Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
One of my favorite songs of all time is Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” It’s an incredibly moving and powerful song about taking a good, hard, authentic look at ourselves to say that we are all active participants in our own health and well-being and the health and well-being of this world we live in.
If you have five minutes, press play, close your eyes, listen to the words and enjoy:
Mindfulness meditation, the act of intentionally paying attention to the present moment while putting aside our snap judgments, has been shown to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, trauma and open us up to wonders, happy moments and a sense of grace in life. But make no mistake, the longest of practitioners will tell you that they still experience the downturns, getting hooked by the inevitable frustrations of life, and anticipatory anxiety.
So it’s not a cure, but it gives us something that a cure can’t.
Implied in mindfulness is the acceptance that life is full of ups and downs. This acceptance breeds a sense of warmth and compassion that could not grow if the downs were cured. As the saying goes, it takes both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow.
Or Rumi’s quote:
“Don’t turn your gaze. Look toward the bandaged place that’s where the light enters.”
For those of you who don’t know Sharon Salzberg, she is one of America’s leading mindfulness teachers and authors and has played a significant role in bringing mindfulness and the practice of lovingkindness to all of us in the Western world. She is co-founder of one of America’s premier meditation centers, Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, and is the author of many books and CDs, including her classic “Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness,“ and her newest work, “Real Happiness.”
Today Sharon talks to us about the power of Lovingkindness, how to relate to difficult people, and some thoughts moving forward.
Elisha: Sharon, in your classic book “Lovingkindness,” you begin by saying, “Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and to feel connected with others. Instead, we often contract, fear intimacy, and suffer a bewildering sense of separation. We crave love, and yet we are lonely. Our delusion of being separate from one another, of being apart from all that is around us, gives rise to all of this pain. What is the way out of this?” Sharon, can you give us a glimpse into how you guide people out of their loneliness?
“Life, it all goes by so fast.”
This is a phrase that is said ubiquitously by people across race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, gender, you name it. When you hear something this common – something is telling us to listen.
Why do we lose sight that life is so temporary? Some might say that we have a fear of death so we block it out of our minds, and without the awareness of death we lose sight of the preciousness of life. Others might say we just get caught up in our daily routines and stop seeing or pondering this miracle of life.
Whatever the reason, we know it happens and it may take a death or a birth to remind us of the preciousness of life.
Here is a process I created and did a national research study around to help us cultivate more of these meaningful moments.
I’m often on the lookout for progressive new effective therapies. This led my wife and I to go check out Denim ‘n’ Dirt in Santa Clarita, CA when we heard of the advances in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. I have to admit I was dubious that integrating horses and psychotherapy would be therapeutic, but putting my mindful hat on I walked in with a beginner’s mind and curiosity.
We walked up and met with Dr. B. Jane Wick and Steve Nelson, and without getting into too many details, by the end of a single session I was pretty amazed at the incredible overlap between mindfulness and equine therapy. I was also a bit blown away by the way the horses picked up on subtle cues and in ways that this unique form of therapy helped enlighten us to some important things that needed more mindfulness.
This is why it’s my pleasure to bring to you Dr. B. Jane Wick, a psychologist of 25 years, and equine assistant Steve Nelson of Denim ‘n’ Dirt to give us some more insight into the wonder behind this work.
Today Jane will be telling us what Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is, why it has such an impact in a short amount of time, a practical example of how it works and a tip and some thoughts on how we can go about finding this therapy for ourselves.
Elisha: Equine therapy seems to be gaining a lot of interest as a way of creating change quickly; tell us briefly what it is and why you think it has such dramatic effects?
Throughout the course of 2012 in Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, we have interacted around topics on mindfulness, neuroscience, stress and media, Facebook, the Negativity Bias, addiction, technology, resiliency, parenting and so much more.
Thank you for all your wonderful interactions, here’s a chance to give back to you.
Here are the Top 10 Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Posts in recent months. Feel free to bookmark and come back to again and again:
It’s not such a secret that we are a culture driven by a need for “more” in order to feel alive or happy. We are also a culture driven to try and eradicate discomfort. These underlying motivations are partly driven by media messages from businesses trying to make a buck and spending billions of dollars are marketing to drive this into our minds.
In light of this, I want to bring to you a quote from a woman who has a lot of wisdom to share, Pema Chodron:
It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here right now… with its aches and it pleasures… is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.
Okay, maybe it’s also important to have food, clothing, and a roof over our heads for many of us to be fully human, fully awake, and fully alive, but let’s not let that small point take us away from the brilliance of this quote.
One of the truths of life is that within us lies a feeling of dis-ease. We can’t be content with where we are in any particular moment because our minds are either trying to flee away from some discomfort or toward some comfort.
The pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable industry in America, and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies, GlaxoSmithKline, just settled a case with the federal government to pay $3 billion for health fraud. One billion will cover criminal fines and $2 billion will cover civil settlements.
This isn’t the first landmark case. In 2009, Pfizer paid the government $2.3 billion for health care fraud. This raises important questions and concerns about how we individually and culturally have been influenced by these companies and how awareness can help us see healthier choices to some of life’s afflictions.