Change your Attitude, Heal your Soul, Balance your Life. Uplevel YOUR consciousness. Find your way HOME through MAAPS.

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Teach peace, Teach strength


In order to get something different you have to do something different.  In order to create peace we need to act in  a peaceful way toward each other.

We teach by what we say and by what we do.  If there is not a congruence between these two things then we teach the incongruence.

Acting in a discriminatory fashion toward some groups while saying to not discriminate toward other groups teaches that discrimination is okay under specific circumstances.

From a sociological perspective, it  creates a sense of an in-group/out-group in relationships.

This is the basis of discrimination.  First, the discriminated group needs to be identified, labeled, and separated out.  Next, the in-group leaders need to belittle, and make-fun of the identified out-group.  Next, the in-group needs to have some level of power with which other societal members want to connect or identify; and finally, the in-group followers have to identify they are not part of the out-group by either belittling, or negatively labeling the out-group or silently allowing the negative behavior.

All these actions together teach hate.  To teach peace we have to catch ourselves when we are participating in this structure and stop.

There is a beautiful song by Rabbi Joe Black about how hate is taught.

If a child acts in a mean or hateful way toward another group it is something that came from his family or environmental system; I am not addressing psychotic or psychopathic behavior here.

The song is encouraging us to be mindful about what we teach our children because they internalize it into a value and belief.  These are difficult to change as we age.

Many times individuals act in a discriminatory or biased way without consciously knowing or meaning to do this.  This is because the way we embrace these biases is through our personal family environments.  It is subtle how it gets embedded in our basic belief system and how we pass it on.  It spreads like a virus.

Sometimes it’s a matter of letting our frustration speak for us instead of letting our own compassion organize our speech patterns.  In our family we try to not use what we call mean words – stupid, idiot, jerk – instead we try to be descriptive – that person was mean, not thinking, not being fair, cut me off…etc.

I find that being descriptive helps to keep me out of a labeling mode.  It’s like using an anti-oxidant to combat a virus.

This increases my opportunity for understanding the other person as well as myself.  But I also have to be aware of what biases I swallowed whole from my family system and have to change in myself.

The best way to get there is through responding in the present moment.  Try to focus on description rather than labeling.  And think about how it would feel if someone treated you that way.  In other words, changing your perspective by applying the same label to yourself – if it feels demeaning it probably is a stereotypical label that may even be based in a bias.

Some things are obvious:  we know not to use certain words; they are obviously negative to us.  But, new words or accepted biases are not readily seen by the individual who uses them.

A friend of mine is 1/4 Cherokee and once she heard another friend say – stop running around like a bunch a wild Indians.  She was appalled that our friend was unaware of how she was discriminating and negatively labeling Native Americans.  Another time I heard a different friend say to a colleague when they were discussing the cost of something, can’t I jew you down on that?   The colleague was Jewish and felt it was a derogatory statement.

Both of these friends, who used these colloquialisms were highly educated individuals.  They were focused on social justice and interested in equality for  all people – yet both were promoting discrimination through socially condoned colloquialisms  – which were in actuality a stereotypical put down.

Recently, I have seen in a number of posts on Facebook, a social networking site, a reference to tea baggers.  Again, by highly educated, and by their own account, very enlightened people who are focused on social justice and in some cases, the energetic up-leveling of our society.

This is an example of a way to diminish and put down that group.  It is not enlightened or peacemaking.

It’s important to act in a way that is congruent with your speech, and value systems.  In order to teach strength, we need to be strong, and stand up for what is right, not with discrimination and power trips, but with authentically peaceful and compassionate action.

This is especially true when you are in a parenting or role-modeling position.  Those who are listening and watching you are picking up on these subtle incongruences.

The more we can be mindful, and really interact with each other in a compassionate way the more we can truly Teach peace which will Teach strength.

See you tomorrow.


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The Dalai Lama


Here is a quote from the Dalai Lama that I just read today – it speaks to what I have been writing about in the blogs about mindfulness and focusing on what is healing and positive rather than that which pulls you away from your true self.

With the realization of ones own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. According to my own experience, self-confidence is very important. That sort of confidence is not a blind one; it is an awareness of ones own potential. On that basis, human beings can transform themselves by increasing the good qualities and reducing the negative qualities.

the Dalai Lama

So if self-confidence is of the utmost importance than it seems we need to do a better job of identifying what we’re doing right, not just identifying what we are doing wrong, or what we need to decrease in ourselves or change.

It is through the balanced eye that we can best assess ourselves to increase or maintain self-confidence.

Just as Bravery doesn’t mean not being afraid, self-confidence is not hubris or narcissism.

Bravery is acknowledging danger or fear or concern and pushing through that to have the courage to act in a way that is ethical, or right or needed.  My daughter says I was brave I faced my fear and didn’t let my fear stop me.

Self-confidence is knowing one’s strengths and limitations and knowing how to utilize them positively.  It has to do with believing in yourself because of your knowledge about yourself.  This knowledge includes what you don’t like about yourself or feel is limiting about who you are, too.  That information is used to help you be the best self you can be so it doesn’t have a debilitating effect on your self-confidence.

Having limitations offers opportunities for innovation and change; thinking outside the box comes from this concept.  The idea isn’t to be perfect but to be your best self and then interact with others in their best selves.  This allows for real connection and productive enterprises that allow for transforming resolutions to difficult problems.

We can practice developing clearer pictures of ourselves through our interactions with others as well as our mistakes and successes in our activities.

When learning a new skill if we can evaluate what aspects of the skill we already have a sense of competence around that increases our sense of self-confidence.

For example for children beginning a new school, parents can remind them about what it was like when they started the school that they are leaving.  Point out that the child had the skills to get connected make friends and learn the specific subjects – and that the new experience has components of the same things so they have competence at them.

The parent can help the child evaluate what worked in those situations and how the new situation might be similar or different and what changes it may require.  This is the same for adults beginning new jobs or starting in new communities to make friends and connections.

Often what interferes with our self-confidence is how we interpret situations and expectations.  It also has to do with whether we can deconstruct the components of what is required or what is to be faced.  If we can properly deconstruct these then we have a better ability to negotiate the process and see where we have previous experience or competence.

Finally having a picture about how something should be or an attachment to things being a certain way will decrease self-confidence and ultimately success because it takes one out of a mindful state.

It’s important to be able to respond to the situation at hand in a flexible, open-minded way taking in new information and integrating it into what is already known trusting in yourself.

You can practice these skills in everyday life.  Notice how your self-knowledge and self-confidence grow.

See you tomorrow.


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8 habits to maintain a healthy life


One of my favorite Professors in my Chinese medical school, Dr. Lyndsey Tunnell, was an innovative thinker.  He taught me that Chinese medicine addresses everyday habits and how to maintain balance through these.

You can focus on your eating, sleeping, drinking, exercise, and stress reduction habits and make adjustments to these various systems to allow for a return to balance in the spirit, mind, body system resulting in health.

From a Chinese medicine point of view you would be treating yin and yang and shen, Qi and Xue and bring these as well as the organ systems into balance allowing for each to flow easily and without stagnation during their proper times, allowing for balance within the system.

Using information from Chinese medicine, Buddhist philosophy, and Judeo-Christian spirituality I have identified a strategy for health.

Eight Habits to Change your Life and return to balance

First,  Meditation, Prayer, Focused Breathing, daily or twice daily, to redirect and refocus your energy.

Connecting spirit, mind and body; Calming Shen and building Qi

Second, eat the rainbow, look for the colors of the rainbow on your plate every day to increase your access to anti-oxidant strength; and eat foods that are primarily prepared by you or someone you love.

Body, Mind, and Spirit; building Qi and Xue

Third, drink 3-4 liters of water each day.  Most people are chronically dehydrated and use beverages that further dehydrate them throughout the day.  Water is the best cleanser and most health promoting agent.  It flushes out toxins from the cellular to larger physical level.  Some common indications of dehydration include migraine headaches, dizziness; Dry mouth, skin and joints resulting in painful joints.

