A Letter to My Unborn Daughters, or: Why American Women Aren’t Leading Anymore

4,200 words
Read time @ 250 words/minute: 17 minutes

 

Dearest young ladies,

Throughout your lives, you may notice more principals, presidents, pastors, and other leaders from all walks of life as men, rather than women. Surely we will have a thousand conversations on this matter, and shall often remind ourselves that life is not fair. But something more is going on. Women make amazing leaders, as I have learned from your mother and others, but the women in this country simply aren’t leading. 

So, you will ask, why not?

The real reason, girls, is physics. But this is simpler than a physics lesson: American women aren’t “leading” because they are destroying their connection to the physical world. They are destroying their connection to their own bodies, bit by bit. And while we will travel many countries in our lives, much of the world looks up to ours, so what American women do, women around the world will, too.

These are the ways in which I see the women of my generation destroying that connection. Know them so that you may choose wisely as you age.

 


Table of Contents

 


 

The Skin

The skin is the largest “organ” of the human body, and one through which minerals, toxins, and other molecules can be both secreted and absorbed. It forms our defenses from the outside, helps hold us together, cools us, warms us, and more. But nevermind the science. Nevermind what marketers call “natural” creams and gels and lotions, among other words they use to sell their products. Nevermind that everyone with the slightest idea of nutrition agrees that we should reduce “processed” food in our diets, all the while half of our population is drowning their skin in “processed” creams, lotions, and other pastes. Nevermind the science, because much of it only comes from money and may not even exist when you begin making your way in this world.

The skin needs more than an avoidance of human- and machine-based concoctions.

To lead, what your skin needs is a return to nature. Do not underestimate the skin, and do not neglect it. Simply let it be.

Related to the skin are a number of other areas:

 

Temperature, both cold and hot.

Cold exposure, to ice-baths, showers, and cold bodies of water is becoming increasingly common in my day, and is slowly being investigated by scientists. The science may matter to you or it may not. Simply understand that the greater the range of temperatures your skin is comfortable with (via air or water), hot and cold, the healthier it is. Use this as a good starting point.

Sunlight.

Ignore the women lathering themselves with protective creams. Ignore the fear of the sun, remembering that the skin can both protect and heal itself, and it is natural that we spend much time outside under the sun, clouds, and stars. Avoid sunburns, but work around your schedules to have a healthy tan on your skin (preferably away from the eyes of male onlookers). These creams are useful, of course, and it is good to understand when to use them, but understand that in general, they do more harm than good to our societies.

Diet

There is little to say here, as you will likely be experts on your body’s dietary needs and the many ways to use food wisely, and the link between diet and the skin will be well established by your time. Humans have known, of course, that what we eat becomes our bodies in a very real sense, but we seem to have forgotten this truth for about a century. Sadly, many teens of my and my parent’s generations were told by “expert” doctors (called dermatologists) that diet has no effect on the skin. This was foolish and egotistical of them, as will be known in your day, but is still not common knowledge even in our time now. Only recently are we re-accepting that ancient truth: our food becomes our bodies — including our skin.

Hair.

Our hair exists for a reason. This is a /hypothesis of mine, as I write this letter, and may be more supported or disproven in your day: hairs may actually store trace minerals for future retrieval and for some sort of communication through the air. Perhaps it is some sort of dispersal of molecules (along with the skin), or an electro-chemical signal through the air. I recall a bacterial “cloud” around each person being investigated by one scientific study, and other early evidence may be there long before you are born. Anecdotally, it is not uncommon to hear one say that “you could feel the electricity in the room” in tense meetings, with great public speakers, and at other moments throughout life.

But the science matters little. It is easy to accept that hair is not simply a relic of our early shared primate ancestors, hair is useful today. We simply do not fully know how.

Do not ignore the truth in anecdotes and early scientific ideas, and do not destroy the hair on the surface of your skin without deep contemplation first.

Take shaving very seriously.

 


 

Makeup

Along with the voice, the face is where we judge honesty, emotions, status, and far more. The face is the home of nearly all the senses, along with the sense that connects us most consciously to others: vision. Eye contact is one of the most powerful conscious experiences humans can have together, but who uses it wisely in today’s world? Very few. Eyes flutter and evade left and right, jumping from other eyes to screens to blank stares, and I imagine this will only be worse in the world in which you grow up.

 

The dangers of makeup are threefold:

 

First, makeup products are foreign concoctions on the face.

