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Memory is a funny thing


I am not sure that I really understand how memory works.  But I have some ideas.

It’s some kind of combination of feelings, words, and images.  The stronger the emotional quality of something the more likely we’ll remember it unless it is too strong and then we push it deep into to our unconscious.

In therapy it is often the remnants of memory with which we work.

Attention, paying attention and to what you attend, affects how memory is stored – so if you have attention deficit disorder you have a weird memory process.  It isn’t that you don’t remember, it’s that you can’t necessarily find the information where you think it will be – it isn’t stored in the same way because of the attentional issues.

Sometimes even when you don’t have an attentional disorder your attention is distracted, either on purpose or accident, and your memory of something is distorted and spread out all over, so you don’t have access to it through any normal channels.

There is this amazing procedure called Traumatic Incident Reduction that allows one to work through the kind of memories that are pushed down into our unconscious, or spread out in weird ways.  It helps to release them from their prison so that the information held within the memory can be used to help guide us, while the fear, pain or hurt connected to the memory can be unlinked from the memory ident and released from our physical bodies.

It helps to eradicate habit reaction patterns.  Habit reaction patterns and survivor scenarios are connected to memory.  The triggers that incite habit reaction patterns or keep us stuck in a survivor scenario pattern or style of being in the world, are parts of memory remnants with should action attached if this then that – equations.

It helps us to view the traumatic memory from a distance so that we can mindfully evaluate what it is about and how it affected us and how we want to respond to the information of the event now.

It uses a technique that works with a defense mechanism identified by Freud called repetition compulsion.  This mechanism is defined as a compulsion or strong push to repeat patterns or relationships that caused trauma in the person’s life, in order to get a different outcome.

This is a compulsion to repeat and as such, the person tends to do the same thing, get the same result, and then start over, and this keeps repeating ad nauseum – only when the person gets out of the habit reaction pattern or the survivor scenario can s/he then actually re-view the situation.

In order to stop the repetition compulsion the person needs to re-frame or shift the paradigm.

In order to do that, all parts of the memory and its different levels and perspectives of the memory must be viewed and evaluated and then re-incorporated to be seen more fully.  This can happen through the techniques of TIR or, through some forms of light trancework, or through therapy.

I think of memories as having idents of information – not wholes of information – and the work with memories is to return to balance, to put together all the idents to understand it; it requires paradigm shifting and figure/ground.

I think the best practice to help with this is the practice of mindful meditation.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with how we maintain or even form our memories.  And that can affect our relationships and how we learn.

Utilizing mindful meditation and teaching about paradigm shifting and remaining in the present can assist us in how we interpret and re-form our memories so that they can provide us with the most accurate, whole and useful information contained in them

See you tomorrow.


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Gestalt Therapy I: Observation and mindfulness


I have been thinking about how to clarify the underpinnings of mindfulness and therapy.

My first thoughts are to Existentialism, Phenomenology, and then to Gestalt therapy – Fritz Perls.

Secondarily, Carl Rogers’ person centered therapy and Jung’s archetypal psychology.

Finally, early in my career I was introduced to Reichian therapy with its emphasis on pushing through the stuck energy by focusing on bodily sensations and breathwork.

These together have the psychological underpinnings of Mind, Spirit and Body.

For me strong spiritual development through Judeo-Christian principles, energy medicine, and Zen Buddhism this moves Spirit to the lead and the integration of the three through breathwork and mindfulness.

Existentialism is a philosophy that focuses on how all actions are choices, even no action, and that an individual has power as she has responsibility for her choices in the world, and through this responsibility is free.   Jean-Paul Sartre best describes this philosophy; I like many of his literary works but my favorite is Being and Nothingness.

Phenomenology incorporates the effect of the interface of energy, spirit, mind, and physical components in the development of self and meaning.  Georg Hegel:  The Phenomenology of Spirit and Martin Heidegger:  On the Way to Language and The Question of Being were strong contributors to this philosophy.

Today I thought I would talk about the connection of mindfulness and therapy through observation, focus, and awareness.

