Monday, August 31, 2020

Mass Insanity...Lost Marbles

      Just moments ago, a friend described to me an experience of standing in line at WalMart. The lines are gone now, but there is still an employee at the entrance telling people that masks are required.  But, until things calmed down a bit, it was also necessary to stand in a line that sometimes stretched halfway around the side of the building. 

    So, as he was standing there, waiting his turn to go inside, a man further back in the line suddenly began shouting.  The gist of his comments was that this was all crazy, masks, lines...all of it was just bullshit and completely intolerable.  He was screaming at the top of his lungs, and people were getting nervous that he might be one of those who think resorting to a gun and shooting lots of people they don't even know is some kind of solution to their problems.

   Ultimately, this fellow stonked off and got in his pick-up (of course) and burned rubber on his way out of the parking lot.  He is just one of many thousands across the country who are carrying a top-heavy load of pure rage.  Various reasons are given for why people are so enraged.  Most of them revolve around being Trump supporters who have drunk the Kool-Aide and are inwardly seething over you name it.  It could be that they're convinced that the whole pandemic is a hoax....hmmmm, wonder where they got that, eh....or that all the cockamamie conspiracies out there are absolutely true...or that Biden (and all 'libtards') are the creators of a hellscape in which the middle-class is stripped of its wealth, all of it to be given to the 'welfare class', dog-whistle for people of that they can live the life of Reilly while the hard-working whites support them. 

  The combination of this simmering rage, and the easy and instant availability of military quality guns...along with a deeply delusional belief in dangerous, really, really DANGEROUS.  It is a simple fact that mass shootings in this country are much more likely to be perpetrated by lone-wolf gunmen with radical right beliefs than any other group of offenders.  Ever since Timothy McVeigh stepped onto the national stage by using a truck-ful of ammonium nitrate to kill 168 men, women and children in Oklahoma City, in '95, we have been watching a steady stream of disturbed right-wingers inflict serious injury on this country.  And, yet, if you listen to The Idiot, or his sicko minions, they will try to persuade you that the real cause of mass shootings is 'terrorists'...and, that is always dog-whistle speak for 'brown and black people, immigrants and Muslims, of course', all of whom, by the way, want only to destroy this country. 

  If you stop and take stock of the mood of the country, you cannot avoid seeing that this form of paranoid and sociopathic behavior is no longer confined to the back alleys of the internet. It has gone mainstream. It's no longer difficult to find a person who will vehemently insist that Q-Anon is 'real'.  And, that is one of the most whacko conspiracies out there.  If you are not familiar with the core beliefs it poses as 'truth', please look it up.  Here is link to it on Wikipedia:

Bat-shit crazy doesn't begin to describe QAnon
     Really?  An international cabal of pedophiles who worship satan and even practice eating babies.  And, are you ready for this? The leaders of this evil cabal are notable Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and various liberal commentators as well.  Now, I may not like Hillary...just never warmed up to her kind of snotty Ivy vibe...but, I am incredulous that anybody with an operating brain could sign-on to such a wholly STUPID and ridiculous conspiracy.  If you want to create a 'believable' conspiracy, why not use your tiny, feverish brain to make-up something at least halfway believable?

  But, the truly scary part of all this is how many Americans are indeed signing on.  It is proliferating like wild-fire and even people you might think are too intelligent or informed are buying into it.  This is the stuff mass insanity is made of.  In a conversation this weekend, a good friend of mine was speaking to an in-law....of the Trumpet variety.....and this poor bugger insisted that, "'s all a conspiracy".....well, what exactly did he mean by that, my friend inquired.  All of it....the whole pandemic and all of the horrible wearing a mask, social distancing just made-up bullshit.  Nevermind that 183 thousand American have died.  On November 4th, when the election is over and Trump has been elected to a second will all go away.  Things will be back to normal and the rotten attempt by the Libtards to steal our freedom and our money and (fill in the blank_________)  will be finally thwarted and we will be ever so grateful to the Idiot for saving us from a terrible fate.

  Are you fucking shitting me?  I make no apologies for using profanity when I am writing about all of this.  This material itself is PROFANE, and it deserves to be treated as such.