Your mother once stumbled into one of the most expensive makeup retail vendors in Manhattan. It must have been among the most well known in the world, I imagine, as women were forming a crowd wrapping around the block in long lines for free or highly discounted samples of their latest offerings. She entered a section where another potential customer was considering a skin product for her cheeks. Assuming your mother had the product on, she commented, “wow! your skin looks wonderful! How long have you been using this?” and couldn’t believe when she realized your mother wasn’t using makeup that day!

You already know I’m always proud of her, and won’t be surprised how the scene ended: she left the store and purchased nothing!

Women not only apply typical skin products to their faces, they apply far more: ever more intricate concoctions of shadows, balms, sticks, creams, liners, primers, glosses and more. One needs a textbook just to stay abreast of the terminology of phony facemaking. And women fall pray into believing in “natural” products and ingredients, as if such words even had valid definitions. Creams and pastes become layers of the skin, one designed and purchased to solve the problems created by the others!

Best to abandon them all at once.

 

 

 

Second, makeup wastes money and time. 

Women are at risk of grossly mismanaging their finances as opposed to males, as many spend significant portions of their income on such products. They may even pay premiums for feminine “versions” of items. For example, in my day, we have “male” razors and “female” razors. The latter are simply made of pink plastic instead of black and cost twice as much! Females may as well be indentured servants to the feminine products industry.

But time and mental energy are far more important than money. Women, in my day, desire to “get ahead” of men, earn more money than them, and succeed “equally”. But how can equality be possible, even ignoring menstruation below, when women devote a half hour of their conscious, early-morning rituals, to “making up” their faces and bodies to look good? Obviously, equality is not. Morning rituals are critical, and women are only hijacking their own lives and contentment when spending quality morning time on such trivial matters.

Learn from the mistakes of my generation, and avoid them in your own lives.

 

Third, makeup distorts your self-image. 

In short, women seek an image of themselves that “compares” to the professional models they see in the media, and continue seeking the impossible for two reasons. First, that version of themselves is only possible with great sums of money and time to prepare the look. Second, that version of themselves is only possible without the use of mirrors, because mirrors reverse the image itself. See the “mirrors” section for more.

 

A good diet, a little sunlight, fasting, sweating, and the natural look are far more powerful than makeup.

Diamonds are only valuable because they are rare! In today’s world, the natural “glow” of the honest female face is far more attractive than the photos in the media. A healthy face shines from a healthy woman inside, and that kind of beauty takes months and years of letting the body heal itself. But it is worth it, and others know it.

As a man in love with your mother, I will tell you the secret that whole industries do not want you to know: men want women, not dolls. Know how to use a few essentials of makeup if you desire, but do not become enslaved by an industry that neither cares for you or respects the beauty which is already within you.

 


 

Smell

If the strongest conscious connection to other humans is vision, the strongest subconscious connection is smell.

Indeed, being among the initial wave of Americans to begin supplementing with the nutrient /lithium, I noticed my sense of smell improve within a month. You won’t want to hear this, but I found myself even more attracted than ever to your mother’s natural smell. It was powerful, yet it’s sad that most humans do not know this about human sense of smell. But this, too, is the subject for another day.

Yet women destroy this connection to the physical world, too, with both skin-products discussed above and perfumes and other scents. Some males use these scents, too, meaning that two humans can now meet and be even more confused than ever before in what they want from each other, biologically.

Women who over-use external and other purchased scents may also distort their mind’s concept of “who” they really are, and walk around with an altered view of themselves.

Early links even show that more than other senses, smell is quantum in practice. This means that, while physical building-block like molecules are involved in receptors in the nose, the strange quantum world, too, is involved. To say that smell, in a sense, can travel fast is a ridiculous understatement. Quantum-paired communication can travel faster than light: fast indeed! It might be inaccurate to say that we can “smell” faster than light, because clearly there are physical molecules traveling through the air to “smell,” but it should highlight how important our sense of smell truly is. Smell also bypasses more “conscious” parts of the brain, going directly to the more ancient/core regions. Smells often make us have thoughts or reactions… before we consciously think about them! (Predestination if ever there was such an argument, but I digress.)

A healthy sense of smell — and personal scent — are important and underlooked factors in the world we are creating for you girls. Understand both your sense of smell and your own scent, and do not underestimate their power or change them without deep thought.

