4 Arguments in Support of Mindfulness

There is so much talk these days about mindfulness these days that I thought I would try to clarify things a bit. You may be wondering what my qualifications are to make these statements about mindfulness. To begin with I have been meditating regularly for about 40 years. I took the Transcendental Meditation course at that time as a way to deal with stress. I have read extensively on the topic since and practiced numerous techniques. Additionally, I taught mindfulness as a therapeutic technique when I was the director of a residential facility for mentally ill adults. While I’m sure there are people out there who know more about the topic than I do, I know there are quite a few who know less.

Having said that I want to address some of the negative things I have heard about mindfulness.

  1. Mindfulness is a secularized Buddhist practice. I have seen people use this statement in two ways. First, people say that by separating mindfulness from its spiritual component you devalue it and limit its effectiveness. I have even seen the word McMindfulness used to derogatorily describe the practice. My answer to that is that we are not secularizing the spiritual, we are spiritualizing the secular. Mindfulness is a spiritual practice no matter how you package it. Second, there are people who think that you shouldn’t practice mindfulness because of its Buddhist origins. The truth is that there are mindfulness practices in every major religion, though they may call it something else.
  2. Mindfulness is a waste of time. People who say this generally have not tried it. There is an increasingly large body of evidence that clearly supports the usefulness of mindfulness.
  3. Mindfulness is dangerous. Generally, people who say that are referring to difficulties that can arise when someone who already has some mental difficulties tries mindfulness without supervision. My suggestion here—and this is a good idea for lots of reasons—is that we all quit being judgmental about people with mental illness and direct more resources as a society to helping them. Mindfulness is not dangerous for the average person.
  4. Mindfulness is confusing. There is a lot of debate about what is and is not mindfulness, or how to classify the different types of mindfulness. I will say this: If something meets the definition of mindfulness then it is mindfulness. Mindfulness is directing your attention to one thing, this present moment, without judgment. I have noticed that people who want to say that their definition is the right one are usually trying to sell something. Mindfulness is simple. Getting good at it requires practice.

My advice at this point is this: in the long run don’t learn all your mindfulness from one source. Practice every day. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When you see positive changes in your life be grateful.

A Visit From the Pope

Greetings to all my readers. I haven’t posted for a while; sometimes I just get too busy. Well, anyway, one of the things I have been doing is changing my website a bit; so please look around.

Other bits of housekeeping: I am doing a Goodreads giveaway of my award winning book “In Pursuit of Joy”. Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/155333-in-pursuit-of-joy Work continues on the next instalment in the Redemption series; “Rebecca’s Destiny”. Also, I’m expecting the revised edition of “The Mindful Lifestyle” to be out in a couple of weeks—exact date not set.

This morning I realized that my schedule for the next four days includes three funerals and a wedding. While there was a funny movie with a similar name a while back, I am not expecting there to be much opportunity for farce. In fact in the last two years I have been to a disturbing number of funerals. I suppose it has something to do with my age, and the fact that I have a rather large family. I have been trying to think of something profound to say about the upcoming weekend. All I can think of is that I need a break.

Well, enough about me. I want to talk about the Pope. I’m not catholic nor am I likely to convert. However, I do like Pope Francis—and I’ll tell you why.

I have noticed that many previous popes seemed to be much too concerned about the power of their office and protecting outdated dogma and not concerned enough about changing the world for the better. However, Francis addressed a joint session of Congress this morning and used the “bully pulpit” of his office to tell our legislators to stop this petty partisan bickering and work toward the common good. In my opinion this is the best and proper use of his office.

I also like that he is humble and sociable. I know that people responsible for his safety are not pleased about his tendency to be with “the people”. But, isn’t that what he is supposed to do? Isn’t he role-modeling how to express God’s love in the world? I suspect that his stand on security is that he will be doing the best job as he sees it until God decides he is done, whether he is killed by an assassin or dies of natural causes. And really, isn’t that the attitude he should have? In a larger sense, isn’t that the attitude we all should have?

So, for me, this weird week, with its abundant reminders of mortality and this historic message from this remarkable Pope reinforces my belief that we have reached the time in history when each of us must look inside and examine our lives. Are we doing what the universe wants us to do? Are we honest with others and ourselves about our motives? Are we working toward the common good? I believe that these are the kinds of questions we all MUST answer for ourselves.

 

Author News

I have several bits of news.

I will get the unpleasant news out of the way first. I have had to take “The Mindful Lifestyle” off the market for a while. Apparently the term “transcendental meditation” is trademarked by the Maharishi Foundation. At least that’s what their lawyers say. So I have had to remove all reference to it from my book. Revisions are currently at the publisher and I expect the revised edition to be out soon.

The good news is that “In Pursuit of Joy” has won the Reader’s Favorite Bronze Medal in the category of Non-fiction—Inspirational. I will be receiving my medal at the awards ceremony in Miami the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Since that is the week of the Miami Book Fair I will be visiting there also. By the way, there were over 450 entries in this category so I’m feeling pretty good about third place.

I have always thought “In Pursuit of Joy” was a pretty good book, but it is nice to get some objective validation. I encourage you to check out the reviews on Goodreads or Amazon.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22979094-in-pursuit-of-joy

http://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Joy-Gary-Green/dp/1631354213/

My final bit of news concerns my new fantasy “Rebecca’s Initiation”. Last weekend I ran a free Kindle download promotion. People download 89 copies. At one point it was #7 in one category and #23 in another category on the “Top 100 Free Amazon Best Sellers” list. I am hoping for more reviews out of this. Reviews so far are good. Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W2UZ0V0

 

 

 

In Pursuit of Joy now an award winner!!!

Hurray!!! I just found out that “In Pursuit of Joy” has won the Bronze Medal in the prestigious Readers Favorite book awards!

In my category there were over 400 entries and I got 3rd place!

Here is the link to its’ Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Joy-Gary-Green/dp/1631354213/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1441564392&sr=8-2&keywords=In+Pursuit+of+Joy

Also, I would like to remind everyone that my new fantasy, “Rebecca’s Initiation” is FREE to download on Amazon through Monday. It has gotten positive reviews so far.

Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Rebeccas-Initiation-Redemption-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00W2UZ0V0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1441564756&sr=8-2

Also, I wanted to thank you all for your support.

 

More Free Books

I am running 2 giveaways on Goodreads. The first one is my YA fantasy “Rebecca’s Initiation”. People seem to like it so far. Here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/144506-rebecca-s-initiation

The second giveaway is my first book “In Pursuit of Joy”. It was rated 4.3 stars on Goodreads. Here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/144841-in-pursuit-of-joy

There are 5 copies of each available. Enter early and enter often.

Some Thoughts on Easter

Today is Easter, probably the most important Christian holiday. While I do not consider myself a Christian, I do advocate numerous Christian ideals such as: compassion, gratitude, unconditional love, non-judgmentalness and redemption. Interestingly enough, every major religion that I can think of advocates these same ideals.

Because I emphasize the importance of mindfulness I have been asked many times if my work is based on Eckhart Tolle, or if I have read his work, etc. I have not read any of his work, but I will say this: If there is an objective reality it is not surprising that many people catch a glimpse of it.

Regarding Easter, I do not think it is a coincidence that it is in the early spring. In ancient times virtually every group had a celebration at this time. Often it was considered the start of the new year because it appeared that life returned to nature after the “death” of winter.

I think that Jesus told us many times that he was our brother—not that he was somehow above us, but we are his equal. When he says “I and the Father are one,” he is really saying “WE and the Father are one.” He is telling us about our own Divinity.

Similarly, I think that when he gave his life in that dramatic and awful way and then rose from the dead, he wasn’t “washing our sins away with his blood,” he was demonstrating in no uncertain terms that “death has no sting”. We ARE a soul with a body and that soul is immortal. Death is not the end, but a transition.

Just as we are a soul or spirit with a body, God is a sprit with a body. It is called the Universe. There is Spirit in all things—including us. We are all children of God, just as Jesus was and the Buddha was and every other religious leader and reformer was. Most of us do not realize this because we are locked in prisons of our own beliefs—religious or otherwise.

