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Showing posts from August, 2011

It's not what's happening...it's how you respond

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One of my favorite stories took place a number of decades ago when the English had colonized India and they wanted to set up a golf course in Calcutta. Besides the fact that the English shouldn’t have been there in the first place, the golf course was not a particularly good idea. The biggest challenge was that the area was populated with monkeys.  The monkeys apparently were interested in golf too, and their way of joining the game was to go onto the course and take the balls that the golfers were hitting and toss them around in all directions. Of course the golfers didn’t like this at all, so they tried to control the monkeys. First they built high fences around the fairway; they went to a lot of trouble to do this. Now, monkeys climb...so, they would climb over the fences and onto the course . . . that solution just didn’t work at all. The next thing they tried was to lure them away from the course. I don’t know how they tried to lure them—maybe waving bananas or something—but for e…

Learning to Respond, Not React

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If we are to wake up out of our patterning, a key element of that is to be able to pause, recognize and open toa larger space than the cocoon that our mindis creating in thought. Our tendency is to get lost in a cycle of reactivity. In order to be able to step out of that cycle, we need to cultivate the ability to pause, recognize and open.

I often use the metaphor of the second arrow because I find it just so helpful. The Buddha told a parable and the teaching was:  

“If you get struck by an arrow, do you then shoot another arrow into yourself?”
If we look at the way we move through the day, when something happens, when we have pain in our body, when somebody treats us in a way that feels disrespectful, when something goes wrong for someone we love, that’s the first arrow. Our mind and body go into a reactivity that does not help to bring healing. We blame others, we blame ourselves. That’s the second arrow.

Healing and Freedom come from non-proliferation of our thoughts. N…

Integration of Buddhist Meditation and Psychotherapy

When I was in college, I went off to the mountains for a weekend of hiking with an older, wiser friend of twenty-two.  After we set up our tent, we sat by a stream, watching the water swirl around rocks and talking about our lives. At one point she described how she was learning to be "her own best friend." A huge wave of sadness came over me, and I broke down sobbing. I was the farthest thing from my own best friend.  I was continually harassed by an inner judge who was merciless, relentless, nit-picking, driving, often invisible but always on the job. In the eyes of the world, I was highly functional. Internally, I was anxious, driven and often depressed. I didn’t feel at peace with any part of my life. I longed to be kinder to myself. I longed to befriend my inner experience and to feel more intimacy and ease with the people in my life.

These longings drew me to psychotherapy—as a client and then clinician—and to the Buddhist path. In the weaving of these traditions I dis…

Flow and Presence

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What gets between us and happiness?
This is an important inquiry in our lives. When you’re really happy ask yourself, what’s going on? What’s going on inside you when you’re really happy?
You’ll find that there are two dimensions. One dimension is that there is presence. When you’re really happy there is a quality of “you are here” for what’s really going on. The second dimension is aliveness. And they’re entirely intertwined. When you’re happy there’s a sense of life flowing through you. If you bring your attention in an embodied way to the life that’s here, you’ll find the sense of presence or the space of presence that’s aware. If you’re really occupying presence, you feel the flow of aliveness.
Let’s explore this intertwined dynamic. What is it really that lets us enter the flow? What is it that allows us not to be mere bystanders? So that we don’t get to the end of our lives and realize, “I didn’t really feel the life flowing through this body, heart and mind. I didn’t engage intim…