 


 

Menstrual Cycles

Each decade, more and more women simply choose to ignore their own menstrual cycles. The specific technology — pills, patches, an implanted device — doesn’t matter. What matters is the concept: they are ignoring their body’s own monthly cycles in order to “trick” it into believing it is unnecessary, for whatever reason, to ovulate*. The exact details may vary, but these methods simply “trick” the body. It should not surprise you that women are sometimes unstable and confused inside. This must not be interpreted as an insult, because the deepest parts of their being — their cells and their inner minds — are confused, shouting out, “There is no ovulation, no menstruation, no baby, no lactation, no menopause, and we are part of a young female body. What is happening?!”

Many women are simply experts at hiding how they feel, or they are disconnected from those feelings.

There is even early evidence that hormonal birth control methods change your preferences in mates! In the worst case situation, you might be attracted to a partner while living with modified hormones (and preferences). Then, when “deciding” to become more serious together, marry, or have children, you may base your decisions on a false attraction. Worse, you may find it is difficult to concieve, and notice the love fading away, all because of these biochemical and hormonal tricks. In the least disastrous case, you might simply be less satisfied with any partner chosen while using hormonal birth control.

Women use birth control for various reasons, usually to avoid pregnancy or to get ahead in their “careers,” whether financially or productively. The latter is a ridiculous notion, as hopefully is well known in your time. Actually, having children helps parents prioritize and become even more productive by ignoring the unimportant. But that is the subject for another day.

Now, you certainly don’t have to get pregnant a few short years after puberty. (I would not approve!) Indeed, there are many great reasons to wait well into your 20s or 30s, and you may even choose never to have children.

But this isn’t a reason to completely ignore your body’s cycles.

Instead, embrace them! We don’t — as I write this and you are still just little concepts in my heart — yet know about how fluctuating hormones each month change nutrition requirements, intellect and behavior, voice and charisma, and more. All we know is enough to say that we know nothing. I would imagine that each week a woman might want to shift her diet, activities, and goals slightly. Perhaps you might desire more “busy” social time (meetings, collaborative work, time with friends, etc.) closer to ovulation, and more intellectually “focused” but alone time (studying, reading, writing, creative work, watching movies, playing games and the like) closer to menstruation, and more menstruation.

As a man, I have no idea! But there are women who are understanding these concepts faster than the scientists, and I recommend you learn from them. Seek them out, join them, and help educate other women. Lead.

There are far better ways to avoid pregnancy than modifying your own hormones. Total abstinence. Partial abstinence (ask us). “Natural” cycle tracking. Condoms. And more. None is perfect, but all are preferable to the tricks involved in such hormonal changes.

Learn modern science, as it is useful. But know when to trust your instincts more than anything else. Do not be so quick to experiment with your own hormones without deep thought beforehand.

Tread carefully, and above all, know yourselves.

 


 

Use Technology, But…

Every section here involves some form of technology, but today, electronic technology pushes the very pace of our own development faster and faster. Understand the technologies of your day — you may even wish to become professional experts with some — but do not become enslaved by them.

Allow me to share that old story about your mother once again, this time in writing.

I met your mother when she quite young, with ten years between us. After some initial joking about our ages, we quickly became accustomed to the differences and similarities between us. One of those was maturity.

Within a few weeks of dating, I was making fun of her for using a five- or ten-year old “dumb” phone, far simpler and less capable than even the earliest of “smartphones” for our time. Many foreigners can’t afford the latest electronic technology marketed at rich Americans, Europeans, and Asians, but I still saw smartphones everywhere around us and knew that there were models well within financial reach of her family. She said she had owned such a smartphone, but only up until a few months ago. She wasn’t certain whether it was stolen in public transit or she lost it, but in any case, it was gone. She explained having switched from her old phone to this “new” and “better” device only a few short months before we met, and remembered being barraged by a constant stream-of-consciousness from the outside: notifications, messages, emails, thoughts… being plugged-in. No, she was glad she no longer had that phone. I will never forget what she said: “It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.”

She felt “freeer” without this device.

She had learned a lesson in her early 20s that many American women do not learn until decades later, and I instantly saw a maturity in her youth. Modern technologies, like early knives and hammers, are powerful tools which can help us greatly enjoy our lives. But unlike our early tools, our modern ones can enslave us. Know yourselves to understand how to avoid this.

