Uno throw down

fyffest:

TICKET GIVEAWAY FOR FYF FEST:

Reblog the poster for your chance to win a pair of weekend passes to the festival. Two winners will be picked at 12:00pm on Thursday, June 21st.

And remember that tickets for FYF Fest go on sale this Friday, June 22nd at 5:00pm. For more info on the fest click on the poster

(Reblogged from fyffest)

The Rules of Play

Adults at play.

Why, and I know this isn’t just me, does the phrase above come off as either silly, sexual or immature?

It’s none of those things (necessarily).

Children instinctively know how to play, according to the man who discovered that rats laugh, neuroscientist Jaak Panskepp. No one thinks child’s play sounds dirty. And apparently, the more children play, the more empathetic and problem solving they are.

But play and laughter are very important for adults too.

At what point I wonder when we “grow up,” do we forget about and begin disparaging play and fall in to a trap of acting serious most of the time, especially in the work place?

Think about the concept of extended adolescence — usually used pejoratively, yes?

Play, however, is not fatuous. It is adolescent, but this is usually in a good way. Play can enhance relationships, is fun, induces laughter, and is quite likely the key to creativity and innovation.

I, for one, have a very open schedule when it comes to play because it wildly enhances my creative and productive abilities. I am definitely looking for more ways to add it to my life.

How exactly do adults play, you ask?

I’m not quite sure. I think it’s a ‘know it when you are having fun in it’ type of thing. I do have a few personal rules:

  • Play involves imagination.
  • Play requires a non-stressed frame of mind.
  • Play is directed by the minds of the players.   
  • Players are always free to quit play.    
  • In play, means are valued more than ends.

Yes, I’m feeling silly this morning, maybe even playful. That’s why I typed this business up.

So have a happy fun filled holiday weekend players!

The Midas touch by Legoagogo on Flickr.

I’m not really a huge Star Wars fan. Despite desperate fear of losing geek cred, this is something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for a while.

Real Happiness Through Attention

I got some more of my Real Happiness on this evening with this uplifting podcast series from the Upaya Zen Center.

Sharon Salzberg and Joan Halifax talk about the cultivation of happiness and wisdom through unwavering attention and the capacity to sense suffering. 

Suffering

Salzberg says suffering is key to happiness, that when we look at those habits of mind we’ve developed, we often don’t see things as they actually are and we act from a mistaken notion of reality and from where happiness comes.

So when we feel daily suffering such insecurity, unreliability, and even stress — things can feel off, rubbing, not in harmony. There’s this subtle feeling of being oppressed by the ways we are trying to be happy, which Salzberg says are mistaken notions.

What’s key is that we are hanging on to things that aren’t really bringing us much joy. That’s where cravings come in. She says these dopamine driven pleasure seeking loops, specifically mentioning digital media use, are contributing to less happiness by taking us away from what really matters for inner tranquility and compassion.

It’s not a question of feeling, but being overcome by getting lost in feeling-driven tunnel vision, resulting in states of fret, hostility, and anger. The states aren’t enemies, but the speakers suggest we should create a different relationship with what we experience, understanding our reactions, and understanding we have a choice. 

They say we should start with development of greater concentration and move on to mindfulness. Concentration is the platform for mindfulness, and you don’t need to be an experienced meditator to do it. Instead of reliving the past or creating scenarios of the future and getting filled with anxiety, judgment, and speculation, concentration is about gathering all that scattered energy and bringing it together, so that over time we experience a much greater sense of attention and power.

One important aspect is balance, which requires relaxation and ease, and resting attention on an object, for example, the feeling of your breath or images. 

Dopamine Trips

Both Salzberg and Halifax clearly call for us to get out of the dopamine seeking trip that so many of us are on (especially when it comes to digital media), bringing our attention instead to one thing and to hold attention on that one thing whatever that is for you. Attention should be stable, not in a state of dispersion, where you can hold stable on a single object for a long time. 