  So, once again, here we are.  As we go forward towards the election, there is much that can be done to fight back against the insanity.  For starters, don't shy away from putting the sane perspective out anybody who is willing to consider a viewpoint that is not already detached from reality.

  As I have been reminding people: PLEASE DO ALL YOU CAN TO TURN-OUT THE VOTE.  It really is true that voting is our path out of this dismal swamp.  If we can send a message to the Idiot and his far-right followers that their time is past...then we will have accomplished something of critical importance for America. 

  I should mention that the Idiot is a big fan of Q-Anon.  He has re-tweeted their insane messages and praised their activities as if they were normal and sane.  This is easy for him to do because he's insane himself. 


Sunday, August 30, 2020

We have been warned.....

    In 2016 the documentarian film-maker, Michael Moore, warned the nation in every way he could that we were being deceived into a lethal form of complacency...and the result would be a Trump victory.  HE WAS SPOT ON. 

   And, now he's warning us again that Trump has an angle on winning that the Dems are not taking very seriously: voter suppression.  Whether it is damaging the Post Office's ability to deliver ballots in a timely fashion, or disqualifying ballots for such chicken-shit reasons as, "...wrong color ink", or reducing the number and hours of voting venues, so people will be forced to stand for hours and hours in possibly frigid or nasty November weather....all of these sleazy and unfair tactics WORK.

  By now, you should realize that GOPs do not believe in any of the civilized guidelines, such as honesty and fairness.  Hell, look at who they want for another term; if that doesn't convince you that these people want a dictator, I don't know what will.  Psychiatrists have theorized that Trump supporters....many or most of them.....need an authoritarian father figure to tell them how to go about life.  Well, the Idiot is very pleased to play that role, and Michael Moore also points out that enthusiasm for Trump is on a high boil in swing states....and that is all the asshole needs.

  "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."  There is a reason that such little homilies hang around in our culture, i.e. they contain at least a modicum of truth.  We have been warned....AGAIN....and, if we remain complacent, we will get exactly what we deserve. But, in this case, it will be catastrophic. 

  WAKE UP, AMERICA! Before it's too late, and we have to pay the ultimate price of losing our democracy. 

   When the Idiot tells a host of state governors that, "You have to DOMINATE the protesters!" he is signalling that, at his most fundamental level, he is a fascist.  He craves ultimate power and is even fantasizing that Ivanka or Don Jr. will carry on when he leaves office...after possibly more than one more term.   So, it's now push-time and all Americans who can see how diseased this man is....really need to stand up and be counted.



Wednesday, August 26, 2020

No Holds, What do we do?

There's something goin' on around here.

     So, here we are: the end of August, the election is 68 days away, the RNC convention is half-over, and the overwhelming message it is sending is that the GOPs will stop at absolutely NOTHING to win the Idiot's re-election.  Lying?  Oh, hell yes; they have made it a fundamental part of everything they do.  Cheating? Not a problem at all.  They have already tried to stiffle the vote in multiple ways, not just by sabotaging the mail's ability to deliver ballots.  Foreign interference?  We are assured that the Russians are doing all they can to insure their puppet will be retained.  Why wouldn't they?  Putin has the Idiot under his thumb.  Perhaps years from now some grad-student at Yale will uncover what Putin had on Trump that made Trump such a pliable suck-up.  But, I doubt if we'll find this out in time for the election.

   In the face of all of the above, each of us needs to have a plan.  And, that plan needs to encompass the effort to prevent us from having our votes counted.  The Idiot has mentioned that he plans to send government law enforcement to watch the polls...uh, to prevent any cheating.  Of course, it matters not at all that many sources who are in positions to know the facts, have stated plainly that voter fraud is almost non-existent.  So, the real reason for sending these government agents to poll-sit is VOTER INTIMIDATION. We know this, and it's also apparently illegal for him to do, this is one aspect of the whole situation that bears supervision and intervention should he try such a transparently hostile to minority voters move.

