Meditation Self-Help Critiques

When someone says mindfulness most of us automatically think of organizing endless thoughts we have throughout the day. In the three articles assigned they have similar yet different views on what mindfulness entails. Ranging from being in the now, a means for survival, and simplicity.  The question is can mindfulness keep the promise mainstream would like us to believe without loosing our self-understanding.

“The Mindfulness Conspiracy” by Ronald Purser goes on to talk about the promise mindfulness offers through a profit of about four billion. She goes on to explain the mainstream purchasing books, magazines, and other types of forms to just just dismiss our civil responsibility. How do we balance ourselves. “We are repeatedly sold the same message: that individual action is the only real way to solve social problems, so we should take responsibility.”(Purser) In this article she goes over a lot of valid points we can possibly neglect by buying into what society considers mindfulness.

 “The problem of mindfulness,” by Sahanika Ratnayake perspective is rooted through Buddhism which I found very interesting as I am a believer of a lot of their teachings. The comparison of western views compared to her own beliefs show how the common person can loose self care in mindfulness.  “With its promises of assisting everyone with anything and everything, the mistake of the mindfulness movement is to present its impersonal mode of awareness as a superior or universally useful one.”(Ratnayake) As I started meditation with the class and doing the assignments I can relate to her views on one size or spectrum does not fit all and could be used at your discretion. In this we are able to be aware of what is right for us as an individual in an industry that says one size fits all. 

“The Mindful Revolution” by Kate Pickert  take a simplicity approach to mindfulness as making our bodies and mind the key elements. It is our well being that is the main focal point that has to be in order. MBSR ( mindfulness based stress reduction) was the tool she used from being in a course and was able to get good results as have some of her classmates.  “I’m eating a raisin. But for the first time in my life, I’m doing it differently.”(Pichert) With the techniques learned about being in the moment something as simple as eating was a renewed experience and actually intrigues me to try the experiment she went through with the raisin. 

Over all the articles were very insightful. I would lean more towards Ratnayake because some of our views are similar without forgetting about ourselves. Mindfulness for me can not replace all modern medicine as suggested in some articles and has to be taken into consideration with people who do have sever to moderate conditions.      

 

 

Meditation

  I’ve always used meditation as a sleep aid, nor have I used guided meditation. It is my fear that certain voices with cause anxiety other than relaxation. While on the other hand other voices may be too relaxing. I am however excited to try this new experience. Meditation for me has always  consist of laying back and hugging an arm pillow and watch YouTube videos such as posted below.   This mixture of videos included anything from a lullaby to some calming music. Anything with a display you can get lost in. Closing my eyes will definitely be a challenge I am hopefully ready for.  When this experience is over I want to take away the ability to use meditation on a variety of thing in order to organize my life and inner strength. 

The three applications I choose are Guided Meditation and Relaxation by OuiApps, Calm Meditation, Sleep, Relax by Calm.com, Inc., and Serenity: Guided Meditation & Mindfulness by Olson Meditation and Mindfulness Apps. I choose the Apps at random and tried each of them for one meditation session each and evaluated the rest of the content by skimming. 

Guided Meditation and Relaxation by OuiApps has a menu of nine categories to choose from which leads you to sessions under each selection. The duration of the audibles vary as do the voices even under the same topic. You have the ability to shuffle and put the playlist on repeat. There are however a lot of adds when changing menus . 

Guided Meditation & Relaxation – Apps on Google Play

 

Calm Meditation, Sleep, Relax by Calm.com, Inc is an application I would not advise for anyone unless you would like to pay for stories told by different people from what you can actually preview. Most of the application is locked that tries to get you to purchase a year membership so it can be hard to judge an application based on limited clips available. I was however delighted to see “How are You Feeling” check in on the application. The application also has more content than the previous app and this includes music. 

Calm – Meditate, Sleep, Relax – Android app on AppBrain

Serenity: Guided Meditation & Mindfulness by Olson Meditation and Mindfulness Apps is a forced completion application which I found very interesting. Based on the limitations I am not sure if you can move from “Foundations” in the app to “Work” unless completed because of the required membership. Lesson one basics gives you tools on how to meditate. I have to admit even though the app is very limited I like the voice the app choose to use even though it’s a voice with an accent.  This however is the only application that doesn’t seem to play if you minimize the application from your screen. 

