Vajra Blue

Mindfulness and Compassion. Understanding trauma in young people.


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The authenticity gap: Are trans people really ‘real’?

People are just people.
Why do some people seem to have a problem with that?
Let’s make 2015 a year to end hatred and discrimination against those who are causing no one any problems, other than those they generate for themselves through ignorance and fear.
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a gentleman and a scholar

It’s far enough into January that most of us have had time to break the usual New Year’s resolutions, if we bother to make them at all. But for all the cis (non-trans) people reading this, I have a challenge for you – one that would actually make a real difference.

Do you genuinely believe that trans people are as authentic, as real, as you are?

Maybe that seems like an odd question to ask. I’m not the first trans person to say that 2014 felt like a transformative year for trans rights: greater public awareness, more mainstream support, a broader understanding of what it is to be trans, and of why it’s wrong to discriminate against us. Laverne Cox was all the rage, Janet Mock’s debut book achieved critical and commercial success, and here in the UK our most prominent children’s channel broadcast a programme made by trans kids…

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Thinking: the fault lies in our logic – not in our stars

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Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.

Alan Alda

Thinking is a three-step process.
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Depression: When your teenager sings the blues?

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It has been said that one of the reasons that teenagers in the western world struggle, is because there are no clear rites of passage to mark their transition from childhood to adult responsibilities. No cattle jumping ceremonies, no circumcision rituals, no going walkabout.

Instead, there seems to have been the almost random selection of a particular birthday to mark the start of adulthood.  The age at which this happens has changed over the years, from celebrating the twenty-first birthday in my parents’ day when we were given the key to the door, to the eighteenth birthday in my youth – where I was among the first group of 18 year olds able to vote in Britain. At the moment there is talk of reducing this age of transition even further to sixteen.

One of the reasons for this long period of transition is the long period of education and training necessary for young people to learn all the knowledge, and skills, required to function in the modern world. This has become necessary because of the move away from a traditional, predominantly rural, hand-made world – one where there were clear boundaries between child and adult – to the modern industrial and digital age, where adolescence has become a long, drawn out affair, stuck in a twilight zone between the two.

In a world where many of the old certainties have gone, young people are struggling to develop a strong sense of identity and to grow to maturity in a world of rapid change. A world where technologies become obsolete almost as soon as they are introduced.

Most seem to cope well with this period of adolescent development, but a sizeable minority struggle, threatening to drown in this stormy sea of change and uncertainty. It is this group of young people who are at the highest risk of developing a depressive syndrome, with all the problems that this can bring to their future emotional, social, and personal development.

It is this group who would benefit from extra support and help in negotiating the transitional process.

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Only connect.

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At the holiday season many of us choose to visit family and friends.  

For many this is a time of joy, when we reconnect with our families and remember why we are alive.

For others it is a time of dread when long-standing tensions and difficulties with our  relationships are brought to the surface, usually accompanied by alcohol fuelled dys-control.  

Quite often we may say things that we did not mean and end up exacerbating the situation, and worsening our relationships, and making ourselves unhappy with a further burden of ill will to carry into the new year.

This is a great shame.  
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Social Exclusion: bullying, stigma, and being different.

image As members of the human species we are, by our very nature, social animals. We evolved living in groups, our hunter gatherer lifestyle meant that we were seldom, if ever, alone. Because of this we tend to go into a physical and mental decline if we are denied contact with our fellow humans. A strong, supportive social network of family and friends is one of the main protectors against stress.

It should therefore come as no surprise, that research has demonstrated strong emotional responses to both being excluded from the group, or being forced to exclude others from the group. This could be something as simple as being briefly involved in a game with strangers in the park, only for them to suddenly just carry on as if you were not there, to the deliberate ostracism that occurs when bullies get to work in schools, or whole societies make artificial divisions among people. These emotional responses can also come into play where groups are socially excluded or isolated as part of a deliberate policy, or unintentionally, when forces such as institutional racism come into play.

There are very good reasons why solitary confinement has been used as a punishment or form of torture for thousands of years.

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Mountains of mindfulness.

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Do you need to convert to Buddhism?  Do you need to abandon the tradition in which you were raised or the ideals to which you have a deep commitment?  Do you need to cast aside anything that your intellect or understanding of the world tells you is true?

Absolutely not. You can retain your current frame of reference and accept only what you are prepared to accept, a piece at a time, and only what you in fact find helpful.

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. Beyond Mindfulness – in plain English.

When I was a teenager the space race was in full swing.

Neil Armstrong was making a complete hash of his line about one small step, and the world was looking outward into the depths of interstellar space.
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Why yo-yos don’t get depressed.

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It is a widely accepted axiom that what goes up must come down.

Yet the converse does not seem to be true.

A much harder question to answer is; “Why do only some things that go down, come up again?”.

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Don’t pass me by – you might just save my life.

“On the parable of the Good Samaritan: “I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” 
Martin Luther King.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is a teaching from the Christian faith about kindness. More importantly, it is about everyone being a part of the same world, and how, as social creatures, we cannot afford to be indifferent to our fellow human beings. Status, rules, or any other artificial barriers that we place between ourselves and others, are often the excuses that we give to ourselves for not getting involved.

It is their choice, someone else will stop to help, I don’t know what to do, I am going to be late. Similar justifications may come to us as reasons to explain our choice not to become involved.

When the immediate risk of suicide is high, getting involved saves lives.

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