From Off the Beaten Path to Off the Grid entirely.

Niagra Falls seen from Niagra Falls, Ontario

 When it rains it pours -when it pours and pours some more run for cover… 

Nay, I’ve not walked in the shadow of death, but I certainly have been out of my normal groove, so to speak, for quite some time measured in blog moments.

Many of you may recall that wife and I sold or donated 95% of our worldly goods, (including our home in Florida) and ventured back to our roots in New England; New Hamshire for my wife and Massachusetts for me. That move was the first step on our Great Ireland Escape Plan, which in its simplest form was, Step (1) celebrate my dual citizenship/Irish passport status by spending up to a year in Ireland and general EU travel; (2) since this was a rather complicated fete, we would visit family members before leaving and find an apartment in MA, iron out step two and step (3) depart for Ireland mid to late summer, 2018.

Now any fool who is either over the age of 50 or so, and knows anything about arthritis, knows that cool or cold wet weather, such as found in coastal MA and Ireland as well, can be severe and even incapacitating to one who is inflicted with arthritis. I happen to be one of those specialized fools. I inherited a large dose of arthritis from my good old Irish Grandad’s genes – my Father had problems with his knees and all his children were likewise blessed. My older brother has had double knee replacement as has my older sister, who also has both hip joints replaced. I also had 2 knees and 1 hip replacement. Thus it did come to pass that I was feeling the pain and stiffness in my right hip that told me there was no turning back and that a shiny new Hip Joint was in my future. There was much pondering and xray taking and profit/loss calculation going on and this became an unexpected Step (3) in the grand plan. 

Question: given what I know about hip pain and the climate in Ireland (we were there in September of 2005,) should I bite the bullet and go anyway, or postpone the trip and  bite the other bullet of surgery and recovery and go in 2019, being better equipped in body if not mind. 

Summer 2018 has come and gone and my new hip joint was placed on October 10th. I really, really do not like hospital life. My surgeon  said he could likley get the work done and have me back home in 2 to 3 days. He was right. Having had a number of surgical safaris in my life I was overly optimistic about my recovery time. After my previous hip replacement I was ready to go back to work after 6 weeks instead of the usual 8 weeks. This time would be no different, said I. Unfortunately I had not accounted for the fact that the last replacement was a good 10 years ago and I have moved from being classified as a septuagenarian to official octogenerian rank of 81 and counting. Being 80 was a year of living in denial so it does not count as a real year.  Recover time is still ticking away, although I’m about 90% of what I fancy I should be.

So here it is 12/18 and the launch date is now more likely to be sometime in March or April. This post has been my way of letting you know that I’ve had good reason for my delayed action and for sliding into an unprecedented period of rest, recuperation, and downright frustrating lack of mental creativity or initiative; off the grid mentally for sure. By the end of December I will have been 8 years into retirement and am quite used to long periods of relative inactivity. But have to say that this recovery from surgery has provoked as sense of “there is always tomorrow, so why not put off what ridiculous activity you should be doing today” and this has become my over-riding mantra for far too long.

 {This unproductive mood has carried over from a prevous time – Aug 20 of this year, a time I tried to assess what was going on in me and around me. To give some idea of this I’ll simply refer back to an August posting; please click yonder link:

I’ll stop trying to give you my Apolgia Pro Vita Mea and move on to more useful ideas.


The Rush of Life incessantly moving forward carries

its accumulated infinite droplets

Waves that never were

to an end                                                                                  

 not of their choosing but rather assigned

by their finite existence

crushing their tangible form into mist, cloud, rain, river,

or..  a simple h, and o,

yet awaiting Life’s Energetic Embrace

yielding a new finite union of infinite possibilities.

For those who prefer fact to fiction, the falls are a result of 10,000 years of erosion of land by outflow from Lake Eire and in 50,000 more years of erosion 20 miles back to Lake Erie, the falls will cease to exist.  

Much more info available on internet or simply use


Water is indeed life.  Its no wonder we are fascinated with water views, lakes, streams, bays, oceans, always capturing our eyes and imagination.

I choose to leave today’s post with these few words and scenes. Hope you enjoyed the thoughts and spread good ideas to others about the need to protect and preserve water resources world-wide.   

Peace, love and holiday whishes to all, 


Mountain run-off somewhere in Connemara

Feeling the Essence of Senesence

Home bound.

The aging out of the life process, a process akin to the dark matter of maturity, sneaks up on us all.

“Hope you feel better” she said as I left – a clerk of sorts, a stranger, surprised me with the parting assessment as I had not said anything about not feeling well and didn’t know I looked as though I were not well. Hey, said I to me (soto voce), either you look terrible or this observer sees a lot more than you thought you normally let escape. I offered a mixed-feeling thank you. “I hope so too.”

We were in the middle of several weeks of summer dog-days. What could be better……cool breezes are absent, humidity never falls, in-home AC is nonexistent, days and weeks on end, sleep is sweaty, appetite is trashed, willingness to move and do anything is a persistent unaddressed thought, thirst only makes images of  ice-cold adult drinks unappealing and is overridden by a need for just plain water, clothing of any kind is a burden to be shed, MD appointments are copious and far outnumber the people in my current abode forced by time and circumstance to share amongst ourselves age appropriate failings physical exams evaluations therapies and blood-letting while fasting so as to improve one’s utterly compromised body systems, trips to pharmacies endless debates re eat this and stop eating that or you’ll shorten your life-span, reminiscing for entertainment since the present makes no sense and the future is bleakly un-inviting, tempers in need of quashing, altruism all muddied and soggy from lack of meaningful application, artistic muses have long since withered and disappeared in the mist finding it hard to be cheerful and smile when greeted with “Hi, how are you and Happy Birthday by the way,” while all the time I’m aware that no matter how I try to spin it the present is evidence that the best is hardly yet to come and the past is irreconcilable with previous dreams of the future and feelings of the end being in sight carry a dreadful undercurrent of unpleasant double entendre.

Fear not.

Don’t sound the alarm too soon – I believe I am as sound of mind as ever if clearly not of body but perception comes easier than acceptance and once this personal environmental fever breaks and I spring anew I’ll be glad to return a hearty “Hi”, share a fine cold brew and dive back into that refreshing pool of denial if only briefly bouyied-up by our self-sustaining shared hallucinations..of Living the Dream.


….I’m all right Jack, (or Jill) and thanks for asking.

More Uncle Bart: Bart’s War

Another of  Ray J. Harding’s contribution to Pepperell/Groton MA seldom reported cultural history. This only came to my attention earlier this year, long after he had written it and long after we figured we had all the extant writings in hand and consigned to digital format. Perhaps there will be others. Always a welcome find and a fond memory. Yesterday, Ray would have celebrated his 90th birthday, with grand panache, I’m sure!


Bart’s War 

By Ray J Harding

No, my Uncle Bart did not get his fire engine for Christmas.  It’s still sitting on Rt. 113, waiting for a buyer.  In fact, Bart didn’t even show up for his usual Christmas Eve libation at my place.  I hadn’t seen him since the cold snap started, and I was becoming a little worried.  I came home from ice fishing on Heald Pond a few nights ago, and my wife, Pat, was waiting for me.  “The nursing home called.  They want you to come right over.”

“Uncle Bart?”  I asked.

“No, President Bush is there and he wants to ask your advice on Panama!  Of course, it’s Uncle Bart!”

All I wanted was a hot fire and a hot toddy, but my wife’s look told me it was time to brave the cold and see what Bart was up to this time.

When I got to the nursing home, I was ushered right into the office of the supervisor.  She looked up at me from behind her desk, shook her head, and snapped, “Follow me.”

I obeyed without question and followed her down the hall and then down a flight of stairs into the cellar.  There, behind an old ping pong table, Bart stood like General Patton:  feet apart, his hands clutched behind his back, his WWII helmet on his head.  He was dressed in a pair of ill-fitting combat fatigues, camouflage style, and on the ping pong table were hundreds of toy soldiers, arranged in various clumps of attacking squads, marching silently over a map of the area’s towns, spread out on the table top.  The nurse made a silent gesture – – the old circle with old Bart finally slipped his mooring?  I wondered.

“What’s all this Bart?”  I asked.

“Strategy, sonny, strategy.”

“For what?”  I asked.

“For a pre-empty strike on Groton, of course!  What else would it be?”

“Don’t tell me you’re still mad at Groton because they got a Tear up Your Roads grant and we didn’t?  That’s pretty silly, Bart.”

He looked up at me from across the table, and I could see the steely glint of righteous anger flash from those cold, grey eyes of his.  “There’s nothing silly about their sending tax bills to our citizens,” he said.  “First, they play games with the boundary lines, and now they’re claiming jurisdiction.  That’s tandymount to a declaration of war. Old Norumbega tried that, and look what’s happened to him!  Think of it sonny, freedom’s breaking out all over the world – – Freedom; Poland, Hungary, Lunenburg, Transylvania – – the list goes on, and we’re next.”

“And just how are we going to do this?  I mean those soldiers look nice on the table, but who are you going to recruit?”

“Don’t mess with m’ mind, sonny.  I just got off the phone with a very high ranking officer at the Penny gone; a Captain Charmagne, or something like that.  He was very cooperative, let me tell you.  Liked my whole plan; said it smacked of military genius.”

“Bart, he was humoring you.  They use captains at the Pentagon to wait on tables at the officer’s mess.”

“Ha!  That’s what you say.  Anyway, this captain assured me that he’d have the Eighty-Second Airborne at my disposal as soon as they got finished down in Panyma, along with two or three military police battalions.  Now,” he bent over the table and pushed  a few of the toy soldiers, “I think w ought to drop the airborne units right here – -“  He pointed to Gibbet Hill on the map – – “and let them fight their way down through all those stupid black cows right into the center of town.  Take over the radio and TV stations –“

“Bart, Groton doesn’t have a radio or TV station.”

Bart gave me a funny look.  “They don’t?  Then how are they getting away with all this funny stuff they’ve been pulling?   They have to have a TV station!  We can’t have a military takeover unless we take over their TV station!  Just watch TV.  That’s what they all do!  I know what we’ll do, “he said with sudden inspiration.  “We’ll shift our plans.  I’ll land the paratroopers down here at the Groton Airport, and we’ll work our way back through West Groton.”

“Bart,” I explained, as the nurse sighed in disgust and headed for the stairs, “the Groton Airport is a housing development now.  Has been for several years.”

“You sure?”  He asked.  I nodded.  The poor old guy slumped down in a chair, pulled out a cigar and lighted it – he looked more and more like General Patton.  Then, he upended one of his toy tanks for an ashtray, gave a big sigh, and said, “Well, I guess that’s the end of the invasion.  Too bad.  Would have been a bloodless coo!”

“Look Bart,” I said, trying to soothe him, “why don’t you quit all these wild schemes of yours and let the Selectmen figure out a way to deal with these problems?”

He glared up at me, shook his head, sighed again and said, “Forget it sonny, those guys can’t even figure out proposition two-and-a-half.  How are they gonna plan an invasion?”

I gave up.

Lookin for bettah weatha and wicked warm Change.

Back again sez I, somewhat worse for wear but still upright and breathing. Nothing physical you see, but definitely mental; a slipping and sliding of sorts as the trails I had become accustomed to began to crumble, bounce and give way to a quicksand kind of walking.
Been dang near a year since I wrote anything other than my signature on documents that kept me a legal resident in this fine, historic New England state of my birth. Change and perspective; same old sights in new surroundings, the challenge of supplying my own “r” sounds that are almost extinct in local dialects, searching for old friends in the local newspapers’ obit sections and constantly reminding myself that at last count, about 40% of my school mates have already migrated out of this “mortal coil” of existence.
“Pinch yourself, Richard. If you’re looking for fame and glory you’d better hurry!”
One of my last posts made reference to procrastination, that curse/blessing of all who like to weigh alternatives…ad infinitum…and now I have to put my keyboard back to work and give one more addition to my wandering blog. The good thing is that by now I have accumulated a significant number of topics that will justify the energy output needed to go from brain to blog-worthy expression. All I can do is get it into print and let readers decide if its worth their time. (And, by the way, I have no interest what-so-ever in fame and/or glory. I just want to get as much satisfaction out of the outrageously expensive lap-top that I bought out of temporary lack of better judgement.)

First the headlines. Unfortunately, I don’t have it in me to vent the feelings I have with the l language I consider appropriate to the situation in Washington. I will limit my comments instead to the hope that my fellow citizens and elected leaders come to their senses and put an end to the vile, cancerous greed that is consuming our political process before the country and those former friends of ours around the world collapse along with us in some disastrous chain of events.
– Another school shooting….Will we ever learn?? How can we love our guns more than the wellbeing of our children. It boggles the mind. Don’t talk this problem to death.. DO something.

OK, now I can go back into my safe schizo-brain and into the warm, steadfast illusions that I know and love.

I’ll not try to recap my entire path-walking experience from last May until now. Since November of 2016 I had felt as though I had walked full speed, head first into a solid rock wall and survived but was stunned for days and weeks by what happened in our glorious Presidential election. A good knock on the head sometimes leads to clarity of mind. Zen Masters have been whopping unsuspecting meditating monks across the back for centuries in order to force them out of “conventional mindset thinking”.

In my case, the stupendous rock wall encounter was an enlightenment of sorts, but at the same time it was for me a great puzzlement – a Koan, that I have yet to solve. I found myself perched on the edge of a high and precipitous ledge, from which only peaks of disaster and moral collapse could be seen, while the peace of the struggling, mortally busy family was being engulfed in confusion, anger and distrust of the future.
There is no concussion protocol for survivors of political stupidity and it has taken some time to get my self up and running in this new reality. Can I call it that? It changes every day. So I will push on, blogging my own reality, sharing my perceptions of daily life.