Serenity: Guided Meditation & Mindfulness – Apps on Google Play

 

I decided to use Guided Meditation and Relaxation by OuiApps because you have more flexibility , there is no pressure to sign up for a membership each time you click something, and I can shuffle playlists. The ability to choose different topics and start where I want is amazing! I would use this application for ten to fifteen minutes a night as I work overnight. So about an hour after I wake up I will engage in a session. The pillow I just purchased for a Japanese style dinning set will be perfect to set up against the wall . Mindfulness and Deep Muscle options in the menu looks like an interesting place to start. I plan to choose from different categories based on the subject that would help me most that day. Also I would determine audible choice based on narrator’s voice.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power of Now Response

      The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle was a very diverse read that had, in my opinion, something for everyone. Living in the present is the focal point and dismissing complaining, suffering, negativity, and grudges. Leaving room for forgiveness, acceptance, happiness, and compassion. Tolle mentions a lot of controversial subjects such as God, relationships, and enlightenment and how it is understood on a gender level. This type of book is meant to return to. In order to understand all the messages the author is trying to convey. I do not agree with most of the messages he is sending ,but as stated before there are views for everyone to relate to.

2617-Eckhart-Tolle-Quote-The-past-has-no-power-over-the-present-moment.jpg (3840×2160) (quotefancy.com)

   Your are encouraged to dismiss the past and future to engage in the now, the present. He goes over how the brain hinders our progress and should be used in meaningful ways. “You usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. “(13 Tolle) The author sets the stage and justifies it by providing you with what can be seen as absurd or validated reasoning. By saying compulsive thinking is an addiction that controls you could be taken very differently depending who you are. Repetitive thinkers are also discouraged in the ideology that once a task is completed there should be no further thought. I disagree with this form of thinking. Personally I think for some it is important to look back at what you have achieved to stay motivated in your goals.

   Religious believers in my opinion would be mortified in the way he mentions God and Buddhism. He goes on to explain God and so forth is merely a mental crutch use. “The word Being explains nothing, but nor does God”(11 Tolle) More so to establish it is an empty word that helps justify our thinking and behavior. As he also mentions Buddhism’s idea of being is faulted because to the author there is nothing to establish in silence. I do not follow Buddhism perfectly, but I do agree with a lot of the base line teachings I find this way of thinking extremely insulting. To say someone’s belief is incomplete sounds egotistical which the author also mentions as an obstacle, but to me he is exhibiting the very thing he is against.

    To have freedom one must forgive, accept, and have compassion. He speaks about forgiveness in a very peculiar way as if you should fade into the background noise when you feel defensive so there is nothing to forgive because the insult passed though you and forgiving is automatic. In human nature it is almost second nature to take into account what others say to you then process them and react. Accepting comes when you limit your thinking of what can you possible change and take things as they are. If you find yourself unable to do so especially in relationships you must free yourself for such endeavors. That frame of mind seems logical to me. Why would you stay in an unhappy relationship, not to dismiss many people that do according to circumstances.

  Over all this book was a hard read for me because I disagreed with a vast majority of it’s content and found myself rereading some of the content to make sure I understood how absurd I found some of the text. I do however truly believe in some of the concepts in this book and would go back to those sections.                    

Class Notes 03/18/21

At the beginning of class we went over the pandemic blog and how writing affected each of us as all of our experiences were different. Professor will be posting tools for mental wellness and pandemic journaling that are available online. This is not mandatory, but provided as an aid to help you along your journey.  

We participated in our second group meditation subject was releasing anxiety. We were given keep points to keep in mind during our experience to keep in mind to enhance our responses. 

  • Describe in as much detail as possible.
  • What feelings are you experiencing both negative and positive.
  • Focus on body and mind in the moment.
  • How is your body reacting in accordance to your feelings.
  • Be present in the moment without thinking of what you will write in the responses
  • Ideally your posture should be sitting upright, facing forward, be mindful of hand placement, cross your legs if possible, and feet should be grounded.
  • Allow the background noise to sink in and fade away into it.
  • If you feel yourself  drifting off re-center yourself.  

