Lumosity: Brain Training Games or Coping with a New Reality

Lumosity consists of brain training games. I have been playing them on and off for about 10 years. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing them and also have enjoyed competing with myself and others my age.

Each game focuses on an area such as speed, problem-solving, attention, divided attention, memory, flexibility, etc. I am fascinated to see that even though my scores are lower than they used to be, I have the same strengths that I had when I played them before. My highest scores are problem solving, attention, and memory. My weakest area was speed in the past and it continues to be lower than other areas.

I remember having a lot of 97- 99 percentile when I was younger but now when I’m compared to my peers my highest areas are in the mid 60 percentiles with the exception of problem solving which is 88.4%

I have been able to get home health services since I have been staying at this senior living facility. One of the home health therapists focuses in part on cognitive areas. She thought any deficits I had could be attributed to stress, but suggested I do some brain training activities. She was delighted when I suggested Lumosity.

One day in the last few weeks, I got my foot caught in a paper bag when I went over it with my walker. I became very stressed when I couldn’t fix the situation.

I was able to eventually figure it out and free myself from the bag. But I am having more problems with my left foot freezing, especially when I’m stressed.

I am also challenged by getting dressed. Sometimes I can’t figure it out and I need help. I don’t necessarily like that I need help, but I appreciate that help is available.

I need to acknowledge and accept the grief about what I’ve lost without losing myself in it. And there will be lots of opportunities to use my problem solving, attention and memory skills. Thank you Lumosity for showing me I continue to have those skills.

DEAR ME

Yesterday, I read a post at Neal’s Epiphany that I thought was incredibly powerful. I don’t know how Neal sees it, but using my psychotherapy frame, I see him as having written a beautiful letter to his inner child. Neal has graciously consented to me sharing his letter with all of you.

Neal's Epiphany

Dear Me,

You and I go way back, to the beginning. We’re one hundred percent connected in a way no one will–or could ever–understand. We’ve been there, standing together. Sometimes crying in the shower, sometimes snorting through our nose, but it’s always been you and me. Always and forever…

Or so it was supposed to be, but some time ago I left you–

I left you floundering on your own, to rely on love and encouragement and strength from others–from strangers–when it was I who should have held you up. When it was I who should have hugged you and praised you and appreciated you for the wondrous person you are–for all the beauty and life you bring to this world.

I seldom tell you how much I love you. How much I admire you. How beautiful and caring and intelligent and strong you are. That you are my hero.

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Taize: Veni Sancte Spiritus

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This has been such a difficult week for me, as it has been for many of us. It seems like so much of what I hold dear is in danger.

From time to time during the last two days, a song from a monastery in France has come to my mind. That song is Veni Sancte Spiritus.

The Taize monastery is dedicated to the reunification of the Christian church. At this point there are 100 brothers living there. They come from various Catholic and Protestant denominations and are from 30 different countries.

Taize music touched me to the core the first time I heard it and that has never changed. I visited the French monastery with friends in 2003 or 2004. We had the privilege of spending part of one evening with Brother Roger, their founder. He was in his late 80’s at the time of our visit.

I will never forget that experience. I felt like I was in the presence of a master. One or two years later, he was murdered in the temple. The world lost a great soul that night, but his work lives on.

There are Catholic and Protestant churches singing Taize music all over the world. Those services are always ecumenical.

I have picked a version of Veni Sante Spiritus that includes several different languages (I don’t know how many languages since I only understand English!) When I started the video and the music began, I burst into tears once again.

Following the first video, there will be another one that is in English. And at the end of the post you will find the lyrics in English. The photos in the first video are from the Taize monastery.

I chose to put the video prior to the lyrics so you had an opportunity to get a sense of the song without knowing what it meant. Here is the English version followed by the lyrics. It is also a very beautiful version. As I am listening to it my tears are still pouring.