Enough already from those who would suggest an Alt reality that is not at all to my liking.
So. Welcome to my new world. BTW, have you noticed that ‘so” is the new transition word in play among interviewees. Even when there is no need for a transition word at all. Everybody’s doin’ it so be prepared for ubiquitous and useless So words everywhere.

This being the end of February my thoughts are already moving toward Spring, questioning when will that finally appear. After 32 years in Florida I’m not as keenly tuned-in to the certain signs of change as I used to be. Even the purchase of a 2018 edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac hasn’t helped much. Used to be that by early February we could anticipate the beginning of thaw weather with warm, above freezing days and cold, below freezing nights that would send folks hastening out to the nearest batch of Maple trees with a hammer or drill and lots of metal taps or spigots, usually steel or aluminum, with a notch to hold a bucket handle and a stack of buckets to hang like cold ornaments on living trees and collect the watery sap.
Back in my New Hampshire days I was introduced to the whole maple syrup process, from tapping to boiling the sap, as a volunteer sapper, I guess you could call it. I was neither farmer nor ranch hand. Just a tenderfoot college age student who happened to live a mile down the road from a tried and true New Hampshire native, Charlie [as in Chahly] Bacon, a good natured soul who let us non-New Hampshire novices go out with his equipment and tap as many trees as was necessary to split the product with him and our brother students.
Cold as it was at times we relished dragging ourselves around in sometimes knee-deep snow, or slippery mud, collecting sap and lugging it to the huge vat behind the sugar-house. It would be stored there and gravity fed into the split level boiling pans inside the shack where Chahly would seriously tend the wood fires and monitor the thickness of the sap with a hydrometer, tripping the gate at the lower end when a batch was ready to boil down thicker, then refilling the pan from the outside vat and set the next batch into its first stage boil.
There is nothing in the world that quite resembles the smell of a winter wood fire and evaporating maple sap as it migrates into just the right thickness to be declared Grade A syrup. Sort of like raising a family, as it requires constant tending to prevent over or under heating, patient stirring and measuring to not allow things to move on too soon or wait too long for maturity. All the while there are many contributing factors that have to be planned for to keep the process efficient, productive, and rewarding while the whole outcome is dependent on vagaries of weather conditions, willing human participants, and lots of love that coaxes the sweetness out of otherwise rather unsavory drips that leak out of apparently dense wood.
Having had the privilege of contributing to this very rewarding process for several winters, I have retained a love of pure maple syrup for pancakes and cannot understand how folks can tolerate maple flavored cane sugar imitations. And for heaven’s sake don’t pour cold syrup of any kind on hot pancakes. You probably have tasteless children too.

Charlie also advised us on the very simple process of homemade Apple Jack, which, of course, we were not at liberty to sample back at the old campus.
Another adventure in patience with an end product like no other, when it done right.

He also told us about an unfortunate neighbor, who in the heat of competition with New Hampshire masters of the Sugerin’ art, sent a sample of his own syrup to the NH Dept. of Agriculture to be evaluated for grade A sweetness as he wanted his produce to carry the best label possible.

The poor fellow grew more and more anxious as he awaited the reply from the State. Finally, weeks later than it should have arrived, the news came in the mail.

Dear ***** We apologize for the delay but we wanted to be absolutely sure.
It is truly unfortunate, but your horse does, in fact, have diabetes.

+++ See ya latah,

BE Peace.  BE Compassion.





Distorted thinking: or how we become our own worst enemies.

Since I have found so little to claim as original thought lately, accounting for my blog-silence over past several months, I’m forwarding this to my faithful followers as a way to examen personal thought patterns. No, you don’t have to be an active or even interested Buddhist to benefit from this approach to self-appraisal. But if self-appraisal is not a regular occasion of thoughtful concern, these words might just help initiate a new way of thinking for you.

You can also find some practical (I think) applications of the subject in my recent post, Revising One’s Viewpoint: or What Have I learned Lately While Walking My Crooked Path dealing with the more or less permanent stress reduction procedures that stem from rational-behavioral therapy issues.

For the full text of the  “Distortions of the Mind” text from Buddhism Now, please click the link cited below.

Peace Love and Patience




Sensing no change in the changing, Sensing pleasure in suffering, Assuming “self” where there’s no self…

via Vipallasa Sutta: Distortions of the Mind — Buddhism now

The Weather Out Side is Frightful, But Procrastination is so Delightful…

Now that December has arrived I definitely feel justified in continuing my minimalist imitation of creativity and will issue a part 2 of my suggestions for dealing with the never ending struggles of everyday living. Happy Holidays…Bells and Lights, Carols and Big Red Bows, tis the Season to be jolly, etc. Yadda, Yadda.

Hold that urge to push that ESC  button or the OFF switch, I’m not going to diss the holiday spirit thing. But, especially this year, the spirit needs a substantial tweak – not more tweets. But since my personal treatise on how to reduce one’s counter-productive stress level, Part II, complete with relaxation tips and basic meditation exercises take up so much room on the blog and so great a demand on your time and energy, I’ll save the finer points of my home-made Life-philos-marmalade all purpose stuffing for my next blog offering. A kind of post-holiday treat to soberly introduce a 2018 version of a life sentence of “Illusion, with no possibility of Disillusion”.

Please accept my invitation to peruse the following treatise on reducing stress and accompanying anger/frustration issues while at the same time finding ways to enrich your over-all appreciation of life’s positive moments. There are many challenges in trying to re-frame our personal interpretations of what life hands us, but it can be enlightening and rewarding to understand how much we contribute to our own emotional distress at times. We are not 100% victims of circumstances.

(“Permanent Stress Reduction” is a personal, unpublished strategy devised by this writer for use in mental health settings when I was an active psychotherapist. The information herein is in keeping with behavioral therapy principles but the illustrations and conclusions are strictly those of the author. Persons experiencing severe, clinical symptoms of stress, anxiety or anger, should seek professional assessment regarding possible treatment.)


Happy Days all come at a price. Here’s hoping you find something in Permanent Stress Reduction, and the Meditation series withing, that adds something positive to your everyday experiences.

Peace, Joy and Love,



(II)    Learning to Cope.

          How we react to Emotional  Stimuli.     

Emotional Reactions occur when a situation or remark evokes a feeling within you and prompts you to react in a way that may not be positive. These types of reactions typically occur when the situation or remark reminds you of previous, similar, events in your life or when your belief about a subject is challenged. When you experience an emotional reaction to a situation you may not be understanding it objectively. Sometimes you might say or do things you wish you hadn’t. “Shoot first, ask questions later” is not always the best response.

Have you ever experience a situation where you really could not tell if a person was laughing or crying; frightened or excited, sad or just lost in deep thought? How many different ways could we react to them and how many responses might convey a very wrong message?

What makes emotional reactions different is often only the mental labels we put on the stressors. My interpretation of a perceived threat for example or my reading of a person’s facial expression or tone of voice might not be accurate at all. If I put the wrong label on a situation I may get a completely wrong emotional response. This labeling process is referred to as self-talk or what my perception is telling me about this situation. Self-talk is the habit of interpretation I have developed over a lifetime. It is a shortcut I use to evaluate the many thoughts, persons, and events, the phenomena, that I encounter every waking moment. Self-talk messages are often automatic judgments and, as such, often ignore the facts, and lead us to inaccurate conclusions.

This lightning fast, automatic judgment process can get us into trouble if we constantly make snap, erroneous, decisions and there are many situations in which I cannot afford to say or do the wrong thing.

Is it possible to change my responses to achieve better outcomes? 

Not only is it possible, it is essential, if the responses are producing stress and disrupting your life on a regular basis. Change can be achieved by practicing the techniques in our Permanent Stress Reduction program.

Coping Skills and  the ThinkingBody;   How the whole body thinks.

Positive coping skills result from understanding the above emotional reaction process in order to minimize negative emotional consequences. The ThinkingBody concept is about taking ownership of and mastering the way your mind/body processes information in order to control your emotional reactions. When a person thinks or feels it is a whole body event.

Eliminating the idea that there is a great separation between mind and body gives us a new way of interpreting our beliefs. Obviously, the brain is connected to our hearts, stomachs, lungs, reproductive organs, etc. Our culture constantly sings to us of body and soul as if we are two different things, somehow thrown together, different from and often regarded as, superior to all other creatures in the universe.

Once we more directly connect our physical reactions to our thinking process (and vice-versa), we will have a new tool to manage perceptions and avoid becoming victims of negative emotional reactions. Being able to manage emotional reactions allows one to experience positive feelings and make better choices when confronted with stressful situations.

At this point in the program we take time to focus on some “body issues” as they relate to creating a calm, collected, “even-tempered” personal environment, necessity for bringing about a change in our emotional responses.

Please note: we realize that not all outbursts of excessive emotion are problematic or unwelcome. Everyone is different in how the display their emotions and that makes for an exciting world to live in, to say the least.

But we all know that a person under stress can often have exaggerated responses and the more intense their emotions, the more likely their behavior will result in negative consequences. For these folks and for these situations, a cool, reasonable response will be far more productive. Escalating our with negative behaviors will only increase an already stressful situation.  None of us can afford to let our reactions get out of control. Therefore, the more we understand about the process and learn to manage it evenly, over time, the better off we will be. The oft’ heard plea. “I just lost it”, makes a lousy defense, in or out of a court of law.

