What's On My Mind #29

What's On My Mind #29

Jan 30, 2022


What's On My Mind is a weekly newsletter where I share some of my thoughts, stories, and ideas to raise awareness; enable personal growth; nourish an open mind; encourage self-discovery; and empowering myself and others with individual responsibility.

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

I hope you find them of any use.

Reality Is Stranger Than Fiction
Critics and philosophers often argue that art estranges reality, thereby drawing attention to the way we organize our lives and perceive things. Reality, however, frequently outsmarts fiction because the human imagination struggles to come to terms with its weirdness. Living a conscious life and understanding its major issues is much harder than writing or reading literature. Reality is difficult to imagine: in its shadow we feel the scorching cold of the unknown. Meanwhile, fiction entertains us and helps us escape the inconceivable complexities of modern life. Stories and images allow existentially displaced and intellectually confused modern humans to find a comfortable home and see order in the indifferent chaos. Art has the unfortunate disadvantage of being illusory, untethered to reality. Fiction cannot solve the key dilemmas of life, unless we are ready to deceive ourselves into acting out its masterful fabrications, which may take the form, for example, of religion or political ideology. Some artists think they can provoke and disrupt our perception and cognition, but their efforts fail to illuminate the world, only scratching the surface of what is truly extraordinary about the human condition. To make sense of life, we will be better served by doing science—or, at least, by accepting that rather than estrange it, art makes the incomprehensible universe more hospitable to the feeble human mind. Fiction is familiar and soothing, a respite from the harsh prose of life, and we should not mistake it for a reliable source of true knowledge and revelatory experience. After all, reality is stranger than fiction.

Orginal art Full article

Teachings & Insights
The things you can see only when you slow down - page 15

We know the world only through the window of our mind.
When our mind is noisy, the world is as well.
And when our mind is peaceful, the world is, too.
Knowing our minds is just as important as trying to change the world.

Video - Become antifragile
While doing my weekly research for the document I am writing about health "Alignment" I came across this video from Big Think talking about happiness and antifragility. Antifragility is the idea of putting pressure on a system, or human, the system or the human actually grows bigger and stronger. It is beautiful to see ancient wisdom being confirmed by modern science. This idea also resonates with me because these systems are all around and within us. And that is what my document is all about, realigning ourselves with those natural systems in order to grow.


"Let's face it: If you keep the same routine as yesterday, it makes sense that your tomorrow is going to be a lot like your yesterday. Your future is just a return of your past. That's because your yesterday is creating your tomorrow" - Dr. Joe Dispenza - Becoming supernatural

Fundamentals - curiousity, thought, breath, water, nutrition, nature, rest, movement, relationships.
Influences on breathing
Breathing normally occurs outside awareness, governed by cells that monitor blood gas levels, create a crude rhythm of respiration, and coordinate the activity of respiratory muscles to make breathing smoother and more effective. Flowing just beneath the surface of consciousness, the breath passes in and out of the lungs some 21,600 times a day. Over the course of an 80-year life, that accounts for over 600 million breaths—a staggering figure considering the rare number of breakdowns along the way.

But breathing is shaped by influences that tell an even more fascinating story. With the merest voluntary effort, you can change the way you breathe. You can hold your breath, blow out a candle, or suck through a straw. Most important, voluntary control of the breath makes it possible to speak—to create audible words, modify their volume, and invest them with powers of expression.

Although automatic breathing and voluntary breathing are the most familiar styles of breathing, a third set of influences—one that includes a wide range of life experiences—also dramatically affects the way we breathe. Collectively, these various influences on breathing are called non-volitional. They occur without conscious intent—somewhat like automatic breathing. But while automatic breathing is driven by metabolic needs and is deeply rooted in our biology, non-volitional influences are psychosomatic in nature. They influence breathing in a variety of ways.