So, while I do not consider myself Christian, even though I strongly believe in many of the same things; I am not Hindu; even though I believe in reincarnation; nor am I Buddhist, even though I strongly believe that mindfulness is the key to personal growth and development. I believe we must all step out of the prison of our beliefs and take an objective look at the universe. See what principles work best to promote both individual well-being and joy, and the well-being and joy of all. These are not incompatible. What’s best for one is best for all.

My wish on this most holy of Christian holidays is that everyone look at the prison walls of your own beliefs and strive for a spiritual resurrection–regardless of you religious affiliation. Let’s all look for that objective spiritual reality. When enough people do this, the world will change for the better. It is, after all the season when life returns to the world (at least in the northern hemisphere).

Happy Easter to all.

 

If this post resonates with you, check this out: http://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Joy-Gary-Green-ebook/dp/B0045Y263G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422895146&sr=8-1&keywords=in+pursuit+of+joy&pebp=1422895147478&peasin=B0045Y263G

Identity

So the secret is finally out. We finally know the name of the “Executioner”. That is good. I suppose it is the first step in finding and stopping this guy—and he does need to be stopped. However, all this fuss about his identity got me thinking.

Why is it that all these ISIS guys always have their face covered? They claim to be doing God’s work. Why do they need to wear a mask? Bank robbers wear a mask. Muggers wear a mask. Criminals wear masks. Men of God do not. Clearly these guys are in this for the power. If they can pull this thing off they will have absolute power over millions of people.

How can we stop these guys? Certainly, the military option has a lot of support and some merit I suppose. It might even be necessary. But the thing that keeps rattling around in my head is “Where is this great army coming from?” I mean, a state with a government can draft people. These people are all volunteers. That’s what I get stuck on.

I live in Minnesota where, I have heard, the largest population of Somalians in the United States lives. Even way out here in rural Minnesota there are quite a few. I don’t really care. We were all immigrants once upon a time. There is one thing that does bug me though.

Apparently quite a few young Somalis are going to the Middle East to join in this “crusade” against the West. My question is this: What have I done to these people that makes them want to kill me? They came here to escape bloodshed and anarchy back home. We took them in, like so many groups before. However, in one generation they decide they hate us so much they want to kill us. What does that say about them? What does that say about us?

I know a lot of people who don’t like Somalis on general principle. They can come up with all kinds of reasons to justify their judgmental thoughts about the Somalis. Maybe they just don’t feel welcome.

Then there is this other thing. Somali culture is very family centered and what most of us would call very conservative. They are so conservative, in fact, that often when one of their kids pulls the kind of shenanigans that most American kids do they dis-own them—cut them off from the all-important family. Perhaps that lonely kid is fertile ground for the seeds of hatred ISIS is sowing.

So what can we do about any of this? When faced with a problem like this I generally like to ask myself how I may have contributed to the problem. I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that I will continue live in the present moment as much as I can—taking away that fear of the future that is ISIS’s main weapon. I will continue to cultivate compassion and release any judgmental thoughts that pop into my mind. And I hope I will respond wisely as needed if a “situation” arises.

What will you do?

In Pursuit of Joy

People tell me I should blog about my book. I had hoped when I wrote it that the publisher would do all the marketing. Sadly, this is apparently so longer the case. So this is me bragging about my first book “In Pursuit of Joy”.

It is the story of my recovery from depression and alcohol. However, I think it is a book everyone should read–and I’ll tell you why. I was not miraculously cured by Jesus; though my recovery (read “all recovery”) was certainly a spiritual process.

I had to learn that all people grow and develop throughout their entire lifespan. As a depressed person I had become stuck in this process and did not know how to get my needs met. I came to understand that as a human being I am a social animal and that if my social needs were not met I would be sick.

I learned to get my love and acceptance needs met by giving love and acceptance.

I learned the importance of mindfulness in the growth process

I learned that by becoming more connected with people I also became more connected to the Universe-at-large (my Higher Power).

