Category Archives: Meditation

Bi Weekly Meditation: Fear, Emotions, Choice and Control

After Earth Stupid statements

And let’s also ignore all those times that fear is present when danger isn’t real…a common habit among people. It’s a terrible sign when you can spot more than a dozen errors about human nature on a poster that contains less than a dozen words.

I know I’ve covered fear before, but after months of seeing that stupid After Earth poster it seemed time to deal with it again.  What am I referring to?  Why the dumbest line I have ever seen on a movie poster or in a trailer:

Fear is a choice.

I’m sorry but this is perhaps one of the dumbest things I have ever seen Hollywood say.

Fear, is an emotion.  All emotions are real.  They are our subconscious’ way of telling us about the trillion and one pieces of information it took in and doesn’t have time to tell you about all the information and all the calculations, so it gives you a quick assessment in the form an emotion.

If danger is real and you don’t feel fear you are either too stupid to not see the danger or insane.  Fear is not a choice.  How we choose to react to that fear is a choice.  How much we choose to let that emotion have control is a choice.  But to act as if our emotions themselves are a choice is wrong.  To act as if we should in someway shut off our emotions like fear (or any and all other emotions as it appears everyone has in that movie from the trailer). Further this is endorsing insanity.  It’s saying you shouldn’t have a natural reaction to danger.  Courage isn’t not feeling fear (again that’s called insanity); courage is feeling fear and choosing to go forward.  By saying fear, or sadness, or any emotion is a choice will eventually lead to problems because people will feel inherently inferior because they can’t control their emotions. *

Emotions are in and of themselves not necessarily positive or negative.  Even anger, hate, and rage are seen in saintly figures. The question is not what emotion you feel, but are you feeling the right emotion because you understand the situation and value the right things, and are you letting the emotion take control of you to the right degree.  Yes fear is not something we should usually let take hold of us…unless you’re being chased by a rabid dog, then, I suggest giving into fight or flight, because only the adrenaline that comes from the fear is going to save you.  Or as Aristotle put it:

For in everything it is no easy task to find the middle, e.g. to find the middle of a circle is not for every one but for him who knows; so, too, any one can get angry–that is easy–or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble.

Nicomachean EthicsBook II, Chapter 9 1109a26-29 [Italics Added]

Emotions are neither good nor bad except when they are not in the proper degree.  The degree is your choice, the emotion itself is not.  Now all too often we give into certain emotions more readily (fear, anger, rage, desire) than we should.

Yes fear can be more destructive than most emotions when you give into it too much, which is why I have spoken about it before and why it must almost always be quelled when it comes up, hence the older statement that “fear is the mind killer”…but the quote comes with the point “I will face my fear” not I will simply not fear as if fear is a choice, but rather treating fear as a real thing which can be faced, dealt with, and not given into.  Fear is real and isn’t a choice.  The choice comes in how we deal with it.
But don’t we often say Happiness is a choice?

Yes, but we’re not referring to the temporary emotion of being happy, we’re referring to the culmination of all life worth living, Happiness with a capital H.  It is part of a slipshod way of speaking that people are all too fond of.  When people say we choose happiness it’s not because we choose one emotion or another, it’s because we choose thoughts and actions that cause the emotion we want over thoughts and actions that cause emotions we don’t want…but we can’t just change our emotions…we can train our brain to see certain things, and we can train it to feel certain ways, but we cannot just turn emotions off and on.

You can choose the thoughts you focus on, the situations you put yourself in and how you choose to act in those situations. But you cannot just choose how you feel.

So why is this a mediation?

Because all too often that annoying Ego of ours, our mis-creation that keeps trying to keep us from returning to God, using our propensity for emotions in the wrong degree against us. When in a frustrating situation it whispers to us to focus on the anger, when we are in a situation it nudges us to be centered on the fear, when under stress it tells us to focus on desires we don’t necessarily need (like stress eating).  The emotions themselves are not creations of the Ego, but the Ego wants us to focus on them because by focusing on these emotions at the wrong place and at the wrong time to the wrong degree keeps us from being centered and attaining Happiness.  And then as a coup de grâce the Ego tells you it was all your fault because fear is a choice, which just makes you feel even worse about yourself.

Litany Against Fear--I must not fear, fear is the mind killer

The proper way to handle fear…acknowledge it, deal with it, don’t dwell on it.

So for the next two weeks I want you to analyze your emotions at least once a day (If you can find three or four times a day to do a review even better).  Ask yourself if during every incident if you focused on the right emotion for the situation and to the right degree.  Was there an emotion you felt that you didn’t focus on, but would have resulted in a more positive outcome?  Did you focus on the right emotion but too little or too much?  The first step to changing how you react to your emotions is recognize when and where you’re making a misstep, it’s a long process, even a lifetime isn’t enough to perfect it.  But the first step is to look at your emotions and see if you are reacting properly.  And that is your mediation for the next two weeks.

*I could probably insult another work of science fiction here for depicting a race without emotions…but I’ve beat up on that franchise enough lately, and will say that at least they gave the excuse that this particular race’s emotions are typically so powerful and erratic that it was the choice between suppressing them entirely or giving into the chaos.  Not a great excuse, but at least it’s better than “Fear is a choice.”

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Focus on the Present

 

 

I should probably do a meditation on not taking on too much…but that would rather hypocritical and something I’m just not ready to do in my own life…so this week we’ll be covering

But in lieu of that you can at least focus on dealing with the problems at hand.

