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March 2007
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May 2007

Morning meditation - Living naturally takes conscious effort

As human beings we are self conscious. Some of us spend more times in our heads than we do in our hearts or in our bodies. For those of us who think too much we admire people who do things naturally with elegance and grace. We would like things to come naturally. Products get sold by the marketers as natural. When we call things natural there is an appeal, and that appeal lies in the fact that the activity or object is intuitive, lies in congruence with the Tao, with the natural world.

It is not that awareness, consciousness, ethics, effort are bad things. Good functioning, performance, may take repeated practice and rehearsal until we get it right. Virtue is the result of character formation which comes from repeated efforts to create habits of thoughts, feeling, and behavior over a period of time. Harry Truman said that the definition of a gentleman or a lady was someone who exhibited grace under pressure. This grace under pressure comes after long training and the person exhibiting this grace makes it look like they came by it naturally.

In the spiritual life, we practice virtue with a steadfastness and effort that at times is arduous, and yet when it comes time to perform, when the chips are down, when all seems lost, when the tough choices are to be made, the spiritual person relies on his/her intuition because, he/she trusts the consciousness that he/she has created inside. Alignment with the Tao, at first takes conscious effort, and then comes naturally.

Where do drug abusers get their prescription pain killers? From family

Medicine_cabinet Where do prescription drug abusers get their drugs? The internet? No. On the street? Sometimes. From the family medicine cabinet and from friends? Usually.

Reuters Health Day  reported on February 9, 2007 on a couple of recent studies which have been done.

"About 60 percent are getting their drugs from friends and family for free, while another 15 percent go and buy them from friends," Clark said in reference to numbers from SAMHSA's 2005 national survey of drug use, which also confirmed that opioid analgesic use is on the rise among teens. "So, in the case of a general population, drug dealers aren't the biggest problem either, although it's certainly no surprise that hard-core addicts are getting it that way," he said.

Link: MedlinePlus: Dealers, Family Biggest Sources of Illegal Prescription Painkillers.

Morning meditation - Notice the Tao

It is in quiet, in rest, in contemplation, something the management gurus call "sink time" that we come into awareness of the Tao, of the Godhead, of the transcendent.

Sunday was created by the Emperor Constantine as the day of worship in his Edict of Milan giving Christians the right to openly practice their religion in public in the Roman Empire in the fourth century. Sunday has been often called a day of rest, a day for worship, a day for recollection. Increasingly in our society these oases in the hurly burly activity of modern life are not culturally respected, but used as just another day in the week.

Private time for recollection, worship, and leisure must be carved out by individuals, and families. They are no longer respected or practiced by the majority of the wider community. In practicing the spiritual life, individuals must protect this time and give themselves the permission to enjoy it. We need to regularly and periodically slow down, to touch base, to get centered, to allow the dust to settle, to recollect our experiences so we can make sense out of them, and to relax.

We can run, but we can't hide. We can stay busy, busy, busy, and get very little done. Success comes not from how hard you're working, but how smart you're working. In the last analysis you take yourself wherever you go and whatever you do. We are like turtles we carry our shell everywhere and in it we continue to live wherever and whenever until we die. As the Buddhists say, "Wherever you go, there you'll be." Slow down, smell the roses, relax and notice the Tao.

Running with Scissors, the film

Running_with_scissors I read the book and then I watched the movie. I think I liked the book better. Running With Scissors was distributed in 2006 and is the movie made from the supposed memoir of Augusten Burroughs. The story is so bizarre that it is hard to know how much is actual and how much exaggerated.

The story is about Augusten's parent's divorce, and his being given to his mother's psychiatrist, Dr. Finch, to raise when he is 17. Dr. Finch is very eccentric as is the whole Finch family, so eccentric in fact, that the Finch's almost make the Burrough's look sane although Mr. Burroughs is alcoholic and Mrs. Burroughs has bi-polar disorder so severe at times that she requires hospitalization.

As you watch this movie, it is unclear whether to laugh or cry. Whatever positive feeling the movie might generate in the audience comes from the observation that no matter how crazy your own family is, they sure are not as crazy as the Burrough's or the Finch's. The most touching and human moment in the film is when Mrs. Finch, who seems to really care about Augusten, helps him leave the Finch home for a new life in New York City as a writer.

