Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Childhood Trauma: Failure

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



Picture This:

You have hopes and dreams and aspirations for your newborn child. You make assumptions about how he is going to be. One of these is that he’s going to do well in school.

Then one day some years later your child comes home with a failure notice. He’s shaken up because, naturally, just the suggestion that one is a failure is troublesome. But it’s the first time, so, put off though you are, you simply tell him he has to focus harder.

Then the report card comes home and there’s a big ol’ “F”.

“You’re grounded.”

As school progresses and with regular rounds of failure notices and “F’s”, parental hellfire becomes common place. Your kid is only 8 or 10 or 12 years old, but, damn it, he’s a failure and needs to be punished. Why the hell isn’t he like the other kids?

With each new suggestion or case-in-point of failure come more groundings. These groundings may evolve into spankings or God-only-knows what other kinds of abuses.

He may be a child, but he’s a failure. No one wants a failure.

And he knows he’d better not cry, either, because crying is what pussies do.

Trauma is piled on trauma is piled on trauma.

Does it hurt you to picture this?

If so, then I’ve accomplished my goal. People need to understand the horrors they’ve been dumping on their children since time untold.

This story hurts me, too. Failure trauma has been a major theme in my life. It certainly isn’t fun to revisit, but it takes someone who’s been there and is willing to face it to bring it to the light for everyone else who plays a role in the same. Otherwise nothing heals and the tragedy perpetuates.

When “Unconditional Love” Speaks, the Child Listens.

A child knows nothing but what the external world tells him. He’s gullible, naïve, impressionable, innocent—thoroughly dependent upon the words and actions of others to determine what he should think, say, and do and to define who he is.

This is particularly true of his parents. To him, no matter what the circumstances of his life experience, parents are to a child the perceived male and female personifications of unconditional love. Therefore, when “unconditional love” speaks or acts, the child listens, the child learns.

Getting back to schooling, then… There might be unease within the child when he’s handed his first “F”. But it’s not too big of a deal until “unconditional love”—i.e.: mom and dad—have their say. They determine what so-called failure really is.

They could say: It’s okay, kid. You’ve done well in other classes. You may be able to do better in this subject but even if you can’t do better I still love you and accept you. Not everyone learns at the same speed and some things are just more difficult for some kids, even grown-ups, because they don’t have an interest. It’s hard to learn what you don’t like.

And, contrary to what seems popular unspoken belief, although the kid is only 5 or 7 or 11, he would get it. He might be young, but hasn’t he gotten everything else?

Yes, he has. But unfortunately, such kind words are not what arise. Instead the child hears: An “F”? What’s the matter with you? You play too many video games. No video games until you get your grades up! I want to see you studying an extra hour every night. I’m going to time you.

Punishment could even involve physical abuse. Oh, but it’s just a spanking. It’s not like I punched the kid in the eye.

Folks who find yourself thinking, saying, and doing such things—wake up! You are striking your child! He comes home from school with the validity of his life in question, wanting nothing more than to be told there's been a mistake... And you slap him and tell him he's a bad kid.

The school has said: Your child appears to us to be a failure. If you agree, please sign this slip to certify that, yes, your child is, in fact, a failure. And so not only does the slip get signed—which is to say that mother and father of “unconditional love” have just acknowledged in written form that their child is most assuredly a failure, is dumb, is less than—but then mother and father of “unconditional love” drive the point home even further by taking away video games for two months and pulling out the belt.

At least temporarily, forget kindness and forget tutoring. The reaction is anger and punishment, instead, as if a kid who’s spending his life in emotional torment with a failure mentality is going to have any drive to do more math problems or show a greater interest in history.

All he wants is escape… Which is another way of saying he’s going to play even more video games or watch more TV or eat more junk food or, later on, get hooked on cigarettes and alcohol to cope with the cumulative stress. Math and history will be resented and rejected to the utmost, for now they’re associated with soul-crushing pain and suffering.

The Failures Who Fail Without Failing

Beyond the perceived failures as discussed above, there also exist the supposed failures who’d received “A’s” through the whole of their whole education.

These are the kids whose parents couldn’t even accept a “B”. For these kids’ parents are such hard-asses that, in their minds, even to get a “B” is essentially to get an “F”.

While trauma for these ones isn’t typically as bad as it is for the ones receiving “F’s”, I’ve no doubt there’s still trauma to be found.

Although "The System" itself may rain down accolades and scholarships on these children, because of the deriding ways of mom and pop “unconditional love,” the kids believe themselves to already be failures or near failures-in-the-making. This group pushes so damn hard to succeed, and may well manage to do so at least intellectually, but their effort and success are merely a means to both deny their failure self-perception and to attain their parent’s approval.

Parents: Please Take a Long, Hard Look at This Situation

If you are a parent, what I’d like you to first do is notice the hopes and aspirations and assumptions and such you may have of your child (or children). Notice where they come from. Notice that although they may exist within a “grown-up’s” mind, their original source is “out there” somewhere. Meaning: All these belief and behavioral “rights” and “wrongs” have been picked up not via inner-knowing but from culture, from TV, from parents and grandparents, from government recommendations, from religions, and so forth.

They are all fabricated shoulds and shouldn’ts. My child should be smart. My child shouldn’t make me unhappy. My child should do what I say. My child should be slapped if he gets poor grades. And on and on, ad infinitum.

So just first notice this: that a parent’s thoughts, words, and behavior toward a child are typically based on unquestioned external ideas which, too often, drive reactive punishment when the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” aren’t appeased.

Secondly, parents, I’d like you to contemplate your own childhood experience. Because, plain and simple, you pass on to your child whatever traumatic “unfinished business” you carry (conscious or not) that you’d absorbed from your own parents when you were a child.

If your kid is coming home from school with “F’s” and you hurt him rather than expressing love (you’re allowed “tough love” but anger, punishment, and abuse is a very different story), it means there’s something you need to work out from your own childhood. Your child is just a mirror you.

Deep, deep down in those places you’ve been avoiding, do you believe yourself to be a failure? Were you taught by your parents that degradation and abuse are adequate “preventative measures” for poor grades? How about the anger that arises every time your child brings a new failure notice home? What—or whom—are you really getting angry at?

Keep in mind that you cannot hurt another unless you are hurt yourself. Equally so, you cannot love another if you do not first love yourself. There is no love in the harboring and creation of trauma.

The System Perpetuates the Hell That Is Duality

Now I’d like you to notice something else.

Notice that The System is about the perpetuation of two things: uniformity and duality (which themselves perpetuate pain and suffering).

Kids go to school and they’re all expected to be like everyone else their age. If they fall behind, they are “failures.”

What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you be smart like everyone else? Why can’t you just fit in? Why do you have to be such a problem? Why do you have to ask questions the teachers can't answer? Why? Why? Why?

Then high school comes toward it’s close and the SAT’s come about. What are the SAT’s, or Scholastic Aptitude Tests? They're standardized tests wholly based on intellectual mind function (to hell with the unlimited-capacity 90% of the right brain hemisphere which works in abstraction) that are meant to determine where a student fits into the square, "One Right Way," consumerist world culture.

In other words, as the student comes to the end of 12 years of schooling, The System effectively tells the student and potential future educators whether he is smart or stupid. And the kids and parents go right along with it like it’s the God’s honest truth.

Even worse is it in China with their “gaokao,” or college entrance exam—a test which carries so much weight toward the passing or failing of an individual, toward whether one will be forced to become either a garbage man or a corporate executive, that stress-driven suicide is not uncommon among the students while still in preparation for the test.

But whether here or over there, our schooling system (and most all of our society, really) is one where there are always people who will “come up short,” who are “not good enough,” who are “less than.” It is a system wherein there are always people who will come to believe they are irredeemable failures and thus live their whole lives with such a despairing attitude.

Hurt and Healing

I imagine it’s evident to you by this point that failure, even potential failure, can and does easily become demoralizing at best and thoroughly traumatizing at worst.

When this programming gets into the mind, when the energy of the physical and emotional hurt lodges itself in the body, it creates nothing short of a life of regular nightmares—only there’s no need to go to sleep to experience them.

Even worse is that, because the trauma is subconscious, the everyday words and actions of a failure-mentality individual become charged for disaster—without the individual ever realizing hurt is coming until that hurt has already come.

This struggle will persist for a whole lifetime if the issue isn’t worked out.

As I've seen through my own experience: Life generally amounts to naught more than an interminable repetition of unintended self-sabotage and despairing self-destruction. Nothing seems deserved nor worth trying for because failure is always “guaranteed.” If the attainment of something (relationship, award, etc.) is sought after, chances are exceedingly high that, just prior to attainment, all that was built up will inadvertently be devastated and feelings of self and other will be hurt, often times quite severely.

Folks, this failure-focused culture is one ship we have to turn around. Not for just a few kids but for everyone. Everyone is either affected indirectly by those who struggle with the failure mentality and experience or directly since they carry it within themselves; the former of which includes all of us and the latter of which constitutes an enormous number of people though most are living the struggle in unawareness of what it really is.

With that, I offer you 6 solutions:
  1. If you are a parent, examine and heal your own childhood trauma. (We cannot pass on hurt that we don’t carry within ourselves.) Find methods that work for you: meditation, journaling, energy healing, whatever. There are many ways. We all hurt and we all need healing.

  2. If an adult, work with a counselor/therapist to clear out the root issues. If you are a parent and see the issues in any of your children, although a counselor/therapist may be useful, to start perhaps you could find a way to gently address the failure issue with him or her. Just be mindful of the nature of children: they are mirrors of their parents. If you find they close down every time you bring up the subject, perhaps they are just showing you a seemingly unrelated unhealed side of your own self (ex: believes a father: It’s not manly to talk about my feelings, or I refuse to admit that I, too, failed some classes.).

  3. Support schooling systems that aid the holistic development of children, such as Montessori and Waldorf styles. Part of the reason we hurt so bad is because the first 18 to 22 years or so of our lives are basically forced rote intellectual learning that separates the "passers" from the "failures." Furthermore, abstraction, creativity, and emotion are the majority of our inherent nature. To repress personality and "free energy" is to create great hurt.

  4. As Chip and Dan Heath repeatedly say in their book: Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, we need to learn to focus on the “bright spots.” This is to say that rather than focusing on short comings—which forces mindsets and situations into deep negativity—we focus on the positive aspects instead, like the three “A’s” that were earned along with the “F”. From there we’d work to understand what made the “A’s” possible and apply those same techniques to the more troublesome areas.

  5. Our schooling systems need to begin teaching the truth through teachers who can actually teach (denying positions to those who are, for example, football coaches looking for a few extra bucks). Always bear in mind that failure notices and “F's” (and any other lower grades) could imply utter disinterest or a lousy teacher, not stupidity or laziness. We must learn to stop blaming the student when the error is within The System. Similarly, The System teaches us a lot of garbage—deliberate lies, misinformation, etc.—as usual, anything that will perpetuate "Slavonomics". As our individual consciousnesses are linked to the collective consciousness which holds all information from past, present, and future, we know inherently, though rarely consciously, a lie when we hear it. Naturally, such nonsense is difficult if not impossible for us to assimilate; the ones who do assimilate it well must create and maintain the greatest yet false "cognitive bullshit receptors."

  6. Love your children. Treat them how you want to be treated yourself. It shouldn't take a martyr to recognize that it’s profoundly painful to be on the receiving end of verbal denigration or physical abuse. I can only imagine that for most parents it isn’t exactly enjoyable to be performing the acts. It’s not an accident you feel terrible while in the midst of hurting your kids.

A Parting Prayer

I Hope this writing and the suggested paths to resolution help you both in recognizing these failure-related difficulties in your own life and the lives of your kids and in making headway toward healing.

My intention for you as I close this, now, is that any failure-related struggles affecting you and your children may be healed with ease and Grace.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Unity-Duality Paradox

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



The Unity-Duality Paradox

God is love.
God has created us in his image and likeness.
We are love. We are God.

Love does not cause suffering.
God does not suffer.

Though One is all and all are One, we suffer.

And so we will.

For within the veiled realm of dualistic existence,
without suffering we do not awaken;
without suffering we do not realize what it is we are not,
in order that we may remember what it is we truly are:

We are love. We are God.

-----
Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 5/3/13 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Opposites That Aren’t Opposites

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



Dualistic Poles: The Opposites That Aren’t Opposites

Somehow we continue missing the inherent nature of life: Oneness.

Even though it's right in front of us at all times, we keep managing to look right past it. What we see instead is duality:
  • This is cold; that is hot.
  • This is light; that is dark.
  • This is sound; that is silent.
  • This is hard; that is soft.
  • This is healthy; that is diseased.

Yet this duality is a duality that doesn’t actually exist. It’s imagined. Because there’s no such thing, for example, as so-called “hot” or “cold.” Yes, relatively so. But “relatively so” is not real, much as it might be what we focus all of our attention on.

What is real is an ever-prevalent transference of energy between what appears to be two absolute poles in which, no matter what level of energy—i.e.: “temperature”—is sensed relatively, all is of the same one give-take system.

So, “coldness” is not “coldness” but is the absence of a higher level of energy, one we’d term “warmth.” “Coldness” and “warmth,” then, if it could be said in the following way, are in an eternal dance of balance. When “coldness” departs, “warmth” immediately replaces it, and vice versa. But, not really, because there is no distinction; there is no true point in the infinity to delineate and say: “This is where coldness ends and warmth begins.”

Even if we go to the point of a duality such as “healthy” versus “diseased,” still there is something ultimately short-sighted in this.

For even the fungal growth that is cancer, horrible though it may be to the relative perspective, is merely another form of life growing where the conditions for its existence prevail. By all means, if a person experiences cancer, I whole-heartedly support their effort to heal, to alter the conditions allowing it to develop. But in an absolute sense, there is nothing inherently “wrong” with cancer. It is not personal nor is there actually any "disease" about it.

When we look at a tree fallen over in the forest and see it run through with rot and having mushrooms grown on it, do we think: Oh, God, that must be terrible for the tree. What a horror this is?

Yes, if we’re still stuck in a fully dualistic and illusory mindset, we do. But in taking the bird’s eye view we think nothing of it whatsoever because there’s nothing “wrong.” There came an emptying of life from the tree, the tree’s protective mechanisms ceased to be, and so new life forms took up residence as circumstance permitted.

It’s the cycle of life:
  1. Life grows.
  2. Life dies.
  3. Death creates a void.
  4. Void is filled with new life.
  5. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Such is the way of existence: An eternal flux and balancing of seeming opposites having uncounted “points” between which, really, is all and only ever an indifferentiable Oneness.

And it’s this way of existence that, when known and observed from a necessarily nonjudgmental mindset, effects in the observer the peace, acceptance, and gratitude and the like endlessly sought out, yet never found, in the realm of perceptual polarities.

Experiential Self-Proof of the Concept of Oneness

I’m now going to offer you an anecdote from my own life and then provide you with a very simple method that can prove to you experientially the truth of what I’ve written.

About five years ago during a karate class, part of an exercise set required that I do a limit-breaking number of “mountain-climbers.” Since my shoulders were relatively weak and this exercise places a good deal of tension on them, it wasn’t uncommon in times prior for me to take a rest in the middle of a set.

On one occasion, however, as my shoulders began to seriously burn halfway through the set, I focused my attention sharply on my shoulders. I made the conscious thought: I am energy. At my very deepest level, I am nothing more than energy. Energy cannot tire.

Within about three seconds, all pain and weakness in my shoulders ceased. I finished off the mountain-climbers feeling as though I’d not done any.

The nature of life is energy. It’s everywhere and everything, and, as it has no polarity, it just is. We may not perceive it as such, but that certainly doesn’t make room for negation—it’s merely that our perception isn’t picking up on it.

For a brief moment when in karate class, I was able to tap into the greater energetic truth of life. I was able to momentarily realize within myself the wholeness of my inherent nature. (A nature that belongs to all of us.) I was no longer a “weak” human; I was no longer a “limited” human (if only in the sense of what I’d been seeking to accomplish). I was no longer at the “lower” end of the spectrum believing that I had to work my way up to the “higher” end of the spectrum. Contrarily, in that short period, I became, so to speak, the energy “spectrum” itself.

For you, the reader, you could try what I did if you’d like. I’m not sure it will work because life, as far as I’ve seen, tends to be quite personal—the “miracles” and epiphanies of another rarely if ever become one’s own.

Regardless, here are a few ideas of varying sorts to play around with that are likely to work for anyone. Be aware that the results typically come as an internal kind of feeling or knowing-without-knowing. You’ll recognize something is different, but may not readily be able to point precisely at what the difference is.
  • When you’re out in the cold and are catching a chill, recall that there is only what is, that “cold” does not exist.
  • When you’re reading the news and think, This is some bad stuff, take a pause and inquire as to where the absolute point is exactly at which “good” and “bad” separate or are defined.
  • When loud noises abound and you think, “Oh, how I would love silence right now,” although full quiet may be preferential, reassess whether there is as much noise as at first it seems. (Hint: Focus on the spaces beneath, between, and within the noises.)

So there you go. Give these suggestions a shot. If you want to work at more on your own, the key is to choose characteristics you’ve perceived as dualistic and then from a state of Oneness perception pull out whatever it is you’re looking for. This "whatever it is" generally being only as limited as you.

And remember: Whatever comes to you, it's Oneness responding to itself.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Imagination Police

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



The Star Wars Travesty

A friend recently told me of the Star Wars “Expanded Universe”-killing move of Disney.

In two paragraphs:

Back in the day while Lucasfilm did their Lucasfilm work, be it Star Wars movies or games or whatever, the fans created their own Star Wars “Expanded Universe” (EU) of side stories, characters, etc. This is to say that fans created books, artwork, and so forth, sent them in for approval, and then (assuming approval) the works were officially licensed as part of the Star Wars collection. (Note that they were important but not considered “Canon” as are the movies.)

My friend then told me, however, that after purchasing the Lucasfilm rights, Disney announced that any Star Wars-related material not portrayed within the first 6 films was, effectively, garbage. In other words, all the artistic works—books, comics, artwork, and whatever else—as related to the fan-created EU of Star Wars were officially made null and void, meaningless, useless, kaput.

As anyone knows who has ever had an awesome idea and had it manifested (to any extent) only to have it utterly squashed; as anyone knows who has ever enjoyed the feeling, the experience of being a part themselves of such ideas and, likewise, felt the squashing as though a piece of them was stolen away, Star Wars fans felt, and continue to feel, that a part of the fabric of their existence has been stolen forever.

The Imagination Police

There’s a certain word I’d used a moment ago to describe Disney’s announcement of the “End.” This word was, officially.

…fan-created EU… [was] officially made null and void, meaningless, useless, kaput.

Officially.

Chew on that for a minute. But don’t swallow. You probably already have, but don’t. Gullible people swallow. You still chewing? Did whatever scrap it is you’re chewing on release any insights to you yet? No? Then keep chewing. Pardon the pun, but yes, this is a Chewie situation. You need to stay focused. Concentrate. Chew.

...

Get it yet?

If you are a Star Wars EU fan who feels that something vital has been deceitfully taken from you, particularly if you find yourself miserable and complaining about it yet not taking any action, I ask you this:

Why are you accepting as fact the idea that the Universe you and others have created in your own collective imagination—in a way, a most enthralling astral experience—as never having happened? This idea coming from a corporation no less! A corporation!

Can’t you still see all those vivid characters and environments and scenes in your mind’s eye? Aren’t your shelves filled with all those EU books and comics?

And yet you still give Disney exactly what they want.

They said: We’re the boss, now! and then punched you in the gut. Are you really going to stand there and say: Thank you, sir! May I have another!?”

What strikes me as more heart-breaking and gut-wrenching than Disney’s emptiness is that people, grown men and women, would submit to Disney’s emptiness believing that: Yes, it’s true. The EU is dead. Disney did it officially.

You know what Chewie would say about this?

“Raguaa, muu waaar hugaa.”

Which translates as: “Officially, my hairy ass.”

Which Path Will You Choose?

So the question comes down to: Which path will you choose?

I can only imagine that, although some fans are likely gone for good or only hanging on loosely, countless others, though they will remain disgusted and complain, will still go see the movies, will still buy the video games, will still get the toys for themselves or their kids.

Which is exactly what Disney is, quite literally, banking on—that people will feed the mouth that bites them.

Disturbed Star Wars fans… What if the hundreds of thousands of you don’t go to the movies? What if the hundreds of thousands of you don’t buy the DVD’s, games, and other merchandise?

What if the hundreds of thousands of you don’t submit to this dishonor of human creation?

Your money is your vote. Are you going to agree with Disney that you are not the master of your imagination? That your collective life creations truly no longer exist?

Or will you stand up and continue creating?

Because if the Star Wars movies and related products were to utterly tank, Disney would take the hint. They may be big, but they’re no bigger than the dollars the average you and me put in their wallet.

If you want your Expanded Universe back, you have to demand it… But first you have to realize that it never truly left. Not only is it sitting on your shelves in print and DVD (or VHS, whatever that is…), but it’s within you and it’s within every other Star Wars fan.

Unless you choose to believe the “official” statement. Then, yeah—it’s dead.

It’s your call.

It’s Everywhere

For sure, this kind of tragedy doesn’t end with Star Wars. It’s everywhere.

We’ve got Big Religion telling us who’s saved and who’s going to hell, yet no savior has thus far come and people are suffering like mad. We’ve got Big Government passing ever more laws and forever hiking taxes, yet solutions are always out of reach. We’ve got Big Medical and Big Pharma demanding preemptive screenings and endless medications, yet the multitudes are sick as ever. We’ve got Big Education telling us who we are, what we’re doing here, and how to think and live, yet these service-only-to-Big-Business-and-consumerism ways provide little sense of satisfaction for individuals. We’ve got guiding groups like the USDA telling us the “One Right Way” to eat, yet following every new edition of the Food Pyramid/My Plate the skyrockets that are the metabolic disease and cancer rates sharpen even further. We’ve got Big Security agencies with the most advanced spying and data collecting technologies in the world, yet terrorist events have become a dime a dozen affair, all of them “unforeseen.”

This may be the “official” story, folks, but it’s complete garbage.

Left and right, people are getting sick and dying, losing jobs, going homeless, being victim to child labor and abuse, having their rights and privacy taken away, and we keep paying for more of it.

Thank you, sir! May I have another!?

How long are we going to sit around paying to be manipulated by the tyranny that is Big Everything?

How long are we going to deny our imaginations, our creations, our artistic works—the very things that make us uniquely human and slaves to none?

The Star Wars Expanded Universe happened. Life happened. Artistic expression happened.

Indeed, they’re still happening. To you. And to me.

It’s time to remember that we don’t have to forget.

Post Script

If you need more clarity on the situation, go read/watch: 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Equilibrium.

Your art is resistance. Your resistance is art.