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Meditation is Not Just Some New Age Thing

May 8th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

Mindfulness, TM (Transcendental Meditation), Movement meditation like Tai – Chi (I have been practicing Tai – Chi for 3 decades), breath – counting … just to mention a few types (hey it’s essentially the same stuff, I’ll elaborate in just a sec…)of meditation practices that are proven methods for peace of mind and good health.

Most people, especially westerners are prodigiously skeptical of , to which the title alludes, this new age thing called – meditation. But, listen up, the facts are the facts: doctors from this country (U.S.) and rigorous clinical studies have clearly shown that meditation of any kind:

· Normalizes blood pressure (not just lowers, in other words)
· Reduces risk of heart attack and stroke
· Minimizes stress
· Cures insomnia (actually, I don’t mean cure here, but it definitely helps. I’ve suffered from insomnia my whole life and I can honestly attest that I’d be a sleepless zombie if it not were for my meditation practices)
· Reduces anxiety and depression
· And leaves you with a sort of sense of calm throughout the day (calm for me anyway, lol). I am and always have been a “Nervous Nellie”meditation2 . I wish this were not the case, but hyperactivity and nervousness is just part of my temperament and genetic make – up. Before I discovered Tai – Chi and meditation in 1983 I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown – I kid you not.

In a nutshell, meditation (any form) is simply the arduous painstakingly practice of paying attention to the most boring and uninteresting thing a human being can possibly imagine e.g. following and counting your breath – inhale … exhale … inhale … exhale. What this practice does, is simple 1. Train you to be in the moment 2. Improve your concentration and put a halt to extraneous distractions other than the task at hand (counting your breaths for example. Oh, incidentally it’s impossible for your mind not to wander about to other matters, but that is all part of the meditation practice… intrusive thoughts pop into your mind, & now your job is to gently bring your attention back to breath – counting) and 3. Permit you to become the “viewer”, “watcher”, “third person” who uncritically and without judgment allows one’s body to do what it wants to. THAT’S IT !!! There is nothing mystical about it. You don’t have to convert to Buddhism and you certainly don’t need a mantra (as TM suggests).

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I know David Lynch (the surrealist Film director) has been proselytizing about TM over the past couple of years. I’m telling you, once you fully grasp and understand it, it truly becomes a part of your everyday life and you quickly realize that it’s something without which you simply cannot live. YEP, it changes your life forever !!! Check out this YouTube clip of Howard Stern (everyone knows I personally hate Stern, but here he is amazingly articulate, passionate…) and Jerry Seinfeld drinking coffee and having a discussion about a simple but profound practice that has been around formeditation1 at least 6000 years.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPLn1ZgGxos

 

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Self – Help Books Don’t Help At All

April 28th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

When I was in my early twenties, I used to read a lot of glib and facile nonsense authored by people like Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Dr.selfhelp1selfhelp2 Wayne Dyer … you know what I’m talking about : “How to become a millionaire in 90 days” type of rubbish (One of my favorite titles is ‘Think and Grow Rich’ – just have a clear image of success in your mind & the $$$ will just start rolling in).

Today there is a whole herd of these self – proclaimed motivational gurus with their rags to riches success stories (Tony Robbins, Eckhart Tolle, Richard Carlson … the list is endless) who are just eagerly awaiting you to open up your pocket book and make themselves, not you, rich – how sad. Everyone with an ounce of common sense knows that life is just not that easy. A medical Doctor doesn’t make a dime until he or she is nearly 30 years old; and prior to which they’re eating macaroni and cheese and studying their butt off every waking moment.
I think the reason many people are turning to these so – called messiahs of success in record numbers is because the economy is so god – awful and we’re desperate. What I find most troublesome about the gurus is that they are giving people false hope and preying upon our society’s (especially generation millenial’s) unquenchable thirst for instant gratification. The reality is that very often, even if you have the most incredible work ethic, you still might end up poor and miserable. Lady Luck and coming from an affluent family (the lucky sperm club) is 99% of the game.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I hate to be cynical, and certainly I’m not suggesting that it’s impossible for an individual to come from an impoverished family and end up wealthy and successful, but the odds are stacked up against you. As George Carlin used to say (I’m paraphrasing here) “The American dream is an illusion and the reason they refer to it as a dream, is that you have to be asleep to believe in it.”

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Why Joe Rogan is Better Than Howard Stern

January 9th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

Many people have compared perhaps the latest recent media sensation in Joe Rogan to Howard Stern. I was a regular Howard Stern fan back in the 1980’s and now that it’s 2014 and I’m 50 years old, I’ve now moved on (Listen, I’m really an NPR, WNYC geek, but I still like Rock ‘n roll, sort of down – to – earth radio or pod casts, so ….) I suppose the comparison is made because they curse, stand for the common person, and are both in tune to the world of comedy and relief in this unfair and hard world.

Well for starters, much to my dismay, Howard Stern has blatantly revealed to all that he’s a fake/phony/fraud!!! Howard stern came from a world of privilege and wasjoerogan raised by caring, loving, and educated parents. That non-sense about having to “tough” it out in Roosevelt, on Long island is a joke – please !!! I live on Long Island, I’m familiar with Roosevelt and though yes, there are minorities I doubt he had any more problems than your average High School kid. Joe Rogan on the other hand came from the school of real hard knocks – being raised only by his mom while dad took off (BTW, Joe has not been in contact with his biological dad since he was 6 years old) in Newark, NJ.

Howard Stern’s father owned a radio studio, sent his son (Howie) to Boston University, and the spoiled, rotten, rich kid – Daddy got him a gig on radio and the rest is history. Joe Rogan came from absolutely zero, never went to college (though he’s incredibly brilliant less the grammar – lol) and studied martial arts and stand – up comedy (BTW, Stern doesn’t even know how to do stand – up – WTF???). Joe is now the regular color commentator for every major UFC event (at which he’s absolutely stellar), has his own Podcast, and still does stand – up.

Joe Rogan doesn’t have guests who are strippers or porno stars but rather – scientists, psychiatrists, some hippie – potheads – lol (but they’re smart), and any other person who has something interesting to say (not just celebrities).
This is just part 1, but I just want to get your initial thoughts. WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ?

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The Easter Lagomorph Is Coming

March 8th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
Michael and I love our two Lagomorphs. What??? Put simply, our rabbits. In the past, it was thought that the rabbit belonged to the rodent family  but this is untrue and they should not be referred to as such. This is insulting to them. Besides being utterly cute, they make wonderful pets and they’re smarter than you may think. Not quite as bright as Bugs Bunny – more along the lines of Peter Rabbit in McGregor’s garden.
Blossom has quite a personality and if you’re under the mistaken assumptiion that she’s just some dumb bunny, you’re in for a rude awakening, and I do mean “rude”. Never, and I repeat this emphatically with the emphasis on the first syllable, NEV-er be so careless as to place your hand into her domain without placing the other available hand on top of her head. She will invariably bite you. Hard. Her otherwise sweet temperment will be dominated by her territorial instincts, and you (even if you come bearing gifts) are considered to be the intruder. When the cleaning lady arrives (that’s me), it gets even trickier but I have mastered the situation over time. She has to be lured into the outer section of her home (this being the sunroom) while I deftly grab a large piece of slate (used for this sole purpose, readily available) and cover the opening to prevent her from entering her loft (complete with cathedral ceiling). This is accomplished with the use of food as enticement. It works every time. The other day, however, she managed to move the heavy slate aside, which is no small feat when you consider it weighs a good deal more than she does. This would have proven disastrous for the unsuspecting cleaning lady busy about her task, for were Blossom to make her way inside, a set of acutely sharp incisors would have made their presence known. If Blossom were ever featured in a Flintstones cartoon, she would have been utilized as Fred’s razor to shave with in the morning. She even has the audacity to charge at you in defense of her turf and actually emits a small grunt- like noise in the process, stopping just short of you in an effort to frighten. It’s rather effective knowing she will nip you. When this happens, I laugh it off by calling her “The Big, Bad, Bunny”. It’s really very funny because she’s so cute (provided you escape the wrath of her teeth). When we bring her to the vet to have her nails clipped, they think she’s sooooo adorable! They don’t know the real Blossom.
Then there’s our other Lagomorph. Godiva. Whereas Blossom is snowy white, Godiva is like dark chocolate, hence the name. She is docile. Serene. Sweet. Clean. The complete antithesis to “The Big, Bad, Bunny”. That’s it. Nothing more to be said about Godiva. In no way is she the lesser of the two. She’s just “good”. More of what you would expect in the typical bunny.
If you’re thinking of getting a rabbit for your kid at Easter, you may want to reconsider. Rabbits demand a lot of attention and can easily become sick if not properly cared for. They need a variety of fresh greens daily in addition to fresh bedding, hay for consumption, and papaya pills to aid in good digestion. All these things can prove costly but if you’re dedictaed to their good health and well being, go for it – they are a constant source of amusement. They will interact at play, with toys made especially for rabbits. Have you ever seen a rabbit wash its face? Too cute! Or seen one yawn? Hilarious!

If you decide to keep them indoors, be sure to cover all your wiring with plastic tubing or they will disconnect your cable service, or eliminate your source of electricity and quite possibly themselves in the process. But if you choose to house them outdoors as we do, you’ll need to provide a constant source of shade as shelter from the sun and the elements. Many a bunny has suffered heat exhaustion and died as a result of exposure. In winter, a clear plastic covering acts as a sort of greenhouse effect. You may however, need to shovel a path in heavy snow. This is not always convenient but they will thank you for it. Don’t expect an outcry of “Hooray! We’re saved!” but instead, a little dance of appreciation to make you smile.
Never serve them wilted greens and not all greens are suitable. Not long ago, I purchased an assortment of greens from the local supermarket. On this particular day, the kale was so fresh that when I placed it on the kitchen counter, a large, bright green grasshopper crawled out of it! Now that’s FRESH! Needless to say, I was quite freaked out by this display and had to contain my anxiety and act fast before he hopped off into the nether reaches of the kitchen’s recesses. He made a feeble attempt at a hop, having survived the trip from California, to the Pathmark on Long Island, into the plastic  stay-fresh bag, wheeled around for a tour in the cart, ferried down the conveyer belt to be rung up, placed into another plastic bag with a multitude of sundries, back into the cart for a bumpy ride across the parking lot and into the back of the Jeep before reaching our home as its final (?) destination. So, little wonder that by this time he might feel a bit woozy, much to my benefit. I hastily grabbed the plastic bag from which he had just been removed and gently covered him, scooped him up, and raced to the front door. Snow was in the night’s forecast but no matter. He would find quick refuge under one of the many cedar bushes outside. Now, as anyone who knows me can verify, I am not, not, not, a bug person but as Michael often quotes, “All life is precious”. This being said and my duty done, I found it safe at this point to promptly freak  with an audible  “Eeeeeeeee!” shrieked several times in succession while shuddering and stomping my feet at the horrific ordeal I’d just encountered. I hate to think of what would have happened had I put the kale into the refrigerator along with “Grasshopper”. Might he have eaten all of the meat loaf? Or jumped out at Michael during one of his late night binges? I can picture him waking me up to tell me about it, and me saying “Go back to bed, It was only a nightmare”. Oh yeah??? Then where’s all the meat loaf?

In short, if you are prepared to deal with all this for the sake of a cute little, button-nosed bunny, then you are ndeed the perfect candidate for just such a pet. Make the leap only by making the commitment. Otherwise, stick with the chocolate version. Might I suggest Godiva?
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Mindfulness: The Art of Living Well

December 5th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

I have been a student of eastern philosophy for more than three decades and I am delighted to see that the practice of Mindfulness is very much in vogue today. One doesn’t even have to concern oneself with the historicity of Mindfulness nor even be remotely interested in Buddhism out of which this very simple, though at the same time very difficult and yet prodigiously effective practice sprung. As a matter of fact many psychiatrists and psychologists have recommended Mindfulness to their patients as a way of reducing stress, anxiety, and dealing with depression.
Many people have stated that Mindfulness has dramatically changed his or her life for the better; whether it is practiced by someone who suffers from some anxiety and mild depression to very serious psychiatric afflictions such as paranoid schizophrenia. (Last week The New York Times profiled a man who was diagnosed with having schizophrenia but was able to cope and function as a productive solid citizen, he is currently employed full time as a computer programmer, with the aid of medication and the daily practice of mindfulness.)
So what is Mindfulness? Is this something for you? Can you incorporate this sort of practice into your life and busy schedule? The answer to all three of these questions is a resounding yes. Mindfulness in a sense is a form of mediation, one doesn’t have to set aside a half – hour or more and sit in the lotus position counting one’s breath. Mindfulness is actually a way of life and a new way of looking at the world. Ideally, a person ought to be mindful every waking moment. The best definition for mindfulness is simply (it’s actually very hard) bringing your attention to the present and paying careful attention purposely and in a particular way to the present moment; the particular way is to be nonjudgmental and to except what is true and real without any pre-conceived notions or delusions. This is the reason a Zen Buddhist very often refers to this “state of mind” as Beginner’s mind or experiencing life as if for the very first time. One can be an eighty-year-old man with a lifetime of experiences and memories and still live almost child-like in terms of being curious, open, and accepting what you perceive to be the absolute truth – life is exactly what it appears to be, nothing less and nothing more.
Although Buddhism has been around for 2500 years, the concept and idea of cherry – picking, so to speak , the utilitarian down-to-earth nuts and bolts aspects of how to live a good life without adhering to and embracing the philosophy and religion of Buddhism, was put forth by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn who founded the Minfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts to treat the chronically ill. This was a hugely successful and clearly effective way of maintaining good health physically, emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually combining western medicine and the eternal truths from the East (from the East but they’re truths that are eternal and universal) about the human condition.
So tomorrow morning when you have your morning cup of coffee, experiment with mindfulness. Drinking coffee or tea is a good way of beginning your Mindfulness training. There are actually scores of books written about Zen and not only drinking tea but also the preparation involved which is sort of a ritual for many Easterners. (Now Westerners too, thanks to the proliferation of Zen and Mindfulness). Say to yourself, “This is the beginning of a new and wonderful day; this particular day has never happened before and never will happen again. Be mindful of this and be grateful. Smell the aroma of the coffee before taking your first sip, feel the porcelain touch your lips, take note of the weight of the cup, let all of your senses open up, and come to life. Nothing else matters at this particular moment and time but you and your cup of coffee. Be at peace and be totally present. If a thought, worry or concern crops up do not dismiss it, simply acknowledge it, accept it and gently bring yourself back to drinking your coffee or tea. Thoughts, feelings, awareness of your surroundings is all normal, the key is to be in the present and greet each feeling and sensation with curiosity, openness, total acceptance and feel the connection and relationship you have with your cup of coffee and ultimately with everything that exists and is in the universes. Yes, life is good and for these few minutes, there is nothing but this. You’re as close to the truth as the Dali Lama is as he meditates to greet the morning. “
So WhaDaYaThink ? What Do You Think ? This seems like a very simple exercise in Mindfulness but I can assure you, invariably a multitude of unwanted thoughts will permeate you being – just let them come and go, eventually you will be the master of your thoughts and you will be more peaceful, more at rest and yet more alive than ever. Peace on Earth.

