Monthly Archives: June 2010

monthly buddhist carnival – the weird and cranky edition

angry buddha sculpture

do
not
act
from
ego.
it is a sticky little
mouse trap that
begins
with
a
wheel
running us in
circles.
get off.

(from full on arrival)

today is a weird day for me, completely, it seems, driven by ego.  today is june 15, time for a buddhist carnival, like every 15th of the month.  today, i will take you on the back alleys of the carnival – you know, the ones with the empty boxes just barely stacked behind the circus tent, with the lion tamer hissing at the trapeze artist, and the guy who runs the merry-go-round lighting up a joint for the fourth time today, and it’s only quarter past five.

let me show you a bit of the ego that drives the circus of this blog.  maybe the shock of the 100-watt light bulb will scare the ego away.

aha!  and already we have the ego talking – because that’s the language of the ego:  “scare”.  fear works, doesn’t it?  just ask any abused woman who stays with the guy who beats her day in day out.  ego knows that fear works, it keeps people trapped.  trapping – that’s another thing this ego knows about.  i’ve spent most of today trapped behind the computer, and not because someone put me in a cage, no – simply because i trapped myself there.  cranky, with only a glimpse of pleasantness here and there, i didn’t want to go anywhere and do the things that move my mood ahead.  and you know what?  there was a grim satisfaction with all of that.  check up on lexulous, go to twitter, check email, round and round and round – “a wheel running us in circles”.   “you hate this!”  “yes!”  i can feel my teeth clamped together, ready to snap at anyone.  i haven’t started dinner.  i haven’t written this blog post.  grrrrr.  “you hate this!” “yes!”  round and round.  there’s a sense of wicked pride in wasting time.  grrrr.

(there’s probably something underneath all this. )

it feels strange to spew all of this forth in a blog post; i’m not supposed to do this – what am i, a 15-year-old emo who regales her audience with every detail of her oh-so-fascinating inner life?

grrr.

but it felt like i needed to try something different.  so there you go, you heard my ego talking.  and now for some people who have way more interesting things to say, this time simply as links to interesting buddhist blog posts i came across in the last little while:

http://www.thereformedbuddhist.com/2010/04/early-western-buddhist-scholars.html

http://rogernolan.blogspot.com/2010/05/perspectives-no-self-anatta.html

http://www.prairiewindsangha.org/2009/10/five-contemplations.html

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/06/bg-176-the-place-of-the-erotic/

http://buddha-inside.blogspot.com/2010/05/answer-to-anger-and-aggression-is.html

http://www.tibetanbuddhistaltar.org/2010/06/the-original-longing/

http://buddhismnow.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/jinkji/

http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/3993

travel and emotions

today, a guest post by larry blanken

travel is a major activity in the lives of modern people. some of us travel by choice as a source of pleasure, while others only venture away from home when they are forced to. regardless of individual motivations, the act of traveling can have a deep psychological impact on those who engage in it. oddly enough, the same elements that bring excitement to one person can bring dread to others. these distinctly different responses are driven by very similar forces of human nature.

as evidenced by the billions of dollars spent each year in the travel industry, the world’s population is on the move. there are millions who scrimp and save for traveling, constantly wishing they had more time and money to explore strange new parts of the planet. for these folks, each trip becomes an adventure and experiencing travel embodies dreams being fulfilled. among the greatest goals for some people is to go to places they have never been.

there are others who simply accept it as a permanent or temporary part of daily life. because of professional, educational or social necessity, they regularly wake up each day in a different location and give little thought to what it would be like to live a stationary life. an international businessperson, an airline pilot or a truck driver might view travel as just part of the routine. travel for some is just a chore required to get from one place to another.

at the other end of the spectrum are those who feel apprehension at the mere thought of straying from their own doorstep. they have built their own ideas of comfort zones that rely on familiar spaces to give them a sense of safety and security. for this group, the unknown is a threat to be avoided. they are perfectly content with remaining in their own backyards.

what are the basic motivations that make people crave or shy away from travel?

while the impulses that make people want to travel or stay at home are complicated and unique to every person, there are underlying characteristics that are similar in all personality types. the most fundamental of these has to do with self-esteem, along with our definitions of achievements and rewards. essentially, travelers usually place greater value in experiencing places and things than in possessing them. however, both are actually manifestations of control over one’s life.

humans have a basic need to feel better about themselves and elevate their self-image of who they are. naturally, everyone will have their own yardstick by which they measure their accomplishments. we all have our own methods to prove our self worth in our own eyes while we strive to gain the respect and admiration of others. the avid traveler will generally see their journeys as evidence of their ability to set and achieve their goals. those who do not care for travel have similar desires, but keep them close to home.

