Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘compassion’

The Dead Aren’t Dead

imagesAn excerpt from Good Grief: Love, Loss & Laughter.

Death always seems to come to soon or when we don’t expect it. No matter how long someone has lived or how they’ve died, it is impossible to fully prepare for the moment and the days that follow.

Our relationships don’t end with death; they change. We are always connected. Death changes the way in which we can communicate, but our feelings, thoughts, memories and experiences live on.

We can say goodbye to a loved one, as we knew them, but we don’t have to say goodbye forever. We can choose to say “hello” to them, as the days pass, how we want them to be. We can stay connected to the love and potential that existed, or was possible, when they lived and let go of the rest.

Grieve it all. Don’t leave out anything; the good, the bad, the confusion, pain, joy and compassion. Then, as time goes on, decide what you want to hold on to and what you don’t need any more. What parts of the relationship do you still cherish? How do you want to stay connected? Let them go and hold them close.

Further reading and support at: Good Grief: Love, Loss and Laughter.

Mindfulness IS the News

Mindfulness IS the News
from Wild Divine Newsletter
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Last week, with the Time magazine cover featuring the trend of mindfulness in US culture and the world, you can see that indeed a sea-change has occurred. With mindfulness being addressed at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland we can see from this article that there are several approaches to the subject, its importance, and a diversity of support within the world business community and elsewhere.

In Barrington, RI meet Police Chief John M. LaCross who has been leading an 11-minute meditation utilizing deep breathing and visualization to comfort grieving families who have lost loved ones. He is also a Reiki master, and has put his focus on using mindfulness as part of police work to help individuals and communities. “It’s about compassion, respect for others, treating people with dignity,…..It’s a very difficult job being in public safety. You have to be strong in times of crisis. You can’t show emotion,” he said. “We’re all human, we just wear different clothes to work.”

And, on another side of the law, read here about law Professor Charles Halpern at the University of California, Berkley, where he teaches a popular course called “Effective and Sustainable Law Practice: The Meditative Perspective.” He also offers retreats for legal professionals of all sorts to enhance listening skills, focus attention and help legal professionals make more empathic to others they interact with.

Sex After Sixty

9780944031940Will You Still Need Me When I’m Sixty-four?

Excerpt from The Penis Dialogues: Handle With Care by Gabriel Constans

“I was struck by this book’s humor, probing curiosity and genuine compassion.”
Eve Ensler (Author of The Vagina Monologues, performer and women’s rights activist)

A team of researchers from the University of Southern California has determined that “men and women are remarkably similar in their mating preferences.” They found that college-age men and women prefer a long-term exclusive sexual relationship. Both sexes want a conscientious and compatible partner.

A cross-cultural questionnaire found that, contrary to popular misconceptions, over 80 percent of older women, and over 70 percent of older men, feel that sexual activity is important for health and well-being. Another survey found that 80 percent of married men over the age of 70, and 75 percent that were un-married, remained sexually active.

It turns out that grandparents and college students want the same thing – love, commitment and sex. People of all ages enjoy one another’s bodies and the pleasures, attachments and feelings that come with them.

Copies can be ordered from your local independent bookstore or online bookseller, including:

Amazon

Bookshop Santa Cruz

Barnes and Noble

Indie Bound

Eve Ensler & Penis Dialogues

The Penis Dialogues: Handle With Care by Gabriel Constans
9780944031940

“I was struck by this book’s humor, probing curiosity and genuine compassion.”
Eve Ensler (Author of The Vagina Monologues, performer and women’s rights activist)

The Penis Dialogues is an informative and funny book about the life of our penis and its affect on love, sex, relationships and our health. The book explores myths, cliches, and misconceptions in a funny and curious way.”
Gary Johnson (Publisher of Black Men in America)

“If you live in any city, you have probably seen THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES. Well, along comes THE PENIS DIALOGUES by Constans, published by Aslan Publishing. Not only is it hugely funny, it provides so much information about this part of a guy’s anatomy. Because there are so many myths and misconceptions about what is good and what is bad, this book is reassuring and comforting, and you can even laugh at your penis and its idiosyncrasies. Ladies, do your partner a favour and give him this book.”
W Network (Television network for Canadian women).