Throughout the last few months I have addressed this and that of meditation to get to the stillness and neutrality needed for observing the figure/ground, habit reaction patterns, and the application of mindfulness.

Fritz Perls had an uncanny ability to follow and develop upon  a thread of information from a number of different theorists. From my perspective he focused on applying that information especially from  a phenomenological point of view and in conjunction with what I view as Zen Buddhists traditions.

Perls expanded upon some of Freud’s work with a focus on Freud’s penetrating insights and techniques to develop the Gestalt process.  These and one’s outlook serves as a centering focus that connects several psychological approaches with Zen Buddhism.

As a discovery and exploration oriented model it is at the opposite extreme from the cognitive behaviorist’s programming techniques yet it incorporates elements of desensitization and the development and practice of new behavioral patterns.

This is true probably because of how he integrated Zen practices and Reichian techniques with his focus of mindful living or what he called living fully.

There is a nice interplay and relationship between Gestalt theory and with Jung’s powerful work on imagination.  Especially with its focus on using inner creation models for focus.  Also Gestalt therapy incorporates Karen Horney and her focus on should introjects which are patterns of being in the world.   This is what I identify as either survivor scenarios or habit reaction patterns.

I view Perls’ and Rogers’ approaches as an active phenomenology which assists a person in discovering his or her existential reality.   Gestalt focuses on a whole-body sensing, dynamic approach rather than a straight talking approach like Rogers.

The Person-centered approach of Rogers and the Gestalt therapy of Perls developed therapeutically first,  then the theory grew out of the practice.

Perls’ Gestalt therapy is centered in the psychological gestalt of a person’s present moment.  The key in Gestalt Therapy is the facilitator’s underlying attitude of neutrality, openness, compassion and acceptance – focused on the present moment and discovery without interpretation or judgment.   This is more important than any specific technique used.

This is the key, present moment focus, observation and mindfulness, and the connection to Zen Buddhist meditation and practice.

In the gestalt process model Anxiety is seen as not being in the present moment.  Anxiety will be relieved by attending to and getting into the present moment through observation and mindfulness, with a focus on neutrality.

To get to the authentic self, the real self in the present moment, the focus is on the resistance or stuck energy or inauthenticity in the present moment through observation and mindfulness; viewing the figure in relation to the ground or background of the situation, using observation and mindfulness.

Self-confidence is paramount to developing resilience and anxiety works against that.

So this information applies to our own development and parenting as an equation of maintaining focus on staying in the present moment and using the techniques of paradigm shifting and mindfulness, breathwork  and neutrality to help develop our and our children’s self-confidence and inner strength.

See you tomorrow.


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Instinctive knowing


Instinctive knowing is akin to a sixth sense.

We have five physical senses:  seeing, hearing, touch/feeling, taste, and smell.  I think of intuition as related and integrated with these five, but also having a separate connection – so it’s like a sixth sense.

Mindful observance of your five senses increases your ability to integrate information.

When I was pregnant with my beautiful daughter, I noticed a black dot develop on my face just under the corner of my left eye, on my cheekbone.

It became larger as my belly grew.

In my oriental medical school I learned that progesterone didn’t just make babies grow it also made other cells develop more rapidly.  By the time I delivered my sweet daughter the dot on my face had grown exponentially.  It was about 1/8 th of an inch big – which is pretty big for a freckle that had developed over a 10 month period.

I had a bad feeling about it.

My health plan at the time was one of those plans that took forever to get things done – regardless of severity.  So they couldn’t get me an appointment to have the biopsy for months; then something happened and I had to cancel and then I couldn’t get another appointment for months.

It kept bothering me – this nagging feeling that something was wrong with that black dot on my face.  So I kept trying to follow through to get in to the doctor’s office.

Finally, I saw the doctor and she took off a little bit of the dot to biopsy it.  It was her last day with the hospital.  The new doctor to whom I was referred, called me directly following the biopsy asking that I return asap.  He called me, twice, not the nurse, not the scheduler – the doctor.  That informed me that it was serious.