These topics are explored as well in Segment 4 , “Rational Response to Anger.”  

(III)  Working with the ThinkingBody.

 Techniques of Deep/Diaphragmatic Breathing

  and Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Relaxation is of great importance in our program. We offer here a brief description of methods used to practice deep breathing and bring about total body relaxation. Humans cannot be majorly agitated and relaxed at the same time. We want to reduce our stress responses, not make them worse.

Most of us breathe using what is called shallow or chest breathing. This of course is fine as it keeps us upright and alive. But we are all familiar with the advice given when we face a tense situation, “take a deep breath” or “count to 10”. Deep breathing is a key element to relaxation and since this program is aiming at a lifestyle change, we advocate mastery of the deep breathing technique.

The process is outlined here and is sufficient for getting started in induced relaxation as a counter-measure to stress, as well as in meditation.  A separate Segment (3), Mastering Relaxation, will give greater detail.

Deep Breathing

  1. Begin by sitting upright with shoulders square and lifted up.
  2. Now slowly exhale.
  3. Begin to inhale a new breath: push the stomach out, pulling down on the diaphragm muscle and fill the lungs with air while raising the shoulders to get as much air intake as possible. Do this slowly. Be concentrate on the refreshing air coming in. Count 5 or 10 seconds of inhaling, or more if possible.
  4. At the “top”, or maximum intake of the breath, hold the fresh air in your body for a few seconds, counting the same number of seconds as you have inhaled. This allows adequate exchange of incoming, positive oxygen, with outgoing, negative carbon dioxide in the lungs.
  5. Gently force all the air out of you lungs entirely and begin taking the next breath just as before.

Note: Don’t just blow the air out on the exhale. Control the process by slowly pulling the stomach back in and push up against the diaphragm muscle, trying to push as much carbon dioxide out as possible.

Then return to the stomach-extending, shoulder-raising inhale and holding of the breath.

That’s all there is to it. It may feel a little strange at first but this technique is immensely helpful in the relaxation process. You might even feel a little light-headed at in the beginning. Practice this breathing technique often, as the goal is to make it an unconscious good habit – your normal way of breathing, that will enable more control over what is going on with your emotional response at any given time. 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

A second technique for stress reduction is progressive muscle relaxation.

  1. Start by focusing on either your head and neck area or your feet and ankles.
  2. Consciously put your awareness on a muscle group in the selected area.
  3. Mentally see the muscles and flex them, squeezing them tight, holding that tension for 4 or 5 seconds, then letting them relax completely. Enjoy the relaxed feeling.
  4. Repeat the tensing, holding and relaxing sequence over again, moving to the shoulders, chest, arms, stomach area, pelvic area, quads, ankles/feet.

Immediately reverse the order and go back through all the muscle groups. Repeat as needed until a euphoric relaxation is felt or the sense of tightness has left the body and neutralized your stressful reaction.Practice both techniques regularly so they become second nature to you.

A calm, cool and collected person will be in control of any stress situation

Incorporating Meditation into the process.

 A way to sustain calm, cool and collected, clear perceptions over a lifetime of dealing with stress is to practice frequent or daily meditation. We use meditation in this presentation as a fundamental aide to reducing stress effects in our lives.

Using the body relaxation techniques above, this would be a good time to try a change of behavior exercise using  a meditation to give us some new ideas about how we can approach stress differently. Take a few minutes to relax, study and practice this Introductory Meditation information and examples below.

Read each line slowly. During the Meditation Points, pause often to think about what is being said. Take all the time you need. These probably are not your everyday thoughts.

(1) “What is Meditation” Click the link below, enlarge to screen if needed, then arrow through the presentation at your own pace. If slides do not appear, copy the link below and paste it into you browser,




Revising One’s Viewpoint: or What Have I learned Lately While Walking My Crooked Path

No, I did not lose my way nor fall among robbers or evil-doers who seem to be jumping out from behind every tree or rock lately, threatening my emotional stability at every turn.

No, its more simple than overt assault. After 32 years of life and its many changes in the sunny State of Florida, we agreed that it was time to shake off the dust of old age before it turned to mold and get back to our New England roots, at least until we start to see moss creeping up between our toes.

We migrated to Florida with two daughters, ages 10 and 8, in hopes of forging a better life. One that offered snow and ice only in movie theaters or malfunctioning home appliances. That much was a success. For the rest we have few complaints, except that lately the heat of summer seems to be forcing itself ever closer to January on the front end and running through November on the back end. I welcome a good sauna as much as the next guy but enough is enough. We had options.

