26 September 2014

spirituality research: help thanks wow

I'm writing a novel that deals with spirituality, and I've come across all kinds of interesting ideas and philosophies in my research. After reading the Tanakh, the Bible, the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita, Paths to God by Ram Dass, and the Satanic Bible (it's good to see a variety of perspectives), I started seeking out more modern texts to see what they had to say.

Beloved writer of writers, Anne Lamott, wrote Help Thanks Wow, "the three essential prayers," with her usual poetic language and vivid descriptions about her experience with religion and spirituality.

Her parents "worshipped at the church of the New York Times" and raised her to believe that people who prayed were ignorant, so when she prays (and she now prays many times a day), it's to "God" as shorthand for Love and Life and everything bigger than we can comprehend.

Do you have something that you can't quite figure out? Something you can't let go of? She has created a "God box," which can be any physical container that will be used to contain whatever is driving you crazy. Her prayer for this sounds something like this: "Here. You think you're so big? Fine. You deal with it. Although I have a few more excellent ideas on how best to proceed."

It's a great visual for the Help prayer, which is about letting go, recognizing "you have ruined things enough for the time being," and surrendering to whatever happens.

22 September 2014

what the words you choose communicate about you

One of my favorite bloggers, Eric Barker, was just featured in Time magazine with this great piece on what the words you choose say about you.

The best part? The 7-38-55 rule near the end-- which may say that words don't mean that much after all.

What do the words you use say about you?
A lot.
Your personality can be determined just by looking at the way you text message. You can make accurate judgments about your favorite author’s personality just by reading their work. You can probably tell a great deal about my personality from the words I use in my blog posts.
Word choice can predict whether you’re depressed, suicidal or lying. Swearing makes you more persuasive. It’s true, asshole:
…obscenity at the beginning or end of the speech significantly increased the persuasiveness of the speech and the perceived intensity of the speaker. Obscenity had no effect on speaker credibility.

05 September 2014

10% happier

Here's a concrete and well-researched post from one of my favorite bloggers, Erik Barker, on meditation and how it can make you 10% happier.

3 Simple Things That Will Make You 10% Happier

Eric Barker


Ever been really stressed? So stressed you nearly freak out?
This happened to Dan Harris… in front of 5 million people.
On June 7th, 2004, Dan was a news correspondent on ABC and he had a panic attack on air while reading the news:

He knew he had to do something. His career was in jeopardy.
By coincidence, he was soon assigned to cover stories about religion. This set Dan on a multi-year quest talking to people of faith — and total quacks.
But it ended up introducing him to something that helped him get his head straight and, as he likes to say, made him 10% happier.
What was it? Meditation.
Feeling skeptical yet? Thinking of hippies, beads and chanting? Actually, that’s how Dan felt too.
But it turns out his discovery wasn’t the least bit mystic — in fact it was quite scientific.
I gave Dan a call and we talked about meditation and the book he wrote about his journey: 10% Happier.
And here’s how the neuroscience behind a 2500 year old ritual can help all of us become 10% happier.

You Don’t Have To Be A Hippie And Live In A Yurt

Dan’s now the co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America.
What’s the first thing this Emmy-award winning journalist has to say about meditation? It has a huge PR problem.
Meditation suffers from a towering PR problem, largely because its most prominent proponents talk as if they have a perpetual pan flute accompaniment. If you can get past the cultural baggage, though, what you’ll find is that meditation is simply exercise for your brain. It’s a proven technique for preventing the voice in your head from leading you around by the nose… There’s even science to back this up.