It was a melanoma in-situ.  It was stage 0, just at the site.  Which was good, because even at that low a stage the doctor had to remove a 1/2 inch all the way around the dot to get clean borders.

It left a big 1-inch scar on my face, that has turned into a laugh line.

I had an instinctive knowing that there was something wrong.  I had information from my sensory guiding system too, and the two together guided me to keep following up on the black dot.

My instinctive knowing led me to get treatment far in advance of when skin cancer is usually found which in turn  increased my chances for a positive outcome.

Of course, it helped that it was right there on my face; right in a place I looked every day and the world looked too.

A much more obscure example of instinctive knowing was an innocuous freckle on my husband’s thigh.

There was really nothing about his freckle that was different from all the other freckles.  It was the normal size of a freckle.  He had other freckles that were the same shape and color.

Objectively, it did not really have any characteristic that differentiated it from the other freckles.

His dermatologist who was one of the best in town had looked at it, and measured it, and determined it was okay.

It bothered me.  I had a bad feeling about it.  I would see it and I would say I want you to have your doctor check it out.

It looked darker, almost black, to me, and when I held my hand over the area I could feel a sharpness, a hot, tingling in my palm that seemed to be radiating from the freckle.  I didn’t feel this with any other freckle.

I actually had a visceral response of not liking the freckle; it was weird.

Every time it bothered me, I bothered my husband until finally he went to the doctor and said, my wife says there is something wrong with this freckle.  The doctor said, I don’t think it’s anything but since it bothers her I will take it off and biopsy it.

He did.

It was melanoma, stage 1.

My husband had surgery the next week they removed 2 inches around the freckle to get clear borders.  He has a five-inch scar, but the area doesn’t feel tingly-hot to my palm anymore.

And he is okay.

Funny thing, now whenever he goes to see his dermatologist, his doctor says – is there anything that is bothering Beth.  He doesn’t ask it first; he uses all his training and skills to evaluate if there is something out-of-place – but he always asks it before the consult is over.  He and I, both, have learned to pay attention to my instinctive knowing.

My willingness to listen and respond to my instinctive knowing saved his life.  That’s a good thing for sure.

These two stories identify two separate incidents where mindful observation of the five senses – the sensory guidance system – integrated with instinctive knowing, allowed for an opportunity for something resembling a sixth sense to guide my and my husband’s actions.

The instinctive knowing wasn’t fear or anxiety it was more of a bother or a nagging feeling that kept bringing me back to something that was calling for attention.

Practice paying attention to those quiet, nagging feelings that something is out-of-place, like a puzzle or a mystery.

You may find your sensory guidance system includes an instinctive knowing that will guide you to make a transformative decision or response.

I have to say, I do like puzzles and mysteries.

See you tomorrow.


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Instinctive Health


How do you distinguish between instinctive health and habit reaction patterns?

When I am writing about instinct I am referring to intuition as a part of your emotional sensing system.  That is to say that I am not referring to information from an outside source but rather a knowing that is from within.

Instinct in this way is not a primitive set of patterns instilled from an earlier evolutionary state.

Intuition instinct is part of an integrated informational system that incorporates the whole of who you are and then offers information from that source within you to guide your actions.

So what is instinctual for you may not be the best instinctual choice for another.

Our emotional guidance system includes our emotions and intuition.

Remember how anger is just an alarm going off to let you know that someone has crossed your boundaries.  The best response is to say hmm what boundary has been crossed; applying your mindful approach to the emotion in order to determine your best response in present time rather than reacting from a habit reaction pattern which is based in history not present time.

Intuition is a function of a mindful approach to living; it is a feeling/knowing that directs you to make a decision based on information in combination with your emotional guidance system.

Intuition instinct is knowing yourself, knowing the environment and acting on that knowing in a mindful, present moment way.

An example of this is when I was making a decision about how to treat my dog’s heart failure.

My intuition instinct was that I had a bad feeling about the medicine to treat my dog even though studies indicated it was the right treatment for my dog’s heart disease.  The expert-vet was caught up in the ego of being the doctor and couldn’t compute the intuitive information that I brought to the circumstances.

