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Timeless in Tuscany

It’s 3 o’clock on a Saturday. Saturn-Day, as in Saturn, the great teacher. We’ve arrived. The grandfather clock behind the reception desk stands still, frozen at some previous, unspecified 4 o’clock. Looking closely, I make out the phrase on its face: tempus fugit.

“Sed fugit interea,

fugit inreparabile tempus,

singular dum capti

circumvectamur amore” 

Virgil, Georgics

“Fugit inreparabile tempus” (It escapes, irretrievable time), wrote the poet Virgil — later expressed in English as: time flies.

While time may fly, it can also stop for a spell. Also not flying on this day: our luggage — left behind by the airline along the way. We check in and then go to the center of this piccolo villaggio, hoping for a shop with swimsuits.

Aha, a shop: Fata Morgana. This is the Italian name of the Fairy Morgana, the sorceress Morgan le Fay in Arthurian legend.

Fata Morgana is also the name of a mirage of sorts, visible above the horizon, once believed to be fairy castles conjured up by witchcraft. Now known as an “optical phenomenon.” They are sometimes seen in the Strait of Messina — these fairy castles/mirages/optical phenomena. This shop, however, is convincingly sensate. I touch the stone of the building as we take the few steps down into a cool interior, and immediately draw to us swimsuits that we like, that fit. While I realize that does sound like a fairy tale — it is real. The owner is an artist, creator of the colorful jewelry on display in her shop. And on a counter, I see a pair of earrings she has engraved with these words:

“Art has no time”.

This catches my attention. I was just thinking that we are not living in a time, anywhere. We are going through a transition — and in a transition — there is no “time”, at least not as we have known it. No–it is n art. Transition. An art? In art? Yes. One’s choice.

The center of Bagno Vignoni is a pool with hot springs from a volcanic source. In the rectangular pool, 49 by 24 meters (161 by 79 feet), the water bubbles and ripples – embraced by its wall and surrounded by golden-tan and cream-colored travertine stone buildings. Strolling around the piazza, in the path between the pool and the buildings feels like walking in between gentle, lovely parents, secure in your place in the world. In addition to dwellings, the piazza features a few shops, restaurants, cafés; an inn and spa. Some steps further and we are in another shop, greeted by its sprightly owner. In this shop, Maledetti Toscani, I find a shirt with flying dragons, made from Tencel and algae. Tempus fugit.

The name of the shop is also the title of a book by the 20th century journalist and novelist Curzio Malaparte — born Kurt Erich Suckert to a German father and an Italian mother. Maledetti Toscani (Damned Tuscans). This reminds me, it’s good to be at least somewhat prepared for the Tuscan tone and wit before one’s arrival, lest the irony fly over your head, along with the time and the dragons…

There are other garments in the shop printed with excerpts from Dante’s Divine Comedy, but only from Inferno. What is it about hell that captures the human imagination so?

Interviewed in This Jungian Life podcast episode, “Time and Truth about Its Use”, the author Oliver Burkeman referred to a headline in a Catholic magazine, “Heaven: will it be boring?” 

It seems as if the tension, tragedy, conflict, and drama in the circles of hell continue to hold human attention — and along with that, comes the learned helplessness that locks people in hell or keeps them in loops of purgatory.

Burkeman also cited the work of Cathleen Kaveny, professor of law and theology – who wrote about the deep unhappiness and alienation of lawyers – linking this to the commodification of their time. It is the billable hour, according to professor Kaveny: “which ultimately reduces the value of time to money, [and] is deeply inimical to human flourishing.” As lawyers “internalize this commodified account of their time, they may find themselves increasingly alienated from events in their lives that draw upon a different and non-commodified understanding of time”. 

While Kaveny wrote about the legal profession, Burkeman and others have recently underscored the broader relevance: “The billable hour is a trap more and more of us are falling into” (Tim Harford, Financial Times, 29 April 2022).

As the Jungian analyst Deborah Stewart so aptly describes it:

“I’m thinking about this from the point of view of ego, versus something else — the something else that allows us to drop down and drop into a kind of timeless space – and find that sort of still point of the turning world versus our so-called rational and cognitive capacities that deceive us into thinking that doing things and pleasing people and getting through our to-do lists — that that’s the priority. And that — it’s just not true. Giving it such prominence as if it is the reality — is the falsehood.”

That’s the mirage.

We are around the other side of the piazza now, and can see Fata Morgana. Something is gleaming at the entrance, reflecting light across the square. We take a seat at an outdoor café, and enjoy an espresso and gelato. We linger in the sunshine and observe the tide of tourists and time travelers: a group of cyclists from France and Belgium, a large family from Rome enjoying the countryside; pilgrims on their way to Rome, resting from their journey on the Via Francigena; solo travelers, couples and friends from various places, together for now in this time and space.

There is time here, naturally — even if so many clocks have stopped. Its presence and movement delineated by light, its dance across and over the hills; the rhythms of life on our rotating earth, opening the way for a deeper dive into each moment. We create a bouquet that will stay fresh as long as our imaginations nourish it; so we can always breathe in the memories: entering and floating in the warm thermal springs pool in the early morning as vapor ascends and blends into the cool air; feeling the relaxing properties of the bicarbonate-sulfate-alkaline waters; napping in the garden in the afternoon; strolling the antiques market in Arezzo and finding crystals, cleansing them in the stream and energizing them with sunshine and moonlight; browsing and finding regional cookbooks in the libreria on the square; traveling through the countryside, chatting with Tuscans and other travelers; luncheons in Bagno Vignoni and Cortona; an afternoon at a vineyard and wine estate in Montalcino; an underground tour of an impressive wine cellar in Montepulciano, contemplating the fabulous story of its origins; then soaking before bedtime in the thermal springs pool, under the stars.

Refreshed by this timeless-line of experiences, we return to a timeline we inhabit: the one with to-do lists and clocks that show, with precision, the current hours, minutes, and seconds. 

It’s another Saturn-Day — to be followed, naturally, by Sun-day, Moon-day, Mars-day, Mercury-Day, Jupiter-Day and Venus-Day…

The great teacher seems satisfied with our progress. We’ve learned that while hell and purgatory have limits and loops and billable hours, paradise expands endlessly in response to one’s co-creative spirit.

“Ma tutti fanno bello il primo giro, 

e differentemente han dolce vita

per sentir più e men l’etterno spiro.” 

Dante, Paradiso 4.34 – 4.36

References:

Curzio Malaparte. Maledetti Toscani – con un saggio critico di Luigi Martellini. Milano: Leonardo, (1994).

Dante Alighieri. La Commedia (1320).

Deborah Stewart. This Jungian Life Podcast, Episode 174: Time and Truth about Its Use 

M. C. KavenyBillable Hours in Ordinary Time: A Theological Critique of the Instrumentalization of Time in Professional Life, 33 Loy. U. Chi. L. J. 173 (2002).  Available at: https://lawecommons.luc.edu/luclj/vol33/iss1/7

Michel de Montaigne. Journal du Voyage en Italie (1774).

Oliver Burkeman. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

The works of Virgil containing his Pastorals, Georgics and Aeneis : adorn’d with a hundred sculptures / translated into English verse by Mr. Dryden. Virgil., Virgil. Bucolica., Virgil. Georgica., Virgil. Aeneis., Dryden, John, 1631-1700. London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, 1697.


Details:

Accommodations: Albergo Posta Marcucci | Other wellness hotels in Bagno Vignoni: the Albergo le Terme and the Adler Spa Resort.

Enjoy a cozy dining experience in Bagno Vignoni at Osteria del Leone.

Refine your knowledge of Tuscan cuisine in a cooking class with Michelin-starred chef Silvia Regi Baracchi, Maître de Maison at Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere in Cortona (Executive Chef Richard Titi). A place and experience so authentic, fantastic, and welcoming — it feels as if you’ve landed in an Etruscan timeline.

