I’ll notice that I’m having an unpleasant feeling, and then I’ll see my mind pick a story to match that feeling. It’s as if it’s selecting a book from a shelf in my personal library. What’s going on here? Perhaps the story helps me believe this uncomfortable feeling isn’t my fault (after all, it was that rude driver who made me so angry!) or gives me a plan for making it go away (once I get this house cleaned up I can feel more relaxed). Maybe this story helps reinforce a sense of who I see myself to be (I am always calm under pressure; this stressed out feeling isn’t me!). Continue reading
With the election just days away and daily news reports of economic woes, many (if not most) of us are feeling concerned and perhaps even anxious about the state of the world. We wait on pins and needles for the stock market to find its bottom and our country to choose the candidate we feel is best equipped to lead us out of this mess. This waiting is difficult, to be sure. And it’s normal to feel fearful and anxious under circumstances such as these.But anxiety can take on a life of its own, throwing us into a state of high alert and making it difficult to get through our days. Continue reading
Summer in Seattle, when it finally gets around to happening, is glorious. The days are long, the clouds have lifted (for the most part), and it’s difficult to stay indoors. I wake up with the sun shining through my window, to the sound of birds. In Seattle in the summer, the sky is a beautiful shade of blue. The lawns turn brown, but the evergreens glow in the summer sunlight. Continue reading
I am pleased to announce the publication of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mindfulness, a book I co-authored with Carolyn Flynn.
You don’t have to be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness or benefit from it, and you don’t have to have a regular meditation practice to start bringing mindfulness into your life. Although meditation practice cultivates mindfulness in a way nothing else can, even non-meditators can learn to pay attention to the present moment. Continue reading
Last month, I went on a silent meditation retreat. Going on retreat is a gift I give myself twice a year; it deepens my meditation practice and helps me access parts of myself that stay hidden in the activity and distraction of daily life. Continue reading
Thinking about the ways we talk to ourselves, I realize that there’s a potential trap with positive self-talk and affirmations. When we try to use these techniques to make our pain go away, we actually perpetuate it. But when we speak to ourselves from our hearts, with unconditional acceptance of our pain, then we can invite healing into the wounded places within our psyches. Continue reading
Thinking some more about this idea that the only thing we know for certain is what we’re experiencing in this moment, I think about what it means, then, to know another person.
There are people in my life I’ve known for a very long time, people who have characteristics that are consistent and that I’ve come to depend on. I know, for example, that the people in my household will most likely respond to me in a certain way when I walk through the door at the end of the day. This thought gives me great comfort and happiness, and I look forward to this homecoming ritual. Continue reading
The only thing I can ever know for certain is what I’m experiencing in this very moment. (Notice that I said “what I’m experiencing”, not “what’s happening”.) What I experienced in the previous moment is memory, and memory is faulty. What I’ll experience in the next moment hasn’t happened yet, so while I can predict – sometimes with accuracy – what will happen, I can’t really know for sure until the moment arrives. Continue reading
Distraction has gotten a bad reputation among people who want to live more fully in the present moment. By definition, a distraction is anything that takes us away from the moment; it’s seemingly the antithesis of mindfulness. Continue reading
I recently heard that one of the many effects of meditation practice is that, over time, you become increasingly aware of the shifting nature of experience from moment to moment, seeing for example how feelings of happiness and calm can pass away and feelings of agitation can arise in their wake. I’ve been noticing this constant, subtle shift in experience a lot lately. Continue reading