I had a knowing that there was some piece of the puzzle that wasn’t being interpreted correctly – I knew his lungs were involved in the problem, but not in the way she was looking at it – I had an intuitive instinct that the medicine was not the best medicine for him.

My primary vet had years of experience with a very successful practice.  He had the capacity to listen to my intuitive instinct and incorporated that into his treatment plan.  He was able to take that information and shift his paradigm and use a medicine that was empirically indicated.  My dog has lived 5 months longer than expected based on this collaborative approach.

Intuition is some part knowledge from the universe like Jung’s collective unconscious, and some part observation of how something is out-of-place, and some part knowing.

It has an imprint quality, but not a history imprint, and it comes in wholes – it is the answer with the picture and the explanation all at once.

It’s a knowing not a feeling, even though we describe it as a feeling.  It’s an instinctual response, not a reaction.

Learning to trust your intuition requires a few things.

First, you must have an understanding of how the emotional guidance system works.

You have to be able to distinguish between fear/anxiety and intuition.  Fear/anxiety internal voices tend to have an intensity and loudness to them – they break through whatever is going on.  They push through to the front.  These are usually not intuition; these are unconscious habit patterns.  If you feel immediately triggered it is more likely that rather than any sense of intuition.

Strong emotions may be indications of an acute situations, but they may also be a trigger from a habit reaction pattern.  So the first thing to do is to discern which is happening.

A great way to do this is to apply mindfulness, remaining neutral and in the present moment, and attending to figure/ground information and looking at the situation from all the paradigms available.

Second, you have to notice the intuitive instinct information, to hear the quiet inner voice that carries the information from the emotional guidance system.  So if you’re good at ignoring those nagging voices/senses you have to shift that so you listen more acutely and more often.

Practicing some type of meditation or breathing exercise like Qi Gong, or Yoga is helpful to develop this.

Intuition is quiet and not forceful and it usually doesn’t have an urgency or any other emotional history imprint with it.  It’s like a quiet whispering that has substance and neutral certainty to it.  It can have a nagging quality to it.

I know I have used the statement I have a bad feeling about this as a reference to intuition but it isn’t really a feeling it’s a sense/knowing sometimes without emotion.  It’s a quiet certainty.

Instinctive health is the practice of listening for that quiet inner voice and taking action based on it.  And conversely the practice of not acting on those fearful/anxious impulses.

Instinctive health is allowing your emotional guidance system to guide you.  And I think it is the calmest and most efficient way to navigate through important decisions.

See you tomorrow.


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Attachment is a funny thing.  In some ways it is the thing that holds us together and in other ways it is the thing that barricades our progress.

How can that be that it is both?

How attachment can be a barricade to progress is more of a psychological interpretation; being attached means you have a picture of what something is, or is supposed to be, or meant to be and you will not accept anything that deviates from that picture.

If you hold too strongly to that picture you may not see the reality of what is.

I think about individuals who are always looking for the perfect partner.  Because they are attached to a specific picture of that partner, they are unable to see how a number of people may fit the picture and so they miss out on really important opportunities in relationship.

Being attached may also mean a sense of connection. Usually this is related to a situation where two or more people have an agreement about what something is and that agreement holds the group together, or makes the group successful.

In the first scenario the person’s attachment is what impedes the creation of exactly what the person wants.

In the second scenario the attachment is connecting and furthers the creation of what the person wants.

In order to create something, you must have a picture of what it is. But holding too strongly to that picture, not having flexibility in how you view the guidelines of what you want to create – that’s one of the ways we fall into the trap of attachment.

We create a picture of something we want to create.  And that is good.  It is good to know what you want.

Attachment to that thing looking a very specific way is what gets us into trouble.

So if you want a partner that’s great; if you want a partner to have a number of specific attributes, that may become something that impedes you in developing a relationship with someone who will be a good match.

It’s all in the ability to understand how to generally have a guideline for what you want to create rather than a blueprint.