Lyrics

Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

Come, Father of the poor, come, generous Spirit, come,
light of our hearts.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and
strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

Most kindly warming light! Enter the inmost depths of our hearts,
for we are faithful to you.
Without your presence we have nothing worthy, nothing pure.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

You are only comforter, Peace of the soul.
In the heat you shade us; in our labour you refresh us,
and in trouble you are our strength.
Veni Sancte Spiritus

On all who put their trust in you and receive you in faith,
shower all your gifts.
Grant that they may grow in you and persevere to the end.
Give them lasting joy!
Veni Sancte Spiritus

Read more: http://www.letssingit.com/taize-lyrics-veni-sancte-spiritus-t9tpw88#ixzz4PrsEY2x0
LetsSingIt – Your favorite Music Community

 

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Am I Contributing to My Living or My Dying?

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In 1996, I was on an airplane that “fell” 25,000 feet in about a minute’s time. For the next two hours we did not know if we were going to live or die. Since then I have had a sense that I am living on borrowed time. I think I was supposed to die that day, but Grace prevailed. Now, I see every moment I live as a gift and remember that tomorrow is not promised. I have a strong desire to live in a way that allows me to die without regrets.

When I was a new psychotherapist, I assisted in a therapy group led by Delphine Bowers.  She used to ask clients if the actions they were thinking about doing would “contribute to their living or their dying.”  That question has stuck with me for almost 30 years.

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I believe I am contributing to my dying, instead of my living, when I am:

Overdoing

I am great at getting things done. There was a time in my life when I was working three jobs, going to school, and raising two children. Throughout my adult life, I have generally been unwilling to stop “doing” unless I get so sick that I can’t do otherwise.

In the last few years, I have made great strides in stopping that behavior. Still, it is not lost on me that I have back problems which have impacted my level of activity since mid-February. While 97% of the time I am resting and doing what I know I should do,  I still find myself saying, “Oh it’s okay if I plant a few seedlings.” Or I do other minor garden work when I know I should be avoiding all leaning over and bending down. What will it take for me to learn this lesson?  I shudder to think of the answer.

Overthinking

I used to obsess about anything I wanted to say for so long that I often lost the opportunity to say it. I also obsessed about things I did say, analyzing my words looking for errors or wondering if I had said something that made me look stupid. While I stopped those behaviors decades ago, I believe that overthinking is still the most common way I make myself miserable. And it is certainly the source of most of my stress. If I am offended by something, I may fixate on it. Worrying about the future also leads me to overthinking. The fact that I avoid mind-slowing spiritual practices, such as meditation, perpetuates the problem.

***

I have long been aware of my tendency to overdo and overthink. In fact I have written about those behaviors before. (Recovering from Overdoing, Stay in the Present and Stop Thinking!) In the last month, awareness of another way I contribute to my dying has resurfaced.

Emotions such as anger, sadness and fear are meant to show us that there are problems we need to deal with. If we feel the feelings and address the issues, the emotions are likely to flow through us. If we repress them, we probably won’t solve the problems and we may become depressed, anxious or sick.

I have been conscious of the fear in my body for a long time, but I used to bury my anger so deep that I didn’t even realize it was there. Now I feel the anger at the time it is triggered. My new awareness is that I am repressing my grief.

***

Stuffing Grief

When I was growing up, a frequent message from my father was, “If you are going to cry, I will give you something to cry about.”  If I didn’t stop crying, I was usually spanked or sent to my bedroom.  I learned it was not okay for me to express my sadness.

When I met Amma in 1989, grief began to erupt from inside of me. Generally that grief was not associated with any conscious memory. Even though I didn’t know what it was related to, I often had a sense that I was releasing the energy from traumas that had occurred earlier in my life. Sometimes I wondered if some of it was coming from other lifetimes, or if it was some form of “universal grief.” That spontaneous release of tears, which usually occurred during Amma’s programs, went on for several years.  Letting them pour out felt very healing.

Then one day someone teased me about my tears. My childhood programming took over and I shut them down so fast it was mind-boggling. From time to time, something will still bring up that deep well of grief inside of me, but for the most part it is nowhere to be found.

