James Crews is a poet who teaches Poetry at the University at Albany and lives on a organic farm with his husband in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Each Friday he posts a poem, sometimes one of his own that serves as more than just some mere Poetry Prompt. He recently posted this:
I’ve been sitting with this very short but very powerful poem by Jane Hirshfield ever since a dear friend passed it along to me earlier in the week. It speaks to the season so many of us might find ourselves inhabiting, not only that of autumn, but a moment of loss and transition during which we’re asked to accept such changes as necessary, and perhaps even sacred. In this poem, she invites us to see each shedding tree as an icon, “thinned/back to bare wood,/without diminishment.” And there is almost a haiku-like quality to those final three lines that urges us toward deeper contemplation of the richness inherent in these wooden beings. Perhaps what we see as loss and a kind of death each year as fall comes is really just wind and weather having worshipped the trees so much they are returned to their basic essence. In this way, we might reframe any difficult season when we are worn back to our essential selves as holy, worthy of worship for the way such trying times allow us to become something new.
by Jane Hirshfield
Again the wind
flakes gold-leaf from the trees
and the painting darkens—
as if a thousand penitents
kissed an icon
till it thinned
back to bare wood,
Invitation for Writing & Reflection: How might you reframe a difficult season in your own life as sacred or holy, seeing how you were worn back to the truest version of yourself even while in pain?
It prompted me to write in kind:
And just like that
into a colorfully crisp confetti
of blazenous colors
that never reached the ground
into what can’t always be planted
but never fails to be garnered in
that find us all
softly soaringly sheltered
in a cooling uplifting Breath
A heavenly satisfied Sigh
May this Fall Season bring you lots of
Oooooh and A W E
In this era, where a lot of people are becoming more and more indifferent towards one another, kindness is coming at an expensive price. It is not often that you see people showing kindness towards others. BUT. . .I found this video recently where there was a prepared set of different videos to prove that wrong. Throughout the video, you can watch Santa providing warm clothes to homeless people or older woman praising stranger for doing cool tricks with skateboard and many others. As always I hope this afflicts the Caring Catalyst in you that by merely watching the video, you will realize that kindness in humanity hasn’t been lost completely and there are still people out there ready to show acts of kindness not only to their close ones, but also to any random strangers and make them emotional or even cry by their acts of kindness. THAT it’ll inspire you to bring a special warmth to Another’s CHILL. . .Enjoy watching the video. . .
“Some people go through life trying to find out what the world holds for them only to find out too late that it’s what they bring to the world that really counts.“ – Anne of Green Gables
In today’s fast-paced world, that feels more and more like a merry-go-round on a roller coaster got amok, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important. . .
No, wait. Let’s take that back. 🙂
It’s not really about our world being fast-paced, but maybe as we get older, WE become fast-paced. . . ?
It seems that as a child we intuitively knew the simple things that made life
amazing. . . .
And as adults, it sometimes feel like we have so much to do, so much to be, so much to have. . .
So much so that we need reminders of what it is like to live in a more present, aware, conscious, fulfilling way.
We all need reminders to bring us back to our true selves, and to the miracles present in our lives every single day.
We’ve been often told and most likely been shown, in our World it takes a Village with the subtle reminder that a Village exists in each of us that desperately needs shared/united with the Villages we find in others. . .
and you’ll never have to
W O N D E R
W O N D E R S
that make each of us up
that uses the golden strands of
t o u c h
t a s t e
s e e i n g
h e a r i n g
f e e l i n g
l a u g h i n g
l o v i n g
to weave a new tapestry
intermeshing ourselves forever
into the fabric of each other’s lives
never to unravel again. . .
W O N D E R
They are not real
But they don’t have to be
They can’t be found
On fragile paper
In a prized, hallowed book
Oozed from a pen tip
Or recited to a faithful scribe
They are rarely recited
But brought forth
With the wild lonely beat
Of a Broken Heart
By a glue that
Are more real
Than any encounter
Not prayed from a heart
Or spoken with a mouth
Heard by an ear
Securely transferred by a Touch
Encapsulated in a pill
By a soul
E A C H
are not real—
IT’S A REAL KILLER. . .
In fact, go ahead
TRY NOT TO DO IT
B R E A T H I N G
THE NOT SO NEW
R e s e a r c h :
Why Breathing Is So Effective at Reducing Stress
I recently read an article, and not the first about
by Emma Seppälä, Christina Bradley, and Michael R. Goldstein
and maybe it wasn’t because of the first time I had heard this
but the FIRST TIME
I heard it
this way. . .