  The plan is to find a way to get your vote in as early as possible and to observe whether or not our local election officials are doing any monkey-business...such as purging registered voters from the roles because they haven't voted recently.  Yes, they do this.  In fact, there are so many ways to monkey-wrench the election that it is almost impossible to stop them all.  But, if we at least bring them to light and get media coverage of what is going on behind the scenes, then...just maybe....we can at least slow them down.

  The only way forward, out of this fetid swamp of corruption, despicable and immoral to VOTE. And, we need to make sure not only that we do as early as possible, but that we also expedite any of our family and friends who might otherwise be inclined to take the easy path and just sit this one out.

  Of all the elections for president of the United States of America that have ever taken place, this one is arguably the most important of modern times.  It is a pivotal moment and we need to step up and be sure our voices are heard......via our vote.  Of course, it's also a good thing to write, call, text and email our government representatives...just to remind them that what the Idiot is doing and has already done....IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

  VOTE!  If you love America, and don't want to live in a Trumpian dystopia...this is the only thing you can do that will prevent that from happening.

Friday, August 14, 2020



   All caps title, hyperbolic statement....what is going on here?  

  Well, here it is:  the caps and the hyperbole are justified because Donald J. Trump, aka here as 'the Idiot', has admitted on national tv that he is sabotaging the USPS in order to prevent mail-in ballots from being used in the upcoming election.  Yes, he openly admitted this. 

  This is a violation of the constitution, laws that are on the books, common decency and every other goddamned thing you can throw at it.  He knows he's going to lose the election unless he can monkey-wrench it one way or many ways.  He's as much admitted that the Russians are trying to undermine a fair election.  When asked about it, his reply was, "I don't care".  How's that for complicity?

  We know by now that the Idiot has zero respect for the rule of law.  He's essentially been an outlaw his entire adult life.  It's pointless to list all the character traits and personality deficits that make him the criminal he is.  You have no doubt heard them all by now.  But, at this moment in American and world history, we have a leader who is not just sleazy and mostly crooked....we have a man who INTENDS TO STEAL THE PRESIDENCY AND HOLD ONTO  IT.

  If he can prevent people in low income neighborhoods from being able to vote, and make it as painful as possible if they do...having them standing out in November weather for hours on end, regardless of the conditions and the fact that we still have a pandemic that nobody in their right mind would say is under control....then it's entirely possible he can pervert the results to the point of bamboozling the polls once again.  IF WE LET HIM, HE WILL COMMIT ANY CRIME THAT WILL, KEEP HIM IN THE WHITE HOUSE. There are absolutely NO LIMITS on what he is capable of.  And, it will behoove all of us to remember that this man is mentally ill.  That's not an excuse; it is a simple statement of why he is so willing to commit crimes against the Constitution and the rule of order to feed his insatiable need for power and praise.  Until he is in a position like his good buddy, Vladimir Putin, the Idiot will not be happy.

  And, despite the fact that he doesn't seem to actually want to be an effective leader, he is pulling out all stops to hang on to his position.  Why?   B cause of the power and prestige that he craves at a very deep level. Trump has never had to earn anything in his life; it has all been dumped in his lap by his despotic father, Fred, who also--according to his niece, Mary Trump--taught little Donny to lie, never admit you're wrong, and a variety of other endearing traits that he's successfully incorporated into being a world-class picaroon....yes, a pirate.

  So, now he figures he can do as he's always done: ignore the constitution, and the laws, and common decency....and just grab what he wants.  He denied it when a journalist reported that the White House had queried South Dakota about what would be necessary to get THE FUCKING IDIOT'S FACE ON MOUNT RUSHMORE.  But, we know him by now and that's exactly the kind of thing that he'd do.

  Make no mistake: this is, as the title above states, a NATIONAL CRISIS.  If this asshole gets away with stealing this election we will have only ourselves to blame.  We need to have ALL HANDS ON DECK. and sound the klaxon.   Write, call, communicate in any way you can that it is wholly UNACCEPTABLE for this criminal to cripple the post office in order to prevent a full and fair election from taking place.

  Again: he knows he's going to lose.  Now he is showing signs of desperation, even as he speaks less clearly, and seems almost drugged.  His pressers in the last days and weeks have shown that he is cognitively impaired.  It's right there in front of us.  He reads slowly--almost as if he's seeing the words his staff have put on the teleprompter or in his notes for the first time.  He muffs even easy words, like asbestos.  And, why is he admitting in front of cameras that he's breaking the law?  One can surmise that it's entirely likely that he doesn't really comprehend that fact.  He has this warped sense of self that tells him he can do whatever he wants to.  He's 'the Chosen One', by his own estimate.  

  So, it's time to STAND THE HELL UP, AMERICA....and let everybody around you know that this is the last gasp for our democracy. If we fail to stand-up and make ourselves heard that this is totally UNACCEPTABLE....we will find ourselves on a cold day in January watching this criminal take the oath of office for a second term.  And, that, my friends, will be the last you will see of the Great American Democratic Experiment....for a very long time, if ever. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

More about Mindfulness....


   So, let's continue to take a closer look at the concept of mindfulness.  This has become a kind of vogue thing in the last decade or so.  Time magazine even published an entire edition on it, and when that happens you know an idea has 'arrived'.  But, here's the thing: the term itself has been so co-opted by people who either want to make money off of it, or who have grabbed onto parts of it, all the while rejecting other parts that it, in some cases, bears little resemblance to the original concept that was contained in eastern mysticism.

  Under various names, mindfulness has been around for a very long time, millennia in fact.  It has traditionally been associated with Buddhism.  It is not my purpose to get into the history of it here and there are plenty of people who have written about it from a wide variety of perspectives. What I would like you to know from this offering is that it's not some complicated and highly esoteric, even arcane, idea. What it really means, at its core, is learning to recognize that the undisciplined mind has some powerful disadvantages and these can dominate one's consciousness to the point of making life much more chaotic and difficult than it really needs to be. 

  If you recall the song by the Beatles, "The Fool on the Hill", it is telling the listener that a simple person, sitting on a hill, has a perspective on the world that we almost never have.  He, "...sees the world spinning round".  

  So, here's this fool sitting on a hillside, watching the world spinning round. And......?  Well, if you stop to think what that frame of mind would be like, it has some gems hidden within.  First of all, it's an allusion to the idea that being simple-minded is actually not necessarily such a bad thing.  The 'simplicity' means that the whole mind-mesh ball of confusion is set aside, in favor of just observing the world as it goes about being the world.  This can easily be seen as the thoughts no longer having the upper-hand when the thinking process is relegated to the back-burner for a change.  Instead of getting lost in the swirling miasma of thoughts coming and going, we simply let go.  The thoughts, as I mentioned in the last entry here, are allowed to become the very least they are LESS important, i.e., no longer in charge.  They are almost exclusively connected to either the past or the future....and hardly ever are they rooted smack dab in the HERE-NOW.

  The concept of entering the 'here and now' is not only ancient, it is still and always timely. The idea of entering into this present moment and place can be seen as a radical departure from the usual mode that the vast majority of people are living in every waking moment, i.e. hammering away at sorting through our thoughts, trying to make 'sense' of it all.  

   The fact is, most people spend almost all of their waking moments in either the past or the future. The two big draws are guilt and fear. Guilt is inexorably based on the past.  Fear is almost always future based.  The exception is when something is happening in the moment that is frightening....yes, then be afraid.  But, about 99.9% of the time, our fears stem from something that might not even happen, or that might happen in a way we don't want it to.  If the saber-toothed tiger is circling the base of the tree you climbed to escape, yes, that is real and worth being fearful over.  But, that initial reaction of becoming terrified can also be counter-productive, especially in cases where the need to function and function very well is paralyzed and renders us unable to respond to the situation at hand.  

  Over the many millennia that humans have walked the surface of the planet, our survival instincts have developed in a way that supports dealing with a life-threatening situation.  The Fight-or-Flight response is familiar to many people.  The senses perceive a serious threat and we either opt to flee or to stand and fight.  A blast of adrenaline pours into our bloodstream and we can either run faster than we ever could otherwise, or we can fight like a cornered wolverine...or at least try to.  This is where fear is a benefit and helps us to deal with threats to our existence.

