Monthly Archives: June 2010

All Change

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Change is one of those things we sometimes notice and often don’t, and some say that the only constant thing in this universe is change.

One interesting phenomena of enforced and unwanted change, is that it can lead to a kind of stuckness, an artificial state of no change.

For instance, an accident of falling off a bike, or the distress of losing a loved one are usually felt as unpleasant and unwanted. The physical injuries from a fall can lead to the energy of shock being bound up in the body, with no way out. And the loss of a loved one can cause emotional scars which make it difficult for someone to be open to new relationships and to trust again.

This artificial stuckness, in body or mind, is often the target of therapeutic assistance. The therapy is trying to release the bound-up energy from a trauma or get the client to reconsider decisions made whilst under the duress of an enforced change.

In a way, the past is always with us and our body/mind system is a living memory of all that we have experienced. It is the undigested past which causes us problems in our ever unfolding present and trips up our potential futures.

© David R. Durham

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Attention Please

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As you read this blog, your attention is on your computer screen using your visual sense to perceive it and your memory to decode the messages in these words. What attracted you to it in the first place I wonder?

We become so fluent in these 3 processes – attention, perception and memory – after all we use them every second of each waking day, so we barely give them a second thought.

Employing these three process skills, we experience this world, interact with it and we can even imagine aspects of our world without even being there.

These three are studied and researched under the heading of Cognitive Psychology. To gain a deeper understanding they are often studied independently, then to understand and appreciate the whole picture, they can be studied together so as to see how they interact.

Whilst this may all seem a bit abstract, with a bit of thought, they can be seen to describe much of our daily being.

For instance, a very limited application of these three aspects of our mind is used everyday by marketers around the world. The famous marketing acronym AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire & Action), is the mantra for the construction and design of all successful advertisements.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this subject, the following highly readable book is recommended:

Attention, Perception & Memory:
An Integrated Approach
by E. A. Styles

Cognitive

USA Books UK Books Canadian Books

© David R. Durham

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Long Life Diet

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One of our key learning strategies in the world of NLP, is to copy someone else who’s good at what we want to do. This sounds like blindingly obvious advice, but the obvious is one of those things that we often overlook.

This learning strategy is elegantly expressed in a book called the Okinawa Diet Plan. In a nut-shell, the authors studied a group people who live long and healthy lives, and asked – OK what are they doing? And, is it practical for us to copy them? The answer to both of these questions is yes.

To give you a feel for this excellent book, here’s a quote:

In addition to Ushi’s treasured sweet potato, the Okinawan elder’s diet is filled with all kinds of antioxidant-rich vegetables, grains, flavonoid-rich soy products, fruit, omega-3 rich fish, and minimal meat and dairy products – exactly the type of diet that affords protection against most diseases associated with premature ageing and gives us the best shot at remaining slim, healthy, and attractive for life. (p 124)

Packed with highly practical advice and over 150 recipes, this book comes highly recommended …

The Okinawa Diet Plan:
Get Leaner, Live Longer, and Never Feel Hungry
by B. J. Wilcox, D. C. Wilcox & M. Suzuki

Okinawa Diet Plan

USA Books UK Books Canadian Books

© David R. Durham

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Return Of The King

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There is a lot of mis-information in so-called spiritual and religious circles concerning our ego-mind. This is probably partly due to the simple mis-translation of ancient languages into modern ones, as well as the fact that just because a teaching is ancient, doesn’t make it correct.

Historical Context
When we look at the sources of many modern day religious and spiritual practices, almost all of them were borne during times of social change, traumatic wars, migrating tribes and a long period of transition from a nomadic to a settled way of life.1

The development of these diverse spiritual and religious practices were an attempt to understand ourselves and the changing world around us. How much of this was simply wishful thinking, or projecting onto nature man’s own confusion, we will never fully know.

However, dogma passed on from generation to generation, is still dogma.

Ego-Mind Development
The development and maturation of the human ego-mind is a remarkable process, and it is a fertile area for study in the fields of psychology and psychotherapy.

In very simplistic terms, the main stages are:

  1. Pre-Natal
  2. Baby
  3. Young Child
  4. Adolescent
  5. Young Adult
  6. Mature Adult
  7. Elderly Person
  8. Dying Process

In stages 1 to 4, the ego-mind is very much in the grow and building phase, stages 5 and 6 lead to a maturation, which includes a critical understanding of the ego-mind’s boundaries and limitations, and assuming we get there, the wisdom of age in stage 7.

It is still a complex process which is not fully understood, as we all develop in the context of our cultural environment, so psychologists can never ‘scientifically’ study a person developing in a laboratory environment free from social influence.