Copies can be ordered from your local independent bookstore or online bookseller, including:

Amazon

Bookshop Santa Cruz

Barnes and Noble

Indie Bound

Vagina Monologues & Penis Dialogues

The Penis Dialogues: Handle With Care by Gabriel Constans

9780944031940“I was struck by this book’s humor, probing curiosity and genuine compassion.” –Eve Ensler (Author of The Vagina Monologues, performer and women’s rights activist)

The Penis Dialogues is a pioneering work. Men’s feelings and attitudes about their sexuality, gender and experiences of being male have seldom been spoken of with such honesty and insight. Read this book!”
–Bob Stahl, Ph.D. (Author of The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook)

After seeing The Vagina Monologues, Gabriel realized the value of a similar investigation into men’s feelings about their penis and its influence on them and others. Men of various ages, occupations, sexual orientations and cultures talk about love, sex, relationships and painful, humorous and joyful moments in their lives.

This book lays bare the facts, myths, experiences, misconceptions and stories of that part of men’s bodies by which they are so often defined. It goes beyond the cliches, jokes and comparisons of male virility and power as men speak from the heart with honesty, curiosity, shock, bemusement and surprise.

“Constans has created a heads up, hands on exploration of the male member. It is both amusing and informative.”
–James McElheron (Building Consultant and Supervisor)

Copies can be ordered from your local independent bookstore or online bookseller, including:

Amazon

Bookshop Santa Cruz

Barnes and Noble

Indie Bound

Compassionate Hunger Games

From Nation of Change and Yes! Magazine
by Jeremy Adam Smith
19 May 2012

Five Lessons in Human Goodness from “The Hunger Games”

In the dystopian future world of The Hunger Games, 24 teenagers are forced to fight to the death, their battle turned into televised entertainment.

This war-of-all-against-all scenario sounds as though it might reveal the worst in humanity—and to a degree, that’s true.

But what raises The Hunger Games above similar stories, like the cynical Japanese film Battle Royale, is that it is mainly preoccupied with how human goodness can flourish even in the most dehumanizing circumstances.

As I watched the film and read the book, I found the story kept reminding me of classic pieces in Greater Good about the psychological and biological roots of compassion, empathy, and cooperation. The vision of human beings as fundamentally caring and connected is not merely wishful thinking on the part of Suzanne Collins, the author of the novels on which the movie is based. In fact, it’s been tested by a great deal of scientific research. Here are five examples.
1. Killing is against human nature.

Katniss, a skilled hunter and the hero of The Hunger Games, is indeed horrified by the prospect of dying—but her worst fears revolve around needing to kill other people. “You know how to kill,” says her friend Gale in the book. “Not people,” she replies, filled with horror at the idea. When she actually does kill a girl named Glimmer, she’s wracked with guilt and throws herself over the body “as if to protect it.”

Research says that Katniss is the rule, not the exception. “The study of killing by military scientists, historians, and psychologists gives us good reason to feel optimistic about human nature, for it reveals that almost all of us are overwhelmingly reluctant to kill a member of our own species, under just about any circumstance,” writes Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his Greater Good essay, “Hope on the Battlefield.”

Sociologist Randall Collins comes to a similar conclusion in his massive study Violence. “The Hobbesian image of humans, judging from the most common evidence, is empirically wrong,” he writes. “Humans are hardwired for interactional entrainment and solidarity; and this is what makes violence so difficult.”

2. Wealth makes us less compassionate.

The citizens of the Capitol brutally exploit the 12 districts of the country of Panem, giving themselves a very high standard of living while deliberately keeping the rest in a state of abject poverty. The movie and the book take pains to reveal how much this limits their ability to empathize with the less fortunate—a situation confirmed by research, some of which has been generated by the Greater Good Science Center here at UC Berkeley.

“In seven separate studies,” writes Yasmin Anwar, “UC Berkeley researchers consistently found that upper-class participants were more likely to lie and cheat when gambling or negotiating, cut people off when driving, and endorse unethical behavior in the workplace.”

This doesn’t mean affluence makes you evil. According to the author of a related study, Greater Good Science Center Hornaday Graduate Fellow Jennifer Stellar, “It’s not that the upper classes are coldhearted. They may just not be as adept at recognizing the cues and signals of suffering because they haven’t had to deal with as many obstacles in their lives.”

3. People are motivated to help others by empathy, not reason or numbers.

“If you really want to stay alive, you get people to like you,” says their drunken, traumatized mentor, Haymitch. It’s the first advice he gives to the heroes, Katniss and Peeta, and a surprising amount of the film’s action revolves around their efforts to win people’s sympathy, which results in “sponsorships” that help them in their most desperate moments.

Haymitch’s advice is supported by new research that suggests if you want to encourage people to take humanitarian action, logic and big numbers don’t help—as every ad copywriter knows, people are most moved to help individuals with compelling personal stories.