Use these tools to increase the rate at which you can learn, at which you can create, at which you can enjoy life, and at which you can help others. But take the time — the long march of the years and decades — to also learn how to walk in a forest alone, connected with the dirt and the trees and the wind. Take the time to learn to have a proper human conversation, without note taking or disagreement. Take the time to cultivate patience. Take the time to know yourselves.

Use technology, but do not let it enslave you.

Especially such an ancient technology as this: mirrors.

 


 

Mirrors

Early in our relationship when I began consciously using mirrors less, I noticed something odd from your mother: she complimented my looks more often and said my eye contact was even more powerful than before. This surprised me, since I hadn’t started doing anything new. I had simply started taking less time than I already did in the mornings and evenings with the mirror. However, over time I realized her improving perception of me was due to my reduced mirror usage.

I had changed my own self-perception without actually doing anything new.

Indeed, our ancestors would seldom have seen their own reflection, and only for a moment in a calm pool of water or a shiny piece of rock before the natural world pulled them away.

Allow me to philosophize for a brief moment: realize that the “reflection” you see in the mirror isn’t actually what you look like. It’s a 50-50 left/right flip. Most people will think this doesn’t make a big difference.

They are wrong.

Today, the obsession women have with mirrors is destroying them, moment by moment.

 

Let’s consider what we know today, in the early year I write this to you. Although there are many overlapping sections and functions, in general, the brain is divided into hemispheres, left and right. Each hemisphere controls the other side of the body. Thus, the right motor areas of the brain control, in general, muscles on the left side of the body. This is true for vision, as well, but since visual fields overlap, it is much more complicated. Suffice it to say that the left visual portions of the brain process the right visual field (vision seen on the body’s right side and through the right eye), and vice-versa, although it’s certainly more complicated than this in practice. What about when we consider what happens in the brain when we look at a face? (Also known as facial information processing.) It gets even more complicated, and is well beyond the scope of this letter to you.

But what happens when that natural face has been flipped left-to-right?

To the brain, that’s a completely different face. It’s difficult to see consciously, but subconsciously, it’s true. That is not your face.

Here’s my point: American women grow up from very young girls with an “image” of themselves in the mirror. They compare this image in the mirror to every model and star and actress they see in magazines and movies and photos in their lives, and that comparison is its own problem. But the situation is far worse: women don’t even know what they look like. The average woman might see a few pictures of herself in a week — or more if she’s younger — but spends far more time with mirrors. That’s my argument: not only is it dangerous to compare what you look like with supermodels and “fake” women, you’re not even comparing the face that’s actually yours. You’re comparing a false face.

The girl in the mirror isn’t who you are.

That’s not what you look like.

And women “project” that self-image of themselves when they’re talking to a friend, walking in the street, or smiling for a photograph. This false self-image from mirrors eventually becomes engrained in the woman’s subconscious, and she lives her whole life with a mis-representation of who she is. She doesn’t even know what she looks like. No wonder a girl says, “I don’t like what I look like in that photo.” Her mind is expecting the false-image she sees in the mirror everyday. When she sees the “real” image of herself in the photo, her mind is confused and she thinks she doesn’t look “as” good.

You will never be able to make the girl in the mirror look like the models on television!

Always remember: those models a) have professionals who do that for them, and b) those professionals use their actual face as the basis for where they “make up” the girl! You can never see that girl in the mirror: what you see is a lie! If, in your day, there are live video cameras embedded in large screens to help with female makeup preparation, those would be ideal. Of course, I would still recommend minimizing make-up, but at least you will have an accurate 2D image of how you look to others.

Know that you are beautiful. What you see in the mirror will never represent you, it is not even a whisper or a shadow: it is a left-right alteration, an imposter, a lie. The true you is beautiful, regardless of who you think you see in the mirror.

 


 

Conclusion

Ask advice from everyone and you will find it is easy to ignore the bad advice; but if you never ask for advice, you can never know what you don’t know. It pays greatly to learn everything that you can.

Know that you will grow up in a home where the ideas in this letter are common for us, but not for the outside world, and sometimes it may be hard to empathize with other girls.

Know that sometimes when people in the world treat you unfairly, they are simply jealous of your beauty. We men see women treated unfairly and harshly all the time, especially by other ladies! Know that each woman has her struggles and challenges, regardless of income or class or looks, the same as each man. Many people, when “mean,” are simply lashing out at others from their own pain inside.

Have compassion and patience for others, and most of all, for yourselves.

