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Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

Eastern Philosophy

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Recently, a co-worker asked me if I had any suggestions for books on Buddhism. As a bibliophile and one who has been interested in Eastern philosophies since college, I was only too happy to oblige and thought I’d briefly share them here.

The first recommendation was “anything by Alan Watts.” Watts was instrumental in bringing Eastern religion and thinking to the West during the late 50s and early 60s and making it accessible to the Western mind. His many books and audios are timeless to this day. In fact, you may have come across some of his lectures and/or excerpts thereof on YouTube. Especially viral is this short clip animated by the creators of South Park in their instantly-recognizable style.

One of my favorite Alan Watts books, which I’ve read multiple times now, is The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.

The second recommendation was “anything by Ram Dass.” Born Richard Alpert, this amazing man’s spiritual path began at Harvard as a friend and professorial colleague of Timothy Leary. After they were dismissed from the college, Alpert traveled to India where he met a Hindu guru and was given the name Ram Dass, “servant of God.” His most well-known book is the 1971 Be Here Now.

In 1997, he had a stroke, which he speaks fondly about in interviews and his memoir Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart published last year (2013). He continues to teach to this day via webcasts and his retreats in Hawaii.

Lastly, it came as a pleasant surprise to find that Ram Dass has also co-authored with Stephen Levine whose book A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last really made an impression on me when I read it over a decade ago.

I hope you get a chance to explore these authors and that their words bring you peace.

Note: If you use one of the links above, I get a small cut of the sale (at no extra cost to you). Even without this incentive, I wholeheartedly recommend these authors. Enjoy!

A Small Tweak For The New Year

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

As you flip the calendar on another year, perhaps you’re embarking on some of the standard New Year’s resolutions, e.g., weight loss, fitness, etc.. Of course, all noble pursuits. Here’s another you might consider that will take no more effort than being mindful of your posture. Not the straight-backed kind, though that’s a good idea too, but rather your body language in general and power positions in particular.

It turns out just two minutes holding such a pose can increase your testosterone and lower your cortisol levels, making you feel more confident and less stressed, more comfortable. In this TED talk, Amy Cuddy, a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, shares these findings and recommends sneaking in those two minutes prior to evaluative situations like an interview, a review at work, public speaking, etc..

I hope you enjoy the talk, as I did, and that you have a very Happy New Year! :)

Tiny Houses

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of tiny houses, pouring over pictures and stories of others who’ve downsized and simplified their lives in such dramatic and intentional ways. I find the concept both aesthetically and philosophically pleasing. :)

There’s generally a back-to-nature feel to these houses with the focus on lots of windows for natural light, the loft beds, and the cozy porches. Add solar power, etc. to get “off the grid”, and you’re clearly living more lightly on the planet.

Here’s a short PBS segment on the tiny house movement…

And a moving TEDx talk from Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings who was featured in the above story:

She’s inspired many people with her journey and perspective on life, including this couple who have found freedom by being debt-free and mobile due to their tiny home…

Definitely an attractive lifestyle, wouldn’t you agree? My dream would be to have a few friends join me in setting up a circle of solar-powered tiny houses surrounding a common area on a nice chunk of land with a big vegetable garden and time to live life unencumbered.

Back In The Box

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Not much commentary needed in presenting this video. I came upon it while watching one of the many Occupy {fill in the blank} livestreams and sought it out. ‘Tis a powerful reminder of the Buddhist concept of impermanence, or anicca, and what is truly important in our sojourn (brief stay) upon this planet.

The speaker is best-selling Christian author and pastor, John Ortberg, whose works include, of course, When The Game Is Over, It All Goes Back In The Box and The Me I Want To Be, which also comes in a Teen Edition.


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