these feel-good brain chemicals pretty much ALL THE TIME?

Did you know that meditators have dramatically better mental health? They have less anxiety, anger, depression, and fear, and they have better human relationships, more friends, and feel much more fulfilled in their lives?

So with all these benefits, why isn't everyone meditating?

You know why. To get these results, you have to meditate four or five hours a day, often for decades, and few people are willing to do this. And, meditation, especially at first, isn't much fun. The initial experience is somewhere between boring and frustrating. Finally, it takes quite a long time to notice any significant results, much less to experience the benefits I just mentioned.

But what if I told you that you could meditate as deeply as a Zen monk, literally at the touch of a button, and do it the very first time, and every time and also make all those happy brain chemicals the first time and every time?

Not only that, within a very short period of time—days or weeks instead of years or decades—you could begin receiving all the benefits I just mentioned—the physical health benefits, the mental health benefits, the clarity-of-mind benefits, the relationship benefits, and the overall sense of well-being benefits.

And, you don't have to learn
any complex mental gymnastics, or
spend hours a day to get all of this.

Instead, you'll be using a scientifically-proven audio technology called Holosync®, that will easily and effortlessly place you in the electrical brain wave patterns of deep meditation, every time.

Over the last 20 years, Hundreds of thousands of people in over 172 countries have used Holosync® to make dramatic improvements in their lives. You can, too.

It's easy, it's inexpensive, it feels VERY good it's 100% guaranteed.

Skeptical? I don't blame you. I was too, until I tried it for myself.

Yeah . . . . sure, you betcha. Yes, I am skeptical, but then I haven't tried this "guaranteed" method, so what do I know. But we rarely get a free ride or real short cut to deeper consciousness, so I'll wait and see. If it's THAT good, it'll be the next BIG thing, bigger than the Big Mind BS that Genpo Roshi sells.

Note, the key word is "sells."

One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom

A very cool article on animal intelligence appears in this month's Scientific American Mind - here is the beginning of it.

One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom

We are used to thinking of humans as occupying the sole pinnacle of evolutionary intelligence. That's where we're wrong

By Paul Patton

Key Concepts

  • Despite cartoons you may have seen showing a straight line of fish emerging on land to become primates and then humans, evolution is not so linear. The brains of other animals are not merely previous stages that led directly to human intelligence.
  • Instead—as is the case with many traits—complex brains and sophisticated cognition have arisen multiple times in independent lineages of animals during the earth’s evolutionary history.
  • With this new understanding comes a new appreciation for intelligence in its many forms. So-called lower animals, such as fish, reptiles and birds, display a startling array of cognitive capabilities. Goldfish, for instance, have shown they can negotiate watery mazes similar to the way rats do in intelligence tests in the lab.

We were talking about politics. My housemate, an English professor, opined that certain politicians were thinking with their reptilian brains when they threatened military action against Iran. Many people believe that a component of the human brain inherited from reptilian ancestors is responsible for our species’ aggression, ritual behaviors and territoriality.

One of the most common misconceptions about brain evolution is that it represents a linear process culminating in the amazing cognitive powers of humans, with the brains of other modern species representing previous stages. Such ideas have even influenced the thinking of neuroscientists and psychologists who compare the brains of different species used in biomedical research. Over the past 30 years, however, research in comparative neuroanatomy clearly has shown that complex brains—and sophisticated cognition—have evolved from simpler brains multiple times independently in separate lineages, or evolutionarily related groups: in mollusks such as octopuses, squid and cuttlefish; in bony fishes such as goldfish and, separately again, in cartilaginous fishes such as sharks and manta rays; and in reptiles and birds. Nonmammals have demonstrated advanced abilities such as learning by copying the behavior of others, finding their way in complicated spatial environments, manufacturing and using tools, and even conducting mental time travel (remembering specific past episodes or anticipating unique future events). Collectively, these findings are helping scientists to understand how intelligence can arise—and to appreciate the many forms it can take.

The Tree of Life
To understand why a new view of the evolution of brains and minds is only now coming to full fruition, it is useful to review historical notions. Medieval naturalists placed living things along a linear scale called the great chain of beings, or scala naturae. This hierarchical sequence ranked creatures such as worms and slugs as lowly and humans as the highest of earthly beings. In the late 1800s the enormous mass of evidence contained in Charles Darwin’s masterwork, On the Origin of Species, convinced most of his scientific contemporaries that evolution was a reality. Darwin explained that modern species were related by physical descent and saw the relations among species as resembling the diverging branches of a family genealogical tree. Few, however, fully grasped the revolutionary implications of this tree of life—in which modern species represent the tips of the branches and inner branches represent past species, forming junctions where two lineages branch from a common ancestor.