When a team of psychologists ran a study of two fundraising appeals—one emphasizing a girl’s story, the other the number of people affected by the problem—they found “that people have more sympathy for identifiable victims because they invoke a powerful, heartfelt emotional response, whereas impersonal numbers trigger the mind’s calculator,” as former GGSC fellow Naazneen Barma writes. “In a fascinating cognitive twist, this appeal to reason actually stunts our altruistic impulses.”

4. Power flows from social and emotional intelligence, not strength and viciousness.

Peeta proves particularly adept at manipulating the emotions of the “Hunger Games” audience. He seldom actually lies to anyone, but he does artfully reveal and conceal his emotions to maximize their impact and win support for their survival (a trait illustrated in the clip above, when he uses his crush on Katniss as the raw material for a compelling, sympathetic story). In contrast, the characters who rely on brute force and violent prowess find themselves isolated and defeated in the end. It’s the most compassionate characters who ultimately triumph.

This is exactly what research in social and emotional intelligence predicts will happen. “A new science of power has revealed that power is wielded most effectively when it’s used responsibly by people who are attuned to, and engaged with, the needs and interests of others,” writes GGSC Faculty Director Dacher Keltner in his essay “The Power Paradox.” “Years of research suggests that empathy and social intelligence are vastly more important to acquiring and exercising power than are force, deception, or terror.”

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

Goddess of Cancer – Scene 4

Excerpt from Goddess of Cancer and Other Plays by Gabriel Constans.

Goddess of Cancer – Scene 4

Characters

GODDESS: Multi-cultural woman of no particular age. Face painted a variety of flesh tones. Hair a mixture of blond, brown, red, black and gray. Long rainbow-colored robe. Changes persona frequently.

VICKI: Asian-American woman in her twenties. Casual dress. Animated. Angry. Anxious. Scared.

WENDY: European-American woman in her thirties. Conservative dress. Quiet. Shy. Fearful.

JENNIFER: African-American woman in her forties. Business suit (beeper). Intellectual. In control. Avoids emotion.

LENNIE: Mexican-American woman in her fifties. Flowing skirt, flowery blouse. Insightful. Compassionate.

BARBARA: Arab-American woman in her sixties. Gray skirt and sweater (wearing a cross). Strong. Survivor. Dogmatic. Angry. Tired.

CHANTALL: Jewish-American woman in her seventies. Slacks and blouse (gray wig, in wheelchair). Humerous. Matter of fact. Sarcastic. Worried.

Setting

Living room. White couch center stage facing audience. White chair next to couch, stage left and black coffee table in front of couch. Large green plant on floor between couch and chair. Flowers in a vase on table. White door stage left. Three large pictures with red frames on wall behind couch. One picture is of the Grim Reaper, one is of an angel and the other an hourglass. Black bar facing audience stage right, with potted plant on its corner. A light switch is on the wall by the bar. Closed cupboard behind bar is full of cigarettes.

A slide-projector (with a color slide of each actor’s face shown at beginning of each scene) is placed on one end of the bar for the Goddess to operate or in front of the stage and controlled by a stage member.

Time: Afternoon or early evening. Present.

ACT I

SCENE 4

(Picture of Lennie appears on screen.)

GODDESS: Lennie. Fifty-six. Poet. Divorced. Children and grandchildren. Terminal lung cancer.

(Goddess turns project off and lights on. There is a knock at the door.)

GODDESS: Come on in Lennie. It’s open.

(Lennie enters.)

LENNIE: Hey, how you doing Goddess?

(Goddess walks up and gives Lennie a hug. They both stand back holding one another at arms length.)

GODDESS: Can’t complain . . . life, death, fear, hope . . . living on the edge like usual. You’re looking quite beautiful, even sexy I might add, considering your condition and all.

LENNIE: You’re so sweet. I try. People look up to me, you know. I can’t let them down.

(Goddess walks with her arm around Lennie to couch.)

GODDESS: Let me get you some Ginseng tea. It’s supposed to help your immune system stop me from spreading.

(Goddess walks over to the bar and brings back a cup of tea, hands it to Lennie and sits down next to her.)

GODDESS (continued): People look up to you? Why?

LENNIE: I don’t know. I guess I’m a good listener and they know I really care. I try to love people for who they are and show compassion for all living things.

(Lennie looks at flowers and plants.)

LENNIE: (continued) What beautiful flowers!

GODDESS: Thanks. I love being surrounded by life. (Pause.) When you said you love people, did you mean your family and friends?

LENNIE: Yeah.

GODDESS: Do you feel the same towards strangers?

