Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cycling, a Catholicon for Holistic Health and Welfare

Cycling is by far one of the best fitnes cycling field work and the inner landscape (inscapes) of narrative, language, human aspiration, poetry, paradox, myth, etc.  Nonetheless, cycling has proven to be almost a catholicon for holistic health and welfare and has potential to change the world if this account (logos) were considered and heeded by more.
s sports all-around for its collective and inclusive benefits. I have been cycling to work, for pleasure and fitness since 2008 when the price of gas hit $3 per gallon. While I have saved much in out flowing cash, it's the other benefits that make more sense. Cycling has been good holistically with respect to functioning which has included finding meaning in a personal human response to the global climate crisis. I started small with an old bike riding to work to connecting with an archetypal image becoming an adventurist of local intersections amid landscapes (world of direct experience) via


Friday, October 7, 2016

The Human Condition Exposed Around the Election Cycle

Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

Is the national election a telling barometer of people's en masse functioning with respect to the hierarchy of needs?  Perhaps it is, for you can observe large sections of party support and even third party supporters and surmise an aggregate sense of where people are in terms of needs on the scale of human motivations. Luis Durani in “The Teflon Don of Politics: Donald Trump andMaslow” strongly suggests that there is currently a large segment of American culture that hungers for a personality that produces a kind of drama that addresses their lower “base needs for security, including personal, financial, health and well-being.”  The very notion of the “American Dream” for any large constituency may simply be the next upper stage in their hierarchy of needs.

There are also those who are centered on vision for changing culture with creative foresight and want of leadership that shares in such pursuit of higher, more complex issues such as national and global economy, ecology, scientific innovation, education and—dare I say it—capacity for peace (vs. the long-standing, antiquated, conventional military industrial complex). I myself have experienced persistent shifting over the years with respect to how I view leadership based on my own maturation and movement toward self-actualization (human flourishing). I have come to appreciate a non-anxious presence in myself and in others, something that is revealed in times of crisis and in one’s everyday practices.

Of course, it would challenging to ever see an self-actualized leader elected as president, since less than 1% of the population gets to that level (according to Abraham Maslow). Perhaps the deep dislike of President Obama is due to the reality that he is closer to self-actualized, as suggested by some.  Caroline Presno lists the following self-fulfilling categories for which Obama demonstrates: possessing perspective, capacity to resolve dichotomies, being respectful and humble, problem focused, and understanding and acceptance of human nature.

If anything is telling during this election cycle, it is the instinctive need for safety and survival subconsciously driving a fact-bending way of seeing things. American political culture to the dismay of some cannot evolve into a multi-party contest (better alternatives) but rather must stay mired with strident, opposing views as people with whom we disagree—those who literally pose a threat. And so people overlook the flaws and lies of a candidate, twist and contort reality to fit their group’s view of, e.g., climate change, immigration, affordable health care, gun control, etc.

There is little doubt that lower motivational functioning is certainly at play this election. In past elections, you heard much ado about, e.g., the "family"; this election people at large are concerned about jobs, money, guns, ISIS. Out in the open are the magnifications of potentially dangerous aspects of the human condition and cognition, the exposure of salient vulnerabilities of peoples and the shear disappointment of many who find no consolation in the choices for leadership before us. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Integrity: More than Honesty

Integrity is more than simply being honest and authentic, for it has a complexity that extends beyond the literature of being “true to self” and connects with other core virtues. By definition "integrity" is derived from the word  "integer",  meaning  "wholeness".  Systems with integrity towards a common purpose are balanced, in step, and working towards a common purpose.

Psychologically it conveys the human need to recover being-in-the-world and in society. That is, with respect to extremes of the mean good, we identify the excess as self alienated at the expense of others, e.g., arrogance, boastfulness; and the deficiency as accepting external influences, that results in inauthentic self (persona), perhaps even splitting or fragmentation.
Integrity speaks into self-differentiation, as it informs us of the practice and need for goals and committed pathways even when it may costs us. In the helping field this translates in how one provides treatment of others and self with care, evidenced by helping those in need, sensitivity to the needs of others, and self-care. This examination is most vital in most professions, since they inherently require us to work outside the rigidness of policy while still meeting goals.

We get a glimpse into the complexity of integrity via Giotto Integrity Test which measures and supports reflection  of habits, attitudes and behaviors that have impact on organizations.  

