Change the Brain for Good: Resilience 

This entry on resilience is the second in a five-part series. The series describes what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. The first entry introduces this series and describes the impact of meditation on whether we can respond effectively to disturbing events instead of reacting to them. Over forty years ago, I started dabbling with meditation because I … Read more…

Change the Brain for Good: Responding to Disturbances

This entry is the first in a five-part series. It will describe what we know about the impact of contemplative practice on the human brain, and the relevance of these findings to doing meaningful work in groups. For 15 years I’ve been tracking the impact of meditation on the human brain and its potential to help people be more constructive in meetings. In my work as a leader, consultant and facilitator it seems to me … Read more…

Being Open To Outcomes

Roger James and I rose before dawn to drive 30 minutes to a favorite hiking trail before it became too hot to hike. It was a cool and colorful dawn with pink contrails criss-crossing the sky. (We are taking a break from the cold rains of Northern California in the deserts of the south.) As we approached the trailhead we noticed that the palm trees were leaning over in wind that had been predicted to … Read more…

Frail Grasp on the Big Picture

We keep makin’ the same mistakes Over and over and over and over again And then we wonder why We’re in the shape we’re in —From “Frail Grasp on the Big Picture” by The Eagles The lyrics of this 2007 Eagles song* remind me how quickly any one of us can get lost in the detail of a moment and lose sight of the big picture in which the detail is occurring.  For many it … Read more…

The Best Seat Is Often In The Balcony

In a recent conversation with a close friend I noticed I was getting angry and decided to “go to the balcony”* so I could avoid blurting out something I would later regret. This helped me take a broader view of what was actually going on and remember how important this friend is to me. “Going to the balcony”—as if you were looking down on an interaction from the distance of a balcony—can change your perspective … Read more…

Artful Waiting

Recently during a workshop on mindful communication, Russell Delman  asked an evocative question: “What is ‘waiting?’” We wait in line to pay for items in a grocery store; we wait on the phone to talk to a live human being, and women in particular often wait to use public restrooms. While we wait, many of us get agitated, wanting this moment to end so the next thing can happen: return home with groceries, talk to … Read more…

Tackling “…ist” Talk

To begin 2018 I offer two pieces on how to counter talk that undercuts and damages our ability to interact in constructive ways. The first one, Tackling Toxic Talk, considered how to stop toxic talk in the work place. This one explores how to handle talk that cuts close to people’s core: degrading comments about race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation. When faced with degrading comments about anyone’s race, ethnicity, gender, age, or sexual … Read more…

Tackling Toxic Talk

To begin 2018 I offer two pieces on how to counter talk that undercuts and damages our ability to interact in constructive ways. This first one considers how to stop toxic talk in the work place. The next one explores how to handle talk that cuts close to people’s core: degrading comments about race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation.  I wish you a wonderful New Year, -Mary   “Public statements are not private,” asserts … Read more…

Four Rivers of Life in 2017

Roger and I have organized our last newsletter of 2017 in the Four Rivers of Life that we learned from Angeles Arrien (1940-2014) during our many years of study with her. According to Angeles, many traditional societies believe that these rivers—Inspiration, Challenge, Surprise and Love—sustain and support us. They also connect us to greater gifts like appreciating one’s life and making sure we are living the life we desire and dream. River of Inspiration Working … Read more…

Dangers of Climbing the Ladder of Inference

I appreciate students and clients who, through their questions or disagreements, invite me to rethink and reconsider what I say and espouse. This happened recently after a two-day workshop on communication and meeting skills with the staff of a governmental agency. I had reviewed the Ladder of Inference to help people learn how to give effective feedback by separating observable behavior (what they see and hear, e.g., when you interrupt me) from inferences or judgments … Read more…