Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

The Post – New Evidence of Dolphin Intelligence

January 14, 2011

It’s not dolphins blowing bubble rings….though frankly I can’t blow bubble rings so I consider that talent above me and respect any dolphin or human who can do it.

But ANYWAY, several news outlets carried an article about Tanner, a dolphin at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys, who was featured for his ability to be blindfolded and still mimic what a fellow dolphin was doing.  CNN video of Tanner

I am not familiar with the place doing this study, but I located both a Facebook page for it, as well as their URL and some info on their mission:

Official Facebook Page – Dolphin Research Center

Some mission and history information from the web Page of the  Dolphin Research Center:

“DRC evolved out of the Institute for Delphinid Research. When DRC’s founders took over the facility in 1984, research remained a high priority. We have since expanded our in-house research goals, and also worked with world-renowned scientists who have come to DRC to study our resident colony of dolphins. General areas of interest include marine mammal cognition, behavior, and husbandry…….

In addition to maintaining the best possible environment for the dolphins and sea lions at the Center, we also dedicate ourselves to assisting marine mammals in distress in the surrounding waters of the Keys. For decades, DRC operated as the Southernmost member of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We rescued and rehabilitated whales and dolphins, providing expert medical attention to help ease the way for our marine friends from the wild. The rescue and rehabilitation procedures provided us with invaluable opportunities for critical research and data collection. DRC extended its rescue commitment to include the endangered manatee and is currently the only facility in the Florida Keys licensed by the Federal Government to assist manatees in distress.

To reach as many people as possible, the Center provides a variety of educational programs that allow the public a chance to learn firsthand about the world of the dolphin.”

I noticed that this facility rescues dolphins that are stranded, helps rehabilitate them, and takes in dolphins rescued from animal shows, or other facilities. So I considered them to be an ethical place. They also have expanded their rescue work to sea lions and the endangered manatees. So all in all they seem like a pretty good place.

Their site also notes that the public can make reservations to get in the water with dolphins, etc….some of the things questioned recently by dolphin researchers as to whether that is appropriate or not. It seems to cross a line from research to human entertainment. I didn’t have a problem with humans signing up to participate in part of their regular routines and care, but I have to admit, I felt like maybe having dolphins provide a “photo-op” for us might be using them a bit.

I have no proof as I’ve never been there and haven’t talked to anyone there. So it may be that the dolphins enjoy us and maybe we provide them with entertainment. This is one of those gray areas where maybe these programs will spawn future marine scientists. Yet I hope the rights of the marine mammals are kept front and center.

In any event, check out the sites. At the main page for the research center you can read a bio on all their creatures and even “adopt” one to help out with the cost of its care.

Enjoy….

The Post – The Breath, Compassion, and Pacifiers

March 24, 2008

Over the years I’ve read about or studied different kinds of meditation. Some wanted you to focus on a word or sound repeated over and over, others on a lit candle. More recently the focus was on trying to keep a totally blank mind and completely halt all the “noise” and the 10000 things running through your brain every minute. Of course I failed at all of them…as do most people. You’re so focused on a goal, on doing it perfectly, that when you can’t measure up, you give up out of frustration or despair.

On the flip side, I suspect that if you are lucky enough to achieve what these methods want…or at least you think you achieved it, the danger is that then you might walk around feeling so proud of yourself, so much better than others because “you achieved it.” You can try “not to go there,” but it’s hard, and even if you manage not to be proud, there is also the danger of feeling “overly holy and falsely humble” about your accomplishment.

One of the things I like about Buddhism is it’s emphasis on “Middle path.” No extremes of perfection or failure. This extends to its approach to meditation practice – “acceptance” of, in fact, it’s emphasis on the fact that you’ll never be perfect and it’s not about a goal. It’s always about “letting go and coming back to the breath.” Whether the teacher is Thich Nhat Hanh, from the Zen tradition, or Jack Kornfield from the Theravadan tradition, the point is not to “eradicate” what’s going on in you, but on simply to notice it and let it go on. You don’t waste a lot of energy either trying to get rid of all the thoughts, or giving them more importance than they’re worth. You just notice what is happening, acknowledge it, let it go, and come back to the breath.

Even that though, is easier said than done and human beings have a way of making anything a goal or contest. I think the one part of those instructions that I find most useful is: “Come back to the breath.” The reality is, we will be distracted for the rest of our lives. There’s bills, fights with people, retirement planning, kids, whatever. SOMETHING is always creeping in. That’s being human. And as nice as it is to say “notice it, don’t judge it, just let it go” even that is impossible. Something sticks in our throat and it replays in our heads over and over. Our anger, hurt, pride, despair, fear, will get hooked and we have a hard time letting that go. Accept it. We all do it. We always will. Instead of beating yourself up about any of this you simply, come back to the breath.

At first glance that might seem like a useless approach. Someone more “austere” might say “Well what kind of mental discipline is that?” The point is, it’s not about “discipline.” It’s not about self-flagellation, beating yourself up, getting rid of anything, or trying to be perfect. It’s about being human, and it’s about compassion. Being gentle with yourself. It’s about accepting and loving who you are. Even with all the noise in the brain, you can chuckle at your foibles and still say I’m a good person. I’m full of love, even when I’m distracted.

So why bother learning to treat yourself with compassion in your meditation practice? Because it is the way you train yourself to be compassionate with yourself in life. Instead of expecting yourself to be perfect at jobs, parenting, being a spouse, friend, being a human being, you simply note ‘I did my best. Yup, messed that one up, it happens.’ You pick up the pieces. You make amends. You come back to whatever it was you were trying to do and start over. You “come back to it” again and again and again, with no hope of perfection, simply the willingness to “show up and try again.” So if you can accept with compassion, an imperfect meditation practice and come back to the breath, you can learn to do the same for yourself in life.

Is there a benefit to treating yourself with compassion in life?

Yes. Aside from giving yourself some inner peace and acceptance, it is the only way you can exercise that “heart muscle” and learn to give that same gift to others. If you are so hung up on perfection in yourself, will you learn to cut somebody else any slack? Will you even notice anybody is there struggling, too, if you’re so wrapped up in your own struggle to be perfect? And if you can’t accept yourself as less than perfect, will you be able to accept anybody else’s mis-steps? Come back to the breath. Come back to life. Settle yourself, with compassion.

I often noticed how babies settle down when you give them a pacifier. It’s like they need that to stop whatever is winding up in them, settle down, and come back to calm. I’ve joked that maybe adults need them, too. Something that makes you shut your mouth, take a break from the world, focus on something small, and return to calm.

Given that they don’t have adult pacifiers, perhaps coming back to the breath is the next best thing?

PS People often say animals are intuitive and sometimes animals have more compassion than people. If you think the benefits of coming back to the breath and being peaceful, are limited to humans, check out the CNN article:

Zen (dog) Master: A New Take on Prayer Position

This article has two other lessons about life:

1) Sense of humor – Even in religion, a smile is the most important thing for compassion and inner peace.

2) Beginner’s Mind – Keep an open mind to new possibilities. You might write off the dog’s practice, but how do you know that on some level, he isn’t “feeling” the warmth of the compassion in the practice?

Hello, and Why mosaic?

January 13, 2008

I’ve been sicker the last 2 days than I have been in years…couldn’t even get out of bed to get breakfast, much less get going on this blog. I had wanted to work on picking out a mosaic design for the header from the photographs I shot at the North Carolina Museum of Art. They have a Roman floor mosaic there. Aching, coughing and wishing someone would just take me out back and shoot me to put me out of my upper respiratory misery, I came down to the study tonight, just to do a quick check on the world. Instead of the CNN banner page that day-by-day becomes more like the front page of the National Enquirer, I see my laptop open to the front page of my blog. There, in beautiful living color, was the header, floor mosaic installed, blog title nicely spanning the glass and stone chips some Roman installed 2000 years ago. My husband had gone ahead and set it up for me, even though he was sick.

Some men buy diamonds and that’s fine. But for me I’ll take a geek dude any day of the week, one whose form of loving me is to bring me soup in bed, then come down the hall and finish setting up the blog page. )

For the very technical types out there who may be mystified as to why I HAD to have the header set up first before I could write…I am not a computer person, I am a writer. I am mostly emotion, some logic. I go first by gut and sensory feel, then by analysis. I told him I was struggling to feel “warm and snuggly” willing to open my soul online, unless I felt like I was “home”….in a “nest.” My blog, with its ancient Roman mosaic banner, feels safe and comfortable. Like putting out the vase of flowers on the doily on the end table holding the pot of tea while the fireplace burns. NOW I can write.

I will explain more later about the purpose of this blog, and how I envision this project to go. For now, given how I feel, I will just talk about “soul mosaic.” The Romans took refuse – small bits and pieces of broken stone and glass that at first glance were nothing but trash – and instead arranged them into beautiful mosaics. Those rejected pieces, when arranged by someone who could see “their soul” became a unified whole that was a work of beauty.

I know the feeling. For most of my life I have felt like an odd collection of unrelated stone and broken bits. Many of those bits I never valued. Some I hated. Most I flat out ignored or tried to run from. It is only now in my 50s I realize that all those pieces of me, really do make a beautiful picture. When assembled with the right eye, the soul of the mosaic…my mosaic, can show through.

I decided to share this with others. I imagine I am not the only one out there who has ever questioned their life, their purpose, whether they accomplished anything, whether they are worth anything. I imagine I am not alone in wondering what value all the “broken bits” have. Maybe it is my gift to someone out there, to let them know, the broken bits really do make a work of art.

Time for tea, and a huge thank you to my husband. Good night.