5/22/98, Valley News; Seminar Offers ‘Healthier, Happier Living

Seminar offers ‘Healthier, Happier Living’
By Frank Thomason, The Valley News

EAGLE – How do we go about becoming happier and healthier?

The nonprofit Eagle Literary Foundation is hosting a special major annual event at the Idaho Historical Museum on Saturday, May 30.

A half dozen speakers from Boise and southern Oregon and southern Nevada will explain at the one-day seminar how you can

  • turn anger, loneliness and boredom’s energy into new power for happiness, success and security;
  • learn “conscious living techniques” for understanding human nature and what lies beyond it; and
  • improve relationships at home, at work, everywhere.

“We’ll have different speakers in the morning and in the afternoon” said organizer Mark Butler, who’s been helping arrange seminars since the early 80s.

A $5 donation is requested per meeting, but no one will be turned away for inability to pay.

Butler and his wife, Linda, conduct sessions for the foundation every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Boise’s Log Cabin Literary Center.

“You can live a better life, there’s a lot of problems we don’t even know we have,” he said. “This is a group that can help you find them. Wouldn’t it be wise to go into our problems deeply, to find out what’s there that’s actually stopping us from living better?

“We not only talk about daily living, but trying to make a practical connection between living better and eternal life, what it means to live beyond this life. To me, heaven or hell is not some future thing. We’re either in heaven or hell right now.”

The seminar’s focus will be on “trying to bring everything back to the now, to be more aware of ourselves physically and bring ourselves back to the present,” Butler said. “Think of all those future strains or past pains, that’s a hellish feeling. People say it’s just human nature, but it doesn’t mean we have to live this way.

“We can be one of those rare individuals that find out heaven is a personal experience we can have now. We don’t make any promises and we don’t have any gurus or teachers we’re setting up as idols.

“We’re saying, find out for yourselves how we can live a happier, healthier life now and have some connection personally with something beyond this life. All the books and teachers in the world wouldn’t enable us to understand the taste of peach. Until we taste it for ourselves, why do we think differently about our living better? We need to have the experience for ourselves.”

All that’s needed in a willingness to look at oneself, Butler said, adding an example from past experience at foundation meetings.

“One gentleman had no job for some time and was bored to death,” Butler said. “He came to the meetings and one day was lying in bed with his thoughts swirling, why can’t I get a job?

“All of a sudden he remembered the principles we talked about. He brought himself back to the room and felt a tremendous relaxing experience. All of the negative thoughts and emotions just dropped away.

“The idea isn’t to have this happen just once or twice, but to break the habit of the conditioned self once and for all,” Butler said. “We don’t have any specific exercises like meditation of becoming a vegetarian.

“We’re saying, take your daily life and meditate right now, at work. If you’re a little nervous about being called into the boss’s office, be aware of your body and relax. Over the years I’ve had a lot of people say, I’m aware of where I’m at. But we are so incredible mechanical and conditioned that we don’t realize we are not.

“What we’re trying to do here is to break it, but first there has to be an awareness of pain or being at a dead end, before there’s an incentive to break it. If we’re satisfied with subduing our pain by becoming one of the many ‘holics,’ that is, an alcoholic, workaholic or religionaholic, there’s no interest in finding out about our inner self.

“A lake becomes stagnant unless the water comes in and goes out. I feel that way about myself, I study philosophers’ writings and learn things throughout my working day. If I don’t express that and talk about it, it becomes stagnant. By expressing them, new ideas come in and help me live my life better.

“We practice breaking the nagging thought that takes over and won’t let us sleep,” he said. “Or an exercise, take a week and watch for painful emotions like anger. Catch and break, catch a though and break it, drop it. Exercises are repeated over and over again.

“The whole purpose is to live more happily and more healthfully.”


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