Wednesday, June 29, 2016

It's Easy To Point Your Finger

We all do it.  Yes, we do.  We all do it.  No matter how much you don't think you do, there's that one ounce of a probability that you do.  It's easy to point your finger at others.

Whether it is politics and how we respond or how someone looks or acts or behaves.  Whether it is those that don't measure up to our standards or irritate the daylights out of us at every turn, we point our fingers at them.  Whether it is those that don't believe like we do and we feel are lost or those that share differing opinions, we point our fingers at them.

Sharing things online...

It is easy to point your finger at others while declaring you know all and have all the answers.  It may be labels that you use towards one another, or how you think they are so lost and will never see the light of day.  It may be the way you share things online that become nothing more than pointing your finger at another person.

While skepticism and disagreement can be healthy, we have gotten to the point these days that we hold on to a mentality of "you are either with us or against us".  There is no happy medium.  There is no middle ground.  It is either one way or no way.   If you need evidence of that, just spend 5 minutes on Facebook or Twitter and it should become quite clear.

We don't listen to others...

We don't welcome the opinions of others although we often claim we do.  We don't listen to others like we think we actually do.  We are too busy telling others how to think, what to do, how to believe, and which thing they should follow.  We are too busy telling people the solution to their problem that we don't even bother to listen to their problem first and understand it.

I grew up in a church and a home where we criticized everyone that didn't think the way we thought.  If they believed differently in our church, they were going to hell.  If they didn't do things and act the way we thought, they were just wrong.  There was no adherence to understanding or tolerance.  We sought out people and churches and organizations that made it okay to point the fingers at others. That was how our family operated.

Disgust, rather than listening...

Our society is the same way.  Every day, too many look at others with disgust, rather than sitting down and listening.  We rant and rave and scream how stupid or idiotic others are.  If we don't do it online by our shares and likes, it is often in our private thoughts.

How strong will our civilization and world be if we continue down this path?  How much do we really care for others, if all we can do it focus on the things that we cannot stand about each other?  What does it truly say about how we see ourselves, if all we can see are the perceived faults and deficiencies in one another?

The government cannot change it.  Our leaders and ministers can't change this.  This is something that each one of us needs to search our hearts and really open our eyes to what we do.  It is something that not everyone else needs to change, but each one of us individually.  If you think it is everyone else that has the problem, it is within your own heart that you need to change first.

I'm no different.  I try to accept everyone, but there are those that are screaming at the top of their lungs that can make me cringe.  I want to point my finger at them and say, "how dare you?"  How can you say these things.  Yet, if I expect them to listen to me, then I need to be able to listen to them without judgment and condemnation.

It isn't easy.  If you think it is, find the person that irritates you the most and see if you can sit with them for a day and not condemn or judge them.  I don't mean, play like you can, but really go deep within your own soul and don't point your finger at them.

Blog Post And Images (c) 2016 by Don Shetterly
  • Permission required before any part of this blog post is reprinted, reworded or used in any form. 
  • You are welcomed to share the LINK to this blog post.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Learning From Brexit Ignorance

I've been thinking so much about this vote ever since it happened.  No, I'm not from Europe or the UK.  I actually live in the United States.  To be very honest, I was not following Brexit until the last moment.

It seemed or at least gave the appearance that it was racially motivated in many ways.  Maybe that's a harsh assessment, but I'm sure in the days, months, and years to follow, we will come to understand why this happened and what exactly made it unfold in the way that it did. Most likely if it is racially motivated, most will not even see the log in their own eye, but they will see the stick in the eye of another person.

Looking back on Brexit at this moment, I can see how many regretted what they voted for and would like to reverse course.  There were several that celebrated their victory, while seeming to ignore the consequences of their actions.  There were political leaders that thought it was a win while other people realized just how much of a financial cost it was to them.  Ignorance of what everyone voted for was at an all time high.

Impacted the entire world...

