I saw the slogan “I’m Not Weird…I’m a Limited Edition” on a tote bag carried by someone at 1440 Multiversity when I taught there last weekend.
I loved the chutzpah of claiming/celebrating one’s own divergence from the culture, part of the vision and practice of celebrating difference and diversity at 1440 Multiversity itself. (Small analogous examples: the meals included turkey-blueberry sausage, fried egg with onion jam, and salad with cilantro flowers, every bite a surprise and delight.)
I also want to honor the flip side – celebrating the differences and diversity we perceive in others, part the vision and practice necessary in our culture increasingly fracturing into divisiveness and us v. them.
Because I teach rewiring the brain’s automatic habits of response (including to difference and fear of difference), and because the brain learns best “little and often” small practices repeated many times, I’m suggesting the practice below to train the brain to perceive difference, diversity, even weirdness as an opportunity to stretch, grow, expand the horizons of our world and the embracing of our entire human family.
Rewiring the Brain for Tolerance of Differences, Diversity, even Weirdness
1. Begin to look for something new, something you’ve never seen before or paid attention to before, something different from what you’re accustomed to as you move through your day. (Curiosity and interest like this promotes memory and longevity; good outcomes.)
2. Examples: someone’s outlandish hair style or hair color (I live in the San Francisco Bay, this one’s not too difficult), someone’s accent or style of speaking, someone’s preferred music that you’ve never heard before, someone’s opinion in a political discussion you think is not only weird but downright wrong, these get more challenging – someone’s style of parenting you think is off base or even harmful.
3. Practice noticing, breathing through any reactivity, staying interested, becoming allowing and accepting, bonus points for perceiving any merit in the difference, even willingness to consider there might be merit in the difference.
4. Notice one item/thought/experience a day for 30 days. Nothing magic in neuroscience about once a day for 30 days; it just makes remembering to practice the exercise easier. You can note down your noticings in a journal. (Most likely your own perceptions of what’s different or weird will evolve over time with this practice – you become more tolerant, more open-minded.)
5. Notice at the end of 30 days whether you perceive a shift in how your brain perceives and processes new, different, weird experiences. You’re not only cultivating becoming more open-minded and tolerant in your judgements; you’re cultivating more flexibility in your brain functioning, essential for strengthening your resilience.
1440 Multiversity opened end of May 2017, offering a diversity of “immersion workshops for integrated living.” The 1440 stands for the 1440 minutes in every day, each one “an opportunity to be fully alive and connected, within ourselves and with everyone and everything around us.” Very high-caliber teachers offer experiential workshops in mindfulness, applied neuroscience, authentic leadership, integrated medicine, social-emotional intelligence, contemplative studies, and the creative and healing arts.
I’ll teach again at 1440 Multiversity January 12-15, 2018 for a large Mind-Body Education conference. In the meantime, you can check out Summer 2017 online catalog or the 2017-2018 digital catalog. Not everything is weird, but definitely a limited edition.