John Blog 25/07/2020
I hope everyone is safely relating with COVID.
When we commence work on things we fear, the threat focused brain system can really give our desperation habits a lot. Yet, while we may be fearful coming to the fearful, we can learn to move on from this point. However, at some point, if we open our eyes and our heart to the fearful mind and gently name it, “fear, fear, fear,” experiencing its energy as it moves through us, the whole sense of fear will shift and eventually become recognition: “Oh, fear, here you are again. I know you. How interesting that you’ve come.” We can stat to make friends with our fear.
The foundation of loving awareness, compassion, equanimity, which involves acceptance, we learn that it is okay to feel fear. Practicing mindfulness with persistence and courage, we gradually learn how to feel unpleasant emotions and can start to move towards being with the floods of strong emotions — fear, grief — and to allow them to slowly release with wisdom and mindfulness. We learn to see the endless mental stories, ongoing narratives, that repeat over and over. With the resources of mindfulness and self-compassion, we learn to come home to ourselves and to let these go, to steady the mind and return to the present. Befriending fear becomes a gateway to freedom, an invitation to live more fully with trust, calmness and love.
There is a large list of resources and interesting things to read and ponder in this weeks list.
Below are the reseources and other interesting things for this week.
COURSES WITH JOHN and OTHERS
Short Course Mindful Self-Compassion - Zoom
For all of you, and as your teacher for those of you who have been to my classes, I am strongly recommending you attend a Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) class – either a refresher or the full class – by Zoom - or another course that is similar. The Zoom short course that Michael and I are running, starting Tuesday 4th August (7 pm AEST), is an excellent way to update your skills and practice. For this second COVID spike in Victoria, I have just reduced the prices from the $200 mark to $150 until 28 July, and for people on benefits, it will be $90.00 until 28 July. The link is here:
Mindful Self-Compassion – full 8-week program plus one week for the retreat = 9 weeks - Zoom
The full Mindful Self-Compassion course that Paola and I are running on a Saturday (10 am to 1 pm, AEST, and 4 pm to 7 pm PDT) is another excellent way forward to building a sound basis for a more resilient life. This is also the essential beginning program that you need to do if you would like to become a trainer in this program. The price of this has ALSO BEEN REDUCED TO $400 full price and $200 rebated price (apply to me for the latter) until 24 July. The link for this is here:
Regular Zoom meditation support group 8 pm Wednesday (AEST) evenings – dana contribution
Remember that we have an evening Meditation class on Wednesday at 8 pm AEST and this is simply dana if you can afford it. Send me an email to go on the contact list. Any amount of dana can be paid through Pay Pal with this link:
Introduction to Mindfulness
A four-week introduction to Mindfulness
Useful for beginners and as a refresher. 1 ¼ hours by 4 sessions with John Julian.
In this program John will consider the basics of mindfulness, its history and relationship to wholesomeness, the skills we learn, the methods to use with either breath or movement, and take you through a range of m=homework exercises to consider the blocks that occur to us developing a mindfulness practice.
PDT Wednesday 5pm PDT – weekly commencing 12 August
AEST Thursday, 10am AEST and – weekly commencing 13 August
Here is the Eventbrite link:
Marie and I are running an Introduction to Compassion-Focussed Therapy for professionals starting in August. We also have another Self-compassion for Health Professionals commencing shortly.
Check these out at Marie’s page at https://www.mindfulpath.com.au/
Marie and I are also running an 8-week group commencing 7th September for professionals:
Mindful Self-Compassion for Professionals- Online- 8 weeks
Presenter: Marie Bloomfield, Clinical Psychologist and John Julian, Social Worker, both Senior Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Teachers.
Date: Sep 7, 2020 - Oct 26, 2020
Time: 6:30pm till 9:00pm, Monday evening + Mindfulness Retreat Saturday 17 Oct (9:30am-1:30pm)
Location: Event Online- Webinar
Price: Early bird(23 August) $490.00 Regular $560.00 Tax-deductible for professionals
A professional is widely defined as one who is, or aspire, to help others (health/medical, welfare, education, wellness, legal, business and so on).
This program meets one of the requirements to attend the Online Teacher Training "Mindful Self-Compassion" for adults and "Making Friends with Yourself" for teenagers/young adults.
Discounts are available for students or if you have financial concerns.
RESOURCES and Reading
EXPLORE ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MORE-THAN-HUMAN WORLD OF NATURE - Free
"SEMINAR TALK - From Ownership to Belonging: Ecopsychological Models of Relationship with the More-than-Human World of Nature" with Tina Fields.
“The Art of Waiting” by Belle Boggs, 2012
A moving article around infertility, birth and death
“Near the river, where the song is louder, their discarded larval shells — translucent amber bodies, weightless and eerie — crunch underfoot on my daily walks. Across the river, in a nest constructed near the top of a tall, spindly pine, bald eagles take turns caring for two new eaglets. Baby turtles, baby snakes, and ducklings appear on the water. Under my parents’ porch, three feral cats give birth in quick succession. And on the news, a miracle pregnancy: Jamani, an eleven-year-old female gorilla at the North Carolina Zoo, is expecting, the first gorilla pregnancy there in twenty-two years.”
Podcasts on developing a ecologically based civilisation
The Institute for Ecological Civilization works internationally to support systemic approaches to long-term sustainability by developing collaborations among government, business, and religious leaders and among scholars, activists, and policy makers. We build effective partnerships across social sectors through consultations, think-tank gatherings, and policy engagement.
The Myths of Coping with Loss
The seminal research on the topic summarizing the literature and previous research by Wortman and Silver in 1989.
Action For Happiness
Giovanni Dienstmann is an author and meditation teacher based in Sydney. On this podcast, we talk about the different styles of meditation, the importance of training self-discipline and its relationship to meditation. We discuss the difference between mindfulness and meditation, great tips on how to develop and maintain a practice during this lockdown. We also have fun discussing what is Spirituality and how this has impacted Giovanni.
Giovanni has kindly set up a page with three guided meditations specifically for Action For Happiness listeners at: liveanddare.com/actionforhappiness
-Emotional Emergency Pause
-Letting go meditation
Lessons from COVID-19: Discussions on Global Systems Change
This is a review of our first EcoCiv Dialogues panel, written by our partners at EcoCiv Korea.
By Reverend Dongwoo Lee, EcoCiv Korea
On Friday, March 27, 2020, the Institute for Ecological Civilization held a seminar in webinar format entitled “The Most Important Lessons from COVID-19.″ The panel conversation was conducted through Zoom and broadcast live on Facebook. Participants who connected via Facebook Live continued the discussion with a lively commentary about the panel in a chat window.
Extraordinary curtailment of massive typhus epidemic in the Warsaw Ghetto by Herculean efforts of ghetto doctors
The highly dependent interplay of disease, famine, war, and society is examined based on an extreme period during World War II. Using mathematical modeling, we reassess events during the Holocaust that led to the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto (1941–1942), with the eventual goal of deliberately killing ~450,000, mostly Jewish residents, many through widespread starvation and a large-scale typhus epidemic. The Nazis justified genocide supposedly to control the spread of disease. This exemplifies humanity’s ability to turn upon itself, based on racially guided epidemiological principles, merely because of the appearance of a bacterium. Deadly disease and starvation dynamics are explored using modeling and the maths of food ration cards. Strangely, the epidemic was curtailed and was brought to a sudden halt before winter, when typhus normally accelerates. A far more massive epidemic outbreak was prevented through the antiepidemic efforts by the often considered incompetent and corrupt ghetto leadership and the Herculean efforts of ghetto doctors.
7 songs to help you relax
By Dan Condon
For when you need to escape whatever life has thrown at you today.
Mission to Mars: Will you crash and burn in our quiz?
The ABC Science writer
What do you know of Marsm the Red Planet? There are three spacecraft heading to Mars in 2020. Are you across the Red Planet or will our quiz leave you red-faced?
Need a new way to stretch?
Stick Qi Gong may be for you.
This article will help you change the way you interpret other people’s behaviour so that you can become better as a leader, more effective as a manager and more content as a person.
Mindfulness, Compassion and safely relating
We have the language wrong – ‘lockdown’ feels like a punishment and ‘social distancing’ is a psychology of isolation. Instead, we need to consider maintaining our safe quiet refuge and ‘being COVID safe at home and in community’ and ‘safely relating’, which give out completely different psychological messages.
Today you could be standing nearby or communicating with someone who is trying their best to not fall apart. So, whatever you do today, do it with kindness in your heart.
With COVID to give you an example: Though you may be at low risk of getting seriously ill from the virus, you can pass it on to someone who is at much higher risk. This is why it’s so important to follow the recommendations of State and Commonwealth health officials.
Working with Safe Relating
To curtail the spread of the coronavirus, we have been advised by health officials to significantly restrict our normal activities. This mean more than just following the rules by the letter, but of following them in spirit. The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to just stay at home, to have a pleasant retreat. This is a difficult interruption to our lives, and hard for many people to adhere to.
Remember: you could be communicating by phone, text or skype/zoom, with someone who is trying their best to not fall apart. So whatever you do today, do it with kindness and consideration in your heart. For example, though you may be healthy, young and fit, you may be at low risk of getting seriously ill from the virus, you can pass it on to someone who is at much higher risk. Therefore it’s important to follow the both the rules and the spirit of these from health officials.
We are so used living active lives that having to stay home all the time may appear equivalent to a type of house arrest. The main problem is that we are cut off from our normal ways of distracting ourselves. Distracting ourselves from what? From our own minds. For many people being with their own mind is being with there critical self or their perfectionist self. These parts of us, if they are motivated from our fear-based brain system, are difficult if we have never developed the voice of our compassionate self. Yes, in reality we do not have one integrated mind, we have different selves.
So for many people the challenges of being COVID safe in home include:
- Keeping our mind occupied
- Being around our family or housemates 24 hrs/day
- Preparing all our meals
- Reduced physical activities
To counter these, some of the regular suggestions include:
So, what can we do when we’re stuck at home? Think about all the things that you’ve wanted to do before but couldn’t because you didn’t have the time. Well, now you do have the time. You can:
- Catch up on your reading
- Commence Qigong or Yoga – there are many free program around today
- Cook or bake some of your favourite dishes, or make up new ones
- Spring clean now.
- Simplify parts of your life: straighten out the cluttered storage room
- Spend some quality time with your partner and/or kids
- Have a picnic, or go for a walk
- Commence writing letters to people
- Telephone 4 family and 4 friends each week
Call your family or friends. They may need someone to talk to. This may be your chance to reconnect with them. By doing this, we may find by staying apart we may come closer together.
Sociality of safely relating
We need to design new standards of sociality. Other suggestions that have been made by people around the world include (yep I snuck some of my whackier ideas in – can you spot them?)
One person gave me some interesting history about our ways of relating. She noted that “in order to ‘safely’ relate to each other in a warm, compassionate humane way (in the context of COVID19), … one doesn’t need to act physically. Throughout history, the handshake was imposed to illustrate there was no weapon on your sleeve. The hug was created to insure one did not carry a gun on their back.” So maybe it is time to give up on these methods anyway!
They went on to note that whatever way we use “to be effective, (it) must be authentic with no judgment or expectation.”
This person and two others noted ways of safely relating include starting with a sincere, “How are You”, and acknowledgment of the other, without expectations. Maybe you could also say this in another language to add some spice. As we use in self-compassion, a “gesture of a hand on the heart (kinesthetics) and a kind “hey” (auditive)” may welcome another with a lot more meaning than our normal way of shaking hands or a hug. The other points people made included:
- Putting your hands in prayer as a salutation or an eyewink (visual).
- Understanding that a sincere SMILE is actually stronger than a handshake or a hug.
- “Namaste,” with a bow and hands together – fingers extended. I so appreciate the message of honouring others with kindness and compassion.
- Introducing loving-kindness phrases, into your hello. You could also ask that they say them back to you “May you have a peaceful day, May you be healthy and calm, May you progress”. You can do this for 2-3 different phrases and get into the habit of asking them to repeat together...”may we be safe”. The teaching and modeling opportunities of COVID is enormous - world and the planet need more loving-kindness.
- Do in the / a happy dance. Show your individuality by doing the weirdest ‘hi’ dance you can!
- Eyebrow wave or wiggle. This may involve standing in front of the mirror practicing.
- Physical wave, followed by hand in hand (like a squeeze). Men can put a fist on the heart.
- Whiteboard slate of silence...write message of greeting to one another from clean slate while also practicing silence to heighten awareness of the moment
- Gratitude greeting ... ‘what I love about you is’ ... ‘ you meet my needs for connection/xxxx/xxxx/ when you do/say that”.
- Future hoping....what I’m looking forward to in the next week is...
- Synchronized self-hugs from 2 metres away while you stare fondly into their eyes
- Synchronized rocking
- Make heart shape with hands as if coming from heart space (hands over heart with both joining as heart)
- Soothing clutch of one hand in another.....squeeze with eyes closed and imagine other is and then, providing it is nice, tell them what you thought.
What are other ways and things we can do? To safely relate: send me your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
As you develop mindfulness and compassion through meditation, we firstly gain greater insight into our sense of self. Slowly, you will begin to see your connection with the rest of the world and realize interbeing occurs as we both affect and depend on each other, and other species and minerals and elements of the Earth, for our survival. In other words, we will start taking greater care and consideration the needs of other people and the world around us. Our compassion grows.
I keep saying to people, we practice mindfulness to make sure our parachute of mindfulness is in good condition for when we need it. If you have practiced regularly you are more open to to seeing that the possibilities are endless. Staying at home, or limited direct social contact, does not have to be a prison sentence. View it as a vacation, and take advantage of the opportunity to relax, and learn to enjoy your life without having to be out in public.
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