One of the wonderful things about holidays is their often explicit reminders to express gratitude in one way or another. I’m writing this blog on Memorial Day, which is a time to express gratitude for our soldiers who have given their lives with the intention of creating and maintaining security and freedom. In line with Mondays Mindful Quotes, Meister Eckhart said,
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”
We often take our freedoms for granted. Take this moment to consider your freedoms in this world. Do you have freedom of speech, the right to vote, and the freedom to practice personal religion?
What other freedoms do you have that you might be taking for granted?
Earlier this month I brought Dr. Ron Siegel author of the new book, The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems, on to talk to us about Mindfulness as a path to work with stress, anxiety, and Depression. Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D. is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School where he has taught for the past 25 years, a Board and Faculty member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, and a long-term student of mindfulness meditation. Dr. Siegel is also co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and coauthor of Back Sense: A Revolutionary Approach to Halting the Cycle of Chronic Back Pain. He maintains a private clinical practice in Lincoln, Massachusetts and teaches internationally about mindfulness and psychotherapy and mind-body treatment.
Today, Dr. Siegel talks to us about how he uses mindfulness in his own psychotherapy practice, ways we can work with procrastination, and some advice he has for those who are suffering.
Elisha: In your own psychotherapy practice, how do you choose to integrate meditation or mindfulness into psychotherapy?
Ron: Therapists often ask me this question. It all depends on the needs of the person with whom I’m working
With so much to do in a day, it’s important to accept the fact that for most of us, our in baskets will never be empty. I picked up a book a while ago called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (not a bad title) by David Allen. While it was not explicitly focused on mindfulness as a means to get things done, it seemed to have that flavor.
One thing he wrote about that I absolutely resonated with and that I write about at times is that unless a task has somewhere it can be put in the mind, it’s going to continually swim around in there leading to greater stress, overwhelming sensations, distraction, and procrastination. In other words, a golden rule is that the mind needs to know there is a plan to get a task done or revisit it. The mind can then calm down a bit more and focus on the task at hand.
Here are 3 things I’ve learned from my own life and the book that have helped me be more effective:
There is a tradition on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday, I cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding. So for today, here is a quote by Shantideva:
“All joy in this world comes from wanting others to be happy, and all suffering in this world comes from wanting only oneself to be happy.”
Somewhere along the way many of us develop this notion that the goal above all else in life is for us, individually, to be happy. We begin to focus on ourselves to the exclusion of others. One major problem in depression is this painful self-focus as the ruminations just go on and on. And if our goal is to be happy, but others get hurt or ignored in the process, I promise there will be no happiness.
The fact is, we are not islands.
Albert Einstein said it well in a letter published in the New York Post (1972):
Today I have the “joy” of bringing to you James Baraz, who is the co-author with Shoshana Alexander of the new book Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness. This is a wonderful book based on James’ very popular 10 month Awakening Joy Course, taught in person and on-line. James has been teaching meditation since 1978 has lead retreats, workshops and classes in the U.S. and abroad and is a founding teacher along with Jack Kornfield and others of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. James lives with his wife in the Bay Area, has two sons and three grandchildren.
Today James talks to us about the essential ingredients to incline our minds toward joy in our lives.
Bullying has played an increasingly large role in our kids’ lives as a result of the media and other mediums allowing for things like cyber-bullying. A recent Time magazine article came out talking about how to Deprogram Bullies with Kindness. Some of the proponents of this work include Dr. Daniel Siegel, author of The Mindful Therapist, and the Dalai Lama, among others.
This makes complete sense to me. If we can cultivate a sense of kindness and compassion in our kids at an early age and encourage the social neurocircuitry of their brains in a positive way, then perhaps we can prevent increased bullying.
So the question is what are our resources?
There is a tradition on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday, I cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding. So for today, here is a quote by Don Miguel Ruiz
“You see everything is about belief, whatever we believe rules our existence, rules our life.”
Of course, whatever we believe colors the lenses of how we see the world and our very next interaction. If we believe we can’t give that speech, lose that weight or live without our Blackberries or IPhones every minute it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder if not impossible to do so. The same goes for getting through anxiety, depression, or addiction.
We start to integrate fundamental beliefs in this world from the time we’re in the womb. We’re already beginning to sense the environment around us, taking in and processing information.
As life progresses we start to integrate this information as truths.
Today I have the pleasure of bringing to you another renowned Psychologist who integrates the practice of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, Christopher Germer, PhD. Christopher is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Arlington, Massachusetts and author of the recent book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions.
He is a founding member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, and co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Christopher also conducts workshops internationally on the art and science of mindful self-compassion.
Today Christopher is going to talk to us about what compassion is and why our cultures suffers from a prevalence of unworthiness.
Elisha: What is compassion exactly and why do you think it’s getting so much attention lately?
We all have things that we more or less have to do in life that for most of us automatically trigger feelings of frustration, boredom, restlessness and even fear. These might include sitting in traffic, waiting in a long line at the post office, engaging in Jury Duty, arguing an erroneous charge on a bill, or being given seemingly busy work at our jobs. If we all sat in a room together, I’m sure we could make a list that could wrap around this good earth.
So what do we do?
Here’s a personal experience I’d like to share:
There is a tradition on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday, I cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding. So for today, here is a quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: