|7 Dec 2006 @ 16:10|
Free ourselves from fear-
"Jonathan Livingston Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull's life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed." Richard Bach
I remember some words of security from one of my spiritual teachers that made good sense to me and I have passed them on to my children and grandchildren. That is, don’t let the fear of God, Sex or Sin prevent you from developing, supporting or maintaining your courage to be your true self.
One question is, “What is there to Fear?” Some of us still remember FDR’s Inaugural Address during the tough times of the Great Depression:
"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."(FDR)
Yes, fear can paralyze us and prevent us from taking responsibility for ourselves and for taking "right action"- what is often referred to as “Mindfulness” in our lives to promote health, responsibility and freedom. Fear for many of us was and still is transmitted to us by our early care givers, our parents, teachers, other adults, peers, politicians and religious leaders. I believe that fear, ignorance and prejudice are all part of the same equation that make us incapable of fulfilling our dreams and aspirations for promoting and supporting a healthy, happy life for us and for our families.
I believe that we can acknowledge that the human being is a delicate creature as we literally have no real inherent self-defense, unlike our animals that have attributes to protect or defend themselves. We hopefully will use our mind to protect our physical being and secure our sense of trust, safety and security through proper exercise, nutrition, relaxation, work, activities and friendships. In other words, finding a balance in our lives physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually offers us the best possibility to be fully and securely human.
God is not to be feared!
So for me, my mind does not accept that God is to be feared. I view God as our Creator of all and everything. I accept that I am part of God and part of everything—we are one body, mind and spirit. I do not view my self or anyone or anything separate from 'All that Is'. Thus, to be fearful of God is to be fearful of all and everything.
Who in their ‘right mind’ would create such a division between us and our true nature? By recognizing our delicacy and insecurity as a human species, opens up vast opportunities for those in power and authority to manipulate the truth by deceiving us and by playing on our ignorance about ourselves, our emotions, our sensitivity and our unity. We see fear provoked every day by our politicians to build and continue to expand the largest military defense systems that our world has ever known, at the expense of the health, education and welfare of our global family and wider community.
I know that we can free ourselves of fear by taking one step at a time and learning more about ourselves, inside and out.
Note: This article is also included on my Delphi blogs: learning to learn and play with children More >
|16 Nov 2006 @ 14:43|
During the past six years we have accepted the behavior of bullies, especially Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney. I think that we have had enough of this abuse and our election has demonstrated that it is time for change in leadership.
How can we improve our home, school, work place and neighborhood so that our environment is human centered -- loving, caring, nourishing, responsible and respectful?
Profile of a Bully
"Adult bullies, like their schoolyard counterparts, tend to be insecure people with poor or non-existent social skills and little empathy. They turn this insecurity outwards, finding satisfaction in their ability to attack and diminish the capable people around them.
A work place bully subjects the target to unjustified criticism and trivial fault-finding. In addition, he or she humiliates the target, especially in front of others, and ignores, overrules, isolates and excludes the target.
If the bully is the target's superior, he or she may: set the target up for failure by setting unrealistic goals or deadlines, or denying necessary information and resources; either overload the target with work or take all work away (sometimes replacing proper work with demeaning jobs); or increase responsibility while removing authority.
Regardless of specific tactics, the intimidation is driven by the bully's need to control others." [link]
Seems to me that we have far too many persons in authority who secure and maintain their position of authority by bullying, intimidating and controlling others. Children often learn to bully others by observing and experiencing authoritarian parents, teachers, coaches and others who lose control of their emotions and become abusive. We see many of these bullies in the sporting world. For example, most recently I observed Bobby Knight physically abusing one of his players on TV by forcing his player to look him in the eyes while talking to him.
These aggressive and controlling persons, rarely change behaviors, even after being fired from a previous position as head basketball coach at Indiana University for losing control and abusing his players. By the way, we must remind coaches that these players are also our students who we treat with dignity and respect. Personally, I believe that we should forget the old adage that professional athletes and coaches serve as good role models for our children. For most of them, winning means more to them than the lives of their charges.
Here are two extensive websites that describe a culture of bullies. We have all been associated with these controlling, angry and abusive individuals. I know that I have had supervisors who misused their positions of authority and created an environment of intimidation and fear. I think that these articles show how sinister these bullies can be and how we can identify or recognize them and learn to do something about improving our work place and our social environment. After all, our country, home, school and work place should serve as a safe sanctuary for learning, experimenting, developing, and creating our best possibilities as human beings. Obviously, when we do not feel safe and secure, our spiritual qualities, health and wellbeing are at risk.