LENNIE: I guess so. Yesterday, I was waiting for the bus when a lady said I had ‘kind eyes’ and started telling me all about her family and how it was falling apart.

GODDESS: Could you love anybody then, even me?

LENNIE: (Surprised. She takes Goddess’s hand.) Of course! It’s not your fault you act the way you do. It’s your nature. I know it’s nothing personal. You’re a biological abnormality that can’t sit still. Blaming you would be like yelling at the sun to not rise. It’s your karma.

GODDESS: And it’s your karma to die?

LENNIE: Of course. I deserve it.

GODDESS: You deserve it?! I thought everyone loved you.

LENNIE: They do, but . . . something happened once . . . I’ve never told my kids. I’m sure it’s why you came.

(Lennie sadly turns away from Goddess)

GODDESS: Tell me. Please.

LENNIE: I can’t. It’s disgusting. I’ll take it to my grave before I tell anyone.

GODDESS: (Laughs) Hey . . . that’s not a problem. I’m going with you, remember?!

LENNIE: (Looks around and sighs deeply.) Oh yeah. Well . . . how do I start? (Pause.) My father died suddenly from a heart attack when I was thirty. I hadn’t seen him for twelve years. The day I turned eighteen I left home and never turned back. He was a real Jekyl and Hyde. People in town thought he was a saint or something, but when he got home from work and started drinking . . . If my brother or I tried to stop him from hitting Mama he’d slam us against the wall and call us foul names, especially my brother. I don’t see how he survived. He ran away when he was seventeen. (Pause) We’ve never talked about it.

GODDESS: You’ve never told anyone?

LENNIE: No. We were taught to keep things in the family and he swore he’d kill us if we didn’t. But that’s not the worst.

GODDESS: What could be worse?

LENNIE: What I . . . I did . . . in front of his family.

GODDESS: What?!

LENNIE: I didn’t know I was going to do it. (Pause) You sure you want to hear this?

GODDESS: I’m dying to hear!

LENNIE: Well . . . everyone gathered at the graveside for my Dad’s funeral, with the family up front, you know how it is. (Goddess nods with understanding.) I was standing between my mother and brother, with my grandparents next to them. The priest was praying and everyone had their heads bowed. Suddenly, I felt a burning in my belly. It worked its way up my gut, got stuck in my throat, then spewed out of my mouth in a guttural scream, ‘I hate you! You bastard. I hate you! You’re a filthy Jack ass! Thank God you’re dead!’ (Pause) Then I leaned forward and spit on his grave. (Pause)

GODDESS: That’s it?! You think that is why I came?! (Goddess starts laughing.) Lennie Lennie Lennie. Listen. I had no idea. I didn’t know anything about it. How could I be your karma?

LENNIE: I just figured . . .

GODDESS:You just figured that since you’re so sweet, compassionate and understanding that you weren’t capable of such hatred. It doesn’t fit your self-image, does it?

LENNIE: No. I spit on his grave . . . in front of the priest . . . his parents!

GODDESS: Honey, that’s nothing. Sounds like you could have killed him yourself and it would have been justifiable homicide! He put you and your family through a living hell and believe me, that’s far worse than dying.

LENNIE: But he was my father!

GODDESS: I don’t care if he was the Pope. Nobody has the right to treat another human being like that, let alone his own daughter.(Pause) How about practicing some of that love and compassion on yourself, or don’t you think you’re worthy?

LENNIE: (Crying) I guess so, but . . .

GODDESS: Shhhhh. No buts about it. You are creative, beautiful, a talented poet, caring mother and extraordinary human being. The feelings towards your father are just as real and valid as your compassion.

LENNIE: OK OK. It’s useless to argue with someone who is killing me.

GODDESS: There you go. Now get out of here. You don’t have much time.

(Whispering to herself.) Damn. Now they’ve got me saying that time thing!

(Goddess turns back to Lennie and gives her a hug.)

LENNIE: Thanks. I hope I don’t see you for awhile.

(Lennie waves as she closes the door.)

GODDESS: (Crosses her arms and shakes her head side to side.) Sometimes this job stinks. But hey . . . it’s my karma.

(Goddess turns off lights and starts singing to way to the projector the tune of “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely” from My Fair Lady.)

GODDESS: All I want is a body somewhere, far away from the mammogram’s stare, with one lump here and one lump there, oh wouldn’t it be lovely. Lots of cells for me to eat, lots of tissue for me to meet. Warm hands, warm face, warm feet, oh wouldn’t it be lovely.

(Goddess turns off projector with picture of Lennie.)

Goddess of Cancer Continued – Tomorrow Scene 5

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