So when comparative neuroanatomy first blossomed at the end of the 19th century, most researchers interpreted its findings in terms of the old linear scale. They believed modern invertebrates (animals without backbones), fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and humans to be living representatives of successive evolutionary steps toward a more complex brain, with new brain components added at each step. Given the relative lack of interest in comparative neuroanatomy during the mid-20th century, these ideas persisted unchallenged for decades. The traditional ideas about sequential brain evolution appeared, for example, in the late neuroscientist and psychiatrist Paul D. MacLean’s triune brain model, formulated in the 1960s. Mac­Lean’s model promoted the belief that the human brain contains a “reptilian complex” inherited from reptilian ancestors.

Beginning in the 1980s, the field of comparative neuroanatomy experienced a renaissance. In the intervening decades evolutionary biologists had learned a great deal about vertebrate evolutionary history, and they developed new and effective methods of applying Darwin’s concept of the tree of life to analyze and interpret their findings. It is now apparent that a simple linear hierarchy cannot adequately account for the evolution of brains or of intelligence. The oldest known multicellular animal fossils are about 700 million years old. By the Cambrian period, about 520 million years ago, the animal kingdom had branched into about 35 major groups, or phyla, each with its own distinctive body plan. As a separate branch of the tree of life, each lineage continued to evolve and diversify independently of the others. Complex brains evolved independently in multiple phyla, notably among the cephalopod mollusks of the phylum Mollusca and, of course, among various groups of vertebrates. Vertebrate evolution has likewise involved repeated branching, with complex brains evolving from simpler brains independently along numerous branches.

Read the rest of the article.

Psychology Today - Back to the Present: How to Live in the Moment

I liked this nice article from the Psychology Today Blogs, written by senior editor

Back to the Present: How to Live in the Moment

In my cover story in the November-December issue of Psychology Today, I laid out six paradoxes of living in the moment. Since then, I've tried to live in the moment as much as possible myself. Whenever I feel upset or worried, I try to bring myself into the present. And whenever it occurs to me, I take a few mindful breaths, look around my surroundings, and become aware of the moment. I still have a long way to go, but I'm living less in my head and more in the moment now then ever before—and I can feel the difference. Here are some practical tips to help you get mindful now.

Meditate. Meditating is nothing more than focusing on the present moment. The easiest way to meditate is to simply focus on your breath—not because your breath has some magical quality, but because it's always there with you. The challenge is to keep your attention on your breathing. Inevitably, your mind will wander and thoughts will arise—and that's fine. When it happens, just let go of the thought and bring your attention back to the present by focusing once again on your breath.

Use a reminder of the string-around-your finger variety. Wear your watch upside-down, put a quarter in your shoe, or put a smudge on one of the lenses of your glasses. When you notice it, let that serve as a reminder for you to notice your surroundings, become aware of your senses and your bodily sensations, and bring your focus into the present. If you get to the point where you're going entire days without noticing it, switch up the reminder.

[balloon burst]Practice slowing down time by attending to the subtleties of experience in the here and now. Take a minute and go get a handful of raisins. Now eat one—but don't just pop it in your mouth. Instead, imagine you've never seen a raisin before. Look it over carefully. Consider its shape, weight, color, and texture. Rub the raisin gently across your lips, noticing how it feels. Now put the raisin in your mouth, and roll it around slowly with your tongue. Notice how it feels in your mouth. Take a small bite, noting the flavor. Next, chew the raisin slowly, focusing on its taste and texture. Then swallow, and follow its path down your throat as far as you can. You can have a few more—but remember to focus on what each one looks, tastes, and feels like on your lips, in your mouth, and down your throat.

Make it new. When you're performing music, giving a presentation, or even just recounting a favorite story, try to make it new in subtle ways, delivering it in a way you've never done before. Rather than performing it by rote, take a risk and try something different—use different words, add a pause, try to express a particular emotion to the audience. Not only will you enjoy it more yourself, but studies find that audiences prefer such performances too. Somehow mindfulness seems to leave an imprint on everything we do.

Mind the gap. Whenever you find yourself waiting—for the checkout line to move, for the traffic light to change, for the Web page to load—get present. Instead of being impatient and wishing things would go faster, be grateful for the gift of a respite—for the 30 seconds or a minute or two minutes during which you have no obligations. Take the opportunity to mindfully breathe in, breathe out, and savor the moment.

Focus on the soles of your feet. Here's a good trick to return to mindfulness if you feel angry or aggressive. Shift all your attention to the soles of your feet. Move your toes slowly, feel the weave of your socks and the curve of your arch. Breathe naturally and focus on the soles of your feet until you feel calm. Practice this exercise until you can use it wherever you are and whenever you find yourself feeling verbally or physically aggressive.

Focus on your senses. When you observe your surroundings without judging them good or bad, you naturally nudge your awareness into the present moment. Close your eyes and focus on your sense of scent and mentally list all the smells you're aware of—the restaurant downstairs, the wet pavement outside, the perfume of a nearby co-worker. Next, list all the different sounds you can hear—the ventilation system, cars in the distance, the hum of your computer, typing, footsteps. Then open your eyes and list all the things you see—the rustling of the trees, the faces in the crowd, the wrinkles on your palm. Finally, list all the things you can sense that you appreciate—the way a beam of sunlight hits the brick building across the street, the welcome sight of a friend's smile, the smell of cookies baking. Remember, you're not looking for things to appreciate—you're appreciating the things you sense. With luck, this exercise will put you in a state of relaxed attention that reduces anxiety and makes you feel more fully alive.

Go read the original article that inspired this post, The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment.

Counselling Resource - Inattentive Thinking and Character Disturbance

An interesting little article from Dr George Simon, PhD at Counselling Resource - Inattentive Thinking and Character Disturbance. If you are in relationship with one of these people, and s/he is not in therapy, run like hell. Life is too short to be walked on by those we love.

Inattentive Thinking and Character Disturbance

Disordered characters hear what they want to hear, remember what they want to remember, and learn what they want to learn.

Disordered characters think in ways that lead to problem behaviors. In prior posts we’ve looked at “thinking errors” such as egocentric thinking, possessive thinking, and extreme thinking:

Another problematic pattern of thinking common to disturbed characters is Inattentive Thinking.

One of the early researchers on character disturbance, Stanton Samenow, referred to inattentive thinking as a “mental filter” because he observed problem characters to selectively “filter” what goes on around them, paying attention and heed primarily to the things they’re concerned about and disregarding just about everything else.

Disordered characters hear what they want to hear, remember what they want to remember, and learn what they want to learn. They invest themselves intensely in the things that interest them but actively disregard the things they find dull, mundane, or boring. Most especially, they frequently pay little attention to the things that others desperately want them to be more concerned about.

Inattentive thinking frequently accompanies the responsibility-avoidance tactic of “selective attention” (to be discussed in a future series of posts). This tactic is a more deliberate attempt to “tune-out” someone who is trying to make a point, teach them a lesson, or get them to consider something most people regard as important. Disturbed characters will frequently only half-listen or not pay attention at all whenever they hear something they don’t like. Most of the time, the things they find themselves not wanting to hear involve other people’s efforts to get them to submit themselves to pro-social values and standards of conduct. That’s why this erroneous way of thinking is a major reason disordered characters develop a lackadaisical attitude toward accepting social obligations as well as other antisocial attitudes.

People in relationships with disordered characters often wonder how they can be so unthoughtful. The main reason they’re thoughtless is because they simply don’t concern themselves with the kinds of things most of us want them to be concerned about. At other times, people feel like they’re talking to a brick wall whenever they try to make important points or ask for something they need. The reason for this is that the disturbed character doesn’t want to submit himself to the societal expectations most of us obey and therefore tunes-out any perceived requests to do otherwise. In my book, In Sheep’s Clothing [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK], I give some direct advice on how to deal with a person who thinks inattentively and who uses the tactic of selective inattention. As a therapist, I use the techniques I advocate in all my work with disordered characters. The techniques can empower anyone in a relationship with a problem character and are absolutely essential to a therapist who wants to have the leverage to promote genuine change in their disordered clients.

Go here for more information in this form of therapy - An Introduction to Cognitive Therapy & Cognitive Behavioural Approaches.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mingyur Rinpoche - Story of Relative Perception

Mingyur Rinpoche tells a little story to illustrate the nature of relative perception. Short and funny.
An insightful and amusing real story about limitation of perception. Clip from "Mahamudra: Natural Mind (DVD)" by Mingyur Rinpoche, Recorded in August, 2007. Mahamudra is the natural state of the mind: luminous, spacious, unhindered and free from dualistic concepts. In these talks, Mingyur Rinpoche provides a brilliant, engaging and accessible introduction to the practice of Mahamudra. With joy, humor and examples that are easily understandable by Western Students, Rinpoche explains the meaning of Mahamudra and reveals how it is that our failure to recognize our nature of mind causes us to suffer. He provides extensive practice instructions on objectless meditation and meditation with a variety of supports including mantra, visual objects, sound, thoughts and emotions. In talk four, Rinpoche presents an especially extensive and beneficial teaching on using pain as a support for meditation. For each practice he guides students through a practice session and answers students' questions about the practice. This teaching includes an extremely accessible explanation of Buddha-nature and emptiness.