This is one in a series of posts with brief notes on healing, awakening, and personal things. These are more spontaneous and less comprehensive than the regular articles. Some may be made into a regular article in time.
AGE OR LIFESTYLE?
Since early in life, I have suspected that what many attribute to age is really about lifestyle, whether it’s poor memory, bad physical shape, being set in one’s ways, or similar.
As kids, we learn every day and are physically active every day. (At least most are, biking, running, climbing trees, and so on.) We train ourselves to learn, and we stay physically fit. We try out new things and seek out new experiences.
Later in life, many don’t learn as much and are less physically active, so there is no wonder if this is reflected in our mind and body.
Also, I suspect much of what we think of as typical for older age has to do with the weight of wound-conditioning that’s been with us for decades – traumas, emotional issues, unquestioned painful beliefs, limiting identities, and so on. (These are all names for essentially the same dynamics.)The longer we carry these with us, the more strongly they impact our mind and body.
RURAL VS CITY LIVING AND MY SLEEP & WAKE CYCLE
Since early in life, I have noticed that my sleep patterns are quite different in nature versus in the city.
If I am in nature, for instance at the cabin in Norway or at Finca Milagros, I naturally go to sleep early and wake up early. I tend to wake up around 5am. (This is even more pronounced the times I sleep in nature in a tent or outside.)
If I am in a more urban environment, it’s more tempting for me to stay up late and wake up later. (It’s a tendency, and one I often intentionally counter since I feel better if I wake up early after a good night’s sleep.)
This is not a very profound insight, and it’s probably something many have noticed. But it is interesting.
I imagine our ancestors slowed down and slept when it got dark, and woke up when it got light to make full use of daylight hours. That pattern kicks in when we live in nature, even if we live indoors in nature.
And it gets skewed by city living and a stronger disconnect from nature.
MAY 18, 2023
HOW CHOCOLATE FITS INTO MY DIET
After returning to Norway this time, I noticed a craving for chocolate. For a while, my mind interpreted it as a craving for chocolate bars. My current Teflon brain had forgotten that I often have had hot chocolate in the past when in colder climates. And after switching to the usual hot chocolate, I found that the craving was satisfied. (I use pure chocolate powder in hot water, sometimes with a little cinnamon and/or cardamon.)
Chocolate is considered a stimulant, and it has some caffeine, so I limit my intake. I treat it as an occasional (delicious) medicine. It helps my system balance, it gives me a welcome boost, and it doesn’t seem to make me wired the way caffeine from other sources (tea, coffee, sodas) does. (And if I have too much, my energy system becomes disorganized and weird.)
In this case, the craving seems to be for something my system actually needs in order to function better. It seems to fill a niche not covered by bone broth (which is deeply nourishing) and the herbs I used to take. And I am open to finding an alternative if it fills the same niche and seems better.
MORPHINE’S EFFECT ON ME
I have tried nitrous oxide a couple of times at the dentist, just to check it out, and it had no noticeable effect on me. (Maybe because of the dose?) I also received morphine once when I had kidney stones, and it did seem to help the pain (they had to give me quite a lot), but it didn’t have much other effect. If anything, I experienced it as a bit unpleasant and only took it one day.
I am not sure if I have a slightly atypical response to these kinds of things. (I have not tried any recreational drugs so don’t know how that would impact me, and I don’t really want to try.)
If it’s atypical, I don’t know why. Does it have to do with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which seems connected with an altered function of many bodily systems? Or the awakening? (Anything happening within the content of experience happens within and as me, so perhaps I am less impacted by it?) Or something else?
For me, food has a much stronger impact on my body-mind than nitrous oxide or morphine. Certain foods help me feel more clear and balanced. (Fruit, vegetables, simple grains, bone broth, etc.) And other foods tend to immediately bring my system out of balance. (Dairy, bread, refined foods, cakes, sugar, caffeine, etc.)
MAY 23, 2023
WHEN RESILIENCY IS ONE-SIDED
Resiliency is about how we relate to both our inner and outer world.
It’s about how we relate to our emotions, thoughts, states, and so on.
And it’s about how we relate to our life in the world.
It’s like a bird with two wings.
And we can over-emphasize one or the other. We may focus on handling our life in the world and overlook our inner life. And we may focus on dealing with our inner life and not being a good steward of our outer life.
I did the second at a crucial time in my life. I was in a relationship that didn’t feel deeply right, and that relationship brought me to abandon most of what was most important to me in my life. (Zen center, friends, graduate degree, and so on.) I spent a lot of time dealing with what came up in me around it – despair, grief, and so on. And I didn’t take action in my life, I didn’t stand up for what felt most deeply right to me.
And yes, I know that the terms “outer” and “inner” world are not entirely accurate. I find them useful here, even if both – to me – happen within and as what I am. They are both “inner” without an “other”, and the terms don’t really apply apart from in a very limited and conventional sense
CHOSE THE OPTION THAT INVOLVES A BIGGER CHANGE (?)
A recent study found that if you have a choice between two options, and one involves more of a change, then you may be happier choosing that one.
