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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

And Don't Forget

I received the below response from my oldest daughter after the post yesterday about my odd habit of memorizing poetry. It's only odd, I think, in the present-day culture where, most people are interested only in quickie "tweets" or facebook glances.

A little more than a hundred years ago all American public school report cards included a grade for "declamation." I have bought several old copies of Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard which had been inscribed to some child as a reward for his "excellence in declamation." Or a Merry Christmas from some Aunt or Uncle.

I'll bet no public school child today even knows the meaning of the word declamation. And what aunt or uncle today would consider a poetry book suitable as a gift to a child? They too often settle for gift cards as presents. It's too bad. They took all the old Nursery Rhymes out of the school system as being "too violent." Are they kidding? When they have whole schools read Hunger Games and teenage books about rape and incest. These are not called violent. They are praised as "realistic, "real issues," and down-to-earth issues."

The loss of poetry is too bad. Poetry helps to organize the neurons of the brain toward logical reasoning in the same way that classical music does. Sadly there is not much classical music around, either. Nursery rhymes and elementary rhythm bands were wonderful for childhood brain development.

I hope I'm not the only one who thinks this is a deplorable situation. For without lofty and inspiring thoughts to buoy us up when we feel low, what people are now sinking into is an artificial drug high of some kind to lift their spirits. Unfortunately what these these people don't realize is that there is ultimately a price to pay for introducing these uppers into the neurons of your brain. Becoming addicted to them is only one downside. Culture degradation is another. Would Lincoln have written the Gettysburg Address if he spent all is time twittering and facebooking as a child? First of all, he wouldn't have the vocabulary. And you need some alone time to develop your soul.

Anyway, here is the encouraging letter I received from one of my daughters. She remembered another Shakespeare phrase I used all the time.

Dear Mom,

And don't forget the oft used "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is, to have a thankless child".  I have dutifully passed that one down to the next generation!


I Have a Strange Habit

I may be an odd person. I say this because, since I was in the 8th grade, I have a habit of memorizing poetry. I tried to pass this on to my children but they were not terribly interested. I remember that I constructed an artist's easel in the kitchen and had posters of poems written in large letters that they could read and memorize while eating breakfast. I don't remember all of the poems, though I don't think there were many. I remember two and I'm sure all my five children still know at least these two which I just insisted they learn by heart. I even check to make sure they pass down these simple words of wisdom to their own children. Most of them have.

1. A wise old owl sat in an oak.
    The more he heard, the less he spoke
    The less he spoke, the more he heard
    Why aren't we like that wise old bird?

2. He was right, dead right, as he sped along
    But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

I always wondered what my children would think when they ran across this Shakespeare passage in school. When they were very young and I would chauffeur them around, and as I would reach their stop and help them out of the car I'd invariably pat them on the bottom and say "Out, out brief candle..." See, I guess I am odd.

Why do I think about this right now? In the middle of the night? Tomorrow I have cataract surgery on my left eye and to give me something to think about since I won't be able to read, I have just finished memorizing the Gettysburg address. It will be fun for me to think about it over and over, and perhaps at some one or two places I will have to rack my brain to remember the exact word because I have just newly learned it.

I remember I helped my now husband, when we were both in the in the 10th grade, memorize The Chambered Nautilis by Oliver Wendell Holmes. I have never forgotten it in all these years. Let's see, what other poems have I memorized? I certainly have memorized a lot of my own poems. Then there is Invictis, Under the Wide and Starry Sky, Milton's Sonnet on his Blindness, many passages from Shakespeare such as Portia's speech beginning, "the quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed. It blesseth him who gives and him who receives. 'Tis mightiest in the mighty. It becomes a sceptered monarch better than his crown.

Abou Ben Adam. is a favorite of mine. And The House by the Side of the Road. I guess I try to live my whole life by the words of The First Psalm.. Sometimes even I have dared to say to friends a lunch. "Would you like to hear a poem? I don't do it too often. Don't want to seem too weird.

Why do I do such an odd thing? Well, perhaps it only seems odd because I haven't yet run across anybody else who does it. Maybe I just haven't met enough people. When I explained it to my grandson the other day I remember saying that to memorize the great passages of Western Literature and have them ramble around in your mind forever changes you. Somehow it enlarges the horizon of how you think about things, how you look at the world.

I never thought of this before, but you can never feel alone when you can, at will, be in the august company of some great thinker. Certainly, if nothing else, you feel less confined to the particular small segment of time into which you just happen to have been born, or in which you momentarily just happen to be struggling.

When you wake in the middle of the night and feel lonely, or traveling and can't read for some reason, or stuck in traffic, poetry and great speeches are very good company. The Gettysburg Address is inspiring to think about.Every once in a while inspiring words from some lofty thinker's mind have been just the thing to say to a friend who was ill, or troubled or needing company. Sometimes they make a point better than anything else. I never cease to be touched by the fact that such words can so easily reach into someone's heart and make a difference of some kind. Including my own heart.  A. B. Curtiss

Monday, November 25, 2013

Univseral Principles can help Figure out Daily Dilemmas

Dear AB,

I hope this email finds you very well!

As someone who suffers occasional bouts of depression but is looking for cognitive methods to overcome it, I was fascinated to read one of your articles on brainswitching.

My latest dip coincided with some traumatic events and triggered my first (and hopefully last) episode of anxiety attacks and compulsive thoughts. In particular, the line 'I am fine' said over and over in my head. It did calm me somewhat, but rather than remove the depressed thought, it mostly brought me down to a baseline of fear and stopped any other unpleasant thoughts from intruding.

I would assume that the difference is that Brainswitching is a choice made from a place of control, whereas an OCD thought is a thought created from fear, however I would be most pleased if you had any opinion or insight you'd care to share on this?

I appreciate that you are probably very busy and won't take any offence if you are unable to reply!

All the best in either case,  L

Dear L,

Your letter was very interesting as it taps into a universal principle. Universal principles are valuable in that they provide a measure by which we can measure incidents that are, at first, unclear. Knowledge of just a few universal principles can greatly simplify our difficulty in trying to figure out some real problem in our regular workaday world.

For instance you point to brainswitching’s use of repetitive nonsense thoughts as being probably different from  repetitive OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) thoughts and you are right. The universal principle that might help dispel any doubt as to the difference in the two thoughts is this: anything you do because of fear of something will, in some way, be inappropriate to your life. Whereas, conversely, whatever you do out of love for something (some principle, some commitment) will most likely be appropriate to your life in some way, win or lose. I say win or lose because sometimes it is appropriate to your life to lose in some way.. It is not always appropriate to your life to win.

When you use mental exercises such as nonsense rhymes repeated over and over to thoughtjam and distract from negative or anxious thoughts, you are making that decision out of love for something—helping yourself to better mental health. OCD thoughts come from the fear of feeling the pain caused by irrational repressed fear.

Both OCD thoughts and OCD behaviors are running away from the great pain of feeling repressed fear. You can even use repetitive chosen thoughts to get out of OCD thoughts.

The choice to use brainswitching thoughts is cognitive behavior and activates the neurons in the neocortes, the reasoning part of your brain. Whereas the getting stuck in habitual OCD thoughts is emotional behavior rather than cognitive behavior and continues to power up the neurons in the subcortex, the emotional part of the brain. What might help to sort this all out is knowledge of the universal principle of behavior based on love of something is always appropriate to your life in some way, win or lose. And behavior that comes from fear of something is always inappropriate to your life in some way, win or lose.

There are other universal principles which help to sort our daily dilemmas such as:

The end does not justify the means.

It is always appropriate to do the right thing

When making a difficult decision spend most time and effort trying to assess which behavior (choice) would be based on fear of something and which behavior (choice) would be based on love of something. This is not always an easy assessment. For instance does a woman stay in an abusive marital relationship out of fear that she will be on her own, or out of love for her husband.

Never let your thoughts go beyond your situation.

You can't know Truth as an object.

Hope this helps. A. B. Curtiss

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I would like to Buy your Brainswitch book in bulk

Hi, again.  I e-mailed you in September thanking you for your amazing book Brainswitch Out of Depression.

I am now slowly and carefully doing my first step of reducing my anti-depressant dose and would 100% absolutely not be doing this had I not stumbled upon your book!  Thank you for helping me get to this stage...

Because I feel so strongly about the power of your book, I'd like to buy many copies for friends, for the school I work at and for other locations. The book is very affordable/easy to get in a Kindle version but is at least $40.00 on amazon.ca to get in print.  I was wondering if there was a way to purchase the book at a more typical cost (trust me, I think it's worth more than $40.00 for how much it's done for me!) so I could buy many copies of it and pass it around.  I tried to buy it off of your website but I don't think it will ship to Canada from there.

Any suggestions?  I'd love to pass along your brilliance to others.

Thank you again more than I can say.



Dear M,

First of all I appreciate your letter. Thank you. Second, please consult with your doctor if you are reducing your drug dosages. There may be dangerous side effects from withdrawal.

And as for the postage. It costs about $50 to send 10 books to Canada, about $75 to send 20 books and about $100 to send 30 books. The books cost $20 including custom fees.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

What about Laziness?


           I  have  just  read  your book "Brain switch". There are no  words  about  laziness.  Please, explain me. I am sometimes lazy to do something (wash the dishes). I have asked myself several times if I was  afraid of something? But no. I am just lazy to do this job.  Or  am I afraid of something but I haven't knonw that
yet? Sorry for my english. Thank you, A

Dear A

If you are not wanting to do something, whatever it is, and focus on your feelings you will always detect some slight feeling of fear. Not fear of anything in particular. The feeling of fear comes from previously repressed fear (probably from childhood when you were helpless) already in the cells of your body. It is human nature to be lazy about doing something, it is not a great problem. However, you can use this laziness to get in touch with old repressed fear and feel it with full acceptance, acceptance now available from your no longer helpless adult self, allowing old repressed fear to just finish finally. Hope this helps. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thanks for Letting me "Talk Story"

Dear A. B.

I forgot about the Desiderata... truly wonderful.  It has continually amazed me when people want 2 share their worst case scenarios.  

I will try 2 find your Blog. I have only figured out Email but perhaps my husband can help me with the computer. He is part Hawaiian and "talk story" is a big part of his cultural heritage.  My other challenge is that I have been told I M compassionate.  My mom is in continual pain and can hardly move due 2 osteoporosis...I Listen and try 2 focus on being present and gently positive but sometimes feel like I am suffering "with" her if that makes sense.  I guess it's a fine line.  One image I have found helpful is from a love story that starred Cher and Nicholas Cage.  I believe it was called...Moonstruck.  My favorite scene is when Nicholas Cage professes his love 4 her and she responds by slapping him and yelling Snap Out of It!  Whenever I start going in a downward spiral I imagine that scene...only Cher is yelling..Snap out of it! to me.  It usually helps break the cycle. Thanx so much...I have appreciated talking story.  

Dear S   

Since your husband is Hawaiian perhaps he knows of the ooponopono meditation. It is quite wonderful. I use it often.

 A. B. Curtiss