Monthly Peace Challenge: The Neuroscience of Peace

bannerTo help inspire the Bloggers for Peace (B4Peace), we will have a Monthly Peace Challenge. To participate, tag your post with B4Peace and make sure you copy your URL to the Linkz collection. Anyone who completes all twelve Monthly Peace Challenges in 2014 will receive a Free B4Peace T-shirt. Yes, I’ve decided to offer the second annual Bloggers for Peace T-shirt as a prize. I envision a day when we will all gather for a Bloggers for Peace Conference donning our various Bloggers for Peace T-shirts.

For the first Monthly Peace Challenge of 2014, I first thought about resolutions, but resolutions are usually destined to fail and make us feel bad about ourselves. So I’ve simplified the challenge. What one thought will you focus on this year to bring more peace?

Neuroscience tells us that “neurons that fire together wire together” which means that we actually change our brains by what we think. Changing our brains changes our thoughts, behaviors, habits, and destinies.

Decades before fMRI brain scans, Gandhi said,

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”

So I’m just asking you to post one thought that you will focus on this year. Call it a mantra, a resolution, a pebble in the pond of your consciousness that will send out ripples of peace throughout the year.

You can use these websites to pretty up your thought:

For example, my thought for the year is:

Abide as the Stream of Love photo

“Abide” is a word that I am focusing on in meditation. It means:

  • To remain in a place
  • To continue to be sure or firm; endure
  • To dwell or sojourn
  • To put up with; tolerate
  • To wait patiently for: “I will abide the coming of my lord” Tennyson
  • To withstand

“Abide as the Stream” is a term Dr. Rick Hanson gifted me with in his essay Eddies in the Stream. In his essay, Dr. Hanson explores the intersection of neuroscience, quantum physics, and enlightenment. To abide as the stream means to sit in the field of infinite potential, “fertile noise,” or “quantum foam.”

When I am able to “abide as the stream” during meditation, I feel an overwhelming sense of connection with all beings that I can only describe as love. So my thought for the year is to “abide as the stream of love.” I want to spend as much time as possible realizing this thought. What thought do you want to realize this year?

Don’t forget to link to at least one other B4Peace post and add your post to the Linkz collection. Here is how:

  • Copy your URL to the Linkz collection. You’ll find the link below. It’s the drunk blue frog smiling for peace. Click on it and follow directions.
  • Go visit this site to read and comment on other posts related to this Monthly Peace Challenge.

Thank you for spreading the peace. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

Compassion for Courage: Dr. Rick Hanson

Dr. Rick Hanson, author of the New York Times best seller Hardwiring Happiness, is one of my favorite teachers. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Hanson for The Compassion Interviews Series. This interview was one of the most enjoyable, enlightening, and useful interviews I have ever done. I guarantee that if you listen to and practice Dr. Hanson’s advice, your happiness will grow exponentially.

In the full interview, we discuss:

  • How to “wake down” from deadness, numbness, or oppression
  • How compassion is a strength that develops courage
  • The difference between wanting and liking, and how this difference can make your life heaven or hell
  • How to aspire without attachment
  • How Dr. Hanson is a real-life version of Ender from Ender’s Game

For the complete interview visit: http://peaceinrelationships.com/the-compassion-interviews-dr-rick-hanson/

For more Compassion Interviews, including Thich Nhat Hanh, visit: http://peaceinrelationships.com/the-compassion-interviews/

Compassion Can Make You More Attractive–Thich Nhat Hanh Re-load

A week ago, I published an article about a conversation I had with Thich Nhat Hanh. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. James Doty and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, I am able to share the video of this short interview with you. To see the whole Conversation on Compassion with Thich Nhat Hanh go to: http://ccare.stanford.edu/videos/conversations-on-compassion-thich-nhat-hanh/

For more interviews with compassionate men visit http://peaceinrelationships.com/offerings/

Accidentally Insulting Adyashanti

This has been quite a month. From getting blindsided by Marianne Williamson to being empowered by Thich Nhat Hanh, I can’t remember a time in my life so full of growth and discomfort. And the hits keep coming…

Last weekend, I attended a day-long retreat with Adyashanti. Of all the spiritual teachers I follow, Adyashanti is one of the only ones that refers to his own Awakening. I never hear the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh talking about “when I became enlightened,” but Adya refers to this moment of clarity all the time. I find this comforting and valuable wisdom.

