Saturday, March 30, 2013

Moving on ...

I just had an intuition.
I was thinking and writing about my yesterday's talk with Mazz and some of the important topics that came up. I am having more sympathy for myself now. I know that I want to be more playful with what I do and that way be more creative and at the same time enjoy whatever I do. Being creative is the road to authenticity.
To be playful, I want to deal with my fears and gradually overcome them. I do not want my fears to dictate my decisions in life anymore. As I have mentioned before [Love, Promised, and Freedom], love helps us break our mind's prison and self-imposed limitations. In other words, love makes us courageous and sets us free. Yet, starting the path of heart requires the courage to open ourselves to unknown and to see and accept our dark side. It needs a moment of madness which is the characteristic of falling in love anyway.
Finally, mindfulness is a requirement for the journey of self-awareness. It's difficult to accomplish anything unless we center ourself around the present moment.

So, what was the intuition? I have studied a lot in my journey of the past several years. At the intellectual level, at least, I know a good deal of the things that I need. It is time to put everything together, practice them and internalize them, and start to move on with my life with courage and purpose.

Here is a TED talk that I watched for the second time last night and, for some reason, connected with at a much deeper level. The last couple of minutes brought tears to my eyes:

Elizabet Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius
Link: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html

Also playlist on creativity: http://www.ted.com/playlists/11/the_creative_spark.html
A blog entry on play and creativity: https://riskplaycreate.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/why-adults-need-to-play-the-play-challenge/

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fear and Sleep

In a recent post [Sleep] I wrote about a Radiolab program on sleep. One thing I remember from that program is that our basic fear of environment affects our sleep at a very basic and deep level. For example, most people have problem going to sleep in a new place, at least the first night or two.

Here is an article from NPR with a strange connection to sleep:
How an unlikely drug helps some children consumed by fear

It talks about a psychiatrist,Demitri Papolos, who is the director of research at the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation and a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He's also the author of The Bipolar Child. He defines a subtype of bipolar disorder that he calls the "fear of harm" profile and use ketamine to treat children with this profile [Link to clinical results]. What fascinates me is the idea that sleep disorders are closely tied to this problem. Some quotes from the NPR article:

There are several core characteristics of these children, Papolos says. One is a variety of sleep disturbances including frequent and terrifying nightmares. "They're all about pursuit or abandonment," he says. "Some animal chasing them. A shark biting into their leg, and they feel the blood and the pain."

Another characteristic of kids like George, Papolos says, is an extreme reaction when anyone tries to control their behavior. "They may very well be very aggressive, particularly at home and particularly where there's any limit-setting, because limit-setting is experienced as a threat to them," he says. "They're functioning on a very primitive fight-or-flight level."
When these kids do become violent, it's not premeditated, Papolos says. They're not potential mass killers. They're responding the way an animal might, defending its territory.

There's one more characteristic of the "fear of harm" profile that's not about behavior at all. These children overheat easily, Papolos says, especially at night.
Here is a more technical description of the condition and its ties to sleep disorders and overheating:
Sleep activity patterns and temperature study

I have had some related experiences, although less extreme. For me the world is [used to be?] a frightening place that I always need to watch for possible harm. And I do have the overheating problem at night, especially when I am nervous and anxious about some issues. Nevertheless, I am not convinced that medication is my answer. I think the roots of the problem may be in the early infant years and related parenting/mothering issues. And my guess is that a more psychoanalytic treatment may be appropriate.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Horror


You want to know what horror is?

http://www.npr.org/2013/03/19/174639343/veterans-face-red-tape-accessing-disability-other-benefits

Anyway, today's fresh air program was mainly an interview with Journalist Aaron Glantz, author of ``The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans.'' The whole things was mostly sad, but parts of it was horrific, really.

The difference between the number of people who were killing themselves at home versus dying overseas is just increasing as fewer and fewer Americans are dying overseas. ... We now have 2.4 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans ...