As a key point to keep in mind for all blogging would be to turn the blog engagement into yourselves. 

Reminders for this week

Side note-

 I would like to apologize to the class and professor about the timing in which I posted the class notes and notes I may be missing as I had a medical emergency. 

 

My Pandemic Experience

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       Last year was nothing short of chaos bundled with work, my health,  school, moving, and the adoption of my two kittens. I had no expectation on  how life would be after the announcement of the pandemic. Everyday life became a strain and routines where either enhanced or diminished. I was one of the lucky few in so many works that was able to keep my job and maintain my school work to a certain extent. Like many in my family I also believe in this is far from over as viruses evolve and the vaccinations will do little to nothing as protection. The act of purchasing hand soap was painful. It really makes you look back at what you had to do for yourself and household. How did I manage to keep it together?

See the source image    I think my job was the most difficult part of my experience last year. I am considered an essential worker and had to travel in person. Since the start of the pandemic my hours have changed in order to meet the shutdown times of MTA  because I work overnight. While I have been stationed as a Fire and Life Safety Director in the same building for almost two and a half years now my main company changed twice. Once at the beginning of 2020 as all security business is similar to a monopoly when it comes to clients choosing services. The client or building you are in can choose to keep you and go with another company without notice. This is what happened to me , of course it was my choice to sign on with this new company and forfeit the raise I was about to receive. At the time I thought it was worth it until mid last year the security company itself was bought out by a larger company. That affected the coverage availability and putting more responsibilities on the team that works with me. We felt abandoned during the rest of the year only receiving letters stating we were essential with no work ID’s. That caused a few problems getting through NYPD barricades. This year I find out we are not getting raises because of the loss of business. Through the pandemic and riots that directly affected my building ,coming to work became punishment rather than necessary to survive.

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    My doctors where of course increasingly harder to get to during last year. Every three months I am suppose to go in for trigger point injections for my nerve condition. Needless to say I missed most of last year because of short staffing, tele meds also known as video visits, and supply falling short of demand. My pharmacy also had trouble keeping my current medications in stock so I started taking less to conserve. I am glad I did because their delivery company failed to provide for three months causing an outrage in the area. When things picked back up towards the end of the year I was told of three more diagnosis including my autoimmune disease. That alone made me dismiss the pandemic as I felt a void of existing wondering if every year they would tell me something new so covid had no mental impact on me health wise after that.

School transitioning to online was nothing new for me because I’ve done online classes before or so I thought it wouldn’t affect me. I do not believe most of the professors I had last year practiced online instruction. Assignments were posted late, timed test did not give efficient time for typed answers considering most of us had Ipads at the time, and language barriers became insanely difficult. I have no clue how I maintained my GPA much less was accepted into my second honors society. 

Bentley

NiKlaus

Moving was easy because the roads where empty and it seemed like the right time to get a kitten towards August. Bentley was my first adoptee as I like to call him sometimes. He was two months when I went in person to pick him up. I had no idea how the Vets were operating until he sneezed blood the day after being home. Thousands of dollars later and having to stand in all kinds of elements Bentley is a healthy happy little boy. It was difficult standing under store fronts to shelter myself from rain, snow, and sleet. In December I adopted NiKlaus because Bentley would cry every time stray cats would come visit our window. After another vast amount of money and as recent as this month we are still working on Niklaus’ health. It is infuriating how the standard of animal rescues have dropped and to consider which ever licensed vet neutered them was inadequate. Why snip a sick animal was my way of thinking. 

  My metal exhaustion is held at bay because of Bentley and NiKlaus. I needed them as much as they needed me. Providing them a safe space ultimately provided me with comfort and that unconditional love only a pet owner would understand. It got me through my job’s obstacles,  school being online and finally getting a computer, and my health. Last year will be one for a scrap book and like many other pandemics , will leave it’s scar on the way we function as a society.

