A mental health booklist

I’m developing a list of resources that you can use to make sure your life is exactly what you want it to be. These are mainly free resources as you don’t need further obstacles when you have decided that you need some me time.

I have started to use the Artists Way by Julia Cameron. This comes highly recommended by many famous patrons that have benefited from the information inside. It is also stuffed full of quotes from pretty anyone who ever lived that said something quotable. I have borrowed the book from my brother in law who didn’t like it as he said it was too simplistic. I can see what he means if I compare to Metahuman by Deepak Chopra but I think this is unfair since they are for completely different audiences.

I also have the accompanying workbook that he bought to see what if anything it does for me. The Artists Way is a 12 week course consisting of daily morning pages and artist dates amongst other activities. Morning pages are 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing to clear your mind for the day ahead. Artist dates are where you set aside time to indulge in culture. There are also other tasks such as reading as detailed in the book.

I have also ordered one of Melanie Beattie’s books on Codependent no more. I found the online version beneficial. Having now endeavoured to use technology less where possible, I now going to try to switch over to the paper copy. It provides space to write what you think about the daily devotional as it’s called. This allows you to develop your ideas about the concept better.

I have the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which was instrumental in me starting down this path and being that I now have a physical copy means I can read it and make notes where necessary. It’s so much easier to bookmark, read and absorb the information in a proper book rather than an e book. They may be more expensive and less portable but you get far more from them than their electronic copies.

In addition to these I have the Little Prince by Antione St Expury when I want something lighter and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. Fiction is a necessary compliment to non fiction. There is something much more reassuring and relaxing for a bed time story in an actual book rather than a Netflix series or YouTube video.

Meditation types

Not all meditation is created equal. I have tried the most popular commercial apps that are around at the moment – Headspace and Calm but to no avail. To me they feel like you are just going through the motions since they are only utilising a calming voice, tranquil music and visualisation; nothing else. This is why the American self help programs, positive affirmations and mindfulness I have previously tried to get behind haven’t worked. They feel lacking in authenticity to me. It’s like having an artificial structure imposed onto your life but there is no content to sustain it. If you just have the bare bones of something it’s not going to be very useful. Very much like in languages if you can say hello, my name is, how are you and I’m good this does not make a conversation or a friendship. It’s just politeness that feels like progress as its relaxing you, but stops short of actually achieving anything.

Meditation is being commercialized in a big way right now but when that happens the very essence of what you are trying to accomplish is lost. This happens continuously because when you introduce money into these concepts they stop being about self actualisation and start becoming about income and nothing else. They lose their potency which is the very reason why you want to do them in the first place!

Religion is a bit like this too. As I’m learning more about the origins of the big religions and how they have changed over the years I seeing why people are losing faith in them. There becoming corrupted from there original goals. No wonder Americans study the bible in Greek. The King James Bible is so altered from the Greek or the Russian Orthodox version. I wouldn’t say I was religious at all but there are truths in these books. It’s why they have persisted for so long. It’s control but it’s also an understanding of human nature. We have not changed as a species so the same stories still help us through the centuries. The father, the son and the Holy Ghost is a recognition of the fact that we grow throughout our lives but there are still elements of the past within us while we anticipate and plan for the future. Our personality or soul, what makes us unique, can be carried on to future generations through our actions, words and tasks. Our legacy can live on even though we do not.

I really liked the Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation course I’ve just done. This is available for free on YouTube if you want to take part in it yourself and I highly recommend that you do this. There are other resources to go with these videos which I was provided with as part of a group exercise I took part in. I’m not sure just the meditation works on its own even though he uses chanting, mantras and visualisation techniques. This is where the difference comes in with competing regimes. Deepak Chopra is a world renown doctor of endocrinology and has researched what happens with the body/mind connection. Not many other people are that steeped in the knowledge required to do this properly and it certainly shows with the outcomes of these programs. I’ve got his latest book Meta Human to continue the progress I have started.

I’m deep thinking and highly empathetic which is slightly problematic when I want to talk to someone about this. Most people are not able to understand this in the way that I need them too. Most of the people that do however have much higher levels of emotional intelligence than I do so trigger me. While this is good to a certain extent being triggered by them all of the time means they are not for you.

