to Out on a Limb,
a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine
is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in
Discernment: Befriend that Observer
I had a lively and lovely interchange with a dear friend after he received the January Out on a Limb on the topic of discrimination. He asked, “Is discernment discrimination in a healthier guise?” He suggested “there is a good side to discrimination that is about self care and self preservation.” I could not agree more. In fact, I told him that discernment is one of my all-time favorite words. My built-in computer dictionary defines discernment as the ability to judge well. Good judgment, common sense, wise decision-making: all qualities that are both appealing and useful.
Thanks to delightful synchronicity a few days after I exchanged emails with my friend, I heard an excellent talk about the roles played by the limbic and prefrontal cortex parts of the brain. This presentation helped me distill a lot I had heard before about brain functions down to a fairly simple distinction: our limbic brain (often referred to as old or reptilian brain) reacts. I think of it as the knee-jerk part of us. And to be fair, I suppose a knee-jerk response to some situations is in the interest of self care and self preservation at times. Our pre-frontal cortex, which I like to refer to as my Inner Observer, is more likely to take time before reacting, and tends to be more measured, rather than impulsive, in the realm of decision-making. As I listened to the knowledgeable presenter, it dawned on me that our pre-frontal cortex, an ever-evolving part of the brain, is the seat of discernment.
I took some time to review thorny situations in which I failed to pay attention to what that Inner Observer was telling me. Sure enough, the limbic response might have yielded some self preservation, but at a cost. What it cost me was a big dose of joy. I do not want to give the limbic part of the brain a bad rap but still, I hope all of humanity can continue to cultivate and listen to their Inner Observer. Perhaps if the knee-jerk and observer parts collaborate better, the byproduct will be improved discernment and bigger buckets of joy.
February 2016 Prompts for Joy - 1
If you do not have four minutes, and forty-five seconds to watch this video, so sorry! You will miss some beautiful scenery, and a stirring invitation to “live unbound.” I hope you can take 20 seconds and start watching at the 4:00 minute mark. May the young man’s urging that we “respect the dash” inspire the heck outta you.
(Thanks for the link, Roberta Gelt!)
February 2016 Prompts for Joy - 2
I am a little late for this month’s Valentine’s message but it is never too late to reflect on the agony and ecstasy of love. Travel to Batumi, Georgia to view a mesmerizing, moving sculpture that “performs” every evening at 7pm. The accompanying music plays a very seductive,
(Thanks much, Kim Scala.)
All previous Prompts for Joy (PFJs) can be found at my website, unless the video url is no longer functional.
On a day when my husband won the No-Belt Prize, I left it out on the floor by the front door so he could swing by the house and pick it up quickly.
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·