Tao Te Ching

 

Focus on the following quote for 5-10 minutes every morning.  And repeat as necessary if anything comes up that stresses you out.  All you have control over right now is your own actions.  Planning for the future is important, and that’s sometimes something you should be doing, but make the plan, account for the most likely contingencies and then only worry about what you can do in the present…why because the best common sense will tell you even the best plans are going are to fall apart in the moment, so you don’t have to worry about them.  Do what you can now and roll with punches.

As for the past, if you’re analyzing it looking for mistakes and how not to make them again, that’s one thing and a valuable thing…but it’s also detached.  It shouldn’t cause a negative emotional reaction, and if it is you’re not doing anything productive. Those are the times you most need to focus on what you can do in the present.

And as anxiety and depression come up during the day repeat this quote and then move onto to doing something in the present.  I’ll admit this seems so common sense and obvious to be bordering on trite, but those are often the lessons we most often forget and don’t practice when we should.

 

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BiWeekly Meditation–Looking for the Win-Win Solution

“[Adam] Smith noted that in all transactions, both parties come out better for it.”–Republicans And Reincarnation 

Weekly Meditation: The Sixth Chakra.


Okay, first let me say that I’m switching to bi weekly mediations.  I’ve been doing this for two year and (taking the few weeks I skipped) that’s about 100 meditations, (That’s a lot of meditations) if you need something to focus on to center your mind, it’s not like they have a shelf life and go bad after two weeks.  So rather than keep coming up with stuff every week, I’m going to switch to doing these every other week.

And I think that works out best for everyone, it allows me to take more time to plan these, and you more time to get something out of every meditations.

It’s a win-win.  Which happens to be the theme of this meditation.

As many of my more loyal readers know, I am a huge fan of capitalism.  And besides the fact that it’s the only system that works and is sustainable, there are all the ethical reasons I support capitalism.  One of them is that capitalism is the only system that allows for a win-win scenario. Every honest transaction in capitalism benefits both the seller and the buyer–you both get something you want and you both make your lives better for it.  It’s why this system is the only one that creates prosperity, creates wealth, creates ideas and innovation, and creates a better society.  It’s a system where no one has to lose.  Every other system there HAS TO BE a loser, with liberty and true capitalism the only losers are the ones who don’t engage in the system of free exchange and try to be the most virtuous person they can.  It is the system that models the growth of our souls to enlightenment, everyone can get there, but it is only by choice, work and will power they will.*

But one of the reasons I think so many people are opposed to it is because they are stuck in a win-lose mind set.  They think that every situation has to have a winner and a loser.  If you’re doing better I’m doing worse.  In reality this isn’t so.  With the exception of the artificial nature of sports, life doesn’t have to be about winners and losers.  If one company does well it doesn’t mean its competition must fail, it only means that its competition must adapt, possibly by improving their product, possibly by going in a new direction…and the consumer benefits from both (Microsoft AND Apple seem to be doing well, as well as they myriad of companies that benefit because they do well and the chain of thought goes on and on). Just because you get a promotion doesn’t mean I lost, I now have further opportunities to shine, and I don’t have to feel pressured by the comparison (or a thousand other ways to look at it…a lot of situations come down to how we choose to interpret them and react to them.  If you look at most situations as opportunities, you will seldom find a loss).

But let’s be honest, since there are people with the win-lose attitude instead of the win-win attitude, it does spill into our lives whether we want it or not.  So we have to show people that there are win-win solutions where we can find them.  We have to look for them, we have to propose them to those around us, and we have to convince people.  But the first part of this is that we have to look for them.  So I would recommend either in the evening to spend ten to twenty minutes reviewing all the situations you had during the day that devolved into win-lose situations (or the morning to look back on the previous day).  Look for the ways that they could have been win-win solutions for all involved.  Run it through your mind for to see if there were multiple ways it could have been a win-win.  And do this not with guilt or self-recrimination.  You’re looking at this to get you mind in the habit of looking for win-win opportunities, not to chide yourself for not seeing them at the time they occurred.  The only way you’re going to be being to see them as they occur is if your review previous encounters and see what other possibilities were open that you did not see at the time. And, like so many of these meditations, isn’t something you’re not going to pick up immediately.  It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured, refined, and practiced before you get really good at it.

Now, I do need to point out that just because you can see the win-win solution it does not mean you can convince others.  I remember a time I tried to help someone with a project at work and they incredibly behind on.  This person at first attacked me because they saw my attempt to help them get through the project faster as an insult and responded rather angrily with comments like “I said I’ll get it done and I’ll get it done” (even though they were past the deadline) and then told me “if you want to do this all, fine, I would rather be doing something else.”  This person saw only the win-lose, either they did all the work, or I did all the work, only one person gets free time (yes this had bled into working on the weekend).  It became clear that the win-win of if we both do this we’d both get out of here quickly wasn’t open to this person.  So I shut down my computer, went home, and finished the project later that night when the portion I was waiting on was finished.  If it’s going to be win-lose, I have no intention of being the loser.  And it is at this point that you need to understand if someone makes it clear that there is only a win-lose situation, you should not act like a martyr and think that you should be the one to lose.  Like the Constitution, spiritual enlightenment, is not a suicide pact.  If it’s going to be win-lose, and you’re tried to make an attempt to show any win-win opportunities you can think of, if it is the other person choosing the losing philosophy don’t let yourself be harmed by it.

