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Showing posts from September 20, 2020

Healing the Heart of Democracy

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"For those of us who want to see democracy survive and thrive --and we are legion --the heart is where everything begins: that grounded place in each of us where we can overcome fear, rediscover that we are members of one another, and embrace the conflicts that threaten democracy as openings to new life for us and for our nation." Parker Palmer shares more in this piece.
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Can Meditation Cause You Harm?

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A new study investigates whether mindfulness may have bad side effects for some people.

Potential side effects are often front and center when considering taking medicine for physical or mental conditions, but information is less clear with treatments like meditation that don’t come in pill form.

By Marianne Spoon Popular media and case studies have recently highlighted negative side effects from meditation—increases in depression, anxiety, and even psychosis or mania—but few studies have looked at the issue in depth across large numbers of people.

In a recent paper featured in the journal Psychological Medicine, researchers at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison found that people who took part in the most common and widely available secular mindfulness program did not experience psychological harm at a rate higher than people in control groups who did not take part in the program.

As meditation joins a growing list of treatment opt…

Your Fuzzy Antidote to Sadness: Alpacas!

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In a time when there is so much division, comfort can still be found in the world around us. We’re pulling our favorite sweater over our heads and coming out to the other side to celebrate an animal who has been gifting us relief for centuries! With an alpaca’s undeniably cute underbite and “super fiber” fleece, your hard day is about to become a little softer!

What exactly is it about your favorite sweater that brings you so much joy? Could it be that the soft, intuitive nature of the animal that grew the fiber has woven its personality into each thread? Alpacas have been comforting humans for centuries, and not just by warming our bones with their luxurious fur! Get cozy, dear friend, for we’re about to envelop ourselves in appreciation for one of the most underrated (and floofy) mammals out there!

By Renee Laroche-Rheaume
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Kiran Khalap: Navigating Business, Creativity and Spirituality

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Where do business and spirituality meet? How does one use creativity to unite? How might we walk our unique path in solving problems outside and dissolving the ego inside? A weekday brand-consultant, a weekend rock-climber, author during nights and a lifetime seeker of Truth -- Kiran Khalaps journey is a striking example of a life of emergence which defies linear planning. Read more about his journey here.
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Forming a More Perfect Union Through Indigenous Values

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"How might we unlock hope in an expansive spirit of democracy for present and future generations in this time of upheaval? This new conversation series on "The State of American Democracy" invites us to explore this question with some of our most creative thinkers and public intellectuals. The first episode on September 17, 2020, focuses on the moral foundations of democracy we can draw for guidance." The article that follows is about the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and highlights the early roots of democracy in the United States."
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How Being in Nature Can Spur Personal Growth

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Experiencing wonder and awe in nature has many benefits, new studies find.

You might enjoy skiing or hiking. But do you feel at home in the mountains? Do you feel connected to the wilderness? According to a new study, that sense of being “home” in nature could be linked to your life satisfaction and personal growth, at least for young people. Another new study of older people finds that a connection to nature seems to make them happier and more willing to help others.

By Teja Pattabhiraman In the first study, a team of researchers in Norway followed a group of college students who were training to lead wilderness expeditions in one of two settings: either in a forest in the middle of a storm or across a high-altitude plateau. The students agreed to complete a pre- and post-adventure questionnaire, which assessed their life satisfaction and personal growth.

A portion of these students also answered prompts every evening of their five-day excursion. They were asked to…

There Are Two Ways to Think About Time: Which Are You?

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What if the tension and conflict you experience with your loved ones or your co-workers could be explained in terms of time! Your perception of time may be entirely different than somebody else, but knowing how this works could leave you with a lot less conflict in your life. This simple test will help you get started!

Could the person next to you understand time completely differently? Could this be a reason you and someone you love find yourself having trouble communicating? If you’re an English speaker, there are two ways that you could perceive time, and the way to determine that starts with this statement: “Wednesday’s noon meeting has been moved forward by two hours.”

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber
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Crossing the Empathy Wall in Divided Times

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"Everyone has a deep story," says Arlie Hochschild. "Our job is to respect and try to understand these stories." Hochschild is one of the most distinguished sociologists of our time. Considered the founder of the "sociology of emotion," she examines some of the most urgent challenges our societies face: work-family balance, shifting gender roles, alienation, globalization, and the ever-widening political divide. Throughout these issues, she studies how we feel about things, what we think we should feel, and why. Why do people choose what they choose? What are the invisible forces behind our actions? What are the emotional costs, if any? And most recently, why does it seem like people vote against their own interests? What follows is an excerpt from her book, "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right."
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How Schools Are Meeting Social-Emotional Needs During the Pandemic

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A new report looks at how schools have been grappling with the challenges imposed by COVID-19.

Starting in March, education leaders have been working furiously to create a school experience that must satisfy a dizzying list of public health, education, economic, and labor concerns. Now that classes have begun, educators face the daunting task making up lost ground from COVID-19-related learning loss, which hit low-income students and students of color particularly hard, against the backdrop of high-profile police violence and anti-Black racism. Students are being asked to learn an atmosphere of prolonged stress and anxiety, often through a Zoom call or a plexiglass partition. In a situation like the one we all face, how can educators possibly meet students’ needs?

By Frances Messano, Jason Atwood, Stacey Childress

Our new report, “How to Meet Students’ Social-Emotional and Academic Needs When Schools Reopen,” adds to the existing research base in ways that are ti…

How Reading Fiction Can Shape Our Real Lives

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A novel changed the life of Francesca Lo Basso—and there’s scientific evidence that she’s not alone.

I started college in the fall of 2003, when I was seventeen years old. I’d spent the last year dissecting news articles with my AP Government class on the U.S.’s escalating tensions with Iraq. War had moved beyond theory and into inevitability—yet I didn’t know how to express my horror and had even less of an idea of what to do with it. Then, six months after the first time the U.S. invaded Fallujah, I read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

By Francesca Lo Basso In this award-winning novelization of his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War, O’Brien tells the story of Rat Kiley and Curt Lemon. Rat and Curt are best friends—inseparable—until the moment when, during a game of catch, Curt steps on a hidden landmine and dies instantaneously. The abruptness of the incident and its placement in the middle of a scene of languor tells one kind of truth about th…

What Women's Suffrage Owes to Indigenous Culture

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"It's been 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment secured voting rights for womensort of. In She Votes: How U.S. Women Won Suffrage, and What Happened Next, author Bridget Quinn and 100 female artists survey the complex history of the struggle for women's rights, including racial segregation and accommodation to White supremacy. They celebrate the hitherto under-recognized efforts by women of color to secure voting rights for all Americans, and BIPOC-led, diverse, and intersectional movements for equality. In this excerpt, Quinn describes how White leaders of the womens suffrage movement were influenced by Indigenous political structures and culture..."
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How a Fictional Character Changed Real Science Forever

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Could the TV shows you watched when you were younger influence who you are today? Researchers have been looking into this since a certain popular fictional character hit the mainstream and sparked a movement that changed the world of science forever!

We know that the media we watch has a knack for swaying what we buy, what we wear, and how we act, but how influential is it, really? Studies of the impact of one fictional character, in particular, give us a clue to how we can harness our TV habits for good!

By Sam Burns
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Spirituality and Social Action: A Holistic Approach

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"No one who met her [Vimala Thakar] could fail to be moved.For she was a great spiritually enlightened revolutionary and activist; a notable Indian figure of the 20th Century who boldly forged a radically independent approach to spirituality and the search for truth. Freed from all religious tradition, she brought the timeless wisdom of the East to the modern egalitarian West without the baggage of religious terminology, endeavoring to awaken people through deep rational inquiry. Fiercely independent, beholden only to her own burning passion for liberation, she crisscrossed the world for many years, traveling to 35 countries through the sixties, seventies and eighties, exhorting all who would listen to wake up to what she would term the 'totality of Life.'" Chris Parish shares more in this tribute, that also includes an excerpt from Vimala Thakar's book 'Spirituality and Social Action: A Holistic Approach."
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Do Americans Have to Like Each Other to Cooperate?

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Making friends isn’t necessary for solving political polarization.
Amid two crises—the pandemic and the national reckoning sparked by the killing of George Floyd—there have been anguished calls for Americans to come together across lines of race and partisanship. Change would come, a USA Today contributor wrote, only “when we become sensitized to the distress of our neighbors.”

By Francesca Polletta

Empathy born of intimacy was the prepandemic solution to the nation’s fractured political landscape. If Americans could simply get to know one another, to share stories and appreciate each other’s struggles, civic leaders argued, we would develop a sense of understanding and empathy that would extend beyond the single encounter.

But after studying how Americans cooperate, both in moments of political upheaval and in ordinary times, I am convinced that tackling America’s political divide demands more than intimacy—and less than it.
Ordinary people, talking

Sci…

Safeguarding Hawaii’s Future by Connecting with the Past!

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What if there were a new place to look for a sense of security in these times of turmoil and uncertainty, and it did not involve inventing something new or forcing ourselves forward? Instead, what if the answer to our thriving, right now, lies with remembering how our ancestors thrived!? Here’s how they’re doing it in Hawaii.

Blending into the ocean floor is a predator hunting for their dinner. She looks a lot like you and me, because, well, she is! This huntress is just one of many in Hawaii who are finding a new way forward to protect themselves and their communities by looking into the history of their home. Their way of life has a lot for any of us to learn from and may have you looking at your own skills with a bit more love!

By Sam Burns

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When the Source Ran Free: A Story for Our Times

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"Watching the sun rise over the wetlands, the mist fading, even here in the midst of nature there is the strange stillness of a world in lockdown waiting, wondering, anxiety, and fear its companions. I am writing these words in the time of the great pandemic, when for a few brief months our world slowed down and almost stopped; when as the stillness grew around us there was a moment to hear another song, not one of cars and commerce, but belonging to the seed of a future our hearts need to hear.This song comes from a place where the angels are present, where light is born, where the future is written." Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee shares more in this timely offering.
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