It was not just a Europe and UK vote.  It impacted the entire world in many ways and I'm sure it will significantly strain the global and individual economy of the world population. We no longer live in an isolated world because the internet has connected people from one part of the planet to the other.  We are all connected, even without the internet.

I don't understand the ignorance of how people could vote for something and not be fully informed.  We live in a day and age where we swallow what is fed to us on TV and in the news.  We tweet, like, and share the banter of the day through social media.  It is as if it becomes the gospel truth.  Yet, we don't stop to really think through our actions and decisions.  We just keep the rhetoric going day in and day out.  We are not learning from our actions, but perpetuating fear and ignorance.

Right now, I can only think of the slogan, "a mind is a terrible thing to waste" and yet, that seems to be what happened in the UK.  It is also happening in the US with our political system where everyone gets up and screams, rants, and raves all day long, but no one really engages the brain while listening.  Listening has long been forgotten in our normal communication between humans.

We really need to learn to respect one another.  We've gotten so good at hating one another, that it seems as if love is almost irrelevant.  We abhor those that don't think the way we do.  We despise those that look different than us.  We make sure the world knows how right we think we are, while condemning everyone that thinks differently.

A family of intolerance...

I grew up in a family where you had to walk the narrow line of what the family believed.  If it was in regards to church, you didn't deviate from what you were expected to believe.  If it was other people, they were always wrong in spite of you being right or wrong.  If it was some group or organization or company, they were the ones that just didn't understand.  We cowered in our corners with people who thought like we did so we could feel confident in our narrowly focused views.  It was a family of intolerance.

I've just dealt with the experience of the Orlando Massacre and I'm really getting tired of seeing hate and ignorance on display.  I've seen some glorious moments of beauty as people came together in Orlando and all over the world, but I've also seen and heard the bigotry and hateful rhetoric being spewed as if somehow they have the moral superiority.

When will we begin using our hearts and our minds, rather than fear to determine our course of action?  When will we begin seeing each other as human, rather than someone we automatically hate and despise and want to destroy.  I feel for the ones that are despised because I know how that feels.  The fear you live in robs our planet and civilizations of so much.

Maybe we can learn...

Maybe we can learn from Brexit and discover greater truths within ourselves or obstacles that hold us back in life.  Maybe learning from Brexit will help ease some of the fear and stress that everyone is experiencing.  I hope things reverse course and stability comes back into the world, but right now, its anyone's guess what will happen next.  Ignorance is having a hay-day. 

It seems like we don't always learn from our past.  It seems like we continue carrying the same ignorance from one generation to the next.  May we learn something different.  May we shed all that we think is right and test it to truly see if it is.  We can no longer continue to cower in the corner with only those that agree with us.  This is a recipe of disaster in the making.

Blog Post And Images (c) 2016 by Don Shetterly
  • Permission required before any part of this blog post is reprinted, reworded or used in any form. 
  • You are welcomed to share the LINK to this blog post.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Neuroscience In The News On June 27

These are articles that I found of interest relating to news about Neuroscience.  In this issue, I have highlighted articles about the neuroscience of pain, why do our minds wander, and brain signatures of spontaneous thoughts.

Please check out the article links below and feel free to comment with other information related to these subjects.  I enjoy learning as much as I can about the brain and passing this information on to everyone else that shares these passions.

This is for the week beginning June 27, 2016.

Please come back each week and hopefully I will have some more highlights.  Feel free to share with me ones that you have found and I may highlight those as well.

Feel free to check out the highlighted articles from June 20, 2016

Neuroscience Of Pain

A primer on the neurobiology of pain pathways.

The sensation of pain is a necessary function that warns the body of potential or actual injury. It occurs when a nociceptor fiber detects a painful stimulus on the skin or in an internal organ (peripheral nervous system).1 The detection of that signal is “picked up” by receptors at the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and brainstem and transmitted to various areas of the brain as sensory information.

The facilitators of this pathway are known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemical messengers that transmit signals across a chemical synapse, from one neuron to another “target” neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell.2 Some neurotransmitters are excitatory, facilitating transmission of messages, while others are inhibitory neurotransmitters, impeding transmission.2 These chemical messages are critical in the modulation of pain.