 

So for the next two weeks look for the win-win opportunities and see you can reduce the stress and increase the moments of peace (and maybe even enlightenment) in your life.

*Okay there might be divine grace in there too, but that has no parallel in any economic system…unless we want to get into voluntary charity, which again is a liberty/capitalism thing.

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Weekly Meditation: Looking forward to the New Year (or Tarot 101)

 

I always view the new year as a good time to look forward.  This involves planning and reflection.  But it can also involve asking the universe to help understand what is coming.

Generally I try to avoid meditations that would require you to buy something or believe in something other than just God and your own soul.  However if you have a Tarot deck (or any of the numerous variations you can get in the New Age section at any book store) I find this is an excellent time to use them.  I use them off and on depending on my stress or uncertainty level, sometimes going months without every picking them up, but I always do a reading for myself at New Year’s.

Now if you’re not used to doing a reading there are a few things to keep in mind.

Tarot CardsThe first it that should try to cleanse the cards of any energy from any previous use.  They’re physical objects and they tend to pick up the vibrations of the people who handle them.  And as most people have the very bad habit of turning to divination methods only when they feel lost or unsure (myself included) that means that generally the cards last use probably still has some of that negative energy left and it may affect the reading.  One of the easiest ways to cleanse cards is to leave them out in direct sunlight for about an hour.

Second you probably taken a few minutes to meditate, connect yourself to God and clear any negative energy from yourself.

Third before you even begin to shuffle ask that God or your guardian angels clear you and the card of the influence of any negative forces.  I don’t believe in demons, but there are the spirits of those who have died and can’t move on.  Some are mischievous and like to screw with people, some are down right malicious…they usually don’t have much actual contact with people but something like a card reading is so dependent on even tiny vibrations of energy effecting how the cards shuffle that you don’t want to risk it.

Shuffle the deck at least 7 times.

For this kind of reading I would do a reading of 12 cards–one for each month.  If you own multiple decks this can help as you can begin to see patterns emerge on the more important issues.

After you do the reading I would recommend writing down (or taking a picture) of the cards.  Why? Because you’re unlikely to remember the reading come August, and the point of reading is to give you a view of the whole year.

Now if this is the first time you’ve done something like this it might be best not to use this as a way to see what’s coming but rather to simply take notes and see what the cards said matches up with what actually happens. There is a lot of symbolism and interpretation involved and if you’re going to understand it, you have to get used to seeing how certain images appear in your own life.

So, if you’re comfortable with the idea, this is a good time of the year to do a long term reading.  However keep in mind always that this is more of a way to see what situations will occur, not what will happen, free will always rules every situation.

Obviously if you don’t believe in Tarot card readings this all sounds silly to you, but why did you get this far in the blog if you’re not open to it?

 

 

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Weekly Meditation: Calming the Mind

Okay this is not going to be a long meditation.

As you may have noticed there has been a slight lack of posting here at The Conservative New Ager for the last week or so…

I am juggling my regular work duties with a massive assignment, plus having to go to daily seminars to keep my teaching credential up to date (FYI: All classes you are required to take to keep a teaching credential are utterly worthless and will never make anyone a better teacher…but they will cost you hundreds of dollars and massive amounts of time.  I’m so glad we spend so much time putting such useless burdens on teachers).

In other words: I’m swamped.  My brain is tapioca and while I would love to go into great detail on the nature of the ego and how to kill it, don’t have the time nor mental coherence to do so.

But I have time to breathe.  Slow long breaths.  No thoughts.  No ideas.  No mantra. One or two long breaths that expand not just the chest but the diaphragm as well.  And sometimes that is all the meditation we need.  So, while I might suggest you go back and focus on one of the more detailed meditations this week…remember every time that you are stressed that before you dive into any assignment to take a long slow breath and clear you mind.

We sometimes forget how calming and effective this simple action can be.

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Weekly Meditation: Finding yourself in the silence part I

As we continue from last week in our attempt to weaken the ego’s hold on you I am reminded by another line from my favorite musician’s music:

“Don’t believe the things you tell yourself so late at

You are your own worst enemy, you’ll never win the fight.”–Ingrid Michaelson, “Parachute”

The ego whispers in your ear a thousand and one fears and insecurities and makes you believe that they are your fears and your insecurities.  It distracts you with a myriad of false desire to distract you from what you really want. It keep you from knowing how great you really are and focusing on what you really want.

And while we need to replace these false ideas that the ego is putting into your head with correct ones, we first need to ignore the ego. So this week we’re going back to the the old favorite of clearing your mind.  Five minutes, three times a day of thinking of nothing.  Lotus position if you can is the best as it allow for the spine to be straight and the breath to be deep.

Clear you mind.  It takes practice, and the ego will be trying to distract you, so no worries if a random thought intrudes.  Just keep trying to let your mind be blank.

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Weekly Meditation: God in the silence

This week we return to holy books for inspiration in meditation.

This week I’m pulling from the Bible.  I usually don’t because unlike a lot of other holy books, which were generally written more or less at one period by one person (or at least one group) and has more or less remained consistent through the ages, the Bible was written by numerous people, rewritten by numerous others, recollected, reordered, mistranslated, rewritten again throughout numerous ages with numerous different values and beliefs…Also while you can find some questionable content in most holy books (just about anything taken out of context of the passage, the time and the culture, can be twisted), the Bible is singular in ability to come up with a passage to justify just about anything (want to hate gays, we have a passage for that; want to love gays, we have a passage for that; want to justify capitalism, we have a passage for that; want to justify socialism we have a passage for that).   But that does not mean there is not Truth in the Bible, there is, a lot of it.  You just have use reason and good judgment and not take everything, pardon the phrase, on faith.

But there passages that, to me at least, are self-evidently true.

John the Baptist…err, I mean the Prophet Elijah (who says there’s no reincarnation in the Bible) hearing those tiny whispering voices.

For instance:

“Then the LORD said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD–but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake–but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire–but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.” I Kings 19-11-12

The passage reflects a very accurate view that people look for God in giant powerful things, when it is in a small breeze that he can most easily be found.  Most commentaries on this passage tend to look at that last line as something along the lines of a statement of “and after the fire there was a breeze, and God was in the breeze.” And I’m not claiming to be making an incredibly new interpretation of this line, I’m not.  But I find this a very good passage because I often see so many people of many religions looking for God in miracles, huge events, lottery tickets, signs, portents, and burning bushes…when really they should be taking a minute to quiet their mind and listen to the voice of God that is always there.

So this week I want you to quiet your mind and listen…not just meditating on nothingness and keeping a blank mind, but focusing on what you hear.  Whether it’s in a corner of your house, on a grassy field, or even on a city bench (if that’s the only place you can find time alone).  No iPod, no radio, no friend talking or TV in the background, just whatever white noise is around you.  Every day for at least 10 minutes focus on the sounds around you, but don’t dwell on them, and see if you can hear that “tiny whispering voice” which is always there saying it loves you without restraint or qualification. 

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Weekly Meditation: Kill the Buddha

Last week I pulled a line from the Tao Te Ching…for this week’s meditation I will pull from Buddhism.

 

Kill your idols.

There is an old Buddhist saying:

 

“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

 

No I’m not advocating killing holy people, calm down.

 

The point of the statement is that idols, prophets, wise men, philosopher are all in many ways more dangerous than they are useful to those that relinquish their mind/soul to another.  The message of the Buddhas, Krishna, Christ, Lao-Tzu, saints, and all legitimate prophets has been, without exception, that God and the truth is in you and your soul—that you are capable of discovering and knowing the truth because it is already in you.

 

This line is important because we often forget that the truth is within in us.  Forgetting it we look to outside sources to give us the truth.  We look to holy books, and philosophers and priests and books and systems of belief to give us the truth.  Ummmm…it’s not there.  And using one book, one idea, one philosopher or saint as your guiding star makes you a fool because you are following someone expecting them to give you the truth when you should be looking within your own mind and your own soul.  The truth can only be discovered it cannot be given.  Thus, when you meet a Buddha, kill him (i.e., that you don’t get so wrapped up in what he has to say that you begin to follow him, and kill any instinct you have to blindly follow) and trust your own mind and soul.

 

Does this mean you should ignore what others have to say?  No.  Use the words and ideas of others to supplement your own thinking to give you ideas and to show you doors you did not know existed before.   But always use your own mind/reasoning and soul to judge those ideas.  It is the mind and soul of God; it’s more than qualified to judge things on its own if you let it.  Just don’t get so wrapped up in what they have to say.  Obviously I trust no single Holy Book as superior to another.  For instance anyone who reads the political side of this blog knows I love Aristotle and Aquinas as philosophers…but I could tell you off the top of my head 50 major places Aristotle was dead wrong and twice that for Aquinas.  Equally anyone who reads the political side knows I love the economics of Hayek, Friedman, and Sowell, but I can list numerous places where I think they don’t have all the answers too.  (Some idiot recently even tried to say I march lockstep to Rand, which is funny given how much I critique her very limited vision…she’s fun to quote and has some of the broad strokes down, but that woman was a little crazy).  My point is, probably even the wisest people don’t get it right 100% of the time…and that more often than not the prophets, philosophers, and leaders people follow so blindly are not worth following.

 

Now, what this means is you should judge everything you hear and ask “Does it make sense?”  “Is it logical?” “Is it true?”  and if not to discard it.  Now we all get into the habits of disregarding information from known idiots and paying more attention to people with better track records, and that’s fine, just so long as you are open to idiots being the proverbial monkey at a typewriters who can occasionally say something correct and for those you trust to be occasionally wrong and willing to judge what they say by its merits not by who said it.  And you need to trust that you are a divine being…are you capable of making mistakes? Yes.  But it should not be your preset belief that everything you believe is wrong or that you cannot know the truth. You are more than capable of knowing the truth, at some level you already know it, you must trust you can know the truth, trust that you do know it and act on it.  Yes be open to being proven wrong, look for the contradictions, look for evidence, listen to REASONABLE doubts, but you must assume that in lieu of those, you know the truth and must act on it.  Are you probably going to be wrong on some stuff, yes.   But you will never find out what until you act on it.   One of the major points of life is learning and learning cannot occur if you don’t act on what you believe.  The pretentious and fearful like to pontificate skepticism, relativisms, and existentialism—that you can’t know the truth, that there is no truth, that there are many truths—but guess what there is one truth in existence, it exists and your mind and soul are capable of knowing it.  And the only way you will find it is to use logic, use reason, use your mind and act on your beliefs with the conviction that until you are proven wrong you are right.  Be open to being proven wrong, look for the evidence that would prove you wrong in fact, but default belief must be that you are right.   And judge for yourself!  Do not let others dictate for you; kill the Buddha if you meet him on the road of life.

