Month: October 2020

Warped Reality

False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what’s true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces

How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.

The Rights of Nature Documentary —  A Global Movement

Is Nature entitled to legal rights?

The new documentary THE RIGHTS OF NATURE: A GLOBAL MOVEMENT focuses on a growing environmental initiative where natural areas are given legal rights that can be enforced by people, governments and communities.

It’s a beautifully shot deep dive into earth jurisprudence, philosophy, permaculture, spirituality and a neo-indigenous future for humanity.

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Watch The Rights of Nature Documentary

As pressures on ecosystems mount and as conventional laws seem increasingly inadequate to address environmental degradation, communities, cities, regions and countries around the world are turning to a new legal strategy known as The Rights of Nature.

“Nature often has legal rights as codified in environmental laws, but granting nature legal personhood is a different story,” co-director Crimmel said in a statement, “The main difference is that a Rights of Nature framework typically grants legal personhood status to nature, meaning that a river, for instance, would have the same rights as a person.”

Sound And Silence

Sound surrounds us, from cacophony even to silence. But depending on how we hear, the world can be a different auditory experience for each of us. This hour, TED speakers explore the science of sound. Guests on the show include NPR All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly, neuroscientist Jim Hudspeth, writer Rebecca Knill, and sound designer Dallas Taylor.

Mindfulness for Recovery

by Joe Gilmore

Hope and Recovery

While it can be cathartic, substance abuse treatment and therapy
can be a difficult thing to confront. It is something that requires a long,
honest look at yourself and your situation which can be a lot for some people
to come to terms with. 

This is where mindfulness and meditation can come into play.

Mindfulness practices, such as guided meditation, are one of the
key tools used during addiction
recovery treatment
to help patients overcome negative thoughts
contributing to, or causing, their substance abuse problems.

and mindfulness
are powerful and can help a patient both
physically and mentally. Let’s take a closer look at specific ways that
meditation can improve life for those in addiction recovery.

5 Ways Mindfulness Can Help

  1. Improved Physical Health

Addiction to drugs and alcohol leads to numerous short- and long-term
physical health
problems. Some of these long-term issues include
liver and heart damage, potential kidney failure, increased chance of cancer,
and more.

However, practicing meditation and mindfulness exercises can help
with this and provide a number of benefits to overall physical health. For
example, it can:

  • Reduce the perception of physical pain
  • Improve immune functioning
  • Encourage better eating habits
  • Reduce chronic disease symptom severity
  • Improve quality of sleep and reduce insomnia

While sobriety will work to reverse the physical health problems
that began from using, meditation will assist your body in these efforts and
work in tandem with your sobriety. 

  • Enhanced Social Functioning

Addiction can strain the relationships between family and friends
as many people with substance abuse will fall into financial or legal trouble
due to their habits.

While sobriety will work to mend these relationships, meditation
can add another layer of support for improving social relationships and overall
day-to-day social functioning.

Eid Mubarak...

Specific social benefits include:

  • Decreased social reactiveness and improved self-regulation
  • Increased empathy
  • Enhanced communication with friends and family
  • Lower levels of emotional stress
  • Improved aspects of interpersonal relationships
  • Improved Emotional State

Along with fixing social relationships with others, meditation
allows you to look deeper and regulate your own emotional state. 

Using drugs and alcohol
to excess
can lead to deep
emotional problems
like self-hatred, depressive symptoms, and
more, all of which can lead to self-injurous behavior and suicide

While sobriety can help to curb these dangerous thought processes,
meditation and mindfulness can help you overcome them. 

However, if you or someone you love is dealing with thoughts of
self injury or suicide, seek
professional help immediately

  • Increased Cognitive Ability

Abusing drugs and alcohol can lead to negative neurological changes
that impedes the ability to think clearly. While this will take time to remedy,
sobriety can reverse these problems.

Along with sobriety, meditative practices have also been shown to
help improve cognitive ability and performance.