 

                  

Self-care

    This would be the first time I think of self-care as a focal point. Things done for myself in the absence of guidance I’ve never actually categorized as self-care ,but have always thought about them as routine; requirements in order for me to be my best self. These actions or lack there of on some days allow me to reset my mind and refocus my energy on areas of my life I need to and aid in achieving my short term as well as my long term goals. Most weeks my Saturdays and part of my Sunday mornings are dedicated to just that.

  Saturdays usually involve my part of self-care that is accomplished alone for the most part. I wake up around 2-3am and start off my day with controlled breathing while watching my favorite meditation aids from youtube. I believe my two kittens, Bentley and NiKlaus ,love this time as well.  Skyrim – Music & Ambience – Night – YouTube  would be one of my go to videos I use for waking and prior to going to sleep. After my morning youtube session I take time out to stretch and have a walk. Then write in my journal before and after . My self activity is decided during the week and always changing whether it’s an art gallery, different museum, the zoo, really any outing that will get me out of the house ,but yet enjoy my own company while doing so. When Saturday is drawing to a close I do order out as that is my only cheat day from my diet . 

    Sunday is rather shorter with the same morning ritual, but the daily activity I choose to have a friend accompany me or just have a coffee at the house while engaging with one or more close friends. Since I’ve adopted Niklaus and Bentley I try to keep my social gatherings to a minimum not to disrupt their time with me as I find them just as much of my self-care as any other part.    

7 Habits of Highly Effective People By: Stephen R. Covey Notes

My immediate feeling of  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey has a resemblance to past works because of the repetitiveness of the text. We have read prior text with questionable sources. While in this particular book it provides recognizable sources I think adds a certain comfortability to the intended audience.  Although I felt a paradigm shift according to Covey and felt a connection to the text as part one opened with hopelessness. I believe we have all encountered in our lives. Whether this failure to grip was in relationships , school, work, or family. He shares his own experience with trying hard to keep his life together. Having heavy criticism  until the point of his perspective changing. Keeping all this in mind there are things that can be taken in different ways according to your own perception ,as for my own I cling to some of his views while dismissing others.

“There is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right living. (Covey 25)  

The act in which he draws in his audience is through testimonials from recognizable figures of society and himself. I think he was brilliant in the use of using individuals with great accomplishments that are well known to draw people in merely because of the influence they hold over a mass amount of people. Also using himself makes the reader comfortable with associating themselves with the author and finding common ground. The use of accomplished people like the senator he used holds no creditability with me. His own testimony I can partially relate to when it comes to his life falling apart until it came to his son. The moment he told his son you are on your own with the explanation of he has to learn was very harsh after being bullied in softball.         

This book is very repetitive when it comes to the word paradigm  and the way we think. I agree when Covey mentions our core does not change. What we see a situation as hardly ever changes without different perspectives to gage them with. For instance the picture exercise , I failed at seeing the older woman. No matter how hard I tried , I only could see the younger lady.  According to Covey we have two different mental maps. One in which we see the way things are and the second is the way things should be. Which was very intriguing in itself. I see that as someone setting a life goal. Looking at their present life and where they want to be in five years. 

P/Pc was also an important concept to value not only the fruit of the labor ,but the actual bottom line in sorts. The example used in the text was the goose and the golden egg. Without your bottom line your work would not be as productive. I find this outlook very useful for growth and prosperity. With this concept in mind we should be able to differentiate what are negative outlooks or paradigms and positive. Basically what works and what doesn’t for us . “Being is seeing in the human deamination“(Covey 40)

Independence and the two required shifts being the goals before truly understanding this book were again interesting. The first shift was to continuously read the text through out your success and the second was to teach within two days of reading, which I thought was just a marketing technique. There are great points to take away from this text while others fall flat to me. I would say there is only really six habits as the last is just to repeat the first six. 

Samual Smiles Notes

        The title of Samual Smiles’ “Self-Help, with Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance ” was taken as something that would be instructive with examples of experiences of individual that preserved no matter what downfalls experienced. I found it interesting that the title was mentioned in the prefix( p.4 ) in how it is misjudged and considered selfishness. Although the different views of the title or book it is available in but not limited to French, German, Dutch, and Danish editions. 