Note: This article was also published in my Blog-Learning to Play with Children[link] More >
|21 Oct 2006 @ 15:36|
I recently started a blog on my forum to discuss "Learning to learn and play with children--being like children -- honest, open, accepting and loving."
I have introduced some of these activities on NCN; however, my forum provides an outlet for me to directly engage and exchange ideas, plans, theories and more with my students so it is convenient to introduce some of my brief articles on Delphi Forums as well. [link]
In Montagu's book Touching, p. 5, Andre Virel, anthropologist and neurologist, describes the "internal nervous system":
Our skin is a mirror endowed with properties even more wonderful than those of a magic looking glass. The primeval mirror that envelops the ovum splits apart only to be swallowed up within itself. Then it reappears on the other side of the original fissure. The divided mirror that is the skin and nervous system combined thus ends up looking at itself, so to speak, resulting in a confrontation that stimulates a never-ending movement of images and the birth of what is aptly referred to as reflexive thought.
Dr. Montagu follows this beautiful passage by further describing the changes that take place:
On our skin, as on a screen, the gamut of life's experiences is projected: emotions surge, sorrows penetrate, and beauty finds its depth. Soft, smooth source of youth's vanity, skin later bears wrinkled witness to the toll of years. Radiant in health, it tingles to the affectionate touch.
Obvious to me is the importance of touch conveyed by Dr. Montagu and others who introduce us to the dynamic nature of our skin and its relationships to all of the other systems of our organism. After reading these chapters, I even grow to appreciate massage and touch even more.
In the following article learning to touch is introduced for infant bonding:
Touch from another human being can be a nourishing medicine or a damaging poison. Without words, we can show affection by giving a hug or by stroking a child's arm, or we can show disapproval by using our hands to restrain a child's hand. The importance of touch for a child with deafblindness is apparent. The child will use this sense extensively to develop communication skills, to help orient in different environments, and most importantly to connect socially with others. This article focuses on the power of gentle touching and suggests ways in which touch can make a positive change in your life and the life of your child.
What does caring and loving touch do for infants? It is a necessary part of developing attachment between the child and parents. It is the beginning of communication between you and your child. Because you make him feel secure, the child learns to trust you and develops an emotional tie to you. The child's response to those feelings of security deepens your feelings of love and protectiveness towards him. It is what Dr. T. Barry Brazelton refers to as the parent and child "falling in love" with each other."The Importance of Touch in Parent-Infant Bonding" [link]
Please let me know how you feel about the use of healthy, respectful and loving touch with individuals, couples, families and groups. More >
|9 Sep 2006 @ 15:04|
Looking at the human predicament, we may not know whether to laugh or cry. Tarthang Tulku,Knowledge of Freedom
There is no better time than the present to review and pass on these Human Rights to your children and others. I know that even my young grandchildren enjoy discussing some of these freedoms and expressing what these universal rights mean to them. As free spirits it is hard for them to understand how anyone would treat another human being with such disrespect and disregard as we see in the world around us and on tv. My grandaughter asks: "Why don't people share and get along with one another, Papa?" As a family and as adults we can demonstrate how human beings can be kind, loving, and nourishing. In other words, we must 'practice what we teach.'
Do discuss these Human Rights with friends, colleagues and others so that everyone realizes that we must treat everyone with respect. Treating others as loving brothers and sisters and knowing that we are one body,one mind and one spirit, allows us to develop dignity and to naturally treat ourselves with the same respect and loving kindness.
In the Preamble of this Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscious of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been prclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resourt, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations.
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction."
Note: See, Articles 1-30[link] More >
|26 Aug 2006 @ 16:52|
The Trouble with earthlings is their early adulthood. As long as they are young, they are loveable, open-hearted, tolerant, eager to learn and to collaborate. They can even be induced to play with one another. Most adults, however, are mortal enemies. The only educational problem earth has is how to keep them young. (Growing Young, Ashley Montagu)
I recently learned that Google provides free uploads for pictures and videos so I had the good fortune to post three short videos about Coca Cola Zero spoofs that Ariana, one of my granddaughters made. I think they are very funny and demonstrate the playfulness, joy and skill of our 7yr. old artist, actor and athlete.
When I play with my three grandchildren, we enjoy many games, ride our bikes, do theatre, art work, dance, read stories and whatever they enjoy. (Do visit one of my earlier logs that we made while developing an art project with our three kids demonstrating a method created by our good friend, great teacher and NCN colleague, Judih.) [link]
Currently, our kids are enjoying photography so I give them one of my cameras and they learn how to entertain themselves and also to load them on our computer. These three very short videos are one example of how we use photography and technology to support the children's interest and enthusiasm with acting and in expressing their openness and spontaineity. Please comment so that I can share them with Ari.
Coca Cola Zero Spoof #1[link]
Coca Cola Zero Spoof #2[link]
Coca Cola Zero Spoof #3 [link]
One of my cameras (HP Photosmart R707) can take both still and videos so it is handy to have available when the kids want to do extemporaneous theatre. Ariana and I took a trip to a local park a few weeks ago and she asked if she could have a soft drink. I wasn't aware that her mother didn't allow them, but she purchased a Coca Cola Zero and began making up a story about how this drink gives her energy while I did the camera work.
I have such a great time with these kids and laugh for hours on end. If you want to improve your health and happiness, do find time to play with your kids and grandchildren. I also encourage those of you who are teachers to use the camera in your classroom to help build confidence, self-esteem and creativity. Obviously, the kids love to see their pictures and enjoy watching their peers expressing themselves as well.
I am hoping that as a New Civilization we can dedicate these logs to improving the quality of health and education for our children families. More >
|7 May 2006 @ 15:20|
What’s happening with our 15-Minute StressOut Program with Elders? An Update -
We are generating interest, relaxation and support for our Las Cruces Health Promotion Team with Elders. During the past 2 weeks, our organization has given over 100 individual ‘stressouts’ with elders in 3 of our health settings. Our New Mexico State University, social work students, senior volunteers, staff members of Munson Senior Center and Home Based Services, joined with us in giving healthy, loving touch with our elders.
It is very ‘touching’, pun intended, to observe and experience the relief of stress, anxiety and depression of our elders who participate in our weekly chair type massage programs given in our community centers also offering diabetes testing and blood pressure exams. Professional students enrolled in my course on “Social Work Practice with Elders” have contributed greatly to this effort and have learned to incorporate safe, loving touch and integrative health practices into their professional practice with this population. [link]
I have enjoyed giving our ‘stressout program’ to elders as well. All of our participants have evaluated their experience as positive and relaxing and most have returned for a second massage. Because of the huge response to this program, it is necessary for us to do more recruitment for healthy elders and other volunteers to administer the program and meet the demands for the service. For example, during the next few months, we will be giving demonstrations in co-op food services, social clubs, public schools, university classes and other resources.
As a global touch project designed with our New Civilization Network, I appreciate the feedback and messages of support from our members. Thank you. More >
|29 Mar 2006 @ 14:53|
We are very pleased to update and report on our Global Touch Project using our 15-Minute StressOut Program to support the health and well being of our Elders. [link]
On Friday, March 17, 2006, our newly formed Las Cruces Health Promotion Team with Elders conducted a county-wide workshop for caregivers and professionals interested in learning how to give and receive “safe, skillful and loving” touch. We had over 50 participants attend our 3hr. workshop and established a core team of volunteers to become certified and to administer our ‘chair type’ massage program.
Following our workshop, our administrative team met to review our project and to plan for follow up workshops in nursing homes and other resources and to conduct regularly scheduled meeting with elders interested in reducing their stress, anxiety and depression. In our city, there are three sites established to give diabetes examinations weekly as this disease has reached epidemic proportions here in New Mexico and West Texas. In the US it is reported that there are over 21 million people who have diabetes.
Because of our successful 'Best Practice' research related to using touch to reduce blood sugar levels and to promote health and wellness of this population our new volunteers are preparing themselves to administer our stress management program weekly in these diabetic centers.[link]
I am hopeful that NCN members and other communities will join with us in developing and administering our healthy touch program for elders on a global scale. More >
|12 Mar 2006 @ 18:58|
Learning to become kind, gentle, open, honest and nonjudgmental
What a great discovery I made yesterday while visiting the stacks of our used book store and finding The Pema Chodrin Collection. I was looking for some more resources on the engagement process to assist my students in learning how to more effectively interact with our elders and with individuals, couples, groups and families.
One of our primary approaches for serving others in our profession is to maintain a nonjudgmental mind so that those we interact with can feel free to be open and honest with us. Obviously, if we do not respect others and work on ourselves to maintain an open mind, how can we expect others to interact with us freely or with openness so that we can offer our best service and practice initiatives?
For many years my professional practice has been strengthened by the unitary orientation of our body-mind-emotions-spirit relationship as included in particle science and what is referred to as applied Buddhism. Tarthang Tulku, founder and head Lama for the Nyingma Center, has introduced numerous resources to guide his students in their search for clarity of meaning, purpose and right action. Please visit my other discussions on my web logs, bibliography and links page on my website for further details of this approach. [link]
In Master Tulku’s work with health professionals over many years, he accumulated some valuable knowledge and wisdom to help us with our skills and develop an open mind with meditation, physical exercise, massage, and other integrative practices. As he describes this learning experience:
Meditation is a way of opening our lives to the richness of experience, not an esoteric practice limited to certain times and places. Whether we live in the quiet of the country or in the turmoil of the city, meditation can actually become a way of life. In this kind of meditation, we learn to embrace and learn from whatever we experience.
This all-embracing form of meditation, however, is not as easy as it sounds, for it entails mindfulness in all we do. From the simple act of getting up in the morning to our dreams at night, everything is included in this meditation. We learn to open our senses to each nuance of experience, mindful of even the smallest details of our lives, such as how we walk and how we talk with others. In this way we open to the truth of our experience.(Tarthang Tulku, Openness Mind)
This resource offers us even more opportunities to learn to open our mind and transcend our internal chatter and belief systems so that we can become more effective human service professionals. In this book, The Pema Chodron Collection, three lectures or discussions are introduced: “The Wisdom of No Escape,” Start Where You Are,” and “When Things Fall Apart.” In the first article, that I am focusing, she discusses the three qualities that we can cultivate and nurture to become more open, honest and nonjudgmental—precision, gentleness, and the ability to let go. [link]
I will briefly describe the breathing technique that Ani Pema Chodron introduces in this book; however, I recommend that you aquire this collection and follow her indications.
The technique to develop precision is to be mindful of our out-breath. “Be with the breath as it goes out, feel the breath go out, touch the breath as it goes out.” Be, feel and touch the breath are the key elements of awareness. For example, it develops our precision because we always return to this out-breath periodically. Thus, our mind becomes clear and accurate without other thoughts clouding our experience while interacting with others.
To assist us in supporting our basic principle and right of ‘self-determination,” this technique of observing our out-breath is done with gentleness. As Ani Pema describes,
the gentle attention of the breath produces relaxation and a quality of kindness so that we can be present in our relationships without judgment, manipulation and intrusion.
The focus on the out-breath is practiced with the eyes open and relaxed. She suggests that our focus on the out-breath is but 25 percent so that we can observe our entire environment with all of our senses. Everything in nature is also interacting with us as we engage others. There is no goal to silence the mind from thoughts. When we see or experience thoughts, just make an internal statement – “Thinking.” And, listen to your voice as you make this statement as it will tell us its quality of gentleness.
Ani describes letting go as a more difficult exercise as it requires the precision and gentleness to mature. “Rather, it’s something that happens as a result of working with precision and gentleness. In other words, as your work with being really faithful to the technique and being as precise as you can simultaneously as kind as you can, the ability to let go seems to happen to you.” Furthermore, she states that we don’t force any of these qualities or exercises. It’s a rediscovery of our original ability to let go and to be open.
With time and practice, Ani Pema gives us encouragement—“You will learn what it is to let go and what it is to open beyond limited beliefs and ideas about things.” You don’t repress thoughts; you just note that this is “thinking.”
Finally, she says that when we get the hang of this meditation, we will no longer be caught in the grip of our angry thoughts or passionate thoughts or worried thoughts or depressed thoughts. I appreciate the introduction to this technique and observance. Hopefully, with practice, we can all achieve our best possible condition and more effectively serve humanity with 'precision, gentleness and letting go.' More >
|16 Feb 2006 @ 17:57|
I am very pleased to share our progress in developing our community program to reach out and touch our lonely and isolated elders here in southern New Mexico. This article describes our volunteer organization and support that we have received from our City of Las Cruces, RSVP Program and the In-home Services Program.
We will launch our training program on Friday, March 17, 2006, Munson Senior Center, 1:30-4:30pm.
We are interested in offering this program on a Global Scale so that other communities can use our experience, resources and healthy touch program to serve elders who are isolated and lonely. For more information, do visit our homepage and forum. [link]
This volunteer program is designed to support our lonely and isolated elderly population and caregivers in Southern N.M . The 15-Minute StressOut Program, as designed by Emeritus Professor, Gerald Vest, ACSW/LISW/LMT, and the New Mexico State University, Health Promotion Team, is the primary approach used to introduce safe, skillful and appropriate touch with our elders and caregivers. (See home page for a complete description and historical overview of this program--protocol that includes the skillful use of touch coordinated with the breath, ethical guidelines for the safe use of touch, certification requirements, evaluation instruments, participation comments, selected resources and research.)
Selected volunteers will complete an orientation and training program as part of the process in becoming certified to give and to receive the “StressOut Program.”
Safety Guidelines & Requirements
Ethical Guidelines for the Safe Use of Touch:
1. Provide the option for participants to self-administer the program;
2. Always receive permission to touch and remind participants that contact is always in safe areas;
3. Have a witness or partner present to observe the "stressout";
4. Teach the activity to others so that they can be the giver and receiver;
5. Give participants an opportunity to evaluate the experience: and,
6. Encourage participants to use the teaching video and "Study Guide" if the worker does not choose to make physical contact.
This community organization is sponsored by the City of Las Cruces, RSVP, Senior Programs. [link] Aurora Ybarra, LBSW, RSVP Program Coordinator and Francesca Smith, LBSW, In-home Services Manager, serve as professional advisors. Judith Bartlett and Liz Ambrose are chosen to serve as the initial volunteer Co-Team Leaders for the project. Gerald Vest, ACSW/LISW/LMT, is the volunteer program consultant-trainer.
1)Professional Advisors – oversee the organization and the selection, recruitment and training of volunteers; maintain an organization data base of volunteers; supervise student interns; and, provide for certification and recognition of volunteers.
2)Co-Team Leaders – work closely with the advisors, program consultant and senior resources to support the program; schedule workshops and training programs; help recruit, train and place volunteers; maintain organization records; and conduct the business of the organization.
3)As a team we will all work together to sustain a volunteer organization that can support our elders and caregivers with safe, skillful and loving touch.
Note: The picture identifies our Leadership Team -- Aurora Ybarra, Francesca Smith, Judith Bartlett, Liz Ambrose and Jerry Vest. More >
|31 Dec 2005 @ 16:15|
Thousands of people die miserable deaths alone, uncared for and in poverty, figures suggest.
A study by Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow found around 60 people a week die alone without the support of friends and family. [link]
Isolation and loneliness-
The report - Dying Alone: Assessing isolation, loneliness and poverty - found women who died alone were likely to be between the ages of 75 and 80 - almost 10 years older than men.
It said that although the figures represented only a "snapshot" of provision across England, they painted "a stark picture of isolation, loneliness and in many cases impoverishment".
Our touch project with elders makes even more sense and urgency when we see these kinds of deathly reports. At least a caring volunteer would discover how uncared for our elders are throughout the world. I am examining statistics in the US and in other countries and suspect that isolated deaths with the elderly may be just as likely.
Our volunteer recruitment program in New Mexico is making steady progress and by mid-January we will launch our orientation and training sessions. The City of Las Cruces, Aging Programs are serving as sponsors. Several university programs—health science, nursing, social work, student organizations—are aiding us in the recruitment of volunteers and providing student interns to assist us in administering and creating a structure for maintaining continuity of care in nursing homes, outreach services, home-based care programs and other resources for our elders. [link]
Obviously, we are excited about the interest generated by using touch to promote the health and wellbeing of our elders here in southern New Mexico. We are also eager to design a model health program that can be used by others throughout our global network. Do let us know if you wish to serve as an organizer and volunteer in your community so that our New Civilization Network can assist and support you.
We are all going to get older and die, however, it should be with dignity and self respect. For far too long, many of our elders are given a death sentence, living in isolation, out of sight and out of mind, much like our brothers and sisters committed to a life in prison.
We are preparing our community to reach out and touch our lonely and isolated elders. Come join us!!!
*Picture by Ariana and Beau Laracuente, our grandchildren. More >
|2 Nov 2005 @ 13:31|
It is taken for granted in American culture that the individual will identify with his/her emotions and follow their dictates. In recent decades, such dubious cultural values have infected more and more people, with access to greater material wealth, at the same time that the business/religions of our culture have evolved ever more cunning pitches to our emotions. This dynamic is now fueling the disintegration of that culture, heedless of the long range consequences as long as the short-term balance sheet looks good. (Tarthang Tulku - Gesture of Balance)
I am proposing that we develop a partnership for introducing Healthy Touch Programs for our Elders and Care Givers on a global scale. This initiative will include using our 15 Minute StressOut Program & DVD with elders and care givers in nursing homes, home-based services, outreach services, border programs, day care, shelters, hospice, hospitals, assisted living arrangements, and other resources for the aging population. This program is widely used with all populations, groups and varied organizations with great success. Because guidlines for the safe use of touch are clearly identified and reinforced by the workers,the StressOut Program is ideal for the use with our elders and caregivers. And, our volunteers have already given the 'stressout' to over 10,000 participants. 15-Minute StressOut Program
The use of touch for promoting health, wellness and disease prevention is an ancient approach to medicine that was introduced over 2,000 years ago in China. According to Eisenberg (1993), “Millions of Americans are already using massage, meditation, acupuncture, and herbal remedies of all kinds, without their doctors’ recommendations.” These alternative health practices are used not only for stress reduction but also for relief of pain, heart disease, anxiety, and inability to sleep. Furthermore, in his dialogue with Bill Moyers in Healing and the Mind, Eisenberg suggested that in the Chinese culture, it is believed that how you live ultimately influences your health: “It’s not just diet or exercise; it’s also a spiritual or emotional balance that comes from the way you treat people and the way you treat yourself. And, since that’s the basis of their culture, it spills over into their medicine.” (Eisenberg, D. (1993), “Another way of seeing;” B.S. Flowers & D.Grubin (Eds.), Healing and the mind: Bill Moyers, NY: Doubleday.)
Our elders are perhaps one of the most abused, neglected and forgotten groups throughout our country and beyond. Our aging population is often considered the ‘throw away’ generation as they are considered non-productive and of little value to a society that bases its success, worth and values on “the bottom line” and on “winners and losers.” Of course, this is a short sighted, limited view of human worth, dignity and self-respect; yet, many of our elderly are continuing to suffer from stress, anxiety and depression and are barely surviving while struggling to meet their basic human needs. US Census
The world population is growing, and it's also growing older. Researchers say birth and death rates are gradually falling worldwide, increasing the number and overall proportion of older people. For many societies, caring for all those aging citizens could be difficult.
The United Nations estimates that about one out of every 10 people on the planet today is at least 60 years old. By 2050, it's projected to be one out of five which means that not only will there be more old people, there will be relatively fewer young people to support them. (“Aging World Population Presents Challenge for Future Young,” Barry Newhouse)
Furthermore, Mr. Newhouse notes:
Some governments see family support systems as a way to avoid the financial problems that industrial nations face with their publicly-funded safety nets. But he says history has shown that familial support systems are generally weakened when nations become more prosperous -- as fewer children live with and care for their parents. And he says if the nations wait too long, it may be too late.
It is for these reasons and because of our compassion for others, especially our elders that our international community can begin to awaken to this dilemma and develop collaborative support systems and networks such as NCN to promote universal health promotion and wellbeing with our aging populations and care givers.
I would like to introduce a beginning Action Plan - An Outline for Advancing the use of Touch with Our Elders in my next NCN News Log. We can help ease the pain, suffering and neglect of our elders and support our care givers throughout our World. I believe that together we can design a plan that has a chance to be realized when each person or individual interested in contributing to the wellbeing of others understands and appreciates that physical interaction or human touch is a BASIC HUMAN NEED or REQUIREMENT for living a meaningful, dignified and healthy life. Beyond this is the fact that when humans do not interact physically, they become angry, depressed and become isolated and alone in the world. This is far too evident in our American society today. In a recent visit to a nursing home, one of the residents told me--“There must be something wrong with me – no one wants to touch me!” How sad is this?
The languages of the senses, in which all of us can be socialized, are capable of enlarging our appreciation and of deepening our understanding of each other and the world in which we live. Chief among these languages is touching. [Touch is] “The powerful means of establishing human relationships, the foundation of experience. (Ashley Montague, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin),.
In an article our health team published using “Alternative Health Practices in Ethnically Diverse Rural Areas: A Collaborative Research Project,” (1997), we discovered that our touch program was successful in alleviating pain and suffering and reducing the blood sugar levels with diabetic patients in rural health clinics. We also did a successful follow-up program with persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease living in nursing homes in southern New Mexico. [link]
I believe that, with your help, we can use “safe, skillful and appropriate touch” with all populations and especially with our elders who have been neglected, disrespected and abused for far too long. Let’s give TOUCH a chance to heal and to nourish our human family. More >
|8 Sep 2005 @ 14:34|
Free DVD for Victims, Families & Helpers!!!
As an active member of NCN, author and team leader of the 15-Minute StressOut Program & DVD, I want to make this instructional program available to large numbers of victims and helpers of this devastating hurricane.
Please accept this invitation, around the world, to join us in advancing the use of touch to improve the quality of lives, health and relationships. To learn more about us, our methods, research, guidelines, and values, do visit our Links, Resources, and other pages on our website.
Team members and others interested in using our "StressOut Program" for victims, helpers, and others located in shelters and other resources, please contact us and our distributor will send you our DVD, free of charge. 15-Minute StressOut Program
Humanity needs Loving Touch & Support. Please pass this invitation on to others who may be in need of skillful, healthy, loving, and respectful touch. We are here to serve.
Gerald (Jerry) Vest, ACSW/LISW/LMT
New Mexico State University More >
|8 Aug 2005 @ 14:27|
When positive or joyous feelings and attitudes pass through each organ and circulate throughout our whole system, our physical and chemical energies are transformed and balanced. Tarthang Tulku, Gesture of Balance
This newslog was inspired by Judih [link]in her work with children as a teacher, introducing music and art to teach teamwork, cooperation and interaction. During this past weekend I introduced this project to my grandchildren. We also included photography and writing to describe our project here on NCN. I will invite Ariana and Beau to share their feelings and thoughts about this project. Daeja enjoys her independence and decided she would not share her experience with us right now.
Ariana is 7 and Beau is 5. Daeja, our 3 yr old, had some difficulty sharing her art work with her brother and sister so perhaps she is too young to understand these concepts of adding to each others art work. Ari also had to remind Beau that our goal was to add to each others expression or try to improve it when we can. I think with more practice they will all improve their spirit of cooperation.
Our music, Culture X, [link] was very enthusiastically received and my grandkids would frequently leave the project and begin dancing. I think that these temporary diversions helped them extend their play time and enhance their abilities and creativity. I really appreciate their spontaneity and often dance with them.
This is Ari’s description of our art project:
Well, I love this project because it lets me express myself freely and I think it is a good thing for kids to learn how to cooperate and work together. When I paint, my feelings come out on the paper in a colorful and creative way. I also felt inspired by the game and that showed me I could eventually become a professional artist, writer and photograper.
The music helped me see that art and dance all go together nicely. The music goes through my body and makes me want to dance. When we stopped the music we would change each other’s art work and continue on with the game.
One other activity that we added was photography. I used PaPa’s camera to take pictures of the art project and learned how to load them into the computer. I had lots of fun doing this project. When we taped all our pictures together it looks beautiful like a thousand butterflies.
Beau described his experience like this:
This was fun and it made me happy and I would like to do it again some time. The End.
For me, I couldn’t think of a better way to have fun and be with my grandchildren. I love their creativity and joyful expression. They are really proud of their end result and know that we will frame the pictures and hang them on our wall.
Thank you Judih for the comments, enthusiasm and creativity that you share with us on NCN, on the Delphi Teacher Forum [link]and your own website. What an honor and joy you must be for children in your classroom as you naturally express your love for the arts and for the children you work with. Again, I look forward to continuing these projects with our grandkids, with the incarcerated juveniles, soldiers, and others I work with.
|15 Jun 2005 @ 20:11|
In this web log, I am introducing some thoughts and observations about my meditation practice as a living experience. I also am including some quotations from Openness Mind by Tarthang Tulku. Professor Tulku has been a leader in the field of human development and while serving as a teacher in the profession of Social Work, I have extensively drawn on his books and practices for my integrative health courses and workshops. [link]
I am beginning to appreciate and become even more aware of these teachings and the meaning of Open Mind now that I am experiencing arthritic pain in my body-mind during this past year. While turning 70 years of age, I’ve learned that I have some serious arthritis problems in my L4&5 vertebrae, left shoulder joints and some other places. As we all know, pain in the body is also experienced in our mind and takes precedence over all other feelings, blurs our perceptions, affects our relations, and often prevents us from being as open, flexible, strong and balanced as we’ve been during our earlier life.
I’ve also recently learned that I have a cancer lesion in my prostate gland and will undergo surgery shortly. I realize that most men, 75% or more over 65, will have prostate cancer. But, this isn’t something we’ve planned for so it came as a shock to me. I am choosing to have this removed because the other alternatives don’t look so good either. I’ve even thought and meditated on the idea of just observing this cancer for awhile and wait and see how it changes.
This brings me to the point of this discussion – Openness Mind and meditation as introduced by Tarthang Tulku. The following excerpts may serve to assist others experiencing pain and surgery while learning to maintain an open mind. In this book, Tarthang introduces us to meditation as an experience of living that can aid us in developing our whole being.
“How we live, what is happening in our lives, how we are affected by our experience—this is the ground of reality, and the source of spiritual awareness.”(TT)
I remind myself that I am not my body, I am not my mind, I am not this pain. I observe my breathing and let everything inside and out become as one, with total acceptance.(JV)
“As our awareness develops, our entire frame of reference slowly becomes transformed. We see the interrelationships of thought and action, and consequently become more sensitive in our communication with others. Our observations penetrate to deeper levels—we discover how feelings are produced, and how thought functions. As our awareness deepens even further, we can even perceive the link between past, present, and future, and therefore learn to pattern our actions so that our lives are satisfied and fulfilled.”(TT)
I am beginning to see how I respond, even before I react, to circumstances or persons that do not appear to be serving my best interests. (JV)
When patience is strongly developed, awareness appears even from within our negativities, and from that awareness come our meditation. We see that everything that occurs is a manifestation of energy, which itself is a form of our awareness, and we realize that all experience, each of the twenty-four hours of the day, is a part of the enlightenment nature.(TT)
Openness mind to me means that I am open to all that I experience without judgment or label. Seems that I am learning to become more open minded and especially enjoy life fully when playing and being as one with my grandchildren and other free spirits. And the pain no longer becomes the center of my universe. Everything and my entire experience is now my meditation(JV)
The dream and the waking states aren't so very different from each other. When we realize that all existence is like a dream, the gap between sleeping and waking no longer exists. Experiences we gain from practices we do during our dream time can then be brought into our daytime experience....Thus we can use our dream experiences to develop a more flexible attitude.(TT)
I remember an axiom that hit home with me several years ago while attending an Arica workshop...."All is my own dream." I love this dream and am very happy that we are in this one together, my friends.(JV)
Tarthang Tulku, formally educated in the Buddhist tradition in Tibet, is a pioneer in introducing the benefits of meditation. As founder of the Nyingma Institute, he is well known for his innovative programs in Human Development. His writings include Gesture of Balance; Skillful Means, Gentle Ways to Successful Work, Time, Space, and Knowledge; Kum Nye, and Love of Knowledge.[link]
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In these articles, I introduce the basic need for human touch. While there is strong evidence that our society and human family are becoming an endangered species, many governments, such as the USA, pay little, if any attention, to global warming, nuclear stock piles, environment, natural and economic disasters, poverty, abuse, neglect, pandemic health diseases, and growing military-industrial monopolies.
While many of us are aware of these pending and current disasters, organizations such as New Civilization, are hoping to awaken humanity through mindfulness, virtual interaction on the Internet, and forming healthy, respectful alliances to make a difference and change the direction we are heading.
Our health promotion team is a small effort, but hopefully an expanding opportunity, to awaken individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations and commuities to an awareness that touch, respect and love are basic human needs for survival and wellbeing.
Obviously, there are serious considerations for being circumspect and skillful in offering touch as a conscious intervention in the workplace or in a family environment. Guidelines for the safe use of touch include:
- providing the option for participants to self-administer our program;
- receiving permission to touch and reminding participants that contact is always in safe areas;
- having witnesses or partners present;
- teaching the activity to others so that they can be the givers of the stressout program;
- encouraging participants to use the teaching video and study guide (Vest,1995)if the worker chooses not to make physical contact.
Join with us in advancing the use of healthy, respectful and loving touch throughout the world. We are One.