Building community in a changing world

Category Archives: Home Use

March 6, 2023

Cold Water Therapy. Yummy…

I’ve been dabbling with cold water therapy the past few months, culminating in a 10-minute immersion in an ice bath. You can see me emerging from a silo that contained 15 bags of ice. I wasn’t cold during the immersion or afterwards.

During this time, I’ve discovered that the aversion to cold water is widespread. I hazard to guess it might be the thing that unites all of us. So you would be surprised to learn that it takes only about two days of taking cold showers to get used to the cold (if you simply take some deep breaths and ensure you’re not tense as you stand in it). The health benefits of cold water therapy are many – I’ve learned a lot from Wim Hof and watching his introductory videos on breathing will get you started nicely. And once you start taking cold showers, you actually begin to crave them…

February 14, 2023

Ram Dass on Dying and Unconditional Love

Here are two excerpts from this NY Times magazine interview with Ram Dass from a few years back – a piece in which Ram Dass described himself as being ready to die (which he did do a few months after the interview):

You’ve said that you’re ready to die. When did you know? 

When I arrived at my soul. Soul doesn’t have fear of dying. Ego has very pronounced fear of dying. The ego, this incarnation, is life and dying. The soul is infinite.

O.K., here’s something I’m struggling with: You teach that we’re supposed to be free from desires. I can imagine myself being free from the desire for prestige or money or some unattainable person’s attention. It’s much harder to imagine being free from the desire, for example, that my loved ones not come to any harm. Are we even supposed to let go of desires like that?

Yep! Desire is desire. Attachment is attachment. When I came back to the U.S. from India, I came back bringing the message of Maharaji. I had never experienced the love that he showered on me. It was unconditional love. Everything in my life had been conditional love. When I was a good boy, then they loved me. When I was a good student, they loved me. When I was a good lover, they loved me. I thought that I could come back and show unconditional love. The core message is that kind of love.

February 2, 2023

Ethics Matters Per Warren Buffett

This article about Warren Buffett’s advice for young people smacks of mindfulness. The three credos shared from Warren include:

1. Define success by your “inner scorecard”
2. Surround yourself with mentors
3. Protect your reputation at all cost

I love this quote in particular: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” As someone who has blogged daily for 20 years, I know all about the risk of saying something inappropriately just a single time to bring you down to size. Luckily, I haven’t done that yet…

December 18, 2022

1st Annual Old Glebe Pickleball Tourney

1. Location & Time: Old Glebe Park on a Saturday afternoon. Both tennis courts get reserved for 90 minutes.

2. Player Pool: 16 players in the tourney (with two alternates in case some folks drop). First come when the announcement is made, first into the pool. Regular players can be given a heads up as to when the announcement will be made on the What’s App so they can be ready to join if they see fit.

Announcement asking people if they want to enter the tourney will be made on the Monday or Tuesday before the Saturday we play – if we make teams too far in advance, too many people drop in the interim and it’s tough to keep adding in new players.

3. Team Selection: Your teammate will be assigned randomly, drawn from a hat. So the teams will be uneven. Life is unfair.

4. Tourney Rules:

– Each team will play each other nearly once (you’ll play 5 of the 7 other teams – which teams you’ll play will be drawn randomly in advance from a hat), with the two most winning teams playing each other at the end in the Championship Final (if there is a tie for 2nd most winning team, the 2nd team will be determined by coin flip).
– Games will be “straight 9” or 12 minutes long, whichever happens first.
– Three minute breaks between each game.
– This will allow for 6 games to be played – the 5 games of group play and the one Championship Final game where those that didn’t make the Championship Final will be free to cheer for their favorites. Wagering permitted.

5. Entry Fee: $2 per player to defray court reservation fees (unless a corporate sponsor is obtained to cover all costs). Each player on the winning team in the Championship Final will receive a dollar bill, suitable for framing.

December 12, 2022

Touch Someone

I love to be touched. I’m a hugger. I like to hold hands with my wife. I like to be petted while watching TV. I’m lucky that I’m not one of the many who don’t feel the same way because studies have shown there are real benefits to being touched.

Here’s a few selected excerpts from this article in “Medical News Today”:

  • Famous studies have demonstrated that children — as well as the infants of non-human primates — who grow up without affective touch have severe developmental issues and are unable to relate socially.
  • A study from Sweden — the findings of which were published last year in the journal Research on Language and Social Interaction — found that embracing and patting children in distress has a soothing effect for them.
  • A study found that women who offered physical touch as a symbol of support to their partners showed higher activity in the ventral striatum, which is a brain area involved in the reward system.
  • Moreover, a series of studies conducted by Dutch researchers showed that hugging could relieve a person’s feelings of existential fear and remove self-doubt.
  • One study published in 2014 in the journal Psychological Science suggested that the stress buffer provided by shared hugs actually has a protective effect against respiratory infections.
  • Finally, touch is very effective when it comes to relieving physical pain. Massage therapies can be a great way of soothing all kinds of aches, from headaches to back pain.

November 29, 2022

“Present Moment Self-Observation Without Judgment” (Witness Consciousness)

In this dharma talk, Jonathan Foust talks about what it’s like to be really free – that there are other states of consciousness other than being awake, sleeping (falling asleep and being aware of sense of where time and space get disoriented) and dreaming (having a dream and being aware that you’re dreaming it). Specifically, Jonathan digs into:

1. What is “Present Moment Self-Observation Without Judgment”?
2. How you can cultivate the optimal environment to develop the witness?
3. How to avoid the near-enemy of being the witness (states that look like they’re the witness but they’re not really).
4. What it means to be aware of the light behind the observer – awareness itself. Not just aware of your thoughts, but what it means to be fully awake. Awake to what’s happening and free (or aware of) reactivity.

November 14, 2022

Understanding the NVC Model

Here’s an excerpt from the “30 Day Challenge” offered by “The Antiracist Table” about how the NVC (nonviolent communication) model works: Understanding the need starts with seeing what happened without judgment and criticism. In other words, sticking to the facts. From there, one has to identify what they feel. NVC’s four main components:

1. Observations – What happened? Stick to what is factual. Avoid the characterization and judgment we are prone to. Describe what happened as if you were an uninvolved observer.

2. Feelings – Label the feelings coming up. Use the feelings list to help increase your emotion vocabulary. Feelings fall into two categories, unmet and met. Remember, feelings are not good or bad, they are information that can help you understand the underlying need. Labeling feelings can also take away some of their power.

3. Needs – Get to the heart of the conflict–what matters most to you and the other person in the conflict. Remember, “everything we do, we do to meet a need.”

4. Requests – Ask for what you want using a request, not a demand. A demand prompts criticism, judgment, and defensiveness. A request shows empathy towards the other person’s needs.

As part of NVC you work through steps 1 – 3 for yourself and then you work through steps 2 and 3 for the person involved in the conflict. When someone shows you that they see/hear your needs it can be very powerful–it can disarm the angriest of people; it can soften the hardest mindset. Start using these skills in low stakes conversations together with your AntiRacist Mindfulness Practices (being aware of what is happening in the present moment in a nonjudgmental way) and spend time each day reviewing the feelings and needs list to improve your feelings and needs vocabulary.

October 12, 2022

The Core Principles of AntiRacism

From the AntiRacist Table, here are the core principles of antiracism:

1. Intention – set and live in the intention to cultivate an AntiRacist America and take action that dismantles racist policies.
2. Educate – educate yourself and honor the history & culture of others.
3. Courage – put courage, compassion, and vulnerability over comfort.
4. Individuality – see individuals as individuals–meaning any positive or negative qualities of the individual are not attributed to all.
5. Humanity – take actions that support humanity.
6. AntiRacist – dismantle racist policies and create AntiRacist policies.
7. Equality – hold all groups of people, according to race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, age, and intersectionality as equal.
8. Empathy – cultivate empathy by rehumanizing the dehumanized.
9. Allies – recruit and support partners committed to AntiRacist work.
10. Love – choose love and healing over fear and oppression.

October 3, 2022

White Fragility

Here is an excerpt from “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo (here’s a great video of Robin presenting), courtesy of The AntiRacist Table:

“To say that whiteness is a standpoint is to say that a significant aspect of white identity is to see oneself as an individual, outside or innocent of race–’just human.’ Whites also produce and reinforce the dominant narratives of society–such as individualism and meritocracy–and use these narratives to explain the positions of other racial groups. These narratives allow us to congratulate ourselves on our success within institutions of society and blame others for their lack of success.” 27

“Exploring our [white people’s] collective racial identity interrupts a key privilege of dominance–the ability to see oneself only as an individual. We need to discuss white people as a group–even if doing so jars us–in order to disrupt our radicalized identities. For people of color, the privilege of being seen (and seeing themselves) as unique individuals outside the context of race cannot be taken for granted. Talking about race and racism in general terms such as white people is constructive for whites because it interrupts individuals. But racial generalization also reinforces something problematic for people of color–the continual focus on their group identity.

Furthermore, it collapses many racial groups into one generic category, therefore denying the specific way that different groups experience racism. While people of color share some experiences of racism overall, there are also variations based on a specific group’s history. These variations include how group members have adapted to the dominant culture, how they have been represented, how they have been positioned in relation to other groups of color, and the ‘role’ the group has been assigned by dominant society. The messages I have internalized about people of Asian heritage, for example, are not the same as those I have internalized for Indigenous people, and a key aspect of challenging these messages is to identify their differences and how they shape my attitudes toward various groups of color.” 89-90

This New Yorker article about Robin’s book is useful – here’s an excerpt from that (and here’s a good list of examples of white privilege):

In DiAngelo’s almost epidemiological vision of white racism, our minds and bodies play host to a pathogen that seeks to replicate itself, sickening us in the process. Like a mutating virus, racism shape-shifts in order to stay alive; when its explicit expression becomes taboo, it hides in coded language. Nor does prejudice disappear when people decide that they will no longer tolerate it. It just looks for ways to avoid detection.

“The most effective adaptation of racism over time,” DiAngelo claims, “is the idea that racism is conscious bias held by mean people.” This “good/bad binary,” positing a world of evil racists and compassionate non-racists, is itself a racist construct, eliding systemic injustice and imbuing racism with such shattering moral meaning that white people, especially progressives, cannot bear to face their collusion in it.

September 20, 2022

Dealing with Shame

Here’s an excerpt from the “30 Day Challenge” offered by “The Antiracist Table” about how we need empathy to rehumanize and we need empathy to get past shame:

Shame is a common feeling for non-Black people when race comes up. Shame may also come up for BIPOC around race for different reasons. Brené Brown says shame “is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” Brown says the real antidote to shame is “shame resilience,” which “is about moving from shame to empathy.”

Brown outlines four steps to get to shame resilience:

  1. Recognizing shame and understanding its triggers;
  2. Practicing critical awareness;
  3. Reaching out; and
  4. Speaking shame.