Bye Bye to Li’l G

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Giulia is my niece, Gregory’s only daughter. She is really more faerie than human or even angel. She is certainly from another realm of existence. I’m so sorry we’ve trashed what we’ve so senselessly trashed when I think of her. (Any image of Greta Thunberg in my feed brings also an image of this li’l forest-sprite. She comes from tough stock on her mammy’s side: a beautiful and strong former womens pro football player (New York SHARKS), now a self-employed master gardener/landscaper. If there was a movie about Leslie, I’d want it to be the Sigourney Weaver of “Alien”. There could be nobody else.

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Pure intensity, a driven intelligence, a passion for challenge and and physicality, and belief in honest living with the environment of all beings, Leslie is really a force of nature. Lots of good Midwestern ethics, rock-solid principles, an athlete’s sense of fair play, and wanting to do her part to help the world while simultaneously helping her family and her community.

Our Daily Training

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Huberman just tweeted this earlier today. (And he has tweeted it before, that I have seen, which means it is important enough to him to repeat.)

If you are doing the 108 bows deep breathing meditation with everyone that we begin with every morning, we are already practicing a high-class version of this regimen. (Due to my recent knee problems, I have been supplementing that cardio with time on a stationary bicycle and/or light Ashtanga yoga.)

If you are practicing “hwadu” (화두 선) Zen, you are already engaging a hypersonic NSDR protocol, every single morning. The rising of the sun during those hours, gently filling the Dharma Room (선방, Zendō) from darkness, and you are adjusted in your circadian rhythms to an uninterrupted rising of the morning light cycle.

So our morning Zen practice so rightly fits the Ames of such a protocol as this, and makes the effects even more extensively instantiated, through structured habit and repetition in community.

One thing I would note that is missing here is his suggestion of some engagement with the rhythmical underwiring of our brain to be activated by some sort of song or dance: res musica. I would appreciate it even if he mentioned Yoga here, if it was united with the rhythm of breath as strongly as in Ashtanga, for example, and a plus if it had some mantra/chanting emphasis.

Chanting is universal to all human cultures, and even to the call-and-response communications of different animal cultures, as well. I call chanting “breath awareness with sound “. Scientific research has proven that areas of the brain activated by music and rhythm light up during singing or chant, giving a calming effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, enhances memory, stimulates a whole sequence of beneficial neuropharmacological cascades, especially when the chanting is done together with other people.

So I would have definitely added that thing to this list. Why is it that the first thing the birds do when they emerge from sleep in the morning, in the disappearing darkness? After flitting a bit their wings for a second or two, they begin singing! Before ANY eating. There is singing. They begin chirping! They begin tweeting! They are sending out harmony and being informed and regulated by other tweeting-chanting happening in its near-neighborhood.

Drizzly Tuesday Morning, Westchester County

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How his workday unfolds for Gregory after waking the girls and delivering one to school, one to her job (he’s prepped a hearty sandwich and thermos of her favorite tea for the day out in the elements). Finally, some time alone for precious Greg to reflect on matters related to his business, as an art dealer with a keen eye for Renaissance masterpieces.

It is such a rewarding experience to see your brother as a fully integrated male. Filled with a certain ambition to succeed at his work, yes, but sticking to ethics and principles, and always consulting with scholars in the field and doing much study on his own. Yet, while shouldering his patriarchal duties faithfully, he is soft and supporting to the two strong women in his household. He cooks special meals that will nourish them. He is aware of the quality and the nutritional content of the fuel the wife and daughter take in, sure to give them something which is healing and building. He adds protein and omega-3 to a special daily shake he prepares for right-after-school snack! I think they leave the dirty dishes around for a little longer than we do in a Zen center, but he is carrying so much, so gently, with such clarity and stability in himself while he shoulders his truly enormous personal responsibilities. It’s strange these days remembering him as the helpless little kid I used to rough up and horseplay sometimes in an over-crowded household of murky sadness in our suburban NJ youth!

Older brother in rain-meditation samadhi…