When U.S. Marine Corp Officer Jake D.’s vehicle drove over an explosive device in Afghanistan, he looked down to see his legs almost completely severed below the knee. At that moment, he remembered a breathing exercise he had learned in a book for young officers. Thanks to that exercise, he was able to stay calm enough to check on his men, give orders to call for help, tourniquet his own legs, and remember to prop them up before falling unconscious. Later, he was told that had he not done so, he would have bled to death.
If a simple breathing exercise could help Jake under such extreme duress, similar techniques can certainly help the rest of us with our more common workplace stresses. The combination of the Covid-19 pandemicand battles for social justice have only exacerbated the anxiety that many of us feel every day, and studies show that this stress is interfering with our ability to do our best work. But with the right breathing exercises, you can learn to handle your stress and manage negative emotions. . .
AND YOU HAVE WHAT TO LOSE BY TRYING IT
(aside from a little
HOT AIR. . . ?
In two recently published studies, several different techniques were explored and found that a breathing exercise was most effective for both immediate and long-term stress reduction.
In the first study run by a research team at Yale, the impact of three wellbeing interventions were evaluated
- Breathing Exercises: in their experiments, they measured the impact of a particular program, SKY Breath Meditation, which is a comprehensive series of breathing and meditation exercises learned over several days that is designed to induce calm and resilience.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: a meditation technique in which you train yourself to be aware of each moment in a non-judgmental way.
- Foundations of Emotional Intelligence: a program that teaches techniques to improve emotional awareness and regulation.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three programs or to a control group (no intervention). They found that the participants who practiced SKY Breath Meditation experienced the greatest mental health, social connectedness, positive emotions, stress levels, depression, and mindfulness benefits.
In a second study, conducted at the University of Arizona, SKY Breath Meditation was compared to a workshop that taught more conventional, cognitive strategies for stress-management (in other words, how to change your thoughts about stress). Both workshops were rated similarly by participants and they both produced significant increases in social connectedness. However, SKY Breathing was more beneficial in terms of immediate impact on stress, mood, and conscientiousness, and these effects were even stronger when measured three months later.
Before and after the workshops, participants underwent a stress task that simulated a high-pressure performance situation, akin to presenting at a business meeting. In anticipation of the stressful performance, the group that had completed the cognitive workshop showed elevated breathing and heart rates, as expected. In contrast, the SKY Breathing group held steady in terms of breathing and heart rate, suggesting the program had instilled in them a buffer against the anxiety typically associated with anticipating a stressful situation. This meant that they were not only in a more positive emotional state, but also that they were more able to think clearly and effectively perform the task at hand.
Similarly, in a study with veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who struggled with trauma, it was discovered that not only did SKY Breath Meditation normalize their anxiety levels after just one week, but they also continued to experience the mental health benefits a full year later.
So what makes breathing so effective? It’s very difficult to talk your way out of strong emotions like stress, anxiety, or anger. Just think about how ineffective it is when a colleague tells you to “calm down” in a moment of extreme stress. When we are in a highly stressed state, our prefrontal cortex — the part of our brain responsible for rational thinking — is impaired, so logic seldom helps to regain control. This can make it hard to think straight or be emotionally intelligent with your team. But with breathing techniques, it is possible to gain some mastery over your mind.
Research shows that different emotions are associated with different forms of breathing, and so changing how we breathe can change how we feel. For example, when you feel joy, your breathing will be regular, deep and slow. If you feel anxious or angry, your breathing will be irregular, short, fast, and shallow. When you follow breathing patterns associated with different emotions, you’ll actually begin to feel those corresponding emotions.
How does this work? Changing the rhythm of your breath can signal relaxation, slowing your heart rate and stimulating the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain stem to the abdomen, and is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s “rest and digest” activities (in contrast to the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates many of our “fight or flight” responses). Triggering your parasympathetic nervous system helps you start to calm down. You feel better. And your ability to think rationally returns.
To get an idea of how breathing can calm you down, try changing the ratio of your inhale to exhale. This approach is one of several common practices that use breathing to reduce stress. When you inhale, your heart rate speeds up. When you exhale, it slows down. Breathing in for a count of four and out for a count of eight for just a few minutes can start to calm your nervous system. Remember: when you feel agitated, lengthen your exhales.
While a short breathing exercise like this can be effective in the moment, a comprehensive daily breathing protocol such as the SKY Breath Meditation technique will train your nervous system for resilience over the long run. These simple techniques can help you sustain greater wellbeing and lower your stress levels — at work and beyond.
TAKE A BREATH
or Three of Four
all you have to lose is a little
HOT AIR. . .
