Culture & Depression

 

In my own life I have observed when depression tends to sink in: when I am not meeting my deepest needs. When I live a life that does not work for me.

It is very simple.

We have basic and universal needs, and we try to meet those needs through various strategies. Often, we are attached to particular strategies even if they do not work very well, and even if we are not very aware of which needs we are trying to meet through them.

In my teens, I experienced depression alongside with a tremendous exitement about what this world has to offer. I explored Jung, Steiner, Bertelsen, Daoism, Buddhism, sustainability, art and more, and it gave me a tremendous hope as I could see a way out of the habitual patterns I had inherented from my culture and family. Patterns that led to a life where my deepest needs were not met, and depression as life’s way of reminding me that they were not met.

When depression arrives – even in its mildest form – I know it is a reminder: which deep and universal needs are not fulfilled in my life? And I know there are more strategies possible to fulfill them than I – or any human being – can ever explore.

And the simplest strategies are often the most effective.

Life (experience & ideas)

 

I have seen how we humans easily get caught up in ideas rather than the taste and full experience. It is played out over and over again, including in different spiritual traditions.

There is the taste and lived experience, and then there is the ideas around it. The first opens up for life. The second, if by itself, for alienation. An healthy approach emphasizes the experience, and allows the ideas to support it.

And as everything is in change, our experience changes – and our ideas changes with it. There is nothing fixed to hold onto.

In Breema, there is a strong emphasis on the experience. It is one of the reasons why I find it such a nurturing and juicy approach.

Miracle

 

The greatest miracle is that anything exists at all.

Then, that there is awareness.

Then, how the immense richness of the Universe unfolds from simplicity.

We experience the magic in life when we are present, when we have a taste of Existence or God – beyond all dualities.

And I notice how Breema, as my experience of it deepens, helps me open to this taste of Existence and magic.

Summer

 

It has been a wonderful summer.

Breema

I have taken weekly Breema classes, and went to an eleven-day intensive at the Breema Center in Oakland, California. At my return, I sent out an invitation for free Breema session at the Eugene Permaculture Guild email list, and have had 2-4 sessions daily since then. I notice that the more session I do, the better I feel. It has much the same effect as meditation, yoga and tai chi, although two benefits when I do it – not only my self. The personal connections have also been great and have opened up new doors.

Food

It’s been an abundant late summer/early fall, with much food preservation going on (drying, freezing and eventually canning as well). It is great to find more local sources including free ones. I have also gotten back into making foods including mustard.

NWEI

 

When I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, one of the community activities that I found the most enjoyable was to help start NWEI discussion groups (on topics such as Voluntary Simplicity, Deep Ecology, Choices for Sustainable Living, a Sense of Place, etc).

Although the groups use an anthology of readings as background for the meetings, and a way of kicking off the conversation, I found that the magic happened in the interactions among the participants. It is amazing to see the wisdom and experience that is allowed to surface when we have a deep and personal dialogue, and the even richer and deeper wisdom that comes out of the group interaction.

It also became clearer to me how important it is to create a good container for quality interactions. Some of the guidelines: Speaking time is shared among participants, talking from personal experience (avoiding abstract ideas, blaming others, etc), solution focus, etc.

Consumption

 

Much of the mindless consumption in our society are attempts to meet basic human needs. And unsuccessful attempts at that.

Our culture has set up a quite impressive feedback system:

(a) Among our most basic human needs are deep, authentic and meaningful relationships to ourselves, each other and the Earth. These are needs that are not met very well in current western society (in the US least of all places).

(b) We are trained to be unaware of our basic needs. We are also trained to be unaware of how we choose strategies to meet those needs. Most of our strategies are habitual, unconscious, learned from our culture and family, and tragically ineffective in meeting our needs.

(c) We try to meet our basic needs through various forms of consumption. This is the one strategy that we systematically learn from an increasingly young age, and one that is reinforced by our culture.

(d) Our culture is set up to perpetuate alienation through promoting unsuccessful strategies to meet our needs (consumption, nuclear living units, mindless entertainment etc.). These strategies feeds the current (profoundly flawed) economical system and those who benefit from it (although they are as much and tragically caught up in it as anyone else of course). And this in turn is an additional incentive to perpetuate the same unsuccessful strategies.

It is a feedback loop that is doomed to failure, but we need to become aware of how flawed it is to change it. And, as with much change in human life (on an individual or collective level) it may not happen until the alternative (to continue what we are doing) becomes too painful. And the pain may partly come through our alienation, and partly through economic collapse and ecological unraveling.