Giotto Scale
Areas assessed within the context of Giotto
Low scores may indicate
High scores may indicate
Degree of care demonstrated when carrying out tasks [4]
Prefers to leave mundane tasks to others
Careful when carrying out given tasks
Attitude to work
Likes to keep work in perspective
Driven by a work ethic
The ability to control aggression in whatever form
Impatient of the foibles of others
Slow to anger and calm in the face of adversity
The fairness shown in judging the actions of others
Tends to be more emotional or suspicious when making decisions
Balanced, rational and impartial in decision- making
The sense of obedience to organizational policy
More likely to lead and innovate than follow rules
Shows obedience to authority and a sense of duty
The degree of directness, honesty and openness in dealing with others
Closed and secretive about intended actions
Honest and open when dealing with others
Assesses a sense of purpose and forward-looking approach
Somewhat traditional and wary of rapid change
Resourceful and enthusiastic about the future

The results of the Giotto Integrity Test stimulate interesting discussion and often uncover rationale for interpersonal feelings of distrust, interpersonal tension and conflict. The resulting information can be used to develop an individual’s ability to identify individual differences and respond accordingly to improve interactions in the tensions of an organization or perhaps being-in-the-world. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Longing and Lust: Progressive, Evolutionary Sources

I share two good sources that offer a potential to inform and assist us with navigating relationships by way of language and science in this post-modern era. Being illuminated on such topics as longing and lust (eros) is so vital today, for many are deeply lonely, many marriages for reasons they know not (mostly conventional and narrow reasons at best) and many are questioning the outdated forms of marriage seeking deeper meanings, fulfillment and belonging.

One source is Christopher Ryan who co-authored with Cacilda Jetha, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, andWhat it Means for Modern Relationships. Ryan in an interview on Ted Radio Hour helps us to get at lust and sex with his scientific dialectic. 

Ryan argues, 

“Marriage," "mating," and "love" are socially constructed phenomena that have little or no transferable meaning outside any given culture. The examples we've noted of rampant ritualized group sex, mate-swapping, unrestrained casual affairs, and socially sanctioned sequential sex were all reported in cultures that anthropologists insist are monogamous simply because they've determined that something they call "marriage" takes place there. No wonder so many insist that marriage, monogamy, and the nuclear family are human universals. With such all-encompassing interpretations of the concepts, even the prairie vole, who "sleeps with anyone," would qualify.” 

The second source is “The Transfiguration of Aloneness: David Whyte on Longing and Silence” an article by Maria Popova concerning David Whyte’s meditation in Consolations:The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words concerning the word “Longing.”

Whyte provides this insight:

In the longing and possession of romantic love, it is as if the body has been loaned to someone else but has then from some remote place, taken over the senses — we no longer know ourselves. Longing calls for a beautiful, grounded humiliation; the abasement of what we thought we were and strangely, the giving up of central control while being granted a watchful, scintillating, peripheral discrimination. The static willful central identity is pierced and wounded, violated and orphaned into its own future as if set adrift on a tide.

Together these two sources support an inner conversation that may well help us along the path of experience from loneliness unto an unfolding knowing, getting at real substance of the flourishing spirit of humanity. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Art of Self

One of the inherent frustrations among Westerns in modernity is the quest to discover one’s purpose, sustainable contentment, and further making a livelihood out of meaningful work. Daily we are subject to an overwhelming barrage of scripts that promise to make us safe and happy yet fail to do so.  Hence the notion of happiness is generally connected to moments in a day that must be maintained by rising above boredom or repressing chronic, internal anxieties or stress that would quickly exhaust the average person if it were not for material consumption, the technologies created to “save time” and the need to be always doing something.

Carl Jung said that with all this resistance and distraction, consciousness is still pressing forward "to its own inertia, but the unconscious lags behind, because the strength and inner resolve needed for further expansion have been sapped." Hence there is a disunity with oneself that breeds discontent. A critical atmosphere thus must develop—the necessary prelude to conscious realization. This is a quiet call from within to listen, to pay attention to the hidden, to possess the secret imprisoned in inescapable egotism yet gradually to be revealed by way of discovery, a natural progression within all of us that often goes unnoticed or unheard until it is late in life. It is the inner voice that begs your reflection now and over time and promises wholeness, completeness, human flourishing.

While I have been on this path for many years, I recently came across an exercise in Friedrich Nietzsche’s  Schopenhauer as Educator that essentially was written to provide an a starting point to youth or any searching individual who is willing to chase a set of probing questions over time as a method to assist in the cardinal yet byzantine task of knowing oneself. Nietzsche begins, and I recommend as a threshold this project.   

How can one know himself? It is a dark, mysterious business: if a hare has seven skins, a individual may skin himself seventy times seven times without being able to say, "Now that is truly you; that is no longer your outside." It is also an agonizing, hazardous undertaking thus to dig into oneself, to climb down toughly and directly into the tunnels of one's being. How easy it is thereby to give oneself such injuries as no doctor can heal. Moreover, why should it even be necessary given that everything bears witness to our being – our friendships and animosities, our glances and handshakes, our memories and all that we forget, our books as well as our pens. For the most important inquiry, however, there is a method. Let the young soul survey its own life with a view of the following question: 
Here is Nietzsche’s method laid out in the form of questions. I suggest take several weeks to do this. Lay out your musings on paper or document; keep coming back to it and lay it out, expand it as described below.  The numbering is mine for which I recommend following before moving to the next phase. I have provided some alternative translations in the brackets.

