If you are acting like a zombie, you are probably acting mindlessly. Although they can be scarily entertaining, zombies are apt metaphors for mindlessness, a not so entertaining but sometimes scary state.
It’s not their fault, don’t blame them, they don’t even know they are zombies, they think they are awake, but they are not really, they are sleeping. They are so possessed by their minds that they think the dream is real, they think those voices in their heads are who they are and they have forgotten how to live. They experience everything through words and concepts and have forgotten that the world is a sensory delight.
Poor lost souls, they think the past and the future are real and they spend their lives there. Their minds drag them back and they propel them forward, they cannot see the glory of this moment. They cannot see it because they are not here. The present moment, the only place where life really exists, is cast aside as irrelevant, they miss the miracle of existence and are barely alive at all.
Fortunately there is an antidote for this dismal existence.
But there is hope for some, because most Zombies are not yet completely dead, they still have a chance at life, in fact some of them are even starting to wake up. Right now quite a few Zombies
The same organization Dying Matters has announced a new creative writing competition. From the Web page:
Life is shockingly unpredictable and too often ends before we’ve told our nearest and dearest how much we love them, registered a will to avoid chaos after we’ve gone, visited a long-neglected relative or got in touch with someone we know we treated badly. Omissions like these gnaw at us now and are likely to be bitterly regretted when we face the final curtain.
So with that in mind, our new writing competition, While There’s Still Time, is aimed at generating shared experiences that will help more people set about putting things right, planning their future and getting the best from the rest of their life. Reading about other people’s setbacks, sadness and happiness helps us cope with our own ups and downs, and writing about experiences too painful to talk about can in itself generate a wonderful sense relief and release.
By talking more openly about end of life issues and taking actions such as writing a will, recording our funeral wishes, registering as an organ donor, planning our future care and sharing what we would want with our loved ones we can help to ensure that we all get the chance to live well until we die.
You only die once, so don’t leave it too late to make your wishes known or to provide support to those who need it.
In this interview (Caucus on Mediation) of long-time mediator Gary Friedman, he answers that question and several others. And in the interview he mentions his forthcoming book Inside Out which will go into the topics of this interview and many more in great depth. I'm looking forward to reading it!
Click on over to the interview to see what Friedman says about how a mediator can prepare to be an effective conflict professional.
The most important thing as a mediator is to understand yourself and to be able to access what’s happening inside you when you’re in the presence of people who are in conflict, and to be able to use that to draw the pathway for the others. What happens, as mediators, is that we often sit together with people and we say to ourselves “Oh, that person is right, that person is wrong, we like that person, we don’t like that person”, and then we say “On, no, I’m neutral”. I pay attention to the feelings that I have inside. The central quality for the mediator is to be able to take the internal reactions we have to people and to be able to use them to understand what they are about, understand ourselves – this is the last part of the “understanding” in our model of mediation – and to be able to turn that in a way where we find ourselves closer to the people we don’t like. Usually, when we have a bad feeling, we don’t like someone, we are angry with someone or we’re upset by him or her, then we lose patience and want to push them away. They feel it. We can’t pretend it’s not there. But we can work with that feeling to understand what it was that generated the negative reaction when we met that person. It’s turning anger and bad feelings into curiosity. We can take the differences we have with other people, which
When people say, “This is the way to do it,” that’s not true. There are always many ways, and the way you choose should depend on the current context. You can’t solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions. So when someone says, “Learn this so it’s second nature,” let a bell go off in your head, because that means mindlessness. The rules you were given were the rules that worked for the person who created them, and the more different you are from that person, the worse they’re going to work for you. When you’re mindful, rules, routines, and goals guide you; they don’t govern you.
To improve healthcare workers' job satisfaction and patient care, several physicians and aligned professionals are learning about and using narrative practices. For example, take a look at this article about two people in North Carolina who are teaching courses in Narrative Medicine. From "Stories heal at narrative medicine workshop" (Mountain Xpress):
“Not all patients are storytellers, but every patient has a story to tell,” says Dr. [Claire] Hicks, who believes that narrative medicine helps train us to listen, to empathize and to heal. During the workshop, Dr. Hicks shared insights from a physician’s perspective in her work with HIV patients in hospice and how writing enriches her capacity as caregiver. . . .
