Zen Work

pexels-photo-374897When mediating at your desk in an open office concept causes the stress the mediation is attempting to alleviate, then I suggest the eight manila folder path of work Buddhism.

  1. Right vision of the nature of reality. Unless you have managed to follow your bliss, work will continue to be ‘work’. Life was not meant to be painless. Accepting this gives you control.

 

  1. Right attitude. Using your emotional intelligence to understand that some co-workers may be jerks and may continue to be that way. Learn the work arounds.

 

  1. Right speech. Speak truth to power. Understand there are other perspectives and respect them. Just don’t turn your back to them.

 

  1. Right Action. Be ethical in all your dealings. Don’t be the jerk noted in 2 above.

 

  1. Right livelihood. This follows the principal of non-exploitation. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Refer to item 4 for further elaboration.

 

  1. Right effort. A path of wholeness. A Conscious evolution. Even if you don’t understand how your work matters, it matters to someone. Even if it’s eventually just yourself. Be the best of what you do.

 

  1. Right mindfulness. Train yourself to fully aware of things, oneself, feelings and reality. Become fully aware of all the great things you are doing. It all matters. Be mindful of the jerks in 2, but don’t lease any more space in your mind to them.

 

  1. Right focus. Literally to be on a single object. If you think you are good at multitasking, go back to 1 and just accept you aren’t.

 

Being clear minded on all things allows the stressors to drop off and the Zen emerges.

That’s torn it!

pexels-photo-14303That’s torn it would be the polite english verision of FUBAR (F**ked up beyond all repair).

These sayings mainly apply to things outside of ourselves. Fortunately, we have physical, mental and spirtual healing powers.

We are never completely Torn.

 

 

 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/torn/”>Torn</a&gt;

A Miraculous Miracle

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The origin of life continues to amaze me. Even if we have created the simplest building blocks of life in a test tube, these only constitute basic amino acids. Making the leap to proteins and simple cell creatures from these basic particles would be similar to continually blowing up a pile of bricks and trying to make a house. Yes, perhaps an infinite amount of time might get you there, but even infinity would not be long enough based on probability.

Divine intervention? Not sure about that.

Finding even the crudest form of life on another planet would prove that given enough time, life happens.

 

Miraculous

Is your true life calling?

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There is nothing outside of yourself that calls to you. (except your mother, and you should call her back).

Otherwise, if you believe you are a blank slate to begin with, then everything you sense builds upon each new sensory experience.

At some point in time, you will project beyond yourself and perceive this as a calling. It might be life, a profession or a moral epiphany . But all of this comes from within.

This means that you have to do a bit of work to discover this calling. It might come to you as any wild animal might, but otherwise any experience worth having requires effort.

If you answer this call to yourself, then you are also following your bliss. Therein lies the happiness you are seeking.

Calling

Create a Personal Vision

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A personal vision statement asks the most important question about you. A vision statement for a corporation establishes how the company views itself. A personal vision statement asks a similar question about how you see yourself. For thousands of years, men and women have been asking themselves what is the meaning of life. However, for a vision statement, you should ask yourself what it means to be truly alive.

 

How do you feel about your own life? If you read your own obituary, how would you feel or think about those really great spreadsheets or those pithy business plans? If you did a word search, it’s unlikely that these items would come up. Ever. Would you simply carry on and read about the more interesting person in the column beside you? If the answer is yes, then perhaps you should reassess your priorities.

 

So how does one create a personal vision statement? This does not necessarily have to relate to yourself, but could also relate to the environment around you. Martin Luther King did not have a vision for himself, he had a dream on how the world should be, and he worked towards that. However, most people would find it easier to deal with one’s self as opposed to an entire society.

 

A personal vision statement should capture in a single sentence what you would want other people to think and say to others about you. Needless to say, everyone should want to become all that they possibly could be. The Army has a great brand. Army Strong!

 

You may be thinking about becoming a truly actualized individual, where all of your internal resources are fully put to the test. Jung conceptualized this as being individualized.

