Zen For Busy People – A Free Workshop

With 2016 off and running. why not start on the right path with our Meditation4All program?

We are arranging a number of free workshops for 2016, and the first one is coming up quickly.

On February 22nd, we are hosting a workshop at the Mulberry Branch of the New York Public Library. It is called Zen For Busy People.

As a part of our Meditation4All program it is free to everyone.

So take a look on our calendar at the Simple-Truth website for the 22nd, or copy the information below:

New York Public Library – Mulberry Branch
Monday, February 22, 2016
5:30 pm – 6:45
10 Jersey Street
New York, NY

We look forward to an enjoyable and enlightening evening and year ahead, and it all starts on the 22nd. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out at info@simple-truth.com. It will be a bit of short guided meditations, a bit of conversation, and a lot of AHA moments all around.

We look forward to connecting in 2016 and to seeing where it will lead.

Enjoy the start of your year and be well,

j.

Smile on This Humpday

9 Tumors, 7 weeks of radiation, and a half dozen seizures later, and I still don’t have a clue of what will happen next in my life. But you know what? It’s okay. Because I don’t look at any of those events as an end-all. In fact, every time I have walked into physical therapy to overcome the deficits I acquired from a recent procedure, I look around and seen people who are much worse off than myself.

At the end of the day, I walk out telling myself, “you know what? I am walking out, and not everyone in here is able to say that.”

So think of that this hump day, as you face the issues that will lay themselves out before you. Because, while you can dictate where you want your life to go, you can never dictate what issues you will have to overcome.

That said, here are some things to keep in mind to help you get through your day with a smile, and end your day on a positive note:

  • Eat Your Breakfast: I know you have been hearing this since day 1, but you know what, every so often your parents were right. Giving yourself enough energy in the morning helps to ensure your brain and your body have the power they need to help you stay healthy, happy and productive even when the world is knocking down your door. It doesn’t have to be eggs, bacon, and all the fixings, but eat something. You will feel the difference.
  • Take a Ten Minute Break: every hour or so. It took me way too many years to learn that our brains just cannot maintain a high output level if you force yourself to plow through your day. So here’s an idea, use that coffee break as a way to hit the pause button. Every hour, get up, get a cup of coffee or tea, take a deep breath, and simply watch your cup mindfully as you breathe. You will be amazed at how quickly your brain will start producing again, and at a higher level than before.
  • Talk to People: Yes, you are a social creature. You gain energy when you interact with others. So get up, wander around, and say hello to a few people. It can be your office-mate, it can be someone else’s assistant, it can be the person at the register at your favorite deli or coffee place. They don’t need to hear all the boring details of your work. They don’t need to be a part of your team. They simply need to be human. That’s right, go out and chat someone up, and then see how that conversation has changed your outlook on work and life, in general.
  • Do Something Different: We all get set in our ways, and yes those ways are not always the best way to keep our body and minds active. So do something different. Change the patterns of your day. Take a different route to work. Laugh inappropriately. Have something different at lunch. Try a new location for lunch. Mix it up. It will create new networks in your brain and keep your mind active trying to figure out what you’re up to, and that will keep you young at heart no matter how old you may be.

It’s not difficult to stay alive, be more productive and come out more human than when you went in. In fact, it’s pretty easy. Try to remind yourself to do just one of these things and you will be surprised at how your life will change for the better.

If you want more tips, feel free to sign up for our emails on the  right, or at https://simple-truth.com/blog.

Be well and enjoy the rest of the week.

 

 

j.

Rest, Renew, Meditate on 2016

If you are like me, you have a natural need for activity.

The moment I feel as if nothing is getting accomplished, I begin to look for things to do. It is shy I could never take on the corporate life, where downtime was celebrated and people looked forward to vacation days more than anything.

Me? I dreaded them.  It is why I got out of the corporate world as quickly as I could and drove myself through producing documentaries and building furniture I would eventually sell on Abbott Kinney in Venice, CA. It is also what drove me to have the health issues I currently have – namely stress-driven tumors.