Article Link:

  • The Neuroscience of Pain
  • Source:
  • Robert J. Gatchel, PhD, ABPP, Christopher T. Ray, PhD, Kiayra Spights, Tyler Garner, MS, Emily Beggs, Ryan Hulla, BA, BS, Eric Salas, MA, Meghan Humphrey and Alyssa Castro

Why Do Our Minds Wander?

Sometimes the mind wanders. Thoughts pop into consciousness. Ideas or images are present when just a moment before they were not. Scientists recently have been turning their attention to making sense of this.

One natural picture of the phenomenon goes something like this. Typically, our thoughts and feelings are shaped by what we are doing, by what there is around us. The world captures our attention and compels our minds this way or that. What explains the fact that you think of a red car when there is a red car in front of you is, well, the red car. And similarly, it is that loud noise that causes you to orient yourself to the commotion that is producing it. In such cases, we might say, the mind is coupled to the world around it and the world, in a way, plays us the way a person might play a piano.

But sometimes, even without going to sleep, we turn away from the world. We turn inward. We are contemplative or detached. We decouple ourselves from the environment and we are set free, as it were, to let our minds play themselves.

Article Link:

Brain Signatures of Spontaneous Thoughts

Without prompting, they fill our stream of consciousness–Sudden amusement at a joke you heard yesterday, or a flash of panic over an important meeting that slipped your mind. Spontaneous thoughts constitute the majority of our mental landscape, yet little is known about how they arise. Because these events are harder to predict, manipulate or monitor than other experiences like seeing, speaking or paying attention, they pose unique challenges to studying in the lab. Recently, a team of Canadian researchers led by Kalina Christoff devised a clever approach to unveiling the neural underpinnings of a wandering mind. By tapping into the heightened internal awareness of experienced meditators, they unraveled the temporal progression of brain activity underlying the generation and evaluation of spontaneous thoughts.

Mindfulness meditators are exquisitely adept in their introspective abilities. Because of their exceptional accuracy at monitoring their internal experience, they are an ideal population in which to study conscious thoughts. Therefore, Christoff and her colleagues used fMRI to image the brain activity of 18 experienced (>3000 training hours) mindfulness meditators during a simple awareness task. In one condition, the meditators responded when they detected a word on the screen, while in another they indicated when a spontaneous thought arose. In both conditions, they classified the word or thought as an image, narrative, emotion or sensation.

Article Link:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Helpless and Weary From Despair - Part 4

This is part 4 of a four part series.  Please read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 before this one.

I started to try and get myself out of the house, even if it was for a little bit.  I was so afraid of monsters hiding everywhere that my anxiety would be at an all time high trying to do this.  I trusted my partner enough to feel safe to take these steps.  Sometimes my anxiety would get so high that my anger would spill over onto everything around me as a way to protect myself.

I started to ask the angels for help.  Think whatever you want to of angels, but I know they are there.  I have felt them and seen them and I know they are with me.  Some people see them as religious figures, but that's not how I see them at all.  I know that sometimes I stop believing in them and that's when I truly feel all alone.  I started to tell them more and more that I had no idea what I needed, but I needed help.  I could not articulate it.

Difficult to know what I needed...

I could not articulate what I needed.  I didn't know.  I didn't have the slightest clue.  That was my starting point.  I was at rock bottom.  I had no way to go but forward.  The only way I could have went further down would have been if I would have been successful in ending my life.

I began to pose the question to myself, what do I need?  How do I get out of this?  What do I need to do?  It was the only thing I knew.  It was the only way out I could see.  Yet, I didn't believe it.  I didn't think there was hope.  The only thing I had was questions.

As I began to ask the questions repeatedly and hoping that an answer would show up, I soon started to find there were things I was attracted to in my day.  There were things that interested me.  They were not the things that I thought my life was about.  They were not in the form that I had been trying to push my life into.  They were different.

I would be letting myself down...

It scared me to think of this.  I kept wanting to prove to myself that I had to be in the role I was in.  I had a healing office and how could I think anything different.  I would be letting others down.  I would be letting myself down.  I despised every part of this life I had built, but it was what I knew.  It was what I thought I had to be in that moment.

So to keep the fears at bay, I hunkered down into the things that I enjoyed doing and that were bringing me some peace, joy, and contentment in my day.  It seemed strange and odd.  These were not normal things for me, but even being mundane, they kept me focused.  They helped energize me and propel me.

As I continued on, I knew that I had to make some tough decisions.  I knew I had to stop disconnecting from life and begin feeling my body and all the sensations in life that were there, even if they were horrible.  I had to allow myself the possibility of connecting with others, but also the possibility that I could get hurt again.  The pain was still very raw and is at the time of writing this, but I'm consciously making a choice to do more and go further than where I am currently.

I cannot see far ahead...

There are times that I sit here and struggle with how all of this is coming together.  I cannot see that far ahead.  I get glimpses of fragmented thoughts and feelings, but to say I can see the road ahead would be inaccurate.  I am just going where my heart feels joy and I enjoy doing the things in a day that I am.  If it doesn't feel good, I am learning to turn and see the thing that does.

The decisions kept showing up that I needed to make.  I struggled and fought with them.  I avoided them.  I knew they were there, but I didn't want anything to do with them.  It has been agony thinking about it and every time I thought I would get closer to a decision, doubts flooded my existence and my thoughts.

Finally I made the decision to close down the healing office.  I was not bringing in revenue and my savings was quickly disappearing.  At this point, I'm not sure what fully lies ahead.  It has been a tough week of saying goodbye to the office that I had hoped would be the next wave of life for me.

I'm saddened by all of this.  It is a deep sadness. I struggle with feeling like a failure, but am trying to see that it is not a failure.  Yet, it is hard to convince my mind of that.  I'm not sure where all of this is leading.  I still feel a strong connection to it, but right now I feel like I was trying to push myself into a role that I just did not see for myself at this moment.

I had to get my life back...

I had to get my life back.  I had to find myself.  I have to let myself go into these moments of uncertainty.  Creating in the unknown is where I find myself at this point.  In many ways, it is out with the old and in with the new.  The only thing is I don't know what the new is.  It is a mystery in some ways.  In other ways, I think I have a part of it figured out.

I'm scared of running out of money which is not far away.  I'm scared of how I will monetize the things that I love to do because I've struggled with this.  I try to have hope, but the doubts flood my mind like a tropical storm downpour.

For now, I keep my focus on what makes my heart happy and what I love to do.  I'm trying to stay focused on only that for the moment in hopes the rest will unfold in my mind.

I'm not sure how to reach out to those that have probably been hurt by my withdraw in life, but that's for another day and moment.  I can only bring my life back online so quickly.  I know I went to a very horrible place in life these past few months, but in many ways, I think I had to.  I think I had to travel here to find my way back.

Maybe instead of torment, maybe it is just out with the old as the new waits to arrive.

This story will most likely continue.  This is just the point where I've gotten to and why it ends at this point.  I had to write and get this out.  I'm writing it more for myself than I am for anyone reading it.  

Blog Post And Images (c) 2016 by Don Shetterly
  • Permission required before any part of this blog post is reprinted, reworded or used in any form. 
  • You are welcomed to share the LINK to this blog post.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Helpless and Weary From Despair - Part 3

This is part 3 of a four part series.  Please read part 1 and part 2 before this one.

I've made great strides in life, but when you're ambushed with one tsunami trigger after another, its hard to keep your head above water, let alone care if you do.

Time and time again, I tried to make sense of my day, my life and the moment I was living in.  It felt like a cruel hell had been shoved at me with no way to escape.  It was like a moment of all moments for a lifetime of hell and torment.  Church people say that when we die, we either go to heaven or hell.  For me, I've already lived through hell in my life.  I've lived through hell many times over.