A vivid example is pain. Grasp the handle of a scalding-hot frying pan and your breath will register the injury with sudden piercing inhalations, punctuated by fierce exhalations. It may be many minutes before the crisis passes—your breathing is affected the entire time.

Emotions also trigger enormous changes in breathing. Stumble too close to a canyon’s edge and it will cause you and those around you to gasp with fear. But step back to witness the spectacular view and your breath may be taken away in an altogether different manner.

Stress, too, has a pervasive influence on the breath. A fast-approaching deadline can lead to breathing that is tense, hurried, and overcontrolled. Stressful breathing patterns are hardwired into your nervous system—part of the fight-or-flight response—and they may linger long after a stressful event is over.

All these influences create links between mind and body. Sometimes the result is pleasant and healthy—laughter is a good example. But often non-volitional influences reduce the quality of breathing and linger as unhealthy breathing habits. Exaggerated chest movements, tense abdominal muscles that restrict breathing, and breathing through the mouth rather than the nose are just a few examples of the consequences of stress on the breath.

When these poor breathing habits persist outside awareness, they magnify perceptions of pain, distort emotions, feed cycles of stress, and impair concentration and memory. Through breath awareness, we can transform jerky, irregular, and rapid breathing; smooth the connections from one breath to another; and deepen the flow of the breath until it finds its own exquisitely paced rhythm. Put simply, by improving the quality of your breathing you can improve the quality of your life.

This exercise will make you aware of how good breathing feels.

  • Lie comfortably on your back, using a thin cushion to support your neck and head. Place your arms alongside you, with your feet slightly apart. Close your eyes and let your body rest.

  • Gradually bring your breathing into your awareness. Feel the exhalation emptying you, carrying away fatigue. Let the inhalation fill you as you draw in fresh energy.

  • Relax the muscles of the abdomen and let the abdomen rise with each inhalation and fall with each exhalation. As you continue, soften the muscles of the rib cage and let it become still.

  • Let your breaths flow smoothly from one into the next, without hurrying or pressing between breaths. Over time, let the breath begin to flow at the speed that is completely natural and comfortable for you.

  • Now, use your awareness to maintain this quiet breathing. Practice for 6 to 10 minutes. As you feel each breath, let your mental effort relax. This will bring a deep feeling of refreshment.

Podcast - The benefits of deep squatting, floor sitting and more.
Aaron Alexander is an expert in functional movement, podcast host, and author. Aaron has a unique vocation. He has spent his life finding the tactical ways to leverage your body to help defend itself against modern life.


Did you know...
Your foot and forearm are the same lenght!

According to da Vinci, the foot is the same size as your forearm. And by forearm, he means the distance between your elbows and wrists. While you might not get a perfect 1:1 ratio, if you try the measuring experiment for yourself, there’s a high chance that your forearm bones will be of a similar length to your feet.

Thich Nhat Hanh, world-renowned spiritual leader, author, poet, and peace activist—died on January 22, 2022. He was 95. Thich Nhat Hanh was exiled for nearly 40 years and became one of the most influential people in Buddhism. The master of meditation “passed away peacefully” at the Tu Hieu Temple in Hue – where his spiritual journey began and Vietnam’s Buddhist heartland – the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism said.

The poet and peace activist spent nearly 40 years in exile after calling for an end to the Vietnam War, but he became hugely influential within Buddhism and was seen as second only to the Dalai Lama. In gentle and yet powerful tones he would speak of the need to “walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet” and is credited with bringing mindfulness to Western countries, and setting up retreats around the world. He was the author of more than 100 books on mindfulness and meditation.

Towards the height of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, he met US civil rights leader Martin Luther King, whom he persuaded to speak out against the conflict. While in the US to meet King, the South Vietnamese government banned Thich Nhat Hanh from returning home. King called Thich Nhat Hanh “an apostle of peace and non-violence” and nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. “I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam,” King wrote in his nomination letter.


Thank you for your spending your valuable time on reading this newsletter. Your support is much appreciated.

Joey van Tilburg

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