. . .
The importance of story is the driving force behind narrative medicine. “Ways to read story are ways to read life,” says [Professor Laura] Hope-Gill.
I have been convinced of the value of narrative practices for a long time, particularly as they increase the ability to be reflective. Therefore, I was excited when I read a message from Professor Anne Villella on a legal education listserv in response to my asking her what she meant by "narrative practices." (One of the courses she offers at Lewis and Clark Law School is on narrative practices). Here is what she wrote (posted with permission):
The idea of narrative practices that I mentioned in my post include many of those found in Narrative Medicine, which you mention. I have attended a 4-day Narrative Medicine workshop and read much of the scholarship on Narrative Medicine. Its impact on those in the healthcare field have been remarkable in terms of developing professional identity, compassion, a sense of affiliation, and, ultimately, patient care.
I believe similar practices can have similar results in the practice of law and representation of clients. And, I know that there are others out there who have incorporated narrative practices into their courses.(I would love to hear from others who have done this!)
Besides Narrative Medicine, there are other resources out there about narrative practices. The work of Gillie Bolton comes to mind--she facilitates workshops and has written extensively on
A decade ago, I dined at an ICF event with an experienced Executive Coach who told me, point-blank, “I don’t need research. I know what works, and I don’t need to know the data.” I don’t hear that from coaches anymore. I don’t hear people saying that research is irrelevant. As the profession matures, we are seeing an increase in the number of experienced coaches who recognize the need to understand the science behind coaching.
The Institute of Human Development & The Institute of Cognitive & Brain Sciences at UC Berkeley, The Philosophy + Literature Initiative at Stanford, and the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio State University presents:
The Science of Story and Imagination
Perspectives from Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and the Humanities
This symposium will bring together leading scholars in philosophy, literature, cognitive science, and neuroscience to explore the following questions: What is the role of imagination in human cognition? Why do we create stories? How does the ability to produce and understand stories develop in childhood? Why are we attracted to some stories and not others? How do stories draw on and affect our causal, counter-factual, and probabilistic learning mechanisms? How do they intersect with our capacities for filling gaps, for retaining and integrating information, and for entering the minds of others?
This event is free and open to the public.
- All symposium events held in Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center -
Saturday, March 1st
Frederick Aldama - English, Ohio State Alison Gopnik - Psychology, UC Berkeley Joshua Landy - French, Stanford University
As I blogged about recently, well-chosen movies and movie clips can be used to start conversations on topics that may be difficult to broach, including relationship challenges and death-and-dying-related matters. Short readings can serve the same purpose.
Excerpts from the forthcoming book Final Chapters, reminded of the valuable function of appropriate readings for facilitating necessary but sometimes anxiety-producing conversations, those talks that can be terrifying, at least uncomfortable, easily deferred. Click through and read "Enhancing Dementia Recipe" (the middle piece); perhaps, as I was, you will be moved. Just a few words and yet a strong impact.
Short, well-written, even jarring, readings can motivate you to sit down and have a talk about the future, whether it be about your marriage, divorce, child-raising, or death. Readings can provoke talks with your family or with your clients. Read anything good lately?
A colleague of mine, a very imaginative consultant named Gail Rubin, quite effectively uses movies to facilitate planning for death (click for a program example), including the writing of wills. Reading the below press release about couples watching movies to improve or preserve their relationships got me thinking of many other areas in which movies might be useful. Could movies be helpful in resolving conflict, developing leadership, raising self-awareness, promoting mindfulness, enhancing cognitive development?
Of course, as the researchers write in the study article, more research needs to be done on this kind of movie therapy. The value of using movies in other arenas such as the above-listed needs research, too, but at least it could be entertaining.
Memoir and life story writing, genealogy and family-tree shaking, ethical wills and legacy leaving: All are very popular topics and processes today. Although writing about one's past can facilitate moving forward into the future, help one ascertain his or her most important values, and illuminate how and to whom to leave bequests (both tangible and intangible), the actual writing can be overwhelming.