The lesson of this movie seems to be that adults are pretty messed up and young people can't depend on them to provide reasonable care for them. Other than for laughs at the bizarre and sick situations, I don't see much socially redeeming value in this move. I don't recommend it.

Link: Running with Scissors (2006).

Let mothers breastfeed their kids

Breastfeeding_mother On February 1, 2007, in a press release, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called on Health Care Professionals, Hospitals, Employers, to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least 6 months.

In an effort to help increase the rate of breastfeeding in the US, today The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a Committee Opinion, "Breastfeeding: Maternal and Infant Aspects," emphasizing ACOG's strong support for breastfeeding and urging ob-gyns, other health care professionals, hospitals, and employers to support women in choosing to breastfeed their infants.

Breastfeeding is the preferred method of feeding for newborns and infants, and nearly every woman can breastfeed her child, according to ACOG. ACOG continues to recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants until approximately 6 months of age, with longer periods being beneficial. Some exceptions to breastfeeding include women who take illegal drugs, have high alcohol intake, have HIV, have an infant with galactosemia, or have certain other infections.

Link: ACOG Calls on Ob-Gyns, Health Care Professionals, Hospitals and Employers for Increased Support for Breastfeeding.

Is the U.S. on the way to becoming a police state?

One of my favorite bumper stickers recently says, "I'm not afraid of terrorists. Don't create a police state on my account."

Americans seem ever more willing to give up their civil liberties for the promise of security. The REAL ID act was passed in 2005 requiring all Americans to have a National Identification Card. Eight states have so far passed resolutions opposing this program. Over the last eight years as we watch the fiascos in Iraq, in the management of Katrina, in the horrible governmental management of the immigrant situation, and the governmental corruption of Congressman Duke Cunningham and the firing of 8 U.S. attorneys by the Department of Justice, do you really think the Federal Government can fairly and appropriately manage and utilize a Federal ID program?

This joke would be funny if it were not so true.

What are the 3 biggest lies ever told?

I'll still love you in the morning. The check is in the mail. I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.

A Federal Identification program is probably a bad idea whose time has not yet come. The ability of the Federal government to obtain and use our personal information legitimately and appropriately seems highly unlikely. The information can be easily accessed and used for nefarious reasons as we saw in Florida and Ohio when thousands of black voters where disenfranchised so Republicans could win in the elections. We now have electronic voting which is easily rigged and abused in many states, and can you imagine what they would do with National ID information?

Let your elected representatives know nationally and state-wide that National IDs are a bad idea.

Link: EPIC - National ID and REAL ID Act.

Morning meditation - Wrinkles can be a manifestation of character

Since I was a young child I had a very clear mantra: "It is not a bad life if you know how to live it." I have no idea where this mantra came from. I have no recollection of anyone telling me this. It was more a strong feeling than a thought, and when I would feel discouraged, frightened, cynical, this mantra would come into my mind and I would say with confidence and determination, "It isn't a bad life if you know how to live it."

I have been very aware that I don't always know the best way to live life, to do life, to get a life, to create a life for myself, and so I am always looking for clues, for feedback, for ideas, and advice on how a good life is to be lived, can be lived, can be created for oneself.

As a person gets older, the more a person becomes conscious of aging, and aging brings wrinkles. Wrinkles are the marks of life left physically on our bodies, and psychologically on our personalities, and spiritually on our souls or spirits. These wrinkles are like tatoos, and some people have gone through life recklessly, thoughtlessly, and their tatoos look like the tatoos done by a blind, drunk tatooist. Other people, have been more thoughtful, taken more responsibility, and their tatoos are beautiful and have aged with a patina of exquisite beauty which elicit interest and appreciation.

The aging process either brings about wisdom and hope, or cynicism and despair. It either brings about a beauty of a precious antique worth appreciating and romancing, or an ugliness which is decrepit and repulsive. This beauty or ugliness has more to do with the spirit and the psychological than it does with the physical. The wrinkles of aging are neither good or bad in themselves, and people usually see past the wrinkles to the inner beauty. Viewing the inner beauty leaves the viewer seeing the wrinkles as manifestation of character and a life well lived. Pick your tatooist and tatoos carefully. They leave indelible marks on your life.

Quote of the day

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Theodore Roosevelt