A week or so ago, there was a moment when I felt sadness about my back pain and the resulting physical limitations. I shed a tear, or maybe two, before a firm inner voice said, “It’s good that you felt your sadness, but that is ENOUGH.” I saw that my father’s message was still operating within me. Certainly no healing can come from releasing one or two tears.

When I heard the news that Prince had died, I started crying, and I cried on and off throughout the week.  The grief I felt was so deep, very similar to the level of emotion I experienced during my early years with Amma. While Prince’s “Purple Rain” album and movie, and especially the song “When Doves Cry,” was important to me in the 80’s, I hadn’t followed his career after that, other than taking my children to his 1988 Seattle concert.  Even though I didn’t understand my level of emotion, I was aware that the tears I shed felt cleansing and therapeutic.

***

I believe that overdoing, overthinking and stuffing my grief are the three biggest ways that I am currently contributing to my dying.  I know it is important for me to continue working on these issues and to keep the “Will this action contribute to your living or your dying?” question in mind as I make day-to-day decisions as well as when I consider long term decisions, such as when to retire.

I have no way of knowing whether I will live one more day or one year, five years, ten years or more.  I am committed to making the most of every moment I have left in this lifetime.

 

Originally Published on May 6, 2016 as part of  The Seeker’s Dungeon’s On Living and Dying event.

If you’d like to be one of the guest authors, you can learn more about the event here: 365 Days On Living and Dying.

 

Letting Go of Suffering

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For several years in the mid to late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I wrote articles about my experiences with Amma for “The New Times,” a free newspaper that was, at that time, available in Washington and Oregon. I have started sharing some of those articles on my blog. I am choosing the articles to post based on their topic, therefore they are not being shared chronologically. The article below was published in August of 1995.

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The experience of grief is inherent in living. As we live, events will happen that we don’t want to happen. We will undergo violations, endings, disappointments and betrayals. If we allow ourselves to fully feel the pain that comes with these events, we will most likely learn the important lessons that are there for us to learn and move on. If we suppress the painful feelings and mask them with self pity, guilt, blame, suspicion, sarcasm, indifference, and/or worry, we are likely to move into suffering.

One day last year (1994), during my annual visit with my spiritual teacher, Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), whose ashram is located in Amritapuri, India, I had the opportunity to experience and move through two episodes of emotional pain. That year, I had come to the ashram bringing with me 60 handmade skirts and blouses. This clothing had been made by friends and myself for children living in the orphanage operated by Amma.

One day I told Amma that I was going to deliver the clothes to the orphanage. As you might imagine, I was totally shocked when she responded that since I had not brought 600 sets of clothes, enough for each child at the orphanage to have a set, none of the children could have them!

My mind immediately started operating on three tracks. The first track was filled with rage, fear and self pity. Among the internal messages were:

  • What do you mean I can’t take them? Don’t you know how hard we worked? 
  • You betrayed me! 
  • You made me betray my friends. 
  • You aren’t fair. 
  • You made me waste a whole year. 
  • Now everyone is gong to be mad at me and it’s YOUR fault. 

The second track both recognized the lessons I was receiving and attempted to de-escalate the parts of me that were angry and afraid. Those messages, which came in a clear matter of fact, non-critical tone included:

  • Of course she said that. She does not want to set up competition between the children. That is totally reasonable and consistent with what you know of her. 
  • If a gift is an offering that has no strings attached, then the clothes were not a gift. Look at your level of attachment. 
  • This was supposed to be seva (selfless service). Seva, by definition, means that there should be no expectation of the fruit of one’s actions. Examine the process that is happening. How can you learn to give freely? 
  • The work parties were very valuable for the people who participated. They experienced working in community. They experienced giving. They had fun. You have not hurt anyone. 
  • Your friends will have an opportunity to learn lessons such as those you are now learning. 

The third track in my mind was busy contemplating how to sell the clothes so the proceeds could be donated to the orphanage. In that way some of the intention behind the gift would be met. Within minutes I had formulated a tentative plan.