I’ll save the wild and wacky details of how we divested ourselves of 99.8 % of our belongings and encumbered history, sold a 7 year old condo after many an hour of uncertainty, stuffed the rest of our worldly belongings into 2 vehicles, said many sad good-byes amid pledges of keeping in touch and never forgetting, and set out, a caravan of 2, on a 1500+ mile drive to Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Our plan was direct and uncluttered. We would find a small apartment to rent for at least a year, while we acclimated to northern climate once again. We threw ourselves into pacing our lives to better match our families’ ways, many of whom had never lived anywhere but here, “up North”. But even at that, we began planing another venture in the not too distant future, perhaps to Ireland and then to the EU countries, God willing and nuclear suicide does not befall us all.

Obviously there are many tales to tell of our journey and current status and future plans but it will be six months on November 22 that we set foot here and longer than that since I’ve posted anything on my blog. I cannot explain my drought of creativity and lack of energy to publish on WordPress. But doing only comes from doing so I will simply unearth some previously posted items and pray that by doing so my willingness to share further personal thoughts will spring loose.

Back when I worked for a living in the broad field of mental health,  a great deal of my time was spent teaching people find ways to deal with those nasty things that creep into our awareness from time to time, such as moods of depression, anxiety and anger, that can be temporary nuisances or complete disruptions of our ordinary functional states of mind.

I put together what I thought would be a workable presentation of basic ideas that pertained to relieving the effects and, hopefully, some of the causal factors that produce anxious, depressed and angry reactions in daily living.The presentation outlines the progression of some emotional states within us and offers ways in which we can counteract and interrupt that progression. By doing so, we can reduce or eliminate the emotional consequences that follow our interpretations of the life events that we perceive to be disruptive or fear producing happenings.
The program includes concrete steps that anyone can take to personally control the emotional results that we feel when we become angry, depressed or overly anxious about situations that we face almost daily.
There are suggestions regarding methods of re-formulating our interpretations of life-events as well as specific relaxation techniques and meditative practices for those who never leaned to meditate.
The theory is that in order to change how we respond to stimuli that contribute to anger, anxiety or depression, we need to develop personally rewarding habits that will build new and better ways to be positive, fulfilled individuals. Meditative practice helps to build those habits and make them into automatic responses that bring us confidence in challenging situations and with that, peace of mind with lasting effects on our emotional life.
Sometimes a change in viewpoint brings a change in Understanding.
The following is the first portion of the program and is devoted to dealing with stress and anxiety. I hope you find it helpful. I will continue to add the other segments of the program over the next month or two.
It seems that the burdens of stress, anger and depression are not going to get any easier in the days ahead. Better to have some methods of release and descalating than to wait for time and circumstances to vastly improve.

The entire program is available on this blog site under the category of “Harding Family Literary Works; Richard D.;”Permanent Stress Reduction” that is found on the main menu.
Bon Voyage.

Chambered Nautilus Training Group:

Permanent Stress Reduction Program


Managing Emotional Reactions Rationally



Managing Emotional Response                                          pp. 1-2

What are Emotions                                                              pp. 3-4

Practicing of Coping Skills                                                   pp. 5-6

A Brief Meditation                                                                 pp. 6-7

End of Part 1 Re-release – 11/2017

Personal Challenge #1                                                         pp. 7-10

Personal Challenge #2                                                         pp. 11-15

Personal Challenge #3                                                         pp. 16-19

Personal Challenge #4                                                           pp. 20-25

Personal Challenge #5                                                           pp. 26-33

Conclusion                                                                               p.  34


“The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Attributed to Socrates)


    Permanent Stress Reduction.

The Chambered Nautilus was chosen as our logo because learning Permanent Stress Reduction requires a personal growth process symbolized by the segmented development stages of a chambered nautilus. The chambered nautilus grows through a distinctive process of letting go of previous stages of growth in order to build a new way of interacting with the world. In doing so it becomes increasingly more buoyant and able to move to  more beneficial environments on ocean waves. Sailors called it a “ship of pearl”. 

We begin the presentation by addressing techniques that can be used to deal with  different types of stress. We will explain why dealing with stress is so important, explain how to cope with threatening circumstances which are unavoidable, and teach you how to control your own reactions to stress in your daily life.

We then show you distinct steps you can take toward managing your personal emotional responses. These steps are available in individual Segments of this personal growth program and can be experienced in any order to achieve one’s goals.

MEDITATION is a key component of successful permanent stress reduction and is an essential element that allows you to maintain the results of all segments* over time. Our stress reduction method is designed to provide you with materials explaining how the system works as well as presenting personal challenges to help you achieve a satisfactory level of permanent stress reduction.

