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Limitations Are a Story We Tell Ourselves — Go Beyond Them with Mindfulness
There are two people inside everyone: an artist and a bureaucrat. You'll need both to succeed in life, so how can you get beyond your apparent limitations? Take a lesson from Pixar Animation Studios.
Lawrence Levy was born in London, England, and moved to the United States as a teenager. After earning degrees in business at Indiana University and law at Harvard, Lawrence became a partner at Silicon Valley's largest law firm, Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, where he built the firm's technology transactions department, the first of its kind. He went on to become chief financial officer at Electronics for Imaging and then executive vice president, chief financial officer and board member at Pixar Animation Studios where he architected Pixar's business strategy and IPO. In 2000 Lawrence left his day-to-day duties at Pixar, remaining on the Board until its sale to Disney in 2006. After leaving Pixar, Lawrence dedicated himself to studying, training in, and writing about meditation methods and their underlying philosophy. Lawrence is a student of Segyu Rinpoche and is the principal writer of Juniper’s content. He teaches meditation at Juniper and gives talks on meditation and its relationship to contemporary life. Lawrence lives in Palo Alto, California with his wife, Hillary, also one of Juniper's co-founders.
Lawrence Levy: The paradigm that's driving people the most, which is the performance paradigm to succeed, no one seems to be as interested in the secular scientific proof that that's good for you. So we're on this rush to sort of succeed and work 24/7 and make all this money and it's all on faith. Not only is there no proof that it's good for us, there's actually more scientific evidence that suggests that it isn't, but when it comes to meditation then we want the proof. So that to me is an interesting dynamic.
The middle away is an ancient eastern philosophy probably first attributed to the Buddha, and in fact the life story of the Buddha is really sort of a metaphor in a way for the middle away. And there are many ways to sort of recount the middle way, but in the context of Pixar I think of it like this: you can imagine perhaps that there are two people inside of us. And so one of the people inside of us you can think of as a bureaucrat. And the role of the bureaucrat is to function, is to function well in the world, to make sure we get up on time, that we get to catch a play on time, to make sure that they'll be dinner on the table at night and we have enough money in the bank and all of these requirements that we need in order to be sort of successful at functioning in the world. And then there's another person inside of us that you can think of as like an artist or a free spirit. And that free spirit just wants to live and love and laugh and create and be and enjoy and just experience all the richness and possibilities of life.
And what the middle way would say is that if we get stuck in either one of those places we subject ourselves to sort of stress and agitation so that if everything is about function, you know, bureaucracy, performance, that's all we care about, we might one day kind of wake up and wonder if we ever truly lived because we've been so focused on just getting it right, getting it done or whatever it is. On the other hand if we just focused on the artistic side that sort of free spirit part of us then we might suffer from sort of lack of momentum, we might get frustrated because we didn't have enough momentum to get things done. And so what the middle way is about is a philosophy of harmonizing these two things within us. And I saw in Pixar a metaphor for that because it really is a company that succeeded because it was able to harmonize these two ideas, but it turns out that it applies to much more than Pixar, I think it applies to building great organizations, even living great lives.
One of the challenges that we had in terms of experimental feeling good, feeling productive, feeling good about who we are and what we do is that we get stuck in stories. It's really interesting actually because at Pixar it was a story company so I go for a few years at Pixar and I learn well it's all about story. That's what I learn. And then I go off and study Buddhist philosophy for ten years and I come to the scintillating conclusion that it's all about story. Why is that? It's because the ideas of these philosophers now are being proven over and over again by neuroscience says that we function in a story. We have a story in our minds about what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman, a son, a daughter, an employee, what it means to succeed. We have these stories and we get stuck in them and that stuckness often produces a lot of stress and agitation.
And really the goal of a meditation is to open a door so we can go beyond our stories. That's where the magic is. So it's great for calming us down a little bit, you know, we get more control over our breath, more control over her mind, but its real potency is to take us beyond those kinds of inner limits and so that's why we recommend like the Juniper Foundation that the best thing you can do with meditation is just do it regularly, like eve
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Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.
- Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
- More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
- SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis [PDF]<p>Work in understanding the skills at the heart of the new digital economy is leading to novel assessments that allow individuals to prove mastery to faithfully represent their abilities—but also to give weight and stackability to the emerging ecosystem of micro-credentials that make education more seamless across time and education providers. And we are seeing the beginnings of a renewal in the liberal arts, focused on building human skills in affordable ways that are accessible to many more individuals and far more effective.</p><p>Amidst these dark times, there is much opportunity to refresh the nation's education and training solutions to support the success of individuals and society writ large.</p>