Body, mind, and spirit; balancing yin and yang

Fourth, Exercise 5 – 7 hours a week.  In March 2010 a new Harvard, 13 year study was released that showed that woman need an hour a day of exercise to maintain their healthy body-mass-index weight.  This is especially true for women over 50.  For anyone who has been following the old guidelines 20 minutes 3-4 times a week or even daily, and getting few results, this is no surprise.

Body, mind, and spirit; balancing qi, xue, yin and yang

Fifth, sleep 7-8 hours each night and get to sleep by 11pm.  Children need 10 hours.  Sleep deprivation increases stress on your body and interferes with clear, quick, thinking; many people become irritable and have less capacity to deal with stress when sleep deprived.  Sleep deprivation is one of the major reasons for lack of productivity in the workforce.

Body mind and spirit; allows for yin, Qi and xue to rebalance

Sixth, address anger and frustration early to extinguish them from your daily routine.  This is a major focus of many of the earlier blogs.  Mindfulness and paradigm shifting are difficult to do when in an angry defensive communication and angry , frustrated or fearful, internal sensing position.  Release of these stagnating  patterns via mindfulness and present moment interaction is paramount for health.

Mind spirit, and body; smooths Qi, moves stagnant Qi and xue, balances yin and yang

Seventh, Focus on how to flow positively in your life to reduce stress and create success.  Focus on what you want rather than what you fear.  Remove obstacles in your thinking and relationships so that you are living congruently with your values and belief systems.

Mind, spirit, and body; balances shen, Qi, Yin and yang

Eighth, apply mindful, present moment energy to your relationships and negotiations.  Figure/ground perception and responseability in the world is most beneficial, and presents opportunity for connection and growth.  This is a great place to practice Compassion and understanding.

Spirit and mind, and body; balances shen, Qi, and xue

So there’s a Sneak peak into my new book about Instinctive Health Medicine to integrate Spirit, Mind, and Body and return to balance.

Look and feel more alive and more youthful in just 8 weeks.

Add a new habit each week, in the order presented,  and you will find yourself happier, more vital and less stressed at the end of 8 weeks.

Start today and watch what happens.

See you tomorrow.


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Compassion is a powerful word.  It is active.  It is a way of being in the world.

It can bring others together to create peace.  Peace in relationships.  Peace in families, betweeen children and parents.  Peace between countries.  Peace in the world.

In order for compassion’s healing power to work those engaged in relationship and dialogue have to be in  a mindful state.

A mindful state, not a righteous state.  A mindful state is a listening state not a teaching state.  It’s having your senses on receive and integrate, not send and conquer.

Compassion requires the ability to see figure and ground simultaneously and to shift paradigms with flexibility; it requires congruency between one’s words and one’s actions.

Peace isn’t going to present itself between parties that are each sending their righteous verbiage toward each other, or through proving your point.

Peace comes from fully understanding the other person’s point, and fully understanding your own, and then mindfully looking for connection points, where those two points connect. 

It requires an earnest communcation, asking questions, delving further, all the while with a suspended sense of belief, and a focus on understanding. 

To get to understanding one must make efforts to explain meaning and not assume that a word has the same meaning for both parties.  Inflection, and non-verbal statements too, must be fully evaluated and understood.

It requires the listening and understanding part happen first, then the focus on connecting. 

Denying the other person’s perspective and jumping to let’s just see where we agree is not peacemaking; it doesn’t result from understanding.  It’s a false form of looking for agreement, and an actual form of ignoring another person’s position, concerns.

Compassion is a two-way street, it’s a way of being in the world – an attention that you put to every thing in your life – yourself, your child, your partner, your teacher, your guide, your leader – all need compassion.

Apply a compassionate attention to interactions and relationships and see if you have a clearer, fuller understanding of them and yourself. 

It may allow for more of what you want to happen, not less.  The energy of all working together, unified as one, is powerful. 

Compassion, mindfulness, and seeking understanding increase connecting points so there can be unification, not as clones but as a transformed, thoughtful, mindful, responseable group.

See you tomorrow.