* Any of the 5 Segments may be undertaken individually or with a group. Several people generally reinforce one another in any positive learning environment. Either way, each section should be read slowly, with deliberation and by all means, accompanied by a notebook or some device to record important ideas. Remember, you are essentially building a new way to understand yourself.

1.     Learning Managed Emotional Rational Response:

          Avoiding unwanted Emotional Consequences.

Key strategies of managing emotional response consist of Five Basic Steps and Personal Challenges which lead to emotional control and lessening of stress.These basic steps teach us how to restructure habitual thinking and behaviors. In turn, each step consists of:

1). Educating ourselves about the emotional response process in our body and tips on increasing awareness of thinking habits, body mechanics and maximizing experiences of our 5 senses.

 2). A section called Life-Work for each Personal Challenge, enabling you to in-corp-orate the principles discovered in these sections into your daily routines. Life-Work also includes specific meditations in each unit to support the learner’s efforts at expanding their personal and sensual awareness.

  Before beginning the 5 Personal Challenges process, consider who we are as emotional beings and try to develop an awareness of what might be to some folks a new or even different understanding of how we react to daily life experiences.. 

We will learn a thorough method of experiencing managed emotional responses to a wide variety of challenging situations. We will also suggest a number of changes you can make in life style choices to grow in personal wholeness. These changes may appear to be distant to your problems at first but they are essential changes you can make if this program is to bring about a different way of “being yourself”. 

Reading and listening are not difficult; doing and changing are very difficult and success depends entirely on your willingness to examine your beliefs and challenge your habitual thinking.      

Reducing Stress Permanently by Managing Emotional Responses Rationally.

Key Elements of the Emotional Response Process.

I.  Understanding emotional reactions;how we minimize  negative consequences by using positive coping skills

II.  The “ThinkingBody” as a way of processing information;

III.  Performing Deep breathing and Progressive Muscle Relaxation to immediately counter-act stress and anger;

IV. Using meditation to open your thoughts to new possibilities of awareness and response.

 (I)  What are Emotional Reactions?

Emotions are a result of distinct mind/body process. The process is a combination of:

a) Phenomena; that means people, places, things, and ideas that are images presented to my brain and which then become my conscious thoughts. We will refer to these thought complexes presented to us simply as phenomena and we have little or no control over their comings and goings through our mental landscape. If we pick one out or attend to it, we immediately, unconsciously, assign a value to it, good, bad, ugly, pretty, moral, immoral, etc. That value is often shaped by our habitual beliefs.

Thus we begin to accept or reject thought phenomena without detailed reflection or investigation. We are prejudiced by what we already believe to be true or false, good or bad.

Our lack of control over what Phenomena enter our consciousness can only be compensated for by our becoming experts in identifying any harmful habits of Belief, then examining and correcting them, making an effort to live in what becomes our rationally sound, balanced  “Perceived Reality.”

 (b)   Beliefs;

Beliefs are your opinions or convictions about what these phenomena represent, for example; pleasure, pain, threat, retreat, desire etc. There can be a huge difference between what a thing represents, all by itself, (if that is even possible,) and how your Belief is interpreting it to create your conscious perceptions. It is a fact that a number of people witnessing an event (a crime, an accident, for example,) will not see the same event in exactly the same way, often contradicting one another. So much for the value of eyewitness testimony!

It is critical to master the art of questioning your beliefs to avoid jumping to conclusions that may be far from the actual truth.

Beliefs are generally taken for granted and go unchallenged. Once w accept them and they remain with us for a long time, we assume they have value. The problem is that they don’t always carry a lot of truth or accuracy and if we tend to be impulsive in our judgment and reactions,they can get us into uncomfortable situations. They are the usually the source of our strongest prejudices.

Perception. Because of their powerful value in our thought process, these Beliefs actually shape our real life situations, giving us our “Perceived Reality”. Your personal perceptions are the consequences of your beliefs and your interpretations of phenomena. These perceptions, questioned or not, instantly become the basis of your emotional reaction and form what you perceive to be reality. Obviously, not everyone agrees with what you consider to “real”.

Your Perceived Reality determines your habitual behavior within the world of experiences, whether negative or positive, that make-up your daily life and how you react and live emotionally within that perceived, personal reality.

Being able to recognize and grasp this process of P,(phenomena), B,(beliefs)and PR (perceived reality), is the key to dealing with those less than helpful emotional reactions in our lives.

(II)    Learning to Cope …. This next portion of the program will be posted soon. There are many ideas to be mulled over before moving on too soon. Feel free to correspond with me with any questions you may have. If time moves faster than I, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving feast day.