31 July, 2010

Pursuit #5: At least I'm not in jail...

but if I were, I would want to hear from Greg Rutter.

Way to go, Greg, for turning a crappy stint in jail into a daily bombardment of vim, vigor and witty banter! dearlindsaylohan.com


30 July, 2010

Pursuit #4: Work = Games

The Pursuit: 
Today I shadowed a couple Occupational Therapists at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in DC. I have shadowed OT's in other locations including the Outpatient Therapy side of the NHR. But today was my first time shadowing on their Inpatient Therapy side. And lucky for me, I got to shadow the pediatrics unit, as well as the Brain Injury unit which I find fascinating. 

The Findings:
My day consisted of: playing Wii Bowling, the board game Guess Who?, soccer, horseshoes, a princess game, "grocery shopping" and velcro/tennis ball catch. And that was just a typical work day! I think I could get used to this Occupational Therapy thing:) The best part is seeing how happy the kids were and to hear from the therapists how far each of the patients has come. One adult brain injury patient was sadly going to be sent to a nursing home because his family didn't want him. So the OT spent the last session shaving off his beard that had developed. It's the simple things like that that really make a difference for these patients who have been hospitalized for so long.

29 July, 2010

Pursuit #3: Operation Beautiful

My friend Anne has a friend who has a website called Operation Beautiful which is really fantastic.
"The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL."
People take photos of the notes they leave in a public place with a nice quote about how we're all beautiful the way we are. It can be something as simple as "Smile! You're beautiful!" but the message is still the same. Hopefully someone finds my note in the women's bathroom on the first floor of the CS building of NOVA Annandale campus and gets a warm fuzzy feeling inside:)

Operation Beautiful: Pass it on!

28 July, 2010

Pursuit #2: A New Earth

The Pursuit: 
I just finished listening to Eckhart Tolle's book A New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose. Once again, going in I felt skeptical - it seemed uber new-agey, espousing seemingly intangible concepts like enlightenment, awareness, awakening, egoic consciousness, pain bodies, and inner aliveness. (Not to mention the book is read by the author and it reminded me of this funny video my friend shared with me of Werner Herzog reading Where's Waldo?) The premise of the book is to show us how the world today is problematic due to our unhealthy collective consciousness based on the ego and how we can effect a shift in that very same consciousness, an awakening or enlightenment.
"The unchecked striving for more, for endless growth, is a dysfunction and a disease. It is the same dysfunction the cancerous cell manifests, whose only goal is to multiply itself, unaware that it is bringing about its own destruction by destroying the organism of which it is a part." 

Tolle puts his own spin on ancient Buddhist and Taoist principles, like mediation, living in the now, becoming aware of but detaching ourselves from our thoughts, mind-processes, the ego and things.
"Words reduce reality to something the human mind can grasp, which isn’t very much. Language consists of five basic sounds produced by the vocal cords. They are the vowels a, e, i, o, u. The other sounds are consonants produced by air pressure: s, f, g, and so forth. Do you believe some combination of such basic sounds could ever explain who you are, or the ultimate purpose of the universe, or even what a tree or stone is in its depth?"
While nothing really revolutionary was uncovered in this book, I think his point is still valid: that our society would benefit from a profound awakening to a more "enlightened" state. For me this book reiterated the concept of living in the now that I mentioned in the previous post on mediation.

This is an intriguing, multi-faceted topic to explore, and I can't even really do it justice by trying to explain it. It is more a starting block for my own personal inner exploration and how I can simplify my thoughts, mind, life. Sometimes the things we think are important, just aren't. A simple quote sums up things up quite nicely:
"Do you want to know what my secret is? You see, I don't mind what happens." - J. Krishnamurti

Apparently Oprah is a big fan. They have an entire web series together.

Pursuit #1: Live in the NOW

The Pursuit:
Recently I visited the Shambala Meditation Center in DC to learn how to meditate. I wasn't completely convinced that it would really do anything. It seemed so new agey and perhaps a bit esoteric.  But due to curiosity, and after reading about the alleged benefits of the practice and feeling routinely stressed from school or life, I thought how will I know if it works or not if I don't try it?

Meditating is hard. It involves retraining the way we think. I just learned about something in psychology called spreading activation which describes how our brains jump from one thought to another. You start thinking about the laundry you need to get done, which reminds you of that shirt you used to own when you were 12 that you loved, which makes you start thinking about the girl in your 7th grade class who wore funny glasses....and so on and so on. Our thoughts are racing, they get jumbled and we get overwhelmed, stressed or agitated. Rarely do we ever really just live in the now, not let our minds wander and just...be. Seems so simple. If you try to do it though, I guarantee you will struggle, at least at first.

Meditation is mindfulness and awareness.
It "begins by simplifying everything. We sit on the cushion, follow our breath and watch our thoughts. We simplify our whole situation."     -

Thich Nhat Hanh
In, Out
Deep, Slow
Calm, Ease
Smile, Release
Present Moment, Wonderful Moment 

The Pursuit of Happiness

I happened upon a book called The Happiness Project the other day. I haven't read this book. Just the inside jacket. But I like the premise:
"a memoir of the year I spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy--from Aristotle to Martin Seligman to Thoreau to Oprah"
So today, the kickoff to my 27th year on this earth, I decided will be the beginning of my own happiness project. The author of The Happiness Project has a formula for making her project and even has a toolkit for readers to use in order to make their own happiness projects. However inspired I am by her ideas, I am going to create my own version. But I encourage anyone else to take on a similar feat and maybe, in the words of MJ, we'll "heal the world." Either that or "Beat It." Ok, but seriously. For the next year, my goal is to update this thing once a day with something I found that works for leading a healthier, happier life, not just for me, but for everyone. This is mostly just for my own documentation, but maybe it'll catch on. Ok, ready, set, GO!