Memories still locked in my cells...

I can't imagine things much worse than  being hit, beat, emotionally abused, physically abused, sexually raped and molested almost every day of my life.  I've been through more than I can consciously recall, but the remnants of those memories never fully leave.  They are still locked in parts of my many trillion cells.  I'm still working to rid them all.

As the days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, I had to find a way out.  I was locked in this prison I had built around myself and somehow I had to find a way through it.  I had to find a way beyond it.  It was overwhelming to know where to start.  It seemed like I would never have the courage to get past it.  It felt like there was no way out.  It felt to me like there was no hope.

I wasn't about to go on medication because I hate medication and I personally don't think it would have helped me.  I didn't tell anyone that I wanted to kill myself almost every day as I knew that would scare people and frighten them.  I just held it all inside.  It was safer that way.

I knew I had to find a way forward...

I knew that I had to start finding a way forward.  I could not continue to stay in the place I was in.  I knew I had to find this on my own.  It was not something I could expect others to do or rely on them to do for me.  For when I reached out, there seemed to be no one reaching back to me.  I had to do it, as hard as it was and as much as I didn't believe was possible.

Each day, I started to try and focus on one small little thing I could do.  It didn't matter how small or insignificant it was, I knew I had to start focusing on something.  Even if it was mundane, I didn't care.  Sometimes I knew from the past that the mundane tasks were a way to grab on to the rails in life so I could focus on going forward.  I remember doing that after the paralysis.  It wasn't about the big steps.  It was about the small little tidbits of the big steps that got me healing.

I tried to focus on the little things and if it was only one small thing for the day, I considered that to be a good day.  I wasn't interested in how much I could do, but that I could just do something.  With any doubts and fears that tried to stop me, I just tried to navigate past them without them noticing.  I had no strength to overcome them.  It was almost too much to navigate around them.

I kept trying to build upon the previous day if I could and if I could not, then attempting to do one small thing was the accomplishment for the day.  Doing something was far more empowering to me, then the quantity or quality or relevance of what it was.

I allowed myself time to rest...

I started to take time to just allow myself to rest and not push myself to do anything I didn't want to do.  I stopped going to online places where I felt ignored and unwanted.  I stopped worrying as much as I could that if no one called me back, it just didn't matter.  It was too much for me to think anyone wanted me at that point.  It was more than I could take.

I spent time with my cats, playing and holding them.  I spent time just absorbing their love that they had for me.  I welcomed their touch and how they licked my hair.  I welcomed their meows and other conversations they would have with me.  I welcomed their unconditional love.  Animals are my connection to life, a life that is not one of use and abuse.  Animals are a higher life form in my view.

I began having some email conversations with a couple of people who encouraged me to keep going.  One individual that didn't care if we talked about the torment of the day, but just talked about things that were anything but this.  It helped to just have a little connection that I could control and regulate and hold back from if I needed to in my day.

A little more each day...

I began to do a little more each day and week that went by.  I spent time in my hammock listening to the birds sing in the trees during the early morning hours.  I watched the squirrels run and play and scamper back and forth on the fence.  I watched the butterflies flutter around from one place to another.

I watched the trees sway from one position to the next as if they were basking in the new sunlight of the morning.  They seemed to just take in everything from the light to the wind and breeze.  Their leaves began turning from a deadened grey and brown tree to a vibrant green veil of color and beauty.

I began to use the resperate breathing machine not for lowering blood pressure, but helping to get me to breathe.  The more I used it, the more I realized just how much it was taking tension from my body.  I realized that as I used it, my body was relaxing more and more.  Some of the fear and anger were being replaced by a peacefulness.  It might have not always lasted long in the day, but just to feel that was empowering and helped me get from one moment to the next.

This continues to Part 4 - posted on 6/26/16 of a four part series.

(click here for Part 4)

Blog Post And Images (c) 2016 by Don Shetterly
  • Permission required before any part of this blog post is reprinted, reworded or used in any form. 
  • You are welcomed to share the LINK to this blog post.