Courageous Communication

Picture about seventy people crowded into a dimly lit room with a creaking, wooden floor of an old building at the edge of San Francisco Bay. It was the home of the Dolphin Club, a legendary swim club founded in 1877, and their board of directors called a meeting to propose a series of upgrades to its aging facilities. I was standing at the back of the room with a swim buddy listening to two … Read more…

The Fourth Dimension of Social Fields: The Human Mind

A note from Mary: This post is longer and more dense than usual. I am exploring some big questions so please hang in with me and read through the whole piece. I would so appreciate your sending me your questions, comments or suggestions. Last Saturday night, my husband, Roger James, and I watched the last episode of HBO’s five-part mini-series “Chernobyl.” It tells the story of the nuclear accident that occurred on April 26, 1986, … Read more…

That Which Is Unseen…

How do you feel in your meetings at work? Happy, sad, glad, mad or scared? What are your thoughts during those meetings? “This is such a waste of my time.” Or, “I am glad to be part of this conversation.” How does your body feel? Tired, engaged, agitated, calm? All three of these—your emotions, thoughts, and body sensations—contribute to a larger social or relational field in which the meeting is happening. The social fields we … Read more…

Taking a Stand

Decades ago, I took a stand for “meaningful conversations about things that matter so we can do good things for the world, together.”* This stand has been the primary thread weaving through my decades-long career and it was the inspiration for my book, Talk Matters! Saving the World One Word at a Time. As I approach the third anniversary of its publication and the end of 2019, I am revisiting this stand. Many underestimate the … Read more…

Sussing Out Our Sense of Superiority

Our judging brains are powerful things. Within nanoseconds of seeing or meeting someone, we decide whether or not we like them. We are attracted or repulsed. My meditation practice, in addition to my intention to treat others respectfully, helps me notice the train of judgments that seems to spontaneously arise when I meet someone new or when I encounter someone whom I already know. Thankfully, I can now more easily notice the judgments and step … Read more…

Taking Responsibility For Your Attention

There’s a lot to be worried about these days. Fires in the Amazon Forest, rising tensions in the Middle East, chaos in the leadership of two of the world’s oldest democracies, frequent mass shootings, rising numbers of hate crimes, lead in the water in Flint and now in Newark… Oh my. I have to stop. With all that is occurring in the world (to which we have access 24/7), it is no wonder there is … Read more…

Say What You Mean—Do What You Say

We are receiving more requests to facilitate “difficult conversations” this year than in previous ones. We don’t know the cause. Perhaps it’s the national political climate that has people more on edge. One common denominator in many of these conflicts is people NOT saying what they mean or doing what they said they would do. According to Angeles Arrien, these are two major sources of conflict. In her bestselling book The Four-Fold Way: Walking the … Read more…

Giving Away Power

Recently, I was talking with a small group of women about difficult situations and the impact they have on us. By “difficult” we meant anything that triggers us emotionally and diminishes our ability to handle circumstances effectively and constructively. One aspect that we had in common is that in these situations, we tended to give our power away and lose access to our equanimity and skills. By “power” I mean the ability to stay grounded, … Read more…

Honoring How Michael Showed Up

This post is more personal than typical posts. I wanted to share some of the reflections on the past couple of weeks.  June 8, 2019  I am in route to Massachusetts to see my older brother Michael who is quite ill and in hospital. There is a strong possibility this trip is not just to show love and support, but also to say goodbye. Michael, who is ten years older than I am, was often hard … Read more…