  But, the fear that most people experience on a daily basis, is that generated by our mind-mesh, i.e. the CRAZY MONKEY.  Oh, him again!!  We can get ourselves all wound-up over something that hasn't even happened, and may never happen.  The well-grooved fearful mind is severely crippled in terms of being able to function effectively.  So is the habitually guilt-ridden mind.  Anybody who is living a normal life in today's world, still has things in the past that they wish had been different.  Maybe we know we were unfair to someone, or we did some dastardly deed(s) that we regret.  Perhaps we really have been a bad least in some respects...and that is always right there, ready to pounce, via our thoughts and the Crazy Monkey's ability to direct them.  If you meet a person who says they have zero regrets about the past and no fears about life's end-game, i.e. dying, then you have met a liar. 

  So, this is where mindfulness comes in.  We need a way not to arrest but to at least manage and recognize that our thinking self is both not very wise, and has lots of fear and guilt-based issues.  Thinking is the ability that has brought us to where we are now.  We have accomplished endless things with the ability to apply our logic and our massive intellectual powers.  This is what has formed modern civilization more than any other asset.....although we would not have gotten very far without an opposable thumb. 

  And, the first step toward gaining the upper-hand over the constant stream of yadda-yadda that the mind mesh is simply to recognize that the crazy monkey is a potentially great assistant, but a terrible boss.  If the crazy monkey is on the bridge and shouting orders...then the Exxon Valdez is going to hit Bligh Reef, no doubt about it.  But, if a calmer sense prevails, and we recognize another source of guidance, there is a  good chance the ship will avert disaster.  

  This calmer sense is intuition.  Unfortunately, most people have learned how to disable it.  We grow up in a society that routinely dismisses it.  "Oh, that 's just your imagination." is an invalidation that suggests our intuition is of little or no value and consequence, when, in fact, it may be our most valuable and important tool. 

  So, how do we re-order our perceptions and our understanding of reality to incorporate this crucial inner skill?  Back around we mindfulness.  The process of becoming more and more mindful can be supported in myriad ways.  Over the last few decades I have taught it using tools that some find odd or even shooting, for instance.  I have been a competitive target shooter since I was on my first rifle-team at age 9.  The act of shooting, by its very nature demands a high level of concentration.  I literally spent years and years focusing on "...front-sight, rear-sight, target".  And, the ability to focus my attention was critical to the career path I chose, i.e. making art knives, carving and painting.

  My favorite pastime now is a sport called, "sporting clays", in which the shooter is presented with flying clay targets they may have never seen before, and is challenged to hit them with a shotgun by trusting one's purest instincts.

  I have also taught downhill skiing as a way of being fully present. This has a built-in aspect that is very helpful, in that a skier who gets up in their head is about to have a 'yard sale'....their equipment scattered over the slope.  I have seen this far too many times to doubt it. In every different situation, I have asked people to adopt a practice I refer to as 'watching your breath'.  This simply means to pay attention to the inhalation and exhalation of air in your chest. The skill in doing this is learning to keep coming back to it after the crazy monkey distracts you for the umpteenth time....gently and without self-judgment.  Just learning to be completely and profoundly PRESENT.

  So, the take away from all of this is simple:  Learn to pay attention to your breath and use it as a tool to bring your consciousness into the present place and time.  Practice distancing from your 'crazy monkey' of a mind-mesh...and allow your thoughts to have less importance and minimal impact.  

  PLEASE REMEMBER THIS:  you are NOT your thoughts.  They are simply something generated by a part of your brain, and we can either use them to our benefit, or we can be 'mindless' and allow them to run us ragged.  The crazy monkey can deliver a powerful beat-down if you give it the opportunity to do so.

So, don't do that, okay.

Next segment we will take a look at how mindfulness and compassion are connected.  

Monday, August 3, 2020

Staying sane when the world has gone crazy....