This is obviously difficult research. It’s impossible to know how it would have been if we chose the other one. The one with more change may look more attractive in hindsight. People also tend to justify their choices, especially the ones bringing about bigger change, and tell themselves they are happier now. It likely depends on personality, since some like adventure more than others. Happiness and choosing change may both have to do with a third factor, for instance enjoying adventure. And it obviously depends on the situation. If you are in a situation that feels deeply right and you are happy with, then abandoning that is more risky.
Faced with a choice, I gather information, imagine myself in the future in the different options, check in with my intuition and which one feels more deeply right, and I may also lean towards the one that involves a change. I like adventure, so I am often drawn to the one that brings about a new kind of life.
If I have trouble making a decision between two options, I have another pointer for myself. If one option is clearly better than the other, it’s not a difficult choice. And if they seem about equally good, then it likely doesn’t matter so much which one I chose. I may as well just go with one and see what happens.
WHY DO SOME NOT LIKE PSYCHOLOGY OR THERAPY?
When I mentioned to my father that I planned to study psychology, a long time ago, he said: “People who study psychology or go to therapy often get weird”. He meant that they often live a life more free of shoulds and social norms, and being invested in following shoulds and social norms, that seemed threatening to him. (The second part is my interpretation but likely accurate.)
To me, weird is wonderful. (As Adya’s mum told him.) And being free of shoulds and social norms seem like a good deal as well. I can be free of them, or more free of them, and still follow my inner guidance, what makes sense, what seems most kind, and so on.
In general, why do some not like psychology or therapy?
I assume there may be many reasons.
They may be familiar with approaches to psychology that have a cynical view of humans embedded in it. In that case, I would stay away from it as well. These approaches tend to be outdated.
They may know that they harbor unprocessed psychological material they are not ready to face, and even the thought of psychology or therapy seems scary to them.
They may suspect it may lead to major life changes, and they are not prepared to make those changes, so therapy seems threatening to them. They prefer to live their life-lie. (Which is fine, there is a time and place for everything.)
They may, as my father, see therapy as a way for people to be freer from shoulds and norms, and if they are invested in shoulds and norms and have made an ideology out of following them, then that can seem threatening.
They may assume that therapy involves the therapist imposing a different way of thinking, feeling, and living on them, and they want to keep their autonomy. Some therapists may try to do this, but good ones don’t. They invite you to find your own way and what works for you. They support you in becoming more you.
WHAT I EAT
I prefer to eat local, seasonal, organic, and low on the food chain. And to minimize highly processed foods (with ingredients that sound chemically), although I will eat some occasionally.
In general, I think about what my ancestors would have eaten, or what people traditionally ate where I am, which is local, organic, seasonal, and simple foods, and try to follow that.
I also aim at not being too strict since that tends to create a backlash. It’s about what I mostly eat, not perfection.
I drink a lot of water, mostly in the form of herbal and spice teas. (I try to vary these since they, like all foods, have medicinal properties.) I mostly drink this in the morning and early afternoon, and less in the evening since I don’t want to have to get up during the night.
I have bone broth daily or regularly since it gives a sense of deep nourishment and it noticeably helps me. It stabilizes my energy and brings it up a bit.
I eat slowly since that’s more comfortable and I get a better sense of how full I am. I eat until I am around 3/4 full since more is uncomfortable.
If I have my own schedule, I usually eat between noon and 6pm, with some fruit in the morning. It feels better to limit the hours I eat during the day.
And most of all, I follow my inner guidance. What would feel good for my system now? What among the non-processed foods would feel good for my body now? (If I sense I need processed foods, then it’s usually cravings speaking and not actual and wiser guidance.)
MAY 27, 2023
BIZARRE THINGS AT THE ZEN CENTER
I lived at a Zen center in Salt Lake City for a while in the ’90s, and loved it thoroughly. I loved the practice. I loved the schedule. I loved many of the people. I loved the teachings of the teachers. I loved SLC and Utah.
And there were also some things I found bizarre.
When the teacher got married, his wife immediately got on the board for the Zen center and started making decisions for the center, even if she had very little experience with Zen and even less experience running or managing anything.
The main teacher loved going to the exercise studio, so many of the students did the same. (I can understand they wanted to do something with him outside of the center, but I saw it as kissing ass and preferred hikes and yoga in the park instead.)
When the main teacher went through a difficult period (a dark night) and got irritably and grumpy, some of the senior students took that as an invitation to act on their own hangups and anger and treat junior students as shit. (The main teacher never did, as far as I know.)
A new student happened to have a high position in society in SLC, and very quickly was promoted to teacher even if he clearly was out of his depth and there were many students with far more experience and insight than him.
I loved Ken Wilber at the time, and received unpleasant comments about it from the other students when I read his books in the common areas. At some point, the main teacher became friends with Ken Wilber and promoted his work, and suddenly everyone loved Ken Wilber.
AM I SHALLOW?
I heard someone ask: Are you shallow? (To someone else.)
How would I answer that question? Honestly, I feel yes.
