Mind

Words of Wisdom (Part 3): Jung

mandala-MONOGRAFIAS

Words of Wisdom rolls on with Swiss-born psychiatrist Carl Gustov Jung.

This turn of the century psychiatrist contributed immensely to what we know today of human psychology. A contemporary of Sigmund Freud, CG Jung helped develop and built upon the concepts of the unconscious and personality to form the field of analytical psychology. Many of his breakthroughs in understanding the psyche circulated deeply profound theories such as the collective unconscious, archetypes, personas, complexes, extroversion vs. introversion, and dream interpretation.
CG Jung’s roots grow far beyond just clinical psychology. Using sources from both Eastern and Western philosophies, mythology, alchemy, astrology, and sociology, Jung branched into deeper connections of the mental, the spiritual, and the emotional being.  Jung was not only a great theorist but also a prolific writer. In his explorations he knew the importance of words and the interpretations that can be drawn from them.  The lexicon of Jung contains some truly inspiring words of wisdom.

SJC Wellness Top Five Quotes by C. G. Jung:

#5: “Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling.”
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#4: “We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.”
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#3: “Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.”
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#2: “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
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#1: “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”

mandala by: CG Jung himself, from The Red Book.

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Words of Wisdom (Part 2): Einstein

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When someone says the word “genius,” who is the first person you think of?
We continue onward with the Words of Wisdom series to the man who brought us some of the most profound understandings of the universe yet uncovered: Albert Einstein. Without this mastermind the world of scientific inquiry, its applications, and our general understanding on how reality works would be vastly different. His concepts of the photoelectric effect, special relativity, matter-energy equivalence (E=mc^2 for all y’all nerdy folk), general relativity, and more has built the foundation of modern physics and our framework of perceiving the universe.

Of course Einstein stood on the shoulders of giants to develop his theories (Maxwell, Planck, Newton, etc.), but in doing so he himself became a giant. Perhaps it was his wacked hair style or dynamic facial expressions that rendered him such an icon in pop-culture, but it is irrefutable this man had a mighty mind. Einstein was not always correct and it is true some of his theories were tossed (ex: concept of a cosmological constant). However the essence of what makes Albert Einstein so great is that he did make mistakes, he was human, and thus attainable. His humility and ability to relate with words matched his intellect, and so we call him wise.

SJC Wellness Top Five Quotes by Albert Einstein:

#5: “Out of Clutter, find simplicity. From Discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.”

#4: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

#3: “Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”

#2: “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”

#1: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

Food for thought: If our consciousness is a part of the universe,  how do we draw conclusions on what the universe is without understanding our consciousness?

photo cred: Randy Halverson

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Thanks—Giving

Prayer handsHistory of Thanksgiving

The history of Thanksgiving finds itself in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast. This is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. The two centuries that followed this experience marked the days of Thanksgiving with celebrations by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until the Civil War in 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November from here on out.

Psychology of Thanksgiving
(Being Grateful)

Psychological research has found that our happiness ‘set-point’ is remarkably difficult to move over the long-term. Recent research has begun to explore one simple method for increasing this happiness ‘set-point’ that does have a measurable and sustained effect. This method is practicing being grateful. A large aspect of being grateful is understanding the impermanence of everything and the powerful effect of being present. These two concepts work together to uncover the complacency we often find ourselves in.

Practical Application

How does one actually practice gratitude in a way that is not mechanical but rather in way that invokes deep feeling? This is the difference between doing something out of routine rather than being in the moment. Less is more when we do things from a place of deep feeling. Here are 5 exercises for the mind:

  • Write down 5 things you are grateful for
  • Choose someone you know, then consider what you have received from them and what you have given to them
  • Reflect on yourself and how much you give and how much you allow yourself to receive in your daily life
  • Remember a negative event or circumstance in your life and explore what it could teach you, acknowledge it and see if you can be grateful for that hard lesson
  • Do an action based on what is necessary even if you don’t want to do it, then see if you can be grateful for choosing to do the right thing needed at the moment

As you practice, notice any shifts inside you and use this filter of gratitude as a mindful experiment. Use this day (and days to come) to share your gratitude with other people and acknowledge for yourself how much you have to be thankful for even if at first glance this may not seem to be the case.

Happy Thanks—Giving…

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National Depression Screening Day

1790592784_5a460fd1ff_mThe week of October 5-11th brings to light Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW).  In 1990, U.S Congress declared the first week of October MIAW to highlight mental illnesses and how it impacts people who are affected by it.  Millions of people each year are affected by mental illness in some way, whether it is through someone we know and/ or if we personally suffer from it.  The goal of MIAW is to reduce the stigma associated with mental illnesses and increase awareness, support, and resources so that adequate guidance and assistance can be provided.  More information regarding MIAW, in addition to available resources and tools, can be found here.

Thursday, October 9 is also National Depression Day.  If you are interested in take a free, online assessment, please click here.  It is an anonymous screening, and will provide you with information regarding depression and where to get help if needed.  Everyone experiences stress and challenges in their lives; thus, it is important to seek and ask for help when things get overwhelming.  

If you are in need of immediate assistance and need to talk to someone, LifeNet is a free, mental health crisis information and referral hotline that offers support to all New Yorkers. LifeNet referral specialists are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  For emergencies, always dial 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.   You can call for yourself or for a friend 1-800-LIFENET.

 

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Slow Down

   Yah hey, keep it moving. From sunrise to sunset we are quite the busy creatures. Very busy. And as we turn closer to December, the days will begin well before sunrise and finish long after sunset. Our days are full of productivity, incessant action, quick transactions, and movement, movement, movement. Yet it seems after some grueling days of hard work, when it is time to rest and recover, we cannot find satisfaction or relaxation. Sometimes all that busyness does not manifest as accomplishment. So where are we fudging up?

The concept of slow tends to have negative vibes (especially in life on Long Island). On the roads, in line at Starbucks, finishing an exam, responding to a question… it seems instantaneous is just not fast enough. With increased technology and greater demands for achievement, we push the limits of our physical space, energy and time. The 7 seconds it takes for a slow webpage to load feels like an eternity. Someone making a right-hand turn at 12mph instead of (face-warping from the G-force) 35mph might as well never drive again. Yet at our fast pace and constant productivity, we have not yet solved the great mysteries of the universe, established world peace, fix a tumultuous economy, and prevented the outbreak of killer viruses. More is required with stricter deadlines. It is exhausting.  There has been a collective agreement from the top universities in the world as followed: even though there are a great many individuals with high test scores and a behemoth-sized resumes, there is a deep lack of creative spark. Divergent thinking, fresh perspectives, and new concepts are few and far between amongst these individuals. They have moved too fast with too much. There is not enough room to have developed a keen expression of their creativity.

And so we must rediscover the ability to slow down. As y’all bust the spines of backed-binders and text books, or pick up that extra weekend shift, or decide to buy a 20,000 calorie cup of coffee to get through the afternoon,… consider allowing yourself the time and space to slowww dowwwn and take a few breaths. Perhaps take a 10 minute break every half-hour of studying; do not check the phone or watch television, but simply to sit, make yourself a cup of tea, and be free-minded. As you slow down and do less of the busyness, you may just find what you do is worth a whole lot more.

I think these two were trying to say something like that anyway:

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World Autism Awareness Day

AS-New-Blue_beveled-logoAround the w0rld, people are lighting it up blue to raise awareness regarding Autism.  According to the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), Autism can be classified as a complex disorder of the brain development where social interaction, verbal and non- verbal communication, as well as behaviors can be affected to varying degrees.  Intellectual abilities, motor coordination and physical abilities can also be affected.  To learn more about the characteristics of Autism and Autism Spectrum Diagnosis, please click here.

World Autism Day was started in December 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly to encourage countries and states to raise awareness regarding autism and encourage early diagnosis and intervention.  The goal is to bring to light the high rates of autism around the world and the developmental challenges that come with this diagnosis.  All around the world countries are lighting up buildings in blue, people are wearing blue, pinning blue ribbons to bring autism organizations together to celebrate individuals with autism.  To read more about World Autism Day, please click here.

 

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Moving from Mindless to Mindful Learning

 The focus on what students “know,” based on class grades and standardized test scores, versus how they  “acquire or apply” knowledge has left many students feeling bored, disconnected, and disenchanted from their educational journey by the time they get to college. What if someone told you that the mindless way you were taught to approach learning is actually limiting your college experience? Believe it or not, by simply changing your perspective and embracing a more mindful view of your academic life, you can create a better college experience! 

 Mindful learning works in this way: when we are aware that we are engaging in a process (e.g., I’m learning about macroeconomics), we are much more clear about our intentions (I am engaged in the learning process), which allows us the freedom of exploration (I’m curious about macroeconomics), and limits strict and rigid outcomes prescriptions (I want to learn versus I need to make an “A”), thus leading to increased learning. Here are the three simple principles to start learning in a mindful way:

1.      Flexibility is an academic strength

You’ve probably learned that the way to learn something new is by holding the concept constant and learning everything there is to know about it (or as much as it takes to pass the test). Though you may have experienced success using this method, do you feel you have actually learned the concept? The mindful way of learning encourages us to allow ourselves to take in information using our senses in a very basic way.  By exploring new information, we allow our curiosity to guide the process. You can look at different perspectives, create your own categories, or test your own ideas or theories. Instead of memorization, you actively engage the material by asking yourself questions and making concepts relevant to familiar situations. The goal here is to approach learning from an open and flexible perspective.

 2.        Context is key

We need to learn basic facts in school, but what is missing in the mindless way of learning are the situations relevant to the facts, or the context. Imagine how much more interesting learning would be if you engaged with facts as though you were reading a gossip blog, asking yourself questions like: “What kind of mother raises a dictator who hates himself?” or “What kind of work did Shakespeare do that allowed him to write almost 200 plays and sonnets?” By exploring the context of facts, you can explore information and take in more meaning with less effort. Further, when we consider the context, we increase our ability to correctly apply what we’ve learned. After all, the reason you’re in school is not necessarily just to pass classes, but to also learn how to create options and opportunities using what you’ve learned.

