Archive for April, 2012

There’s been quite a drive to reduce human beings to purposeless, temporary clusters of molecules. I don’t buy into it. For me, to understand what it is to be human involves taking on board consciousness, an inescapable subjective experience of a self, the interconnectedness of a person with others and with the rest of the universe in which we exist, and, not least, through the development of symbol manipulation and language development, a constant bent towards storytelling and seeking meaning in every day existence. (Cripes! That was quite a sentence, and, believe me, I had to stop myself there…..I could see that sentence spilling over into an entire page…)

The NY Times recently published a piece, “In Defense of Superstition“, about Matthew Hutson’s “The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking”. This is one of those things which makes you wonder about the nature of reality. I don’t think reality can be reduced to its physical, material elements. There’s a lot about reality which emerges from the fact we live as conscious beings in an inextricably interconnected universe. From this perspective, what are we to make of magic, and magical thinking?

The article cites research showing that golfers told the golf ball they are to play with is a lucky ball are 35% more likely to sink the putt, and that people can improve their memory performance when in possession of a lucky charm. This doesn’t surprise me. What you believe, and what you experience emotionally and subconsciously significantly influences your behaviour and your performance.

Do you remember a movie entitle, “The Cooler“? I think it was William H Macy as an unlucky charm, employed by a casino boss to stand next to people on a winning streak, so they’d start to lose. When he falls in love, his ability to transmit bad luck disappears….fascinating movie.

We co-create our reality with the world we live in, and most of that creation doesn’t come from the “thinking” part of our brain!

The article sums up

But without it, the existential angst of realizing we’re just impermanent clusters of molecules with no ultimate purpose would overwhelm us. So to believe in magic — as, on some deep level, we all do — does not make you stupid, ignorant or crazy. It makes you human

I agree with the last two sentences, but I don’t agree with the assumption that we are “just impermanent clusters of molecules with no ultimate purpose”. Do you?

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The French do seem to have a different way of viewing Life from the British. That’s one of the reasons I really enjoy reading French publications, and one of my regulars is a magazine called “Cles“. In the most recent issue they have a thought provoking and different article about dieting. In “Cles” there is a regular section dedicated to articles which promote a “Slow movement” approach to Life, and in this month’s issue they take on dieting. (“Slow minceur, le corps tranquille”).

Essentially, the article advocates this approach to diet.

1. Don’t go on a diet.

2. Instead, slow down and really enjoy your food. For the French enjoying your food is about more than just the taste, the colour and smell of the food. It’s about the whole experience of enjoying a meal….the environment, the aesthetics, the company you share. The article doesn’t use the word “mindful” but such a concept would be consistent with this message – eat mindfully – slowly, really savouring and appreciating what you are eating, and the experience of the meal.

3. Stop when you’ve had enough. Sound straightforward? Maybe not so easy because we tend to have bad habits related to eating way too large portions, either because we were taught to clear our plates, or because we think more food for less money is a bargain. However, if you are eating mindfully, you’ll become aware when your body has had enough. And at that point, you can stop!

4. Learn to handle your emotions without reverting to food. In fact, the article quotes a David O’Hare whose book is entitled “Maigrir par la cohérence cardiaque” (which sounds like Heartmath to me, but see here).

5. Finally, they recommend not cutting out anything, but instead steadily eating a little less, moving a little more, and accepting that it will take a long time to lose a significant amount of weight ie take away any performance or fear of failure anxiety induced by setting short term targets.

What do you think? Maybe this way isn’t for you, but it’s sure different, and as we are all different, it’s good to have a range of possible strategies available, isn’t it?

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Every year I look forward to the blossoming of this Magnolia in the garden outside my consulting room. It won’t flower for long but that makes it even more special. I enjoyed it today. What are you going to enjoy today?

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When I looked across the forest from the path, the colours, the shapes of the trees, and the diversity of it all, caught my attention. Pointing my iPhone (only working camera I had with me!) at what I could see, I captured the scene. Mmmm…lovely colours.
Then when I got home, I viewed the photos on my Mac and what did I see first?
That bird of prey, soaring high above the forest.
Did I see it when I was actually there?
No, I didn’t.
But it’s the first thing I see now.
Reminds me to take my time, to see the wood (and the birds flying above it), for the trees.
It also reminds me that what we see is strongly determined by the context in which we do the seeing. We never see all there is to see at any particular time.

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