Three Thoughts for Thursday – August Edition

Three Thoughts for Thursday

Quote or Passage I’m Pondering and Appreciating:

Limimal Space is the time between the past and the future; a place of transition, waiting, not knowing.  The word liminal comes from the Latin word limen, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. Liminal space is where transformation takes place if we choose to wait and allow ourselves to be transformed.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about liminal space as I reflect upon the many transitions in my life and as I currently sit in this space, trying to embrace the uncertainty of change, being neither in the past nor the future. As I have physically transitioned from Seattle to LA and back to Seattle over the last two years, I have been sitting in this space of neither here nor there. These two years have been two of the most challenging, yet richest and most inspiring years, as I have grown and expanded and tested my wings. I have often turned to Pema Chodron and her wisdom on sitting in uncertainty. Here are a few of her thoughts on the subject that have been my companion lately.

What keeps us unhappy and stuck in a limited view of reality is our tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain, to seek security and avoid discomfort. This is how we keep ourselves enclosed in a cocoon. Out there are all the planets and all the galaxies and vast space, but we’re stuck here in this cocoon. Moment after moment, we’re deciding that we would rather stay in that cocoon than step out into that big space. Life in our cocoon is cozy and secure. We’ve gotten it all together. It’s safe, it’s predictable, it’s convenient, and it’s trustworthy. If we fell ill at ease, we just fill in those gaps.

Our mind is always seeking zones of safety. We’re in this zone of safety and that’s what we consider life, getting it all together, security. Death is losing that. We fear losing our illusion of security-that’s what makes us anxious. We fear being confused and not knowing which way to turn. We want to know what’s happening. The mind is always seeking zones of safety, and these zones of safety are continually falling apart. Then we scramble to get another zone of safety back together again. We spend all our energy and waste our lives trying to re-create these zones of safety, which are always falling apart.  That’s the essence of samsara – the cycle of suffering that comes from continuing to seek happiness in all the wrong places.

                                    ~ Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty

Cocoon liminal space.jpgPhoto by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Podcast I’m Listening To:

The Peter Attia Drive:

Expert insight on health, performance, longevity, critical thinking, and pursuing excellence. Dr. Peter Attia (Stanford/Hopkins/NIH-trained MD) talks with leaders in their fields.

Episodes #47, #48 and #49 – On the importance of sleep.

Ironically, I listened to this podcast while taking a red-eye flight to the East Coast for a workshop. What drew me to this podcast, in addition to the recommendation from my husband, was the combination of my interest in science and emotional intelligence. As someone who prides herself on doing more by sleeping less, this was a real eye-opener, pardon the pun.  I am rethinking my attitude towards sleeping and trying to re-prioritize to make sure I am getting enough zzzz’s.

#47 – Matthew Walker, Ph.D., on sleep – Part I of III: Dangers of poor sleep, Alzheimer’s risk, mental health, memory consolidation, and more.

In part 1 of this 3 part series, Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience at UC Berkeley and expert on sleep, describes the different stages and cycles of sleep, including what he calls the 4 pillars of sleep, and how they contribute to memory consolidation and numerous important pathways to mental health. We also get into the dangers of chronic sleep deprivation, such as the development of dementia, and the more acute dangers of sleep deprivation like fatal car crashes which are most often caused by drowsy driving. We also discuss the different and important roles of REM vs. non-REM sleep, and the impact that bad sleep habits can have specifically on those sleep stages.

#48 – Matthew Walker, Ph.D., on sleep – Part II of III: Heart disease, cancr, sexual function, and the causes of sleep disruption (and tips to correct it)

In part 2 of this 3 part series, Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience at UC Berkeley and expert on sleep, describes the preponderance of evidence linking poor sleep to cardiovascular disease, cancer and sexual function. He also details the impact of cortisol on our nervous system contributing to sleep disturbances and insomnia as well as the efficacy and risks associated with the most common sleeping pills. Matthew also describes the sleep needs of teenagers and urgently lays the case that we should reconsider school start times. We also get into the effect of electronics at night, the efficacy of napping, the general impact of modern society on our sleep habits, and what changes we can make to course correct.

#49 – Matthew Walker, Ph.D. on sleep – Part III of III: The penetrating effects of poor sleep from metabolism to performance to genetics, and the impact of caffeine, alcohol, THC, and CBD on sleep

In the final part of this 3 part series, Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience at UC Berkeley and expert on sleep, discusses the omnipresent effects of insufficient sleep on everything from metabolism, appetite, athletic performance, decision-making, productivity, leadership, mental health, genetics, memory, and more. We also discuss the impact of caffeine and alcohol on sleep quality, the efficacy of sleep aids such as THC and CBD, and much more.

Book I’m Reading:

The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body by Steven Mithen

The propensity to make music is the most mysterious, wonderful, and neglected feature of humankind: this is where Steven Mithen began, drawing together strands from archaeology, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience–and, of course, musicology–to explain why we are so compelled to make and hear music. But music could not be explained without addressing language, and could not be accounted for without understanding the evolution of the human body and mind. Thus Mithen arrived at the wildly ambitious project that unfolds in this book: an exploration of music as a fundamental aspect of the human condition, encoded into the human genome during the evolutionary history of our species.

Music is the language of emotion, common wisdom tells us. In The Singing Neanderthals, Mithen introduces us to the science that might support such popular notions. With equal parts scientific rigor and charm, he marshals current evidence about social organization, tool and weapon technologies, hunting and scavenging strategies, habits and brain capacity of all our hominid ancestors, from australopithecines to Homo erectusHomo heidelbergensis and Neanderthals to Homo sapiens–and comes up with a scenario for a shared musical and linguistic heritage. Along the way he weaves a tapestry of cognitive and expressive worlds–alive with vocalized sound, communal mimicry, sexual display, and rhythmic movement–of various species.