Relax and enjoy psychological insights from art, science and spirituality for personal balance and widening our circle of compassion to embrace all life including our own. Michael Todd Fink is an artist, thinker, speaker and social and environmental activist. He is also the co-founder of the internationally-acclaimed music group The Giving Tree Band. A modern Renaissance man - his songs, videos, articles and lectures on health and harmony have inspired so many around the world. He holds certifications in addiction counseling and mindfulness meditation and earned his psychology and music degrees from Georgetown University. Todd has been a wellness consultant and mentor for Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, schools, governments and other organizations and works fervently to help communities build sustainable cultures of well-being and peace. https://www.michaeltoddfink.com
Principles of Polarity
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You cannot have opposites without some opposition. Right, left, masculine, feminine, hot, cold, day, night, and other seeming anitpodes dance or wrestle endlessly.
Another meaning of polarity has to do with terrestrial magnetism around the north and south pole, resulting from the dynamo effect of flowing liquid metal in the outer core generating electric currents.
In the body, there is also biomagnetism but metaphorically the spine is the axis and north is upward and the base is downward. Below, we have the currents of attraction for food, possessions and sex. Above, the search for knowledge, truth and love has its own pull.
Harmonizing these forces within leads to fulfillment in life and understanding our place in the universe. Raising one's consciousness to the north pole, all sense of direction ends. There is no further north and you get the best view of the inner northern lights. Then, one can engage in and enjoy everything below as it arises naturally but without the old attachment and selfishness.
Music “The Vastness of Night” by Ethereal Ephemera and episode artwork by Emily Dawn and the Kind Mind podcast design by Jon Marro.
Illusions of Illusions of Free Will
This is the introduction only. The full episode is available via Patreon membership: https://www.patreon.com/kindmind Thank you for your support!
Free will is the ability to choose between possible courses of action. Many people feel themselves to be the authors of their thoughts, the agents of action and believe this to be true with respect to their decisions.
There is a sense that one could have behaved differently in the past, even though to rewind the tape of life would also remove the present insight. Or as one pop punk band sang it better: the past is only the future with the lights on.
However, most could readily agree that, at the very least, there is not always free will.
For example, a person with Alzheimer's or other type of dementia that severely impairs the ability to perform actions or utilize memory may not have the freedom to choose to behave politely or recognize their loved one. In addiction, it is widely understood that disruptions in the decision-making faculties of the brain lead to similar limitations of choice. Revelations in the neurobiology of drug use disorders continues to shape the moral implications and shift the legal interventions from punitive to rehabilitative.
To take this further, researchers have recently created choice experiments while observing the brain with magnetic resonance imaging and have been able to predict with statistical significance what subjects will choose up to 11 seconds before they are conscious of their choice!
Some argue that even if free will is an illusion, it is an illusion worth preserving. This episode explores different philosophical perspectives and considers what is worth paying attention to including the overlooked mental health benefits of reframing our understanding of free will.
(Music "Breathe" by Bing Sattelites and episode artwork on the podcast website by Emily Dawn)
A Brief History of Fire
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Fire has been such a powerfully creative and destructive element. This episode explores the history of it’s spiritual and evolutionary significance.
Music “The Slow Movement” by Ethereal Ephemera and episode artwork from Emily Dawn:
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Are people more skeptical than ever? Or are certain groups more skeptical than others when it comes to science, religion or certain knowledge? When is it good and when is not good to be skeptical?
The word "skeptic" has origins in ancient Greece and the philosophy of Pyrrho. It is derived from the root sound "spek" which meant to look but more specifically to inquire and reflect.
Skepticism has evolved to simply mean doubt, which has its benefits and costs. Trust and doubt is regulated by the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in the brain, which tends to decline beyond 60 years of age.
This is consistent with reports from the National Institute of Justice estimating that 12% of adults over 60 are exploited in financial crimes each year. It also explains why highly intelligent patients with injury to this brain region are more likely to fall victim to seemingly obvious online scams.
But when it comes to skepticism in the broader sense, perhaps we could upgrade our lenses. Generally speaking, we tend to be skeptical of anything that falls outside our worldview and overly welcoming towards that which resides within it.
With subtle meliorating, we can exchange some of our near-sightedness for far-sightedness when it comes to our outlook on life and the nature of things in order to strike a healthier balance that is cautiously optimistic, happily dissatisfied and taking our own thoughts with a grain of salt.
Music “Sunset Serenade” by Ethereal Ephemera and episode artwork on website by Emily Dawn.
Hypothetical HiberNation and Rebirth
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Thank you for your support!
Perhaps seasonal affect disorder and winter blues were selected by evolution to help mammals, including humans, withdraw and survive the harsh outer conditions.
Meditation is looking for the inner light, a mini version of the winter solstice. The winter solstice is a mini version of a longer dark period in the world like the pandemic.
Therefore, the equanimity cultivated through contemplative practice prepares the mind to accept the cycles of life and nature and respond wisely.
After long retreat and outer difficulty, there are signs of hope and rare reminders, like the grand planetary conjunction, to look to the stars at night. Rebirth is coming.
This episode considers some evidence and benefits of human hibernation and draws parallels with meditation.
Also, you are invited to reflect on what gifts we have been gestating and would like to give when the time is ripe to birth into the world.
Music “A Calming Influence” by Bing Satellites and episode artwork by Emily Dawn.
more at https://www.michaeltoddfink.com
Frustration Displacement and Replacement
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The etymology of the word 'frustration' traces back to 1500's Latin 'frustratio' which meant a deception.
It's Medieval origin is also relevant in these troubling times as the road ahead is not only fraught with uncertainty due to the novel pathogen but also some groups' novel sense of deception... whether from authority or society or history or even themselves.
However, inside the soil of hardship lies the seeds of clarity. With proper attention and understanding, a real breakthrough is possible with the potential for a blossoming of transformation on the other side - personally and collectively.
If life were really but a dream, then what would be the goal?
If the point is to "wake up," then sailing merrily, merrily down life's stream might delay things. That pleasantness is likely to uphold the reverie and bind you to the dreamboat.
Hence, the wisdom of frustration...
(music "Drifting Light" by Bing Satellites and episode artwork on podcast website by Emily Dawn)