Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, June 24, 2017 - Drop an F-Bomb. It’s Good for Your Heart.

Go ahead. You know you want to. Just open your mouth and burst a nice long stream of curse words. Say all the ones especially that you were punished for saying as a kid. Those are the best ones of all.
Sure, we can still follow the suggestions of polite society, but we know when and where we can get away with a little occasional potty mouth. Take advantage of it.
Science has been showing for years now that using curse words makes a surprising impact on the body. It may seem like a stretch to believe, but choice words spoken under the right circumstances have the ability to improve stamina, strength, and even has pain-relieving properties. Swearing reduces inflammation in our bodies and lowers the production of stress hormones.
So go for it. Be naughty. Be daring. Let it all hang out. It’s good for you.
Why do you suppose that these reactions occur? No one knows for sure. Perhaps it’s a vestige of evolution, but what were the swear words of early humans?
The benefit probably corresponds with our feelings about the taboo rather than the words themselves. Words only have the value a culture gives them. Feeling naughty is a recognition of having been restrained. It feels good to let go. What is happening in the body when pressure is suddenly relieved? What does it feel like when you’ve been carrying someone on your shoulders and then put them down? What does it feel like when the wall we have been pushing against suddenly falls? That is the sensation which heals. That is the emotional state we are seeking when we swear.
Why do we swear when we stub our toe? Because it’s faster than a bandage. It’s a release of pressure and a rush of positive chemicals to fill the vacuum. Second only to a mother’s kiss. The taboo value of the words creates a heightened physical release. But that value is entirely personal. What is offensive to one, can be a term of endearment to another.
Swearing in excess can be a sign of something darker, of course. A need to compulsively tap into that same power of release, strength and pain-relief. The anger behind a curse can be very revealing if we listen honestly. Amid a vulgar stream there often lies a deeper message. Hear me. Notice me. These are the only words I know which relieve the pain.
Blue language can become a shield, a barrier to relationship. Words matter in every regard. What are the words we are saying and when? When does the scale tip toward our use of words as daggers? Use words carefully. They are powerful.
Like every potentially healing compound known on earth, they can be used for harm as well as good. Swearing can bring health benefits, but also show us where healing has yet to begin. Listen honestly. To both your words and the words of others. They can mean many things. But all are toward the desire to be healed.
To what ideals do you belong? If they are healing, move toward that. Your words will know what to do. If your ideology is loving, it listens and hears the words but also the heart beneath them.
F, yeah, it does.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, June 17, 2017 - Hedonism Has Its Advantages

To what end, pleasure? Is there vibration to joy? If we could see ecstasy how would we employ it? Pretend you had a button that, when pressed, made all the colors around you more vibrant. Dispense with the question of whether it is the environment changing or merely your perception of it. It doesn’t matter.
How do you feel as the colors become deeper at your command? How do those two facts combine? Both the improvement in the landscape entangled with the power to command it. It would be a rush, yes? Would you hold down the button all day? What of your poor button finger?
When does happiness become indulgence? Who defines moderation?
‘An it harme none, so mote it be,’ the old Wiccan Rede says. So long as no harm comes, do as you will. It sounds like permission to do anything you want just don’t hurt anybody or break anything.
But that’s when it gets complicated. Should you be gay if it “hurts” your grandmother? Should you eat an entire box of Ding Dongs? Should you abuse the purpose of drugs because it doesn’t hurt anyone else? Should you pursue your dreams even when they are not shared? How do we recognize when someone else’s happiness is dependent upon our misery?
Pleasure, satisfaction and joy are worthwhile, sacred pursuits. They are the very reason we exist. Our free will gives us the platform to explore every pathway to happiness available. Including the ones that trick us. Yet those are the ones from whom we learn the most. Judas has two stories.
We place a disproportionate amount of judgement upon the pleasure others experience. We question their motivation and their dedication. We question their faith. We deem them selfish and ungodly. Hedonists.
The word hedonism literally means pleasure-ism. The ideology of self-gratification as a life practice. A word created in the early 19th century so that philosophers could debate the ethics of pleasure.
The word has also taken an additional, more pleasant definition. Hedonism is also an ethical system of belief where pleasure is in the interest of the highest good. That’s where the good stuff is. It is the intersection of pleasure and ethics. The old Wiccan Rede again.
Perhaps it is good to indulge. Perhaps we draw the line too far and pinch ourselves off from the flow of life. How much joy do we push away? We have interpreted our scriptures to mean that only God should give us joy.
But there is so much joy in the world. Might there be as many pathways to God as there are licks in an extra large ice cream cone or gasps from an extra long session of lovemaking? We have placed too many restrictions on what is acceptable and beat ourselves to death with guilt.
Indulge, but evaluate. ‘An it harme none...’ also refers to yourself. Do not harm yourself. Love life, but be wise. I tell my kids in the Tribe that if you’re going to do something stupid, be smart about it. We even put it on a t-shirt.
Raise the vibration of this earth with your Joy. Do it on purpose. Think of it like a bell which the entire Universe can hear. Notice other people’s happiness! Masha’Allah! And happiness will be drawn to you. For you will be irresistible to It.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, June 10, 2017 - Masha'Allah and the Law of Attraction

