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Strategies to Reduce Stress

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Research shows six major strategies for mitigating stress: sleep, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, mental health care, and healthy relationships.”

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Grief, Trauma, Exhaustion

Awake in the darkness of the night… I’m feeling… my heart traveling the terrain of trauma and love erupting fiercely on this globe, erupting fiercely in the hearts of so many dear souls.

SimLev“In Hebrew, “pay attention” is literally translated as, “place your heart”. Placing our hearts requires effort. It requires us to focus beyond the chaotic white noise that fills so much of our lives… Placing our hearts means imagining a world where we see people for who they really are, where we seek to understand the lived experience of those around us, from their perspective. Not with judgement, but with compassion.” ~ Rabbi Will Berkovitz

Under the gaze of this new moon, I feel the grief and warrior-ship of my trans and non-binary community after the loss of Scout Schultz this week and Derricka Banner last week. May we place our hearts with you. May we see you as you are, whole and beautiful. May we love you as you are, courageous truth tellers.

I feel the dark and confusing places that the human mind can travel to, those moments when purpose and peace and connection feel stripped away, when we are struggling with our mental and emotional and physical health. May we place our hearts with those of you who are in this struggle. May love seep into the cracks, overshadowing the pain, and illuminating the light of your own precious soul, igniting the places where you can feel the divine breathing through you, where you can feel lightness and see how incredibly valuable your presence here on this earth is.

?I feel the fear and trauma as storm meets earthquake meets fire meets flood. As people?’s lives are uprooted, loved ones lost, homes demolished. May we place our hearts with you. May we continue to turn to one another and extend a helping hand. May we build home together. May we see beyond our differences and awaken to our abilities to help make this world safer for one another… in times of crisis and also in the ordinary moments.

I feel the weight of exhaustion, the personal toll taxed upon those who daily are impacted by forces of oppression — systems that are trying to hold you down, trying to keep you from fully expressing the profound aliveness of who you really are, dampening the opportunities for your genius and gifts to be contributed to this world. May we place our hearts with you and tell the truth about these systems of destruction. May the fierceness of our gaze cause these systems to incinerate. May the power of our imagination and our commitment to one another grow brilliant webs of relations grounded in love, justice and equality. May we all know freedom and liberation. May we cultivate a more loving and compassionate world for our children to grow up in.

Thank you for traveling with me into these feelings and prayers. Thank you for being willing to sit with the dark and the light. Thank you for placing your heart and gifting your attention. Thank you for dreaming into the power of our togetherness… May it be so. <3

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Gifted and Creative Individuals

I would love to hear your thoughts on this perspective of gifted and creative individuals.

The article is The Application of Dabrowski’s Theory to the Gifted by Kevin J. O’Connor and was published in the book Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know?.

Here are a few quotes from the article to give you a taste of its content:

Dabrowski observed that gifted and creative individuals are often in conflict with the demands and expectations of their environment…

Many in the gifted community believe Dabrowski’s overexcitabilites, as they contribute to developmental potential, are a measure and indicator of giftedness.

Overexcitabilities are enhanced modes of being in the world. The word ‘over’ used in connection with ‘excitability’ connotes responses to stimuli that are beyond normal and often different in quality. Dabrowski identified “psychic overexcitability” in five forms: psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational and emotional.

While the concept of developmental potential emphasizes the positive aspects of experiencing life with greater intensity and sensitivity, these same characteristics may also be experienced in negative ways. Individuals with elevated overexcitabilities are more susceptible to being misunderstood and alienated by those who don’t share or understand their unique personality traits.

Parents of gifted children and gifted individuals themselves may find that Dabrowski’s ideas provide a useful “framework for understanding and explaining the developmental patterns and challenges that occur for those of high ability.”

Photo source

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The Social Synapse

The Social Synapse

 

Look closely at the body and you will discover layer upon layer of highly complex interlocking systems. As you examine each layer, you will discover countless individual cells (neurons in the nervous system) that differentiate and migrate to specific locations throughout the body. These cells, in turn, grow into an infinite variety of forms, organize into functional systems, integrate with other systems, and, ultimately, creating an individual. This we accept easily; but what about the notion that nature used this same strategy to connect individual animals (humans) into a larger biological organism called a species?

Individual neurons are separated by small gaps, or synapses. These synapses are not empty spaces by any means for they are inhabited by a variety of chemical substances engaging in complex interactions that result in synaptic transmission. It is this synaptic transmission that stimulates each neuron to survive, to grow, and to be sculpted by experience. In fact, the activity within synapses is just as important as what takes place within the neurons themselves. Over vast expanses of evolutionary time, neural or synaptic transmission has grown ever more intricate to meet the needs of an increasingly complex brain.

