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The Day Of The Dead | Nov 2, 2019

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and Brazil, November 2, 2019.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. It has become a national symbol and as such is taught (for educational purposes) in the nation’s schools. Many families celebrate a traditional “All Saints’ Day” associated with the Catholic Church.
– Wikipedia

Halloween is a fun celebration mostly for children to dress as ghosts and ghouls and delightfully spook neighbors. The Day of the Dead is more personal and familial. It’s aimed at remembering the departed, the loved and unloved.

And why not celebrate our dead, remember, and commemorate?

Your reasons need not be religious or cultural. Reasons can be found in the origin of the words, commemorate, memorable, memorial, remember, and memory itself. The Latin root for these is memor, meaning “mindful”, and the Greek word mermēra, meaning “care”.
– Merriam-Webster Dictionary

We remember to be mindful of and to care for the dead. Just one day, before we forget again.

Gone And Forgotten.

Obsessed with the here and now, the new and the better, we forget the past and the departed. It’s as though we suffer mass-amnesia.

Prolific intellectual, art critic, and poet, Clive James addressed this in his tome Cultural Amnesia, published in 2007.

Shining a light on the legacies of public figures that have shaped the culture and thinking of this century, James’ central idea of the book is that cultural amnesia is a deficit that touches us all in the Western world. He traces the origins of forgetting to the mass-trauma and ongoing grief of World War 2. We are compelled to forget the inhumanity of the Holocaust, and yet, in doing so, we are impoverished both culturally and personally.

This shared forgetting causes us to neglect the history that created our here and now, the cosmic soup in which we all swim.

We neglect to even know of the public lives whose legacies we benefit from, whether by liberation, peace, beauty, or empowerment. We forget our teachers, those accessible gurus who lit our path. In a hurry to become the teacher, we overlook rightful homage to the blessings bestowed upon us. We forget grandparents and ancestors who created us, whose essence and, to an extent, superficial characteristics and temperament, we embody throughout our mortal lives.

We forget the past not only because of cultural amnesia caused by trauma, but because we prefer tangible, finite, knowable things. The Western world is focused on material living. Unless we seek it consciously, the unknown makes us feel insecure.

Death is a mystery. Without attention to the mysteries, we are poorer. As Joseph Campbell wrote in The Power of Myth, “It’s important to live life with the experience, and therefore the knowledge, of its mystery and of your own mystery. This gives life a new radiance, a new harmony, a new splendor.”
Radiance and splendor are essential to wellbeing. Without them, we are possessed by mundanity.

The Fecund Void.

“Into the void of silence, into the empty space of nothing, the joy of life is unfurled.”
— C. S. Lewis

The void is more than half of our conscious existence.

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Ego, Shadow, Self – Which Is In Control?

Ego Shadow And Self

Most of our actions are unconscious. We simply react in real-time.

Modern neuroscience tells us we are consciously aware of about 5% of our thoughts. Most of our behaviors and emotions are reactions to the 95 percent of brain activity that occurs beneath our awareness.

At the root of our automatic, knee-jerk reactions to life is a lack of self-knowledge. Modern wisdom says you should just be yourself: very appealing because no effort is required. Older wisdom says you should cultivate the self because a consciously directed life is much more likely to satisfy and bring meaning.

According to Eastern and Western psychology, we have an ego/persona, a shadow, and a self. The simplest way to understand them is:

Ego is your identity, while the persona is the mask you wear to survive and thrive – your social personality.

Shadow is the aspect you hide so that you can integrate and find acceptance.

Self is your true inner nature, who you are, and who you always will be. It actually includes the ego and the shadow.

In many cases, identity and relationship issues, and mental health problems stem from these three parts of ourselves working independently (often in opposition) rather than in harmony with each other.

Psychological education and inner-reflection methods such as meditation create healthy, harmonious selves.

Where to begin?

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How to use relaxation to reduce the negative effects of stress, handle traumatic events, prevent overwhelm, and feel safe and secure.

Polyvagal Theory – Ruby Jo Walker

This chart has been put together by Ruby Jo Walker and is based on the work of Stephen Porges. It clearly explains in visual form what happens to us when our stress builds to intolerable levels as it does in trauma.