 


 

I have lived my whole life trying to communicate to women the thoughts in this letter, and I hope that in your day, it is irrelevant. I hope that it becomes well known, and that women understand the role that all these technologies can play in their lives, but that they may also avoid being slaves to them. I hope that with this letter, men might better express what we feel when we shout, for the fourth time on a date night, “You’re beautiful as you are! You don’t need makeup!”

I hope that this letter becomes a relic of the past: something for you to look on with curiosity and wonder at such a strange generation of unhealthy, disconnected humans.

I hope you grow into a world where all women lead, no matter their daily lives. I hope you see the world for both what it is and what it needs: a civilization of half-female leaders, where all of us realize how connected and necessary we are, and that together, we are stronger.

Most of all, I hope you understand that leadership begins within: you must first lead yourselves. In time, others will follow you.

All my love,

Dad

 

 





 

Notes:

  • *among other technical methods

[Edited 1 June 2017. Minor edits, such as the addition of the “makeup in manhattan” story, after partner helped me revise. Lesson learned to do that before posting the next long essay! She also noted that I didn’t even talk about implants, surgeries, or sexuality. Removed paragraph below:

The best I would suggest, if you feel you must have makeup, is to have a roommate or someone near you help. Ask for help! Teach the nearest friend or neighbor what to do, and ask them how you can help in return. Many males such as myself won’t initially care, but if you tell us honestly that you need our help and you teach us how to assess the work you’re doing, we will learn more quickly than you might think. Knowing what’s at stake for our world, most males will learn to help. Over the course of a few weeks of this, you’ll become an expert at reducing the make-up you do use, and applying your own make up without mirrors, and then you’ll quickly receive suggestions and make quick corrections based on the suggestions of your friends.]

Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body Jo Marchant (2016)

Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body

Jo Marchant (2016)

“AS INDIVIDUALS, rather than putting our faith in mystical rituals and practices, the science described in this book shows that in many situations, we have the capacity to influence our own health by harnessing the power of the (conscious and unconscious) mind.”

Wow! This is the exact type of nonfiction I love to read and learn from. God, I hope the change of western medicine speeds along – healthily, of course. And I hope more scientifically-literate Baby-boomers spend their money in ways that support the paradigm shift. Sadly, I foresee more stubbornly-minded and change-resistant doctors continuing to move overseas to less developed countries (like Colombia), solidifying and spreading their prejudices and myths. Despite my concern over our growing healthcare costs as a percentage of GDP or the lowering birth rate, the lack of scientific education in the U.S. continues to worry me most…


 

I’ll start with providing some key quotes about the placebo effects, and must not forget the power of the “nocebo” effect, which likely accounts for most side-effects from typical prescription drugs.

 “This result illustrates two important points about the limitations of the placebo effect. The first is that any effects caused by belief in a treatment are limited to the natural tools that the body has available. Breathing fake oxygen can cause the brain to respond as if there is more oxygen in the air, but it cannot increase the underlying level of oxygen within the blood.” [Emphasis added]

“The second point, which is becoming clear from a range of placebo studies, is that effects mediated by expectation tend to be limited to symptoms—things that we are consciously aware of, such as pain, itching, rashes or diarrhea, as well as cognitive function, sleep and the effects of drugs such as caffeine and alcohol.” [Emphasis added]

“Placebos, then, are very good at influencing how we feel. But there’s little evidence that they affect measures we’re not consciously aware of, such as cholesterol or blood sugar levels, and they don’t seem to address the underlying processes or causes of disease. Bonnie Anderson’s fake surgery banished her pain and disability, but it probably didn’t mend her spine.”

 

“Harnessing conditioned responses to replace drugs with placebos is called Placebo Controlled Dose Reduction (PCDR), and in addition to reducing side effects, it could save billions of dollars in health care costs (in 2007, ADHD drugs in the U.S. alone were estimated to cost $5.3 billion).”

 

 

 


 

The “central governor” topic was fascinating to me. This is the idea (not yet proved) that a region of the brain governs, based on external and internal status, how much effort we can physically expend in a normal situation like a gym or climbing a mountain, and how much of our body/energy is “reserved” for a true emergency, like a friend being pinned under a weight or an advancing avalanche. We think and feel like as we work harder in these situations like we’re using more and more of our energy, more and more of our muscles to do the work,

 

But Noakes found the reverse. As the cyclists neared exhaustion, muscle fibers were being switched off. At the point at which his volunteers said they felt too fatigued to continue, they were never activating more than about 50% of their available muscle fibers. Exhaustion forced them to stop exercising, yet they had a large reserve of muscle just waiting to be used. [Emphasis added]

 

Altitude, hot weather, and being sick make “the effect even more pronounced.” Noakes argues that this hypothesis might also be the reason why interval training is so effective: it teaches the brain that going to 100% — or at least what the brain allows as 100% — is OK, and it’s fine to increase that limit a little more in the future. This is also good hypothesis for extreme, clinical fatigue, which she discusses: a malfunction in this central governor region.

 

 

 


 

The section on hypnotherapy surprised me, because I’d never heard of real research on it, yet the evidence presented for reliving IBS symptoms seems very strong. And sadly…likely little to nothing will come of this in the near future. The principle researcher in this field sounds like he’s given up:

 

““We have produced a lot of good research, incontrovertible research. Yet we’re always fighting the people who fund treatment. They’re always saying there’s not enough evidence. How much more evidence do they want?”” (Whorwell)

 

And that hints at the general reason many of the therapies discussed in this book, from placebo pills to hypnotherapy, will advance far slower than is warranted:

 

“Stanford hypnosis researcher David Spiegel suggests that part of the reason for the lack of enthusiasm is economic. Pain relief is a billiondollar market, and drug companies have no incentive to fund trials that would reduce patients’ dependence on their products, he points out. And neither have medical insurers, because if medical costs come down, so do their profits. The trouble with hypnosis and other psychological therapies, he says, is that “there’s no intervening industry that has the interest in pushing it.””

 

“Lehrer appears to have hit the impasse suffered by many mind–body therapies—with nothing to sell, there’s limited funding for research.”

 

 


In another section, she discusses how stress “ages” (shortens) our telomeres, shown in mothers of autistic children and others. What’s more, our environment as children strongly affects how we respond to external factors as adults; moreover, that early environment shapes the development of our brain’s reward circuits, such that we’re more “likely to prioritize immediate pleasure over future consequences,” especially in areas like drugs, sex, or money.

 

 


Fear or exhilaration? That’s a critical distinction in how you feel, because it can affect the physiological state when climbing a mountain, giving a presentation, or taking a test.

Is it possible a huge indicator of my response to stresses is influenced by my lifelong relationship to games? In games, challenges are the entire point – getting over the ‘hump’ and overcoming the obstacle to succeed – has that truly influenced my perspective on life?

 

 

 


There was a good, if short, section on meditation, and I’m glad I learned about the power of hypnosis, suggestion, and attention diversion above and beyond meditation. Yet another simple one sentence that elegantly sums up the power of meditative practices:

 

“Mindfulness, it seems, may put us another step ahead—we can have thoughts, but we don’t have to be ruled by them.”

 

And in some cases, she notes meditation may not be the amazing cure-all that some push, because “The participants were already keen meditators, he points out, so the study gave them three months to do something they loved.” Good point!

 

 

 


The COSTA RICA section! Diet doesn’t matter! Genes don’t, either. But living alone and having contact with a child are strongly correlated to their lifespan! On that note, I love the interdependence comment:

“The same is true for interdependence, “the idea that we can’t just survive by ourselves, with no help from others.” Even the simplest item we need to survive, like a sandwich, connects us with many other people, he points out—from farmers to supermarket workers. Extending that analysis to all of the things we need to get through a day—such as heating, electricity, roads, cars, fuel—demonstrates that we’re dependent on a vast number of people.” [Emphasis added]

 

And the wording gets more serious…

 

“They concluded that social isolation is as dangerous for health as obesity, inactivity and smoking. The evidence was as strong as in the landmark U.S. government report that in 1964 officially linked smoking with lung cancer.” [Emphasis added]

 

But she leaves us with a brilliant comment by an interviewee:

 

“To me, the universe is connection, it’s communication,” she says. “If you start to lose that, you start to die.” –Lupita Quereda

 

“At the heart of almost all the pathways I’ve learned about is one guiding principle: if we feel safe, cared for and in control—in a critical moment during injury or disease, or generally throughout our lives—we do better. We feel less pain, less fatigue, less sickness. Our immune system works with us instead of against us. Our bodies ease off on emergency defenses and can focus on repair and growth.” [Emphasis added]

 

 

 


Baroflex – I want to try biofeedback, and will try a 5s/5s breath meditation!

 

“He argues though that because the speed of breathing needed to achieve resonance is slightly different for each person, maximizing the effect with meditation alone can take years of practice, whereas with biofeedback, we can learn it in a few minutes. “Most people are able to pick it up right away,” he tells me. “That’s very different from living in a Zen monastery for ten years!”” [Emphasis added]

 

 

 


The CDC’s worst named drug epidemic in history? Opiate addiction:

 

“By 2012, 15,000 Americans were dying each year from prescription pill overdoses, more than from heroin and cocaine combined.”

 

 

 


In one of her final chapters, Marchant discusses religion, taking us to the Lourdes, France pilgrimage for Catholics. She notes the power of belief in religion to heal, but also reminds us of its dark side.

 

 


The description of epigenetics for the layperson is perfect:

 

“Instead our genomes encode a wide variety of potential selves, and our social environment—including our perception of that environment—helps to determine which of those selves we become.”

 

 

 


There were some good notes on what’s called nurturant-involved” parenting, where kids have boundaries and consequences, but clearly understand that those exist because of their parent’s love.

 

 

 


The worst of “alternative” medicine? Stupid, dangerous advice:

 

“A homeopath in one high-street pharmacy told Newsnight’s researcher: “They make it so your energy doesn’t have a malaria-shaped hole in it so the malarial mosquitos won’t come along and fill that in.” I find it hard not to feel angry reading such nonsensical—and potentially fatal—advice.”

 

 

 

Marchant ends with cautious, reluctant hope, noting how much we spend on healthcare and how ineffective and inefficient it is. She then gives us a reminder to be skeptical about doctors or scientists who try to separate “mind” from “body”:

 

“Nearly 400 years after Descartes’ separation of the mind and body, we still tend to think of ourselves as logical, rational beings, with highly developed minds that allow us to transcend our biological, animal nature. The evidence shows something very different: that our bodies and minds have evolved in exquisite harmony, so perfectly integrated that it is impossible to consider one without the other. Terms like “mind–body” and “holistic” are often derided as flaky and unscientific, but in fact it’s the idea of a mind distinct from the body, an ephemeral entity that floats somewhere in the skull like a spirit or soul, that makes no scientific sense.”  [Emphasis added]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful or miscellaneous quotes:

 

Finally, between 1 and 2 p.m., the men saw a metal tripod left behind by Chinese surveyors in 1975. They had reached the summit. Habeler stammered and cried, his tears running from under his goggles into his beard and freezing on his cheeks. Messner says he just sat, legs dangling, with nothing to do at last but breathe: “I am nothing more than a single, narrow, gasping lung floating over the mists and the summits.” [Emphasis added]

 

She works part-time as an art therapist, doing pottery with prison inmates and psychiatric patients with conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Working with clay provides a safe space for them to talk, she says. “If the conversation gets difficult, you can go right back to the clay.” [Emphasis added]

 

 

 

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle (2004)

The Power of Now:
A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle (2004)

I read this at the end of December 2012, after being with an ex-girlfriend, and finished it in Hawaii. For the first time, after meditating consistently, I could look my parents in the eyes, and felt like more of a man. Let people say what they will about self-help books; if a person does a lot of growing as a result of reading a handful of $10 books, I welcome it.

His message is the same philosophers and those with a healthy dose of mindfulness have been telling us for millennia – probably a lesson our ancestors knew instinctively, before the advent of agriculture. But Tolle says it again, and if it helps just a few more people find happiness within themselves, great!

This quote sends shivers through my body:

“The moment you start to argue, you have identified with a mental position and are now defending not only that position but also your sense of self.”

I must review this again and again. In this sentence is both Sam Harris’ argument against the sense of self, and every bit of wisdom in Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I need to review this again and again.

Look through all the major highlights.

The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh (1999)

The Miracle of Mindfulness,
Thich Nhat Hanh (1999)

                Another good book on mindfulness, and while I don’t think it expresses the idea as clearly or as thoroughly as Harris’ Waking Up, it does state it simply: washing the dishes is meditation. As such, so is life — while we are doing whatever we are doing, we must be in the present moment in order to be truly alive. If we are thinking about the future or the past, we are not alive. I can think of nothing more profound.

“There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.”

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

Washing the dishes is meditation. If you cannot wash the dishes in mindfulness, neither can you meditate while sitting in silence.

He also includes the best description I’ve ever read of the typical western translation of the “tao” concept as “the way” (which Roger Ames translates to “waymaking”):

A person who looks at the table and can see the universe is a person who can see the way.