    This book is expressed to target young men as those who need to rely on one self and no verses others. That growth is done through failures. “Failure is the best discipline of the true worker, by stimulating him to renewed efforts”.(prefix p.5) This illustrates that failures are magnified as a necessary tool for growth. Beyond the prefix the reader will get a abnormal description of each chapter and notice the pages themselves lack numbers. 

     Chapter one is a more so guideline of what men should consider an outlet and what could possible hinder their perseverance. “Heaven helps those who help themselves”(Smiles p.18) Suggest men should look within themselves it also goes on to deter men from the government by stating it has a restrictive affect on them on page 20. Self-help is the antidote to Caesarisum. “Caesarisum is human idolatry in its worst form-a worship of mere power, as degrading in its effects as the worship of mere wealth would be”.(Smiles p.20) Knowledge and need to accomplish go hand and hand, without one the other would be worthless.

Chapter four goes on to emphasize the importance of not only perseverance ,but establishing the importance of the mind and heart correlation. “Locke, Helvetius, and Diderot believe that all men have equal aptitude for genius”(p.92) As important as that may seem Smiles also mentions the importance of accomplishing your task cheerfully. 

  I choose chapter five merely because of the title “Helps and Opportunities- Scientific Pursuits. Science has always been a grounded subject with fact based findings or theories that can or can not be proven. In this chapter it starts off by mentioning on (page 111) that “accidents does very little toward the production of any great result in life”. There for there is no force that can cause your course ,but your own actions, knowledge, and will to follow through. Accomplishment comes with time and in this we observe and example of this by the example given on Dr.Jenner among  many others in this chapter. Dr.Jenner caught my eye because he was in the vaccination development and understanding  for small-pox. Since we are currently experiencing a time where vaccinations are controversial , Dr.Jenner experienced this adverse reaction as well in London. After being shamed he tried it on his own sons and other willing people that would accept such a vaccine. Those individuals were scene as people that can possible get mutations and forced to stay inside their homes. It wasn’t until Lady Ducie and Countess of Berkeley accepted their children get vaccinated was it widely accepted. He declined London’s offer of practice. This chapter is filled with examples such as Dr.Jenner and how failures became part of their triumph. 

    I would consider this book a hard read based on the amount of information crammed into each chapter I’ve read. The metaphors  are overly used which makes the text deterring. I do on the other hand appreciate the book for telling some of these important people’s full journeys and not just what they accomplished.      

Edward Jenner. Oil painting. Wellcome V0023503.jpg

Dr.Jenner

 

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(p.18)

Class Notes 02/16/21

         Beginning of class notes on the film and group assignment question were collected ahead of class via DROPBOX.

Dropbox link locations- Course profile> Course site> Schedule> Current date

**Each assignment has it’s own link found under the the description of the assignment which is found under the date asked by Professor for submission. You must use the correct link to submit each document. When you click the link request it will allow you to upload your document. Photographs are not accepted and must be converted to PDF via app or by manually scanning. (Ex: camscanner, adobe scan) Do not pay for apps or create profiles.

Renaming files > Fullname, Assignment Name  ( ex)    (CourtneyLagrange,TheSecretFilmNotes)   

Impressions of Film- 

The class had mixed reviews about the graphics and use of imagery to relay the message the author was sending. Some found it helpful to see the meanings of the message ,while others thought a few scenes were absurd. 

Scenes to keep in mind for next class 

  1. Lady visualizing the necklace she wanted while staring at her reflection and then having it. 
  2. Genie appearing and saying “Your wish is my command”.  
  3. Two older women that have the same medical condition with different aspects of what life can be like with or without negative thoughts.
  4. Man that had the photo of the house he wanted and five years later he realizing he was living in that exact home. 
  5. Lady with breast cancer that had the two diagnostic images in the background of active cancer and when she was” healed” . 
  6. Scene with the elephant and how it is good not all things we want happen instantly. 

Questions covered in class from film assignment

#6) Is this vision realistic? Can individuals have “anything” they want? Is there a limit?

**Keep in mind the concept of “The good life”**

#12 ) What happens when there are competing desires (one person wants something, but this
conflicts with what someone else wants/desires)?

Example given : 2 Qualified individuals going for the same job position that both practice” The Law of Attraction” .