Meditation has been shown to:

  • Improve attention and working memory
  • Increase learning behaviors
  • Enhance problem-solving and decision-making
  • Increase emotional regulation, improving thought clarity

Improving cognitive abilities will help patients think more
clearly when it comes to their sobriety and the negative effects substances can
have on their lives – a skill that can help with relapse prevention.

  • Improved Mental Health

General Photos: Mongolia

Along with improving cognition, mindfulness can help with mental
health in general. Some common mental health problems that people with
substance abuse deal with include depression,
anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.

When these issues occur alongside substance abuse, it is referred
to as a dual diagnosis. In order to treat either problem, you must treat both.

For serious issues like this, it is always best to seek the help
of an addiction professional or substance abuse treatment center with a dual
diagnosis program
, but there are still things that you can
implement in your life to help curb these problems, like meditation.

Meditation has been shown to help with mental illness in the
following ways:

  • Improving symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Lowering stress hormones, increasing relaxation
  • Reducing feelings of loneliness
  • Reducing self-criticism and self-hatred

While solving clinical mental health problems will likely require
more work and professional help, meditation can be a complimentary exercise.

Along with these 5 key benefits, meditation and mindfulness practices
have also been shown to help patients commit to their sobriety and aid people
in long-term

Real-World Example of Mindfulness

Drug and alcohol treatment centres around the
globe are putting meditation and mindfulness to use every day to help patients
achieve their goal of sobriety.

Recently an addiction rehab
in Arizona,
The Hope House, partnered with
Arizona State University
to bring additional
mindfulness and exercise
to their patients.

While the patients at The
Hope House
are working to overcome alcohol and opioid
, professionals will guide them through
mindfulness exercises to better their mental and physical health.

While meditation can help virtually anyone, it can be especially important for those in addiction recovery to learn how to induce mindfulness, as it will lead to a longer and healthier life, free from substance

Joe Gilmore works for The Hope House, a luxury drug and alcohol rehab in Scottsdale committed to providing patients with the highest quality of care possible as we treat their addiction and any underlying problems.

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Our aim is to promote mindfulness.

How Mindfulness Made me Realize That Life is Worth Living

by Utku Ucay

Life goes on

8pm. It is one of these freezing Montreal nights. The
cold wind blowing in my face makes me shiver. I just left the café in tears and
now I am asking myself a question that I have never asked before and maybe no
one should ever ask: is life really worth living?

I began
to panic. Asking a question like that caught me off guard. I rush home,
facetime my friend and realize that now is the time to get help, especially
therapy. Later I find out that therapy will not work for me. What will eventually
save me is mindfulness. However, I didn’t know that at that moment. Back then,
the pain was raw, almost unbearable.

But what
actually happened?

I moved
to Montreal one year ago. Having changed five countries in three years, I told
myself that this city would be my new home and I came here with big hopes and

started off well. My adaptation process was quite easy because my best friend
lives here, so I wasn’t alone. I started to see someone in the second week I
got here and the relationship was going great. Meantime, I was constantly
applying for jobs without losing my enthusiasm.

Just two
months later, everything started to go wrong. The worst thing was that I was
not aware of it. Only later did I realize that I’d been suffering from
depression.  Being 6’8”, I used to eat a
lot during the day, but I was barely eating two meals a day. Usually I hated
sleeping more than eight hours and waking up late but now I was unable to wake
up before noon. I used to go to gym three times a week, but I stopped
exercising altogether. I failed to see any positive sides in my life and constantly
focused on negatives.  When you add a
toxic relationship to all this, maybe some kind of breakdown was inevitable.

Cruise Control

As I teetered on the brink of that breakdown, my monkey mind kept telling me that only way I could be happy again was to get back together with my ex. That was not true. However, the more I listened to that voice, the more I lost control. The more I lost control, the more my demons took over. Weeks after my breakup, I was in complete denial which made it so much worse. I was constantly trying to shy away from feeling sad, focusing instead on ways I could get back with my ex. I got to a point where I could not recognize myself any more.

two months of constant denial and obsessing over my ex, that question popped
into his head: was life really worth
living? It was then that I decided it was time for me to seek help.

first thing I did was to start therapy. Therapy helped me to realize what was
wrong but, in the long run, it did not help me. I was still in reactive mode,
constantly having obsessive thoughts about winning my ex back. When you’ve been
controlled by your monkey mind for so long, it is not easy to regain the
control. Even with the therapy, the voices in my head kept trying to convince
me that the only way to not feel like this was to get back with my ex.
Meanwhile, I felt like I didn’t want to wake up in the morning.  

One day, in the midst of my darkest moments, I decided to pick up a book from my shelf, 10% Happier by television anchorman Dan Harris who had struggled with PTSD and addiction, and who had even experienced a panic attack on live TV. I was skeptical at first because I didn’t want to read another self-help book that would eventually get me nowhere. Then I decided to give it a shot and, as I kept reading it, I started to see that this book was far removed from the ineffectual clichés of self-help publishing.  Harris was explaining how meditation taught him to make peace with his demons instead of running away from them. It struck me that this was exactly what I need to do.

As soon
as I finished the book, my meditation journey began and it continues to this
day. Using the Ten Percent Happier meditation app, I mainly do mindfulness
meditation and loving kindness meditation. I sit in a comfortable chair and
focus on my breath. Every time I find myself distracted, I simply begin again.
Using loving-kindness meditation, I wish myself and others well. The meditation
practices I’m doing can vary but my baseline is always to take a compassionate
and non-judgmental approach to whatever arises in my moment-to-moment experience.

Get some perspective

From the
minute I started to meditate, I could feel that I was gaining a whole new
perspective about life. The more I meditated, the less I was controlled by my monkey
mind. I have to admit it was not easy at the beginning. During the first
attempts, I was making the most basic mistake – expecting that meditation would
deliver a particular outcome such as feeling completely blissful. Also, I was expecting
that meditation would cure me. In the words of Joseph Goldstein, I was failing
because I was trying to conquer my neurosis instead of simply becoming connoisseur of my neurosis.

My friends ask
me how ten minutes of meditation a day could possibly change my life. Some
assume that, because I meditate daily, I no longer feel sadness or anxiety,
even that I have attained some kind of enlightenment. None of that is true.

I still
experience sadness, I still have my low moments. But the benefits of practicing
mindfulness and loving-kindness meditations are many.

When difficult thoughts arise, I have learnt to simply let them go. When unpleasant sensations show up, I am able to observe them without getting caught up in reactions. When I experience anger or sadness, I simply note that this is what is being felt right now. Rather than getting caught up in thoughts like ‘I don’t want to be feeling this way’, I’m able to allow the emotions to simply be. Acceptanc1e and self-compassion rather than resistance and avoidance. A big part of this acceptance is remembering that everything is ephemeral and all things must pass, including uncomfortable thoughts and unpleasant emotions. Like a sandcastle, all is temporary. Build it, tend it, enjoy it. And when the time comes, let it go.

In the past, whenever I felt sad, I could easily
convince myself that there was no way out of this sadness; that this is how I
would always feel. It was almost as though I was clinging onto my sadness,
allowing it to persist. Now, knowing that it will pass, like everything else, I
can allow it to be and gently place my attention elsewhere.

I spent
so much of my life clinging to what I labelled ‘pleasant’ and pushing away that
which I labelled ‘unpleasant’. As if clinging to the pleasant would make it
last and resisting the unpleasant would actually make it go away. As I’ve
learned, being mindful means that we make room for whatever thoughts, feelings
and body sensations arise. We can allow it all to simply be.

Do I
wish that I had never experienced rough times? Wish that I’d never felt pain
and heartbreak? Not at all. Going through those challenging times enabled me to
become aware of my own demons and becoming aware enabled me to make peace with
them. The light that now suffuses my life emerged from the darkest moments in
my life. Without going to those dark places, I would never have started to
practice meditation.

here, right now. That’s all that matters.

Follow Utku on Twitter: @utku_ucay

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Our aim is to promote mindfulness.