Transcendence of the Ego-Mind
One of the key features of mystic traditions, in the Hindu, Christian, Sufi and other traditions is that of awakening, or enlightenment. Indeed the tales of yogis and their transcendental bliss states can be a powerful trigger for an interest in their yoga practices.

So, what is this, and why has it led to an unprecedented attack on the ego-mind?

I think an analogy may help here to get a deeper understanding, in modern terms, of what this is like, and what it is not.

If you imagine for a moment that you’re sitting comfortably in a spacecraft, ready to take off from planet Earth to explore the surrounding Universe. During the spacecraft’s launch, you experience the thrill of the lift-off – all that energy rippling through your body. And a visceral sense of excitement of such a unique journey.

As you leave the Earth’s atmosphere, you marvel at the beauty of the Earth: Its swirling clouds, blue oceans and recognisable land masses.

Then, as your journey progresses, you see the Earth in context to the surrounding black space and dots of star-light, and you sense at one and the same time, its aloneness and that is a part of a greater whole.

Your journey continues, the Earth is now a tiny spec in the vast ocean of a galaxy of stars. It starts to become a memory, and as your turn your full attention to the surrounding vista of galaxies, the unending and awe-inspiring vastness of it all finally begins to sink into you.

If we use the Earth as a metaphor for our ego-mind, some points to draw from this analogy are:

  • The ego-mind is not destroyed and it is not evil
  • We experience the ego-mind in context to the whole of consciousness (i.e. the Universe)
  • There is still a ‘sense of self’ and a personal awareness within this awesome vastness
  • Nothing has actually changed, only our awareness and understanding of ourselves, life and our place in it

Rather like the Earth’s gravitational pull has to be managed for the spacecraft to make this trip into the wider Universe, the ego-mind has to be managed in our quest for enlightenment. It is here that the ego-mind gets a bad reputation, and it can be mistakenly seen as something to be destroyed or conquered. However, the above analogy is a very good way of seeing why this is a very bad idea. Just as the Earth needs a gravitational field to exist, we need a healthy ego-mind to stay sane and to function successfully in this world.

They key lies in understanding the incredibly subtle process of managing our ego-mind. And I would suggest that the more mature and balanced a person’s ego-mind, the less difficult this process is.

A Myth That Comes To Life
Many cultures have mythical tales about regal kings or famous prophets, who, it is hoped, will return one day to save their put-upon peoples in times of duress. This person (usually a man for some bizarre reason), it is hoped, has the wisdom and compassion to rule justly, with vision and intelligence.

In some ways, the transcendence of our ego-mind can be likened to a puppet Prince being replaced by the return of the King – our true spiritual nature. What we have conveniently forgotten, is that it is us who created and put in place the puppet Prince to run the show, and when the King does finally return, the Prince is still around and is as relieved as anybody else.

Sources:
1. The Great Transformation, by Karen Armstrong, 2006, Atlantic Books (UK) / Random House Inc. (USA).

© David R. Durham

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Needs & Wants

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We all grow up in a culture which tries to define what we need at what we want. And the confusion between these two very similar impulses can haunt us for most of our lives.

If you imagine for a moment being raised in a 12th century medieval European village, then your perceived needs and wants would have been very different than if you had been raised in 21st century California.

As mentioned in my Human Motivations blog of April 17th, psychologists such as Maslow have tried to analyse this phenomenon, and have come up with a mixture of needs and wants, which depend on our perspective.

Whether we like it or not, we are a rich mix of emotional, intellectual, physical, social and spiritual needs and wants.

The gurus and priests have tried to define these for us, with varied success. However, they too are subject to the awareness created by their education, and the historical context of the sources they are referencing.

Clearly, we need to be sensitive to our cultural upbringing, and need to factor that into our equation of how well we’re doing. For instance, my working-class protestant work-ethic background may indignantly demand to know why I didn’t get up until mid-morning today, and spend the rest of the day making me feel bad about it.

To stay sane, we need to understand that there is a difference between what we need (implicitly to survive) and what we want (to satisfy our own ego).

And when we consider these two very similar but different human characteristics, at what level are we making this assessment: i.e. psychological, physical, emotional? And how much of the weight of that assessment do we attach to these different strata? And how much of that assessment process is derived unconsciously from our own early cultural upbringing?

 

© David R. Durham

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Language Patterns

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You may be surprised to hear how common hypnotic language patterns are.

What is an hypnotic language pattern? Well it is simply a way of framing concepts in words, in a way which is intend to lead the listeners thinking and feelings in a desired direction.