Even today, I have to constantly remind myself that it is okay, I can relax, nothing is going on for most people in the United States. And I would encourage you to do the same. This is a time when it is okay for nothing to get done.  It is time to realize nobody will be there to answer your phone call or email. It is probably the worst time to send direct mail, as if there was ever a good time these days. But if your restlessness gets the best of you, and yoga or meditation still will not take the edge off, then it is time to turn to 2016.

There are only a few weeks out of the year when nobody, and I mean nobody, with signing authority is around. This is one of them. So put whatever “can’t wait” on hold, and begin thinking about what you are going to do when you get back in town.

Those holiday cards you never sent? Delete the Christmas Tree or the Minorah [I know it’s tight, but you only have until January 1 to get them out, versus January 8 for a New Years Eve card], and write in “Welcome to 2016.”

You see, there is always a way. Besides, it will buy you an additional week to what?

That’s right, rest, relax and contemplate 2016, you know, the new year.

As for 2015? Do what you do in meditation – Acknowledge it, breath into it, and on your next exhale – just LET IT GO….

Wonderful Journey Through Meditation

This is such a wonderful Journey we are all on, let’s travel it together.

Whether you follow me or not, you have probably noticed I not been posting for a while.

I took an unexpected sabbatical almost eight weeks ago, something my doctors refered to as a series of severe seizures. Sabbatical or seizures – the implication is really a matter of semantics; the reality depends on what you do with your time.

From the doctors perspective, these were not the kind of seizures that jumps into people’s minds, complete with dramatic tremors and spasms. These were more internal than that – the kind that shuts off the connection between the cognitive segments of your brain and the motor skills of your body.

I have lived through enough of these to get over the shock pretty quickly. The first few days of my forced sabbatical are nice. All of my needs were taken care of and people respond to my smiles and eye rolls without too much conversation.

I was able to see, hear, and taste, I was able to contemplate big ideas and follow them to their eventual end, free from distractions, I just could not do much about them.

There was plenty of time for meditation and contemplation. The problem was I could not really read or write; my brain simply could not track a sentence let alone an entire paragraph that covered more than a single subject. The thoughts just overloaded my wiring – you will have to wait for my article about multitasking and distractions.

What I have learned is that time becomes irrelevant. Things take as long as they take and there is not much you can do about that, except stay focused on your thought.

Over the years I have learned that if you are able to write down the big ideas and the finer points, as my father taught me to do, you end up with a pretty amazing list of topics to dive into when you can write. You also have a list of well thought out points to support them with.

This is why I call it a sabbatical. With time not being an issue, I am left with little to do except to ponder and let my mind wander as my rehabilitation gets my body caught up with my brain, and my brain with my mind – connecting all that wiring, as it were, to re-teach me to walk, to read, to write, and yes, to smile.

If I am successful, I am left with what I think are, a pretty amazing list of articles to jump into, with such subjects as:

  • The Hypocrisy of the Hippocratic Oath
  • Returning the Barriers Back into Your Life
  • Even Yogis Duke It Out
  • There is Always A Choice – The Problem Lies in Taking Action
  • Dreaming is okay, but at some point you have to work for it
  • Estee Lauder & Colin Powell: 5 Tips That Will Focus You Mind, Body & Soul
  • Hipsters and Hippies – The Mistakes They Made The Last Time Around

Also, we will begin again with our weekly emails “Mindful Moments,” s well as the launch of our much awaited program: 5 Weeks to Meditation.

This is a wonderful Journey we are all on, join me, let’s travel it together.

Q+A – What Does It Feel Like When The Brain Reboots? Seizure Pt II

Moments of Enlightenment

This is the wiring diagram of a human brain. It helps me to understand the complexities of the brain and of my recoveries.

I used to describe the recovery from a seizure as a series of awakenings, as an ongoing experience that rolls out before you and continues to grow and expand as my brain reconnects itself and comes back online. But it is more than that. It is part physical, part psychological, and yes, part spiritual.

I would describe it as an expanding experience that includes a higher level of cognition which pushes beyond where my experiential limits used to be. It is as if, once opened, the pathways that were at once limited become limitless – beyond where the eye could at one time see.

I know this is as much physical as it is metaphysical. I realize much of this is a function of my brain repairing itself and my neurons re-knitting the old pathways, but I cannot help but drop the limiting thoughts that used to define me, to peek into the void beyond the horizon.

