Thursday, December 6, 2018

Taking the Opportunity to Come Apart

I’ve cited James Austin in a post about counting breaths, and often come back to the things he taught in a retreat I attended with him.  It was at Zen Mountain Monastery in the Catskills.  Austin spent most of the day Saturday presenting information from his book Meditating Selflessly, and from other research he and others have conducted on Zen and the Brain.  His exhortation to get out of the meditation hall and spend some time in nature looking at birds, or, if early morning, the planets and stars, led me to leave the retreat on Sunday and disappear for a few hours into the woods (Austin’s presentation was over).

During the retreat I asked Dr. Austin what he thought about people with a serious mental illness practicing meditation.  I have bipolar disorder 1 and had scheduled a very intensive, silent retreat.  Austin said that people with a “mental defect” should not undertake intensive meditation.  I was surprised at both the language and the sentiment, especially as I have gained so much from my meditation practice.  But I have respect for Dr. Austin’s work, and was so influenced by his retreat, that I decided to take his caution under consideration.  

I went on the silent retreat anyway.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Healthcare For All? - part four

The debate rages over whether or not healthcare is a human right and, in the United States, we’ve ended up with a patchwork of private providers and public assistance.  It seems no one is happy.  For those of us with coverage from an employer it’s still difficult.  My family faced open enrollment this month and it took hours, and a spreadsheet, to choose between options.  I gave up, poured a bourbon, and sat staring out the window at an early snow while my wife struggled on until we could make a choice.  But we’re still unsure what it’s all going to cost.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Healthcare As A Human Right: The Case Against

Healthcare For All, Part Three

The Bill of Rights establishes rights that are not to be restricted by government.   Freedoms of speech and assembly, the rights to bear arms and to due process, and prohibitions on the government from occupying or seizing most private property are all enumerated.  Doctrines of human rights also set out to guarantee liberties from government oppression.  What these long-cherished freedoms have in common is that they each limit government action.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Healthcare As A Human Right: The Case For

Healthcare For All - part two:

Healthcare in the United States is viewed as a service, offered by private, for profit providers and, for the most part, paid for by individuals who purchase insurance, largely through their employers, from for profit insurance companies.  For the vast majority of citizens this method has worked very well and has provided excellent care.  However, the cost of care, and insurance, has skyrocketed, far outpacing the rate of inflation and leaving a growing group of citizens without the means to pay for medical care, or even without access to care.  Unpaid medical bills are the number one cause of personal bankruptcy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Healthcare For All?

On political issues I lean libertarian, but healthcare, especially for those unable to obtain it in the market, has always been the chink in my armor.  I see healthcare as a right equal to free speech and private property, and I can’t understand how a society that protects other basic rights so jealously would let so many in need suffer with conditions easily treatable for those able to secure insurance.  If the human rights argument is not strong enough, then perhaps the cost saving to society of avoiding expensive bad results by providing inexpensive basic care could be enough to persuade more conservative critics of health care for all.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Downside to Mindfulness

I write so much about the benefits of mindfulness that I have to fess up when I come across a study that reveals negative effects.  This hasn’t been too taxing because there are so few resources painting mindfulness as having any deleterious effects at all.  But recent research out of Georgetown University does just that.

It turns out that mindfulness can inhibit implicit learning and implicit memory.