Simplicity

 

Jen and I facilitated a workshop on voluntary simplicity today. We chose to do it as a discussion group, and is always amazing to see the combined wisdom and experience of the participants, and the magic that comes from the human interactions.

As with any group interaction, setting up the container is essential. And some aspect of that process this time was to give life to the realizations that…

(a) It is a process (no end goals).

(b) It is about intentionality and living a meaningful life – which will look different from person to person and different at different times in any person’s life (there is no one strategy).

(c) There is a wide range of tools available, and which tools are appropriate depends on the situation and person.

(d) Some of those tools have to do with inner simplicity. For instance, NVC helps us identify and clarify our needs, and consciously choose strategies to meet those needs (and flexibility in which strategies we choose).

(e) Most of our needs have to do with relationships and connections with ourselves, each other and the wider Earth community. They can be met simply, and w/o much consumption.

Breema is one of those tools for me, allowing me to connect deeply with myself, other people (when I give or receive Breema), and the wider whole. I have a direct and deepening experience of no separation, I can more easily let go of my attachments to ideas and habits that do not meet my needs, and choose strategies that better meet my needs. Many of the “holes” in my life that I sometimes try to (unsuccessfully) meet through various forms of consumption, are filled through Breema.

Beckett

 

I watched some of the 19 by Beckett plays tonight. It seems he, in many of the plays, pulls out one way we habitually relate to the world and then amplifies it.

In NVC terms, he shows how we are stuck in particular strategies to meet our needs, although the strategies do not always work and although we are sometimes not even aware of which needs we are trying to meet by a particular strategy.

NVC, meditation, Breema, etc. are some approaches to bring these habitual patterns into awareness, so we can relate to them with more awareness and choice.

News as a Tool

 

The daily news is mostly the same stories over and over, with different names, locations and scales.

Still, there is a surprising fascination with these stories, one that goes beyond what is necessary to make choices based on their information.

It seems that much of this fascination, especially concerning events that do not directly impact us, is due to projections. Something in the stories reflect processes and characteristics in ourselves that is not in our awareness. The stories trigger aversions (fear, anger etc) and attractions (admiration etc) that brings our attention to the stories so we can explore them in the outer world. From that, we – hopefully and eventually – recognize and become familiar with the same processes and characteristics in ourselves.

Ever since high school, I have used the daily news as a tool for awareness. Every characteristic I see in the outer world is also there in the inner world. There is no difference. No separation.

And with that, less need to be attached to stories, and less need for blind judgment (blind aversions or attractions). There is only events reflecting the human – including my own – condition. And there is more clarity in how to deal with these situations – how to reduce suffering.

What is left is deep compassion, based on recognition. It is all part of the human condition, we are all in this together. It opens up for a deep sense of connection, and for deep gratitude.

Holistic & Consistency

 

I walked into a massage office today and left within a couple of minutes. The air was saturated with offgassing from new paint and carpets. My initial response was sadness – mixed with judgment – to see someone in a health-centered profession introducing toxins to their work space. It does hardly support the health of those working their nor that of their clients.

I then was reminded that we all do this. Our lives may be (consciously) oriented in a certain direction, but life is rich and beyond dualities. Our lives and actions are by necessity richer than any abstract ideology/wishes, and thus far beyond “consistent”.

In terms of everyday choices, we live in a culture that is doing its job – it sets up patterns that makes some choices easy and others not so easy. With paint and carpets, it often takes more investigation to find high-quality and non-toxic products (unless there is a good store nearby specializing in those products).

In my own life, I consciously want to live in a way that supports life: for myself, the larger society/Earth, and for future generation (no separation there anyway). But my choices are by necessity not consistent. My awareness is limited and interacts with constraints set up by my culture and resources. My choices are relatively well aligned with my conscious orientation in some areas, and not so well aligned in other areas.

And then there is change: Everything is in change – the Universe and our experiences with it. There is nothing fixed to hold onto. My guidelines today are different from my guidelines tomorrow. What I perceive as appropriate choices today will be different from my choices tomorrow. New views emerge from new experiences.

Inconsistency is a part of the richness of life.

Simple II

 

“To be who you are, you don’t need much but you need to let go of much.” – Jon Schreiber, Freedom Is in This Moment.

I have been doing Breema sessions daily this summer, and am experiencing more directly how simple and uncomplicated life can be. It just is.

