July 2014
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Archive for July, 2014

Anger

 

As with other emotions like fear, anxiety and trauma, anger triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response in the sympathetic nervous system.   Unbridled anger can contribute to heart disease and other related illnesses; it can savage relationships, and lead to regrettable choices and behaviors.

Anger plays an important role in our lives.  It alerts us when something is wrong; it gives us a surge of energy.  Learning to harness the energy of anger allows the healthy expression of this  perplexing and dynamic emotion.

Be honest with yourself.   This requires that you dig deeper.  What is underneath the anger you are feeling: fear, self-loathing, hurt, chronic unhappiness, perfectionism, intolerance, isolation, injustice?  Is your anger response appropriate to the circumstance?

Interrupt anger.  Step back from the situation, emotionally; literally if necessary.  Be aware.  Practice not allowing your anger to escalate.  Slow yourself down.  Breathe!

Exercise.  Take a walk; clean a closet, rake some leaves, do some jumping jacks, laugh.   Movement and laughter help diffuse the physical effects of anger.

Take action.  Once truly  past the episode, decide upon a course of action.  This may mean confronting a friend, loved one or co-worker.  Do it with love and compassion.

Forgive.  We are all human.  Forgiving does not mean forgetting.  If anger  arises from a toxic dynamic, forgetting  sets the stage for the game of uproar to escalate.  Forgiving yourself and the other party allows for different choices.

Anger is not weakness.  Anger is not bad or good.  Anger can motivate us to greatness; think Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Successfully harnessing the power of anger, being able to direct anger toward positive use, requires learning to control anger, rather than having anger control you.

 

 

Drought

Looking at a drought map of California is really scary.  Orange, red and deep red colors mark the severity in various regions.  Voluntary water use reduction by residential consumers is not having much success.   According to a survey by state water providers, Californians increased their water use by 1% in May.  This prompted the State Water Board to require water agencies to authorize fines up to $500.00 for water wasters.

Conflicts are arising: brown or green.  In Glendora, residents have been notified that they can be fined $500.00 for not keeping their lawns green.  These short-sighted actions ignore the realities of the current water crisis, especially for farmers and farm workers.

A major study released Tuesday by UC Davis,  warns of the “greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture.”  Statewide an estimated 428,ooo acres of irrigated cropland has gone out of production.  The cost to California’s economy is estimated at $2.2 billion with a corresponding loss of 17,100 jobs.

Groundwater pumping has also significantly increased.  California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, Karen Ross stated, we are ready for a “very vigorous discussion” about ground water management.

I confess, it is difficult to watch my lawn turn brown even though it has been my plan since I moved here, to remove it and replace it with a water friendlier landscape.

I find the reflection of the drought in my weekly grocery bill shocking, and I am pretty confident that it is not going to improve any time soon.  I invite you to continue to do your best to conserve this most precious resource.

Vacation

Summer time equals vacation time.  From the Latin/Greek root, meaning to empty; to have leisure.  For most of us, vacation means a relaxing and enjoyable respite from the rigors of the daily grind.

Europe leads the world in providing the most employee paid vacation time, according to the Center For Economic Policy and Research.  The CEPR also notes that of all the advanced countries only the US does not provide a legal guarantee of paid leave.

One in four Americans has no paid leave.  In May, US Representative Alan Grayson introduced a bill in Congress mandating a minimum one week of paid leave for all US employees.  No action was taken.

Vacations, “staycations” and time away from routine are essential to prevent burnout, relieve stress, recharge  batteries, give  renewed perspectives, and promote overall well-being.

Being self-employed, like many others, I have no paid vacation or paid sick leave.  I once thought I could not afford to take a vacation.  I now know better (see my blog on Burnout).  When I ’empty’ my life of daily pressures and responsibilities and take a few days here and there, not only am I refreshed and recharged, but it goes a long way toward preventing the need to take  sick days.

August is a traditional vacation month here and in Europe.  Whenever you choose, plan carefully and wisely for a time off that suits you and your family, thereby maximizing the health benefits and contribution to a good life.

 

Mandala

From the Sanskrit, meaning ‘circle’, the Mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism.   In Christianity there are many forms evocative of the Mandala; the Celtic Cross, the Rosary, the Halo, the Crown of Thorns, and the Rosy Cross.

In common use  the Mandala represents the universe, reflecting the macrocosm and the microcosm. It is  used as a practice to help focus attention, establish sacred space, and aid in meditation.

In his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Carl Jung wrote, “I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing….which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time…. Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is….the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”  Jung believed that the urge to create mandalas emerges when we are going through intense periods of personal growth.

Jungian analyst, Marie Louise von Franz states that, “The mandala serves a conservative purpose, namely, to restore a previously existing order.  But it also serves the creative purpose of giving expression and form to something that does not yet exist, something new and unique….”

If you wish to explore the Mandala, there are many sites available on the internet.  Here is a particularly fun place to start: http://www.colormandala.com/.  I invite you to enjoy the process.