Yoga, relaxation, and meditation are powerful tools that are now being used by clinicians to help patients gain control over the residue of past trauma and return to being the master of their own lives.

They have shown that along with talking therapies and the appropriate use of drugs that dampen hyperactive alarm systems, traumatic imprints from the past can be transformed by having embodied experiences that directly contradict the helplessness, rage, and collapse that are part of trauma.

Embodied experiences deal directly with traumatic memories that are held in the body. This is achieved by using systems, such as yoga and meditation, that build feelings of relaxation, of being grounded and safe, of being able to trust the present moment, and thereby enable you to restore your ability for connection and joy. As a result, the old traumatic memories are stripped of their emotional intensity so that you are freed from the past and are thereby able to regain a degree of self-mastery.

All the knowledge in the world is not going to help you unless you develop the skill of embodied relaxation. Without developing relaxation your body will remain stuck in tension and hypervigilance, and feelings of relaxation, safety and intimacy will be vague memories.

Porges polyvagal theory

Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University where he is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium.

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How Stress Wrecks Your Brain and What To Do About It

Did you know that chronic, unresolved stress can create an imbalance between the self-aware, rational, decision making, and problem-solving parts of your brain (the pre-frontal cortex) and the emotion and memory controlling parts of your brain (the amygdala and hippocampus)?

Long-term (chronic) stress alters your thinking, emotion, and behavior and over time changes the size, structure, and function of parts of your brain. Chronic stress also shortens the length of your chromosomes and interferes with how your genes express themselves, making you more vulnerable to disease.

How your ability to learn and remember shrinks

The hippocampus, the learning and memory center of the brain, shrinks as a result of chronic stress. Neurons die and the connections between neurons in the hippocampus become weaker, which is detrimental to your memory. Memories become fragmented making it hard for you to keep track of what you are doing. You might have brain fog and be unable to think creatively.

Amygdala-hippocampus
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The One Thing You Can Do To Bring Yoga Into Every Situation

Did you know that you can engage in a yoga posture and a meditative state in almost any situation; while taking a meeting, shopping, working out, or socializing?

Here, we define a yoga posture as any position that enables deeper awareness, embodiment, and connection.

This practice needs no yoga props or special conditions. It only takes a decision to perform, and a skill, which can be learned and cultivated.

In today’s world, the majority of people are stuck in states of contraction (tension) caused by stress, strain, overthinking and overwhelm.

Unchecked contracted states eventuate in illness.

Contraction diminishes your life-force by cutting you off from parts of yourself.

  • Physical contraction cuts one part of the body off from another.
  • Psychological contraction cuts off self-awareness which creates anxiety.
  • Emotional contraction cuts off feeling and connection with others.
  • Spiritual contraction cuts you off from cosmic energies, which causes alienation.

Your feeling states, contracted or relaxed, also create a powerful impression which others can sense, for better or for worse.

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Should Your Passion Be Buried Or Reborn?

Christine, a 40-year-old Australian artist, now living in the US, almost fell into the wrong career and surrendered her passion. But a conversation with someone she greatly admired re-orientated her life.

Words by Christine

Art and the artist’s life were my passion all through my 20s, but my 30th birthday and a broken 8-year relationship gave me a harsh reality check. Then, a steady income became more important to me than anything else.

I’d worked part-time in aged care homes. With my new aim, I trained to gain a better income, and I soon turned full time.

I planned to paint in my spare time, but it became unsustainable with a hectic social life that involved a lot of wine (and other substances), art openings, parties, celebrations, etc. Although I continued to call myself an artist, life was fun, and pleasantly uncomplicated without actually making art.

Watching Success

Years flew by without a single painting being completed. Then over a 6-month period, I noticed a fellow artist, Lucas (whose work I respected), turning out an astounding amount of work – a solo show one month, a group show the next, paid commissions the next.

“Have you hired a secret helper,” I joked at one of his exhibitions? “Oh yes, ten little fairies,” he joked back. “Seriously, what has changed”, I pressed.

“I did a course about life purpose, and it messed with my head, in the best possible way,” Lucas said.

I remember his words because, although I was happy with my therapy work and doing more training to advance my career, the fact that I did not know my life purpose made me quite sad, and very curious.

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