City Tech’s 40th Annual Literary Arts Festival

CUNY Chancellor Dr. Felix V. Matos made a brief introduction, he thanked the faculty professor and students.

Special thanks to Professor Caroline Hellman for organizing this festival.

“Your story matters, you matter, and we care.” (Caroline Hellman)

There was a display of NYC and City Tech’s school pictures, Professor Jill was remotely dancing =)

There was a brief poll about what is the best borough

Henry Mei told his story about being an student and a teacher at the same time.

Christopher Maglorie, a former student of City Tech and current registered nurse said: “the smallest thing you can do for people can impact them in a very meaningful way.” He told the story of one of his patients. in short, it was a reminder of the power of empathy and kindness.

Damitreze Poe told his story police racial discrimination.

Jesus Rojas told his story as freshman student.

Dannielle Sweat told her story as single mother, full time worker and part time  student.

James Burton told his story about small business, an ice cream shop.

Farouk Fares talked about how painting helped him to deal with the stress of the quarantine and the anger of racism.

Britney Bajnath, a photographer aspiring, told her story about taking pictures during the pandemic.

Kari Singletary, an essential worker, graduated nurse told her story about working in the hospital in times where the biggest influx of Covid-19 cases happened.

As a way to promote participation; there was a poll about how you prefer to show up in zoom in a dressy attire camera on OR in pajamas camera off?

4 panelist joined afterwards

Nim Tse; a Chinese native student, talked about being discriminated for his poor English skills, but in school he discovered that Chemistry was for him. He hopes to serve the community as future physician.

Rami Saeed; told us about his story of how he used the time of the quarantine to read as many as books.

Abigail Thomas; told her story as a transgender woman and stressed us out about being advocates. She said in order to be advocates we do not need money only to be good humans with good intentions.

Mamadou Diallo; described his story about being raised by his grandmother.

Mijori Goodwin sang a song named “still”

Special Guest Poet, actor, and performing artist Staceyann Chin, displayed poetry focused on topics of social media, family, racial discrimination, and the trolls on social media. I agree with her that trolls find “courage” behind a screen, however I disagree with her on the way she “responded” to her troll.   well. it is a tendency of mine, that even if I am insulted, I do not reply with insult. I am proud of that because English is not my first language and I still can find enough words to reply without resourcing to insults nor slangs.

 

3 authors on Mindfulness

Humans have so many thoughts inundating their minds and apparently if thoughts are not canalized correctly. They can cause suffering. Because those thought are usually keeping us either in the past or in the future but rarely in the present.

It is impressive how humans even if being in the present their thoughts can take them to other places, like when we are “listening to” the person in front of us, but our minds are somewhere else.

According to Pickert, resisting to keep in touch with the external world is not easy because after all our devices allow us to do many things, be in different places and multitask.

Purser says that the mindfulness programs, that are being sold out there, are nothing more than basic concentration training. They are missing the teachings on ethics and the ability to enact compassion for all other beings.  I think Purser means that the meditation products being sold nowadays are just a tool of self-discipline. Moreover, I fully agree with him on the fact that “Reducing stress is a noble aim but teachers of mindfulness need to acknowledge that personal stress also has societal causes, by failing to address collectively suffering they are reducing  meditation to a banal technique that keeps people focused only on themselves.

It is interesting how “reductions in stress and increases in personal happiness and wellbeing is much easier to sell than serious questions about injustice, inequity and environmental devastation, etc.” (Purser 2019).

Perhaps mindful is overrated as mentioned by author Purser, after all anything that has in the title the word “mindful” seems to sell faster automatically.

Author Ratnayake points out that the version of meditation offered in apps is like a watered version of meditation and that we err in presenting mindfulness as the cure for the modern ills.

Ratnayake and Purser seems to concur on the opinion that meditation does not allow one to take responsibility for one’s feelings promoting then a self-centered well-being disregarding everything else happening around. For this or other reasons Ratnayake says that she practices mindfulness occasionally rather than a regular practice.

 

 

 

MEDITATION APP

The App I will be using for meditation is Buddhify.  Here is the link:  https://buddhify.com/why-we-are-different/

I am attaching here some pictures. I like it’s presentations. Very colorful ♡♡♡   also because  one can add extra wheels /options as seen in the last picture, there are options for thought times, mindful ninja, etc.

Buddhify includes options to meditate while you are walking or  for when you can’t sleep. Which I find very useful. Because I hate to meditate being static, it gives me restlessness, so walking would definitively be a fun way to meditate.

I also looked into 2 other Apps, Better Me

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gen.bettermeditation&hl=en_US&gl=US

AND

Relaxing Sounds 

I loved this second one for its compilation of sounds.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ipnossoft.rma.oriental&hl=en_US&gl=US

Focusing in the past brings you Depression and  Focusing in the future gives you anxiety therefore we need to love the present (THE POWER OF NOW). During my 14 days meditation I will focus in my present (breathing and thoughts).

Class Notes Tuesday March 23, 2021

The winner of the people’s post is Reem =)

Professor asked how do we like the Calm App or if we tried any other meditation apps?

We meditated for like 10 min. The Calm app suggested at the end: To pause to help productivity, “steeping back and pausing to come back and continue.”

There will be meditation at the beginning of the upcoming classes. Hence professor would like for everyone to be on time for class.

There was a breathing exercise. We counted our breathing (inhale & exhale) per minute.

How long does a person stay angry? Physiologically only 90 seconds.

Anger is fed by our thoughts.

There are situations that do justify feeling angry like the recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado.  So, how do we channel our emotions?

Among the benefits of meditating is that it helps you to control emotions.

We shared comments about the preface of the book, The Power of Now.

VOCABULARY

Rumination: Overthinking, focusing excessively in the past or constantly saying words like: “Only if I had done” “I should” I could have done.”

Perseverance: : continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. 

Subjunctive: The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to explore a hypothetical situation (e.g., If I were you) or to express a wish, a demand, or a suggestion.

There was free writing exercise, the topic was: “Thinking has become a disease”  and “You are not your thoughts” Page 16 of the book The Power of Now.

Don’t forget to post on people’s choice of the week.

 

 

 

The Power of Now

This book has a variety of concepts, from love-joy   TO  death-surrender and forgiveness, but perhaps its main idea is that the present is such a little gap of time. Hence, it should be easy to live and enjoy it.  Tolle in an interview in June 2019, made a comparison between the heartbeats and the thinking; “They both happen automatically, you are not in control of your thoughts.”  The Power of Now seems to have a content that is the opposite to the Secret of Rhonda Byrne.

The statements that grabbed my attention while reading the Power of Now were:

On page 17, the author mentions the fact that “virtually everyone hears a voice” and yes, I have experienced so. I never asked anyone whether they also heard voices, because usually hearing voices has a negative connotation (being mentally sick). I am so glad that Tolle brought it up.  He says that the voice belongs to one’s conditioned mind, which is the result of one’s history and the inherited collective cultural mindset (environment influence).

On page 22, Tolle brought up the “addiction to thinking” I declare myself guilty of this. Not having something to think about actually gives me anxiety. I mean having my mind in blank gives me anxiety. It is because while the mind is blank time is still ticking off and there is a million of things to do. So, rather than putting my mind in blank, I start addressing those “million things to do” list. However, I do put my mind in blank when I turn the music up =). In page 49, Tolle makes reference to the fact that everything functions directly proportional to time. He gave the example that without time; long and short terms goals wouldn’t even make sense. He recommends using time wisely. I fully agree.

Another concept very intriguing was on page 23, the ego. Allegedly our ego is eager to talk first and that he only focus on either the past or the future. Moreover, the ego is “vulnerable and insecure. Hence it sees itself under constant threat.” page 44. I believe that the ego makes a person reactive.  Once I learnt in psychology that when someone is told something and he/she reacts by laughing (mockery), it is because her/his brain is intentionally avoiding the processing of information giving chance to the ego to react by laughing.

It was good to learn the meaning and root of the word emotion, that comes from the lati  emovere, which means “to disturb”  this certainly makes sense because emotions do distract us. Page 29.

I do agree that emotional cravings like being needy/clingy are born of the need to fulfill certain emotional holes in ourselves. And yes, that any emotion or feeling  can turn from one side of the spectrum to the other (“negative and positive polarities are faces of the same coin”) E.g., passing from pleasure to pain in a relationship as indicate on page 32. Then on page 148, Tolle complement the definition of polarity, by saying that  it is not possible to have only one side of the coin. I personally think that it is easier to recognize the bad side than the good side, that’s probably why people pick faster on something bad that one does and easily ignore all the good deed one did.

On page 46, Tolle indicates that “the secret to life is to “die before you die”.” This is like a conundrum, and I thought it meant that we should live everyday as if it were the last therefore, we will be ready when death do come to us. But Tolle explained on page 196 that meditating deeply about the mortality of our physical forms is what is called “die before you die.”

On page 64, I concur with Tolle “all problems are illusion of the mind” Most people drown themselves in a glass of water. On page 74, Toller points out that in dealing with life challenges; a conscious person is likely to become more conscious and successfully resolve the challenge. Sadly, a lot of people do not get to this level, they are stuck fighting their own self (drowning in the glass of water).

Each of us have a “purpose/mission”, pages 88 and 202  “Everybody we cross paths with will be affected either negatively or positively by our presence.”

On page 152, Tolle brings up an opinion that I will call controversial, Nevertheless, I fully support it “you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.”  I find this statement to be true I always thought about it, but I didn’t dare to say because it sounds mean (you never know how someone is going to take it regardless that you carefully chose your words).

Furthermore, in the topic of pain, Tolle says: “we are trying to escape from the present, because we are actually trying to escape our pain.”  We try to escape our present because we hope that there is some sort of salvation in the future. By thinking about the future, we may not be fully enjoying the little gap of time called “the present”  Page 153.

 

I fully disagree with what the author says on page 172, “ we as individuals are not complete, we are one-half of the whole.”  I find this statement objectionable.  It almost made me stop reading the book. I agree that some people are perhaps not even the half of what a decent human is supposed to be. But at the highest of our  abilities. I believe we each are a whole. And when it comes to man and woman being in a relationship, I prefer to say that each of them is a whole, because saying that we are a half put us in a mindset that we can never be fully happy by ourselves, because allegedly we individually are incomplete (a half).

On page 174, Tolle wrote “if you cannot be at ease with yourself when you are alone, then such unease will reappear some way or another when you are in a relationship, and you will likely hold your partner responsible for it.” This is so true. Indeed, many of the reasons why couples fight is because they each as individuals have issues of their own and just because they are in a relationship, they sort of automatically blame on one another for it.

Failure, loss, pain illness, had been greatest teachers for some people. Page 177. This works on people who already have kindness/empathy/humbleness in their heart, because for people who do not have kindness/empathy/humbleness in their hearts,  failure, loss, pain illness, will trigger their worst selves (revenge/violence/apathy). These 2 different outcomes are an example of the 2 sides of the same coin. You can not separate them and unfortunately every and absolutely everything has at least 2 sides (DUAL NATURE) and consequently at least 2 different outcomes.  Moreover, as said on page 186, even happiness comes with unhappiness. Everything  has an inseparable opposite [Tolle quoted this from  the Buddha].

On page 194, he quoted something that Jesus said: “turn the other cheek.”  Tolle called this phrase an “enlightenment teacher”. I agree because this phrase is meant to teach humbleness. Of course, most people living nowadays do not think this way (they did not get the memo). Because they do all the opposite when being provoked/attacked, these people are are so quick to reply (anger issues) without realizing that replying makes the aggressor more furious, and the situations worsens ending many times in fatalities.  I know that certain situations call for self-defense but most of the time is just anger issues that make  people react so quick and poorly. It would be better for these people to practice what Tolle calls, the “actionless activity (page 215).  Doing nothing will likely bring better outcomes than reacting angrily . Indeed, many people ruin their lives because they reacted so quickly without thinking and caused harm to others.  Purportedly “actionless activity “ was regarded as the highest achievements or virtues at some point of history in China (page 215).

Only those who have transcended the world can bring about a better world.”  (page 201).“True change happens within not without” (page 203). I believe he is referring that changing our mindset comes first and that we should not blame our downfalls to external factors. On page 218. Tolle wrote that “we are the problem” this seems to complement the above referenced quotation  “true changes happen within.”