Physically, I understand that the myelin that sheathed my nerves was probably weakened during my seven weeks of radiation. [Myelin is the insulating covering of protein and fatty substances that protects the nerves of the brain, spinal cord and body. Unlike the insulation of a power cord, it is not designed to prevent electrical shocks as much as it is to hold the electrical impulses within the neurons, enabling them to transmit signals more quickly and efficiently along the neural network of cells.]

It is one reason the doctors and I think I had my seizure  in the first place. Seven weeks of radiation has a way of wearing away the myelin, leaving the nerves a bit raw.

As the myelin rebuilds, the synapses in the brain become stronger, the neurons engage and mesh together, recreating the network and the memories that I remember having. I am sure a certain level of neuroplasticity comes into play as the brain takes into account what is going on around it, enhancing the most relevant areas first, even letting go of some areas it deems less important.

In a way, I get a new brain. As this happens, it feels as if I am witnessing my memory expand at a rapid pace. The result is a hyper fast experience of watching my mind expand, not just rebuilding its old self, but often going beyond where it was, pushing past the old boundaries, and sometimes even forgetting or ignoring where they were.

In terrestrial terms, when I first left the hospital I had a very limited awareness of where I was. We often speak of being present – well, this was it. My focus was on the pavement immediately in front of my feet. I was not worried about what happened yesterday or the day before. I was not worried about what was coming up. The past and the future were not even concepts I could grasp. Mine was a very immediate and present-moment experience, all day, every day.

As my memories and my cognition came back online, I became aware of the entire block in front of me. I began to realize at some point I would reach the end of the block, and with it the concept of the future came into being. With that concept the street names beyond the block I was on became real.

I quickly learned if I went out on a ramble I would easily become lost, as in 100 feet out, I would lose my sense of direction and have to stop for a few minutes to regain my bearings. If instead I followed a set path, i.e., walking down a street I was familiar without turning down a side street, the streets in front and behind me would start to scroll as if a map was being unrolled with every step I took. Even the side streets would start to roll out and expand in every direction.

It was a fascinating experience to watch as my brain reconnected itself. I would have sudden realizations of the stores that were on this block and the next. I would not always remember their names, but I would often remember the smell of a bakery, the energy and the bustle of a coffee shop, or the emotional connection to a bookstore. The memories were not just physical, but emotional as well.

As the grid around me expanded from one block to three and to ten, I found myself having to stop on a corner, standing still and staring blankly at a sign or a tree, as my awareness and cognitive abilities caught up with my physical location and my brain’s growing network.

When I finally made it to the Hudson River – perhaps six blocks away – I practiced a walking meditation as I took in the smell of salt in the air. I removed my shoes to feel the cold planks of the boardwalk beneath my feet. I kept to the edge of the path to feel the reeds against my legs; it was the sensations I was after.

As those came in, I begin to smell the more subtle scents along the path, I could hear the birds singing, I could even hear the wavelets along the banks of the river. I became aware of the individual sounds that make up that wonderful tapestry of white noise that we all live in.

Perhaps this is why I teach a meditation that enables my students to embrace the world around them; to acknowledge and appreciate the individual sights and sounds that make up their world without feeling the need to attach themselves to each one.

About this time I also looked across the river to see the trees and the sky and the clouds that are beyond the walls of Manhattan. I can see where the Hudson flows out into the ocean and my mind quickly puts it all into place, that yes, there is a big beautiful world out there.

This is also the moment where I let go and allow my mind to roam, not stopping it at the edges where my brain says “real” or “not real”, or separating the “physical” from the “metaphysical.” Instead I enter a playground where I allow the sensations from each to overlap.

I begin to remember what happened during my seizure. I remember feeling the overload. I remember my brain shutting down. I remember my body closing off, and I remember giving myself up to the kindness of strangers, unable to move or to respond. And it is about this time that I am reassured of the kindness of human nature. Where not once has my experience tuned into the torture scenes so often found in the movies we are forced to endure.

Instead, people have always reached out, helped, and done so with kindness. It is about this time that I find myself smiling, knowing that I am on the right path.