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If You Love Animals, Help Save Feral Cats

October 30th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

Winter is fast approaching and if you’ve been feeding those feral cats all summer long, they’ll need a warm  dry place to stay. People have all kinds of misconceptions about cats. Because of their independent nature, people tend to think cats can fend for themselves and to a certain extent they can. But the sad truth is, these animals won’t live very long if they’re forced to endure extreme cold wet weather year after year. It takes its toll. So, you’ve been feeding that feral cat? Good for you! Now take the extra step in prolonging that precious little life.
I never intended to become the Cat Lady. It happened one winter when I was feeding the birds in my backyard. A small white cat would visit the feeder each day and in ignorance I would shoo her away. What I believed to be mischievous behavior was completely misunderstood. That pile of feathers revealed something more. Put simply, she was starving. I caved in. “Catherine” was fed from that day forward and was my friend for nearly ten years. Others came during this time – her sidekick Heathcliff. And a male I thought I’d been feeding (Mr. Linton) gave birth one Spring to three healthy kittens. I trapped and kept one. My intention was to trap and neuter them all but before I could bat an eyelash, three months later Mrs. Linton got pregnant again. This time there were four. God knows what happened to the other two from the first litter after a not so neighborly neighbor trapped and brought them to a local animal shelter. I was determined this would not be the fate of the second litter. But I needed help and fast!


I queried and I called but it wasn’t until I sought the expertise of two dedicated people at a local organization that things finally began to take shape. They lent me their Have-A-Heart traps for free and helped me to trap all four female kittens along with their mother. Oh, it wasn’t easy. It took round the clock supervision to trap them one by one but in the end it was worth it. When they were brought to be neutered, they discovered that Mom was “in the family  way” once again and so was one of the kittens at just three months old!
So, number one. You must trap and neuter your feral cats. As humans, we are responsible to take on the challenge and reduce the number of feral cats safely and humanely. After all, the problem exists because of us – beginning with the domestic house cat we failed to spay or neuter. Since this is the root of the problem, it’s also the means to its end. And just because you have a male cat, it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be neutered too. What do you think he’s going to do with all that unharnessed energy? Contact any feral cat organization for help and information. They’ll also put you in touch with how to house your furry friends.
Mine are bundled all safe and snug on my backyard deck which happens to have an awning. Three separate units (small dog houses or large plastic pet crates) are clustered together with warm wool balnkets and rugs inside each one. Or you can even use straw for warm dry bedding. Styrofoam sheets for insulation along with plywood for stability (purchased at Home Depot) are stacked around the units and the whole shebang is covered with a heavy duty plastic tarp to keep out all that wind and snow. They love it. It’s like winter camp. When Spring arrives, simply take it apart, wash the blankets and store them for next season. Replace the winter blankets with some soft cotton ones as shelter against the hot sun and the occasional summer thunderstorm or if we happen to have a rainy season.
My five lovely ladies are happy, healthy and a source of constant joy all year long. Although I’ve given up feeding the birds (an unfair disadvantage to them with five cats to battle) I wouldn’t trade what I have now for anything in the world. They’ve gone from feral to friendly as nature intended. And the glow I feel inside having given them the life that they deserve goes beyond all measure. They give me so much more in return. Keep in mind, if you want to domesticate your furry family, you need to invest in the time. You can gain their trust by keeping perfectly still and letting them go about their business. Attempt to give them treats and eventually they’ll eat right out of your hand. I made it a daily habit of sharing my dinner with them. It took several months but now we’re friends for life.
I want to publicly thank Rob and Joanne at All About Spay & Neuter for their invaluable help four years ago. Please do your part and help support your local feral cat organization or get involved by writing to your congressman to stop the senseless killing of feral cats. The answer is “Trap, Neuter, Return”, an effective measure in eliminating feral cat colonies over time.  To learn more, log on to Alley Cat Allies. Give cats a voice.
So…………..whadayathink? Was this article helpful to you? Will you get more involved and help spread the word? Thanks for reading.

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Only legtimate comments will be posted

January 29th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

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I will attempt to respond to legitimate comments coming in from legitimate sources only. Unfornutately this very brief but important and neceaaary blog must be posted. We have been inundated with “bots” and this has wasted everyone’s time. My deepest and most hearfelt apologies go out to those who have visted Whadawethink, read the articles and put time and effort into writing a comment. The “bots” are pretty easy to spot but I naively let some slide through. Certainly everyone is welcome to whadawethink but please only comment if you have something to contribute.

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