There is life, but no need for extra. There is discernment, but no need for judgement. There is cause and effect, but no need for “shoulds”. There are some guidelines, but no ideology. There is honesty, and no need for complication. It just is.

And it is grounded in every cell of my body, in my whole existence.

Simple

 

I dreamt that I was in a small US town, and crossed the street behind a moving police car. The car stopped, and a police officer walked up to me and started chit-chatting. I said “I know why you stopped me. It is because I crossed the street without using the sidewalk.” He looked taken back. “Are you not going to try to make excuses?” I said “No. I like it simple. And I like to be honest.”

I then woke up from a grunting racoon family outside the bedroom window.

I noticed how I enjoyed the experience of making it simple and honest. Uncomplicated. (And I was a little curious to see how he would react).

The day before: Talked with Jen about how simple life can be, through Breema (support to let go of extra).

Do it for Yourself

 

One of the Breema principles (not among the nine) is “Do it for yourself”. It is a revolutionary principle in our culture, and yet a very simple and obvious one.

When I do it for myself (whatever I am doing), and also realize that there is no separation, I and the larger whole benefits.

When I do bodywork and do it for myself (for my own enjoyment and benefit), and experience no separation, the other person also benefits more. I am more relaxed, more comfortable, more present.

Whatever I do in my life, I can move in the direction of doing it more for myself.

In NVC, there is a very similar principle: Want what you do and do what you want. And a process to clarify this: (a) Make a list of the top ten things you least enjoy doing. (b) Write down your usual internal statement of the activity (“I have to … because …”). (c) Rephrase it as a “choose” statement (“I choose to … because …”) and look at which needs the activity meets and do not meet. This process will usually lead to one of three changes: 1. I realize that the activity does not meet my needs and I stop doing it. 2. I change the way I am doing it so my needs are better met. 3. I change my attitude towards the activity because I realize it does meet my needs. And again, my needs are not separate from those of others or the rest of the world.

Long Perspective

 

I saw Artificial Intelligence last night, and while the movie as a whole was disappointing (artificial and stilted dialogue, flat and uninteresting characters, poorly developed storyline), there was one aspect that made it worth watching: The long perspective.

It is a good reminder to see the ending of the movie taking place after humans (and presumably Earthly life) is gone. Everything is transient.

In a few decades, I and every single person in my life, will be gone. In a few hundred years, every memory of most people alive now will be gone. In a few thousand years, the human culture – if still in existence – will be beyond recognition. Furter into the future (a few billion years), the Earth and all beings part of it will be gone. A few more billion years, and this Universe will be gone.

For me, this is a liberating perspective. I do not need to live my life to impress or follow the expectations of others or myself. I can live my life for myself.

Breema & Addictions

 

Among the many possible research projects involving Breema, it would be interesting to see it’s effect on addictions.

Breema…

1. Softens (decrystallize) habits and make them easier to deal with. It opens up for more conscious choice.

2. Fills many deep and universal human needs, including connection, acceptance and peak/blissful experiences. Many addictions are (failed) strategies to meet those same needs.

Two Cultures

 

The Norwegian culture and society are socially progressive, relatively open minded and well informed (thanks to a decent quality media). They tend to seek solutions that benefits society as a whole as much as the individuals (universal healthcare and free education at all levels are just two examples). Still, the small size of the population – and maybe a different conservatism – means that those interested in unusual topics are very few and create small (or no) communities. There may also be a conservatism in typical choice of life path.

In the US, the culture as a whole is far more conservative, and many tends to be less well informed (due to corporate media). They tend to perceive (or create the perception of) a conflict between solutions good for society as a whole and for individuals. But the large size of the population allows for subgroups of people with similar interests to gather and explore new paths, to a far larger extent than what I have seen in Norway. Since I have non-typical interests (e.g. permaculture, Zen, Breema, NVC, holistic health, etc), it is far easier for me to explore them here, in a community of likeminded people.

Prophet and Followers

 

It is common for prophets, in any area, to be followed by some who follow in name but not in substance.

Jesus, one who appeared to have experienced and expressed full enlightenment, is no exception. There are many genuine followers, those who follow from heart, wisdon and compassion (and even some who follow in their non-dual experience). And there are some who follow in name, but not life (who are in the grips of judgement, a closed heart, fear).

The path of Jesus was one of deep humanity, of inclusiveness, of wisdom and compassion born from a realization that we are all human. He spent his life with the outcasts of society (robbers, prostitute, lepars) as well as any others. And he did this from a trans-dual experience of the world.