[1] "What have you up to now truly loved, [2] what has drawn your soul upward, [3] mastered [dominated] it and blessed [uplifted] it too [at the same time]?" [4] Set up these things that you have honored [revered objects] before you, and, maybe, they will show you, in their being and their order, a law which is the fundamental law of your own self. [5] Compare these objects, consider how one completes and broadens and transcends and explains another, [6] how they form a ladder on which you have all the time been climbing to your [true] self: for your true being lies not deeply hidden in you, but an infinite height above you, or at least above that which you do commonly take to be yourself.

Finally Nietzsche exhorts, “There may be other methods for finding oneself, for waking up to oneself out of the anesthesia in which we are commonly enshrouded as if in a gloomy cloud — but I know of none better than that of reflecting upon one’s educators and cultivators.” Here (the method above) Nietzsche gives us a place to start—consider those who have informed use over time, the various people and actions of others that have influenced us and have in part breathed life into us or imparted to us a model of what we intrinsically view as genuine and worthy of holding on to which may well inform us about the person we are and wish to be. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hope against Cynicism and Naivete

Maria Popova of the website Brain Pickings, in an interview with Krista Tippet argued, “Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. But hope without critical thinking is naïveté. I try to live in this place between the two to try to carve a life out [hone a niche] there because finding fault and feeling hopeless about improving our situation produces resignation of which cynicism is a symptom and against which it is the sort of futile self-protection mechanism.”

Here Popova practice provides an elegant example of a well-adjusted, thoughtful person who tackles via “a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why." It is a public example into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.

Here I unpack the above statement a bit as it oscillates with my idea of gentle cynicism as a way of navigating the challenging territory between and to prevent full-blown cynicism while working and hope.  For me gentle cynicism is dealing with the limitations of a world juxtaposed with the social and moral issues of the day filtered through narrative, poetry, philosophy and social ethic (tools for critical thinking).

Here is a visual, continuum model that places “hope” as the mean good.

  Cynicism      gentle cynicism     Hope      mediocrity       Naiveté    
   ---------------------------------------------->    ----------------------------------->  
                 Critical Thinking                         Unreflected Life
 [Self-protective resignation]                                          [Blind resignation]

But on the other hand, believing blindly that everything will work out just fine also produces a kind of resignation because we have no motive to apply ourselves toward making things better [telos]. And I think in order to survive, both as individuals and as a civilization, but especially in order to thrive; we need to bridge critical thinking with hope.

Hope seeks out possibility, requires necessity, and is the proper relating of self to itself.  (Paul Ricoeur).  In Kierkegaard’s Sickness unto Death, Ricoeur writes that despair comes from the self misrelating to itself. The misrelation is not recognizing what the self is, which is synthesis of the infinite and the finite. Hope, conversely, is a proper relating of the self to itself, especially concerning the expectations one has of oneself. Expect too much of self, then one may despair of attaining one’s goals; expect too little of self and one may well despair of ever accomplishing anything at all.  
Hope theory (CR Snyder) is the perceived capacity to derive pathways to desired goals (in relation to mean goods) and to motivate oneself via agency thinking to use those pathways. Here hope is a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed energy) and (b) pathways (planning to meet goals).

The trilogy of Hope:
Goals - anchor one’s thinking about the future to specific goals
Agency - those capable of pursuing goals, who believe in their own capacity
Pathways - those that can imagine or plan way to achieve goals step by step along a pathway

Huskey, Rebecca K., Paul Ricoeur on Hope: Expecting the Good. New York, Peter Lang Publishing. 2009.
Popova, Maria,  transcript from interview with, “Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age” accessed from On Being, 05/14/2015.
Snyder, C. R. (Ed.).  Handbook of Hope: Theory, Measures, and Applications. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2000. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Six Logical Ideas from “Life Begins Again and Again: Seeing the Good in Depression”

  • We must face the things that might have made us depressed. (environmental, circumstantial, generational, vulnerabilities, human deficiencies, etc.)  
  • Through reflection, stillness and rest healing comes. (time spent utilizing one’s strengths, spending time caring for self with simple disciplines/practices)
  • Take the wide open spaces, as a Season to Heal. (openness to kairos time, breathing in the spaces that infuse vitality)
  • We can heal by asking why/how we were led into this spiritual recession. (process reflections may reveal over time insight of multi-generational patterns that can be tweaked--changed)
  • Hope spoken aloud and believed is the path to healing, and it is the way forward to a season of laughter and dancing. (write, re-texting of the found “text”) 
  • Awareness and acceptance are all. The coming together of the re-texting via acknowledgment (energy for re-engagement, full acknowledgement of self, other and holy; taking change into the sphere of others)