Meditation: Patience

Patience is defined, as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. There are three different situations, where patience has to be applied.  You need patience with yourself.  Sometimes, you will need to have patience with love ones, close acquaintances, and fellow workers.  Finally, you will need to have patience with the world and humanity.  Does having patience help your life?   There are three areas where you must have patience. Sometimes these situations can be related.   Delay can lead to trouble, which in turn leads to suffering.  At other times they can be separate entities.  If you do not handle these situations with patience, what are the alternatives.  Can a lack of patience in some instances be beneficial.  Let’s look at patience as it fits in with the relationships you have.

Having patience with love ones, and close acquaintances, while at the time may be difficult, it can be an end point in dealing with some perceived problem in your relationship. Patience comes into play when someone you know is doing something, or not doing something that you disagree with.  You may, or may not give them advice about the situation, and they may not take it, even if you do.  Patience is needed to allow them lead their lives the way they want to, despite what you think.  There may be situations that you think people are not doing their job, or doing things that you find annoying or irritating.  Patience is needed to deal with some of the more mundane things of day to day living. This is what I mean by saying that patience is the end point of the process. What’s the alternative to patience in these situations. There are many choices you can make in both situations.  Remember if you abandon patience, and decide to make some kind of change in the situation, whether it be with a loved one, close acquaintance, or at the workplace, you will be making a drastic change in your life. Like any change the consequences could be good or bad.

The second place patience has its place is with the world and humanity. Right now this pandemic is stretching people’s patient with their government. They are trying to get their life back to some type of normalcy, and get back to work, while maintaining their health and the safety.  Patience is needed when any big organization is having a negative impact on your life.  It may be waiting in line for a long time,  the delay of a flight, or a stay at home order.  In day to day dealings it may be where a company is not providing the service that you think they should. In all of these situations there are not a lot of options but there are some.  You could get out of line.  You could vow never to use that airline again.  You can defy the stay at home.  You could could take legal action against a company or individual that did not provide a service. All of those actions may or may not be a benefit in the long run and may cause you even more problems.  It is a major decision, when you decide that your patience has run out.

Finally there is patience with yourself.  This by far, is hardest one to deal with.  You can not leave yourself.  When you set goals or have day to day things you want to do and fail, patience is your number one friend, if you can apply it.  Any time you get angry or make a poor decision due to a lack of patience, in any of the above scenarios, do you have the ability to have patience with yourself, so you might be able to forgive yourself and move on from your transgressions.  The irony of all this, is your trying to have patience with yourself, for having a lack of patience.  It really boils down to living in the past.   You can not change your mistakes, no matter what the cause. You can only move on, and try to treat yourself kindly and hope that you will do better in the future.  Remember as you apply this technique to yourself, that it may be wise to apply this to other people you are losing patience with, or to the world around you.  Patience is considered a virtue and it is.  Patience can only take you so far, but it will take you farther than you think.

Food: How Did It Get So Important

Food is a necessity.  Without taking in food, you would die in about 6 weeks or less. We all have to eat.  You do not even have to eat healthy, to survive.  You must supply your body with fuel, to function. In the modern world, food is much more important than that. Food is associated with events and activities.   Popcorn at movies, Peanuts, cracker jacks and hot dogs at baseball games, the hot dog at turn, in golf, and cake at birthday parties.   Food has a whole day devoted to it, called Thanksgiving.  If the Pilgrims only knew what they started, they would have given thanks by only drinking water.  Even at the most casual get togethers, like playing cards, book clubs, and watching sports on TV, the host will feel an obligation to provide some food. So how did food go from becoming a necessity, to becoming the part of almost everything we do socially, to the point that sometimes it is the main event?  There are lots of ideas about the subject, and all the things that food can do, to make any social event better, and how much it shows you care, by providing food, and lots of it, at an event that you are hosting.  But no where is there any mention, on how this process all came about. There had to be sometime in history, where people got together to do something, and food was no where to be found. But there seems to be no documentation of this.  Even very old movies, made in the 1920’s show people gathering together, and eating and drinking, in almost the same way, that we do today. Naturally I have some theories, and there is very little data elsewhere, to dispute it.

It all boils down to the rich and famous.   There was a time in our history, particularly during the depression and World War II that food was hard to come by.  Even so, if you had money, then food was plentiful.  What better way for the rich and famous  to show how much money they had, by serving lots of  food at any big social function.  As times got better and food became more plentiful, and less costly, it was a way for the middle class to be just like the rich and famous, by having food included, in any social event that they were going to have. Plus, it was not a problem for the rich to distance themselves from everyday people, by other means.   Today, with the corona virus taking away all social functions and contact, food has become less fun.  We have returned to the day, where food, now is just a necessity, that we have to cook for ourselves, and whoever we are sheltering in place with.   Once this pandemic is over, I am sure food again, will take its place as the center piece of most any social function.  The way things are now, it is hard to believe that this will ever be.  We are a more open society today, than we were 100 years ago. Today, you can have quite a diverse group of people getting together for fun, food, and a good time, wherever that may be.  Food is taking a back seat, as the pandemic is moving on and on and on.  With so many questions on what will happen, concerning the virus, food has lost a lot of its importance.  So, no matter what started  food having to be at the center of all social events, these last two months have shown, that it is something that is ingrained in our beings, and is not helping us get through this crisis.

Hopefully, we will again, be able to enjoy food with our friends and family, in the not too distance future.   Food has been a big part of the human experience for a long time. This pandemic could affect how we enjoy and feel about food, for the rest of our lives. Let’s hope that we can all get through this, with as few emotional scars as possible, and that everyone we know remains healthy and safe.  As things begin to open up, I hope there will be no major setbacks in the near future.   I can smell those hot dogs already.

 

Meditation: Thoughts

When you write about meditation and discuss thoughts, it is usually what to do with them while you are meditating. But for  this blog, I am just going to wing it, and discuss my thoughts, about the last 3 weeks. It has been that long, since I have written anything on the blog.  It has been a very strange time in our history, and time does march on however, no matter how mundane the days feel.  The days just seem to roll into one another, with the weather not being that great, with a few nice days thrown in.  I feel that the world is standing still, and that’s kind of the way I feel, just kind of muddling along, in this world of sheltering in place.  There are lots of ways people are trying to express themselves, about the pandemic, and are feeling various emotions.  They range from being anxious, to fearful, frustrated, angry, and depressed. I just kind of feel numb, through the whole experience.  Like anytime in one’s life, there are always ups and downs, and this is no exception.  Let’s take a closer look at those ups and downs.

On the upside, I have Facetimed with my grand kids twice weekly, over the last 6 weeks, which is much more than we ever had in the past.  While this not like seeing them in person, it is pretty cool, and  everybody seems to be doing all right, and is staying healthy. I don’t know when I will be flying out there again, but hopefully by mid summer.   I have watched some shows, that  I would have probably never  seen, if it was not for the pandemic.    I have been able to walk more.   I have gone into West Virginia, where the golf courses are open, and played 4 rounds of golf.  My game is still pretty good, despite the long lay off.  I am cooking more, and have made 3 batches of chocolate chip cookies.  I am meditating longer and feeling some benefit.   I have enjoyed watching some old sporting events. We have been able to get all the food and basic products that we need. It’s like any situation, things could be a lot worse.

Now for the downside, which is easier to see and express.  The biggest thing is the uncertainty, and despite the social distancing ,the possibility of getting sick. It is more worrisome for me, of giving the disease, than getting the disease. I know there is a lot of uncertainty about the disease, but I think the media really does not help our concerns.  They feel the need to spread fear and panic rather than find out some answers.  Here are two questions I would like to have answers. How did the Corona Virus get into a pork plant in South Dakota? I understand how it spread, but how did it get in? Maybe some spring break people brought it back from Florida. The second question is, who are the health officials that the governor of Georgia claims he is listening to, that allows him to open his state up to just about every business. Would some one please interview these people.  For the first time in our history we are using humans for guinea pigs for controlled studies.  That is essentially what is going on in Georgia, and will happen in Las Vegas if the casinos open.  This by far, will be the most interesting two weeks of the pandemic.  Will Georgia pay the price for reopening too soon, or will the explosion of the disease not happen in two weeks.  The people of Georgia are going to be the Corona lab mice, whether they want to be or not.  I want to see who is going to be the first person to get the Corona Vaccine.  I nominate Bill Gates since he seems to feel that you can fast track a vaccine.   This will be the most interesting and possibly scary 6 months in the history of the world.  All I can say is lets hope that Trump does not think there is a nuclear cure for the Corona Virus. Hopefully my writing brain will perk up in the next few days and I will blog something in under 3 weeks.

Meditation: If Not Now, Then Never

In this historic time of economic shutdown, and social distancing, if you can’t find time to start meditating, then your doomed to never experience the best thing that you can do for yourself.  These are troubled times, for many obvious reasons, but the biggest, is that this can not be compared to anything.  This is a unique time in the history of the world. Despite all the predictions, and talk of what is going to come, nobody knows what is going to happen, and that is the main reason for this high anxiety  people are feeling, right now.  Getting Covid-19 is bad enough, but add to that the uncertainty of when things may get back to normal, and we can resume  daily activities. This is an unknown virus, and only time will tell, if it will behave as some other viruses.   The crisis has brought out thoughts of, is the cure worse than the disease, and our grandparent are willing to die to save the economy. Give me money or give me death, just doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it, as give me liberty or give me death.  The health of the country and the economy have never clashed so violently.  It shows how ill prepared we were for such a crisis.  We have heard on the media, that we are going to try and open up by Easter,  and others stating that it will take until August, for things to get back to normal.  This may be the highest anxiety levels that the nation has ever felt.  The future is now unknown territory.  We hear of worst, and best case scenarios.  Now is the time to embrace your inner being and soul.  It is time to first find it, and then get inside and revel in it.

The outside world, that many of us live to see and feel, is coming apart and there is really  no end in sight.  This is the time to visit the inner world, and find yourself during this world crisis.  If you do not do it now, then you will never do it, and it will be your loss. It is easy to think that there is a finite end to this, but there may not be. Improving yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself.  That is the great thing. You give yourself this gift. You do not have to depend on anybody to move forward on this. The world will go on in some form no matter what. You have no control over that.  You can control much of your system, and how you respond to all the chaos, that is going on around you.  By spending a few minutes everyday, and then slowly expanding to 15, 20, even 30 minutes a day in meditation, can be the one good thing that will come out of this health crisis.  It can make your life better, far beyond your wildest dreams.  The time has come. It is now or never.

The next few weeks will be even more unique than the last 2 weeks.  Out of all the comments and inane remarks that have been said during this crisis, there is only one that rings of any truth.  Dr. Anthony Fauci said, it will be the virus, that sets the timetable, of when things will get back to normal. Yes, the virus is in charge.  We can only stay inside, and maintain a safe distance for ever how long it takes.  We can only hope and pray that it will not be too long, but there is not a hell of a lot any of us can really do about it.  What will we do?  I do not have any idea, what is going to happen. I do know, this conflict between our health and the economy is going to get worse.  Which one will our leaders and the people of the United States choose.  No matter which one they choose, it will affect the rest of our lives.

Sports: What Sports

The sports world has been brought to a grinding halt, by the corona virus.  By now, everyone knows that every major sport, or sporting event has been canceled or postponed for around 6 to 8 weeks at least.  Everybody but the NFL, which is proceeding like nothing is wrong, is taking precautions to keep their players and organization safe. It makes you wonder if the NFL hierarchy is concussed. It just solidifies the fact, that the NFL is one of the most primitive and backward organizations in the world.  The newly ratified players agreement also supports this.  Let’s spread the virus, we don’t start play until September, and no one who is 60 or older plays football.  Over all, the sports world is not the brightest bulb in the room, anyway.  Even the NBA commissioner was talking about having some games, to help the American psyche.  What would really improve the American psyche, is too get back to work, feel productive and be able to pay the bills. The governor of Florida has shit for brains, also.  He refused to close beaches during spring break, which was a direct move to kill old people, and make sure they would be exposed to the virus as much as possible. Especially when all those people come back up north, and expose more old people.   I feel once this is over, that the government should build a canal across northern Florida, so it would be easier to quarantine the people that went down there, if we have a future pandemic.  Obviously, Florida officials do not care about health and safety. This entire crisis is historic, and no one seems to realize what a threat this is, to our everyday life, and the American way.  This is the worst economic crisis, since the great depression, and people are not doing their share, to keep everyone as safe as possible.

The main problem, is that this is the first time, that anything like this has happened in the history of the world, let alone in anyone’s lifetime.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, knows what is going to happen.  If fear of the unknown is a problem, then we are at an all time high, for stress and anxiety.  The more our high officials speak, the more they just look stupid, because none of them, in there entire lives,  have ever answered a question, by saying, I don’t know.  That should be the answer, to almost any question concerning this virus, and emergency.  If this gets as bad as some feel, and again nobody knows, it will really expose just how mediocre are health care system is. Already, the lack of testing is putting us way behind, in knowing what is really going on out there. Thank you money grubbing FDA.  These are tests, not drugs that might kill people.  We can only hope that most Americans are staying home and not mingling, that will help stem the tide.  Hopefully, warmer weather may help the situation, but this is not like the flu, so who knows.  These waters are uncharted, but it still does not mean, that all will be lost. Like everyone else, we will just have to see what happens on a daily basis.  If we follow the recommendations of  the Center for Disease Control, we can only hope that we will see the light at the end of the tunnel sooner than later.

Of course, you can not write about the corona virus pandemic without discussing, TOILET PAPER.   I still feel that the governor of Florida and the NFL had something to do with this.  It has been shown, that a family of 4, should go through about 17 rolls of toilet paper, in about 2 weeks. Now, there were pictures of numerous people on various sites, that had at least 60 rolls in the their grocery carts, and sometimes even more.  Some have said that people were buying in droves, to sell on E Bay.  I was amazed, that the focus for so many people, was toilet paper.  There are other ways to clean yourself, after a bowel movement.  I am not going into all of that in this blog.  I am trying to figure out, what this says about people, in general. One thing ,that there was not a shortage of, during the entire time of panic buying, was fruits and vegetables. Maybe buying toilet paper, and not following the CDC  guidelines, have some kind of relationship. Maybe these people know, that they are not going to make the sacrifices, that other people are going to make, and therefore they feel the crises will last a lot longer than anticipated, and  things like shelter in place, may last 4 to 5 months. It makes you wonder, if toilet paper has an expiration date that nobody talks about.   Maybe something will go wrong with the toilet paper, if stored for more than 6 months, which may cause your anus to fall off. That’s asshole for all you toilet paper buyers out there.   If that does happen, we will all know who bought too much toilet paper.  The good news, no restaurants will have to close over that.  Good luck to everyone, over these next days and weeks, or however long this will take, to get our lives back to some degree of normalcy.

Meditation: Is it Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness are often considered synonymous, and seemed to be interchanged frequently.  There is something called mindful meditation, but to me that is like saying meditation meditation.  Websters dictionary defines mindfulness as the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. It also says that it is the state of being mindful. Mindful is define as inclined to be aware.  When you are meditating you can be aware of certain things from your breathing, how your body is feeling and relaxing,  and your thoughts and surroundings.   Can meditating help you be more mindful during the rest of your day, and is this really a good thing.  Being mindful is being in the moment of what ever you are doing, no matter how mundane.  If you are drying dishes, then you should only be thinking of drying dishes, according to people who advocate being mindful all day long. Should that be all you are thinking about when you are walking is putting one foot in front of the other, and feeling every part of your body, as it moves.  I guess you should, if you are walking along the edge of a cliff.  For me, when I am walking, I have come up with some of my best ideas, to help make my life better, and more enjoyable.

Mindfulness is associated with Buddhism and Buddhist monks in particular.  The monks meditated 2 to 3 hours per day.   They got rid of all their material possessions and tried to stay mindful for the entire day.  In the modern world, this is something that is not possible, or really necessary.  I am not sure that being mindful, helps  you deal with some of the problems, of everyday life. Yes, when you have a particular task to do in life, then you had better pay attention, or be mindful during the process of doing, and completing  the task.  Trying to be mindful of every single little thing that we do, may create more stress, than what it is worth.  There are some people that believe there are benefits from being mindful. They feel that staying in the present, which is a result of mindfulness, can keep us from stewing over past mistakes, and worrying about the future. The feeling is it  can also help in dealing with change, that is inevitably going to happen. In order to learn and to plan for the future, we are going to have to think of the past and the future.  Let’s look at some facts of life, that every one of us has to deal with.   Change is going to happen, whether we want it or not.   Worrying about things, has never accomplished anything.  Will being mindful help any of this.  Will meditating help any of this. I think the former will not and the latter will.  Being mindful is more of a life goal, while meditating is a process that requires 20 minutes a day minimum to receive the benefits.

There are many people today that are strong advocates of being mindful during your entire day.   They feel that meditating will help you become more mindful, the mindful meditators.   There is only one way to become more mindful during the day and that is simply to be more mindful.  There may be a benefit but it still may not be practical in this world today.   When at home, don’t talk to me I am drying the dishes.   When at work, don’t talk to me, I’m getting a soda out of the machine.   I do not think mindfulness leads to a better life.  Mindfulness and meditation are not the same thing, not even close. In fact this relationship that mindfulness and meditation supposedly have,  can discourage people from meditating, if the goal is to become more mindful.  This should not be the goal of meditation.  I have written before about what meditation can accomplish and mindfulness is not one of them.  If you want to become more mindful, go ahead and give it a go.  It can be a daunting task, however. There are many other daunting tasks in life, that we have to deal with, in order to survive, and provide for our love ones.  Why add another one?

Food: Can it really do that?

When you read about food, there are many articles that talk about all the health benefits of any particular food. Looking at a particular nutrient of food, like the omega 3 fatty acids, is another popular topic.  Omega 3 fatty acids are give many positive attributes. One article I read, stated that there are 17, count’em 17, science-based, I mean real science baby, benefits of eating omega 3 fatty acids. Even the name sounds cool.  I am the Omega Man, the preventer  of many health problems.  Lot better than being called Celery Man. According to the article Omega 3’s can help with mental disorders, blood pressure, brain health for the fetus and in early life, and may even help prevent cancer. I am out the door to get 20 pounds of salmon and 30 cans of sardines.  This article will take you to many studies, to back up all 17 claims.  I read them, and they all have some flaws, and come to conclusions, that may not be correct.  Many health agencies want you to get 2 servings a week of a fish, that is high in omega 3’s  to reap the benefits.  However, fish oil supplement companies want you taking the product everyday. If you google the benefits of eating almost anything you will find results that are positive.   I googled garbage, dog poop, and processed foods, and they all came up with benefits, when they are consumed.  If you continued this process on any food, you would assume you could eat anything and live a long healthy life. Could that be true?

At first your answer would be no way.  When I googled the benefits of eating garbage, I came across a site, that said why do people eat garbage. My first thought was, I didn’t know people ate garbage, unless they were homeless.  But the garbage that this author was writing about, is food purchased at fast food chains, and highly processed foods. He  describes how nearly 90 percent of America’s budget is spent on junk food.1 What is more appalling is that nearly 60 percent of food eaten in America are ultra-processed,2 convenience foods that can be purchased at your local gas station. These processed foods also account for nearly 90 percent of the consumption of added sugar in the U.S. Now lets say that this is all true.  I have no doubt that it is true.  You have to wonder then, how does anybody make it to 85 years and beyond.  There are three diets that are describe in various sites.  The Mediterranean diet, which is a middle European diet,  the Natural diet attributed to Asia and Japan, and then the good old Western or American diet.  You could conclude that if you are on the Western diet, that you probably won’t make it past 40. If you have doubts about all the benefits that certain foods can give you, then possibly you should have doubts about all the harm that food could do. Are there any conclusions that can be drawn from this hodgepodge of claims and so called data?

Lets look as some things that we absolutely know about nutrition and health. There are absolutely a number of diseases, directly related to nutritional deficiencies.  They range from Scurvy, Rickets, Iron deficient anemia, Pellagra, and Calcium deficiency diseases. If your diet lacks certain vitamins. minerals or other essential nutrients you will get sick. There is no denying that.  There is no question that people have a sensitivity to certain aspects of food.  Gluten, certain preservatives, and spices may make some people sick. Once you eliminate the sensitivity issue, when you look at so called bad diets, it may not be what’s in them, but what’s not in them, that may be causing all the problem. The other issue, may be the amount of food, that is consumed rather the content.  What would happen if you put people on a plant based diet but they consumed vast amounts of that food, especially things like nuts and whole grains along with vegetables and became 40 to 50 pounds overweight. Do you think they might get some of the same health issues that overweight individuals get  from a processed animal based diet.   There are many more variables I can make up, but it shows why these so scientific studies are difficult, and may not be all that scientific. When it comes to food, variety and common sense, are the key ingredients.  To answer the question at the top of the page, can food really do that? I think we all know the answer is no.