The War On Worry

waron worry

We like to go to war on things we think are wrong or bad; the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war against crime. We need to have a war on worry because worry is wrong and bad;. It is one of the most common debilitating thought processes in which we engage, often daily. Let’s win the war on worry!

What is worry?

The word itself originates from the Old English ‘wyrgan’ which meant ‘to strangle.’ By the time Middle English was dominant, the word had morphed to ‘worien’ and meant ‘to grasp by the throat with the teeth and lacerate’ or ‘to kill or injure by biting and shaking’ which is how wolves would attack sheep. By the time of early Modern English, around the 16th century, the term had again morphed to ‘worry’ and meant ‘to harass, as by rough treatment or attack’ or ‘assault verbally’ and another hundred years later the meaning had shifted a bit and became ‘to bother, distress, or persecute’ and today the word worry is generally meant to mean ‘to cause to feel anxious or distressed’ or ‘to feel troubled or uneasy.’ It is quite a journey from ‘to strangle’ to ‘feel anxious or distressed.’ And yet, most people would agree that feeling anxious or distressed is not unlike being strangled. The question is, of course, who is doing the strangling?

More often than not, we worry when we ourselves are strangling ourselves. We do this with our own internal dialogue, often called ‘self-talk.’ Self-talk is that subtle, on-going subconscious flow of words and imagery which is the basis of our moods, and behaviors. You can imagine the worry you would experience if you were telling yourself that tomorrow you might get fired from your job, or you might fail a test, or you might have to confront a person about a conflict. There are any number of ‘might’ scenarios we could worry about most of which don’t come to pass. And yet, when worrying, we are in distress, and that distress is not just psychological but biochemical as well. When we imagine worrisome scenarios, bodily chemistry, especially neurotransmitters in the brain, change. Pharmaceutical medications attempt to counter this chemical change back to normal, but not without side effects. The easiest and safest way to counter worry chemicals in the bloodstream is to imagine positive experience, positive outcomes, pleasant scenarios. Because the future is unknown for certain, and because we are endowed with creative imagination, it is well within our capacity to generate happy chemicals as well as worry chemicals.

In our western culture, the word worry has come to be associated, or maybe even equivalent to, ‘responsibility.’ That is, if we didn’t worry about something, we would not be a responsible person, because responsible people are concerned about others, situations, problems, conflicts….Worry becomes associated with concern, which is associated with responsibility. Who worries about things they are not concerned about? If you were unconcerned about your money, your car, your job, your relationships, there would be no worry. But, we are concerned; very concerned. We are responsible, and so we worry.

But, what if to be responsible really means to be response-able. That is, able to respond, not to react in limited ways from decades of socialization; to have, like a player of chess, several options available to us as a response. Then, we are response-able. And, being response-able, we are more capable of dealing with any number of unexpected, even unpleasant, challenges that may come our way. We are more adaptable, more flexible, more resourceful; we are less strangled; and then, we don’t worry; we win the war on worry.

Mental health counseling is one way to develop better ways of being response-able, and learning to worry less, enjoy more….


 

Quantum Psychology

quantum psychology

Quantum Psychology: ‘The Other’ Fallacy

Quantum physics thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe.

– Erwin Schrodinger

Over the ages, mystics, yogis and seers share information, truth, which modern quantum physics begins to see. Science has arrived at what some human beings have known for a long, long, very long, time. Quantum psychology offers an application of quantum principles to how our mind and consciousness operates, at levels invisible to everyday operations. Many have found these ideas, sometimes referred to as quantum mysticism or spiritual psychology, as being very conducive to well-being.

One of our more general dis-comforts and dis-eases in life, as human beings, social creatures living and working together in various structures and routines with others, appears to be our relationship with others, and, often, with ‘the other.’ That ‘the other’ could be a lover, best friend, spouse, a child, a sibling, colleague – it can be a foe, an enemy, a nemesis; and, it can be spirit guides, angels, aliens and even ‘god.’ ‘The other’ can also represent groups, the more universal ‘they’ or ‘them.’ And, there also exists ‘the other’ that we are not yet aware of but should it/he/she/they/them come into our awareness, ‘the other’ would be its name. ‘The other’ is the world ‘out there.’

The other person, group, situation, or whatever appears to be going on ‘out there’ may, with all those others, actually, be going on in our own mind, and brain (which is the body). It’s not ‘out there.’ It’s ‘in here.’ It’s brain activity. Out there appears as a projection, and reflection, of the in here. The happenings going on in our mind-body system could certainly incorporate a shared reality as others may experience the same thing, or near enough for agreement, as in all watching the same movie, sharing the same language, existing in the same gene pool, seeing the same sky. We not only operate within a personal mind-body system; equally, and perhaps more dominantly, we contain an influential collective mind-body system. We are born into a culture. on the planet, at a time and place, loaded with ongoing situations, incidents, events, circumstances, which we confront and deal with as something separate and distinct from the operations of our own mind, and brain. The important point to note, and one of the key teachings of yogic lore: that ‘the other’ appears to be separated from us, and,…. Not really. ‘The other’ observed is inherently connected to the observer, each influencing the other. The observed has no substantial, independent existence of its own. It is dependent upon the observer for its existence. The observer has no substantial, independent existence of its own either, depending on the observed. The observer and the observed are two sides of the same coin, of Awareness. Awareness itself transcends observer and observed, subjective and objective. Awareness itself is devoid of an object, or subject; it is often described as ‘not this, not that.’ In this regard, Awareness comes across as unreal, like sub-atomic particles. You can’t see it, hear it, feel it, and yet everything you see, hear and feel, is rooted in that invisible, unreal realm, transcendent to everyday life in the same way atoms, and sub-atomic particles, are not visible, audible, tactile; you can’t smell or taste sub-atomic particles; and yet, it is those invisible and ‘unreal’ particles upon which rests all that we do see, hear and feel as real.

That which we perceive as ‘the other’ does not exist without ‘the self.’ And, ‘the self’ does not exist without an object to observe, which is perceived as ‘not self.’ And yet, that ‘not-self’ exists because of ‘the self’ just as ‘the self’ exists because of the ‘not-self,’ the observed, that which is perceived. The self and the not-self, the subject and the object, are, ultimately, one and the same Awareness, one and the same mind, just as heads and tails are of the same coin.

This understanding of subject-object dependence is more apparent in dream consciousness. In that state of consciousness, all that we experience appears more readily accepted as a fabrication of our own awareness, our own mind, our own brain. One of the measurable differences between dream consciousness and waking consciousness is the higher frequency of brain wave patterns in the latter, in which objects appear much more substantial, solid, real. What we call reality occurs in waking state of consciousness. In dream state of consciousness, reality is very different than it is in waking. The ‘laws of physics’ don’t quite apply. It’s a different world. Different ‘stuff’ makes up the material, and content often appears as odd and nonsensical, scenes and experiences that are as different from waking as an animated cartoon is from a family drama. And yet, at the time of dreaming those scenes and experiences can influence us as vividly, and emotionally, as ‘real,’ as being awake. These two very different operations of consciousness exist within the same Awareness. We say I am awake, I slept. I dreamed. I awoke. The ‘I’ is identified with those states of consciousness.

Waking consciousness is represented in brain wave frequency of plus or minus 20Hz, and referred to as Beta Waves. Dream consciousness is more in the frequency of about plus or minus 6Hz and referred to as Theta Waves. While dreaming, rapid eye movement happens and dream states are often called ‘REM’ sleep. The deepest part of sleep consciousness, called Delta Waves, runs at about plus or minus 2Hz. Alpha Waves are some of the more pleasant states of awareness within mind consciousness at about plus or minus 10Hz. Alpha is to Beta what daydreaming is to filing out tax forms. More recently, Gamma Waves have been detected upwards of 40Hz and indicative of moments of insight, discovery and that ‘ah-ha’ episode. A peak experience of revealing clarity, and solidity. Dreams are less solid, less logical, less rational, perhaps even not rational at all, though very creative; dreams are known to have some predictive value and have been understood as a link to that mysterious land of deep sleep, and beyond. Deep sleep consciousness is very amorphously nebulous. And yet, critically important. Without enough and proper sleep, dreaming and waking suffer. These 3 states of consciousness, waking, sleeping and dreaming, make up what we call our life.

Yogic lore speaks of a fourth state of consciousness, ‘turiya’ in their language. A consciousness transcendent to mental activity, and physical activity; transcendent to sleeping, dreaming and waking. It is awareness itself; unmoved, still and silent; a flame in a windless place. Transcendental consciousness is awareness, without an object, without a subject; pure awareness, nothing else. No frequency. No vibration. Anything else is the mutual arising of the subject-object relationship, at any level, and contains ‘the other.’ In having a nightmare, daydreaming, or waking as you walk down the street filled with sensory objects of awareness, subjective thoughts and emotions, memories and imaginations, ‘the other’ is present; and, yet, of the same awareness, the same consciousness, the same mind, happening in your brain, which resides in your body, which exists in this world of waking, dreaming and sleeping. And yet, without that fourth state of transcendent consciousness, pure awareness, there would be no waking, dreaming and sleeping awareness at all, just as without the unseen molecules and cells of your muscles and organs, there would be no muscles and organs.

This understanding that ‘the other’ can be seen as a fundamental fallacy forms the basis of religious and spiritual sentiments such as The Golden Rule, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’ ‘let kindness be your religion’ and ‘love your enemy.’ These recommendations are based on Quantum Psychology, and ‘the other’ fallacy. Correct this fallacy that ‘the other’ is separated, unconnected, independent with the understanding that subject and object, self and not-self, are in fact conjoined, connected and dependent one upon the other. Quantum Psychology is a leap in awareness to wholeness.

Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.

– Niels Bohr


Understanding Learning Styles

understanding learning styles

You can’t teach somebody something in English if all they speak is Spanish. Well, you can if you are showing them, rather than telling them. Likewise, if you want to teach effectively, you need to understand the student’s preferred learning style. Understanding learning styles is an important factor in just about any type of education. Some people do really well with wordy explanations, while others don’t and would prefer visual type education. Whether you are a parent, a coach, a teacher or a manger, you likely find yourself in a position of having to educate people in your environment. It behooves you to have some understanding of different learning styles.

There are typically four general learning styles:

Analytic. This type learner prefers to rely on what the experts already know about any given subject or topic. They may read, watch videos or online tutorials by those who are knowledgeable and experts in that respective field. These kind of learners won’t want to engage in the actual process of doing anything new until they are well versed in what the experts or authorities have already said about the topic at hand.

Factual. This type learner wants facts. Not opinions or anecdotal experience, but cold, hard facts. Unlike the person who prefers to defer to experts, this person relies more heavily on objective research. If the research indicates validity, then they are much more inclined to move ahead and learn the material.

Interactive. This type of learner wants information from those who have already engaged in some kind of direct experience. This is the person who values anecdotal experience from others. They will talk to others, listen to others, ask questions of and consult with others. Based on this kind of interaction, the person will determine the value and worthiness of learning the information and move ahead with it, or not, depending on what others say.

Dynamic. This is the kind of person that learns best by doing. They don’t care about the logic of analysis; they don’t care about cold, hard objective facts and they don’t really care about anecdotal experience from others. If they have any interest whatsoever, they will jump right in trying to figure it out by doing it. This approach often entails trial and error, but that is part of the appeal for these types of learners.

In addition to these four styles of learning, each person also has a dominant or preferred mode of learning.

Visual. This person learns best when they can see information. This is not to say that hearing information won’t work, but hearing alone would be much less effective than seeing and hearing. As a species, we are very visually oriented and some research indicates that about 80% of the information we receive from our environment is visual. We also live in a very visually dominant society. This is the type of learner who responds favorably to videos, movies or live demonstrations.

Auditory. This is a person who might be distracted by visual presentations and would much prefer to hear or read verbal instructions. This person would tend to choose something like audio books, tapes or having somebody read instructions to them.

Kinaesthetic This is a person who needs to feel it. As the saying goes, ‘those who feel it, know it’ and these are those kind of people. A kinaesthetic learner is one who would find the hands-on approach most appealing as it would allow them to touch, move and manipulate things.

Interactive. This is the person who needs to not only engage their visual, auditory and kinaesthetic modes, but needs to interact with others as well. This is the most inclusive form of learning, and teaching. It engages the whole person. It not only includes the mind and body, but encompasses the social environment. Some of our best learning experiences occur in this type of interactive setting. Ironically, these learnings are generally not in any kind of official educational setting, but rather simply a part of living.

Trying to determine which style and which mode is dominant and preferred in any given person can be a challenge, and time consuming. A much better approach is to go for the most inclusive form of teaching/learning and employ that as the general paradigm. In the case of both styles and modes, this would be labeled as dynamic-interactive. As such, if you want to be the most effective coach, parent, teacher or role model; if you want to make sure the information, ideas, concepts, skills and behaviors are being not only transmitted but internalized as effectively as possible, then you need to engage their looking and seeing, hearing and listening, handling and feeling and, most of all, when at all possible, doing with others. As the Chinese proverb states: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Filial Love

filial loveFilial Love ….

The word love has, of course, many meanings. However, we don’t have many words to express those many different meanings of ‘love.’ We use the same love in the statement “I love my mother” and “I love my new shoes.” But, clearly, the love is not the same.

Traditionally, there are four categories of love: in Greek the words are ‘eros,’ ‘philea,’ ‘storge,’ and ‘agape.’ In English, this would translate to eros: romantic love; philea: brotherly-sisterly love, storge: affectionate friendship love and agape: alstruistic love.

And then there is filial love. Filial love is the kind of love a child has for its parents. This is, perhaps, a kind of ‘root love.’ It’s a kind of inborn instinct, to love parents. Whether or not the parents are lovable is another story; but, that doesn’t matter, the child loves the parents. How a parent responds to a child then becomes part of the child’s understanding of what love is. If the parents are abusive or neglectful, love, in the child’s mind, becomes almost equated with abuse or neglect. It’s as if neglect = love or abuse = love. No child grows up in an exclusively abusive or neglectful environment; now and then, there are also periods of affection. That too becomes part of the meaning of love for the child, as if it is also true that affection = love. Yelling, screaming, crying, laughing, singing, dancing, talking…..all of these experiences, and more, can link in to meanings of love. Because of the many, and sometimes contradictory, meanings of love, love can be confusing.

Because a child is so dependent upon parents for sustenance, nourishment, safety and protection, dependency becomes one of the equations of love in the growing child’s mind, i.e., dependence = love. One of the predominant needs of a child is attention. Children need to be attended to and it is not uncommon for a child to seek negative attention over none at all. If misbehavior gets the attention, i.e., the love of their parents, then, in the mind of a child, misbehavior = love. Temper tantrums, crying and screaming, aggression, and even gestures of self harm, can all be interpreted as a request for love. Love, of course, also equates to touch, affectionate hugs and embraces, caring, fun, joy and celebration…. Love has many, many different meanings.

Because a growing child is so dependent upon parents for their needs, the association between filial love and dependence is significant. Dependence generates territoriality and possessiveness towards that which one is dependent upon. Filial love is often characterized by a consciousness of ‘mine.’ Children are not only possessive of their toys, but of their parents as well. How many families with several children hear any child say ‘our parents’ instead of ‘my parents?’ A consciousness of ‘mine’ is dominant not only in childhood filial love, but adolescent, and adult, romantic love as well. Romantic relationships are possessive, and territorial. The relationship is based on dependence. There may be little difference between the statement “I love you” and “I depend upon you” or “I need you.” Romantic relationships, in particular, are a form of securing and possessing a source of specific needs satisfaction.

There is an element of love, filial love, in that. Of course, romantic relationships are predominantly characterized by eros, the passionate, intimate and sexual love. But, that does not mean filial love is absent, for it is not, just as every adult still has within them all the experiences of their childhood, and adolescence. It is not uncommon for one partner in a romantic relationship to project their deficit filial love needs onto the other partner who may, or may not, satisfy them. A good love relationship will be aware of the many meanings and forms love can take from the filial to the friendly, to the affectionate, to the romantic, and even to the altruistic.

Altruistic love is the antithesis of ‘mine.’ Altruistic love is a consciousness of ‘ours.’ Ideally, romantic love leads towards altruistic love because a single “me” becomes partnered and a ‘we’ is formed; a small ‘we’…a kind of ‘us against the world’ consciousness. But, then children are born and the ‘we’ expands. The children grow up and have their own children, and the ‘we’ expands more; what started as a fairly selfish erotic love has evolved to a family love which becomes neighborhood love, community love, and can extend to include the planet and all it’s inhabitents….The expansion of consciousness from ‘me’ to ever larger spheres of ‘we’ is the movement towards altruistic love, enlightenment, bliss.

It is said that Eskimos have several words for snow, depending on the quality and texture of it, and that the Zulu people in Africa, have several words for the color green, depending on the shade or hue of it. We have several words for precipitation as in rain, drizzle, downpour, sleet, hail and snow. But, for the most part, we seem to only have one word to represent the many complexities, shades, colors, hues, textures forms and meanings of ‘love.’ I love my mother, and I love my new shoes.

The Advaita Approach to Mental Health

 advaita approach to mental health

Mental health, or illness, is based primarily on a philosophy, a collection of beliefs, about who I am, what I am, where I am. Everybody has answers to these questions, even if the answer is ‘I don’t know.’ And, even if we don’t know, for sure, we can give some semblance of an answer to those questions. We often give answers to questions without knowing, for sure. How we think about not knowing, how it reflects on us, is part of our philosophy of life in this world. What does it mean for you to not know?

For those who do know, that philosophy of life, or world view, whether conscious or not, informs just about everything on a macro scale such as society, family, work, money, moods, actions, conditions. All of that informs our micro life, our personal life with our specific family and our particular work, our own individual ups and downs, circumstances, situations. We interpret all of this through the lens of our beliefs about our life in this world. What if a lot of these beliefs, our philosophy of life in this world, is petty, narrow, short-sighted? What if it is not aligned with reality? What if it is based on ignorance?

Advaita is a philosophy of life in this world based on long established knowledge. In most traditional mental health therapies today, there is a ‘psycho-educational’ component. A lot of this psych-education is about how to think rationally instead of emotionally, realistically instead of erroneously. Advaita not only questions and challenges current thinking, it introduces specific philosophical concepts very conducive to mental health. Applying these concepts as a filter through which to interpret experience can change one’s moods and behaviors, relationships and sense of self.

Advaita is an old language word that means ‘non-dual.’ Non-dual is non-duality. That translates into no battle, no attack, no conflict. So many mental health disorders and dysfunctions are based on internal battles, and attacks, and conflicts. The Advaita approach closely examines duality and weaves a way of understanding it as integrated and unified. The ‘self’ of which we are often so concerned with its many stresses and pressures, goals and duties, responsibilities and obligations, dreams and hopes, strivings and achievements, is entirely based on a dualistic philosophy of life in this world. That philosophy is to transportation as Advaita is to teleportation. Advaita is very advanced. It also extends far into the human past.

At the very least, Advaita offers a way of thinking about things which may be to most rather novel, big, comprehensive and wholistic, which does no harm, and may do good. At the most, it can be very helpful along the journey towards that supreme level of human consciousness we all seek. This supreme consciousness which incorporates, integrates and unifies duality, is beyond happiness and pain. It is more than the pair of opposites which make up our dualistic universe. It is a consciousness which like the sun shines equally on the land and on the sea. It is a consciousness which like the ocean receives all rivers from every continent. It is a consciousness of real love and bliss, the supreme state of mind for any human being.

Mental health is a lot more than coping well. A philosophy of life in this world which requires coping, may be a philosophy worth relinquishing. A world view in which war is for peace and violence is for safety may be worth relinquishing. A belief in oneself as independent may be getting in the way of that supreme state of mind. Our current philosophy of life in this world, our complicated, partial, conflicted and dualistic view of the way things are, can be relinquished, and replaced with a wholistic view of all life, which is Advaita.