in this sense, traveling fulfills the same needs that growing a garden, owning a boat or building furniture might do for someone else. it is a way to replicate something we have given importance in our own minds in order to associate ourselves with it. travel also gives us the opportunity to get close to things that we have decided to identify with for the same reasons. it is a another way of transforming a mental image into actual experience.

like many other human activities, travel is a way of expressing individuality by re-creating and sharing the acts of others. when we stand on the same spot where kings stood, touch the eiffel tower or cruise the caribbean, we are participating in the experiences of those who have gone before us. these things become a part of us and expand our identities. in this way, we are able to somehow share the the accomplishments of the people we observe.

in fact, traveling is something almost everyone does for much the same reasons. if we remove the factors of distance and location, travelers and homebodies are essentially striving for the same things. in most cases, the basic difference is only a matter of the proximity of our connections to what we desire to be identified with.

for example, a fan of emeril lagasse will eagerly travel to the kitchen to recreate his cooking feats. some people visit their gardens to enjoy their collections of plants and flowers. others journey to the park to feed the pigeons and watch the people. however, when we take a plane, train or automobile to experience these same things, we call it travel. we all are curious about the world around us and want to repeat the actions of others who fascinate us to express our own self worth.

some of us simply prefer to do it in las vegas, hawaii or spain.

larry blanken is a freelance travel writer and semi-retired english instructor living near lexington, kentucky. in addition to teaching writer’s workshops and creating web content, his passions include creating travel articles.

speaker line-up for mental health camp

yay! we now have the speakers list and topics for mental health camp, the conference about the intersection between social media and mental health.  more information on the topics will trickle in by the end of june.  if you want to sign up to come to this conference, go to our eventbrite page.  there will also be a busy twitter stream – watch out for more information about that!

if you wonder what “mental moose” is – they are opportunities for people to propose sessions the morning of the conference. the sessions will be voted on by participants, and the proposals with the most votes will be slotted into the available times. they are called “mental moose” in nostalgic memory of northern voice’s moosecamp.

here is the line-up:

9-9:30 keynote

9:35-10:20
room 1
escape from bummer island – imagining a mental health adventure game
by “depression 2.0”

9:35-10:20
room 2
arts based advocacy: sound therapy radio
by jay peachy

9:35-10:20
room 3
mental moose

10:15-11:00
room 1
ripping the scabs off through writing
by steffani cameron

10:15-11:00
room 2
digital outing / mad pride
by steven schwartz

10:15-11:00
room 3
getting by with a little help from our friends
by henry jue

11-11:20 break

11:25-12:10
room 1
mhsm chat – a virtual session about the weekly mental health chat on twitter
by amy kiel

11:25-12:10
room 2
how covenant house’s blog “on the house” helps break the silence around mental health issues
by michelle clausius

11:25-12:10
room 3
mental moose

12:15-1:40 lunch

1:45-2:30
room 1
ADHD and stigma
by pete quily

1:45-2:30
room 2
panel: being ‘out’ about various forms of mental illness such as bipolar disorder, eating disorders, ADD, and post-partum depression
by terra, steve, steff and catherine

1:45-2:30
room 3
mental moose

2:35-3:20
room 1
who gets to talk about mental health? when, where, why, how?
by isabella mori

2:35-3:20
room 2
mental moose

2:35-3:20
room 3
mental moose

3:50-4:25
room 1
the power of words and the power of bikes – a journalist goes on a bicycle tour to raise awareness of mental health
by michael schratter

3:50-4:25
room 2
mental moose

3:50-4:25
room 2
mental moose

4:30-5:00 closing statements

depression and exercise

exercise – it works for depression is the title of a post i wrote for brainblogger the other day. it is about a large-scale study, the SMILE study (standard medical intervention and long-term exercise, conducted at duke university), which found that vigorous exercise three times a week for half an hour or forty-five minutes reduced symptoms of depression as effectively as antidepressants. there is the beginning of an interesting discussion in the comments about how to discuss findings like with people who are in the midst of depression.

any thoughts on this?

german joke

i just made my first comment on a german psychiatrist’s blog! to celebrate this, i’m translating this joke here, which was one of his blog posts.

back in december, the hospital hired three cannibals as janitors – john, frank and randy. it’s so difficult to get good help! on their first day, the human resource manager shook their hands and said, “welcome to the team! you’ll make good money, and the cafeteria has good food, so please, no need to get too interested in your co-workers.” that was fine with the three.

four months later, they were asked to see the human resource manager again. “you’re all doing very good work, and i’m very satisfied with you. only one small thing: one of our nurses has gone missing. do you know what might have happened there?” the cannibals said no, no idea.

after they left the room, frank hissed at john and randy: “which one of you two blockheads ate the nurse?”

randy slowly raised his hand. frank tore in to him, “for four months now we’ve been eating nothing but hospital managers, and nobody noticed it. and now you idiot have to eat a nurse?!”