May 10, 2020
Is Jung’s observation that “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls” accurate? Is it another factor feeding humanities obscene raping of nature and the planet? He continued his percipient observation by noting that people “… will practise Indian yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic texts from the literature of the whole world — all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls”.
Our culture now appears moved into a revolutionary movement of constant change driven by our industrialist and consumerist orientation. Within this many people now consider themselves simply not good enough as they are. This has been especially so since we lost the structure of the traditional occupations and relationship to land. Now 54% of Erath population is urbanized. Traditional jobs have been replaced by mechanization, automation and robotization. In the Western world in agriculture the workforce has shrunk by 80% in some places due to its mechanization, automation and chemicalization to become ‘modern’. In Australia this will soon mean we will be importing milk from overseas ad things like our dairy industry are not ‘efficient’ nor ‘competitive’ enough to provide milk to supermarket chains for less than a dollar a litre. So the supermarkets will buy milk from overseas. This is both a travesty of the Australian way of life, a disaster for agricultural communities.
Within culture it now seems many people now continuously buy 'things' that are bright, shiny and new, (almost) obsessively in order to ward off the trance of unworthinness and Tara Brach calls it. Within this system do people like traditional farmers simply give up with the stresses involved and sell up, spending their life's work in places like the Gold Coast? Has the art of life, of true farming, been lost for future generations?
The system also creates an inherently flawed system of inequality and injustice with its super rich owning 90% of all wealth on the planet. I have suspected for a long time that the system has also create dgrowing rates of mental illness.
Is this system is becoming increasingly inhuman? Does the open rewarding of competition and aggression that creates 'winners' and 'losers' in society have positive outcomes? Maybe the outcomes are mainly seen through results such as the 2020 USA riots in the USA?
Yet maintenance of this industrialist system occurs through a narrative or set of premises. All political parties of the so-called 'right' and 'left' are part of this narrative - they simply each want a bigger share of the industrial 'pay-off' for their consituents. Are these premises reasonable? What are they? These premises appear as follows:
- no other way exists to provide reasonable standards of living for Earth’s population,
- perceived individual happiness is of prime importance,
- Earth’s resources will last forever,
- a consumerist society is the only way to achieve happiness, and
- everyone will gain happiness by buying and owning products of their own free will.
- Therefore, only an industrial consumerist society can produce the required goods to meet the needs of individual happiness across the planet in the future.
Are there any other diffciulties created by such a system?
Culture is something that humans live in. Culture is often defined as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. It is ideal that a culture both validates the people in it and provides them with capable ways of living healthily and ensure that set of narratives exist to assist them through difficult times, such as dealing with the unexplainable and unknowable, the unsolvable, such as death, and feelings, as these are just valid – valid as they exist, but maybe not accurate. Cultures are not permanent, largely because they do not seriously ask the question “Do we want those society to survive?” and come to a resolution about that question.
But what do we do if we find ourselves in a culture that is not going to survive with its dangerous ways of providing for its members? How do we know if a culture is healthy and when one is not? Do we use the well-being of individuals, or as Wendell Berry suggests, the real basis of health, membership and of which the smallest possible unit to deal with?
What is community? Generally, I see that community involves a shared place, generally geographical, but I have also seen strong but albeit time-limited virtual, communities. A community also has a culture of shared set of narratives that will often involve cognitive and spiritual ideas, in the broadest sense. This narrative and resulting lifestyle is both defines and limits the potentials, both positive and negative, of the individual members and of their relationship to the nature and the broader world. The narrative defines also what is permissible to know of others, how to relate to other sentient and non-sentient beings. It defines core aspects of relational concerns as to the balance of individualism versus community membership, of the importance of personal achievement versus of caring and compassion, as well as our trust in each other versus our fear of each other.
It is not necessarily true that cultures are healthy. The Spartans developed a culture of extreme completeness based on warriorship. Their community only lasted around 150 years. Equally, cultures can be created by the knowledge and scientific methods that it is based on, and its members can be manipulated by those methods as well. However, the nature of a culture is that many of its mores are tarted as infallible truths simply because this is a shared narrative. What are the dangers of our existing culture?
How do we develop a culture for people based on both science and respect for all elements of the natural world providing equal respect off all elements in that natural world and just humanity?
I hope you are all well or okay, and coping. And learning new ways to safely relate!
Three brief Compassion practices Here are a few practices to try, or re-try for those who have been in the MSC program (guided recordings are available [https://centerformsc.org/practice-msc/guided-meditations-and-exercises/] for those practices marked with an asterisk (*).
(1) Self-Compassion Break* – The 3 components of self-compassion are a powerful recipe for regulating difficult emotions. The first component – mindfulness – helps us disentangle from what’s bothering us. The second component – common humanity – is an antidote to the loneliness that may come with social distancing. When we recall that we’re not alone no matter what we’re going through, things become more bearable. The third component of self-compassion – self-kindness – is an antidote to fear. Kindness regulates fear through connection and warmth, similar to what we might experience with a dear friend.
(2) Soothing Touch – We are less likely to receive physical expressions of kindness when we are in self-quarantine but we can still comfort ourselves with touch. Don’t be shy about offering yourself a hug, or by gently placing a hand over your heart, when you need it the most. (Just be mindful about touching your face, please.)
(3) Giving and Receiving Compassion* – Safely relating includes a need to ‘physically distance’ ourselves from others because of the coronavirus but does not mean we need to emotionally distance ourselves. Connection feels good. We can stay in compassionate connection with others by following our breath – breathing compassion in for ourselves and out for others. This can be practiced at home or with others, on the cushion or in caregiving settings as we stand beside the person.
**New online short courses in Mindful Self-Compassion** Three online brief MSC programs are on offer and because of COVID, as teachers in Australia we have decided to slash prices to help people through the COVID lockdown and aftermath. If you get in before the early bird closes it is now only $106 for the six-week programs as follows:
For Health Professionals With Marie Bloomfield and John Julian https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/online-self-compassion-for-health-professionals-6-hours-over-6-weeks-tickets-102326834316 Marie’s webpage for this is at: https://www.mindfulpath.com.au/events?ID=Online&location=Online
For Social Workers and Health Professionals With John Julian & assisted by Paola Cheng https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/self-compassion-for-social-workers-and-health-professionals-tickets-100649805277
For Everyone in the Community With John Julian and Paola Cheng https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/mindful-self-compassion-sc-msc-6-week-online-course-tickets-100601682340
Mental Health Apps This page is a run down of a range of mental health apps available online: https://mentalhealthmn.org/support/mental-health-apps/
Insight Timer This app is good and has lots of free meditations. It is one of the few apps I do recommend, especially the very straight forward meditation timer You can join 14 million other people and it has a simple meditation timer. https://insighttimer.com/
Counselling – Medicare funded online one-to-one counselling available now available until September I am available online to assist you -simply get a Mental health Care plan. Simply reply to me through my email to discuss.
Meditation - free Meditation 8pm Wednesday nights with John Julian Be online on Wednesday evenings in John’s zoom room (see signature line) - you will need a password from me. By Dana and pay only if you can afford it
Meditation Free with Marie Bloomfield, John’s colleague and Senior Certified MSC teacher as well, Marie is offering free meditations and 10am and 7pm Wednesdays https://www.mindfulpath.com.au/courses/free-online-mindful-self-compassion-practice-session
Free Daily Meditations with Centre of MSC The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion off free meditations each day during the COVID crisis and both Marie and I offer sessions through this as well. In addition, sessions are available in Cantonese and Spanish as well:
A Flower Story: What plants can teach us about surviving a pandemic. It’s a good time to look at flowers! I was amused to read an introduction to this article in New Phytologist, which unfortunately does not have free access on this article, but you can read the free and amusing commentary here:
How to deal with uncertainty during coronavirus: This is a good article with a range of options t . The first thing to really understand is that this is an uncertain time, it’s not just you. This article goes through these issues: Hold on to your 'stability rocks' Accept that it's normal to be feeling stressed Remember you are not your thoughts Practise tolerating uncertainty Draw on skills you've used before Play to your strengths Find ways to talk to others Stay up to date with the facts If you're feeling overwhelmed, seek support. Check it out here: https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-deal-with-uncertainty-during-coronavirus Safely Relating: 11 simple ways to care for each other during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic Greenpeace has developed this excellent info sheet of 11 different ways to care for people during this crisis. This is important, in these times we need to care for each other. Check it out here: https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/29371/11-simple-ways-to-care-for-each-other-during-the-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic/
Brief article on Herman Hess and Trees: https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/09/21/hermann-hesse-trees/?fbclid=IwAR3wyRW2wH0EMfyapnkl__XcngHVeh7GpGwqD6kLitAtHi4sIy6bq_RMZHo
On Yoga: https://caravane-beauty.com/yoga-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/
Pema Chodron working with chaos: https://www.lionsroar.com/pema-chodrons-three-methods-for-working-with-chaos/
Free Kindle books: Go to amazon.com.au and select kindle and type in ‘free books’! There is a lot!
Learning to live, slowly, again.
Learning to live again for ourselves, with ourselves, is a real opportunity here in this crisis. The vast majority of us, even if we catch the virus, will not die. It is important to keep that perspective. And Australia now has one of the best records in the world in dealing with it. We equally have to feel compassion for those who have been severely affected by the virus and the closedown. We need to be careful in not being taken over by empathy, our natural resonance with the feelings of others, and to balance our empathy with self-compassion, as we give out compassion to others and receive compassion form others. Learning to balance the three flows of compassion is a science and an art. So, also in this process we find ourselves all are learning to live in a ‘house’ or unit/flat. Maybe we can learn to live in a home again instead of a place that has increasingly in our society become an overnight consumption stopover, which is what many houses have become. We are also learning to live inside our bodies with our own self again, to live with things bigger than thought, to be with this very moment. When we stay with this moment with the intention of compassion, we start to see a different world. This depends on how we feed ourselves of course. What are the nutrients that we take in through our senses? If I feed myself with wanting and buying all the time, of watching crazy TV shows where people need to look beautiful to feel okay about themselves, or violent TV shows about murder and killing, or even having to have the latest gardening equipment may all keep feeding a attitude of greed or ignorance in our lives. Learning to ‘feed’ not just our bodies but our whole lives with less greed, more openness and honesty and peacefulness we will find we have different impacts on our lives, bodies and thinking.
Take care everyone, and safely relate!
Copyright Thinking Healthy - John Julian