Archives for January, 2011


A Short One to Get You Thinking: Rumi

Just a short one from The Essential Rumi to get you thinking.
"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep."
In what ways do you go back to sleep day to day?

As always, please share your...
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Want Better Relationships? Get Curious

Not too long ago I was standing with a friend who recently separated from his wife. As he was telling me about his current struggles my body started to get tense and unsolicited advice followed.

I noticed something didn’t feel right in the interaction, but I felt stuck between not saying anything and giving advice. At one point he responded, “You know, it would just have been better if you were a little more curious about my experience instead of giving me advice.”

In that moment, a light bulb went off in my mind and I found the third way.  Now I try to bring curiosity more often to our relationship and it has been enormously helpful.

Adopting the intention and attitude of curiosity is a cornerstone of mindfulness practice and is also a wonderful thing to bring to our relationships.
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Parenting: Are We Relying Too Much on Experts?

Whether we’re parents, educators, therapists, scientists, or whomever, we are a culture that has been brought up from infancy with a belief that we are to trust experts over our own experience and intuition. It’s the classic scene from Seinfeld where Costanza and Kramer are driving their car with a navigation system and in front of them is a lake. They opt to drive into the lake because the navigation system is telling them that is the way. They have no trust in their own navigation system.

I recently attended a private talk with a man many would consider to be a legend in his own time in the field of early childhood development and parenting, T. Berry Brazelton and his co-author Joshua Sparrow.

Brazelton is 92 years old and author of over 200 papers on early child development and 24 books, including his highly acclaimed book Touchpoints. Those of us in this small audience were mainly professionals in mental health and educators eager to learn. At one point during the talk, many people from this small group were asking questions around what to do when an infant does this or how to respond when a toddler does that.

As we continued on, the thought began to unfold that there’s a danger in this set up. We lose the ability to trust our own experience.
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Top 5 Metaphors for Mindfulness: Interview with Arnie Kozak Ph.D.

When it comes to trying to understand almost anything, I have found metaphors to be extremely useful. In mindfulness we use them all the time, we say, “Paying attention to your thoughts is like lying down on a field of grass looking at the clouds go on by or like lying down by a riverbed see the variety of debris come and go.”

I am very pleased to bring you Arnie Kozak, PhD, who is a master at using metaphors to help us understand mindfulness. Dr. Kozak is a licensed Psychologist and founder of Exquisite Mind, a place where people can come to learn more about mindfulness and psychotherapy. He is author of Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness, The Everything Buddhism Book, and the blog Mindfulness Matters.

If you want to catch him live, Arnie is teaching Metaphors, Meaning, and Change: Finding Our Way to Mindfulness at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, 25-27 February 2011.

Today Arnie talks with us about mindfulness, metaphors and how we can find relief from our own minds.
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Aetna, Emindful and a Step Closer to a Dream

In a recent press release, Aetna announced the launch of a 12-week online mindfulness program created by for stress reduction that has been backed up by a randomized control pilot study:
Hartford, Conn., January 13, 2011 — Aetna (NYSE: AET) today announced that early results from randomized controlled pilot studies of two stress-reduction programs showed significant reductions in stress as compared to the control group. Aetna’s review of medical claims’ data showed a positive correlation between costs and study participants’ stress levels, suggesting potential health care costs savings could be realized by reducing stress. Additionally, health improvements were suggested in the treatment groups over controls, leading to further studies.
The American Psychological Association says that 43% of US adults suffer from adverse effects of stress.

When I first led an online mindfulness course, I had my reservations as there was something wonderful about being in person with people. But I was really surprised by what I found.
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Mindful Parenting Can Help Your Marriage

In a past blog, A Child's ADHD Can Stress Your Marriage, John Grohol, Ph.D. cites a Washington Post article stating an increase in divorce rates among people who have children with ADHD.

One person aptly comments that it also could be because one or more of the parents have ADHD and it's not diagnosed making the marriage more difficult. Having children with ADHD or special needs is challenging and requires extra responsibility that taxes the family system. There is simply more effort and time required on the parent and child's part which makes people more tired and when people get tired they tend to get irritable. When irritability is not taken care of, people get hurt, put their walls up and close down.

When partners are closed down and aren't able to feel or detect one another's feelings anymore, empathy flies out the window, and connection is right on its tails. Without connection, there is no relationship and so this leads to higher rates of separation.

The quote from the Washington post that highlights this says:
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Debbie Friedman: A Woman Whose Life Blessed Us All

Debbie Friedman was a Jewish American Folk Singer who made more than 20 albums and performed at Carnegie Hall and around the world. Her inspirational songs span the ages as they are sung by 4 year children to 90 year women and men. She passed away just recently on January 9th, 2011, but the songs she created will surely living in thousands of people’s hearts forever.

One of my favorite songs of hers came out of Psalm 126. She took a verse and made it into a song of healing.

Here is the verse:
“Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.”
This verse echoes a very basic truth that we must be able to touch our sorrows in order to really reach our joys. It’s echoes Rumi’s advice “Don’t look away from the bandaged place, that’s where the light enters.”
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Compassion: An Increasing Global Movement

I recently attended a talk with Joseph Goldstein, one of the leaders in the field who have introduced mindfulness to the West. One of the key themes of his talk surrounded to topic of compassion.

Compassion arises when someone brushes up against suffering and is a combination of empathy, feeling what another is feeling, and also an opening of the heart where there is a wanting to help in some way. As science reveals the benefits of cultivating compassion, it is starting to gain more prominence as something that could have a positive impact not just in our personal lives, but around the globe.

Here is a short list of the mainstream work being done with compassion and self-compassion:

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A Mindful Strategy for a Resilient New Year

As this New Year dawns on us, how about we don’t set rigid New Year’s resolutions, but instead see this year as a practice. There is some implied rule within resolutions that we’ll actually stick to them and when we don’t, we set ourselves up for the same old habitual mind traps that have kept us stuck in the past.

“I’ve failed once again,” arises, leading to a sense of sluggishness and the next thought, “What’s the point?”

There’s another way.

It’s important to set goals for ourselves and create plans to reach those goals; this is the underpinning of cultivating hope. Hope is our greatest antidepressant.

There are a few steps we can take to make a resilient New Year:

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