So once again I have the dilemma of where do I fit in and will I ever find my tribe? Being an optimist is only good for so long. That’s why occasionally I do have a healthy dose of scepticism and pessimism. If I was accepting of everything and everyone all of the time; my brain would be so open it would fall out. You have to stand for something otherwise you will fall for anything. Principles and a moral code are extremely important here as standards do need to be respected and kept.

Life is a game of balancing the 2 sides of everything. You can’t truly experience anything if your only seeing one side whether this is through your own myopic view or that which has been created in your own country.

Triggers

These are all actions that are buried in our subconscious. They appear when the event occurs that triggers them. For me they relate back to my early childhood like I expect they do with most people.

Triggers however are not always bad. Just like panic, anxiety or even ‘nesting’ these behaviours illuminate some action that needs to be taken. I see it a lot in guys that have just had children. They were so driven to get their business/career up and running that when they finally meet the one it’s quite a change for them. They have to revolutionise their lives completely as they have to incorporate the thoughts of another into their actions. Then with the birth of their child comes more changes and they lose their drive some what. This is not a bad thing as family is the most important.

However, if they were raised in a patriarchal society and have managed to overcome this in there adult life when the child(ren) turn up those hidden beliefs are revealed. It’s much more difficult to heal yourself when you have a business to run, a partner to provide for and a child to look after. If you can look inside yourself and find time to reinvent yourself once again then that’s astonishing. Raising a child and doing it well is no small feat.

Childhood is the most important aspect of our lives as it affects everything else that comes afterwards. If we have had a rocky start then the foundation that our later lives are built on is always going to be unstable unless we put in major work to shore up those footings.

Meditation

This practice is needed most by those most resistant to actually taking it up. It’s the masculine side that needs balancing by the feminine side. Yoga groups are full of women taught by men. This seems a little odd to me. It’s been around a very long time so it’s been proven by the test of time. It’s a free practice that has been monetised to great success. As proven by Bikram Choundry on the Netflix program about his life.

Meditation is about accessing the 5 different brain waves that we have at our disposal. Alpha, beta, gamma, delta and theta. (Makes me wonder why no epsilon?) These brain waves are responsible for our thoughts and brain activities. They are different lengths and respond to the different levels of consciousness that we possess. If we are not able to use them all while me may get get sleep it will not be the restorative sleep that we require to wake up feeling relaxed, recharged and ready for the day ahead.

Meditation helps us to connect our minds with our bodies as often we think they are completely separate. There intimately entwined with each other more than we know. This is why our diet is so important. If we put bad food into ourselves we are polluting our bodies and therefore we can’t function properly. Our gut biome is our bodies way of keeping everything ticking over well. If we lose our appetite this tells us there is something wrong just like when we are sick or feeling nauseous.

Our skin is often the first indication that something isn’t right with our diet, environment or our mental health. It’s extraordinarily sensitive to everything that we experience on a daily basis. It’s our barrier between us and the outside world but we often don’t give it enough attention. Only when it is irritated do we look for a cause. This is often just the first symptom though.

We often need to look deeper into ourselves if we have constant problems with our nerves or we have other issues that cannot be easily explained. Our endocrine system (hormones) and our 2 nervous systems, sympathetic and parasympathetic can help with diagnosis here. Pain is a problem with inflammation and shows that something is out of balance. In order to eradicate this we need to look at what could possibly be causing it. This is tricky because it’s not well understood by western science. We have a scientific understanding but much like with languages; our initial information only literally describes its effects. We need to investigate the links present so a much more through journey is required.

Eastern medicine looks at things in terms of energy to see where it is, where it should be and how to get it to make that transition. It’s how Feng Sui works but this is a much maligned practice at the moment. Marie Do has tried to help with her tidying but only time will tell how much of an impact she has on this.

Yoga is about breathing and stretching which is a key part of eastern beliefs. Tai Chi is another that helps to promote peace and prosperity. Gentle exercise is essential to get your endorphins flowing just like being outside in the fresh air getting your vitamin D. Swimming has long been held as beneficial as well as the sea side.

Our ancestors knew that simple things such as writing our thoughts down in journals, painting or calligraphy is soothing to an anxious mind as well as being beautiful, walks in nature and discovering ourselves through careful observation of our reactions to things.

