Replace negative implicit memories with positive ones. – May 31, 2017

To gradually replace negative implicit memories with positive ones, just make the positive aspects of your experience prominent and relatively intense in the foreground of your awareness while simultaneously placing the negative material in the background. Imagine that the positive contents of your awareness are sinking down into old wounds, soothing chafed and bruised places like a warm golden salve, filling up hollows, slowing replacing negative feelings and beliefs with positive ones. 

The negative mental material you’re working with could be from adulthood, including current experiences. But it’s often important to address explicit and implicit memoirs from your childhood, since these are usually that taproots of the things that keep upsetting you. People sometimes get angry with themselves about still being affected by things from the past. But remember: the brain is designed to change through experiences, especially negative ones; we learn from our experiences, particularly those that happened during childhood, and it is natural for that learning to stick with us. 

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., In Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom

“The only thing that will bring happiness is affection and warmheartedness. – May 24, 2017

“This really brings inner strength and self-confidence, reduces fear, develops trust and trust brings friendship. We are social animals, and cooperation is necessary for our survival, but cooperation is entirely based on trust. When there is trust, people are brought together—whole nations are brought together. When you have a more compassionate mind and cultivate warmheartedness, the whole atmosphere around you becomes more positive and friendlier. You see friends everywhere. If you feel fear and distrust, then other people will distance themselves. They will also feel cautious, suspicious, and distrustful. Then comes the feeling of loneliness. 

“When someone is warmhearted, they are always completely relaxed. If you live with fear and consider yourself as something special, then automatically, emotionally, you are distanced from others. You then create the basis for feelings of alienation from others and loneliness.

“The paradox is that although the drive behind excessive self-focus is to seek greater happiness for yourself, it ends up doing exactly the opposite. When you focus too much on yourself, you become disconnected and alienated from others. In the end, you also become alienated from yourself, since the need for connection with others is such a fundamental part of who we are as human beings. This excessive self-focus is also bad for your health. Too much fear and distrust, too much focus on yourself, leads to stress and high blood pressure.”

The Dalai Lama, in The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (2016). 

Everything is visible, nothing is forgotten. – May 17, 2017

Genuine politics is simply a matter of serving those around us; serving the community, and serving those who will come after us.  Genuine conscience and genuine responsibility are always, in the end, explicable only as an expression of the silent assumption that we are observed from above, that everything is visible, nothing is forgotten.

In all circumstances try to be decent, just, tolerant and understanding, and at the same time try to resist corruption and deception. I feel that the dormant goodwill in people needs to be stirred. People need to hear that it makes sense to behave decently or to help others, to place common interests above their own, to respect the elementary rules of human coexistence.

Vaclav Havel, in his essay, Politics, Morality and Civility

And where does that arrogance come from? The answer, I think, is fear. – May 10, 2017

“Why do we hate to hold tension, in matters both large and small? On the surface, the answer seems clear: doing so makes us look uncertain and indecisive. Whether we are in a business meeting or on the global stage, we want to appear powerful, not wimpy. And we want to win. So we call for a vote or send in the troops as quickly as possible. 

‘Standing in the tragic gap’ is unpopular among us because it contradicts the arrogance of power deeply rooted in our egos and our culture. And where does that arrogance come from? The answer, I think, is fear. The more insecure I feel, the more arrogant I tend to become, and the most arrogant people I know are also the most insecure. The arrogant ego does not like it when we hold tension, fearful of losing its status if we lose the battle at hand.

That, at least, is what our fear of tension looks like on the surface. But fear always comes in layers, and can be understood only when we reach its substrate. Ultimately, what drives us to resolve tension as quickly as we possibly can is the fear that if we hold it too long, it will break our hears.

This bedrock layer of fear is the one that interests me, for at least two reasons. It evokes more sympathy in me, for myself and others, than the ego’s fear of looking bad or losing out, which seems whiny and pathetic. And the heart’s fear of being broken is not fanciful: holding powerful tensions over time can be, and often is, a heartbreaking experience.

But there are at least two ways to understand what it mans to have our hears broken. One is to imagine the heart broken into shards and scattered about—a feeling most of us know, and a fate we would like to avoid. The other is to imagine the heart broken open into new capacity—a process that is not without pain but one that many of us would welcome. As I stand in the tragic gap between reality and possibility, this small, tight fist of a thing called my heart can break open into greater capacity to hold more of my own and the world’s suffering and joy, despair and hope.”

Parker Palmer, in this book A Hidden Wholeness: The Journal Toward An Undivided Life

Self-love and love of others go hand in hand. – May 02, 2017

“We are incapable of loving another unless we love ourselves, just as we are incapable of teaching our children self-discipline unless we ourselves are self-disciplined. It is actually impossible to forsake our own spiritual development in favor of someone else’s. We cannot forsake self-discipline and at the same time be disciplined in our care of another. We cannot be a source of strength unless we nurture our own strength. I believe that not only do self-love and love of others go hand in hand, but that ultimately they are indistinguishable.”

Scott Peck in the Road Less Traveled.

Just Seeing What’s Going On – April 25, 2017

In practicing meditation, we’re not trying to live up to some kind of ideal—quite the opposite. We’re just being with our experience, whatever it is. If our experience is that sometimes we have some kind of perspective, and sometimes we have none, then that’s our experience. If sometimes we can approach what scares us, and sometimes we absolutely can’t, then that’s our experience. “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and it’s always with us” is really a most profound instruction. Just seeing what’s going on—that’s the teaching right there. We can be with what’s happening and not dissociate. Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary everyday lives.

Pema Chödrön, from her book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Deepen your self-understanding. – April 19, 2017

Those of us who attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening our own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. We will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of our own obsessions, our agressivity, our ego-centered ambitions, our delusions about ends and means.

Thomas Merton, Philosopher

What is the purpose of life? – April 12, 2017

“One great question underlies our existence. What is the purpose of life? After much consideration, I believe that the purpose of life is to find happiness. 

It does not matter whether one is Buddhist like me, or a Christian like the Archbishop [Desmond Tutu], or any other religion, or no religion at all. From the moment of birth, every hu

man being wants to discover happiness and avoid suffering. No differences in our culture or our education or our religion affect this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire joy and contentment. But so often these feelings are fleeting and hard to find, like a butterfly that lands on us and then flutters away.”

“The ultimate source of happiness is within us. Not money, not power, not status. Some of my friends are billionaires, but they are very unhappy people. Power and money fail to bring inner peace. Outward attainment will not bring real inner joyfulness. We must look inside. 

“Sadly, many of the things that undermine our joy and happiness we create ourselves. Often it comes from the negative tendencies of the mind, emotional reactivity, or from our inability to appreciate and utilize the resources that exist within us. The suffering from a natural disaster we cannot control, but the suffering from our daily disasters we can. We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we can individuals can do.”

The Dalai Lama, in The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. 

Discovering the Depths of Your Compassion – April 5, 2017

“In Buddhism, compassion is defined as the wish that all beings be free of their suffering. Although we cannot rid the world of its pain, we can cultivate compassion in our own hearts, thereby helping others do the same. Compassion, which literally means to “suffer with,” is not so much a feeling as a quality of being. Compassion is different from pitying another person, for though pity may come from a tender heart, it keeps us separate from the suffering of another. Pity often carries with it judgment and contempt. 

Sympathy and empathy, often used synonymously with compassion, are also quite different. The Greek word pathos, translated “feelings,” is the root of these words and implies an exclusive nearness through the sharing of feelings. Whatever affects one person similarly affects the other. “I know just how you feel,” are sympathetic words. 

The experience of compassion is much larger, taking us beyond both the distance inherent in pity and the closeness that comes through the shared feelings of sympathy. Compassion grows when we know something of a neighbor’s suffering because we can connect through similar experiences in our own life. Compassion deepens when we recognize that our neighbors, friends, and enemies alike share our humanity with us.”

Jane E. Vennard, from her book, Fully Awake and Truly Alive: Spiritual Practices to Nurture Your Soul. 

Your Fundamental Nature is Pure – March 29, 2017

“When you set out on the path awakening, you begin wherever you are. Then—with time, effort, and skillful means—virtue, mindfulness, and wisdom gradually strengthen and you feel happier and more loving. Some traditions describe this process as an uncovering of the true nature that was always present; others frame it as a transformation of your mind and body. Of course, these two aspects of the path of awakening support each other. Your true nature is both a refuge and a resource for the sometimes difficult work of psychological growth and spiritual practice. It’s a remarkable fact that the people who have gone the very deepest into the mind—the sages and saints of every religious tradition—all say essentially the same thing: your fundamental nature is pure, conscious, peaceful, radiant, loving, and wise, and it is joined in mysterious ways with the ultimate underpinnings of reality, by whatever name we give That. Although your true nature may be hidden momentarily by stress and worry, anger and unfulfilled longings, it still continues to exist. Knowing this can be a great comfort.”

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., In Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom

Improve Efficiency and Increase Self-control – March 22, 2017

In today’s workplace our minds are “full” of the demands of living a fast-paced, high-pressure life. It seems inevitable if we want to be successful. However in the last 20 years, research has shown that we can train ourselves to be mindful instead. Mindfulness is the basic human experience of open, non-judgmental awareness that allows us to respond to challenges with resilience, compassion and creativity rather than stress. Even when high achieving people begin to practice mindfulness they discover that they can learn to be attentive to all that is going on in their minds without reacting to it and that they can begin to relax in the midst of their workday while bringing new insights, creativity and empathy to their jobs.

The good news is that it is possible to train our minds so that we can manage stress, experience well-being and satisfaction at work and increase our ability to respond to challenges with compassion and resilience. Research shows that mindfulness can help people improve efficiency and increase self-control when we are able to choose our response to the stimuli we encounter.

Susan Skjei, Director, Authentic Leadership Center, Naropa University. Excerpted from blog post 3/7/17

Let it be there just as it is. – March 15, 2017

The on-the-spot practice of being fully present, feeling your heart, and greeting the next moment with an open mind can be done at any time: when you wake up in the morning, before a difficult conversation, whenever fear or discomfort arises. This practice is a beautiful way to claim your warriorship, your spiritual warriorship. In other words, it is a way to claim your courage, your kindness, your strength. Whenever it occurs to you, you can pause briefly, touch in with how you’re feeling both physically and mentally, and then connect with your heart—even putting your hand on your heart, if you want to. This is a way of extending warmth and acceptance to whatever is going on for you right now. You might have an aching back, an upset stomach, panic, rage, impatience, calmness, joy—whatever it is, you can let it be there just as it is, without labeling it good or bad, without telling yourself you should or shouldn’t be feeling that way. Having connected with what is, with love and acceptance, you can go forward with curiosity and courage. I call this third step “taking a leap.”

Pema Chödrön, from her book, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change,

“Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy.” – March 8, 2017

“When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. Only in this moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek. Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy. Only in the reality of the present can we love, can we awaken, can we find peace and understanding and connection with ourselves and the world.”

Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

Even the ‘bad’ was good. – March 1, 2017

The contemplative mind can see things in a nondual way, without being rebellious or enmeshed, without being reactionary or hateful. Whenever you move to a higher level of consciousness, you would be wise to include the previous stages; do not waste much time reacting against the previous idea or generation, which had some level of truth to it. Rejecting the lower level was the dualistic mistake of almost all reforms and revolutions until very recently. This is why most reformers tended to repeat the same ills but just in a new way.  The ability to “transcend and include” is the sign of a higher (or deeper) level of consciousness.

As you spiritually mature, you can forgive your own—and others’—mistakes. You can let go of everyone who hurt you, your former spouse, the boss who fired you, the church, or even God. You have no interest in carrying around negative baggage. Wisdom emerges when you can see everything, you eliminate none of it, and you include all as important training. Finally, everything belongs. You are eventually able to say, from some larger place that may surprise you, “It is what it is”and “Even the ‘bad’ was good.”

Richard Rohr, Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation

Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention -February 22, 2017

“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.”

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society

What does meditation actually mean? – February 15, 2017

“Don’t think that meditation means only sitting with your eyes closed. A smiling face, a kind word, a compassionate glance, all this is part of meditation.Through meditation, our hearts should become compassionate. Only in such a heart can God shine! We should come to feel the suffering of others and share their suffering.”

Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), Hindu spiritual leader

When you change your brain, you change your life. – February 8, 2017

If I know one thing for sure, it’s that you can do small things inside your mind that will lead to big changes inside your brain and your experience of living. I’ve seen this happen again and again with people I’ve known as a psychologist or as a meditation teacher, and I’ve seen it in my own thoughts and feelings as well. You really can nudge your whole being in a better direction every day. When you change your brain, you change your life.

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., In Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom

Avoid all external distractions. – February 1, 2017

“Archbishop [Desmond Tutu] takes a morning meditation walk each morning, and he continued to do so through the anti-apartheid struggle, even when he experienced death threats. I had the opportunity to accompany him on one of his meditation walks. I saw the man who was willing to walk around the world to end apartheid, no shortcuts, no turning back, going to the very, very end. Walking, hiking, running, or any other exercise can be made into a meditative experience. The key is to avoid all external distractions like talking, music, or television. The goal is simply to listen to the wisdom of the spirit that often comes through the wisdom of the body.”

The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams, 2016.

Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain – January 25, 2017

“Mindfulness should no longer be considered a “nice-to-have” for executives. It’s a “must-have”:  a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress. It can be integrated into one’s religious or spiritual life, or practiced as a form of secular mental training.  When we take a seat, take a breath, and commit to being mindful, particularly when we gather with others who are doing the same, we have the potential to be changed.”

Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain, Harvard Business Review, January 8, 2015

A state of being fully present. – January 18, 2017

“Mindfulness is a state of being fully present, aware of oneself and other people, and sensitive to one’s reactions to stressful situations. Leaders who are mindful tend to be more effective in understanding and relating to others, and motivating them toward shared goals. Hence, they become more effective in leadership roles.”

William W. George, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, author of four best-selling books.