You must have the ability to know what you want de novo. But when you start to thinkit can only be that picturethen it becomes something to which you are attached.

Applying mindfulness, in the present moment, and being flexible is what helps us to keep the picture dynamic and allows the picture to guide us without becoming attached to it.  This leads to a stance of non-attachment and neutrality about the outcome or the specifics of the picture.

It’s a focus of non-attachment to the picture that allows us to see it change into what is really wanted or needed according to all the information available to us.  It requires incorporation of new information while maintaining a strong connection,  but not attachment, to the core structure.

Non-attachment is not non-caring.  Non-attachment is a neutral stance of allowing.

If you want to create a relationship, but the person has to be a certain, height, age, color of hair, economic status, education status etc then the picture becomes too much like a model to which all of the possibilities are measured .

If you say I want someone who has similar values, and is attractive to me with whom I feel comfortable.  Those specifics are incorporated into the guide by virtue of who you are but the guide is not so specific that no one can fit into it.

Use your mindfulness skills to think about how you may be attached in some way to an outcome in something that is important to you.

If you can apply mindfulness to get to the underlying goals.  And then allow that to be created in it’s best form, remaining unattached to the specific picture of the outcome, you will see how all things can work out as they need to be.

Sometimes what we need is not actually what we think we want; and sometimes what we can have is so much better than the picture we can create.  Being open and non-attached to the outcome allows for the best outcome to be created.

See you tomorrow.


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Our power truly rests in how we respond to what comes to us.

It is our ability to respond quickly, effectively and mindfully that brings us the most success.

Emotion can be revealing and helpful from an awareness point of view but it can also be a blockage and a deterrent to mindfulness.

Knowing which is what is an important task.

This is to say knowing when to ignore or set aside an emotional feeling and when to respond to it is paramount for effective decision-making and fruitful interactions.

Anger and fear, and powerlessness can be the most confusing.

When one feels the need to defend, or to be defensive one is in a reactive space.  When one feels powerless one may not be able to act.

Knowing when to actively defend because there is a real danger versus when to simply allow the energy/qi to go by as one does in the martial art of Aikido – allowing it to go by of its own force, to step out-of-the-way of the energy, that is the key.  And with respect to powerlessness, knowing how to wait actively while being still is difficult.

The most difficult aspect of mindfulness is remaining neutral and not reacting – once you can do that allowing in compassion and evaluating all the options from a 3-d perspective is like breathing.  That is response-ability, the neutrality allows for our full ability  to respond to be available to us.

It takes practice.

Stress will create an increase in reactivity and a decrease in responsiveness.

There are physical stressors such as hunger, sleep deprivation, and illness.  There are also emotional stressors; in example, internal expectations regarding our own behavior, or attitudes of perfectionism, or a sense of being overly responsible for others needs being met.

This latter one is often mistaken for being responsible.

It is a mistaken idea that sets up a habit reaction pattern that resembles co-dependency.

There is a difference between being responsible for and being responsible to. Responsible for takes on the energy and expectation of a co-dependent relationship and removes response-ability out of the equation.  Response-ability is a responsible to action.

Responsiblity for and co-dependent relationships impede our ability to connect to our own personal power and it disengages our capacity for action from our own center.

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.

Healthy interactions and acting from one’s center has the boundary of responsible to each other, it is an interdependent structure not a co-dependent structure.

Interdependency is where two whole beings come together and make something that is more than one through their interdependent relationship.  They maintain their connection to self while together creating something more wherein they are not reduced by their separation and they are increased by their connection.

Responsiblity to has to do with being reliable, having integrity, having boundaries, 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.  It also is a way of maintaining a clear boundary of where one individual ends and another begins.  Responsibility for blurs that boundary and so interferes with an individual’s availability to himself and his center.

One way to know that you are maintaining a connection to yourself and remaining in your center, so that you are able to effectively respond, is to think about how you view your ability to respond in a particular situation.

If you feel that you are powerless than it may be that you are coming from a responsibility for perspective and need to shift your perspective, notice the boundaries and get into a responsibility to paradigm.

Maintaining a stance in the world of responsibility to will help you to remain in your center and shifting into it can help you to get to neutrality so that you can respond mindfully.

This can be used like focused breathing.  When you notice that you are feeling an emotion that is creating a reactivity in you, then think about these terms and focus your response-ability.

Apply the responsibility to structure to the situation and you may find your reactivity gets diffused and you can shift your perspective so that you can respond mindfully.

Responsibility to can have a beautiful effect on your blood pressure.

See you tomorrow.


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Hope as an Obstacle


Thich Nhat Hanh wrote an amazing piece about Hope as an Obstacle.  This information has had a profound effect on my focus in my life.

In Thich Nhat Hanh’s  book Peace is Every Step he writes: 

that hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.  If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.  But that is the most that hope can do for us- to make some hardship lighter……he goes on to discuss the tragic nature of hope…..since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment.  We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future…..Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. (pg 41 in Peace is Every Step). 

He reframes the concept of hope so that rather than helping to create the change, hope becomes an obstacle to our actual opportunities, capacities and actions for change in the present moment.

I like to think about this in this way – Hope moves us into a passive place whereas Faith has an active quality and moves us back into the present moment. 

When we have faith we are actively focusing on the thing we are desiring while simultaneously working on creating that thing.  Being in faith also increases our availability to compassion and forgiveness.

Change can only occur in the now, the present. 

We can only change what we can identify; and we can only use the tools presently available to us.  By taking ourselves out of the present moment (hoping) we put ourselves into the future (hope for something better to come) where we have no actual power. 

Our only power over the future is in the present and what we do in the present. 

How we act in the present can change the future but waiting for change (living in the future – hoping) puts us into a passive, unempowered role.

Living mindfully is the most empowering tool available to us for actual and enduring change. 

And the most important avenue for staying mindful is getting to and remaining neutral, or in your center, so that you can respond mindfully.

Hoping takes us out of the present and so out of our center, faith allows us to remain in our center.

So try this. 

Think about something that you are being passive about – or trying to control but that you don’t have power over and you are hoping will turn out as you wish.

Try changing the word Hope to Faith and see if you find something that is empowering that you can do or focus on in that situation.

You may find that you have increased resources and energy to change your situation in a positive way toward what you wish. 

If you are wishing for something that is out of your control, you have to focus your faith and your energies on shifting your response to the situation in a positive way.

See you tomorrow.


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Being a translator in relationship


So it is my observation and assertion that each of us has our own language.

Successfully negotiating relationship is the process of learning eachother’s language.

Individuals in long-term relationships, children and caregivers, and close siblings (especially twins) have their own shared language.

This increases the intimacy between the shared language group and excludes those outside the group.

We see this in high school where small groups develop new words with personal meanings that hold them together as a group and exclude those who don’t know the language.

What words mean to us, how we see the world and communicate within it, these things are dramatically affected by our experiences and our interpretations of those experiences.  That whole, internal, 3-d meaning is called a frame of reference.

Since everyone has a unique personality and unique experiences then this process results in unique meanings in language and even interpretation of behavior and actions.  I think of this as a phenomenological process.

Let’s use a word to illustrate this point. 

Grace This word has religious connotations, and it signifies beauty of a delicate nature and movement that is easy and looks effortless – graceful.  It can be interpreted as beneficence, prayer, a state of being under divine influence, and good will.  And I use it as a way to describe being in line with your path, being in-sync with your true nature, and being in-sync with your spiritual path.

How you interpret Grace or translate that word for yourself has to do with your experiences and internal relationship to that word. If you belong to a religious group which uses it in a specific way then it will be imbued with that specific meaning for you.

Knowing yourself means understanding what has meaning for you and how much of that is transferable to and/or agreed on in your relationships, work, groups and situations.

It’s important to know yourself and know the person with whom you are in relationship.

I think interpretation is sometimes one of the ways that communication breaks-down because an individual interprets from their own frame of reference rather than that of the speaker.

So I think it’s important to be a translator; to take time clarifying your meaning and language – your frame of reference, as well as to spend time learning about the other’s meaning and language – their frame of reference.  Doing this encourages the opportunity for real or full communication to take place.

This is and act of mindfulness and allows a synergistic relationship of the two languages to be achieved.

In groups there are as many languages as there are people involved.  So this is an awesome task.

One way to begin to identify and translate meaning in your own language and that of those close to you is to notice when you have/hear emotional expression with specific words.

I have written about this as responding to sensory awareness so that you can act in present time, in a neutral/unattached, compassionate, and mindful way.  This is an opportunity to use the stop, look and listen strategy in interaction with others.

Try to follow the thread of that emotional expression back to its source.

Do this as an internal process for yourself when you are noticing an emotional attachment to a word – and do this with the other person in relationship when you hear an emotional attachment to a word.

It can be revealing.

See you tomorrow.


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I think of mindfulness as a concept that includes spirit, mind, and body responses integrated with information to guide our actions and cognitions.

Mindfulness is best developed through love, compassion and clarity.  This is what I call the Path to Grace.

Our minds are full with a focus on perception, attention, perspective, and intention.  These are the foci that allow us to see in 3-d – giving space for figure/ground and paradigm shifting.

Intuition provides a blink response. A cue that there is something wrong or right.  It allows for us to integrate our observations of our sensing system with our knowledge to guide us.  The blink quality may allow for this integration to come to us as a whole and in an instant.

Anger and fear are not blink responses they are triggers – it may be a trigger to alert us that there is someone crossing our boundaries like an internal sensing alarm system.  Or they may be emotional triggers to survivor scenarios.

Feeling sorry for oneself seems to be in this later category.  This is how depression can erode at our being in an insidious way.

If you find yourself feeling defensive, angry or feeling poor me, to avoid an error in course you can have an internal note to yourself, as well as an external one, to remind you these emotions may be more of a habit reaction pattern than an accurate assessment of something happening in the present moment.  

Mind – fullness is a concept of utilizing one’s emotional sensory guidance system, and physical sensing system and the Full capacity of our cognitive and problem solving skills to evaluate situations and experiences in order to create and guide our way.

Meditation is a very useful tool to develop a sense of centeredness and to allow for mind-fullness.

One of the most useful forms of meditation to help develop this skill is actually a meditation on emptiness.  Isn’t that fascinating?  In order to allow for mind-fullness we have to develop our capacity to be with emptiness.

This meditation is wonderful and can increase peacefulness.  You begin with a comfortable sitting position either on the floor or in  a chair.  You begin with breath.  Breathing in and breathing out.

Just breathing in and breathing out.  As you allow the breath to come in, notice it and as you allow the breath to go out, notice it.  Here’s how it looks to me – I use breath, some use a mantra as a focal point:

Follow breath–Attention, awareness, calm, flow—–>———->distraction –-attention, rumination,worry, spin-out——>-important awareness, observation ——->Redirection, Re-orient attention —–with attitude of kindness, compassion, curiosity,—–>Follow breath--Attention, awareness, calm, flow—–> —— > ——- —->— ———–>distraction-——attention, rumination, worry, spin-out——>-important awareness, observation—> ——–>Redirection, Re-orient attention –—-with attitude of kindness, compassion, curiosity ————> ————->Follow Breath….. and it continues until breath is all

You can do this for a few minutes at first and then as you become more comfortable with the process you can increase this to ten minute several times a day.

I also like to use much shorter sessions of focused breathing to help me find my center when I am spun out by conflict or intense, difficult interactions –  just 30 or 60 seconds of breathing in, and breathing out – just breathing in, breathing out – allows for the space to get to mind-fullness to allow for a neutral compassionate style of being in the world.

I have taught this to my daughter to help her deal with her intense emotions.

It has been a wonderful tool for her, especially when she wants to get re-centered.  She experiences this tool as empowering.

I encourage you to try this exercise and practice it for a few days.  Notice how you feel after the exercise.  Notice if the triggers seem to have less effect after this exercise.