Graffiti art of the Arabic word Masha'Allah, or 'God has willed it.'
Today is the halfway point in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The fasts and feasts continue. The extra mindfulness required of one’s actions during these days is in agreement with these same purposes during Christian Advent and the Jewish Ten Days of Awe.
We are invited, at specific times in the wheel of the year, to remember not only who we are, but whose. We are to make extra acts of charity and kindness. To be mindful of our footprints.
During these introspective periods we are encouraged to ponder our beliefs and observe how they compel us to act in the world. We are to especially remember Gratitude and its proper place in the constellation of our busy lives.
There is a word in the Islamic world—Masha’Allah—which means literally “God has willed it.” I have heard the story of the word taught in two very different ways. Both customarily require that it be said upon hearing or discovering especially good news. “Masha’Allah! That’s wonderful!” But the underlying intention between the two is quite different.
For the record, I am not an Islamic scholar nor am I a Muslim. I am a dharmic Christian who respects and collaborates with other world faiths and traditions. I am curious about where all our views about God overlap with one another. I believe we each have a piece of the sacred puzzle in our possession, like so many fragments of a treasure map. If we wish to view a better glimpse of the Ultimate Reality we will eventually have to put them together.
In my exploration of the word Masha’Allah I have read in many places that it is said in pairing with a compliment so as to ward off any evil which may become attracted to it. “What a beautiful child. Masha’Allah!” In this thinking, we pray against evil when life is good that good may ever safely endure. But is it better to be against or for?
As it was first taught to me, Masha’Allah is a blessing, not a protection. It is a call of gratitude to the angels that a gift was bestowed upon someone. How wonderful! But more, it is given with the understanding that to participate in the gratitude of someone else’s good fortune is to invite blessing also upon oneself. “Masha’Allah, you sew beautifully!”
The Law of Attraction would agree. So would Christianity. What we reap, we sow. And likewise, this thought too can be seen as an invitation for punishment as easily as the encouragement of blessing. Which will you choose? Attraction principle invites us to reach for a better thought.
What would you like to attract when you see someone who has something you want? We have two options: Envy or Admiration. We will always attract more of our present experience. What are you feeling right now? That’s what you’re attracting. When someone wins the lottery what do you feel? Are you able to be genuinely happy for them? Or does their success become all about your lack? When you see a happy couple walking down the street what do you feel?

What if the lonely were to seek as many examples of love in the world as possible? Put pictures upon their walls of happy, friendly people enjoying one another’s company? What if we all were to turn our cheek away from our own dissatisfaction? I guarantee the view would improve dramatically.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - Good News: It’s Easier Than We Think

The world is complicated. A global game of Twister with too many players. Spoiler alert: It’s an illusion. People complicate life for two reasons: to make money or to feel important. Which means it’s only one reason.
For that’s what power really comes down to, a sense of importance, relevance, impact. Money can make people feel important. A solid family can do that, too. Which makes a happier human?
    Since you can’t take it with you, of what importance is money anyway? Ironically, money has no value. It’s just a participant in the process of you getting something you want. In the end, however, money purchases only a state of mind. Be careful what you wish for.
We know what we expect to be the result of possessing abundance in one form or another. We want an optimum state of mind. Happiness. Satisfaction. Contentment. That’s what literally everyone wants. But until they do, how will they know what it really is that will “make” them happy? Until one knows happiness, they can only imagine what it will take to get it.
    It comes down to having options. When someone thinks they only have two options, hunger or steal, which must they choose? Now add ‘college education’ to that list and suddenly ‘steal’ and ‘hunger’ take care of themselves.
We want to be noticed. We want to be relevant. We want to be loved. When our list of options is short we do terrible things to get them. When we have been neglected, silenced, or ignored we do terrible things to be heard. These are the wounded of our times. We must forgive and empower them or they will continue to bring harm.
The world has over-complicated itself trying to be heard over the din. Trying to convince, to manipulate, persuade, confuse, assist, serve, even love. We try too hard to love sometimes and more often enable others when we would be better off empowering them, increasing their list of options.
We struggle to pin the problem on guns and drugs. But it’s people who pull triggers and shoot up. People who believe their list of options is short. Who want to feel important, but feel worthless.
Drugs and guns make people feel important. Taking them away with nothing to replace it will never work. By the same token, taking coal away from miners with nothing to replace it will end in disaster. The coal mining culture is wounded because their sense of importance and relevance has been stripped away like so much earth. We must give them new options.
It’s easier than we think, but only to think about. Enacting it will be a challenge. We are stuck in our ways. But by working smarter not harder we can let the self-important carry on their debates while we do the far clearer work among ourselves. Let them even pat one another on the back. We will know the truth.
All we have to do is everything we can to increase people’s options. Do it in small ways. Little everyday ways. Use your imagination. Be creative. Collaborate. Don’t just give a hand out, give a hand up. Make an earthquake of your presence with nothing more than a mustard seed. Remember what’s really important. And this world will right itself far faster than you could possibly imagine.