Is mindfulness making us ill?

As a life long skeptic I have always found the number of otherwise intelligent people who fall for New Age mumbo jumbo to be mind blowing.

After having my mind truly expanded by people like  Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, Carl Sagan and other scientists, futurists and artists I watched people fall for bullshit like Scientology and est.

As an atheist I was appalled at the number of feminist women who fell for crap like homeopathy, crystals, feng shui, wicca and the whole panoply of questionable practices.

Granted all of the above are just as valid as any religion but that is the point.  Why go to all the effort to reject a traditional religion with great holidays only to embrace one with crappy at best holidays?

I am further appalled by health plans that pay for all this “alternative medicine.”  As Tim Minchin pointed out, “There is a name for alternative medicine that works, it is called medicine.

From The Guardian UK:

It’s the relaxation technique of choice, popular with employers and even the NHS. But some have found it can have unexpected effects

Saturday 23 January 2016

I am sitting in a circle in a grey, corporate room with 10 housing association employees – administrators, security guards, cleaners – eyes darting about nervously. We are asked to eat a sandwich in silence. To think about every taste and texture, every chewing motion and bite. Far from being relaxed, I feel excruciatingly uncomfortable and begin to wonder if my jaw is malfunctioning. I’m here to write about a new mindfulness initiative, and since I’ve never to my knowledge had any mental health issues and usually thrive under stress, I anticipate a straightforward, if awkward, experience.

Then comes the meditation. We’re told to close our eyes and think about our bodies in relation to the chair, the floor, the room: how each limb touches the arms, the back, the legs of the seat, while breathing slowly. But there’s one small catch: I can’t breathe. No matter how fast, slow, deep or shallow my breaths are, it feels as though my lungs are sealed. My instincts tell me to run, but I can’t move my arms or legs. I feel a rising panic and worry that I might pass out, my mind racing. Then we’re told to open our eyes and the feeling dissipates. I look around. No one else appears to have felt they were facing imminent death. What just happened?

For days afterwards, I feel on edge. I have a permanent tension headache and I jump at the slightest unexpected noise. The fact that something seemingly benign, positive and hugely popular had such a profound effect has taken me by surprise.

Mindfulness, the practice of sitting still and focusing on your breath and thoughts, has surged in popularity over the last few years, with a boom in apps, online courses, books and articles extolling its virtues. It can be done alone or with a guide (digital or human), and with so much hand-wringing about our frenetic, time-poor lifestyles and information overload, it seems to offer a wholesome solution: a quiet port in the storm and an opportunity for self-examination. The Headspace app, which offers 10-minute guided meditations on your smartphone, has more than three million users worldwide and is worth over £25m. Meanwhile, publishers have rushed to put out workbooks and guides to line the wellness shelves in bookshops.

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Ted Cruz – Born Near The USA

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The left must admit the truth about the assaults on women in Cologne

From The Guardian UK:

When the rights of women and a warm reception for migrants come into conflict, it’s understandable if the left panics – but we have to salvage nuance

Saturday 9 January 2016

Oh dear. It’s leftageddon. Two matters close to the progressive heart have been pitted against each other. In one corner, the right of women to stroll down the street, wearing what we like to wear without being mistaken for a walking, gilt-edged invitation to cop a free feel. In the other, the right of men, women and children to flee war, oppression and privation to seek refuge in other countries, without being seen as a swarm of subhuman parasites who will destroy any naive host who welcomes them. Tricky.

News of events in Cologne on New Year’s Eve filtered out slowly, but it has become glaringly obvious that during celebrations in that city – and, to a lesser extent, other German cities – many women were targeted by gangs of men who surrounded them and subjected them to sexual assaults. The women, and witnesses, say that their attackers seemed to be from the Middle East or north Africa. Critics of Germany’s open-door refugee policy say they warned us. Nightmare.

Short of going full conspiracy-theory, and suggesting a) that rightwing German men have slapped on the fake tan in a fiendish effort to engineer a revolt against German immigration policy; or b) that rightwing German men have slapped on the fake tan and dresses, then made it all up, to the same end, there appear to be few uncomplicated ways to blame the right for all this.

I’m not counting the argument that says there is no hard evidence that these were refugees, because – let’s face it – it’s silly to pretend that the word “refugee” is synonymous with the word “saint” anyway.

Only a simpleton – or, more commonly, person driven by instinct and emotion – thinks you can counter the uncompromising prejudice of “all immigrants are bad” with the uncompromising prejudice of “all immigrants are good”. The debate is worth having because the story has presented itself to us, whether the story is true or not. It will keep on presenting itself, in some form or another, until we can achieve some measure of agreement over what the story means.

The stereotypical right tends to blame the stereotypical left for all its woes in an uncomplicated way. The stereotypical left tends to respond with similar clod-hopping generalisation. But the hopeful columnist can still believe it possible to salvage some nuance; perhaps even, heaven forfend, some useful and solid points on which both left and right can agree.

First, these were opportunistic, organised crimes. The fact that they were carried out in the open, in front of many witnesses, suggests that the perpetrators were pretty sure they would get away with it. Sexual criminals who get away with things tend to become more ambitious. There’s no denying that this is a serious problem.

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Six Responses to Bernie Skeptics

From Robert Reich:

Robert Reich
Saturday, January 16, 2016

1. “He’d never beat Trump or Cruz in a general election.”

Wrong. According to the latest polls, Bernie is the strongest Democratic candidate in the general election, defeating both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in hypothetical matchups. (The latest Real Clear Politics averages of all polls shows Bernie beating Trump by a larger margin than Hillary beats Trump, and Bernie beating Cruz while Hillary loses to Cruz.)

2. “He couldn’t get any of his ideas implemented because Congress would reject them.”

If both house of Congress remain in Republican hands, no Democrat will be able to get much legislation through Congress, and will have to rely instead on executive orders and regulations. But there’s a higher likelihood of kicking Republicans out if Bernie’s “political revolution” continues to surge around America, bringing with it millions of young people and other voters, and keeping them politically engaged.

3. “America would never elect a socialist.”

P-l-e-a-s-e. America’s most successful and beloved government programs are social insurance – Social Security and Medicare. A highway is a shared social expenditure, as is the military and public parks and schools. The problem is we now have excessive socialism for the rich (bailouts of Wall Street, subsidies for Big Ag and Big Pharma, monopolization by cable companies and giant health insurers, giant tax-deductible CEO pay packages) – all of which Bernie wants to end or prevent.

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America | Bernie Sanders

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