The second and third tracks obviously were supportive and needed no help from me. The first was a different story. I sat close to Amma and let the fury rage inside of me. I could have said something directly to her but there was no need. Ultimately, I believed her response to be correct. The energy I was now experiencing was primarily old betrayal energy of mine, rooted in my childhood. I first tried to move the energy through by imagining myself yelling at Amma. Then I imagined doing various anger release techniques I would do if I were in a therapy setting. These inner processes moved some of my negative energy, but not enough.

I decided to leave the temple and talk to some friends. I asked them if I could have a few minutes to vent, complain, suffer. They agreed and I allowed all that was inside of me to come pouring out. Afterwards, I discovered that the messages on the first track had lost their power. I returned to the temple to sit near Amma feeling successful and complete with the issue. (Brief episodes of anger and fear occurred occasionally over the next few weeks but I was able to easily release the negative energy.)

On the same day as all of this occurred, I experienced another powerful and important event as I was walking back from a local tea shop with a friend. As we passed one of the swamis (monks), he smiled at me. For no apparent reason my whole being exploded with an unnamed grief. The grief was so deep and so intense I could barely walk. I sat in a private place and let the feelings come. I knew it didn’t matter what the grief was about, I simply needed to feel and release it. After about fifteen minutes I felt done; exhausted yet lighter. (One of the ways to differentiate true grief from suffering is to notice what you feel like after you express the emotion. After expressing deep grief, even though you may be tired, you are also likely to feel relieved, lighter, and cleaned out. After immersing yourself in suffering you will probably feel even worse than you did before!)

I ended that day feeling very grateful. Grateful that I had accessed and let go of such core level grief. Grateful that I had experienced the difference between the pain of grief and the pain of suffering. Grateful that I had done my therapy and had the skills to move through the pain. Grateful that I had moved through so much of the pain in my therapy process that what was left was manageable. Grateful that when I am near Amma, I usually move through pain faster than in normal living. Grateful that the process of living has and will continue to bring up any residual pain so I can release it and thereby live my life more and more in the present moment.

As I said in the beginning, grief is inherent in living. We cannot totally avoid pain but we can learn to stop holding on to it. I hope my stories will be of value to you as a model for dealing with your own grief.

~

“The New Times” articles that I’ve already shared:

Support in Times of Trouble

A Multitude of Lessons

Exposing the “Know-It-All”

Many Paths, Same Destination

Putting Pain in Perspective

Remembering December 26, 2004

One of my favorite holiday memories was of participating in a Messiah Singalong at Seattle’s University Unitarian Church the day after Christmas.  While I still think of those times fondly, something else is more likely to come to my mind when I think of December 26 now.

I was at Amritapuri, India for Christmas in December of 2004.  During the evening on Christmas day there was an entertainment program.  What I remember most about that program was an incredible fire dancer.

The next morning, December 26, I was on the temple roof practicing with a singing group when someone told us that water had come all the way to the ashram gates.  We didn’t know what they were talking about and for some reason just kept on singing.  Then we heard people screaming.  We looked over the balcony only to see water filling the ashram grounds.  The 2004 tsunami had hit the nearby village and the water was now flowing through the ashram itself.

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As anyone who knows her would expect, Amma went into action.  Boats and canoes carried the villagers and the ashram residents to the other side of the backwaters.  Amma fed and housed everyone in her colleges.

There was so much grief that day and for days to come.  Many of the villagers had lost children, husbands, wives, friends, and relatives when they were pulled into the Arabian Sea by the tsunami wave. Amma consoled the survivors, and her own grief was visible.

There is one song I associate with the tsunami.  Amma sang it a few days before the event, and once again in an outdoor courtyard a night or two after the tragedy.  I was so moved by her tears when she sang the ending lines “Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu” (May all beings in the world be happy).

In the months and years that followed, Amma provided tsunami disaster relief work in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.  Embracing the World spent forty-six million dollars building new houses and villages, feeding survivors, replacing the lost boats of fisherman, providing vocational training to women, giving scholarships to children, and much, much more.