My son recently introduced me to a YouTube channel which featured episodes labelled “Instant Karma”. There are a series of video clips showing people who are behaving badly getting their come uppence from the environment around them.
This “payback” element seems to fit with the common conception of karma. However this is not the whole story. On a simple level Karma can be seen as “If you behave badly/well then bad/good things will happen to you.” Such a world view would make a reasonable philosophy for living our lives.
When you correct your mind everything else will fall into place.
A few years ago I went through a difficult period with stress and depression. At this time my partner commissioned this brush painting for me. It shows a bamboo leaf falling, twisting in the air, full of life, while at the same time it is suspended in a single moment. A moment in which anything is possible, a moment that is full of possibility and in which nothing can be taken for granted.
It serves as a reminder that nothing lasts, that everything is transient, and that I need to do my best to stay in the present moment, open to new experiences and doing whatever I can to remain open to whatever opportunities and options come my way. It also reminds me that making predictions can be fraught with danger, after all a dragon might just fly down and eat the leaf.
This is also one of the reasons why I like rainbows, those fleeting, numinous phenomena that only exist in the eye of the beholder. A momentary experience of physics in action, something that is best when it is just experienced and enjoyed, not analysed.
We use the terms trauma, crisis, major stressor and related terms as essentially synonymous expressions to describe circumstances that significantly challenge or invalidate important components of the individual’s assumptive world.
Calhoun and Tedeschi: The Foundations of Post Traumatic Growth
Dissociation is a symptom this commonly seen when a complex trauma pattern of brain functioning is present. It indicates an altered state of awareness. The narrowed field of consciousness that is present is often accompanied by amnesia.
Repression, on the other hand, occurs in a normal state of consciousness. This involves an active process of pushing memories, thoughts and emotions out of conscious awareness.
When our social environment is good enough during the period when we are developing, and growing up, then we are able to rapidly, and fluidly, change between the various emotional states that are needed if we are to respond appropriately to ever-changing environmental triggers.
When this developmental environment has not been good enough, we can become overwhelmed by the constant change in our emotional state and a protective state of dissociation can become a part of our emotional repertoire. Continue reading →
Sometimes a cigar, is just a cigar. Attributed to Sigmund Freud
Psychotherapy is a conversation. Albeit a highly specialised one that does not solely rely on words for meaning to be understood. The idea behind this exchange is to help the client, or patient, achieve a greater awareness of their inner life, and the impact that this has on their interaction with the world. When we understand the connections between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviour, we are in a better position to be able to change. Once we start to develop this kind of awareness, we can alter the way we live, and change our perceptions about our place in the world. Continue reading →
The guy in the bright blue ute who cut me up on my way to work this morning, did not act to make me angry and reality would say that absolutely nothing happened.
I had to brake a bit harder than I wanted and the action disturbed my reverie and highlighted my being absent from what I was supposed to be doing at the time – driving. My mind flashed onto this event bringing to bear all the other times when I have felt discounted, unvalued, taken for granted, ignored or other similar experience. This results in a flash of rage bursting out “How dare he treat me so!” “How dare he put my life in danger.” And I am even further detached from the present moment, in my car, driving, right here right now.
1. A tag or sheath, as of plastic, on the end of a lace, cord, or ribbon to facilitate its passing through eyelet holes. 2. A similar device used for an ornament. [Middle English, from Old French aguillette, diminutive of aguille,needle, from Vulgar Latin *acūcula, from Late Latin acucula, diminutive of Latin acus, needle; see ak- in Indo-European roots.]
Mindfulness and meditation have been around for thousands of years. It is only relatively recently that they have started to appear on the radar as potential treatments for physical and mental health difficulties.
Your mind is not a cage.
It is a garden.
And it needs cultivating.
The incidence of depression is rising rapidly, at least in the western world. It has been described as the common cold of psychiatry and psychology.
Depression is a common disorder, but this does not make it either inevitable, or an acceptable part of modern life. The lifetime incidence of depression continues to show a steady rise, with each succeeding generation having a greater risk. For people born before the First World War, the lifetime risk was about 3%, for Americans currently in their midtwenties, current estimates put their lifetime risk to be approaching 25%. This rapid increase shows little sign of slowing down.
Challenge is the pathway to engagement and progress in our lives. But not all challenges are created equal. Some challenges make us feel alive, engaged, connected, and fulfilled. Others simply overwhelm us. Knowing the difference as you set bigger and bolder challenges for yourself is critical to your sanity, success, and satisfaction.
Staying alive has always been the greatest challenge for any creature. All species have developed systems to detect danger and potential threats. One of the most effective of these, is the appropriately named “fight or flight response”. This prepares us to do exactly that, fight or run for our lives.
We detect threat by analysing the incoming data from our environment, both from the external world, and from our inner world of thought, emotion, and knowledge. Our conscious brain can only manage a tiny percentage of the information that we receive from our senses, the rest is processed at an unconscious level.
Our focus is constantly drawn to the events in the world around us. However, the systems that we use to assess threat are designed for a different world. A world in which we were prey animals and not the top predator on the planet. They are certainly not designed for life in a modern, technological, stimulus rich world, and not for a self-aware creature, whose own thoughts and emotions can be mistaken for a threat. Is that tiny spider really a danger to life?
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