We have become majorly distracted from what is truly important in our lives and for the majority of us we didn’t have the time until now to change this. We need to use this opportunity before it is lost to us to create our lives exactly as we would want them to be. They have been stripped of all excess to allow us to notice what we really appreciate and need. We need a lot less than we think to live a good life.

This is why meditation is so important to continue this reset so we don’t lose the progress that is made in this break from what has become normality.

There are no shortcuts to success

If you want the best out of anything in life you have to work for it. I will expect you have heard that maxim many times in your life before. I most certainly have. However hearing a phrase and being able to action its content are too completely different things.

Being autistic means that I interpret and therefore process things very differently to others. I don’t have issues with hearing but instead understanding and comprehending the meaning that you are ascribing to that particular set of words that you have just used. Often it’s context specific. This is tricky as there is an infinite amount of scenarios in this situation. It’s tiring to try to figure out which one this is in a split second. The solution is to go for the most common but this frequently is wrong. Hence our inherent dislike of social situations of any kind.

This is a big problem as both work and play are populated by others. This also means that we lose out on so much. We have been given a respite though with Covid 19 as nobody is going anywhere. This is soon to change though as the economy cannot be stalled forever.

I have mostly enjoyed my quarantine time so far as it’s been very productive. First with my artwork, then my reading and writing but mostly my mental growth. This is something I have been trying to achieve for a long time. As this kind of work is often both groundbreaking and revolutionary in what it sets out to accomplish; it’s quite often lengthy and complex in nature and execution.

It’s also never finished even though I think I’m done since there is always something more to learn or discover about. Being a life long learner is a very good thing. Being curious is good in the right environment.

Success also means very different things to people. It’s not always financial. Sometimes it’s more to do with independence or what you have managed to provide for yourself or others. The feeling of empowerment when you have striven to be your very best and your rewarded for it is amazing. These rewards vary in nature but there personal significance doesn’t.

The Perils of Self Help Advice

Self help advice is all over the place. It comes in many forms and is freely available on many platforms. However, without knowing how to utilise any of it, it’s absolutely useless.

To explain this think of your questions being keys flying about in your brain. Then think of the answers which are within your body being keyholes. The trouble is they are both unlabelled so you have no chance of discovering which belongs where.

This is where we need to find a program that will allow us to identify and match the keys with their keyholes. This is where meditation comes in as it relaxes you enough to open up your mind. You already have a mapping system to enable you to do that but you need to dust it off to make use of it again.

For many centuries prayer was used as a means of figuring out our intentions. When we had voiced what we wanted to achieve then the universe could direct us to where we could find the knowledge, materials and people to complete such a task. This is the law of intention and desire as I’m learning about in my Buddhist meditation program.

I’m learning how to attract abundance into my life be it financial or otherwise. For while we become the qualities of those 5 people we spend the most time with; if you spend time with no-one this is what you are likely to become.

We are all capable of much more than we know but we restrict ourselves. We hang on to a lot of emotional baggage not only through our own lives and choices but absorbed from all those around us that have ever entered our lives. If we ask ourselves the right questions when meditating and journaling; then the answers will be delivered in a steady stream.

Just be aware the answers may come at awkward times where you struggle to process them and subsequently are not able to record them properly. However, you do have to trust the process. You can’t cheat by skipping out parts that make you feel uncomfortable as that means it’s doing its job. This is however a private process. Do not share your insights immediately if at all as you will be less honest. This needs complete transparency to work to the best of its ability.

Also, it may take the best part of a day to reveal its magic. If you haven’t engaged in it wholeheartedly, then it may not work at all. You have to decide for yourself whether you are willing to commit to this series of reprogramming techniques. It’s for your own benefit but you may not yet be ready to heal and grow.

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. Your circumstances may change though so that although the lessons are still equally valid; your perception of them changes radically. Growth is a rollercoaster so there will be steep drops into what seems like the abyss and there will also be times when you come to a complete standstill. This is normal as you are preparing for your next rise into a higher level of consciousness.

