“ I have noticed that when all the lights are on, people tend to talk about what they are doing – their outer lives. Sitting round in candlelight or firelight, people start to talk about how they are feeling – their inner lives. They speak subjectively, they argue less, there are longer pauses. To sit alone without any electric light is curiously creative. I have my best ideas at dawn or at nightfall, but not if I switch on the lights – then I start thinking about projects, deadlines, demands, and the shadows and shapes of the house become objects, not suggestions, things that need to done, not a background to thought.
"Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
“ Most people think that shadows follow, precede, or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.
The physical bodies that you’re using to sit on these chairs, for example, aren’t the ones that you walked in with a little while ago. Even with one breath you take in 10 to the power of 22 atoms. An astronomical amount of raw material that ends up as your heart, brain and kidney cells, your neurons, your DNA. With each breath you breathe out 10 to the power of 22 atoms. It’s an astronomical amount of raw materials that is coming from every bit of your body. You are literally breathing out bits and pieces of your brain tissue and heart and kidney. Actually, technically speaking, we are intimately sharing our organs with each other all the time.
If you do radioactive isotope studies which have been done very elegantly, you can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that you replace 98% of all the atoms in your body in less than one year. You make a new liver every 6 weeks, a new skin once a month, a new stomach lining every 5 days, a new skeleton - it seems so hard and solid, but the skeleton you have now you didn’t have three months ago. Even the brain cells that you think with as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, as those basic elements, they weren’t there one year ago. And the DNA that holds memories of millions of years of evolutionary time, in fact hundreds of millions of years; the actual raw material of it comes and goes every six weeks. Those atoms drift in and out like migratory birds every six weeks.
And if you want to be a real stickler about it and account for the last atom and every little sinew and collagen and cartilage, then in less than two and a half years you replace every atom in your body down to the last single atom. So if you think you are your material body then you certainly have a dilemma. Which one are you talking about? The 1991 model is not the same as the 1990 model or even the one from a few months ago.
Inspired by Dr. Jay.
“ Thinking about something is like picking up a stone when taking a walk, either while skipping rocks on the beach, for example, or looking for a way to shatter the glass doors of a museum. When you think about something, it adds a bit of weight to your walk, and as you think about more and more things you are liable to feel heavier and heavier, until you are so burdened you cannot take any further steps, and can only sit and stare at the gentle movements of the ocean waves or security guards, thinking too hard about too many things to do anything else.
When I was a young girl, I liked to climb onto my parents’ roof to feel like I could get a way from it all and dream amongst the trees. As a young woman, I’ve climbed many a mountain - from the Andes to the Appalachian Trails - to gain perspective on my life. Now, I’ve settled down a bit - I can’t always fly to a far off destination to escape my troubles and my bedroom no longer leads to a roof, but I can take pleasure in living in one of the hilliest cities in the world - where vistas abound. This image was taken a top Twin Peaks in San Francisco, one day when I escaped the daily grind and found a world of wonders in the spring flowers. Whether a roof or mountain top, my happy place is wherever I can climb away from my woes and concerns and remember how lucky I am.Oh, Jana, my story really echoes yours. Especially the part about a childhood spent atop trees and roofs.
— By Jana Carrey (submitted to “Just Like Heaven”)
“ I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.
“ Beginning meditators often misunderstand what mindfulness meditation is and does. Mindfulness meditation is not a relaxation exercise; sometimes its effect is quite the opposite when the object of awareness is disturbing. It is not a way to avoid difficulties in life, because it brings us closer to our difficulties before we disentangle from them. It does not bypass our personality problems; it is a slow, gentle process of coming to grips with who we are. Finally, mindfulness meditation is not about achieving a different state of mind; it is about settling into our current experience in a relaxed, alert and openhearted way.
Last fall I started a daily meditation practice that benefitted me in more ways than I can count. Seems there’s a bit of neuroscience that could help me explain it:
The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. The findings will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.
M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes.
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