What I write about here is what’s relatively easy for me to write about. It’s not something that requires a lot of investigation for me, or going beyond what I have been familiar with for decades.
To not be shallow, I would have to put more effort into it and intentionally go beyond what’s familiar to me.
It’s similar in daily life. I tend to stick with what’s easy for me, partly because of my health challenges. For instance, I listen to the type of music I have always loved. (Right now, Arvo Pärt, and also African, Latin, Mongolian, and so on.)
MAY 28, 2023
There is a story in the news these days about a US nun whose body was found mostly intact after four years in the ground. In the words of the Catholic Church, her body is incorrupt and it’s one of the things that qualifies someone for sainthood.
To me, there is something more interesting going on here. And that is the whole idea of “incorrupt”.
It reflects a worldview where nature is sinful and corrupted, and resisting nature is seen as divine.
And to me, that worldview seems misguided and even dangerous. To me, it’s wonderful that a body decomposes and is made use of by myriads of organisms. It’s beautiful. It’s a gift. It’s a reminder that we are nature. That is the divine as much as anything.
The sky-God view served a role in history, and perhaps in our collective cultural development, and these days, it’s outdated. These days, we need a view that’s more nature-oriented or at least nature-inclusive. We need it for our own survival.
MAY 30, 2023
For a long time, I was skinny no matter how much I ate or how much strength training I did. I was typically 65-70kg.
After starting with Vortex Healing, I channeled one day to bring up the weight set-point for my body. Within a week or two, and without changing anything with my diet, my weight went up rapidly, and it’s been 80-85kg since then. It feels much more comfortable for me, and I also sense that it helps bring down the anxiety in my system. (There is a little more to go on which feels more safe at a primal level.)
This also means that I need to be a little more conscious of how and what I eat.
Here are some of the things I have discovered:
If I want to go up in weight, eat cheese and bread. (I typically eat very little cheese and bread, apart from some feta cheese on my salads.)
If I want to go down in weight, I remove cheese & bread and eat just fruits, vegetables, occasional grains (often quinoa), and a small amount of meat and fish.
In general, I eat only when hungry. I eat slowly. (This allows my body to catch up and sense if I need to eat more or not.) And I eat only until I am about 3/4 full. I have done this my whole adult life since it’s the most comfortable.
I also drink a lot of water, in the form of herbal and spice teas. This also feels more comfortable in my body. (I drink enough so my urine is clear or pale, and I drink mostly in the morning and early afternoon, and less in the evening so I won’t need to get up at night.)
If I need a snack during the day, it’s often fruit.
And I follow my guidance. I check with my body what types of food feel right, and I sometimes imagine how my body will feel after eating something. (This seems quite accurate, and I assume it’s based on a combination of past experience and how my body is at the moment.)
[made into regular article]
Bone broth deeply nourishes my system and fills up my deeper energy reservoirs, and it’s something I use mostly daily, especially in colder seasons and climates. This is a kind of base in my diet.
I’ll also sometimes have hot chocolate made with pure chocolate (no sugar), and with a little cinnamon and/or cardamon. This gives me a welcome boost.
I’ll occasionally use chocolate bars as emergency food, but I try to keep it to a minimum. It does help me if my energy dips and I don’t have ready access to food, but it also comes with some unpleasant side effects. (For instance, the sugar in it tends to trigger sugar cravings.)
Some of the boost from chocolate may be from caffeine. But that’s not the whole picture. The effect of caffeine – for instance, from green or black tea – is different. It creates a sense of superficial wiredness in my system and is generally unpleasant. I generally avoid tea for that reason, although I’ll have some on rare occasions. (I have herbal or spice infusions instead, which I drink a lot of.)
Note: After returning to Norway this time. I noticed a craving for chocolate. And for a little while, my mind interpreted it as a craving for chocolate bars. After remembering hot chocolate (without sugar), the craving went away.
And although I know chocolate is considered a stimulant, it doesn’t make me feel wired the way other sources of caffeine does. I don’t seem to respond to it by overriding my body’s signals and doing too much.
THE DOWNSIDE OF RESILIENCE
There are many upsides to being resilient and good at relating to our own experiences.
The downside is that we may emphasize being a good steward of our inner life, and not so much of our life in the world.
That’s not a problem with resiliency itself. It’s a problem with our emphasis, and also how we see resiliency. Resiliency is as much about engaging with our life in the world as it is relating to our inner life. And we cannot be a good steward of our inner life unless we are also a good steward of our outer.
The solution is to stand up for ourselves more, change situations that don’t work well for us, and be a better steward of our life in the world.
And to do that, we may also need to address some beliefs, identities, hangups, wounds, and perhaps traumas.
Our resilience in the outer and inner worlds are intimately connected and really one and the same.
Note: I use the terms “inner” and “outer” life here. That’s the conventional way of talking about it. In reality, it’s all “inner” since – to us – it’s all happening within the consciousness we are.
Note 2: This brief note was more of a train of thought. If I was going to make it into a regular article, I would organize it differently.