Infinite Monkey podcast, Primates and Pokemon

Today I was listening to Brian Cox on the BBC Sounds App and the title of the episode was called Fire. There was a lot of interesting information like the practical information about fire in this universe and whether it could exist elsewhere but the thing that was most interesting was the “Did fire or life come first debate?” Life came first as it created the oxygen required for fire. This lead onto the fact that creatures other than humans (birds) can deliberately create and use fire as a tool just like some primates do. I think it’s amazing that the Aboriginal Australians knew that the fire bird was capable of doing this thousands of years ago as it’s in there traditional dream festivities. It’s also possibly the origin of the Phoenix and almost certainly connected to the legendary fire bird Pokemon Moltres. It does however mean that the story from Greek Mythology about Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods is almost certainly wrong. It’s an eye opening discussion to have with a Buddhist which I did a while ago now. Sometimes things are so strange that they have to be true or at least based on an established fact that has now been forgotten to have lasted for so long. My memory is a strange thing with what it forget and then later on pulls out of its memory bank.

Later on I was watching Primates on BBC narrated by Chris Packham who is a famous autistic naturalist and it showed that in 2017 they discovered a new type of Orangutan. It’s simply stunning that we are still finding new animals in our world but also extremely worrying that they immediately go to the top of the endangered animals list since there are so few. Yes there is also a Pokemon – Orangu and the librarian in the Discworld is a wizard who refused to become human again as life was much simpler as an Orangutan. These are some of the strange thoughts that flit across my brain while watching tv or painting but wait in a holding bay until I decide to write them out on here later on. If I don’t let them out to play they cause trouble by withering in potency after they have prevented other thoughts from emerging. Then I become blank and boring to be around since I’m lifeless having nothing to comment on or communicate to others. This is a state to be avoided at all costs.

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

This is an Audible book that I listened to recently while I was on holiday. Listening to an enjoyable story that is engaging makes long road journeys pass so much more quickly!

It’s alternative history based on the fact that Alan Turing wasn’t turned insane by taking oestrogen tablets to cure his homosexual urges. With this in mind we end up with a very different 1980’s. We have advanced sufficiently with AI to build completely life like humans that tests what it is to be human after all. They are an exercise in humanity as it teaches us whether we can accept machines into our lives as equals.

I loved the philosophical debates that Adam engages in with his housemates Charlie and Miranda. I also loved the technical, mathematical and physics details along with the anthropological studies. Adam raises a lot of interesting questions and provokes strong emotions which you wouldn’t expect a machine to be capable of. He is not really a machine though; but a conscious being capable of existing all by himself as along as he has the same comforts were used to like shelter, sleep and fuel.

This is essentially an exploration of the contradictions of being human. This is what every child has to learn and what autistics struggle with greatly. The same things that Adam can’t comprehend are also what we have difficulties with. There is however no real solution to these issues as life is such a messy business.

Best wishes

Angela

The Matrix

To start to live life you need to find out how to unplug yourself. This will be lonely and you will have to learn a whole new way of being but it will be worth it. The world outside the Matrix is a fabulous place. It is inhabited by children, autistics and other neuro diverse individuals, eccentrics, the enlightened who have emancipated themselves, self employed and digital nomads. These are spread throughout the world so although it seems like many, there are likely to be only a few near you. They are increasing though with the current attitudes towards climate change, vegetarianism, sexual and gender identity as well as dress and nationality.

If you need help and encouragement to understand this watch the first 3 parts of the Matrix and look forward to the next instalment coming next year. It will be interesting to see how the fact the Wachowskis are both now women alters the storyline. Along with the progress that has happened in technology in the past 20 years. I’m extremely excited to see what they come up with as it’s my favourite movie that I gain something new from each time I watch it.

Best wishes

Angela

Marcus Aurelius – Roman philosopher

He is very famous as he wrote a set of rules for living a more organised and therefore peaceful life. He also happened to be a Roman emperor so this was quite crucial for him to get everything done on time. He has much in common with Seneca and Stoicism in this respect. So the 2 are often read together to see how they compare and contrast.

A major point that Marcus mentions is to live your life as though you are going to die soon. While this may sound rather morbid and counterproductive; it is in fact sound advice. You are now motivated to do the most important things in life and that is to spend time with your family, friends and enjoying yourself by indulging in hobbies. You are no longer exclusively focused on hard work.

Marcus is part of the group of stoic philosophers that include Seneca the younger, Cato and Epictetus. There all from around the same time but with widely different viewpoints due to their unique lives. This helps enormously as you will always be able to find something useful since they will most likely have experienced it.

Best wishes

Angela