It’s not about attention for rewards, but rather the quality of unbiased attention. Without that attention, compassion is not possible because we can’t see suffering. Our bodies may recognize suffering, but we will lack the ability to perceive deeply the truth of suffering. We need to experience a certain level of stress, some quality of arousal, in order to experience compassion.

Wisdom

They also claim our conceptual mind is constantly charactering our world, that we are toys to our own thoughts. The ability to be transparent to the continuum of our own cognitive stream to give us a sense of what’s going on is critical in a world constantly relying on the next email, the next noise, the next collective attention deficit. 

Being transparent to ourselves is important for happiness and wisdom. We should be aware of this: we have a body talking to us all the time, but we don’t have to listen to everything it tells us in how we respond and how we make decisions. 

Anyway, these ladies say *the answer* is through meditation.

I’m making more of an effort lately.

After

"After chopping off all the arms that reached out to me; after boarding up all the windows and doors; after filling all the pits with poisoned water; after building my house on a rock of a no, inaccessible to flattery and fear; after cutting out my tongue and eating it; after hurling handfuls of silence and monosyllables of scorn at my loves; after forgetting my name and the name of my birth place and the name of my race; after judging and sentencing myself to perpetual waiting and perpetual loneliness, I heard against the stones of my dungeon of syllogisms the humid, tender, insistent onset of spring.”

- Octavio Paz

Happiness Without Craving for Happiness

The Upaya Zen Center recently released a series of podcasts on Real Happiness. I started listening - some nice stuff here.

Sharon Salzberg, who wrote a book on Real Happiness, has words on what role, if any, pleasure seeking activities play in modest, real happiness for us and for others.

Pleasure, she notes, comes and goes so easily, but durable happiness in good times and bad, not so much.

She asks:

How can we create the conditions for a culture of happiness to flourish, without relying on cravings for happiness to flourish? 

Cravings for happiness? These are those endogenous chemicals that reward us for pleasure seeking every day activities, and make us want more — googling the next idea, waiting for the next tweet, staring at a woman’s chest, and so on.

Salzberg admits the importance of dopamine, serotonin, etc. for survival, but she also questions the role of cravings in finding a sense of happiness that isn’t giddy, but more like inner resourcefulness and inner strength.

Salzberg’s podcast audience brought up the following suggestions:

Experience of Connectedness

Relationships without Reward

Interbeing

Capacity to Notice

Altering Response to Events

Anyway, food for thought. I’m going to check out some more of these happiness podcasts, although I think wanting more of them indicates one of those temporary pleasure seeking activities…

Critical Thinking Revolution?

Linda Elder talks about why basic skills of critical thinking and questioning are more important than ever.

Amplify’d from business.in.com

People are using available technologies before thinking through their implications, and the consequences can be far reaching and devastating. One hundred years ago, the skills people needed to survive and sustain the earth were far simpler than those needed today.  It is imperative that we begin thinking seriously about the thinking that drives us and that will — like it or not — determine the future of life on our planet.Read more at business.in.com

Be Drunk

Be Drunk    
by Charles Baudelaire   
translated by Louis Simpson

You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking…ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

Awake to Nobody

Humility defined: a “modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.”

Dominant values disparage such talk.

More and more, it doesn’t matter what you say. Just say it louder than your competitor. You will win the attention, the work, the money. You won’t be left scolded, defeated for your thoughtful attempt at a conversation in a board room or an online chat. Don’t be so humble. Respect yourself! Be confident!

These are the keys to survival, to success.

But importance is not capabilities, nor accomplishments. Importance is not the basis of self-esteem. How important is any one human, anyway? And if so, for how long?

Even intentions of modest importance can slip easily to self-importance.

If contentment is the only goal (and what other goal would there be?!), the veil of self-importance can lead you astray.

What happens when we surrender to the moment, to humility? What happens when we think like scientists, like humble skeptics who can prove ourselves wrong?

When you awake to nobody, it may be way better than it sounds.