Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Coming talk

I am working on a talk I will give on the 24th.  I said I would talk for about 90 minutes to those in a learning in retirement group who decide to come.  I will talk about five books:
  1. Incognito by Eagleman
  2. Altered Traits by Goleman and Davidson
  3. The Jew in the Lotus by Kamenetz
  4. Designed to Move by Vernikos
  5. Conscious Breathing by Hendrick
I didn't have any particular plan directing me to pick these books.  I was looking, as I usually do, for books that seemed valuable and inspiring to me.  Four of the five are clearly about the body, if you include the mind and brain as part of the body.  "The Jew in the Lotus" is about an extended meeting in India between the Dalai Lama and his staff and a group of American Jews.  The meeting was held at his request.  He wanted ideas that would help the Tibetan Buddhists survive attempts by the Chinese to wipe them out.

The Dalai Lama knew that the Jews had experienced 2,000 years of oppression and prospered pretty well despite the opposition and murder and hatred.  He sought ideas that his people could use to do something like the same thing.

"Incognito" by Eagleman is about the unconscious part of our minds, the part that tends to be unrecognized, to be incognito.  "Altered Traits" is about the results of research on the minds and brains of longtime meditators.  The first author is Daniel Goleman, the author of the book "Emotional Intelligence".  The second author is Richard Davidson, the Univ. of Wisconsin researcher who runs the Center for Healthy Minds.  Davidson scanned the brains of experienced meditators to learn what he could about the results of regular meditation.  "Designed to Move" by Vernikos is written by the woman NASA scientist who is responsible for the health of US astronauts while they are in space.  She found that leaving the earth's gravity is hard on the astronauts' body and that led her to see the detriments that accrue from long periods of sitting, even when we remain in gravity's grip.  

Dr. Gay Hendricks and his wife, Kathryn Hendricks, have written quite a few books that have helped me live and love better.  Breathing, both as a conscious and deliberate activity, and as a focus of attention while meditating, is an important subject.  Hendricks and the British Alan Watkins (see YouTube) and others such as Donna Farhi and Belisa Vranich are showing the value of deep and conscious breathing techniques for improving mood. Authors and trainers often note that breathing is one of the few processes in the body that can be either consciously controlled or left to the unconscious.  

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