 

#11) If you get positive things by positive thinking, and you get negative things by negative
thinking, then what kind of responsibility does this place (perhaps unfairly?) on
individuals? Is this a kind of “blame-the-victim” ideology?

Example arguments given: 

Holocaust ( Did the whole community have negative thoughts?)

Victims of violent crimes ( Are they really to blame?) 

 

*Vocabulary to remember*

Efficacy( Noun) – The ability to produce a desired or intended result , effectiveness. 

Parody( Noun or Verb)–  an amusing imitation of a serious author’s style of writing.

Visualization (Noun)– The formation of a mental image of something.

Intention (Noun) Place focus on something. A thing intended; an aim or plan.

Undermine (Verb) – To damage or weaken (someone or something), especially gradually or insidiously.

Agency(Noun)– thoughts and actions taken by people that express their individual power.

Bias(Noun)– prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

 

Books mentioned in class regarding self-help regarding overall health and well being. *NOT REQUIRED*

  1. Radical Remission by Kelly Turner
  2. The body keeps the score

                                           **Next class**

  • No new homework due.
  • Come prepared to discuss the book and the film. Try to have the approximate time stamps when referencing the film.  
  • We will go over the website and it’s significance.
  • We will also go over parodies. 

02/18/21 class notes will be completed by Robby 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret

       In this self-help book titled “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne the main concept is the law of attraction. It is broken down by different philosophers in a manner of changing your way of thinking and feeling attached the the thinking pattern in order to reach that higher way of being. With meditation , physical exercises , eliminating negative thoughts and feelings , and following the three steps explained as ask, believe , and receive your goals will be reached as well as everything you need and desire. 

      “Wise people have always known this. You can go right back to the ancient Babylonians. They’ve always known this. It’s a small select group of people.”(Bob Proctor pg.5) As Bob Proctor states the law of attraction has been used for some time now and others have posed the questions leading to this way of thinking. For example Einstein proposed the question of “Is this a friendly Universe?” One must believe in the universe as a good entity to provide the circumstances as they have for what Bob refers to as wise people. Different cultures have their own unique higher power and it starts with that base line. 

The act of asking , believing , and receiving it would only make since to have an entity to ask first. this is where my disagreement comes in. What about the prospers that happen to be atheists or have no base line beliefs? How did they get their wealth if they are not asking for anything to any specific higher being or universe. Is it enough to have positive thoughts only  as stated by Mike Dooley ” Thoughts become things!”(pg.9)

On pg. 56 Rhonda Byrne  goes on to describe how changing her “fat thoughts” into “thin thoughts” was rather offsetting. In the degree she explained how she focused all of her energy into a meal when she had one and didn’t think about anything else changed her life was appalling at best. Frankly it was disrespectful in my opinion when she then explained different diagnosis were disguises. It is things such as this that discourage me from self help because how dismissive she is to science. I know faith and science sometimes disagree, but this I find extreme.

The chapter I’ve chosen is “The Secret to Health” because I am a health major and I love science. Of course this chapter was absurd to a certain degree starting off with Dr. Ben Johnson stating  “We’ve got a thousand different diagnoses and diseases out there. They’re just the weak link. They’re all the result of one thing: stress. If you put enough stress on the chain and you put enough stress on the system, then one of the links
breaks.”(p.127) This quote is followed by a chapter that makes sure it states don’t eliminate modern medication, but  continues with these ways of healing serious illnesses by positive thoughts like cancer. This type of text encourages weak minded individuals to smile and giggle in pain and suffering thinking something outer body will heal them and to me this is merely not possible. “You can not catch anything unless you think you can”(Byrne p.137). It is ideas like this that make it sometimes impossible to control a pandemic such as the one we are experiencing present day. 

 

The Secret was nothing short , but an in site into how other’s beliefs range from moderate to extreme from meditation to ignoring health issues. I do believe everyone could take a message from this book. For myself would be to focus on the positive and continue my meditation as it goes along with my beliefs. I would be very mindful to who I would recommend this book to as it may get to extreme for someone that will follow it to the letter. I am just amazed you have so many great minds giving this type of advice. 

 

 

 

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