 

So this week’s meditation, sorry for taking so long to get here, it’s a dense quote (and I really haven’t even touched upon all it’s meanings) is to question your beliefs.  Question why do I believe this?  Is it logical?  Is it in line with everything else I know?

 

I know this is a variation on last week’s meditation, but this is an important concept.  You need to learn to trust your own thoughts and think for yourself if you are going to learn and find happiness…and if you can’t learn to trust your thoughts, what is the point of learning to control them through meditation?

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Weekly Meditation: Words of Wisdom

I still really like this as an all encompassing New Age symbol

As a New Ager I find truth in most of the religions in the world.  And while I love to quote from A Course In Miracles(and could probably do so for years going at the pace of one passage a week) it has occurred to me that I should, in true New Age fashion, pull a selection of quotes from other holy books.  Before anyone gets offended it is meant as a compliment, I’m not trying to insult your religion.

This week I thought I would pull a quote from the Tao Te Ching, the central text of Taoism.  Written by Lao-Tzu before departing China to escape it’s superficial and corrupt life, he left a short book of his wisdom for the people of China (yes I realize that there is a lot of myth tied to that story, I still like it). The book is probably the shortest holy text in the world (unless you want to count individual books of the Old, New, and Gnostic Testaments of the Bible).  Written as a series of 81 short poems, the Tao Te Ching (The Book of Virtues of the Way), the book is often a series of double and triple meanings crammed into short, cryptic phrases.  (Given that Chinese is also a language that poorly translates into English, poetry especially, it is always best to read three or four translations if you’re going to try to read the book.)

For this week I’m going to go with a quote from the 19th poem in the Tao.  (I’m just going to go with my favorite translation).

“Give up kindness, renounce morality.

And men will rediscover piety and love.”–Lao Tzu

So what does this mean?  That you should give up being kind and moral?  No, silly.  It means that you should stop doing things because you are supposed to them because they’re rules or codes or values you’re supposed to hold.  Things you’ve been taught to follow.  Ideals society wants you to do.  Why? Because when you force people to do things you breed resentment, hostility, rebellion.  You should do things because you want to, because your personal reason dictates it, because it makes you feel good…not because someone says you should.

 

Why is this the weekly meditation?  This week I want you to ask yourself if you’re doing something because you want to and it makes sense…or because you’re expected to.  Reason and your heart are fine things to follow, and they will often agree with society’s rules, but make sure they are before you act.  I promise you you will be more in tune with yourself and the universe if you do what you want and think is right more than what is only expected of you…even if it’s the same thing, the intent and the reason make a huge difference.

 

 

 

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More Misconceptions of the New Age: Crystals, incense and the rest


So when I asked my friends what they thought of when they heard the phrase New Age I got a lot of responses regarding crystals, incense, and music. I was looking for misconceptions about the New Age, but this really isn’t a misconception…New Agers really do go for all of that…but I think it’s misunderstood as to why we do it.

New Agers believe, not entirely without basis, that everything in existence is really just energy vibrating at different levels (don’t roll your eyes this is one of the more popular theories of quantum mechanics). And with this we find that certain objects have certain vibrations that correspond to certain patterns of thought. That certain sounds and even certain stimuli (like scent) can also help raise the vibration level of the person using them.

Now do New Ager’s believe that just by putting a crystal in our hands we suddenly are lifted to a higher level of enlightenment? No. It’s something we use to focus, to help us remember and concentrate. You know like crosses, stars of David, rosary beads, mandalas, formulaic prayers, water in a baptism, and the Eucharist. Few of us believe in the full power of these things when we’re not of the faith that uses them, but we do understand their uses. They’re tools to help us control our thoughts. We just have quite a few more than most religions because we tend to draw items from every religion because we believe that almost all religions can be a way to truth. If a crystal works for you in helping you raise your thoughts, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t. If a crucifix does the same thing use that.

So yes, we do have all those things that make New Age stores so profitable, but understand, in that aspect we’re not really different from any other religion…we all have our tools for helping our thought focus more on God. You have yours. We don’t insult yours when they don’t work for us…

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The Law of Attraction and its detractors

So I’m suddenly getting comments about my blogs about the The Secret and the Law of Attraction. I don’t quite understand it. If you don’t believe it don’t believe in it, why do you need to insult other people’s beliefs? The supreme irony here is that more often than not these are the same people who claim I’m closed minded for critiquing Muslims for their rather backward religion. So let me see, beating up on people for a belief that doesn’t hurt anyone: good; beating up on people for a belief system that leads to tyranny, genocide, and massive human right violations: bad. Am I the only one who is confused?

My argument has always boiled down to two points. The first is that while I know I don’t have scientific proof in favor that the Law of Attraction, there is a preponderance of evidence suggesting that it may likely be true. My second point has been that, let’s for a minute say that I’m wrong about it and the Law of Attraction doesn’t work, then playing on oppositions turf for the sake of argument it still isn’t worth arguing about, it doesn’t cause anyone any harm and it still leads to a better quality of life. For some reason this has been interpreted as a contradiction. Apparently being able to suspend my own beliefs for a hypothetical situation is wrong…despite in any other context this would be considered being open minded. And really I just do it because the detractors claim that following this law hurts people. I can only attack that point if I for a moment play on their premises that it doesn’t work. Obviously if we play on my turf it doesn’t hurt people, but even if you assume it doesn’t work it still doesn’t hurt people. So why attack me for going about it both ways? Oh, I know why it’s wrong, because I then prove that the people arguing with me are still wrong for attacking this. I have a strong respect for defending the truth at all costs, but I also believe in prioritizing. For instance I hate socialism in all its forms. However, while I hate socialism I hate tyranny a hell of a lot more. So do I spend all my time critiquing the economic systems of the U.K. and Israel? Nope. Why, because those two countries are our greatest allies in the fight against tyranny and I prioritize that at the moment there are bigger issues to worry about. Now if we turned Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, the majority of the Middle East, Cuba, Mexico, and at least a larger portion of Sub-Saharan Africa into functioning democratic-republics, then yes I would be harsher on socialist nations, but right now I have bigger problems. I complain about socialism mainly in the U.S. because it (A) affects my life more directly and (B) because we are at a point where we might soon collapse if we do not go back to capitalism and if we collapse then we are certainly going to cease being the biggest obstacle to the tyrannies of the world. The same applies with the law of attraction. If you don’t believe in it fine, don’t, I am a huge believer in free will and won’t begrudge you any belief in your own life so long as it doesn’t hurt mine. But even if you don’t believe in it, aren’t there bigger false ideas out there for you to challenge? The rampant misogynism in Western culture? Anti-Semitism? Even among religious beliefs you have homophobia and the culture of fear that so many religions propagate…even if you’re right that the law of attraction, basically the idea that focused prayer can lead to a better life, doesn’t exist this seems to be biggest false idea out there, why attack this one when there are far worse ideas out there?

Now of course I believe it to be true, but we’re still playing in the opposition’s ball park. They claim that they need to oppose this because it hurts people. Really. How? The basic idea of the law of attraction in all its forms can be broken down into a few simple premises.
I. Believe that you and you alone are responsible for your life.
II. Be grateful for what you have to eliminate negative thoughts in your habits of thought.
III. Focus on the end of what you want, not how you are going to get it.
IV. Act as if you already have what you want in life.
V. Believe that the universe will respond to your thoughts and it will come to you.
Now the argument over the science comes into the fifth part and again for the sake of argument, let’s say that is totally bunk. So you don’t get the payoff promised. How do the other 4 parts hurt you? “Believe that you and you alone are responsible for your life.” Now basic psychology tells you that people who take responsibility about their life, that they are responsible for their actions, their thoughts, and the outcomes of those are certainly happier and more productive. The opposite is that we are responsible for our actions, that it’s nature and nurture and chance and fate that determine our life and we aren’t responsible for what happens to us. I think we all have enough experience to know that the people who always take responsibility for their actions are much happier and more productive than people who always blame others for what goes wrong (and even those who never give credit to themselves when things go right).

Now someone might claim that there is a happy medium, people who take responsibility but admit there are things out of their control, and that seems rational on the face of it, but actually it’s not. Because responsibility isn’t so much what happens to us, it’s about how we respond to what happens to us. “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up?” as one of my favorite movies puts it. The actual other extreme is taking too much on yourself. It’s saying that you are responsible for your actions but only looking at the past and not picking yourself up. It’s only dwelling in the guilt, the fear, the blame and being as paralyzed as the people who don’t take any responsibility for anything (if we weren’t playing on the opposition’s field I might also point out that the Law of Attraction will sometimes give you something bad so as to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time to get what you really want, e.g. losing your job which forces you get the want ads in which you find your dream job has just opened up but you would have never seen it if you hadn’t been looking for a new job). And yes this obsession with the past and the blame could be a terrible side effect of taking responsibility for everything in your life. So I guess it is a valid complaint. If only every person who preached the law of attraction also told people that for the law to work they need to focus on what is already good in their life and be grateful for all those good things….oh wait.

Point two of any version of the law of attraction is that you have to focus on what’s good in life. So I guess we don’t have a valid complaint against the philosophy yet.

But maybe this optimistic outlook at what is good in your life is a bad thing. I’m going to assume most of you just rolled your eyes at reading this sentence. For those you who don’t know medical science and psychology have long since proven that optimistic, grateful people are happier, less stressed, healthier, live longer, and have a better quality of life. There are no downsides I have ever heard of to being optimistic and grateful for what you have. So how does telling people that they need to appreciate what they have hurt them? I guess you could argue that if someone becomes too complacent with what they have they’ll be come stagnant…but then you read points three and four and that kind of goes out the window.

Point three and four deal with having goals and acting toward them. Start with the goal in mind and act in accordance with getting that goal. Now it’s been a while since I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People but I seem to recall these are basic principles of any goal oriented system. Start with the goal and be the change you want to see. Typically speaking isn’t that how you get what you want, even if you the universe isn’t helping you get what you want because of your thoughts, these are still the actions that will result in getting what you want. So what’s the down side? How does this harm people?

So we’re playing on the opponents and there is no harm to a person’s life through the first four required points to the law of attraction. But, the opponents say, it will lead them to depression when they don’t get what they want! They’ll be more optimistic, more goal oriented, healthier, probably have more friends and more efficient in whatever field they have chosen for a profession (which probably means more money). Okay, so if I’m wrong about the law of attraction they don’t have the island they wanted…but they probably have more than they did before they changed their attitude to follow The Secret. I don’t think most people would complain.

