I have been seeing quite a few posts about meditating for peace lately. Several of them encourage meditating this weekend with the hopes of influencing a positive outcome for our national elections. Frankly, I think it is a good idea.
Neurology has confirmed that the individual human brain is actually hard wired to influence other people within our social circle. In fact, there is a body of scientific evidence that personal thoughts have an infectious nature. Karl Mannheim, the father of the sociology of knowledge, wrote about his sense of this phenomenon in his famous book, Ideology and Utopia. It was his belief that the social emergence of collective thoughts are a reproduction of feelings, understandings and perceptions of individuals living together in society. The ultimate chicken and egg puzzle – historical knowledge conditioned by groups of people living together and social change instigated by conscious beings becoming aware of the power of their thoughts.
It seems logical to me that thinking that comes from a nourished, calm mind will be more positively impactful than thinking that comes from an anxiety riddled mind. Recent research has repeatedly offered evidence that a meditation practice enhances areas of the brain involved in perception and the regulation of emotion.
Thinking is, simply put, a means to both individual and collective evolution. This is why a meditation practice is so imperative. It influences both the personal and the collective. Spending time in silence allows one to transcend the daily input of distractions, noise and stress. The repeated action of sitting in silence incrementally builds more and more purity of thought. Thoughts that bubble up out of an exploration of inner knowing are more likely to be connected to the finest level of feeling.
If my experience of twenty-five years of daily meditation offers one truth, it is this: All you will find at the basis of yourself is a well-spring of love.
Love as an undercurrent to thinking has just got to be good for the environment!
My advice for this weekend – sit, meditate, vote!
~ Molly Beauregard
The ancient symbol of a labyrinth relates to the concept of wholeness. By combining the imagery of a circle with a spiral, traditional labyrinths offer a meandering path with purposeful meaning. Walking the labyrinth offers a journey to the center of the maze and back out again. It is not meant to confuse or frustrate the walker. Rather, the gift of the labyrinth is to soothe, to comfort, to offer insight and reflection.
Perhaps, the most famous labyrinth is preserved within the nave of Chartres Cathedral in France. Built around 1200, it was intended to be walked as a pilgrimage in order to become closer to God. Labyrinths have been found all over the world — some dating back 4,000 years. All too often their origins lost in the mists of time.
The philosophical idea that if we had eyes powerful enough to see exactly what is happening, we would realize that even the most stable thing in the universe is actually changing all the time, is mirrored in the construction of a labyrinth. The structure of the labyrinth reminds us to trust in the flow of the universe. Walking the path reminds us to trust our intuition, stay on the path — essentially to walk the walk.
This weekend my husband built a labyrinth. It was a pretty inspired move. For us, the labyrinth served as a ceremonial finish to our long awaited apple harvest. The back story on the harvest includes two smallish granny smith apple trees that had previously yielded one or two squirrel nibbled offerings each season. This year with some timely nurturance and delicate care the trees produced 28 big, fat apple gems.
The truth is it can be tough to infuse our daily life with meaning and reverence. An apple harvest is as good an excuse as any for reminding us to slow down and celebrate the abundance of life. Walking the labyrinth this weekend, I found myself reminded that we are all exactly where we are meant to be right now. Just like those sweet little trees, we all blossom at the perfect moment to shine our absolute brightest.
Classical Labyrinths: Construction Manual
October 2016 Book of the Month
“What happens when media and politics become forms of entertainment? In the season of Trump and Hillary, Neil Postman’s essential guide to the modern media is more relevant than ever.
Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Deathis a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.
“It’s unlikely that Trump has ever read Amusing Ourselves to Death, but his ascent would not have surprised Postman.” –CNN
September 2016 Book of the Month
You’re just getting back to your studies, and you may find it hard to pick up yet another book, but I promise this one will have you completely captivated from the first sentence. You may even finish it in a weekend!
“An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.
When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?
In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.
August 2016 Book of the Month
You know when someone gives you a book and insists on you reading it and then it sits on your book shelf for weeks, months or even years? Well… this is one of those books on my shelf.
I looked at it yesterday as I was weeding out the books I would take to my local used book store, and I did what I often like to do, which is to open to a random page and read the first sentence I find.
Here’s what it said:
“The moment you criticize, you are not in relationship, you already have a barrier between yourself and them; but if you merely observe, then you will have a direct relationship with people and with things. If you can observe alertly, keenly, but without judging, without concluding, you will find that your thinking becomes astonishingly acute. Then you are learning all the time.”
Think I’ll start from the beginning now.
Interacting is imperative to the art business because it is the space where ideas are found, tested and in Henry’s case, enacted. The collaborative nature of Henry’s work encourages creative community building. And offers real world evidence of the Tuning the Student Mind curriculum in action.
Go Henry Go!
July 2016 Book of the Month
I read Five Smooth Stones a few years ago at the recommendation of my boyfriend’s mom. She sent us two of these huge books in the mail so that we could all read it at the same time. When I saw it on my shelf today, it brought back so many memories of learning about the civil rights movement in a way that was engaging and beautiful. I couldn’t wait to return to it night after night to see what was happening in David’s life.
I can’t help but think that this is the right time to re-visit this alluring novel.
“This gripping bestseller, first published in 1966, has continued to captivate readers with its wide-ranging yet intimate portrait of an America sundered by racial conflict. David Champlin is a black man born into poverty in Depression-era New Orleans who makes his way up the ladder of success, only to sacrifice everything to lead his people in the civil rights movement. Sara Kent is the white girl who loves David from the moment she first sees him, and who struggles against his belief that a marriage for them would be wrong in the violent world he has to confront.”
June 2016 Book of the Month
Prodigal Summer is one of those books you dive into head first and later find yourself trying to limit how much you read in a day so that it is never over. In fact, that is where I am with this book; half way through, and starting to read only a couple pages before bed so that it may last all summer.
If you enjoy being in nature; if you love being enveloped in the twists and turns of personal stories — please join me in this perfect read for summer.
“Barbara Kingsolver’s fifth novel is a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself. It weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia. Over the course of one humid summer, this novel’s intriguing protagonists face disparate predicaments but find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place.”
We were recently featured on the College for Creative Studies’ news and events page in an article titled, Short film explores game-changing CCS sociology course that helps students tap creative potential. We’re honored to be recognized and look forward to future semesters of “Consciousness, Creativity and Identity”.
“If you walked into Molly Beauregard’s classroom toward the end of each session, you’d find the room swathed in stillness and calm. You’d see every student sitting face forward, eyes closed, deep in silent meditation. The scene wouldn’t strike you as particularly unusual if this were a wellness room or a yoga class, but it’s not. It may well be, however, the first academic course of its kind at an American college.
For more than 15 years, Beauregard has taught sociology — mostly, and happily, at the College for Creative Studies. But a few years ago she noticed that her students weren’t showing much interest in the material. They seemed not only disengaged and preoccupied but also exhausted. It is a troubling commonplace in U.S. college classrooms.
“I can’t tell you exactly when it happened,” said Beauregard, “but I started to have this awareness that there was a struggle going on with my students, and I wondered why they didn’t seem to like sociology and why it wasn’t resonating. Semester to semester, it felt like it was getting worse. What’s going on here?”
This question formed the basis of what would become, in 2011, an innovative sociology course incorporating transcendental meditation…”
See the full article here.
May 2016 Book of the Month
As we near the summer months, I always like to revisit this book. Backwoods Ethics not only touches on environmental issues for hikers and campers and how to help solve those issues, it also serves as an inspiration for getting outside and being a steward of our precious land.
“When Backwood Ethics was first published in 1979, the Watermans’ “new ethic” was enthusiastically received by environmentalists, hikers, and wilderness managers. This expanded edition brings the basics of low-impact hiking, camping and cooking, and alpine management into the 21st century. Here the authors take a fresh look at ways to protect the physical environment of our mountains and backcountry.”