     Of course there has been an avalanche of articles written about the pandemic, coping with the medical risks and the sheer difficulty of navigating our lives when suddenly nothing is normal.  Oh, sure, we talk about the 'new normal' which is that NOTHING is normal now.  There is some very valuable solace that derives from knowing we're all in this together....even if some people refuse to believe it.

   But, on top of the medical catastrophe that is unfolding all around us, and across the entire planet, there is the damage that is happening to peoples' mental health....and, that may, in the end, prove to be as daunting as the physical pain and horror of the virus attacking our bodies.  It is also attacking our minds.

   Every morning, before my head is even off the pillow I am aware--all over again--that people are suffering and thousands are dying.  As of this date, July 3rd, 2020, we are still not out of the woods, but rather still headed deeper in.  This doesn't even touch on all the other stresses people are dealing with.  There's the rapidly accelerating Climate Crisis, deteriorating geo-political relations that have the Doomsday Clock at mere seconds to midnight....and on and on.  In the face of all of this it's understandable if we begin to feel a bit like Humpty-Dumpty sitting on that wall.  

  All of this is way beyond merely upsetting. It is stressful to the point of being toxic, and easily capable of causing damage to a person's mental health and stability.  This is 'crazy making' stuff and it's going to have an impact for many years to come.  So, let's just say that it's amazing that any of us are still sane after the last three months of this chaotic misery.  And, that's the issue I want to discuss here, today.  How does one manage it all and come out the other side feeling relatively okay? And, the answer is an open secret, one that has been getting a great deal of attention in the last few years:  MINDFULNESS.  Granted this has been picked-up by people and used in a wide variety of ways...some of them effective and appropriate....some of them verging on quackery and actually being counter-productive.  

  Mindfulness is not a 'new kid' on the block.  It is, in fact, ancient.  Mystics of all the world's many traditions have identified it and practiced it in a variety of ways.  But, even with this culturally imposed diversity, it's underlying principles remain very much the same.  Rather than go any further into the historical aspects of mindfulness, my intent here is to simply point to how accessible it is and how any person can avail themselves of its benefits.

  So, let's start with defining mindfulness. It's not complicated.  Mindfulness means 'being present'.  Yes, that simple. But, of course, it's not all that simple to do or to master.  I can sit at a beautiful piano and look at it in awe....but, that won't get me any closer to making harmonious sounds come out of it.

  Our biggest impediment that prevents us from realizing the benefits of US.  We have this great big brain and it loves to show off it's considerable powers by generating 'thoughts'.  These thoughts run from inane blather, to inspired and even wise and helpful.  We pretty much just watch all of this going on all the time.

  A wise spiritual teacher, i.e. Samuel Lewis, aka Sufi Ahmed Murad Chishti, has referred to this ongoing inner conversation as the 'mind mesh' and he taught people various 'practices' in order to get the mind-mesh into a harmless and useful place.  Unworkable is when it is running the whole show.  When you don't even recognize that this constant stream of chatter is happening, there is no chance that you will be able to control it and steer it in a fruitful direction.  It is running you, not the other way around.

  The problem with this is that an undisciplined mind has a compulsion to judge...everything.  This is often carried to extremes and we then become it's victims.  Everything is good or bad, beautiful or ugly, okay or not, desirable or objectionable.  Nothing escapes this stream of ongoing judgement.....and, unfortunately, the judgments are generated from a 'small' perspective, rather than a more wise and understanding one. Somewhere along the path to the 'here and now', this aspect of the human mind acquired the label, "the Crazy Monkey", and that goes a long ways toward capturing the essence of a mind that is just jammin' along, dispensing inane thoughts and judgments on damn-near everything.

  A quick working definition of 'ego' is that concept of self which is defined by limitation.  There is an expansive and more perceptive viewpoint....and there is the very narrow and limited viewpoint of a mind that measures everything according to how it is perceived.  Everything is seen in relation to how it will affect oneself.  The 'small self' is all about ME and absolutely everything is understood as having some impact on way or the other. 

