Sunday, March 30, 2014

Book Keeping

My period of flirtation with Cesar Millan was short and ended a couple of weeks ago. Nothing against him though, I just learned whatever I wanted to learn from him and am moving on. I am indebted to him for some very interesting insights. Also finished the novel, ``Before I go to sleep,'' a few days ago. I learned a lot from that novel too. Today, I bought a book about wolves by Barry Holstun Lopez, ``Of Wolves and Men,'' from Book Nook store. It seems that I need to read something interesting at all times :)

I had an amazing day today. The issue of "helping others'' was one of the last questions on my list and today I finally made significant progress toward answering it. I have been lucky to find answers to all of the difficult questions that started me on my personal pilgrimage a few years ago. I am sure new questions will pop up, and I will have very dark and depressing moments in the future, but I will get through them, and will experience moments of indescribable joy and gratitude too.

PS #1. NPR on Cesar:

http://www.npr.org/2014/03/30/295796786/cesar-millans-long-walk-to-becoming-the-dog-whisperer

I hate those motherfuckers who criticize Cesar for brutal behavior toward dogs. It's like they have not lived in the real world, where animals kill animals with outmost brutality! I just hate them and their idiotic vision of a peaceful world, lol

PS #2. How about a piece of music to mend and fix our differences? Stravinsky 's ``Pulcinella Suite":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwongNsp1RA




PS#3. An honest talk:

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Listening-To-Your-Inner-Voice-M

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kerman, Mahan, Color, Music

A piece on Kerman, my hometown:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/iran-blog/2014/mar/26/iran-bazaar-kerman-crafts

A quote from the above link:
One time in Keman, my grandmother sent me to the bazaar for cumin. I asked for a quarter of a kilo. Perched comfortably on his chair, the spice seller looked me in the eye and raised his brows in a "no".
That's the stereotypical Kermani attitude for you, too blasé to even speak. Trying to trump him at his own game, I pretended not to understand the gesture until he was finally forced to reply: "We don't have any."
I pointed to a huge sack of cumin in the back.
He grumbled like a bear deep in winter slumber. "You said you want a quarter of a kilo. You want me to get up and walk to the back and open the sack and weigh your purchase ... do all that work, for a quarter of a kilo? Nope, my child, I don't have a quarter of a kilo."
Such incidents aren't rare here. A merchant unwilling to rise from his seat might ask you to come back the next day when the shop is busy and he's up anyway, or he might just ignore you - gaze through you with eyes half closed until you go away. I always react to rudeness in other circumstances, but somehow these shop owners don't bother me. The bazaar exemplifies Kerman's whimsical, lazy spirit, often exacerbated by the region's avid taste for opium. (Kermanis distinguish traditional leisurely use from addiction.)
My father was born in Mahan, a small city close to Kerman. Our last name means "from Mahan" in Persian.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahan,_Iran 

Amazing photos of colors one can only see in a mosque:

http://wonderfulengineering.com/watch-what-happens-when-sunlight-hits-this-building/

Some pictures:


Let's add a piece of music to the end too :)

http://www.npr.org/event/music/294345739/welcome-to-yo-yos-playhouse

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Feeling Secure and Playful ...

A state of feeling secure is a combination of outside and inside conditions that is accompanied by calmness, openness, and curiosity. In the secure state we have compassion for ourselves. We are forgiving and at the deepest level of our mind believe that our value is independent of our actions and decisions. We can see multiple possible narratives and therefore have a choice amongst them. Choice inspires a sense of agency. The inner sense of security is manifested outwardly in playfulness. For some people this state of security is more widespread. For others, it only takes place in their sleep and dreams. 

As we approach the boundaries of the secure state, we become more tense and our vision of the situation become monolithic. Our choices seem to shrink and we attach more and more of our self-worth to our actions and decisions. In the domain of insecurity, we cannot stop judging ourselves and our actions. We become self-centered and label our single narrative either good or bad. In a ``good'' narrative, we become grandiose, feel powerful and independent of everything and every body. In a ``bad'' narrative, we become desperate, critical, depressed and hopeless. Because most real-life situations are complex, neither of the good and bad narratives can be stable. Therefore, states of insecurity are associated with sudden changes in mood with some kind of manic-depressive presentation.

Extending the secure and playful state of being is a difficult but worthwhile challenge. There are some known approaches like therapy (psychoanalysis mainly) and arts. I have come up with a method of decision-making that I call ``Mahan method.'' I have used it for the past year or so and it has had interesting and useful results for me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Zen? Here and Now?

For the past twenty years or so, I have been fascinated by the Zen idea of living in the here and now. Until now, that is. Reading the S.J. Watson's novel, ``Before I go to sleep,'' I am beginning to question the whole premise. It seems that being human is closely related to our personal history and stories, our understanding of our past and possibilities we imagine for our future:
I can't imagine going on like this for much longer. I know I'll go to sleep tonight, and then tomorrow I will wake up and not know anything again, and the next day, and the day after that, forever. I can't imagine it. I can't face it. It's not life, it's just an existence, jumping from one moment to the next with no idea of the past, and no plan for the future. It's how I imagine animals must be. ---p. 194, Before I go to sleep
I am glad that I am developing healthy suspicion of everything I believe, including Zen! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy NowRouz!

The Persian New Year, 1393, started today at around 1 in the afternoon. Baba (dad in Farsi) called 15 minutes earlier and as the moment of ``Tahveel: change of year" approached, held the phone in front of their TV so that we can hear those few minutes. He does this every year for the past 15 years or so, since we came to the US. I am not a big fan of the whole NowRouz and the New Year celebration though. In fact, last year I slept through the whole thing intentionally.

I have not felt real grief in my life, even though I have lost uncles and grand parents, but never felt the deep sense of losing someone precious. Today, after the New Year phone call, I had a very painful moment. In an instant, I saw the day in the future that my mom and dad will have passed away. I saw their empty space in their apartment. But the most devastating vision was that I saw there was no "baba" anymore who would sit by the phone and try calling me over and over, with his amazing patience because the lines are so busy. I saw the phone in their apartment and an empty space besides it, and something inside me gave in and I broke into tears because there was nothing else I could go except to cry.

We laugh and we cry. But living with the whole heart is painful. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Little One?!

The truth is … almost … that …. there is no truth, really.

I started reading S.J. Watson's ``Before I Go to Sleep,'' at the suggestion of my sister.

The truth about the previous post, [Big One …] , is that I was listening to music last evening and then I missed all those people whom I loved at some point in my life, and just wanted to be close to each one of them, maybe hold them, touch them, and tell them how much I loved them, and I couldn't, so I ended  up cursing them, which is a very natural response.

Everything becomes its opposite, at some point. This is very important. It is also important that we understand outside world by projecting our inner world, but I have written this before, never mind.

Some music from commercials that I liked and found tonight --- they are better in their commercials, lol

1- Brenda Lee - I'm Sorry (A carpet cleaner?)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGF41ZSr0cI

2- I Will Be There by Odessa (Subaru)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHZ0Oq24Hd8

3- Ladyhawke - Blue Eyes (Verizon)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1Pucpi8cvo

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Big One ...

This post serves as a big "Fuck You!" to all people whom I passionately loved, or had a crush on, or was infatuated with, or whatever the hell it was I was feeling when I was feeling,
because the irony of the situation is that no single individual from that group reads this blog and I can write whatever the hell I feel like saying without having to face the actual possibility of them reading it, lol

And at the end, who gives a fuck about love anyway, right?

Inspired by a bunch of music clips on youtube, the last one is from a French girl, with powerful music:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5KAc5CoCuk


And to create a contrast, this is the one I was listening to before that:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMG0wyKQFhY



Monday and  Tuesday of the last week were horrible, some of the worst days of my life, and I got through them anyway. The fucking life goes on whether we like it or hate it, for a while we are with it and them it goes on without us. Big wisdom!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Clouds, Pyramids and …

We make pyramids out of our emotions, emotions about emotions, and so on and so forth, until we reach clouds. In clouds, emotions and words are dissociated and therefore concepts are suspended, with no anchoring to reality, and hence, can be confusing and harmful. It is not words' fault when they become meaningless, it is simply the ``pyramids and clouds'' effect.

New Revelation: Emotional truth is in depth of memories.
Objective truth is connected to physical reality, whereas emotional truth is related to how we remember, the depth of our memories rather than how close they are to objective truth!

I am afraid of so many things ... and I want to accept this. And talk about it. First, with Sima. Later, close friends and family, and maybe here too.

We went to Tara Cinema last evening and watched ``Philomena'' [Link]. It was better than other movies that we watched this past couple of months. I hated ``12 years a slave'' [Link] a lot, the worst best picture in Oscar history in my opinion.

I am getting ready to start job search. It is quite scary.

What is emotional openness? What is emotional numbing? If I close my eyes and cover my ears, or completely lose myself in a novel or a game and do not sense anything, the outside world continues. Similarly, our inner emotional world happens whether we observe it or not. The common apparatus between the two words is our beam of attention. We can focus our attention inside, be present with what happens inside, and ultimately try to describe the landscape, the emotional events, in words.

What if our inner space, our subconscious, mirrors our view of the outside world? Obviously, we project a lot of our inner world onto the outer world, but what if the reverse direction also applies? Then, things like religion and our basic trust in life translate into the structure of our inner world. As I think about it more, I realize that when I observe someone's interactions in the outside world, specially his/her point of view about life, relationship, work, and such, I can map the inner world of that person!

An interesting TED talk on creativity:
http://www.ted.com/talks/david_kelley_how_to_build_your_creative_confidence
His page on IDEO:
http://www.ideo.com/people/david-kelley

Monday, March 03, 2014

Change of Seasons

[Sunday, February 23, 2014] I am alone, entering a strange land of unknown, where words and their meaning are suspended in the air, whirling  and twisting. Everything is as usual and yet it feels different. Everyone I know travels in his or her own direction and I am fine with it. As much as I love many of them, I can respect their own being as a sacred individual. I can see their strength as well as mine.
Maybe I have finally reached the solitary life that I was always fantasizing about.

[Monday] Maybe I need someone's attention and because I am not approaching the need directly, I am caught in a passive-aggressive mood of sulking :)
It's just that the last few weeks have brought me a new set of ideas and practices that I initially tried to share here and with my friends and family directly, but I realized more and more that I cannot describe these new things well, or sometimes at all. It strangely feels as if I cannot love anyone anymore!
Well, we will see how things will turn out, quite soon probably.

Last Friday I watched this episode of Cesar Millan's Dog Whisperer (Season 7, Epsiode 11) and I became very emotional:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWrk3PCj6eI

As I watched the Belgian Malinois Viper, I could easily identify with the dog's extreme fear/anxiety and at the same time its excellence at its job, a reminiscence of my own past!
Today, I was reading the Cesar Millan's book, ``Cesar's Way,'' and I felt a deep connection to the following parts:
When we humanize dogs, we create a disconnect for them. By humanizing them, we are going to be able to love them the way we would love a human, but we're never going to achieve a deep communion with them. We're never really going to learn to love them for who and what they truly are.
…  people … who are reluctant and sometimes downright unwilling to let go of the picture they have in their minds of their dogs as cute little people. Their dogs are their ``babies'' and by thinking of them otherwise, their owners are afraid they'll somehow lose the connection between them instead of strengthen it. … Often when I leave a consultation, I fear that the dog I've just met is never going to get the chance to live a peaceful, balanced life because her owner seems unlikely and unwilling to change. … Think of getting to know your dog for who she really is as an exciting new adventure! Consider the great privilege you will be given, being able to live side by side with and learn to see the world through the eyes of a very special member of a completely different species! … You are giving another living creature the highest form of respect, by letting that creature be what she is supposed to be. ---pp. 84-85, Cesar's Way
The wisdom in this quote can be extended to my relationships with myself and others! I cannot describe it very well as I have ventured into a realm these past couple of weeks that is not captured by words.

And then, sometimes it seems to me that everything that I have done this past few years has been a dream … all my thoughts have been hallucinations … baseless, simply and utterly wrong, and I just have to go back to my medication. It is very frightening. Breathe in, and breathe out … don't panic … all these thoughts will pass … stay calm, just stay calm and open. There are certain things that I experience, a lucidness, fluidity, and instability of thoughts and emotions, that no one talks about. As if by opening myself, through meditation and mindfulness practices, to experience the full range of emotions and thoughts I have gain a freedom but that freedom has rubbed me of an anchor. When I do not define my life based on other people's expectations, society's norms and expectations, then I have nothing solid to rely on. My habits, good or bad, stabilize me and without them I am floating aimlessly through life!

Well, actually searching on ``dangers of meditation'' brings up many results, although most of them are nonsense, but I guess there are bits and pieces of truth to be found in some of them :) Some better links:
http://downthecrookedpath-meditation-gurus.blogspot.com/2012/03/meditation-related-psychosis-from.html
http://thehumanist.com/magazine/september-october-2007/features/can-meditation-be-bad-for-you
http://www.linkedin.com/groups/When-is-does-mindfulness-meditation-3703348.S.154618683

[Tuesday] Last night I went through many sites. I was worried and anxious to start with and by the end of my web browsing I felt angry and disappointed. This morning, however, all last night worries seem far. I cannot even remember what exactly triggered all those thoughts. :)

[Wednesday] Today I received this book in the mail, ``The Masters of Private Equity and Venture Capital,'' by Robert A Finkel and David Greising. The reason I bought this book was the following part from the introduction:
But, as I reviewed Doriot's writings recently, I found a passage that captures the essence of his thinking and shows why his voice rang so powerfully, not just among Harvard Business School graduates but also among a new industry of private investors:
The study of a company is not the study if a dead body. It is not similar to an autopsy. It is the study of things and relationships. They are very much alive and constantly changing. It is the study of something very much alive which falls or breaks up unless constantly pushed ahead or improved. It is the study of men and men's work, of their hopes and aspirations. The study of the tools and methods they selected and built. It is the study of conceptions and creations---imagination---hopes and disillusions.
What Prof. Doriot described, in the misleadingly simple phrase as ``the study of a company,'' is really the essence of what private investment is all about. ---p.2, The Masters of Private Equity and Venture Capital
I am fascinated by the idea of thinking about companies, or more generally human organizations, as living things. I even go as far as imagining them having some primitive form of subconscious, if not full-blown consciousness!

[Friday] This morning I watched another powerful episode of Cesar Millan's Dog Whisperer TV show:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSi0d9VxMFI

This episode ends with the information that "Baby Girl" is diagnosed with bone cancer and dies about 3 months after the completion of the show. Does this additional piece of information change our view of this dog's behavior? What is the true purpose of keeping an animal alive against her wish to starve to death? What is the point of fighting the nature?

[Monday, March 3, 2014] When I started writing this post a week ago, I had no idea that it would end like this! I was feeling a change, a chapter closing and a new chapter being opened. The prospect of finding a new job that would suit me better and so on. But the past several days, since Thursday evening to be more specific, have been difficult, perhaps one of the most difficult and frightening episodes of my life. I feel a force pushing me to change my current situation, as I am bored with not doing anything. And I am facing a deep fear, hesitant to move forward. Nothing seems to come easy to me these days, which is worrisome. There is no ease and grace in my life, just struggle after struggle.

Speaking of fears, one of my deepest fears surface when I confront the possibility of error and mistake by myself or someone close to me, like Sima. It is dreadful and causes a sense of falling apart within, with excruciating pain. It may be the outcome of observing my mother falling into a nervous breakdown when I was a child.
I internalize the fear of the outside world and its order falling apart and feel it as if my own body is disintegrating. All I can do is to stay calm and open, as much as I can, and let the things evolve without overreacting, so that with repetitions I gain the confidence that, in fact, I won't disintegrate, that I can survive. I know I will survive, if I  stay calm and open to what happens inside and outside me.

I will survive and things will be better.

Body Intelligence

As Lucy reflected on her outrageous behavior of the night before, the memory only served to draw her upward, like a flower toward the sun...