Archives for September, 2010

What Distracts You from Your Goodness?

Is it possible that we hold more good within us than we think? Is it possible that our brains are inclined toward looking for negativity in life and breezing over those aspects that are positive? Most importantly, is it possible that with an awareness of how we are wired, we can transcend these conditionings and recognize more choice in life? Walt Whitman said: “I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.” What distracts us from this goodness?
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Mindfulness and Psychotherapy: An Interview with Jack Kornfield

Some things are worth reposting...enjoy! It is my profound honor to bring to you one of the true leaders of our time in respect to the marriage of Eastern and Western Psychology, Jack Kornfield. He stands alongside an esteemed group of elders such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Sharon Salzberg, Pema Chodron, and Joseph Goldstein in bringing mindfulness to the west. Not only that, he also holds his PhD in clinical Psychology which makes him so relevant to the connection between mindfulness and psychotherapy. He co-founded Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts and is a founding teacher of the well known retreat center Spirit Rock, in Woodacre, CA. He has taught in Centers and University settings worldwide with teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. He is also author of many widely popular books translated in over 20 languages, some of which are, A Path with Heart, The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and his newest book The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology. Today he talks with us about the connection between East and West psychology, his work with Dr. Dan Siegel, and how his own trauma in life has influenced his work with himself and others.
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What are We Missing with Our Kids Today?

Maybe it’s because we live in the information age or that media has become more sensational than ever. It seems like for a while now kids have been getting labeled with one diagnosis after another with an overemphasis on their negative traits and less emphasis on the hope and possibility that there is something inside that is quite beautiful. Buckminster Fuller said: “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” Perhaps it’s because our minds are geared toward fear and so anything that resembles ADHD, Autism, Aspergers, Depression, Anxiety or any other number of disorders are quickly attached to the child by friends, family, teachers, and even health professionals.
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Mindfulness for Dummies: Shamash Alidina

Today, it’s my pleasure to bring to you the author of Mindfulness For Dummies, Shamash Alidina. Shamash is a lecturer, educator and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive (MBCT) teacher in London. He also runs the Learn Mindfulness Community. Today Shamash gives us mindfulness tips for beginners and long time practitioners, the intersection with positive psychology, how to regain the wonder of life and how to balance work and life. So without further ado… Elisha: What tips do you have for those just starting the mindfulness adventure and for those who have at it for a while? Shamash: For those who are just starting the mindfulness adventure there are five key points I think are helpful to remember:
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What Everyone Should Know About How Stress Affects the Brain

I posted this a while back and it received a lot of attention, so I've adapted it a bit and added to it. Worth the re-post. Enjoy! In a recent NY Times article, Natalie Angier wrote about new research showing that heightened stress actually rewires the brain to promote self perpetuating habitual cycles of continued stress. Just to give you a summary, research Eduardo Dias-Ferreira and colleagues titled their research Chronic Stress Causes FrontoStriatal Reorganization and Affects Decision Making. To put it simply, they found that in rats, chronic stress caused atrophy in the area of the brain associated with decision making and goal directed behaviors and an increase in the areas associated with habit. Are you a stress case? Hope is not lost and we can thank the Neuroscientists for their discovery of neuroplasticity.
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Reprogramming Your Mind Toward a Better Life: Mary Oliver

What if you could put the past behind you and start fresh today? Ok, now take a moment to allow all the judgments and naysayers in the mind a moment to pass through and NOW, allow your mind to consider this for a second. What if you could leave your past programming and step into being in this world the way you want to be? What would that look like? Would you be kinder, more compassionate, go after your interests more, pay more attention to your family, wake up earlier, run after sunsets, volunteer, more politically active? What would it be? Acclaimed poet Mary Oliver tells us:
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The Key to Playing the Right Notes in the Musical of Life

In a past blog I wrote about how more often than not when any of us are asked how we are, in the response somewhere will be a reference to how busy things are (even if just in our own minds). We just want more space to breathe. Recently I came across a metaphor that I wanted to share about finding the spaces in our lives and what we can do about it. The metaphor has to do with music.
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Blaming: The Ineffective Art of Scrambling for Comfort

It can be as blatant as a sledge hammer hitting us in the face or as subtle as supreme ninja. The art of blaming is rampant and goes on to help absolutely nobody. Pema Chodron writes: “We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who's right and who's wrong. We do that with the people who are closest to us and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don't like about our associates or our society. It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better. Blame others. Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.” And why not protect our hearts when there have been so many experiences showing us that it so easily bleeds?
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Chronic Pain

How to Be Sick: An Interview with Toni Bernhard

When Toni Berhnard fell ill in Paris on a trip in 2001, doctors told her she had an acute viral infection, but Toni never recovered. It is my great pleasure to bring to you a woman who truly walks the talk and has gives great wisdom and insight in her new book How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers. Her deep experience with applying mindfulness to her chronic illness has led her to writing this book for all who suffer and their caregivers. But truly, what has been written here can be applied to anybody. In this interview, Toni talks to us about how she learned to live with chronic illness, how developing equanimity can help, and her favorite quote. She also shares some advice for those who are suffering. Elisha: There are so many forms of chronic illness that come in the form of physical and emotional manifestations. How did you learn “How to be Sick?”
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Why You May Need to Leave the Mind Behind for Real Change

There are a lot of books and writings we all get our hands on that speak to changing our lives or transforming ourselves in some way or another. We all suffer in life. Whether it’s deep emotional pain, physical pain, or just wanting to avoid an upcoming work project, the mind is constantly on the lookout for how to fix this suffering. However, what we are often times offered is a romantic version for how to alleviate the suffering. We read the book or watch the programs that tell us simple steps on how to change our lives. These in themselves can be helpful, but not if we don’t do the work. The truth is, real transformation and change takes a kind of discipline and can be hard work.
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