A funny thing happened to me on the way to work the other day. No really. I was driving and stopped at a red light. The light just turned green and as I was about to step on the gas pedal the driver behind me honked.
The immediate thought was, “What the heck is wrong with this guy? The light just turned green, people are so impatient.” My shoulders tensed and I was getting upset. “Let it go, let it go, he could be having a bad day already,” I tried to say to myself. As I started moving forward he pulled up to the lane next to me as if to pass me, but then slowed down next to my window. That’s where things got interesting.
Terentius Lucanus was a Roman Senator who brought Terence to Rome as a slave. He took him under his wing and educated him and soon freed him out of his amazement of his abilities. Terence went onto become a famous playwright around 170 BCE. One of his famous quotes was:
“Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto,” or “I am a man, I consider nothing that is human alien to me.”
How can a man who was once enslaved by other human beings transcend his anger and come up with a quote implying forgiveness and linking the common ground between all people?
It’s not the first time and it certainly hasn’t been the last.
Most of us have issues with either trusting ourselves or another person and yet trust remains the cornerstone of a loving intimate relationship either with ourselves or another. Today it’s my pleasure to bring to you David Richo, Ph.D., M.F.T. who gives us insight in his latest book Daring to Trust: Opening Ourselves to Real Love and Intimacy about how to open ourselves to real love and intimacy. David is a psychotherapist, teacher, workshop leader, and writer. He is also author of the consistently popular book The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them among many other books.
Today David talk to us about how our earliest relationships impact our ability to trust, what is naive trust, how mindfulness can help and some advice on what to do when trust breaks down.
Elisha: How do our earliest relationships impact our ability to trust?
Barry Boyce, Editor for Shambhala Sun Magazine has finally coined exactly what is happening in our culture today with his newest book The Mindfulness Revolution. Since Jon Kabat-Zinn appeared on Bill Moyers in 1993, research on the applications of mindfulness has soared exponentially.His Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program has been splintered off into Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for depressive relapse, Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) for addiction, MB-EAT for eating disorders and many more.
There is absolutely a revolution happening right now and there likely couldn’t be a more perfect time.
Corporations across the country are becoming increasingly interested in the applications of mindfulness to the workplace. In March 2011, Google, Facebook, Intel, Twitter and many more took part in the Wisdom 2.0 conference curious about how to integrate this into their work environments.
In one chapter of The Mindfulness Revolution Norman Fischer, principal meditation teacher at Google’s mindfulness program gives us some practices to maintain mindfulness throughout the day:
Nowadays most people who come in to see my for private therapy come to see me because of my background with mindfulness and psychotherapy. Whether the issue has to do with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, or addiction, there is a sense of wanting to come home, to come back into their life, to gain emotional intelligence, to get back in touch with what really matters.
However, there is also a hidden or not-so-hidden agenda that mindfulness will be used as a relaxation exercise of some kind. While this may be a nice side effect of mindfulness practice, mindfulness is not relaxation.
It’s legitimate to ask, what is the difference between mindfulness and relaxation? After all, the most mainstreamed and popular program out there is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Right in the title is the implication that we’re using this for stress reduction. However, it’s just a clever title to get people in the door; the program is so much more than that.
In A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook we answer this question:
While there have been many things that may have gone through your mind the minute you heard of Japan’s recent 8.9 earthquake, all the subsequent aftershocks, the Tsunami and threat of radiation from their impacted nuclear plants, one thing we begin to realize is how connected we really are.
A short time after the Tsunami hit the coast of Japan, large waves rolled into the Harbor of Santa Cruz, Ca thrashing the marina around. It’s become clearer to me that we’re all responsible for one another and I think that’s a huge driving force in the growing interest in compassion.
Compassion is defined as being able to put yourself in the shoes of another and inclining your heart toward wanting to help in some way.
Compassion practices have been shown to reduce stress and increase well-being.
Today I bring you a topic that is close to many of our hearts and minds as most of us have been affected by addiction in one way or another. William Alexander is on staff at the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota and is also author of many books including his latest release of Ordinary Recovery. Bill leads workshops on the process of Ordinary Recovery.
Without further ado…
Elisha: I’m going to start out with a very direct question, one that is on everyone’s minds when it comes to addiction. What is the key to breaking free from alcoholism or really any addiction?
A few days ago while waking up in the morning I found myself automatically drawn to making my morning coffee and checking the email on my phone. There was my 2 year old little boy playing beside me as I sipped my warm drink. A thought popped in my mind, “Why are you checking your email when you could be enjoying your coffee and this sweet moment with your little boy next to you?” “Good question,” I replied to myself as I put down the phone and tuned into the morning.
But something interesting followed.
Last year I had the honor of interviewing Karen Kissel Wegela around The Courage to Be Present. Karen has been a core faculty member at Naropa University for more than 29 years focusing on “Contemplative Psychotherapy” – bringing together Buddhism and traditional psychotherapy. She has a private practice in Boulder, Colorado and gives workshops and lectures nationally and internationally. Karen has recently released What Really Helps and I think the message she conveys can be extraordinarily helpful to so many of us.
It is my honor to interview her here so we can all glean some of her wisdom.
Elisha: I’m struck by the title of your book, What Really Helps as it is such an important basic question that we all want the answer to. So let me pose it to you. What really helps?
Karen: Elisha, that’s such a good question. As I wrote in the book, what really helps most when we are aspiring to help others is our presence. We won’t have any idea what will actually help until we connect with others and have a good sense of what their experiences are. In order to be fully present and connected with another person, we have to be willing to feel whatever comes up in our own experience.
We all have aspirations in life to improve in some way. Perhaps is learning how to manage our anxiety, climb out of a depression, break free from our addictions, or improve at some skill at work. At the end of the day, what will always happen is at some point or another we’ll find ourselves in the undesirable place that we were trying to get away from.
Thoughts of failure rain down, “Great, I’m back as square one.” The beauty of mindfulness is it teaches us that no matter what the problem is, it can be worked with and as Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness said, “We can always begin again.”
There is a misconception around mindfulness practice that the purpose of it is to sustain some kind of laser beam concentration on a particular object, let’s say the breath. In my experience, the purpose of the practice is to train our minds to be here in a particular way. So, when the mind wanders from the breath and we notice it that is perhaps the most important part of the practice.