why would I love this season of intended scariness? Why would I encourage you in the joy of “boo”? Because practicing a little frisson of fear, from time to time and in good company, inoculates us from that very anxiety. Think of it as exercise. We do reps. We do laps. We rest between, and recover. In that way, we build strength without becoming overwhelmed, without injuring ourselves. The scary moment in the movie is followed by a funny one, gets resolved at the end. The scary halloween house is visited and then left, as your children turn towards you for assurance and find it. Fear, unlike anxiety, is based in the present, and the conditions inciting it can therefore be managed, giving us a sense of confidence around scary sensations that can be expanded to those selfsame anxious sensations. The breath we automatically take after the monster is vanquished, the laughter when the loud noise turns out to be a cat, the shiver of delight are all, also, forms of discharge, teaching our nervous systems to handle fear and anxiety more effectively. Continue Reading Boo!: In Praise of Getting Scared
As a therapist, I deal with individual torment, but as a country, as a society, we must also think of trauma as something socially induced and with cultural impact. Regardless of where one stands with gun control (and I doubt that Las Vegas’ tragedy changed not one NRA mind), this country is subtly changed by each new slaughter, becoming more inured, more tolerant… much as my individual clients survived by dissociating, by learning to live without safety, becoming hypervigilent and chronically anxious. By learning not to care. Continue Reading Where is the Humanity?
Conflict is hard, and the hardest part, in my observation, is when it becomes heated. Even cool, the threat is there: the loss of a tenuous relationship, or of the harmony at least superficially apparent. Most cultures work very hard at finding and maintaining equanimity. Yet, darn it, those heated conflicts keep popping up! Continue Reading The Sauna, or, How To Befriend Heated Conflict
Meditation is a discipline. Sometimes, it gets to me. In this video, in which I am upstaged by my dogs, I give a little taste both of the effort I put towards sitting, and how easy it is for me to get distracted from focusing on the present. What is important for all of us to wrap our minds around is that, if you’re expecting your brain to cooperate and stop thinking, you will not succeed. You will get frustrated, and you will give up on an intervention that is free and requires no travel, taking 15-20 minutes out of your day. Continue Reading Trauma 101: Meditation
What the massacre this Wednesday leaves us with is questions, including as one correspondent on NPR put it, just how small is God, that she/he/it/they can’t take a little ribbing? That’s not just a Muslim thing, not even a religious thing…a Muslim comic conveyed a story of censorship here in the States, when the network told him to remove the mention of several corporations from his monologue because it might cost them a sponsor. There is not a Sacred Cow anywhere in the world that could not stand the paradoxical benefit of a humorous challenge. Continue Reading (Not) Having a Sense of Humor is Dangerous: Am I Charlie?
A child of four runs around the house, flying a towel above his naked body like a sail, shouting “I’m MEEEE!” Arms flung wide, he knows no shame…and why should he? In his home, there is the safety and love of adoring parents. What should we call what he is experiencing? Arrogance does not come… Continue Reading Shame’s Opposite: An Exploration of Pride’s Healing Power
Final Reflection … Tribal Future? Ecotone #6 The Venerable Dalai Lama, in discussing ethics for the new millennium, welcomes conflict. Given respect and compassion, he recognizes and encourages its power to generate synthesis, the formation of new and better ideas. Given that I’ve always enjoyed a good fight, I take his words hopefully. Exploring the… Continue Reading Final Reflection . . . Tribal Future? (Ecotone #6)
Making the Connection. Ecotone #3 On the northeast corner of my practice room hangs an old photograph of a mother and infant, the eyes of both locked blissfully on one another. In its presence for the last nine years, mature adults have looked up at me with childlike openness. Having received bodywork, I’ve also experienced… Continue Reading Making the Connection (Ecotone #3)