Spending Time With Friends Is One of the Best Things You Can Do for Your Health
TRUE or FALSE
Jamie Ducharme from TIME MAGAZINE asked that question and took to finding out the TRUE and the FALSE of it all. . .
When someone sets out to improve their health, they usually take a familiar path: starting a healthy diet, adopting a new workout regimen, getting better sleep, drinking more water. Each of these behaviors is important, of course, but they all focus on physical health—and a growing body of research suggests that social health is just as, if not more, important to overall well-being.
One 2019 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, for example, found that the strength of a person’s social circle—as measured by inbound and outbound cell phone activity—was a better predictor of self-reported stress, happiness and well-being levels than fitness tracker data on physical activity, heart rate and sleep. That finding suggests that the “quantified self” portrayed by endless amounts of health data doesn’t tell the whole story, says study co-author Nitesh Chawla, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame.
“There’s also a qualified self, which is who I am, what are my activities, my social network, and all of these aspects that are not reflected in any of these measurements,” Chawla says. “My lifestyle, my enjoyment, my social network—all of those are strong determinants of my well-being.”
Chawla’s theory is supported by plenty of prior research. Studies have shown that social support—whether it comes from friends, family members or a spouse—is strongly associated with better mental and physical health. A robust social life, these studies suggest, can lower stress levels; improve mood; encourage positive health behaviors and discourage damaging ones; boost cardiovascular health; improve illness recovery rates; and aid virtually everything in between. Research has even shown that a social component can boost the effects of already-healthy behaviors such as exercise.
Social isolation, meanwhile, is linked to higher rates of chronic diseases and mental health conditions, and may even catalyze cellular-level changes that promote chronic inflammation and suppress immunity. The detrimental health effects of loneliness have been likened to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s a significant problem, especially since loneliness is emerging as a public health epidemic in the U.S. According to recent surveys, almost half of Americans, including large numbers of the country’s youngest and oldest adults, are lonely.
A 2019 study conducted by health insurer Cigna and published in the American Journal of Health Promotion set out to determine what’s driving those high rates of loneliness. Unsurprisingly, it found that social media, when used so much that it infringes on face-to-face quality time, was tied to greater loneliness, while having meaningful in-person interactions, reporting high levels of social support and being in a committed relationship were associated with less loneliness. Gender and income didn’t seem to have a strong effect, but loneliness tended to decrease with age, perhaps because of the wisdom and perspective afforded by years of life lived, says Dr. Stuart Lustig, one of the report’s authors and Cigna’s national medical executive for behavioral health.
Lustig says the report underscores the importance of carving out time for family and friends, especially since loneliness was inversely related to self-reported health and well-being. Reviving a dormant social life may be best and most easily done by finding partners for enjoyable activities like exercising, volunteering, or sharing a meal, he says.
“Real, face-to-face time with people [is important], and the activity part of it makes it fun and enjoyable and gives people an excuse to get together,” Lustig says.
Lustig emphasizes that social media should be used judiciously and strategically, and not as a replacement for in-person relationships. Instead, he says, we should use technology “to seek out meaningful connections and people that you are going to be able to keep in your social sphere. It’s easy enough to find groups such as Meetups, or to find places to go where you’ll find folks doing what you want to do.” That advice is particularly important for young people, he says, for whom heavy social media use is common.
Finally, Lustig stresses that even small social changes can have a large impact. Striking up post-meeting conversations with co-workers, or even engaging inmicro-interactions with strangers, can make your social life feel more rewarding.
“There’s an opportunity to grow those kinds of quick exchanges into conversations and into more meaningful friendships over time,” Lustig says. “People should take those opportunities wherever they possibly can, because all of us, innately, are wired from birth to connect”—and because doing so may pay dividends for your health.
WE say it’s easier if you love someone.
We say it’s easier if it’s a family member.
We say it’s the right thing to do.
We say it’s longer lasting than a Moment, A Day, or a Season.
We say. . . .
The truest Love wrapped in the warmest Compassion overcomes most likely everything in and out of this world.
That Love will grow weary.
That Love will become weaker.
That Love will Know all things, Believe all things, Endure all things.
That Love will never fail.
That Love will never end.
That Love is what we possess and have the power to parlay to and for the good of others.
Let someone else do it?
We are SOMEONE ELSE!
See. Be Free that wonderful gift that exists and you and begs to be shared…but never just once. It becomes more potent each time shared.
Make the Best time…the Next time!
Don’t waste too many breaths in between the two!
Love past a Season is the only Season that lasts and is worth Living…it’s always the Perfect climate! It’s the only time of the year that continues, any you’re it’s caretaker!
The World needs a little ‘SEASONING.’ None better than yours–EVER!