And now let me leave the computer for a moment and scream! I had a whole blog post written about an alternative method for memorializing your life that can seem less paralyzing. I talked about the possible benefits, some variations, and what it would take for me to post mine on Facebook once it was created.
Then, on the last save, Typepad disappeared the whole thing except the first paragraph. So now I will just post the bare links. Also I will refrain from typing a choice swear word.
[C]reate 3 blocks that are then filled with the symbols of your life – childhood, teen and adult. You are also asked to do this in black and white for two reasons:
First, because it’s hard enough to tell your life story in three pictures, without having to deal with the complexities of color balancing and second, because black and white tends to give history authenticity (personal or otherwise.)
Judie, for those readers who have not yet read your latest book, will you give an overview of your concept of ancestral travel, please?
There are many forms of ancestral travel. The first, and most obvious kind, is traveling to the land your ancestors came from. The more you know about their place of origin--the country, the town or village, any buildings that may remain from their life-- the more potent the trip will be. But even if you know no details, it is powerful to walk the land they walked, breathe in the air, go to the markets, taste the food, talk to people. I think it is the best antidote to the pervasive malaise of rootlessness and disconnectedness that afflicts us. This kind of ancestral travel has great intergenerational appeal. You can go with family elders who lived there, or you can take children to discover their family roots. Of course you can go on your own, too.
Another form of ancestral travel is what I call Emotional Genealogy. You find anyone in your family, starting with the oldest members, and ask them questions. You "travel" into the past of your family by finding out what the stories are. No story is too small or inconsequential. Each bit of information is a lead, a clue about where you came from, which is part of the identity of who you are.
And the most intimate form of ancestral travel is looking at (and finding out about) the behavioral patterns that have been passed down in your family. The positive traits, of course, and then the negative ones, like pain, anger, victimhood, silent suffering, lying--that have been handed down. When you look at the behavioral legacy, you have the option of transforming it rather than transmitting it.
A number of people who read this blog are involved with helping clients pass on wealth to the next generation or generations. A growing number of them also see values as a part of the gifts that can be part of a formal or informal inheritance. Do you think knowledge of one's ancestry and of one's place in the ancestry-life-legacy flow can affect how people see the concepts of inheritance, estates, maybe even ownership? Did your ancestral travel to Ukraine change your ideas of what you want to leave behind?
There are so many kinds of wealth. I think that if you or a client can pass on family stories, family history, transparency about what came before, connection, objects, writing, photos from an ancestor or ancestors, this is an immeasurable form of wealth. What if clients left money for the next generation specifically to take a roots trip? And maybe included tips on how to do it, where to go, what to look for, in addition to any heirlooms? This can be left in writing, or, even better, as a video. How about requesting that money be given in the ancestral town or city to restore a cemetery, expand a library, buy school supplies, purchase new seats in a religious sanctuary? If the town or village is not impecunious, what about a memorial plaque to the ancestors? Or a small building or room in a building in their name? It is very hard to get the attention of the next generation, because so many things pull at their focus and time. But if you show through inheritance that family knowledge is as important as family funds, it can be the beginning of a sea change in the way people see themselves in relation to those who came before them and those who will follow them. One day we will be the ancestors. Who will remember us? Maybe they can remember us for the values we impart as well as the wealth we have accumulated. Maybe they will thank us one day for connecting them to those who came before them. If we forget our forebears, then we, too, will be forgotten.
i have a longing to go back there and put some money into the hands of people i met. i wrote to ask
Here's an article I wrote for the February edition of the Denver Bar Association's The Docket. From the article:
Mindfulness, which can be a result of meditation, has many benefits in addition to weathering the storms of feelings and thoughts. A recent article in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry listed four components of mindfulness: attention regulation, body awareness, emotional regulation, and change in perspective on the self. Although each of those components is neutral in itself, when used wisely and toward positive and wholesome purposes together, they can provide great assistance to lawyers. For example, mindfulness can reduce stress, enhance problem-solving, and improve client service. Not sure how mindful you are? You might begin a self-assessment by taking a look at the questions on the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS). The MAAS is available many places on the Internet and can be found with a quick search. Below are a couple of the questions from its set of 15: