Stay Tuned : Right Speech post, comin’ atcha Christmas eve-eve!

This will mark the 3rd post of my #8weeksofmindfulness series of posts.

Just in time for the holidays, perhaps in uncomfortable family situations,
we’ll be able to put Right Speech into practice.

Tis’ the Season for Setting the Intention (Right Intention Eight-fold path)

Let’s begin with a simple question: How often do you observe your thought patterns?

a. Often b. Occasionally  c. Never  d. WHAT DO YOU EVEN MEAN??

Whatever the answer, in the second part of my eight weeks of mindfulness posts, I want to focus in on Right Intention which is primarily centered on the qualities of our thoughts.

How important is this anyway?

In my humble opinion, it’s something we should choose to tune into if we really want happiness, peace, and all that jazz with ourselves and in our relationships with others. I’m willing to bet the majority of us don’t want to be miserable, though some of us are and it feels inevitable. There is always work to be done which can allow us to live happier, more fulfilling lives. I’d like to suggest that observing our thoughts and changing our thought patterns can really help us to help ourselves be more happy and at peace, with ourselves and the world.

        A Little Background

Right Intention is also oftentimes referred to as Right Thought.  There is a lovely little Buddha quote that I think nicely summarizes the importance of intention in our lives:

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”-Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)

Keeping this in mind, we know that from our intention, stems our actions and speech(parts of the eight-fold path which will follow this one). Our thoughts do indeed shape our world.  In the practice of Buddhism, there is significance placed both renunciation and cultivation: in this case, renunciation of unwholesome thoughts, habits, actions while cultivating wholesome thoughts, habits actions.

Right intention consists of dropping desire, cultivating the intention of good will and harmlessness. The importance of ridding ourselves of desire is not because desire is necessarily evil, but because it causes us to suffer. In this holiday season, what better practice than to cultivate good will, and to let go of desiring.

In Practice

If we allow ourselves to be free of desire, we allow ourselves to be happier. Of course, there are always going to be things that we want in life, whether they are material things or things we’d like to see in our relationships with others. This is not always a bad thing. We set goals and work towards the objects we ‘desire’. However, the desire I speak of is one that consists of wanting things in such a way that it disrupts your inner peace. It may cause you to have negative thoughts centered on the “WHY do I not have this or that when others do?” This is an unhealthy pattern. It may cause you to resent others who do (at least on the surface) have the things that you want. This is also a harmful way of thinking and separates us from others, rather than bringing us closer together in a way that we can appreciate and be there for one another.

Exercise: Practice contentment. When thoughts arise about needing that newest piece of technology, or comparing yourself or situation to others’, practice contentment. Let go of the desire that is causing your current dissatisfaction, and notice how wonderful everything truly is.

In regards to cultivating good will and harmlessness, this can simply come from noticing when a judgmental thought arises about another person, and choosing to realize that the two of you are one in the same, that that person is your equal, you are both on this journey of life, and you are both choosing to deal with things differently. You can drop the habit of thinking unkindly about others; you can cultivate the habit of thinking compassionate thoughts, wishing them well, even if you do not understand their motivation or intention, and perhaps, sending them the type of positive energy they need. If we cultivate compassion towards others, we will feel better than if we are harboring negative thoughts about them, and we will also perhaps cause them to be compassionate in return.

Surely changing our thought patterns can’t happen instantaneously; it is a process, but certainly if we become conscious of the quality of our thoughts, and what they are telling us about our inner state of being, as well as our attitudes towards others, if we become aware, where we haven’t been before, then we have the potential to change them up entirely.

Being that it is, after all, the season of peace on earth and good will towards men,

I myself, hereby set the intention to cultivate that good will, and invite you to do so as well.

 

Post 2 of 8 in 8 Weeks of Mindfulness of the Eight-fold Path.

-A.K.

 

Understanding Our World (Right View & the Eight-fold Path)

Post 1 of 8 of 8 weeks of Mindfulness, centered on the eight-fold path in Buddhism(As promised! But a little delayed)

While each part of the eight-fold path intersects and relates to the others, my goal is to focus on each aspect of the path for a week, as a personal mindfulness practice, and share it with you.

A little background:

         Right View/ Understanding is the first part of the eight-fold path. Essentially, it is the idea of understanding the world and everything in it as it is, not in distorted ways according to the tricks of our own minds, not through the lens of our self-constructed delusions. Choosing to focus on Right View is choosing to tune into your life, deeply, paying attention to your relationships: familial, friendships, coworkers,to tune into your attitudes about yourself, other people and the various happenings of the world.

We all have little delusions we allow ourselves to believe (believe it or not HAH!) and sometimes when we are caught up in the cycle of our every day routines, we are not fully conscious of them. This is an invitation to be conscious:of actions,words, perceptions, thoughts, attitudes. This is the beginning. Simply becoming aware can be extremely fruitful in deepening our understanding of ourselves.

For me, I think the most important parts of Right View are attention, honesty and acceptance. If I pay attention to my thought patterns, habits, actions and I am honest with myself about my realizations, I can accept these things as they are, and I can also decide if I want to make changes in my thoughts, habits, actions. If I do not pay attention or I am dishonest with myself, then I am not truly allowing room to be the best version of me. This is why I find mindfulness to be so important. It helps us to help ourselves be healthy and happy, and effectively improves the health and happiness of all our relations, if we choose it. Perhaps it will open new doors in your relationships, perhaps you will learn some things about yourself, some things about your partner, perhaps you will simply begin to notice little things you didn’t notice before, and in actuality, aren’t so little, after all.

That said, I hereby challenge myself to really pay attention to what my mind is telling me and to decide for myself, in my heart, if it is also true there. Maybe you think your life is perfect, your relationships are perfect, your habits are all perfect. That’s wonderful.

However, I am willing to bet that if you sit quietly with yourself for a moment, that you will find there is room for improvement somewhere. Why not give mindfulness a chance, and see what it can offer you in your life? I have a strong feeling you won’t be disappointed. On that note, I am extending the invitation to take part in this journey on the beginnings of awareness. I would love to hear feedback on what arises for you. 

Here’s to perhaps uncomfortable, laughable and beautiful moments of discovery.

(to be continued)

Happy week 1 of Mindfulness ! =)

-A.K.

Coming Soon: 8 Weeks of Mindfulness

It seems like just as good of a time as any to get centered on the spiritual, as we approach the holiday season in the U.S. and other parts of the world. For eight weeks, I will focus on one factor of the eight-fold path of Buddhism each week and post about it.  Stay tuned for the first post in the next few days!

Here are the eight parts of the path:

1.Right view

2. Right intention

3.Right speech

4. Right action

5. Right livelihood

6. Right effort

7. Right  mindfulness

8. Right concentration

“Just Keep Swimming”

Most days in this first semester of grad school, I have felt like a “rookie”, coming to straight out of undergrad. Every day, I have been incredibly inspired by the stories and amazing work of the other individuals in my program.

Today, I remember why I write. Today, I recognize how much progress I have made so far this semester, with immense gratitude for the environment/community that I am now a part of.

Today, I am remembering exactly how I arrived not only here, but all places in my life, physically, mentally, emotionally: through continuous, positive effort, through refusing to let any little fear or doubt shake me.

Today, I am remembering I am exactly where I need to and want to be.

Today is for realizing just how perfect everything really is, and will continue to be, so long as I remember what is most essential: to simply continue.

You will come to the places you have always dreamed of finding yourself.
In other words, ‘Just keep swimming’ y’all.

-A.K.

Our World: Shaped by Shape?

Imagine for a second what life might be like in a world where we didn’t, as humans, classify each other by body type, or physical characteristics at all …

Or as females, if we didn’t  refer to each other as  “b*tches?” and every other derogatory word in existence as if they bear no connotation or consequence.

 Does this seem too idealistic/Utopian? Perhaps, impossible?

While everyone wants to claim they are a feminist these days,

there are many women who seem to be confused about what feminism is. Feminism is about equality for both genders. Feminism isn’t belittling other women, or equating their worth with the size/shape/ appearance of their physical body, in the same way men are often accused of being judgmental/sexist for.

If you are a female who frequently reduces other women down to their physical appearance, or uses the same profane terms that have become commonplace to use interchangeably with the word “women” as in pop-music/culture: “b*tches”/”hoes”, et cetera, then you must realize you are continuing the trend for men to also use the term.  If you are okay with that, fine, but don’t anticipate change.  

If you take issue with your humanity being reduced to “lesser than”, then I suggest that we redefine the ways we choose to define each other, that we choose to be more mindful of the way we talk about each other, what we call each other,because we all deserve so much more. We all have such light inside of us that does not deserve to be dimmed or dulled by words that pale in comparison to our inner beauty.

As a woman, and as someone who has been referred to as a “skinny b*tch” more times than I could ever count, I have a general distaste for the culture of labeling each other, mainly because I believe it only furthers the divide between individuals, rather than coming together, in support of each other, as a human community. It seems we are continually alienating ourselves from each other as we obsessively place each other into categories.  It’s in our nature to want to put everyone into groups, as if that’s the only way the world will make sense to us.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to change things up?

What would it be like if media/music/ conversation didn’t feature language and images which cause women to equate their worth by what is deemed “aesthetically pleasing” to onlookers, whether it be men or other women?

I like to believe that we have endless potential for change and compassion in this world,

if only we continue wanting it enough,

if only we never stop striving for it,

if only we never give up hope.

-A.K.

 

bod

 

This article, in part, inspired this post, and raised some interesting points:

 

Productive idle time

By Alyssabeth Knerr

Yesterday, while things were extremely uneventful at work,  I came up with 20-22 article titles/ideas. Feeling grateful to be blessed by the inspiration gods, because this time last week I doubt I could have even come up with three! Anxious to get down to business on some of these topics!

ding

 

Under the Influence

By: Alyssabeth Knerr

                                                            say anything   

                                                                       Poetry and Music

I know it’s been a little bit since I’ve posted on here– I’ve just been busy with school and figuring some things out. All is well!

I believe the title of this post calls for a bit more insight into who I am as an individual, as well as a writer/artist:

I have always been first and foremost a lover of music; since before I could write, before I could speak, I was singing (or at least making sounds to melodies of songs). Before I could really interpret lyrics, I was obsessing over them, memorizing them, scribbling them down on any square inch of blank space I could find. I started playing guitar at the ripe age of eight. As soon as I was old enough, I joined choir in school, fell in love with the art of voice, and all the amazing things one could do when training your voice. By the time I was nine, I was finding my own voice through writing poems, experimenting with rhyme, simile and metaphor, the first things that come to mind when one initially thinks of or learns about poetry.

As my poetry developed through middle and high school, I found inspiration in the Transcendentalists and all they embodied, being highly inspired and fascinated by nature and our connection to the earth as humans. I also developed an affinity for e.e.cummings’ poetry at the time, and delighting in his deliberately unconventional use of punctuation, spacing, and his disinterest in capitalization. To me, his style allowed the reader to really “feel” his sounds in his poems. I loved that as well as his ability to just be a bad-ass-rebel-poet for his experimental forms, approaching the previously unapproachable, and creating his own space within the genre.

Similarly, while I was becoming inspired by poets I studied in school, I was infatuated with music and trying to determine which artists I admired most, identified with most. There were sooo many. Even now, I listen to many artists across genres, from the music my parents listened to, to what my grandparents were listening to, and a myriad of contemporary artists (Anything from classic jazz, alternative, folk, indie, punk/emo, rock, metal, to old school and some current hip-hop/rap).

One band that I became enamored with around the start of high school– let’s say, 2006, was Say Anything. What most attracted me to them was their experimental nature of unique sound within their genre (punk/alternative rock/emo/), and their lyrics that instantly captivated me. To this day, there is not a single song by Say Anything that I do not love. In the past nearly 9 years, I have found myself inspired by Max Bemis (lead singer/composer of Say Anything) more than most of my favorite poets.
Why, you ask?

Well, because his lyrics are extremely poetic and have moved me from the first moment I heard them. Humbly put, he is a lyrical genius.

Currently, as a graduate student of poetry, I spend countless hours a week studying poetic craft and technique, as well as creating multiple imitations from poets each week, and attempting to “borrow” elements of style in order to learn something, and to see what I can add to those borrowed elements of my own, to create something fresh and new. Having said that, I’m sure you can imagine why it felt only natural that this morning, over coffee, while listening to Say Anything songs from all of their albums on Spotify, for probably the millionth time, it dawned on me that there were a few specific reasons that I am so inspired by Max Bemis as a writer:

Bemis is #1 A Master of Hyperbole #2 A Master of Metaphor #3 He casts a spell on his audience through allusions (They even have a song entitled ‘It’s a Metaphor, Fool’ on their Album Say Anything is/was A Real Boy– the title of the album itself is an allusion). Undoubtedly, there are many other things this band has mastered in their 8 albums, but these were the first techniques that came to my mind. I’ve always been intrigued by the various allusions to Bemis’ heritage/religion and the struggle for identity concerning that.
After reflecting on Say Anything’s lyrical content, I came to the realization that they are so much my favorite, because they are perhaps the most literary band I listen to. Lyrical Gangstas, if you will. Through the aforementioned techniques, they challenge society and flawed systems and ideals. We see this in the majority of their songs, but most obviously in songs like “Admit It” from Say Anything is a Real Boy, a song which is revisited in their 2012 album Anarchy My Dear, with the track “Admit it Again”. The band’s referencing of their previous work, seems to serve as an acknowledgement that they are still very much connected to and growing from their earlier work, continuing to build on it. Say Anything’s single “Burn A Miracle”, also from Anarchy, My Dear, is a radical reminder/call to action of this idea that in order to deconstruct the systems you find fault with, you must begin to make the changes you want to see in society.

Here is a BRIEF list of some choice literary lines that I thought about when constructing this post:

My current favorite use of hyperbole comes from the track Say Anything from their 2012 Album, Anarchy, My Dear:
“If Satan showed up with a gun, threatened “be disloyal I or I shoot”/ I’d take it in the kneecaps…/I’d throw up every morning, pull my nails out, take a wrench to all my teeth/To put a ring upon your digit, have you fidget in your bed with me/ Anything for you.” “Say Anything”. Anarchy, My Dear 2012.

There’s just something to be said about the kind of love that you’d do ANYTHING for. If taking a wrench to all his teeth ain’t enough, honey, I don’t know what is!

More hyperbole:
“If you could forgive me for being so brash, you could hit me or whip me, I’d savor each lash.” I Want to Know Your Plans. Say Anything is a Real Boy.

Another place we see this sort of hyperbole is in “Shiksa” “even if you stomp me till I’m sore, no matter what, I’ll bleed to be your whore./Even if the cancer grows till we explode, I’m yours.” Shiksa/Girlfriend. In Defense of the Genre. 2007.

Some great places of metaphor shows up:

“Spidersong”. Say Anything is a Real Boy. 2004. “I’m the spider, I’m growing legs, crawl inside her.”

                                                   metaphor

“He feeds me quotes, that lonely goat. I watch him grazing by himself /Lou is bugged and shot up with drugs./He sweats this bird he hardly knows/so like some hybrid mother/lover she’d soothe and heal his wounds.” “Yellow Cat, Red Cat”. Say Anything is a Real Boy. 2004.

The allusion here in “Alive, with the Glory of Love” to Treblinka(concentration camp)– a nod to Bemis’ personal history, as well as an expression of love you’d die for:
“Our Treblinka is alive with the glory of love!/Should they catch us and dispatch us to those separate work camps/Should they kill me, your love will fill me, as warm as the bullets (yeah)
I’ll know my purpose. This war was worth this. I won’t let you down.” Say Anything. “Alive with the Glory of Love”. Say Anything is a Real Boy. 2004.

The metaphor/allusion here to Alice in Wonderland
“My friends are just neighbors/That steal from me when I’m not home/I am so damn trusting I do not see their malice /In this blackened wonderland I am the darkened Alice/I’m the ball, they’re batters
They’re climbing social ladders” Say Anything. “All My Friends”. 2005.

Metaphor/Allusion
“You snort a line of syphilis and run the marathon/Your mentally deficient friends just ask you what you’re on/I may be shy and not reply to your scathing review/…I’d rather subsist on venom, than abstain with you/I was the kind to ask what wrong doing had injured Dahmer’s pride/Or to excuse the junkie thief with diamonds in his eyes/But now I taste a righteous fury sparkling with hate/The beat thumps loud you sweat it out and grind on them for drugs/
You hug that pole like a firefighter falling in love.” “Peace Out”. Anarchy, My Dear. 2012.

Max Bemis/Say Anything possess the fearlessness of exposing the heart, mind, soul through art, reminding us of what it means to be human. Whether an experience is painful, neurotic, laughable, or all of the above (as it often is with Say Anything), they are masters at sharing it with the world in a way that we can’t help but tune into, because of their careful dedication to their craft. This kind of art is what wakes us up and effectively, makes us. It calls on us to respond and create as well, in our own unique way. And that, my friends, is influence, to me.

LASTLY: If you haven’t seen them live yet, they are touring with another one of my favorite bands, Saves the Day. They will be in San Diego at the House of Blues on November 14th. It will blow your mind. That’s a promise.

burn

-Alyssabeth Knerr

I love not man less but nature… less???

One recent point of contemplation for me has been,

Who are we?

When I say we, I’m referring to my so-called generation of  Millennials. It seems so often we are defined in articles all over the web and elsewhere, by word-of-mouth hasty generalizations, making us into some hopeless robots standing for:          nothing much.

We are depicted as children who grew up with screens in front of our faces– or at least by the time we hit middle school. We are often cast as individuals who have turned to this new cyber world, gone into hiding, remaining unapproachable behind it.

It is suggested at times that we are lonely, anti-social, immature, inarticulate, (at least in verbal communication, if not also in writing, a result of over-abbreviations and lingo born from AIM and texting, as a redefining of language as we know it)  having been shaped by technology that our preceding generations developed.

But, then, there is the occasional post or conversation that hints at Millennials having a slightly more admirable identity…

There is a conversation of this generation being more open and inclusive than those who have come before, one that eventually leaves prejudice, racism, gender stereotypes to be things of the past, one that is redefining roles in society and breaking down barriers.

Are we individuals who are paving the way for social, societal and global change? Can we be?

A current goal of mine is to attempt to answer this question, to find out

What is it that defines us? What is it that we do love?

I would like to suggest that we are a compassionate generation with limitless potential and love for fellow humanity, regardless of our many perceived differences.

More to come…

to be continued.

 

-Alyssabeth Knerr

An Obligatory (yet warm) Hello

Upon settling in sunny San Diego, just over a month ago now, I willingly hurled myself into a new world of beginnings. Lucky for me, I’ve chosen the endearing “America’s Kindest City” as my new home.

While I must admit it's no great feat to get used to the swaying palms, the perpetual perfect temperatures and the people who are equally as warm, having the courage to tear up your roots, carry them across the country-quick enough to replant them, is a move not everyone has the moxy to attempt.

In five arduous and beautiful days we set sail on the interstate from sunrise to sunset, leaving nothing but dust behind us. A dear friend and I started out heading West from Richmond, passing through Nashville, Arkansas, Oklahoma City, Texas, Albuquerque, the Grand Canyon and eventually arriving here in San Diego, having tackled time zones, angry truckers, wild cows down the WRONG road to the Grand Canyon.

Undoubtedly, the best decision of my life thus far, I know moving to California holds many more adventures and opportunities. Both new to California and new to WordPress, this is just to say: Hello. =)

The purpose of this blog for me is to post content that is important to me, that I hope will resonate with others as well, to embrace creativity in a new way and to just connect with other writers out in the big wide web.

So, Hello, and Welcome!

-Alyssabeth Knerr