 3.      This is the time to discover the usefulness of failure

Most successful people will tell you it was the experiences of not achieving their desired outcomes (or experiencing failure) that taught them the most, as it allowed them the opportunity to try another perspective. From a mindful perspective, there is no such thing as failure, just opportunities for exploration. The way in which you interpret the outcomes of your efforts influences your perceptions, which ultimately affects your motivation and experiences.

 If your goal is to earn an “A” on every exam, what happens when you don’t? Students can feel that their performance is an internal individual failure. This negative valuation can have an adverse effect on motivation. Consider what would happen if you focused on the process rather than the outcome. By approaching your own learning process with openness and curiosity, you give yourself the opportunity to observe the outcomes, which may lead to deeper learning, insight, and more appreciation for your own efforts.

By following these three simple principles, you can begin to learn in a mindful way that will allow you to get more out of your college experience.

 If you would like to learn more about mindful learning here are some helpful links:

http://www.mindful.org/the-mindful-society/education/mindfulness-and-learning-what%E2%80%99s-the-connection

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz94BmOIroA&noredirect=1

http://www.modmind.org/

Contributed by: Dr. Anissa Moody

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Instill Positivity in Your Life

Our thoughts run through our minds daily, hourly, each second.  If you take a moment to pay attention to these thoughts, to the words that are internally spoken, would you say they are positive? negative? neutral?  We are often so consumed with our thoughts, thinking of the future, the past, the what ifs, that we often do not realize that the majority of these thoughts are negative.

So how can we bring more positivity to our lives? Our thoughts? Our interactions?  Jon Gordon, author of The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work and Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else, came up with an 11 step program to help bring more positivity to your daily life.  In addition, Mr. Jordan also provides information on how to stop the negative thoughts before they consume us.  You can find his tips and daily exercises here.

Let today be the first day of embracing positivity!

Thanks to Catherine Vitucci for providing us with this article.

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Who’s in your front row?

Who’s in your front row?
By Deborah Pratt

“Life is a theater… invite your audience carefully.

Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives.

There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a DISTANCE.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of or at least minimize your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not going anywhere relationships or friendships.

Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention.

Which ones lift and which ones lean?

Which ones encourage and which ones discourage?

Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill?

When you leave certain people do you feel better or feel worse?

Which ones ALWAYS have drama or don’t really understand, know or appreciate you?

The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you, the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and Who should be moved to the balcony of your life.

Remember that the people we hang with will have an impact on both our lives and our income.

So we must be careful to choose the people we hang out with,

As well as the information with which we feed our minds.

We should not share our dreams with negative people, nor feed them with negative thoughts.

So, who’s in YOUR front row???”

Now take a few moments to think about your front row, and the impact your audience is having on your life right now. 

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Thoughts on Valentine’s Day…

Befriending Oneself

Flowers
What does it really mean to“befriend” oneself?  On first brush it sounds easy, even a bit cliché.  But when attending more closely to the notion of befriending oneself, most of us find it is far more difficult than we had initially thought. 

Taking a quick personal survey, we might ask:
  • What does it mean to be a friend to oneself?
  • Do I support and stand up for myself under challenging circumstances? 
  • Am I  aware of my preferences, my needs and wishes? And, can I speak up for them?
  • What do I really want?  Am I living authentically?
  • How do I usually “hold” myself, e.g. what tone of voice do I use with myself?  What language?
  • Am I frequently down on myself, self-blaming and/or self-critical?
  • Do I expect myself to be perfect?
  • Do I notice some underlying sense of self-hatred?
  • Can I really accept myself just as I am?


If you discover that you are self-critical, use a harsh tone of voice with yourself, and/or answer “no” to the last survey question, you are not alone.  There is significant research and clinical evidence –gathered from the realms of psychology, spirituality and even neuroscience – that confirm the perplexing observation that very few people in our society know how to truly “befriend” themselves.  Most of us, it seems, are more able to extend empathy, compassion and understanding to others than we are to ourselves.

One of the beneficial aspects of mindfulness practice is the cultivation of a non-judgmental, even friendly attitude toward all experience, inner and outer. In developing the practice, we consciously water seeds of acceptance and friendliness as we learn to open to present-moment experience just as it is.  Without this attitude, we might be developing a capacity for attention and concentration, but we would not be practicing mindfulness.

So in this month of February, as our culture celebrates relationships in its own particular way with Valentine’s Day, perhaps we can keep a curious and friendly eye out for how we are relating to ourselves.  Perhaps we can take up the challenge of“standing by” ourselves, as we would a good friend, of befriending ourselves.  We can begin by gently noting how we do … and how we don’t.  It helps to bring an extra degree of curiosity, friendliness and kindness to the noting, taking care to gently notice and to not berate ourselves for any of our observations.

Written By: MBSR Long Island, Dr. Cheryl Kurash & Nina Thorne
Photo Credit: Sara London Hinman

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