There is all sorts of evidence that this kind of meditation can reduce anxiety and one’s blood pressure.  Notice for yourself what happens.  I think you may find it useful in our fast-paced, multi-tasking culture.

See you tomorrow.


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Observation and Mindfulness


So I bet a lot of you who actually have a TV have seen Simon Baker in the Mentalist.  I love the way he observes and integrates his observations with his knowledge and comes up with calculated guesses that are often right – it is as if he is psychic.

It’s a cool concept – If you have access to the USA channel then you have seen it on Psyche too, with a lot of tongue in cheek humor.

That is my life.   Not watching TV – this integrated mindfulness – And it’s the life I am encouraging you to develop- Observation Integrated with Knowledge.

I think of it as Applied Intuition and it can look like psychic skills.

It’s basically trusting your hunches, listening to your intuition, and paying attention to your senses.

It’s the Blink response made famous by Malcolm Gladwlll, in his book by the same name.

Have you ever been listening to your partner or child as they tell a story of an event and you think there is something not quite right here?  That’s paying attention to something that is not tangible.  It’s a gut feeling or a sense that something is off.

Have you ever watched someone being interrogated about something and they give you a tell a quirky action that tells you or telegraphs to you huh there is something not right here.

Great poker players say everyone has a tell it’s a thing they do when they are trying to give the impression of one thing when something else is the truth.  Tells can be like a tic – extra movements, avoiding eye contact, blinking, but they can also be an absence of a behavior that one would expect – a flatness or lack of action.

The theory behind this is that your body is always fully transmitting information; it’s what the lie detector test is based on; and it’s what people describe when they are trying to teach you how to read other people.

Usually it’s picking up on some non-verbal thing that communicates something different from the the verbal information.

On the TV show NCIS it’s Gibbs’ comments that there are no coincidences.  For his character this is something that makes his gut say there is something wrong here.

What ever it is it requires observation of non-verbal information, internal bodily sensations (like the hair standing up on the back of your neck) – observation of things that seem to be out of order or not fitting into a pattern.

This, then is connected to your knowledge base – paradigm shifting, knowing of the person or what seems normal for that person’s behavior.

An example is when you feel it’s too quiet and you ask your child who normally is very talkative and active what she is doing and she says nothing with a feeling of something in how she says the word.  Observing the dissonance between how she is acting and how she normally acts allows you to say hmmm I better go check on what she is doing…. and you find she is doing something that is outside the rules.

Or if you are interviewing someone for a job and they give all the right answers but it doesn’t feel like they are going to actually act in the way they are identifying – somewhere you have picked up on a disconnect in verbal statements and non-verbal behavior.

Hunches, gut reaction, paying attention and focusing our awareness of patterns, and strict observation are how we develop our mindfulness.

This works through the process of slowing down the input of information and increasing our gathering of information.  It focuses us onto the process of Stop, Look, and Listen.

This is really helpful in relationship building, team-building, communication and parenting.

It’s also important in personal growth development and health issues.

What about when you start to feel fatigue but you are generally an energetic person.  That could be your body saying to you hey I think there’s a problem here – check it out.

We are always communicating with ourselves but if we aren’t paying attention to thsoe communications then we can miss out on important health concerns.  Think about individuals who may be allergic to gluten or lactose intolerant they may not properly attribute issues to the correct thing if they are not mindful in how they respond to the inner feeling of huh I think there is something out of place here.

We have to look for the tells.

The same is true for our kids – when they have a change in personality we need to  Stop, Look, and Listen.

Try to unravel the place that the change occurred so that you can get a better understanding of what may have gone wrong – and how – so that you can try to set things back on track.

Kids can respond to stress both at home and school with a regression in their developmental stages – some of this is also part of the developmental process – so you have to stop – first notice the change and then look by increasing your knowledge base of the developmental stages.  You also have to spend time being with your child to listen to what may be going on.

Children, like our bodies, are always communicating to us and telegraphing information to us – if we can understand how they’re doing it and what they’re trying to say.

So we have to know what is normal and then incorporate what is out of place – we have to look for the tells.

See you tomorrow.