  But, if there is a 'small self' we can surmise that there must be a greater self.  It has gone by a wide variety of names, but, The Self', capital 'S', is useful for our purpose here.  And, this Self is the antithesis of the small self.  It is defined by it's lack of limitations; it's all encompassing and infinite in nature.  So, a person who has spent a lifetime getting hammered by the small (often petty) self, might naturally want to consider how to escape that prison with walls built of (self-imposed) limitations. 

  I am going to simplify this as much as I can. The real risk lies in making it more complex than it needs to be.  The crazy monkey is delighted to spew a gusher of judgments around something like this, so the primary need is to calm it down and get it to lower the volume and frequency of this blather.  There are innumerable ways of doing this, but, let's keep it simple for now.

Being Present is a Gentle Art

  In every mystical tradition there has been some kind of awareness of how important the breath is.  That's right, the BREATH.  We tend to think of breathing as merely the exchange of gases that keeps us oxygenated and removes excess CO2.  And, while this tidal exchange of air to and from our lungs is, of course, critical to maintaining our bodily metabolic processes, that is just one of its functions.

   Breathing is also an energy exchange.  Hopefully, at this point in your life, you accept that there is such a thing as the life force, i.e. prana, ishq, chi, ki, orgone, (there are dozens and dozens of names, at least one in every language and spiritual path). And, if so, then you are already ahead of the game.  Many people never manage to perceive the body as an energetic entity.  But, that's exactly what it is.  Prove it?   Just look at a typical life-form, let's say an insect.  When it is alive and crawling on your tomato plant, it is utterly different than when it has died and starts to decompose into its component parts.  One second it's alive, exhibiting all the traits of that bug....the next second it's on it's way to becoming compost.  What changed?

   It was alive, and now it's dead. The difference in these two states is the presence of the Life Force, and then it's absence.  Swedish scientists, a few years ago, put terminal medical patients' beds on high-tech scales that could measure the slightest change in weight.  At the moment these patients passed out of this life.....they lost an average of 22 grams of mass.  Einstein hypothesized that energy has mass, and of course, vice versa.  So, when the life left these dying people, a measurable quantity of energy departed at that moment.  

   It has been known for millennia that the absence or presence of this 'force' is the difference between an organism thriving, growing, reproducing, even healing itself, and one that goes still and starts to disintegrate into the fundamental elements that comprised it. 

  The reason I want you to know about breath and its energetic aspect is because that is your key to practicing a kind of mindfulness that will reap you great benefits.  For starters, a person who sits and just pays attention to their breath, will at some point become aware that they are part of an energetic continuum.  We live our lives under the illusion that we are separate from all that is around us.  But, the mystics have learned and have taught that we are connected to it all.  Of course, I can tell you this, but it's like I'm trying to tell you how to ride a bicycle; it's a fool's mission.  However, give me a couple of hours in a quiet parking lot, during which time you get to actually sit on and then pedal a bike, with some helpful guidance, and you will very likely have a 'light' go on and gain a feeling for it. 

  I have been a Sufi Sheikh for some thirty-three years.  This is not a huge deal, but it was a way for my teacher to let me know that I am allowed and encouraged to simply be myself, to go out in the world and follow the Guidance of my Heart and to connect with people in that way.  I have felt permission to experiment with ways of helping people to listen to their own Guidance and live accordingly.  In this vein, I have taught mindfulness via skiing, shooting, canoeing, making art, walking, sitting, washing dishes...and too many other means to mention here.  My goal has always been to support sincere seekers of the Ultimate Understanding, i.e. the conviction that God is alive and nearby as their jugular vein. 

  This feels like a good place to 'pause' for today.  I will continue along this path within the next few days.  In the meantime, you can start working on building your own sense of mindfulness by taking a few minutes here and there to pay attention to your breathing....merely observing the in-flow and out-flow for starters.  Every time the crazy monkey starts to get cranked-up, just ask it to calm down and take a breather (okay, yes, a cheap pun).  Be present to your breath, let the thoughts just be thoughts, without a sense that they have any importance or even relevance....kind of like watching a freight-train pass by and seeing the graffiti on the cars.  Just be easy on yourself.  It would be really weird if you could do this right out of the gate with no practice. Just so you know.