Now those that complain that the law of attraction isn’t real will probably say that success in life is highly dependent on luck. But I think we’ve all heard the sentiment that luck is opportunity plus preparation. The first four points deal with preparations that are actually required for success even if you assume that the law of attraction doesn’t work. So there is literally no way this can harm people. All the law of attraction says is that the opportunity is dependent on you being prepared and you looking for the opportunity, that the opportunity literally doesn’t exist until you look for it, it is dependent on you looking for it (kind of the Schrödinger’s cat of destiny).

So please, tell me, someone who disagrees with the law of attraction, how on Earth do you claim that it harms people. That to preach this is wrong. That to make money by selling good psychological practices is a con? How?  By believing in basic psychology that everyone knows leads to better life?  I’d love to hear examples of how this could go be bad…not vague statements about well it could lead people to do have long term problems (which it won’t) but actual examples or at least hypothetical situations.

And of course there is that other point…you know the one where it is a fact of nature. Our thoughts do control our life. They do affect all those literal variables that cascade into the opportunities we can reap the benefits of or eliminate those opportunities before they ever even materialize. Now I will admit that this is an article of faith. I do not have irrefutable scientific data to show that I am right and all who disagree with me are wrong. But the opposition doesn’t have that either. I would say however that the preponderance of the evidence is on my side. There are studies that show prayer works, there are studies that prayer doesn’t work. The funny thing is that when you take a step back you find those who come into the study to prove that prayer doesn’t work prove that prayer doesn’t work and that those seem more unbiased or to show that prayer does work always seem to show that prayer has some effect (Wow, it’s almost like thought effected the reality around it…no I won’t go that far, but I will say perhaps it’s a little hard to ignore the fact that scientists are people and it’s hard to remove bias from people). Also, how do you set up a control group, only find people who have absolutely no people praying for them? Tell the patient “we’re going to perform major surgery, but you can’t pray for yourself.” Atheist in a foxhole? It’s not exact mathematical proof, but there is the suggestion of proof. (Here are a listing of studies done in looking at the effects of prayer…I I find most interesting the ones of people who told that they were being prayed for and then did worse than the control group…do you think that guilt and self hatred which may have put them in that medical condition would have made them feel even worse being told that they were being prayed for and maybe countered the prayers for them?). So I will admit that I don’t have iron clad scientific proof if you admit that you don’t either. It’s an issue of faith (one that interestingly enough doesn’t hurt anyone). Of course my favorite part of this argument against the power of prayer in scientific studies is that it’s just the placebo effect. As most of these studies rely on people not being told they were being prayed for there isn’t a placebo effect present…someone has to know they’re being given something for the placebo effect to be present. But what’s really funny about this is the problem modern science is having with the placebo effect. Apparently for the last decade or so, drugs that have previously been tested when retested show less of an increase over the placebo effect. And when you go back and look at the data it’s not that the drug is less powerful it’s that the placebo effect has been getting stronger over the course of time. So people expecting there to be a change is leading to stronger changes even if there is no real drug present…it’s not just that is seems like expectation is changing reality, but it’s almost like the thoughts of people are getting more focused and thus having a larger effect on reality. But you’d have to be one of those crazy New Agers who believe we are on the cusp of a New Age where there will soon be a major jump in the evolution of the human soul.  But I’m always open to hearing other theories as to why the placebo effect is getting stronger.   Now those who don’t believe in the law will probably argue that science doesn’t support the idea, but this is a foolish understanding of reality.  Things are true whether science and prove them or not.  The earth moved before Galileo, it was round before Columbus, gravity pulled light before Einstein…reality exists before science, just because modern science can’t prove something it’s the worst arrogance to say that just because science hasn’t proven it yet it isn’t so.  Real human life has to admit that science doesn’t know everything, especially when it comes how we live our lives.  Yes it would be foolish to fly in the face of science fact, but what science has not proved or disproved, (things like the existence of God, the soul, the afterlife, or this law), it should not be assumed that just because science hasn’t proven something yet it should not be acted on.

Now I will concede that foolishness in conjunction with surface understanding of the law of attraction could lead to problems. For instance prayer healing, the idea that if you pray hard enough you can immediately fix life threatening problems. You know, prayer works great for a disease like cancer because they take time, and those who preach the law of attraction are very clear that it takes time for effect to appear. In terms of faith healing, it’s often something that requires immediate attention, if you think it’s only a matter of how hard you pray, clearly you don’t understand that there is a time delay issue involved in how the law of attraction works. Further, let’s take an extreme view of the law of attraction, if you attracted this disease you clearly do not have the law of attraction mastered, go get medical attention and with the extra time you have to live and take some more time to get it down. The spiritual text A Course in Miracles draws a line between what it calls miracles (a true understanding that the world is a reflection of our thoughts and the ability to control the world through our thoughts) and magic (an understanding that thinks the world is something more than just an illusion projected by our thoughts, which tries to control things in that illusion through the illusion, science is included in this). A Course in Miracles makes it clear the only way you are going to learn the truth of the world is by living, learning, and growing, you can’t do that if you’re dead. If you’re experiencing problems, especially medical ones, if you know how to control miracles (well you wouldn’t be in that situation) use them—if not, probably demonstrated by the fact that you’re in a situation that could really use a miracle don’t be an idiot and go for magic of science and medicine (you have to appreciate the apparent irony of that phrase). The law of attraction is something that works, but it’s not an immediate fix to problems (unless you’ve reached Enlightenment and then I seriously doubt you’ll be reading this blog if you have). The law is supposed to be used in conjunction with reason not in opposition to it.