I learned that the things I had to do to beat depression and alcoholism continued to increase my joy even when those things were no longer a problem. I had become a more compassionate, effective and grateful person.

My spiritual quest to reduce my pain became a “Pursuit of Joy”.

Learn how I did it and how you can do it too. Read “In Pursuit of Joy”. It is short, cheap, easy to read and inspirational.

http://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Joy-Gary-Green-ebook/dp/B0045Y263G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422895146&sr=8-1&keywords=in+pursuit+of+joy&pebp=1422895147478&peasin=B0045Y263G

Trouble in Paris

Well, here we go again. It is one thing if narrow minded people want to establish a state where they can control everything people say and do. It is a completely different thing when they try to impose their will on the rest of us. I am of course referring to the recent attack in Paris.

Certainly we all condemn the actions of the Muslim extremists. Certainly we must do whatever is necessary to bring these murderers to justice. What we don’t want to do is to give in to the temptation to let judgmental thinking run rampant. Clearly these perpetrators are promoting some very wrong thinking. What I mean by wrong thinking is the idea held by many people that God condones killing people who say or do something you don’t like.

I do not believe God condones killing anyone. When it was written in the Bible “An eye for an eye” it was actually toning things down in a time when slight offenses escalated into long-standing blood feuds. Later in the Bible Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies—to forgive them.

In a practical sense we cannot pardon every terrorist. There penalties for people who commit crimes– as a deterrent. We, as a society have a right to protect ourselves. However, I think it is reasonable to ask what makes people living among us to decide to travel to the mid-east to learn how to kill us more effectively. What does this say about us?

We all want a free and open society. But this comes with responsibility. We have a responsibility to respect people and societies that are different than we are. If you lived next door to a Jew it would be impolite, to say the least, to tell him jokes about the Holocaust. We tolerate the Holocaust deniers even though most of us disagree with and dislike what they say. Just because we have the right to say something it doesn’t mean we should or have to say it. A little compassion or empathy would go a long way here.

Perhaps both sides can back off a bit. We quit saying derogatory things about Mohammed and they quit trying to kill us. It is something to think about anyway.

First Page of “In Pursuit of Joy”

People love a good story. They love to hear a good story, and above all they love to tell a good story. For what it is worth, this is my story. I believe that all human beings are more alike than they are different. By looking beyond the differences, you can often find the commonality. So in that context, I hope you will see that my story is your story too.

I am an alcoholic. I say this not to impress, or to gain sympathy, or to excuse bad behavior. I say it as a simple statement of fact. It has been at various times the central fact of my life and has had a profound effect on my development as a human being. I also have a serious and persistent mental illness. That illness is depression. These two conditions interact and feed off each other. Sometimes it is hard to tell where one condition begins and the other ends. None of this is particularly unique. There are many people, not only in this country but worldwide, with similar issues. I have been sober for more than fifteen years, and the depression is mostly a thing of the past. I will tell you right now that recovery is hard, scary work. I did not make it alone. In fact, I have never met anyone who was successful in recovery (any kind of recovery) without help. I am writing this book in the hope that it is helpful to someone. It is my effort to give back what was given to me.

I have worked these last fifteen or so years in the field of mental health. In this work I have noticed several things. When I was in college, I noticed that every time you told someone you were studying psychology, people would invariably say something like, “I’d better be careful what I say.” It was as if you were going to pull a stamp out of your pocket and stamp “Insane” on their foreheads if they said the wrong thing. While it was always said in a joking manner, it happened so frequently that it gave me the impression that many people have some real insecurities about the state of their mental health. This phenomenon and my experience of working with many families and first-time users of the mental health system have led me to believe that most people are woefully misinformed on the topic of mental health. I think this is unfortunate. I think that everyone with a mind should be concerned about mental health. 


If you like what you see read more at: http://www.amazon.com/Pursuit-Joy-Gary-Green-ebook/dp/B0045Y263G/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1420294295&sr=8-2&keywords=In+Pursuit+of+Joy