Muse on the gorgeous landscape from a high-altitude estate and learn more about Brunello di Montalcino at the Gloder family’s Poggio Antico winery.

Visit the De’ Ricci wine cellar in Montepulciano, organized by tour operator, Umbria Con Me.

Stroll through and find special items at the Arezzo Antiques Market (“every first Sunday of the month and the preceding Saturday”). Dine afterwards at Tabac Club in the historic center, Via Beccheria 3/B


The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in, or receive funding from any company or organization mentioned in this article.


Lucid Dreaming

What distinguishes lucid dreaming from dreaming? What makes a lucid dream – lucid? Why explore and develop this skill? How could it contribute to better health and well-being? 

To begin exploring this, let us first land upon a story shared in the Zhuangzi, by the master Zhuang.

In the “Butterfly Dream”, Zhuang Zhou dreams of being a butterfly, happily fluttering around. He awakens from this vivid dream and – pauses, wonders – is he Zhuang Zhou who dreamt of being a butterfly? Or is he a butterfly, dreaming that he is Zhuang Zhou?

“The Butterfly Dream” of Zhuang Zhou is a dream, recalled — and a portal through which we can move between the concepts of dreaming and lucid dreaming.

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

-C.G. Jung

Psychophysiologist Stephen LaBerge specializes in the scientific study of lucid dreaming. He describes lucid dreaming as “fully reflective consciousness during unequivocal (REM) sleep” — and also simply: “dreaming while knowing that you are dreaming.”

When you become aware that you are dreaming, myriad new possibilities emerge in your dreams. Applications being explored by lucid dreamers include: healing themselves, clearing up nightmares, problem-solving, increasing their playfulness and joy, creativity — e.g., creative writing, rehearsing to improve in public speaking, artistic performances or sports; spiritual practices, transcendence.

The term “lucid dream” was coined by the Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden in his 1913 “Study of Dreams”. Dr. Eeden believed in carefully observing and studying dreams and also became an experienced lucid dreamer. He rejected the idea set forth by the German poet Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg) that “we are near waking when we dream we are dreaming.” For Dr. Eeden, “lucid dreams occur in deep sleep and do not as a rule end in waking up, unless I wish it and do it by an act of volition.”

Could it be that the poet was referring to something beyond the literal meaning? Perhaps he was hinting at transcendence made more accessible while awake. Dreaming and lucid dreaming; lucid consciousness while asleep and while awake.

We were given the programming ages ago to “suspend disbelief” – in order to believe something that isn’t true – so the story goes, to enjoy fiction. Millennia later, along with the benefits, that has left most people generally focused externally, watching the world, attached to its apparent material realities. It has weakened (or disconnected many from) inner creative forces. That, of course, is also reflected in the degree of dream recall, the quality of dreams, and levels of lucidity.

What may best distinguish lucid dreaming from dreaming is a skill that develops in lucid dreaming: to consciously navigate between your lucid dreams and the world you inhabit with others, weaving more and more intentionality and coherence between them.

Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you; when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.

Barbara Marciniak

“The Butterfly Dream” of Zhuang Zhou is a dream, recalled. It is also a portal through which we can move between the concepts of dreaming and lucid dreaming. The portal is found in the pause, in that suspension of disbelief and suspension of belief. That’s where we can make choices at a higher level of consciousness and find ways to transform ourselves and our environments.❂

For more information on lucid dreaming:

Video – How Lucid Dreaming Really Works

Feature photo by Saeeed Karimi


The information, materials, and content in this post and on this website are for general educational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or to serve as a substitute for professional medical consultations, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare practitioners before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness routine or other wellness program.


If Ewe Know, Ewe Know

Night and Light and the Half-Light

The Gaelic seasonal festival Imbolc takes place halfway in the cycle between the winter solstice and the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere (1 February in the calendar of days). 