Of course the thing that always surprises me is that the argument I made about the first four points of the law of attraction just being good positive psychology aren’t made by my opponent. Instead of arguing against it in totality they should be arguing, “well of course being goal oriented and optimistic leads to a better life, you don’t need any mystical element to explain that” which would actually be a much harder argument for me to refute and I would have to just fall back on “Yes, but my spiritual belief system says that it also affects the world around you and provides you with the opportunities that reflect your attitude. Can’t prove it but that is what I believe, and it’s not worth arguing because you can’t disprove it.” I admit that’s a weak argument philosophically, but it’s an issue of faith and only a fool would think that you apply the laws of science to faith. But no. They take the tack that it hurts people and it must be challenged at all costs. Again I’d love to see an example of where it hur.t someone. I suspect however that it has more to do with the first point. People don’t want to be responsible for their actions. They want to avoid thinking and doing. These are often the same people who argue their life is terrible not because they didn’t get an education or a job or what not, not because of their choices, but because the government didn’t give them this or that, that the system is broken, that life is unfair and we need to make it more fair for the disadvantaged. They dislike it because the philosophy leaves no room for excuses or others to blame. It requires that you think for yourself. It requires that you act in accordance with those thoughts. It requires that you take responsibility for those thought and actions. And for some people that is a horrifying idea.

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Filed under A Course in Miracles, Books, Books for New Agers, Faith, Fear, Free Will, God, Happiness, Karma, Law of Intention, Meditation, New Age, People Are Stupid, Popular Culture, Prayer, Purpose of Life, Religion, Spirituality, The Secret

Weekly Meditation: The 3rd Chakra Overcoming Inaction

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

This week we’re going back to that list of things you want.

Now for the solar plexus chakra, everything is about action so this week we are going to focus on doing something to get what you want to bring you happiness.

In point of fact you will need to do two things this week that will bring you closer to that goal.

Don’t give me or yourself excuses. Go out and accomplish something.

Move out of your parents house. Sing up for a course you need. Find the name and contact information of the real estate agent you are going to use to buy your dream house. Write the first chapter to your book.

Don’t tell yourself why you shouldn’t, just go out there and get what you need done done.

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Weekly Meditation: The 3rd Chakra Dealing with fear

So one of the first problems with the solar plexus chakra is fear. Our lives are often ruled by fears, some obvious, some subconscious. But overall, many of our choices—and all of our bad choices—are driven by fear. So before we get rid of all the fears you have to get into the right mindset to get challenge what fears drive you to make poor choices.

To get you in that mindset I would recommend you try repeating the following phrase from one of my favorite writes, Joss Whedon, as many time as possible during this week:

“From now on, we won’t just face our worst fears, we will seek them out. We will find them, and cut out their hearts.”

Short. Simple. Exceedingly to the point and just a little catchy.

This will help put you in the right frame of mind to actively get rid of your own fears.

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Weekly Meditation: The 3rd Chakra

Now we come to the all important third chakra, the solar plexus chakra. Why is this the all important chakra? Because this is the chakra that controls will, control actions, controls choice…in short it’s you. The energy that flows through the solar plexus chakra controls how energy flows through all the others. If you can master control of the solar plexus chakra, everything else is downhill and enlightenment is, at most, only a handful of lifetimes away. This is why the Bhagavad-Gita, the most important text in Hinduism is a story about the god Krishna (an embodiment of the sixth chakra, or as yogi Paramahansa Yogananda called it, the Christ-Consciousness) telling the warrior Arjuna (the embodiment of the solar plexus chakra) to go out and slaughter his foes (embodiments of fear and negative desires and habits).

It is the energy of the solar plexus that controls us. When the solar plexus is unbalanced we are fearful, indecisive, unsuccessful, stressed and hateful towards others. When balanced we are calm, determined and decisive—when the energy of the solar plexus is balanced we can take time to consider not only our wants, needs, and emotions from the lower two chakras, but also begin to incorporate the acts of love, creation, and sight that come from the higher chakras.

As the name suggests it’s located in the solar plexus, about 2 inches below the center of the middle of the breast bone. As with all the chakras you should envision it as a c clockwise spinning circle perpendicular to your spine. This chakra happens to be bright yellow, so think of it as looking like the sun.

For this week’s meditation simply meditate on it quietly for about fifteen minutes. Envision it in your mind, look and feel for any dark patches in the in circle and if you find them ask whatever power you believe in to clear those negative thoughts from your chakra.

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Mediation of the week: Last Root Chakra Meditation

The root chakra is associated with earth and the physical. This can be bad if you’re filled with fear and lead to avarice and a lot of other unpleasant expressions of imbalance. One of the good ways reestablish a balanced connection with the world, and by extension the universe, is to spend some time in nature.
Ideally I would suggest walking around barefoot on grass for five to ten minutes every day. While you do envision a light going up from the earth into your body, clearing the spinning chakra at the base of your spine and then continuing up your spine. As you walk around try to repeat to yourself that you’re balanced and in harmony with the material world, that you have everything you want, and that you have no fears about receiving the abundance in your life.
If grass isn’t an option, stand by a tree and hold onto it. Find some form of nature. If you have to buy a houseplant, that can work as an option if no other avenue presents itself.

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