 

Striving to be the best possible person in all aspects seems like an overly daunting task. But you do not have to force yourself to be the best possible person you can be by tomorrow. Take some time. Perhaps even the rest of your life, since the struggle is the most important thing. Or use the term “pursuit” if prefer.

 

You could strive to be the Renaissance man or Woman. Consider what the world would be like if we all strived to be like Leonardo. No one will ever be like Leonardo since that persona has already been done, and he was the best Leonardo that will ever happen since there could only be one. Instead, be the best person you can be considering what you already have to work with and what else you could develop with the time allotted to you. Ask yourself, would Leonardo really be spending his time watching this rerun of a game show, or would he be doing something more constructive with his time, like creating the next level of mathematics.

 

If we look at the life of Leonardo we see that he was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, inventor, and scientist. He likely epitomized the renaissance person. He easily bridged the two main planes of thought including science and art. Little has been written about any of his physical exploits. And nothing about his reality drama watching habits.

A drifting moral compass

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As you approach the magnetic north pole, your compass becomes less accurate. By the time you are on top of the pole, the compass tends to drift. The compass loses its direction.

The same thing can happen to your moral compass. The closer you become to an issue, the more your moral compass can drift. Perhaps you are a politician or business person where the common practice simply is to claim every expense whether related to your activities or not. This seems fine since everyone else you know does the same thing. No one raises a stink.

Until finally a whistle-blower comes along and brings this to the public’s attention. Now, once you back away, get a bit more distance, the accuracy of the moral compass increases.

You may not notice an ethical issue until you pull back and start to include other perspectives and viewpoints. You start asking the typical man or woman on the street about your ‘common practice’. These people confidently state that claiming expenses you are not entitled is wrong. All of a sudden the lack of an accurate moral compass becomes more apparent.

So ask yourself, if your actions hit the front page of the newspaper, how would the public react? If you think they would respond negatively, then rethink your actions.

Compass

The Bliss things in life are free!

pexels-photo-339620Joseph Campbell opened my eyes in that following my bliss puts me on a life track that has been laid out and waiting for me. The type of life I ought to be living becomes the one I am living. Living a blissful life becomes the journey.

A blissful person lives a magnified emotional state of fulfillment and happiness. I believe this comes from the all of the smaller collected moments of life as they continue to happen.

Helping your neighbour shovel his driveway.

Donating to charity so that a village can dig a well.

Giving that time and attention to an elder that is lonely.

Listening, really listening to someone in pain.

Delivering those food and clothing hampers to those in need.

If we help others, then we move towards becoming the people we always hoped we would be.

Bliss

The Joyous Flow of trying to sidekick someone

pexels-photo-356147Flow describes the state of being blissfully immersed in a task to the exclusion of everything else, including one’s self. Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist introduced this concept back in the 70s.

I have felt this type of bliss just a few times. Decades ago, I competed in my very first karate tournament. I had just gotten my green belt, and I appeared to be the only one at that level. All the others had blue and heaven forbid, brown belts. They were like demi-gods back then. The black belts had their own special time and location.

My nervousness approaches extreme levels. We engaged in some preliminary sparing at our own club, but I had never been in a real tournament when people were planning to give their all.  The rules were fairly simple. The first to two points wins. Don’t hit anyone hard.

I found my assigned ring and they called all the names. I answered to mine with the standard OSS! Which can be used for yes, no or present. The word OSS symbolizes the attitude of suppressing your emotions and to preserve through all of the training. Similar to the army slogan. Karate Strong!

We do the traditional bows to each other and to the judges and line up outside of the ring. The ring comprises of tape on the floor of the gym that the competition is being held. Makes getting in and out way easier.

We all wear the white sparing gloves. They do protect the knuckles somewhat, but since you are not supposed to actually hit anyone, they don’t serve any other purpose. They work most of the time. The one time they didn’t resulted in one of my knuckles residing in my palm ever since then.

I don’t recall anything from my first four fights except that I managed to win them somehow. The fifth and final fights sticks in my mind. My opponent was a brown belt, and tall and athletic looking. I tried not to get somewhat too off-balance from the fact that he had more skills, musculature, and experience. Meanwhile, I felt exhausted, pained and severely bruised. I had banged my toes against harder objects like knees and elbows all afternoon.

We both bow to enter the ring, and come up to our own line. We then bow to the referee, and to the judge and then to each other. The referee says Hajime, I feel an additional spike of adrenalin as the fight starts.

Csikszentmihalyi suggests that there are five basic aspects of flow.

Firstly, intense and focused concentration on what one is doing in the present moment. In the middle of a competition, the last thing on your mind is that project due tomorrow. You are totally focused on what you opponent is doing, and you let your own body take care of itself. You can’t think and hit at the same time. Although Yogi Berra was not thinking about throwing punches when he said that.

Secondly, there should be a merging of action and awareness. My opponent steps in with a kick and I quickly block and respond with a reverse punch. Just a half point for me since the referee perceives that the technique may have been less than perfect or that it may have partially blocked.

Thirdly, there is a loss of reflective self-consciousness. You are no longer engaged in a competition, you essentially become the competition. Constant repetition allows you to react without thinking. I sense an opening and respond with a quick roundhouse kick. Another half point for myself.

Fourthly, a sense that one can control one’s actions. I normally have the traditional anxiety interacting with people, but the moment I enter the ring this all falls away. The rules are certain and the objective is laid out. This is totally different from social situations where you don’t know the rules and you don’t know what the objective might be. My opponent wins the next half point.

Fifthly, there is a sense that time has passed faster than normal. Time becomes thicker and denser. The bouts are generally two minutes. My opponent wins the next half point again. We are now tied where one more well executed technique would win the match and the division.  I glance over at the clock. Thirty seconds remain.

Lastly, the experience of the activity becomes intrinsically rewarding such that the overall goal just becomes an excuse for being there in the first. So if winning falls away, and the focus becomes exercising the best technique you can, then you have entered the flow. The match starts once again. With my left side forward, I start to compress myself smaller. Like a spring. Every m  scle become galvanized. I imagine the tiger behind me as I try to jump a chasm. I bring my right knee up and launch myself directly at my opponent with a right straight punch. This catches him completely off guard and he rotates around to try to evade me. This becomes a mistake as now I can punch his unprotected side.

The referee throws himself between the two of us and calls the fight. I am awarded an ippon, a full point and the match.

I don’t recall the awards ceremony, or the little trophy they give you afterwards or even being happy about winning. The goal completely disappeared. But that one technique became burnished in my mind like another tattoo. I am sure that the surge of neurochemicals such as endorphins, dopamine and serotine were responsible for my feeling good about it and for a short time after.

The recollection does come in handy on occasion when I am doing some bench presses and I want to squeeze out one more rep. Putting your all into something becomes easier with a visualization and an extra little shot of adrenalin.

Part of the flow includes a balance of skill level and challenge level. You can be easily overwhelmed by a foot sweep and the balance would be gone. The challenge can’t be so far above you that you are too anxious about even being able to succeed.

My own challenge appeared to be above me, but not so far above that it seemed impossible. Once again, the struggle becomes more important than the destination.

Even the smallest animal needs care.

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So, what’s the next best thing if you have a bit of social anxiety dealing with people?

Our connection with animals of course. And I don’t mean the eating kind, although that factors in later.

It was a dark and stormy night. Or rather, the night darkness concealed the source of the intense storms. That seems much better. My wife and I waited for the storm to pass that evening before setting off to walk the dogs. The reflection of the street lights glistened off the wet streets.

All down the street, I could see small ridges. Upon closer examination, I could see that there were literally hundreds of night crawlers stretched out perpendicular to the road. The road friction made them stretch out to a tortured length of about a foot and a half. Normally plump, this condition thinned them out considerable. Night crawlers are earth worms on steroids.

Feeling some form of compassion for this Lumbricus terrestris, I started to scoop them up and toss them back on to the grass. Some worms can survive being cut in half. Being half squashed flat by a truck did not seem very survivable to me.

Now, under normal conditions worms produce a fair bit of mucus. Adding torrential rains to that seems to add to mucus production as the worm exodus continued. I started to regret my misplaced compassion and tried to distance myself from my emotions. My wife just simply distanced herself.

I assumed the common knowledge that worms attempt to escape drowning in their burrows. However, they breathe through their skin which needs moisture. So there may be a number of reasons why they engage in such risky behavior.

One good reason would be migration. Lots of rain would allow them to move great distances. However, half of them moved from the south to the north, while the other half moved from north to south. But, hey, they’re worms. The grass always seem more organic filled on the other side of the street it is said.

An interesting phenomena occurs when you experience a situation and learn something new about it later. I learned that another good reason worms travel is that they want sex. My recollection of the event includes an added ‘ewww’ quality to it.

What better time to find a mate than when everyone else is stretched out in the same area. We have a beach here that seems to serve the same purpose for humans.

Although worms are hermaphrodite, male and females together, they cannot reproduce solely by themselves. They need a mate. I must have cast aside, and severely disappointed, several dozen night crawlers. Destined now to remain virgins they’re probably bitter. Unless that was going to be their choice anyway, and so that is perfectly ok.

This sex migration behavior can bring down planes. After a rain, worms like to stretch out wherever they can, including airport runways. Worms do not get sucked into turbines, but the birds coming to eat the worms can be. Particularly the flocking birds like gulls which tend to ignore whatever happens around them when they fight over food. So airport authorities tend to use fungicides to reduce worm populations. [1]

Night crawlers contribute to the US current account deficit! Some politician should complain about this. If nothing more than the neat optics it provides. “Congress needs night crawler NAFTA negotiations!” Apparently $20 million of night crawlers are exported to the US each year with little or no USA content. A few years ago, the price leapt from $35 per thousand worms, to $80 per thousand. Economics 101. Supply was tight, and owing to inelasticity of demand, prices skyrocketed. Worm futures may not have the panache of Tesla stock, but you would have made a fortune otherwise.

 

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[1] Environmental note. You are likely better off not using chemicals and fertilizers on your lawn which can be worm unfriendly. The worms, if left to their own devices, can aerate and fertilize the lawn for you.

Does Happiness come from others?

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I read that happiness can come from other people. Your significant other and friends should make you happy.  Certainly marriage makes everyone happy. Either in its creation or its destruction. Those that ride the razors edge and are unhappy with it, but can’t move to destroy it are caught on this nasty razors edge. I would suggest making a choice. Choosing the status quo is not a real choice.

Studies[1] indicate that our happiness depends upon other people. Good social relationships consistently predict a happy life and form a necessary condition for happiness.

But can you be happy by interacting with those you have not meet before?

Strangely enough, helping other people brings me a type of joy. Whenever I leave Costco I scan the parking lot to see if anyone is in need of my particular superpower of being overly insufferable.

One time I hit pay dirt when a mother with two young children was trying to load up her SUV when it was raining. Not so much a problem, but the lift on the rear lid was broken so the door was resting on her head. This gave my father-in-law and me an opportunity to hold the door and load the groceries. A two for one!

We could look towards history for examples to emulate. Perhaps we should say that we could look backwards at history for examples. Things always look better in the mirror. Caution, items may appear more romanticized than what they actually were.

We would look for a time when socialization reached its zenith. So before smart phones. We should also look for a time when fewer predators chased us and pillaging was minimized. I will have to go with Aug 15-18 1969. It was a tough slog up to then, and it has been downhill ever since then. Yes, the Woodstock festival was the happiest time in the US. Good thing we have photos on our smartphones to reflect. For everyone else that missed this weekend era, I would suggest going camping with the family with no power supplies and outside of cellphone coverage.

Experts suggest examining our relationship with other people to look for happiness.