Here are some jewels of wisdom from Adyashanti:

  • Seeking is not about what we don’t have; it is about what we have forgotten
  • “Make sure you are always your own best student”
  • In regards to serving others, “if you start with the small stuff, the bigger stuff has a way of finding you.”
  • A realization of unity liberates uniqueness and true individuality. Jesus and The Buddha were highly unique individuals.
  • Adya also gave us all a mantra: “Love Well.” He instructed us to ask this mantra as a question. While doing the dishes, “am I loving well?”

As the day drew to a close, I raised my hand to ask a question, and Adyashanti called on me immediately. I asked about Adya’s description of Awakening. After awakening did one have to re-mind oneself daily, moment-by-moment to release arguments with self, other, life, and God?

“It is like being human. Do you have to remind yourself to be human?”

To which I replied, “Sometimes…”

“Bad example. It is like breathing, do you have to remind yourself to breathe?”

“No, but I’m thinking about the story of how Buddha reacted to hearing the news that his former kingdom had been destroyed and everyone was killed. He apologized to his followers for not being himself. I imagine that he must have felt some aversion and craving on this day.”

“It is a nice story, isn’t it? It makes the Buddha more human,” Adyashanti replied.

Then he talked about a zen master who broke down wailing during a dinner with some students when he received a call that his wife had died.

Some students lost faith in the master, but the senior student told them that they had missed one of the master’s deepest lessons.

I liked the story, so I felt the courage to ask Adyashanti about my Vipassana revelation, “I envision that awakening will not erase all our personal suffering, but will rather increase our sensitivity to suffering in general–that all life is suffering. This is where the service comes in. We realize that all beings are suffering, so we want to serve others to end their suffering.”

“Maybe. I felt like that in the beginning, but then it changed. Later, I did my Satsangs for different reasons. Now, I feel like I’m doing them because that is what I do” (these are rough paraphrases of what was actually said).

“Merely doing,” I said. I was trying to equate Adyashanti’s statements with the Buddha’s description of enlightenment as “merely thinking (cognition)” without judgment, attachment, or aversion, but Adya didn’t seem to catch the reference.

Turns out my question was the last of the day. While helping stack the chairs after Adyashanti had left, I felt an odd disconnect with the other participants. No one seemed to want to look me in the eyes.

On the drive home, I realized that some may have taken my statement of “merely doing” as an insult to Adyashanti. One could argue that I degrading all his teachings, retreats, and satsangs as merely doing. This wasn’t my intention, of course, and what was really impressive is that Adyashanti took no offense–not even a flinch or a pause. He embodied what Deepak Chopra claimed changed his life: Don’t be offended ever again.

So it was another lesson learned. Seems like I have a penchant for insulting spiritual leaders. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing. Perhaps it is merely doing.

Funny enough, after my question, we only had a few minutes left, so Adyashanti suggested we sit in silence. Everyone started rustling around to get ready to sit in silence.

“No not that kind of silence,” Adya stopped us. “Since that happened, the squeaking of chairs, which was the preparing for silence…Every once in a while it is good to look at even the most innocuous kinds of conditioning. Just the suggestion that we might sit in silence, if you notice how the conditioning goes, some special situation must be met to sit in silence. The way I was was was not enough; therefore I have to adjust and move and prepare for silence which as far as I could tell you were all already in…Is it true that any condition need be met for me to recognize the silence that is here now.”

The silence that ensued was palpable. Guess we were merely being silent.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Do you have a mantra? Have you insulted a role model, mentor, teacher, or spiritual leader before? Please share.

A Morning of Clarity

Hey Peacemakers,
I’m back from the 10 day meditation retreat. Here is a video about something I experienced at the retreat. I know posting a long video to youtube is an act full of ego, but I believe that this vision needs to be shared.

 

If you don’t want to watch the video, here are the highlights:

  • We are all connected
  • Jodie Foster and Carl Sagan are/were prophets
  • Time is a vibration
  • The purpose of life is to get “in tune” with our Buddha Nature and Christ Consciousness
  • Once in tune we can serve as tuning forks for others
  • Serving others is the highest form of humanity
  • Too much meditation can cause severe hallucinations

I want to thank Rarasaur and DJMatticus for keeping the light on while I was meditating. I loved having some SoCal flavor on Everydaygurus. If you enjoyed their wisdom and love please let them know by commenting on their blogs.

May you be free from suffering. May you find peace and joy. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

 

Blindsided by Marianne Williamson

Tyler Durden: “How’s that working out for you?”

Narrator: “What?”

Tyler Durden: “Being Clever”

For the last four days, I’ve been attending a seminar for entrepreneurs. I learned a lot of tips about launching, marketing, networking, and positioning. So imagine how surprised I was when on the stage walks Marianne Williamson.

Marianne re-framed everything we had learned the previous 3 days. Here are a few nuggets: Continue reading

I Will Rise

How neuroscience offers hope to survivors of abuse and peacemakers of the future

“What happened to you, then?” my step-father’s booming voice echoed out into the early evening crowd at Outback Steakhouse.

The question was not asked with compassion or caring. It was a jab, an attack, a verbal confirmation that I was a failure in his eyes.

I had been explaining to my extended family how my son was a highly sensitive boy (HSB), when my mom chimed in that I, too, was highly sensitive as a child. She used the term “glass feelings.”

I explained to my sister-in-law how HSBs, if nurtured, could become compassionate artists or peacemakers like Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, and Carl Jung.

That is when my step-father interrupted me with “What happened to you, then?”

What amazed me most was my reaction. In the past, an aggressive comment like this would have sent me to fight or flight mode. As a survivor of abuse, my amygdala and sympathetic nervous system were trained to go into over-drive and flood my system with epinephrine and cortisol. With clenched fists, I would normally either ignore my step-father completely, retaliate with a sarcastic remark, or flee the scene. But this time, I remained calm as I stuttered for words.

“Well, I…um…I…um.” The thought of saying “Someone beat the sensitivity out of me” occurred to me, but the desire to retaliate was absent.

Finally, my wife jumped in to help me, “He wasn’t nurtured.” (Sometimes it is great to have a wife who is a psychologist.)

I still remained calm. In fact, I protected my mother by explaining, “They didn’t know about highly sensitive boys back then.”

Writing about this scene today, I realize that my parent may never realize how damaging 12 years of physical abuse can be on a child. I am almost positive that I will never receive an apology.

But I feel no ill-will towards them at this moment. I’m reminded what of Brene Brown said about her parents instilling shame in her as a child. She said she doesn’t blame them anymore than she blames her grandmother for letting her ride standing in the front seat of the car. They just didn’t know any better.

Armsreach

Armsreach (Photo credit: Awen o greu)

Some of you may argue with this point, but the truth is that I have stopped blaming others for my shortcomings. I am thrilled with the idea of neuroplasticity—that we can change our brains and our lives, just by changing the thoughts we think everyday.

I have seen and felt tremendous changes in how I react to outside stimuli. If we can re-wire our lives with just a few minutes of mindfulness and cultivating compassion practice everyday, then world peace truly is possible.

Thank you for reading, empathizing, and/or sharing.

Have you seen signs that world peace is possible? Have you felt healing occur in your soul? Please share.

How to wring compassion out of your child

IMG_0824My 6 year old son wants to quit his Kung Fu class. Last time I drove him to the Kung Fu studio, he threw a tantrum and wouldn’t get out of the car.

I threatened him by explaining how he would not get Christmas or Birthday presents for 5 years to pay off the non-refundable tuition we paid for the whole year.

I shamed him by telling his younger brother what a big boy he was for not “crying like a baby,” even though I am reading Brene Brown’s research on the horrible consequences of shaming.

You see, my son cries more than any child I know. If you mix his eggs with too much soy sauce, he cries. If someone closes the door to his room at night, he cries. If you don’t put enough toothpaste on his toothbrush, he cries. All this crying drove me crazy until I realized why. Continue reading