We know that neurons communicate via these chemical signals, activating and influencing one another through the transmission of multiple biochemical messengers. When it comes right down to it, doesn’t communication between people, as complex as it is, consist of the same basic building blocks? When we smile, wave, and say hello, these behaviors are sent through the space between us via sight and sound. These electrical and mechanical messages are received by our senses and converted into electrochemical signals within our nervous systems and sent to our brains. These internal signals generate chemical changes, electrical activation, and new behaviors which, in turn, transmit messages back across the social synapse.

The social synapse is the space between us. It is also the medium through which we are linked together into larger organisms such as families, tribes, societies, and the human species as a whole. Because our lives are lived at the border of this synapse and because so much communication is automatic and below conscious awareness, most of what goes on is invisible to us and taken for granted.


Neuron found at the Slog
Tree mandala by Woven Essence

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Keep Your Brain Entertained


An interesting npr segment on how active our brain gets when we are bored. Daydreams can suck us into an ever-interesting world of distraction. According to this article, if you want to stay engaged with the content at hand, keep your body engaged on something such as doodling. Don’t let the mental activity get the best of you if you want to continue focusing, give your hands something else to do.

When the brain lacks sufficient stimulation, it essentially goes on the prowl and scavenges for something to think about. Typically what happens in this situation is that the brain ends up manufacturing its own material.

In other words, the brain turns to daydreams, fantasies of Oscar acceptance speeches and million-dollar lottery wins. But those daydreams take up an enormous amount of energy.

The function of doodling, according to Andrade, who recently published a study on doodling in Applied Cognitive Psychology, is to provide just enough cognitive stimulation during an otherwise boring task to prevent the mind from taking the more radical step of totally opting out of the situation and running off into a fantasy world.

When I host small Friendship Groups with students, I often put a bowl of rocks, shells, stick, cones into the middle of the circle in case anyone needs something to fiddle with. A group the other day began building with the objects while we were discussing some of their problems and concerns. Their sculptures were beautiful and inspiring and a nice example for this article! One child preferred the erasers!

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Brains, Beauty, Love, Learning and Celebration

For the next three days I’ll be attending the Learning and the Brain Conference which is focusing on social brain research. It is very exciting to be learning more about the science and neurology that underscores much of the theoretical philosophies and intuitive knowings that are the foundations for much of my work and inspiration. I hope to learn more about mirror neurons, theory of mind, emotional regulation, memory and wisdom, and promoting social and emotional intelligence.

The last couple of days I’ve been hanging out with the remarkable Amy Lenzo. Amy has created an enticing world over at the Beauty Dialogues. I greatly appreciate Amy’s willingness to recognize the beauty and potential not only in the physical world around her, but also in the human world. She has been a pivotal supporter in encouraging many creative hearts to find their voice of expression and share it with the world. I am very grateful to have benefited so much from her recognition of and encouragement towards Easily Amazed finding ways to grow into all it can be! Thanks, girl!

Over the next few days I will be paying attention to how beauty and allurement fit into this world of social and emotional brain research. Brian Swimme suggests that love begins as allurement and attraction. We know that attraction and allurement between a baby and its parent propel the relationship between them and this relationship fundamentally shapes the development of the child. As Mary Gordon so aptly states, “Love grows brains.”

And we can never have too much love in our world. On Sunday, my friend Tracy Davis, took me to the incredibly inspiring and healing Glide Memorial Church, a place that is actively promoting the forces of love, celebration, inclusion and equality in a spiritually and culturally uplifting way. This was a beautiful expression of social, emotional and spiritual wisdom deep at play. I’ll leave you with a poem that is Glide’s Core Values:

The Ground We Stand On

Radically Inclusive
We welcome everyone. We value our differences.
We respect everyone.

Truth Telling
We each tell our story. We each speak our truth.
We listen.

Loving and Hopeful
We are all in recovery. We are a healing community.
We love unconditionally.

For the People
We break through barriers. We serve each other.
We change the world.

Celebration
We sing. We dance. We laugh together.
We celebrate life!

looking up at mom by dolanh

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The Committed Parent

I’ve been catching up on my online reading tonight… returning to the open tabs that have been patiently waiting for my attention. This last hour I’ve been captivated reading Mark Brady over at The Committed Parent. My mind is spinning with thoughts about synaesthesia, the many different ways that our brains work, the value of teaching children about deeply listening to their bodies and honoring what they hear, “the importance of creative allies – significant people who “get” us in ways that allow us to feel embraced and welcomed in all our weirdness and divergence.” I am deeply moved by the loving story of the death of a dear heart and the impact of taking the time to teach someone to dance, and my mind is so curious about all the different brain functions and conditions like heterotopagnosia.

Mark is a talented writer that marries storytelling, science, education, art and inquiry into very inspiring offerings. Do check him out… and thank you, Mark.

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