Oh, the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Too frequently we behave as if our untested inferences or beliefs about what we observe and hear are “the truth.” What we infer from or believe about what we see and hear is often quite different from what we actually see and hear. In other words, we make up stories about our direct experience instead of paying attention to it. Recently I was teaching mindfulness meditation to a group of “transition age youth.” As I … Read more…

Anger and Emotional Contagion

Sometimes I wonder if I am being naïve. Does how we talk to one another really matter? Maybe I just pay too much attention to the news: it seems so many of us are yelling at one another (politicians and political pundits); committing mass shootings (the latest is Roseburg); imprisoning and raping women, destroying antiquities, and holding people and territory hostage (ISIS is currently emblematic). What evokes this anger and aggression? The primitive parts of … Read more…

The Tug of War in our Heads

These past weeks you have had the opportunity to experience how the media exacerbates the already existing tug of war in our heads. Politicians campaign for office with threatening messages about Mexicans and Muslims while Pope Francis invokes the Golden Rule entreating us to “treat others with the same…compassion with which we want to be treated.” On the one hand, some politicians evoke fear and anger, which triggers the more primitive parts of the brain … Read more…

How We Get “Threatened” in Meetings

What tends to make you anxious or irritable when you interact with others in meetings at work or in your community? My sense of safety or equilibrium can get undermined when I don’t know what the purpose of a meeting is or when I get interrupted. A sense of safety is important because without it we lose our ability to think clearly and connect with others. When we do not feel safe the more primitive … Read more…