It is a celebration of the returning of the light, or the returning to the light, depending on one’s perception. (After all, does the sun really ‘rise’ in the east and ‘set’ in the west?) At this time, some will walk ‘round holy wells. If we tune in, we sense the days getting longer. The stretching glow of candles in the home softens the breath in the evening. Sparks. Fresh energy.

These spheres ripple into our fields, always present if not always acknowledged, until they reach the graspable routine of 24 hours, in the lived experiences of our circadian rhythms.

Responding to the light and the dark, these biological rhythms affect our health by influencing hormone release, body temperature, and rest and digest functions.

Our internal circadian clocks need to adjust and readjust to remain in alignment with external time, changing seasons, environmental changes.

According to a recent article by researchers at the University of Oxford, “Such an alignment allows organisms to deliver the correct materials, in the correct concentration to the correct organ systems at the optimal time of day. This ‘fine-tuning’ of biology is essential for survival. Without entrainment of the circadian system all ‘fine-tuning’ is lost and physiology and behaviour drifts into chaos, termed ‘internal desynchrony'”. (1)

A wellness home and work space then is designed with consideration for these deeper rhythms and to support circadian entrainment.

Circadian Lighting

This may include an indoor lighting system that is dynamic – with illumination, color mix and temperature that can be adjusted and shift subtly throughout the day, into twilight and the night.

If you are designing a property in Germany, guidelines for “biologically effective illumination” are found in DIN SPEC 67600. The international standard CIE S026 also provides guidelines and a toolbox for implementing the standard.

Experts are cautious though regarding simulated, commercial lighting systems; they underscore that there are still risks and uncertainties.

While preparing to design and implement technologies such as tunable lighting, let us remember first to tune into the earth properly. We require better scientific understanding of circadian entrainment to implement effective and beneficial circadian lighting systems. We can also seek now to restore and integrate ancient wisdom about living in harmony with nature — and then enhance this with scientific knowledge and technology.

In sum, wellness real estate design focuses on promoting circadian entrainment with a holistic lifestyle approach, implementing circadian lighting systems carefully — with technical knowledge of standards and recommended practices. A wellness building’s circadian entrainment design situates the occupants’ circadian rhythms and the earth’s rhythms in the center, acknowledged and respected, rippling in, and out — back into space.❂


Reference(s):

(1) Ashton, Anna et al. “Photic Entrainment of the Circadian System.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 23,2 729. 10 Jan. 2022, doi:10.3390/ijms23020729

Feature photo by cottonbro

Photos by Gaspar Zaldo, Dmitriy Ganin, Rene Asmussen, Volkan Vardar

In the Margins – Poem #9

| In the Margins – Poem #9 – From the pages of Mary Windermere’s Book of Exotic Fish (unpublished). -M.J. Heinrich |


…Come true

In the absence before your presence,

I called for your essence;

Permanence greeted me

Your entrance—alchemy—

Humans in the Garden of Eden

(We were singing—softly;

Silently conferring: 

Is it getting late to be falling in love—

in the holy beginning? 

Or is it nearly time 

to be rising in Love— 

and leaving this level of Heaven?)

Pondering these words on our island;

immersed in the crystal green water,

I open my eyes—smile and wonder— 

indigo orange fish

Remind me of a wish…


Feature photo by Marta Dzedyshko

Survival of the Most Adaptable

The German Sustainability Award, sponsored by the Federal Government of Germany, is the most comprehensive environmental award in Europe. Competition is focused in eight categories: architecture, companies, corporate partnerships, design, municipalities, NEA (next economy award), packaging, and research.

Research plays a significant role in all areas but merits its own category. A rich potentiality thrives in research and yet it can be daunting, as new ideas are cooled in theoretical frameworks, pooling deep in scientific journals and libraries—instead of focused, like a laser-beam, towards generating new dimensional realities.

How do we shift into applied research (pivoting away from what Greta Thunberg recently called the “blah, blah, blah” of politicians’ speeches) and turn the knowledge available to us into solutions and action—baby steps, if that’s what will get us started—immediately?

First, we recognize where we are.

The leitmotif in the research category this year is adaptation — adaptation to climate change and extreme weather events. In western Europe, as in other regions of the world, the extreme rainfall, flash floods, and intense heatwaves in recent years have made it clear that preparedness and proactive solutions are required right away. Adaptation now.

Three projects are vying for the award. The finalists are:  



I asked German real estate expert Carsten Heinrich which research project best captures the zeitgeist.

A.L.: All of these are excellent projects. Which one stands out for you, and why?

C.H.: The effects of climate change on communities are increasingly disruptive and destructive. People are facing tangible problems right now, but a lot of environmental policies can only be implemented in the long-term. So I think all the finalists in the research category are working to build vital bridges, but the HeatResilientCity project stands out for me in the way it demonstrates how climate adaptation measures can be implemented in the short term – immediately, actually — with smaller, achievable steps. And, as the jury noted, the team has been able to link data measurement to simulations with an innovative approach, which points to even greater relevance and reach.


The 14th German Sustainability Award ceremony will take place December 2 – 3, 2021 in Düsseldorf.


Feature photo by Andrés García

Caveat Meditator

| INT. – A bookstore in Rishikesh, India – Afternoon |

I am with a yoga teacher from the west. She is browsing the shelves for herself, but then remembers that I, her student, am present. She hands me a book. “Here, this is good. You should read this and practice the exercises.”

The book she has handed me is on advanced breathing techniques.

While it is a good book, it is not a good book for me at this stage. Curiously, she has not asked me essential questions about my previous training, interests, and goals; so how does she know that this is appropriate for me? Simple answer: she does not know. She has not asked me the questions because this retreat she has organized is not for me or other participants. It is for herself.

And this book is not for me—not yet. What little I do know about advanced breathing techniques: they are powerful. One must proceed with proper training, adequate knowledge, and competent guidance. Otherwise, it could be dangerous. This book requires far more than the one-week yoga retreat can deliver or my current schedule will allow. So I ask: “Isn’t this advanced? Isn’t it important to do the basic training first?” She smirks, then sighs and concedes, “Yeah…”


Whereas spiritual masters have been warning their disciples for thousands of years about the dangers of playing with mystical states, the contemporary spiritual scene is like a candy store, where any casual spiritual “tourist” can sample the “goodies” that promise a variety of mystical highs.

Mariana Caplan


Willoughby Britton Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University; she has researched and published papers on the “adverse effects” of mindfulness-related processes (MRPs). Focusing on the benefits and the drawbacks of mindfulness techniques, she teaches people “how to interact with spiritual or meditation systems.”

This is a vital role. Even as all kinds of meditation centers, yoga studios, spiritual retreats, and mindfulness apps have proliferated, at the same time inadequate guidance or even irresponsible, negligent, unethical, and harmful behaviors from those who are supposed to hold a safe space for students/clients has grown, often unchecked. And there is the glimmering idealism (in words and images) about the benefits of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, mushrooming in media and pop culture, drawing more people in — while leaving out extremely important and sensitive aspects of these practices.

An expert on kundalini yoga, the psychotherapist Gurucharan S. Khalsa, Ph.D. wrote: “Scattered through scriptural, historical, and political writings are warnings for those who practice kundalini yoga. There were several reasons for these warnings. The matrix of energies that compose our body and mind operates by laws and is highly complex. A technology that enhances and releases those energies must be precise, and precisely managed. So there is a need for a teacher to guide or certify the teachings and how to use them.”

According to the spiritual teacher Stuart Perrin, “meditation practitioners should be well rooted in the third chakra when a dormant kundalini awakens. This keeps them from being turned into cosmic ash by kundalini’s powerful force.”

Clearly, students are well advised to seek a qualified teacher or guide and to prepare for the more advanced techniques and practices – but even with simple techniques, students may show up in a vulnerable state of mind and require attentive, careful guidance.

Meanwhile—the qualified teacher offering their presence, deep listening, compassion, and skills—this teacher who has done the personal work and can hold a safe space for students—is extremely rare and invaluable.

Instead, what we find in most instances is a practitioner of a technique engaged in some form and degree of projection and some level of competition with other practitioners or even with their students.

The psychologist John Welwood coined the term “spiritual bypassing” to describe a process he witnessed in his community. In an interview with Tina Fossella, he explained: “I noticed a widespread tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks. When we are spiritually bypassing, we often use the goal of awakening or liberation to rationalize what I call premature transcendence: trying to rise above the raw and messy side of our humanness before we have fully faced and made peace with it.”


Dr. Britton founded Cheetah House, an organization “to offer support to meditators in distress.” Reportedly, they had more than 20,000 people contacting them just in 2020. These include individual meditators and also people who teach or guide others in mindfulness-related processes.

Dr. Britton and colleagues also offer a 3-Day Meditation Safety Training for MBSR/CT teachers: First Do No Harm: Foundational Competencies for Working Skillfully with Meditation-Related Challenges. As more of the people choosing to guide students gain the awareness to approach their role ethically, with greater understanding of the responsibilities involved, the “mindfulness space” will be safer for everyone.

At Cheetah House, Britton heard a question formulated by people in a support group: “Is my practice serving me, or am I serving my practice?”

We may also ask: Is my teacher really a teacher with the intention of serving me, or actually a wounded child/student playing a teacher—seeking their own growth and power, and looking to extract attention and other personal gains from the dynamic we are in?

If you have found a true teacher – sincere and heartfelt congratulations. If you are gaining awareness that it is the latter scenario that you are in, then muster up the courage to move away from the unsupportive or harmful dynamic, with compassion for others and yourself. Nevertheless, be heartened. Your current task may be to develop more self-responsibility or other valuable qualities.

There are paths for self-study that have been signposted by responsible teachers and guides, careful to inform us of dangerous areas along with useful directions for mindfulness-related practices. For example, in the online video course Embracing the Shadow, teacher Charlie Morley directs us to a pre-practice reflection: “Is now the right time to explore this…? Do I feel stable enough to explore this…? Is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now to explore this…? [and] If not, give yourself more time and come back to the practices later.”

Warnings and reflection exercises are not to dissuade us from engaging in mindfulness practices; rather they serve to strengthen our resolve in being prepared, committed, and clear on our objectives. Intentional.

Remember, too that there are myriad ways to achieve and sustain wellness — including mindfulness practices and activities such as walking in nature and reading uplifting poetry.

“Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite spaces, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

It is a well-blended combination and a variety of techniques, tools, and activities—customized—that deliver the more gentle, authentic, effective and joyful developmental journey.❂


The information, materials, and content in this post and on this website are for general educational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or to serve as a substitute for professional medical consultations, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare practitioners before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness routine or other wellness program.


Feature photo by cottonbro

Photos by Yan Krukov, and wendel moretti

Hygiene and Wellness

When it comes to hygiene – personal hygiene – the cleanliness of body, clothing, and home environment are typically the focus. And while these are important, hygiene is much more: it is about maintaining health and preventing disease – and so that includes physical and mental cleanliness. 

Photo by Manuel Torres Garcia

In the 19th century, the poet Robert Browning dropped us into the secret inner world of a monk who is enraged at “Brother Lawrence”. What exactly did this Brother Lawrence do? You might wonder, if you haven’t already read the fiercely gnarled interior monologue known as the “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister”. Well, for one, Brother Lawrence grew melons to share with the order. (The effrontery! The virtue signaling!)

“Oh, those melons! if he’s able
   We’re to have a feast; so nice!
One goes to the Abbot’s table,
   All of us get each a slice.
How go on your flowers? None double?
   Not one fruit-sort can you spy?
Strange!–And I, too, at such trouble,
   Keep them close-nipped on the sly!”