 

Chapter 10, the power of surrender was intriguing, because I think it is hard to find a middle point to “conform” I mean there are things that one must accept no matter what, and others we must actually push ourselves to change them.  According to Tolle “surrender is the simple wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.”  Page 205, by flow of life I think Tolle means the now, and to enjoy the present, it requires some degree of conformism] (to be happy with what you have now). Letting go of resistance, page 210, goes hand on hand with the motto : “sometimes holding onto something harms more than letting it go.”

 

The example of the stoic Greek philosopher, on page 220, who replied: “I knew he was not immortal.” when told that his son died is perplexing . He offered no resistance, he accepted something that cannot be changed. I find this example interesting because I always thought that occasionally crying  is a positive way of releasing the anguish. Resisting the pain is mentally toxic, one must let it out by crying.

The power to choose on page 226, explains that for a choice to happen there has to be a high degree of consciousness. And on page 228 Tolle talks about forgiveness, that true forgiveness requires compassion for you and the others and that forgiveness only happens when you really leave the past behind.

 

 

 

pandemic processing

 

1) How am I feeling right now?  (in the context of 1 year after the beginning of the pandemic).  I am feeling good, at least today =). Well, I do not always feel good, I have to tune myself every day  to be in a “feel good mood”. Somedays it is not possible to be good because it almost feels like the bad vibes accumulated through the prior days need to be liberated. Well, one day of feeling down after several “feel good” days seems fine/normal.

2) intentionally call to mind something “negative”. After recalling the negative event of me crying when I got mocked by the people who I thought liked me. It makes me sad in general, because when mockery happens there is usually more than one victim. I mean, these annoyers make fun of people as a way of living, so I wonder how many other victims were there that maybe did not overcome the trauma of being insulted/laughed at like I did. Considering that we all are interconnected because we are part of this world. It scares me to think of the consequences that intimidation and ill jokes have in the mental state of people who live among me, in this city. Buttomline, no problem, no feeling is isolated, because you never know where the feeling will take you to or what things you may indirectly affect OR directly cause for acting under the influence of such feelings.

At the beginning of the lockdown (March 2020) I felt so sad, depressed, and anxious. Through the months I adapted like many of other humans. It actually scares me how “quick” we humans adapt, because that means for example that if an autocrat would order something out of the ordinary because of health reasons. It seems like most people will just ran to hide in their homes without even analyzing the consequences of the actions. BTW, I am not an anti covid-19 nor an anti-mask. However, through the years it still surprises me how quick people accept both false & true information.  I guess ignorance is a bliss after all, that allows you to be happy at home disregarding what is going on outside. Racism is a good example of this, most people are just happy to be home regardless that racism still a problem outside.

Thoughts on Self-Care

Self-care means (to me) dedicating time to do things that go beyond making one feel good to actually benefit one.  Because just feeling good is not necessarily benefitting you. Example addictive substancesOne’s self care may also benefit others through time. Because only when one is emotionally happy and physically healthy, one could properly take care of others ♡.

I used to think that self-care was selfish and yes at that time my self-esteem was low. My former partner made me believe that taking care of myself was selfish E.g., eating healthy, reading, doing my hair, taking naps, going to the gym, writing in my diary, having goals & dreams, etc. Moreover, I thought this was “normal” because many women in the city where I used to live; accept and promote male supremacy. So being surrounded by these short-minded women, made me believe that bowing to the “man of the house” was the “right” way to live with your spouse.   I was able to escape this toxic reality because I did not have children with that man. So, I did not have to think twice when running away.  Many women stay in abusive relationships because they do not have anywhere to take their children to.  And many other women die in the attempt to end these toxic relationships (feminicide).

SO, SELF-CARE GOES BEYOND DOING YOGA, BUYING THINGS YOU LIKE OR SEEKING COUNSELING. IT SOMETIMES REQUIRES CHANGING THE PEOPLE  WHO SURROUND YOU.

Self-care is a must and a priority in everyone’s life but if an individual is stuck only in their own self-care and does not move beyond it, one is perhaps just a selfish in disguise. Self-care is first, yes! But I find it important to also move towards caring for others as a second step.