There was a question about how he realized that it was time to end his war-reporting from inside Iraq and his answer moved something inside me. He said that at some point he knew that he was reaching his threshold but he was lucky enough to have the opportunity to decide to leave. I think it is very important that we know our limit and use our opportunity to leave when it's the right time and we still can.

Horror: http://youtu.be/rDK9MDklzFo

Also yesterday program was quite emotional. A mother who waits the death of her 2 year old sun:
http://www.npr.org/2013/03/18/174419920/still-point-a-meditation-on-mothering-a-dying-child

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sleep

Tonight "Radiolab [http://www.radiolab.org/]" had a very interesting program on sleep. [Link]
In the first part they discussed many types of animals that sleep with half of their brain and how the same underlying mechanism (fear of predators) may be still in work in some people with sleep problems. The second part dealt with the physiology of sleep and tiredness (from lack of sleep). And the most interesting part was the last: physio-psychology of dreaming! The new research indicates that brain becomes creative during the dreaming phase and in fact tries to solve problems, especially problems with emotional significance.

I was telling my therapist a few days ago that in the past few month, during my sleep, I feel as if my brain is solving some difficult problems. I have been facing a couple of important decisions for quite some time now and I have refused to make any decisions because somehow I feel that I do not have the complete picture, and a satisfying solution, yet. Initially, I would think that the answers were hidden in my unconscious but my defense mechanisms do not let them emerge. Now I am convinced that the answer is not out there, and that my brain is "constructing" different scenarios and comparing them in order to hopefully come up with some creative answer. Good luck my brain, I really need those answers sooner than later, lol

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Samanou (سمنو)

2013-03-16 [5 p.m.] We just started the cooking process which should take about 8-10 hours. About two hours ago, we started the preparation process (grinding the wheat sprouts and squeezing the wheat extract and mixing with whole wheat flour). Sima grew a little more than 2 pounds of wheat for 4-5 days until the sprouts were about 2-3 cm, with a white-yellow color. We added 4 pounds of whole wheat flour to the liquid wheat extract.

2013-03-17 [2 a.m.] I have been stirring Samanou and staring at it to see the color change. So far, it is light brown and does not want to turn dark even after 9 hours of sitting on fire! :)

2013-03-17 [4:30 a.m.] I cut the stove off at 4 and then put samanou in 6 pyrex dishes that Sima had allocated to it. I am done! I can sleep now and when I get up around noon I can taste the cold samanou and decide to what extent the "samanou pazoon" operation has been successful, lol

2013-03-17 [9:45 p.m.] This time the samanou is better than last year, but not as good as the first time we made it. I think I should have stopped between 2 and 3 this morning. Around 2, after I wrote the lines above, I realized that the color of the surface got darker and a strong aroma of golden-wheat began to come out. This aroma is what I associate with the samanou that my mom cooks. After 3 the aroma subsided and when I took the samanou off the stove at 4 it was almost gone.

I learned useful lessons from cooking samanou this year. I look forward to next Nowrouz to improve on my art of samanou cooking, lol

Links:
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samanu
Recipe:  www.persianrecipes.net/recipe.asp?ID=38

Friday, March 15, 2013

How things are ...

I am happy. My job will end in less than two months. Yet, almost every day, I experience moments of extremely deep joy. My old old depression is almost gone. Sometimes I feel stressed out, nervous, sad, or angry, but I now realize that this is a part of being a human being!

Whenever possible, I do what I want to. In fact, I find it more and more possible to follow my own heart. This is a big change for someone who, only a couple of years ago, did not know what he wanted, had forgotten what love was, could not make simple decisions, and so on.
Many things have happened in the past few months. Some I have documented. Some I did not, and I could not remember, unfortunately. Some I understand, and most, I just feel.
I know that I am on the right path to finding/creating who I am. I am pretty sure that I did the right thing to follow my intuition against the conventions and many people's advices.
I am beginning to like, and accept, myself. It has been a few months that I have noticed fewer incidents of self-hatred, self-blaming and self-torture. This is fascinating.
I wish I could be more clear and specific.

I stopped reading psychoanalytic books two weeks ago. I was reading one such book and, suddenly, I put the book down and in my heart I knew that I did not need to study psychoanalysis anymore and I realized that I did not want to become a student of this profession either. I had a clear vision. My therapist's interpretation was that I stopped trying to fix myself. That makes sense.
I am more in touch with my deep psyche. I know that I do not yet know what I want to do after my current employment is over. I may stay unemployed for a while. But I am sure at some point I will figure out the answer to one of my old questions: Who I want to become?
There are still challenges to overcome. But that's life. I return to some old issues and questions and see them in new light. Most importantly, I try to stay playful, and therefore, creative and in the moment.

It is scary, I want to be honest. But it is most definitely intriguing. I feel that I am facing endless possibilities. I have been able to gradually break away from many self-built prisons that had confined my soul. Now I am sensing what it means to be a human. It is amazing.

PS. An old post that is very much in tune with what I am feeling now: [Attachment and Uncertainty]

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wandering Mind and Inner Critic

I accidentally came across this short clip in which ``Metropolitan Opera Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato in a Master Class at the Julliard School of Music, reflects on quieting your inner critic and being present in the moment.'' In this 6 minutes, you can find some deep insights into self-awareness:

http://youtu.be/Mgb-kIZcOI4



Interestingly, I was reading this old post today: Brene Brown on Vulnerability. At the end, there is a link to an interesting story about wandering mind. Here are some quotes.
Source: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-wandering-mind-is-an-un

In a recent study published in Science, Killingsworth and Gilbert discovered that an unnervingly large fraction of our thoughts - almost half - are not related to what we’re doing. ...

In addition to awakening us to just how much our minds wander, the study clearly showed that we’re happiest when thinking about what we’re doing. Although imagining pleasant alternatives was naturally preferable to imagining unpleasant ones, the happiest scenario was to not be imagining at all. A person who is ironing a shirt and thinking about ironing is happier than a person who is ironing and thinking about a sunny getaway.
What about the kinds of activities we do, though? Surely, the hard-partiers and world travelers among us are happier than the quiet ones who stay at home and tuck in early? Not necessarily. According to the data from the Harvard group’s study, the particular way you spend your day doesn’t tell much about how happy you are. Mental presence - the matching of thought to action - is a much better predictor of happiness.

On the plus side, a mind can be trained to wander less. With regular and dedicated meditation practice, you can certainly become much more present, mindful, and content. But you’d better be ready to work. The most dramatic benefits only really accrue for individuals, often monks, who have clocked many thousands of hours practicing the necessary skills (it’s not called the default state for nothing).

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Painting

I have been working on this painting for the last few days and I am content with the current version:


At the same time, I have been thinking/meditating on ``playfulness'' and it's role in self-discovery and authenticity. I need to delve deeper in this area of creativity, play, and playfulness, not just intellectually but practically. 

Monday, March 04, 2013

A Lesson in Balance

Amazing video clip, unbelievable, mesmerizing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MXMZ9Cj0ys



More information on this performance:
http://www.mostwatchedtoday.com/madir-eugsters-incredible-balancing-act/

Mädir Eugster of the Rigolo Swiss Nouveau Cirque’s recently won Japan’s Kamiwaza 2013 talent show with his incredible ‘Palm Rib Balance’ act. Eugster’s performance takes an insane amount of strength and concentration as it includes balancing 13 palm leaf ribs and one feather on one large palm leaf rib.

http://www.rigolo.ch/

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Picture :)

For the first time in my life I love my picture, lol, at least my right side. The idea of taking this picture came to me out of nowhere, this afternoon, and somehow I am very proud that I made it come true. I am feeling proud of myself.


Saturday, March 02, 2013

Wish: A Short Film from Tehran

I liked this short film. Some precious moments, like around 0:55. My interpretation: it reminds me of some time ago, that how difficult it was for me to think of what "I" want, to wish for something in my life for myself.

http://youtu.be/fVX8oW_qS5E

Clear Shallow Water

I started reading this novel, `` The Driver ,'' by Hart Hanson , and I did not like it much and decided to stop. But then I came ba...