Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   


Entries in Aging (14)

Tuesday
Oct312017

Conversation

I used to say that I was on a mission to shift perspectives through art and conversation, but then I realized that I can’t stand conversation. The older I get the less obligated I feel to participate in what seems to be artifice meeting artifice. Even in ‘talkbacks’ that supposedly encourage audiences to process what they have witnessed, all I hear is people trying to be clever or praising things that actually could have used a little bit more of this or that.

Recently I heard the great Zen master Norman Fisher give a talk about friendship, and it was very powerful and encouraging, and of course he was talking about speaking from the heart, so I asked him: 

"Hey, it’s all well and good to speak from the heart when those are the rules of the game, for example in council practice (no crosstalk etc), but what about chatting? Chatting is all about breaking the precepts," I argued.  "We split people into good and bad, elevate some, dismiss or mock others; we forget to bear witness, give inappropriate advice right and left; we pretend we are doing better than we are; and so on and so on on."

And he said: "You follow the precepts."  And I said:  "Oh. Right."

I was doing exactly what I was complaining about. I was blaming conversation itself when I could have been changing its nature by attending to my own sense of morality.  Since then, I’ve been trying but it isn’t easy.  I really prefer a structure that gives permission via restriction.  Almost anything shakes up a bad habit.  In Fountain of Oldth, improvisational structure led to truth and communion, every now and then.

Tuesday
Mar212017

Linda: The Nagging Crone

I walk around oozing questions about aging, beauty, and power, so people around me respond and make suggestions.  One wise woman told me to see Linda at the Manhattan Theatre Club, so I did.  

The play opens with an extremely pretty woman, Linda, claiming to be 58, making a presentation to a cosmetics company for a product called Visibility.  Inwardly I roared in response.  Hear Hear!  Or, rather, See See.  This unasked-for invisibility is a major theme that I and my actors are playing with.

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Wednesday
Oct192016

Am I a Woman?

and Who is the Other?  

I don't mean to be elliptical.  On the other hand, maybe "egg shaped" is exactly what I'm going for. This year I'm co-facilitating a class exploring how we project onto others what we can't welcome in ourselves.  Our categories are Disability, Race, and Gender.   We started the examination of gender with the question:  

Am I a woman?  Why or Why not?

Here is my answer

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Tuesday
Feb242015

Rise up, Old Woman!

Julianne, photo by Nicolas Genin"Well, she is more contemporary," the young lady clarified when I looked mystified. We were at a networking event for filmmakers and actors, and I had boldly raised my objection to the disappearance of older women.  She responded by kindly offering hope that things were changing, and presented Julianne Moore as an example of an aging star.  Thinking hard, she filled out her list of two by including an actress in her 30s.

Her 30s.

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Wednesday
Jun062012

My Toe is my Teacher

Part 1:  The Cure

Have you ever had an electric toe?  It's quite an experience, unlike any other pain.  You step on it funny and suddenly a shocking, excruciating pain shoots through the toe into the whole body and the brain contracts in the instant.  It goes away and you think, ok, that was that, and then it happens again.  After several repetitions you become like one of those freaked-out lab mice terrified of the next shock, seeming to have no control.   Except that then you notice that getting tense makes it happen more!

Like other life koans, this was impossible to grasp.  How could I possibly relax into something that made my body involuntarily seize up?

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Wednesday
Jun062012

How to Change the World, Justina

Updated on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:40PM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

One morning on the way to Ballet class, I hear the news that Black Americans are moving away from northern urban areas toward the South and into the suburbs.  This interests me for what it will mean for diversity, so I remember it.  

As we chitchat before class, Justina, a young Black woman just returned from a family visit to Tennessee, comments:  "The South never changes."   I argue briefly and then ponder her comment for the remainder of class.  (You can blame all my mistakes on that!)   When class is over I ask her what she meant.  A graduate student in Social Psychology, she is frustrated by entrenched patterns:  expectations shape behavior, behavior reinforces expectations, and the cycle perpetuates itself.   Indeed, I agree.   Except here she is, an exception.

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Tuesday
Jun052012

Yes, but can you wipe your ass?

The first time I heard the question was shortly after I told my rheumatologist about the pain in my knees after tap-dancing for some length of time.  I recall that I was rehearsing for a little showcase.  I recall that I was proud.  I recall that he said: These are not normal knees…of course you are going to have inflammation if you tap-dance.  And a little while later he asked if I have trouble wiping myself.   It's important, obviously.   Tap dancing?   Not so much.

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Monday
Jun042012

Menopause is an Athletic Event:  Insomnia!

I dozed until midnight, then adrenalin and heat fired up my body for the race, the chase, the battle in the jungle.  Only I'm not in the jungle; I'm in bed trying to sleep.  I'm having a major argument with my body:  What is wrong with you?!  Can't you feel the fatigue?  Why are you flooding me with all this energy?  Body:  Hey, it's not my problem; you're the one with all the worries and ISSUES that keep me up.   Mind:  You have a lot of nerve calling me out on ISSUES when these things wouldn't even bother me if I weren't flooded with adrenalin and cortisol and whatever else you're doing to me.  

Most functional people would have grabbed a cab straight to a psychiatrist for Ambien. 

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Sunday
Jun032012

Baby Crone

Sure I thought the release was happening as I turned 40.  I don't care what people think, said I, boldly striding into the decade.  So I unleashed my creativity upon the world.  And then, after making the autobiographical Martyred Moms, I proceeded to suck up praise and criticism like a baby starving for milk.   Don't care? my ass!   Narcissism roared its head and I, helplessly it seemed, inflated and deflated according to the circumstances.  It wore me out.  Like a stone on a beach being polished by smashing up against the rocks.   Smash!  ahhh…  Smash!  ahhh…  see?

50 is Smash.  40 was playing around.  At 50, my life shows on my face.  At the movies, they ask me:  Senior or regular?   I can laugh but I  tell you it feels like a punch.  I'm in another category. 

Not that I was ever beautiful, but I certainly knew how to be eye-catching. Now They don't look at me that way.   If They look at me or talk to me at all, it's often because They need something from Mother--or even Granny. geez!  

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Saturday
Jun022012

It Doesn't Show

Updated on Friday, October 15, 2010 at 11:50AM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

Updated on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:50PM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

It doesn't show, they started to say after the surgeries.   This should have been a cure for shame, and maybe it was, but it also produced a new problem.   A deep and integral aspect of my personhood became invisible and unknowable. Don't look. Juvenile arthritis is a peculiar and defining experience.  As a toddler, you get braces and casts instead of the exhilaration of walking.  As a kid, you get the special  role in the ballet recital.  Then, as your wrists are progressively deforming, Phys Ed with its impossible pushups and volleyball falls by the wayside.  You are left with the other rejected kids in Choir and then in Drama Club, where, to vanquish your depression, you pledge yourself a career and vengeance.  The twist (pardon the pun) in the story is that, along the way, you fall in love with dance--the one thing that everyone agrees is totally out of the question. 

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