This is a monk going through the motions of appearing pious, and while we witness his contaminated thoughts – we realize: he can hide them. They’re his thoughts. While some do cross over into actions, they are sly actions. Without the access provided by our esteemed poet, we probably would perceive him as the quiet, devoted monk that he presents himself as, deep in contemplation in a peaceful cloister.

We rise above the cloister and drift across the ocean…

Photo by Kayla Salisbury

…to Gilligan’s Island, about a hundred years later. Specifically, episode #55, “Seer Gilligan”.  

Photos by Karolina Grabowska and Nivedha S

Sunflower seeds that confer telepathic ability have been found. The delight of the castaways rapidly turns into resentment and acrimony as they “think” to each other — and their thoughts reveal the state of their minds, engaged in harmful patterns and projections.


And there it was: an opportunity for the castaways to clean their thoughts and begin relating to each other with a higher level of mental hygiene. They would have had to acknowledge and work through their discomfort and release delusions. Instead, they became reactive and misplaced their personal responsibility. Gilligan burns the bush and destroys the seeds, the telepathic abilities wear off, and they go back to their “normal” communications.

A missed opportunity, framed in a story as a smart way to avoid interpersonal conflict, but which actually reflected a profound lack of courage in “powerful” societies. Thus the 20th century continued and ended.

Then came “social media”…

Photo by Pixabay

I’m with a friend and her teenage daughter on a walk, and our conversation on mental health meanders to social media. The teenager has lots of questions. Why are people so stingy with likes? They’re free, aren’t they? Why do so many of her “friends” not like or comment on her posts — especially the ones where she has earned recognition or is just expressing happiness?

Photo by Cristian Dina

“It’s as if…” she reluctantly articulates, “they’re not happy for me.” We are learning more about harmful effects of social media — especially on young minds, and it is important to provide language, tools, and support for people to make healthy choices regarding online presence and participation.

We can also expand our concepts of what is instructive.

There’s an opportunity here. Instead of becoming reactive and misplacing our personal responsibility, we can acknowledge and work through our discomfort and release delusions. We can choose to not project our own shadow aspects onto others.

Perhaps, though, it is our only option now.

For ages, people could get away with hiding their less-than-generous feelings and thoughts about people in their social circles and beyond, but one consequence of social media has been connecting people in ways that reveal mental hygiene – yours as well as that of others.

So-called “unseen” private thoughts are beginning to show. Interior monologues are becoming unconscious soliloquies. Mental hygiene is becoming as accessible to the senses as physical hygiene.


Geteiltes Leid

ist halbes Leid;

Glück verdoppelt sich

wenn man es teilt.

(German saying)

Sorrow shared is reduced by half; happiness shared is doubled.

This is the natural order, but when people have poor mental hygiene, the personal sorrow you confide in them is either amplified or ignored — and the happiness you share is decimated.


With good personal mental hygiene: thoughts, words, and actions are in alignment. People are able to share in a boundless happiness and naturally reduce others’ sorrows. With poor hygiene, they can barely contain an inner gr-r-r at another’s happiness.

How can we develop good mental hygiene?

Let’s carefully consider the guidance of sage Patañjali:

Maitrī-karuṇā-muditā-upekṣāṇāṁ

sukha-duḥkha-puṇya-apuṇya-

viṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaḥ-citta-prasādanam

Yogasūtra I.33

There are four parts to this:

  1. Be friendly towards those who are happy;
  2. Be compassionate towards those who are unhappy;
  3. Take delight in those who are virtuous and benevolent;
  4. Cultivate non-judgmental equanimity regarding those who are malevolent.

It’s not easy, but it’s that simple. 

Life on earth gives us myriad chances to practice.  Each day brings opportunities to develop these, to improve personal hygiene and enhance holistic wellness.❂


Feature photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova