Tag Archives: nature healing

sensitive souls.

“In a college psychology class, I was required to read a book subtitled, “The Mental Institution as a Last Resort”. The book’s thesis was that many people in mental institutions are not crazy, but just more sensitive than most people in society.  The authors suggested that many mental patients are simply too fine tuned to fit into the mainstream, and an institution is a safe place – similar to an ashram or monastery – where they can be who they are without having to adapt to a society that is in many ways more insane than they are.

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kings canyon

kings canyon

http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/United_States_of_America/California/Kings_Canyon_National_Park-753470/General_Tips-Kings_Canyon_National_Park-TG-C-1.html

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“Hilda Charlton noted that souls who are particularly fine-tuned emotionally, artistically or spiritually are often unable to cope with the heaviness of the world, and so they turn to various addictions to escape.  Alcoholics, drug addicts and many mental patients are highly evolved souls who cannot find comfort, acceptance or a forum for expression in their worldly circles, so they sedate their sense of homelessness with chemicals or insanity. Indeeed, many great artists, musicians, thinkers, inventors and visionaries have sought to take refuge in addiction or illusion.

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Deadman Canyon, Kings Canyon National Park

Deadman Canyon, Kings Canyon National Park

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/77200510

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“…..we do not need to escape from the world we see, for it is not a place of truth…..In the Hindu culture, holy men and women are revered and cared for by the society. Saints and mystics are not tested, prodded, poked, cross-examined, rationalized, written-off and shunned as they are in the West. In that culture, genuine visionaries are supported to do their spiritual work… Let’s honor our sensitivity and create a supportive space for talented souls to express their true selves..” – Alan Cohen

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desert.

“Everything that ever happened to me that was important happened in the desert.”  – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

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Land Vernon AZ

Land Vernon AZ

http://www.landsofarizona.com/arizona/land-for-sale/50-acres-in-Apache-County-Arizona/id/1073650

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“He’d always had a quickening of the heart when he crossed into Arizona and beheld the cactus country. This was as the desert should be, this was the desert of the picture books, with the land unrolled to the farthest distant horizon hills, with saguaro standing sentinel in their strange chessboard pattern, towering supinely above the fans of ocotillo and brushy mesquite.”  – Dorothy B. Hughes

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near Pinetop AZ

near Pinetop AZ

http://www.city-data.com/picfilesv/picv27054.php

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“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.”  – Edward Abbey

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quiet.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/opinion/sunday/im-thinking-please-be-quiet.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

August 24, 2013

I’m Thinking. Please. Be Quiet.

By GEORGE PROCHNIK

SLAMMING doors, banging walls, bellowing strangers and whistling
neighbors were the bane of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s
existence. But it was only in later middle age, after he had moved
with his beloved poodle to the commercial hub of Frankfurt, that his
sense of being tortured by loud, often superfluous blasts of sound
ripened into a philosophical diatribe. Then, around 1850, Schopenhauer
pronounced noise to be the supreme archenemy of any serious thinker.

His argument against noise was simple: A great mind can have great
thoughts only if all its powers of concentration are brought to bear
on one subject, in the same way that a concave mirror focuses light on
one point. Just as a mighty army becomes useless if its soldiers are
scattered helter-skelter, a great mind becomes ordinary the moment its
energies are dispersed.

And nothing disrupts thought the way noise does, Schopenhauer
declared, adding that even people who are not philosophers lose
whatever ideas their brains can carry in consequence of brutish jolts
of sound.

From the vantage point of our own auditory world, with its jets,
jackhammers, HVAC systems, truck traffic, cellphones, horns,
decibel-bloated restaurants and gyms on acoustical steroids,
Schopenhauer’s mid-19th century complaints sound almost quaint. His
biggest gripe of all was the “infernal cracking” of coachmen’s whips.
(If you think a snapping line of rawhide’s a problem, buddy, try the
Rumbler Siren.) But if noise did shatter thought in the past, has more
noise in more places further diffused our cognitive activity?

Schopenhauer made a kind of plea for mono-tasking. Environmental noise
calls attention to itself — splits our own attention, regardless of
willpower. We jerk to the tug of noise like sonic marionettes. There’s
good reason for this. Among mammals, hearing developed as an early
warning system; the human ear derived from the listening apparatus of
very small creatures. Their predators were very big, and there were
many of them.

Mammalian hearing developed primarily as an animal-detector system —
and it was crucial to hear every rustle from afar. The evolved ear is
an extraordinary amplifier. By the time the brain registers a sound,
our auditory mechanism has jacked the volume several hundredfold from
the level at which the sound wave first started washing around the
loopy whirls of our ears. This is why, in a reasonably quiet room, we
actually can hear a pin drop. Think what a tiny quantity of sound
energy is released by a needle striking a floor! Our ancestors needed
such hypersensitivity, because every standout noise signified a
potential threat.

There has been a transformation in our relationship to the environment
over the millions of years since the prototype for human hearing
evolved, but part of our brain hasn’t registered the makeover.

Every time a siren shrieks on the street, our conscious minds might
ignore it, but other brain regions behave as if that siren were a
predator barreling straight for us. Given how many sirens city
dwellers are subject to over the course of an average day, and the
attention-fracturing tension induced by loud sounds of every sort,
it’s easy to see how sensitivity to noise, once an early warning
system for approaching threats, has become a threat in itself.

Indeed, our capacity to tune out noises — a relatively recent
adaptation — may itself pose a danger, since it allows us to neglect
the physical damage that noise invariably wreaks. A Hyena
(Hypertension and Exposure to Noise Near Airports) study published in
2009 examined the effects of aircraft noise on sleeping subjects. The
idea was to see what effect noise had, not only on those awakened by
virtual fingernails raking the blackboard of the night sky, but on the
hardy souls who actually slept through the thunder of overhead jets.

The findings were clear: even when people stayed asleep, the noise of
planes taking off and landing caused blood pressure spikes, increased
pulse rates and set off vasoconstriction and the release of stress
hormones. Worse, these harmful cardiovascular responses continued to
affect individuals for many hours after they had awakened and gone on
with their days.

As Dr. Wolfgang Babisch, a lead researcher in the field, observed,
there is no physiological habituation to noise. The stress of audible
assault affects us psychologically even when we don’t consciously
register noise.

In American culture, we tend to regard sensitivity to noise as a sign
of weakness or killjoy prudery. To those who complain about sound
levels on the streets, inside their homes and across a swath of public
spaces like stadiums, beaches and parks, we say: “Suck it up. Relax
and have a good time.” But the scientific evidence shows that loud
sound is physically debilitating. A recent World Health Organization
report on the burden of disease from environmental noise
conservatively estimates that Western Europeans lose more than one
million healthy life years annually as a consequence of noise-related
disability and disease. Among environmental hazards, only air
pollution causes more damage.

A while back, I was interviewed on a call-in radio station serving
remote parts of Newfoundland. One caller lived in a village with just
a few houses and almost no vehicular traffic. Her family had been
sitting in the living room one evening when the power suddenly cut
off. They simultaneously exhaled a sigh of relief. All at once, the
many electronic devices around them (including the refrigerator,
computers, generator, lamps and home entertainment systems and the
unnatural ambient hum they generated and to which the family had
become oblivious) went silent. The family members didn’t realize until
the sound went off how loud it had become. Without knowing it, each
family member’s mental energy was constantly diverted by and
responsive to the threat posed by that sound.

Where does this leave those of us facing less restrained barrages?
Could a critical mass of sound one day be reached that would make
sustained thinking impossible?

Is quiet a precondition of democracy? The Supreme Court justice Felix
Frankfurter suggested it might just be. “The men whose labors brought
forth the Constitution of the United States had the street outside
Independence Hall covered with earth so that their deliberations might
not be disturbed by passing traffic,” he once wrote. “Our democracy
presupposes the deliberative process as a condition of thought and of
responsible choice by the electorate.”

The quiet in Independence Hall was not the silence of a monastic
retreat, but one that encouraged listening to others and collaborative
statesmanship; it was a silence that made them more receptive to the
sound of the world around them.

Most likely Schopenhauer had in mind a similar sense of quiet when he
chose to live in a big city rather than retiring from society:
apparently he, too, believed it important to observe as much of life
as possible. And when he moved to Frankfurt, he didn’t bring earplugs.
He brought along a poodle known to bark on occasion, and the flute he
loved to play after writing. Most people who are seeking more serenity
from the acoustical environment aren’t asking for the silence of the
tomb. We just believe we should be able to hear ourselves think.

George Prochnik is the author of the forthcoming book “The Impossible Exile.”

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Sunlit Trees.

The Sunlight and the Woods - photograph, card or bookmark of golden sunlight shining through the green trees in the woods.

The Sunlight and the Woods – photograph, card or bookmark of golden sunlight shining through the green trees in the woods.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/57891655/the-sunlight-and-the-woods-photograph?ref=tre-2724816264-12

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Sunlit Trees : A VJSE Group Team Friday 50/50:

https://www.etsy.com/treasury/NzA0NjQyMHwyNzI0ODE2MjY0/sunlit-trees-a-vjse-group-team-friday

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No regret.

“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” – Sydney Smith

 

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Upper Hudson River

Upper Hudson River

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/newyork/placesweprotect/adirondacks/wherewework/chain-lakes-and-hudson-river-tract-slideshow.xml

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“I wouldn’t have missed a single minute of it, Not for the whole world.” – Stephen King

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Hudson River

Hudson River

http://thedepartinglandscape.blogspot.com/2010/11/hudson-river-valley-2010.html

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“We all do things we desperately wish we could undo. Those regrets just become part of who we are, along with everything else. To spend time trying to change that, well, it’s like chasing clouds.” – Libba Bray

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Hope for the math challenged.

April 6, 2013
Great Scientist ≠ Good at Math

E.O. Wilson shares a secret: Discoveries emerge from ideas, not number-crunching

By E.O. WILSON

For many young people who aspire to be scientists, the great bugbear is mathematics. Without advanced math, how can you do serious work in the sciences? Well, I have a professional secret to share: Many of the most successful scientists in the world today are mathematically no more than semiliterate.

[image]Vahram MuradyanMany of the most successful scientists in the world today are mathematically no more than semiliterate.

During my decades of teaching biology at Harvard, I watched sadly as bright undergraduates turned away from the possibility of a scientific career, fearing that, without strong math skills, they would fail. This mistaken assumption has deprived science of an immeasurable amount of sorely needed talent. It has created a hemorrhage of brain power we need to stanch.

I speak as an authority on this subject because I myself am an extreme case. Having spent my precollege years in relatively poor Southern schools, I didn’t take algebra until my freshman year at the University of Alabama. I finally got around to calculus as a 32-year-old tenured professor at Harvard, where I sat uncomfortably in classes with undergraduate students only a bit more than half my age. A couple of them were students in a course on evolutionary biology I was teaching. I swallowed my pride and learned calculus.

I was never more than a C student while catching up, but I was reassured by the discovery that superior mathematical ability is similar to fluency in foreign languages. I might have become fluent with more effort and sessions talking with the natives, but being swept up with field and laboratory research, I advanced only by a small amount.

Fortunately, exceptional mathematical fluency is required in only a few disciplines, such as particle physics, astrophysics and information theory. Far more important throughout the rest of science is the ability to form concepts, during which the researcher conjures images and processes by intuition.

Everyone sometimes daydreams like a scientist. Ramped up and disciplined, fantasies are the fountainhead of all creative thinking. Newton dreamed, Darwin dreamed, you dream. The images evoked are at first vague. They may shift in form and fade in and out. They grow a bit firmer when sketched as diagrams on pads of paper, and they take on life as real examples are sought and found.

Pioneers in science only rarely make discoveries by extracting ideas from pure mathematics. Most of the stereotypical photographs of scientists studying rows of equations on a blackboard are instructors explaining discoveries already made. Real progress comes in the field writing notes, at the office amid a litter of doodled paper, in the hallway struggling to explain something to a friend, or eating lunch alone. Eureka moments require hard work. And focus.

Ideas in science emerge most readily when some part of the world is studied for its own sake. They follow from thorough, well-organized knowledge of all that is known or can be imagined of real entities and processes within that fragment of existence. When something new is encountered, the follow-up steps usually require mathematical and statistical methods to move the analysis forward. If that step proves too technically difficult for the person who made the discovery, a mathematician or statistician can be added as a collaborator.

In the late 1970s, I sat down with the mathematical theorist George Oster to work out the principles of caste and the division of labor in the social insects. I supplied the details of what had been discovered in nature and the lab, and he used theorems and hypotheses from his tool kit to capture these phenomena. Without such information, Mr. Oster might have developed a general theory, but he would not have had any way to deduce which of the possible permutations actually exist on earth.

Over the years, I have co-written many papers with mathematicians and statisticians, so I can offer the following principle with confidence. Call it Wilson’s Principle No. 1: It is far easier for scientists to acquire needed collaboration from mathematicians and statisticians than it is for mathematicians and statisticians to find scientists able to make use of their equations.

This imbalance is especially the case in biology, where factors in a real-life phenomenon are often misunderstood or never noticed in the first place. The annals of theoretical biology are clogged with mathematical models that either can be safely ignored or, when tested, fail. Possibly no more than 10% have any lasting value. Only those linked solidly to knowledge of real living systems have much chance of being used.

If your level of mathematical competence is low, plan to raise it, but meanwhile, know that you can do outstanding scientific work with what you have. Think twice, though, about specializing in fields that require a close alternation of experiment and quantitative analysis. These include most of physics and chemistry, as well as a few specialties in molecular biology.

Newton invented calculus in order to give substance to his imagination. Darwin had little or no mathematical ability, but with the masses of information he had accumulated, he was able to conceive a process to which mathematics was later applied.

For aspiring scientists, a key first step is to find a subject that interests them deeply and focus on it. In doing so, they should keep in mind Wilson’s Principle No. 2: For every scientist, there exists a discipline for which his or her level of mathematical competence is enough to achieve excellence.

—Dr. Wilson is a professor emeritus at Harvard University. His many books include “On Human Nature” and “The Social Conquest of Earth.” This piece is adapted from his new book “Letters to a Young Scientist” (Liveright).

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Landscape.

“Particular mountains, canyons, streams, boulder-strewn fields or groves of trees have not yet lost the expressive potency and dynamism with which they spontaneously present themselves to the senses.  A particular place in the land is never, for an oral culture, just a passive or inert setting for the human events that occur there.  It is an active participant in those occurrences. Indeed, by virtue of its underlying and enveloping presence, the place may even be felt to be the source, the primary power that expresses itself through the various events that unfold there.” – David Abram

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NOAO

NOAO

http://www.noao.edu/icarchives/all.php

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“Whenever we of literate culture seek to engage an understand the discourse of oral cultures, we must strive to free ourselves from our habitual impulse to visualize any language as a static structure that could be diagrammed, or a set of rules that could be ordered and listed.  Without a formal writing system, the language of an oral culture cannot be objectified as a separate entity by those who speak it, and this lack of objectification influences not only the way in which oral cultures experience the field of discursive meanings, but also the very character and structure of that field.  In the absence of any written dialogue to speech, the sensible, natural environment remains the primary visible counterpart of spoken utterance, the visible accompaniment of all spoken meaning.  The land, in other words,  is the sensible site or matrix wherein meaning occurs and proliferates.  In the absence of writing, we find ourselves situated in the field of discourse as we are embedded in the natural landscape; indeed the two matrices are not separable.  We can no more stabilize the language and render its meanings determinate than we can freeze all motion and metamorphosis within the land.” – David Abram

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