You may find that suggestion amazing, and my next one may make you more amazed or perhaps less, or even not at all.1

The beauty is that you don’t have to pay attention to really get this.2

One of the most useful of these techniques is to blend your questions or commands into your general statements. For instance, rather than boldly asking “What were you doing last weekend?” You could ask “I’m really curious to know what you were doing last weekend?”3

And you may well begin to feel a sense of comfort as you begin to see what’s going on here.4

Sometimes, when we listen to this kind of language, we really enjoy it. And its as if we’re being carried along effortlessly, like a log floating down a river, or a cloud floating across the sky. And after a time we may look back and wonder what we’ve learnt, and it really doesn’t matter, because as we enjoy this effortless process we look ahead to the future and imagine how enjoyable it can be to go along with the flow, with not needing to try, with nowhere else we’d rather be and not trying to understand.

Now, can you imagine how many areas of your life you could apply this to? Especially when you realise how easy it can be and how natural it is, like a waterfall cascading freely down a mountainside.

This style of language patterns is called conversational hypnosis, and, if you’d like to know more about it, please click on the link below.

 

Language Pattern Examples
1. Covering all possible alternatives
2. Frame desired behaviour with a don’t
3. An embedded question
4. Embedded commands

© David R. Durham

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Shamanism

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It isn’t always easy to put ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors, the hunter gatherers who roamed the earth before the advent of agricultural settlements and city states.

Imagine for a moment what it must have been like to be an integral part of the environment, perhaps with no concept of separation between nature and us, sitting round a campfire on a dark night looking up into the vastness of the start strewn skies, whilst listening to the cries of animals around you.

There is one source of the ideas which our ancestors held, which has survived the millennia and that comes from the shamans, the holy men and women of the tribes.

The main purposes of male and female shamans are:1

  • protectors of mankind’s mythological knowledge
  • divination
  • understanding nature
  • healing the sick
  • preserving the psycho-mental equilibrium of the clan, so preventing the spread of psychic epidemics and psychosomatic illnesses
  • communicating with spirits, who give them knowledge far in excess of that available to ordinary mortals.

Ecstatic States
One of the key elements of a shaman’s role, is to use trance or ecstatic mental states to gain insights or knowledge which is not available to ordinary consciousness. This ability seems to be a common part of shamanic rituals across the world. The means shamans use to achieve these altered states of consciousness varies with the culture they are in. For instance, the greek followers Dionysus god of wine, used alcohol. Other cultures use rhythmic drumming, chanting and singing or hallucinogenic plant extracts.

Whilst for some cultures, such as the Arctic shamans, spontaneously achieved trance states without artificial aids are preferred, and it is believed that only less skilled shamans use them.1

And in almost all cultures, this kind of working with consciousness was regarded as only for the strongest and most balanced of personalities.

Revival of Interest
After many centuries of persecution from most religions, during the last few decades there has been a considerable renewal of interest in the world of the shamans. This is due to a number of reasons, such as the work of anthropology academics like Michael Harner3, a growing interest in connecting with our historical culture2, a decline of organised religion and a wider acceptance of different spiritual practices.

Sources:
1. Shamanism: A Concise Introduction. Contributors: Margaret Stutley – author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of Publication: London. Publication Year: 2002.
2. Shamanism: Traditional and Contemporary Approaches to the Mastery of Spirits and Healing. Contributors: Merete Demant Jakobsen – author. Publisher: Berghahn Books. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1999.
3. The Way of the Shaman, by Michael Harner, HarperSanFrancisco; Third edition edition (1 April 1992)

Books
An excellent introductory book to the world of the shamans …

The Way Of The Shaman
by Michael Harner

USA Books UK Books Canadian Books
 

© David R. Durham

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Cancer & Bacteria

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Cancer is still a major health risk for many people despite the many important breakthroughs in treatments that have been forthcoming from researchers in recent decades.

Now some researchers are slowly coming around to the extraordinary theory that bacteria are an underlying cause of cancer.  

For instance, researchers already know that the H Pylori bug can cause stomach cancer, and they are now beginning to realize that bacteria could be causing many more cancers, too.

Extraordinarily, this was one of the very first theories about cancer – but it was rejected in around 1920 because cancer specialists at the time couldn’t see how bacteria could become a virus.


The very latest special report from WDDTY (What Doctors Don’t Tell You) reveals that bacteria do change their shape and their characteristics, when they are damaged by pollutants.  So, according to the cancer bug theory, smoking wouldn’t directly cause cancer, but it would trigger a change in the bacteria that would set off the disease

If you would like to read this report yourself and explore this theory further, then click on the web-link below.

WDDTY Special Report: Cancer’s Missing Link

 

© David R. Durham

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