Beyond Right & Wrong

 

There are no “right” or “wrong” actions. Only actions and their consequences. And these consequences may be perceived as desireable or undesireable (depending on our situation and perspective).

When we use “shoulds” we speak from value judgements and an (implicit or explicit, consious or subconsious) ideology. We have an attachment, which is often unconsious and leaves little choice.

When we use causality (action X may lead to action Y), there is more precision, consiousness and choice. It leads to simplicity and often more pleasant interactions.

Balance

 

I have for a long time sought, and often lived, a life that balance friendships, community involvement, spiritual practice and work/schooling. Since going back to school and enrolling in a graduate program in architecture, the balance has been severly skewed, with predicable loss of life quality and increase in frustration.

It seems that any culture that is life centered, whether it is on a global, regional or instituional scale, will make a strong effort to help individuals achieve this balance. In terms of work and schooling, it seems that the minimum would be to allow for evenings and weekends off… Any system or (sub)culture that is set up in a way that prevents individuals from finding this balance in everyday life seems profoundly flawed and unhealthy (for individuals and society)…

For me in my current situation, there seems to be three main factors: Quantity of work. Quality of work. Quality of life. I am expected to produce a high quantity of work, far beyond a regular 35-40 hour workweek (double at times), which does not allow much time/energy for the two other ends of the triangle. There is a predictable loss of satisfaction from not being able to explore a topic/project in depth, and further loss of quality of life from being able to engaging in social/community activities and spiritual practice to any significant extent.

It makes me wonder what worldview is behind such a system… What is seen as most important? Work – or people and life? For those to co-exist and enhance each other, there has to be a reasonable balance.

Messages from Water

 

“What the Bleep do We Know’ featured work by Masaru Emoto on the effects of intention on water crystallization. It is work by only one researcher so who knows how reliable it is – but it does make intuitive sense. [It seems that anyone should be able to replicate it, especially those living in climates with cold winters and a microscope.]

Emoto found that clean water and/or healing intentions (gratitude, compassion etc) leads to the formation of regular and beautiful water crystals.

Impure water and/or non-healing intentions produces less well-formed crystals.

In any case, it is a reminder of the power on intentions – they form our life, our role in the world, and collectively – the (social/ecological) world we live in.

What the ***bleep***

 

I saw What the Bleep do We Know last night. It is a well made movie on current thinking about the intersection between new physics and spirituality. Nothing new, but well presented (a documentary with a fictional story woven in and animations).

It reminded me of how effective the Big Mind process is in opening for a glimpse of the transdual experience of the world. And how effective a daily meditation practice (under guidance of an experienced teacher) is in grounding and embodying (living, expressing) the transdual experience, and helping us let go of attachments to habits and patterns.

Bodies

 

I watched a wise and touching documentary today: Kroppen Min (“My Body”), by a Norwegian female documentary maker.

It is striking how so many in this culture are unhappy with their own body – mostly because of how they think others perceive them… In my experience, most people value authenticity far more than “perfection”. And most people are much more concerned about themselves than others… (This unhappiness is another example of how other’s commercial interests can form our views when we allow them to).

Personally, I am far more disturbed when someone feels they need to hide/mask how they are (make-up, surgery etc) rather than by an normally odd, “imperfect”, authentic and beautiful body… Authenticity is beautiful. How can it be otherwise?

Tools

 

I wanted to make a list of some of the tools I have found helpful and/or invaluable in my own life. They are all about relationships: To myself, others, Earth, the Universe…

Relationship to myself
Body/mind emphasis

  • NAET
    A treatment/elimination of any form of allergic reaction that I have found remarkably effective. We can have allergic type reactions to any element in our life, it can cause any symptom, and NAET seems to be effective in eliminating the allergic reactions.

  • Natural Vision Improvement
    Simple and (yes) natural excercies for the eye muscles. These corrected my nearsightedness to normal vision (as confirmed by my eye doctor). I do no longer need glasses and have no vision related headackes.

  • Five Elements acupuncture
    A form of acupuncture that always seem to have an immediate and profound effect.

  • Neuromuscular Therapy
    A very precise form of massage/bodywork that has significantly reduced my scoleosis.

  • Applied Kineseology
    Accessing bodyrelated information

  • Feldenkrais
    Western approach to body awareness through exploring deliberate and slow movements (allowing the mind the enter the body).

  • Herbs – teas, infusions
  • Acupressure/reflexology

Relationship to myself
Beyond and embracing body/mind

  • Breema
    A practice where simple and perennial principles are explored through bodywork, and applied in all areas of life. I experience it as Zen in motion.

  • Yoga
    Mind/body connection, spirituality

  • Tai Chi/Chi Gong
    Mind/body connection, healing

  • Jungian psychology/dream work
    Deeply insightful approach to exploring oneself

  • Process Work
    Holistic approach, based on Jungian psychology. All “channels” are explored: sound, taste/smell, visual, tactile, relationships, the world as a whole

Relationships to myself and others

  • Nonviolent Communication
    Tools for authentic/accurate communication (through differentiating needs and strategies etc)

  • Simplicity
    Tools for purposeful/meaningful living (enhancing what is meaningful, letting go of the rest)

  • Clicker Training
    Fast and accurate training based on positive reinforcement. Aids our relationship with ourselves and nonhuman species.

  • Sustainability
    Solution/partnership/community oriented

Relationship to Existence

  • Zen/Tibetan practice/Big Mind
    Tools to transform suffering into happiness, processing experiences, and opening for Big Mind (transdual experience)

  • Breema
    Going beyond separation and personalities

  • The Great Story
    Experiencing ourselves as an integral part of the Universe

Deep Healing

 

Deep healing takes place through deep changes in our lives. The healing can be very specific, but it can also be a healing in a deeper and wider sense of the world – one that allows us to experience ourselves as full human beings with a sense of deep meaning.

It is simple. Life and self-healing processes are one, and it takes place when we get out of the way. It is simple, but not always easy.

The key seems to be to open up for healing in many areas: Diet, mind-body activities (yoga, tai chi, chi gong, feldenkrais, breema etc), physical excercise (walking, swimming, hiking etc), emotional-cognitive work (process work, jungian etc), relationships. It is really all about relationships – establishing nourishing relationships in all areas of life: to our bodies, mind, others, the Earth, the Universe.

Small Changes

 

Two stories I came across today, which are reminders of how simple actions can make a large difference (rippling out in unknown ways).

It started as a joke. Danny Wallace put a small ad in a London newspaper. It simply said “Join me” and invited people to send a passport-sized photo. The only problem was, no one knew what they were joining. After twelve, on To the Best of Our Knowledge, the story of Danny Wallace’s “Join Me” collective.

[Source – To the Best of Our Knowledge]

Join Me

People from all over the world have dedicated themselves to our simple cause… to perform random acts of kindness to complete strangers, each and every Friday… we call these Fridays ‘Good Fridays’, and our aim is to make every Friday a Good Friday…

[Source – Join Me]

Jayson Littman is not especially lonely, or religious, or in need of cash – things that strangers might assume upon meeting him.

He is a financial analyst who happens to think that New Yorkers could use a hug. So it was, a month ago, that Mr. Littman began distributing hugs – free – from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

“At first I thought no one would respond,” said Mr. Littman, 26, who lives in Manhattan. But on his first Sunday, standing before a giant hand-lettered sign that reads “Free Hugs,” Mr. Littman and a friend embraced 200 people in two and a half hours.

[Source – NY Times]

Gentle Opening

 

There is always some truth in anyone’s perspective. It is born out of their experience of the world. However different my own experience is, I can always start with the truth in their view, and gently expand upon it. Broaden the conversation to include more.

BREEMA

 

Two months ago, I started a Self-BREEMA course at UO. Since then, I participated in a BREEMA intensive, and am doing a weekly BREEMA bodywork class.

The effects I experience from BREEMA is remarkable.

It allows me to go deeply into a body-mind connection, alone or with others. It helps me to more deeply integrate and embody perennial spiritual principles in many areas of my life. And it is beautiful.

The BREEMA Center

BREEMA Northwest

NAET

 

Several years ago, I found an approach to treating allergies that was remarkably effective for me. At the time, I had struggled with increasingly severe food allergies for many years, to the point where I dealt with siginifcant fatigue daily.

The technique “resets” our body’s responses to the allergen, allowing our system to deal with it in a less reactive way. It can treat any allergy-like reaction, from traditional allergens such as foods and pollen to more atypical ones such as sunlight. Each allergen is typically treated separately.

It may not work for everyone, although it has worked remarkably well for myself and others I know who has tried it.

About the treatment: NAET

And to find local practitioners: NAET Practitioners