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Mindfulness in everyday life


How you do One thing is how you do Everything.

In Buddhist philosophy, chop wood and carry water refers to finding enlightenment in everyday mundane tasks.

Additionally it has been interpreted as How you do one thing is how you do everything. Personally this has profound meaning due to my affinity for congruency.

If you live everyday life being mindful in the moment. Then there is much to be gained through quiet, solitary tasks.

My personal favorites are doing the dishes, sweeping, and working in the garden.  I find myself in a meditative state, with the water running and the steam coming off the soapy water, or methodically moving the dirt across my floor in neatly lined sweeps.  I learned this early in my life that being fully in the moment with these mundane tasks seemed to create a sense of peace and connection to my inner being.

I love standing in the middle of the river with the water rushing by me on either side, casting my fly rod into the water.  The rushing water, in the center of the river, looks like white birds flying off the water toward me, and has a sound-deafening quality; the sound so loud it is silent.  It is the most peaceful and meditative experience.

Last week my family took a walk in the falling snow; big, fresh, snowflakes attaching to our hats and clothes.  The air was heavy and there was a hush.  It was magnificent, just walking among the trees in the foothills, feeling the true beauty of our sweet life.

For Japanese zen meditation these actions are like the state of za-zen.  It’s a concept of complete mindfulness and attention in the moment that offers a sense of oneness with the act, or the environment, that allows for enlightenment.

You can find inner peace through the most mundane tasks. Your life doesn’t change once you become enlightened, only your perception of life changes. You will still need to chop wood and carry water but these chores will take on deeper purpose, and eventually you will find even the mundane tasks as spiritual in nature.

In Judaism one of the most sacred holidays is the Sabbath, Shabbat.  It is the most mundane and the most sacred.

Being mindful is not relegated to situations that are of significance but also those mundane, repetitive tasks that make up our everyday life.

Rather than rushing through the monotonous chores, mindfully focus on the action, meditatively being one with it.

If you can bring mindfulness to these everyday acts and chores then you will be able to bring mindfulness to the more penetrating concerns in your life and relationships.  Your state of being in the current moment is composed of whatever you do, big or small. Think about congruence; try to give the same degree of attention and mindfulness to all your activities.

You may find it increases your connection to enlightenment.

See you tomorrow.


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The Path to Grace


In the early nineties I began to write about something I call The Path to Grace.

The components of this had to do with survivor scenarios and ways to return to balance or Grace.  I remember talking with a renowned author and lecturer in the counseling field about my ideas and him saying that the word grace was too religious and would not be greeted positively by the general public.

Recently I have noticed that the word Grace has found it’s way into our everyday dialogue.  Especially, as the concept of spirit, mind, and body being interconnected is more consistently identified when discussing health.

Ken Wilber, in 1991, called his book about his wife’s battle with cancer, Grace and Grit:  Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber; so I guess I was on the right track.

I have studied the I Ching for over twenty years.  This is a profound, philosophical book.  Both Confucianism and Taoism have their common roots in it.  I prefer the translation by Richard Wilhelm, with a foreword by Carl Jung.  The Book of Changes identifies hexagrams that indicate the ebb and flow of energy, and power.

The I Ching hexagram 22 called Pi / Grace states the following:

The most perfect grace consists not in external ornamentation but in allowing the original material to stand forth, beautified by being given form.  …The inner structure of the hexagram shows harmonious equalization of the movement, giving no excess of energies to the one side or the other. … This is the form of heaven.  Having form, clear and still:  this is the form of men.  If the form of heaven is contemplated, the changes of time can be discovered.  If the forms of men are contemplated, one can shape the world. …The  form of human life results from the clearly defined (Li) and firmly established (Ken) rules of conduct, within which love (light principle) and justice (dark principle) build up the combinations of content and form.  Here too Love is the content and justice the form.  …. Here we have a standstill (Ken) outside and a clarity (Li) inside….  p494-496 Wilhelm’s  I Ching

Grace is the form where Light, shows the authentic truth of an individual.

The state of Grace allows for the opportunity for one to let go of their habit reaction patterns, survival strategies or scenarios and let their true, authentic self show through.

It’s through compassion, mindfulness, and paradigm shifting that you can reveal your authenticity and thrive in the present moment.  This, to me, is the path to Grace.

Think about how you can  be still, with clarity, and respond in the moment to your situation mindfully.  The path to grace is mindful interaction with compassion and responsibility.

See you tomorrow.


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I call myself a solutions focused therapist – but I think I’m really a Soulutions focused therapist, because I think that spirit is the critical component of health.

Spirit, Mind, and Body are inter-related, the leader is the most insubstantial component, spirit.  Shifts in spirit spin out the relationship and result in disordered thinking and ultimately, physical disorders.

Grief and loss are perfect examples of this.  When someone you love dies it is as if the invisible tethers that connect you are ripped from you.

The individual remaining on the planet feels as if they are walking around with a big hole in their energy field.  You begin to see depression, anxiety, and fatigue set in and in some cases the individual can not seem to direct their lives with any sense of strength or focus.  The emotional pain is so great that some take many years to recover and some would say that they were forever changed by the experience.

Sometimes the lack of will results in a cessation of doing things that one loves or for which one has real passion because the person is disconnected from themselves – the loss can be very destabilizing.  Sometimes there is an increase in self-medication through alcohol or drugs or food.  Sometimes there is a perseveration on the loss – an inability to move from the position of loss

I have had this experience a number of times and can feel the shift in energy.  Recently my dear girlfriend died of cancer.  I knew she was leaving so I could prepare myself, and yet even with that I could feel the cords being ripped from me when it was her actual death time.  I fell to the ground it was so destabilizing.  Perhaps because I was more prepared for this event I was able to recover more quickly than in earlier events of loss, but it still took time to reintegrate the loss into my field of energy.

My college boyfriend died 28 years ago today – and still, every year, no matter how beautiful the day, no matter how perfectly fulfilled I feel in my life, no matter how much love I feel from my husband and children, I feel it and remember that it is the day, March 21, on the day.

We have an energetic memory of intense, positive, loving, connections.  The ripping experience can heal, but there is always scar tissue of a sort and that reminds us on the day of the tragedy of our loss.

We are spirit, matter, energy beings;  not just flesh and blood also spirit and energy make up our beings, and that which affects our spirit is powerful both positively and negatively.

This is also the reason that drugs, even the most benign recreational drugs and alcohol, are so debilitating.  I know it isn’t popular to say this but these substances really do muck up our energy and physical fields.

Other intense, emotional experiences also leave their mark on our energy fields.  This is what we see with the habit reaction patterns and triggering experiences of post traumatic stress reactions.

These are soul, or spirit, traumas as well as physical and emotional.  Healing the spirit is paramount for actual healing to take place.

The most healing action is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a difficult concept for many because they connect to it cognitively, or from a logic perspective; as such they feel forgiving means allowing others to act badly, or in the event of the loss – denying the importance of the lost one.

Forgiveness means letting go of the pain of the act or pain of the loss; it’s an un-linking of the effects on your spirit so that you are again free to be wholly in the world.

Forgiveness allows you to return to balance of spirit, mind and body; return to what I call neutral, so that the injury is not spinning you out into dis-ease.

Review your stance and being in the world, is there something to which you are giving energy that is a soul loss that is spinning you out of balance in your focus and actions in your life?

If it is a loss of a loved one, all you can do is to gently try to reconnect with yourself, while bringing your relationship with that person forward in your life simultaneously trying to forgive the loss.

If it is a traumatic action then using some of the mindful techniques previously discussed to un-link the action and who you are, will allow for a letting go of the negative effects and a reconnection to your full self.

See you tomorrow.



Turn on the light


My friend sent me an email about a reported university lecture where a student and a professor discussed faith.  The reference was to Albert Einstein’s work – God vs science.

The email quoted the discussion of then student Albert Einstein talking about how you don’t turn on the darkness you turn on the light; stating that there wasn’t a source of darkness like a light switch.  He discussed duality – good and evil, light and dark – and proposed that by viewing these things in a dualistic fashion we misinterpret their relationship.

He claimed they were not opposites, rather he identified evil as the absence of good, and darkness as the absence of light.

What a paradigm shift.  Moving each onto a continuum.  No light, darkness, to various amounts of light.  No goodness, evil, to various amounts of good.

Esther Hicks talked about the same thing. She related this to power, that others don’t have power over our destiny unless we give them the power.  And she used the same analogy that we don’t have a dark switch where we turn on the darkness – we have a light switch where we turn on the light.  Darkness was the absence of light not something unto itself.

Duality keeps things in a defensive position.  It creates borders and definitions that are arbitrary.  Observing these as if on  a continuum allows for a change in perspective and an opportunity to create positive change.

Understanding the flow of energy increases your ability to respond to your environment.  You can think of the concept of responsibility as the ability to respond.  In this way it can be a concept of mindfulness, present moment thinking, and paradigm shifting.

If you view these things as if on a continuum, and you utilize responsibility as the ability to respond using mindfulness and paradigm shifting as part of your skill set, then you are able to remain powerful in the moment to effect change.

I like to think of mindfulness and paradigm shifting as turning on the light– accessing the internal strength, willpower, intuition, and connection to source within you, to view, respond to, and interact with your environment.  It fits with Einstein’s view of faith – using your knowing to respond to the world even when you do not have tangible proof of what is.

This view can be useful in parenting to deflect one’s tendency to blame, label, and react to behavior that is frustrating.  Looking at the situation, actions, and intentions of your child can allow for a paradigm shift and a teaching opportunity rather than a punitive opportunity.

Focus on increasing knowledge and understanding of the relationship between actions and outcomes – logical and natural consequences, when one has power in their environment; this teaches resilience and results in strength, positive self-esteem, and character building.

See if you can apply this concept to the next set of situations when your child (or partner) is acting in a frustrating way and see if shifting your perspective and viewing this as a continuum helps to offer a teaching opportunity.

This increases your access to patience and mindfulness.  It allows for an increase in connection in your relationships which diminishes defensiveness.  Defensiveness is problematic in relationships.  It stops communication and connection.  If it is appropriate than the relationship is not healthy.  So in most instances defensiveness is inappropriate and unhealthy.

See you tomorrow.


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responsibility for and responsibility to


It’s important to distinguish between responsibility for and responsibility to.  Two small prepositions, one big difference.

Worry is one of the most debilitating elements of stress in our country.  It seems so innocuous but it is really damaging. 

Worry does little to change a situation and it does a lot to negatively affect one’s physical and emotional system.  It can affect one’s digestive system, cardiovascular system, and emotional sensing system.  It can even result in a  pain disorder which has no direct connection to any specific system and create a feeling of fatigue and lack of will.  Worry interferes with our capacity to be present to intuition.

Meditation and mindfulness have a positive effect on all of these systems and can counteract the debilitating effects of worry.

This is where the twelve step phrase helps to begin to distinguish between what requires action or attention and what is out of one’s sphere of control.  The serenity prayer:  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference between the two.

Mindfulness and paradigm shifting are ways to increase your ability to remove your energy from that over which you have no control, and place your attention onto those things where you can effect change.

Staying empowered and mindful also helps to distinguish for which people and things you are responsible and to which people and things you are responsible. 

I have noticed a degree of confusion on this subject.  We are not actually responsible for making other people’s lives work or for their happiness, we are responsible to them, to do the things we have agreed to do.  In fact this is where there have been some missteps in the rights and responsibilities relationship. 

Responsiblity for is a co-dependent concept when attributed to relationships other than young children.  Co-dependent relationships impede our ability to connect to our own personal power.  

Co-dependency is where two people come together to make one – not in the universal we are all one theory but in a reductionist philosophy – they are two halves alone and only make one together.

We are responsible to each other; healthy relationships are interdependent.   Interdependency is where two whole beings come together and make something that is more than one through their interdependent relationship.  They are not reduced by their separation and they are increased by their connection.

Responsiblity to has to do with being reliable, having integrity, mindfulness, and balance of self and other needs and expectations; it is an increasing type of expansion through connection that is not reductive.  It is a very important component of having healthy,  positively functioning relationships.

So over the course of the next few days notice when you begin to worry and apply the serenity prayer to see if you are funneling energy away from yourself. 

Also look at your relationships and see if you’re giving away something to be in them – try to mindfully evaluate if they are interdependent or co-dependent. 

If you find that you are participating in worry, or relationships that zap your energy rather than increase you, see how you can restructure those situations and/or relationships so that you are responsible to, interdependent, and positively functioning interactively.

See you tomorrow.


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Mindfulness and balance


So one of the most difficult lessons to teach when parenting teenagers is the lesson that rights and responsibilities are connected.  In the United States adolescence is a time of many rights with few responsibilities – in order to transition an adolescent to adulthood one has to start in early childhood connecting rights and responsibilities.

Mindfulness, and balance of self-needs and group needs are important ways to identify and teach this relationship.  A basic component of this is empathy.

In order to prepare a child for moral development, the components of empathy and rights/responsibilities relationship should be presented in early childhood.  Skills development requires the elements of those skills be taught in small parts earlier.  Think about how we teach reading, writing, and mathematics.

When we have rights without the connection to responsibilities then we don’t see how what we do affects our sense of personal power or the rights of others.  There is a disconnect between individual and community.  We need to teach a direct connection to one’s own power, growth, and how we utilize resources.

It’s like the fable Give a man a fish and you feed him for one night – Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime…..Teaching our children to be nice to get what they want is insufficient we need to teach them empathy and moral reasoning.

Understanding the relationship between individual rights and responsibilities requires the development of empathy.  Empathy is an important quality required for healthy relationships.  When a person is focused solely on his own rights and needs, he has little empathy; this is understood  within its relationship to narcissism.

Lack of empathy is not just undesirable it is one of the qualities looked for when evaluating a person’s degree of sociopathy.  Sociopathy is both innate or genetic and learned or developed.  Some studies indicate that a sociopath is nearly untreatable by age 13 years old, so waiting to address these issues makes it nearly impossible to turn around the habit development aspect of sociopathy.

Teaching our children empathy and to understand how they are connected to others, to groups and, to some degree, community is one of the habits that helps to defuse sociopathic development.

This skill set is problematic if we err in either direction.

Children need to learn about their connection in groups, and they need to learn they have responsibilities to the group as well as themselves.  Too obedient and they cannot stand out on their own – too self-absorbed or willful and they can’t connect and work in groups or teams.

There is a funny little movie called Ella Enchanted about a girl who has a gift – and the gift is of obedience – but what it really meant was that she was imprisoned by her compulsion to do exactly what she was told to do, even against her own will or inner sense of what was right.

In a way over emphasis on teaching our children obedience does this; it teaches them to be pushovers or followers and if we want to teach them to develop their leadership skills they have to be aware of how they fit into the group while simultaneously able to break away from the needs of the other, or group, when it doesn’t serve them or the expectation of obedience is unreasonable.

These are difficult, complex concepts.  Various philosophical theories take us down the rights, or the responsibilities, paths.  The balance of these is what is really needed to have a  healthy individual at her best potential within a healthy group.  Teaching about rights and responsibilities and the relationship between the two must start in early childhood.

Mindfulness and balance are integral components of the healthy relationship of rights and responsibilities.  These are great tools to utilize to develop empathy.

So how to work this into your life if you are parenting, begin an ongoing discussion of these ideas with your children.  Focus this on your family constellation first.   Make sure your children have age appropriate responsibilities in your family.  Chores and expectations that are not just personally focused but also family or group focused.

You can also try to address interaction issues from an empathic developmental perspective.  Babies will cry if they hear another child crying so there is an archaic form of empathy to encourage and develop.

Second, have them be involved in giving back to their community in whatever way you do this, like through charity, cleaning up the environment, recycling or some other way that hi-lights a connection to the community at large.

Have this be a normal, maintenance part of your everyday lives so it is incorporated into their internal structure as a way of life.

See you tomorrow.