Moreover, self-care is not a one-time fix, nor happens overnight, and there is not a one size fits all formula. It is a habit that one builds according to one’s needs and it requires constant application.

7 Habits

I think the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, seems to be a slight contradiction of the secret because it says that: “we are not our feelings, not even our thoughts, but we are our habits.”

I find it weird that the introduction (inside out) and the foreword are a lot longer than the average, aren’t introductions supposed to be short? Lol. Nevertheless, I fully agree with what was said on page 26 “if we want to change the situation, we must first to change ourselves.” I guess it is a bad habit that many of us have.

Other wisdom nuggets that I found here were: “into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or evil” (page 30) and the quote of Elenore Roosevelt: “no one can hurt you without your consent” (page 80). It is true that anything that come into our hands we can either turn it into something good or bad.

In essence the first habit, Principles of Personal Vision, says that a proactive person does not blame the external conditions, but he/she creates her own or look for alternatives.

The example of the bite of the snake kills you faster if you go chasing the snake perfectly portrays people who react aggressively to whatever life throws at them. In other words,  if we react (violently or negatively) instead of being proactive, we are actually making the situation worse.

I understand for proactive, not just having a positive mindset but also acting upon it.

It was funny the example of the husband not loving his wife anymore on page 8,  and the author telling him to love her, love her…”because when there is no love, the proper thing to do is to create it.”

The author further explains that highly proactive people sometimes have to accept problems and learn to live with them even if he/she doesn’t like them. The reason behind this is that if we don’t accept it and continuously get angry, we are giving the “problem” control over us.

Class Notes Tuesday February 23

Reminder to always have ready the annotations [scanned in PDF files], ready to send when professor ask.

There was a brief review-discussion of the Blatantly Obvious (“The Secret” Parody).

At the beginning of this parody there is a sticky note that reads: “be kind, rewind” which is referring to re-purposing. The secret is an idea that was recycled and repurposed. Even Rhonda Byrne mentioned that the original book was 100 years old.

On minute 3:50 there is a reference to “Good Feelings, Feels Good” and vice versa which apparently means that: “whispering something makes it sound more provocative.”

On minute 4:15 there is a reference to the “3 steps” Decide, Find, Buy it. LOL

On minute 5:15 someone says that: “everyone has potential, but it is limited by social class, education, race, etc.

Ironically, the comedians are engaging in the “essence” of the secret even when they are mocking it.   Parody can sometimes help us to think critically.

Among the keys of self-help are: re-purposing, resilience, and grit.

Samuel Smile paved the way for the self-help industry.

VOCABULARY

GRIT : courage, determination, perseverance.

RESILIENCE : flexibility, adaptability.

UTILITARIAN: practical.

 

Work in groups

Group 1 : The Preface, Introduction y Table of Contents.

Group 2: Chapter 1

Group 3: Chapter 4

There will be presentations on Thursday.

 

 

 

 

Sam Smiles

In chapter 1, it seems like the author is referring to the individuals who live expecting everything from the government while they do nothing to help themselves. They will never find happiness nor wellbeing unless such individuals work on themselves and not waste time: “a person has time when he leaves no minute unemployed.” I include myself on the list of procrastinators, and yes there would time if every minute would be well spent.

In chapter 4 I like the Italian proverb “who goes slowly goes long” which at the same time remind me of the fable of the turtle and the rabbit.” In which the perseverance of the turtle made him win the competition despite that the rabbit was faster. The history of Joseph Hume is also compelling because regardless that he was mocked, he maintained his perseverance and became a surgeon.

I chose chapter 12 EXAMPLES MODELS “there is no action of man in this life, which is not the beginning of a long chain of consequences…” AND  “the moral health of an individual depends on the moral atmosphere that is breathed.” And because of these maxims one should improve oneself to set an example for children. These maxims also parallel with the fact that if we want something done. We must do ourselves.

As mentioned in the book no individual in the universe stand itself… Hence, we should change the words and actions we put out there to create a better atmosphere.

Another thing that I found interesting is the fact that the author mentions: “rather be alone that in bad company.” Because nowadays most people rather be in company than alone.