Rick Hanson PhD
Dec 21, 2011
Most of us wear a kind of mask, a persona that hides our deepest thoughts and feelings, and presents a polished, controlled face to the world.
To be sure, a persona is a good thing to have. For example, meetings at work, holidays with the in-laws, or a first date are usually not the best time to spill your guts. Just because you’re selective about what you reveal to the world does not mean you’re insincere; phoniness is only when we lie about what’s really going on inside.
Much of the time, we interact mask-to-mask with other people. There’s a place for that. But remember times when someone saw through your mask to …
Rick Hanson PhD
Nov 14, 2011
My dad grew up on a ranch in North Dakota. He has a saying from his childhood – you may have heard it elsewhere – that’s: “You learn more by listening than by talking.”
Sure, we often gain by thinking out loud, including discovering our truth by speaking it. But on the whole, listening brings lots more valuable information than talking does.
Nonetheless, many people are not the greatest listeners. (You’ve probably noticed this already: at work, at home, when you’re trying to work something out with your partner . . .) What’s it feel like when they don’t listen to you? Or maybe listen, but don’t inquire further? It’s not …
Nov 07, 2011
From time to time people write to me with interesting questions or observations. Often, the less time they’ve been practicing Buddhism and meditation, the more interesting the questions are. As Suzuki Roshi said, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” (I don’t think Suzuki is entirely right here, but he’s certainly not entirely wrong either).
The other day a fellow called Boon wrote to me from England. He’d been reading the Dhammapada, which is one of the most ancient Buddhist texts, written in an archaic form of the Pali language. He’d been wondering about criticism, and its role in spiritual practice. He’d seen passages …
Rick Hanson PhD
Sep 27, 2011
I remember times I felt frazzled or aggravated and then said something with an edge to it that just wasn’t necessary or useful. Sometimes it was the words themselves: such as absolutes like “never” or always,” or over-the-top phrases like “you’re such a flake” or “that was stupid.” More often it was the intonation in my voice, a harsh vibe or look, interrupting, or a certain intensity in my body. However I did it, the people on the receiving end usually looked like they’d just sucked a lemon. This is what I mean by tart tone.
People are more sensitive to tone than to the explicit content …
Sep 25, 2011
Many Buddhist retreat centres embrace the custom of the ‘Closing Circle’.
This doesn’t mean sitting in the middle of a razor toothed torture ring that gradually closes in and squeezes the life out of you, like something out of a James Bond movie.
No. It’s worse than that.
It means that after spending, say, a fortnight in silence with thirty strangers, the group sits in a large circle on the last evening to share their experience.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against hearing how everyone else got on. …
May 09, 2011
Recently a woman wrote to me to tell me about her meditation practice. One thing she said was very interesting. She said “I can’t connect with lovingkindness meditation.” We hear this kind of statement all the time, and most of us use this kind of language frequently: “I can’t…”
- I can’t stop worrying
- I can’t sleep
- I can’t make friends
- I can’t talk to anyone about this
- I can’t relax
The problem with this kind of thinking is that it represents a very fixed view of ourselves. These statements purport to define the speaker. Moreover the definition is a very limiting one. Once we say that we “can’t” do something we’ve made it less likely that we …
Nov 29, 2010
When Sunada’s sangha in Boston had a big decision to make, they tried something different. Rather than taking a majority vote, they went for the challenge of finding a group consensus. In other words, they talked through a process where everyone contributed to envisioning a solution that all could support. And what a ride that was.
Oct 04, 2010
Taneesha Never Disparaging is billed as a young adult novel, but it’s a perfect read for all ages, exemplifying how spiritual principles can help us face up to our fears and transform hatred into love.
Taneesha Bey-Ross is a typical fifth-grader, facing her weaknesses and challenges in home, school and daily life. Taneesha is funny, creative, honest, and a loyal friend to Carli, a girl she befriended in first grade. Carli lives with her father and wears leg braces. Taneesha is African-American, while Carli is white. It is on their walks home together after school that they encounter their tormentor — a girl twice their size who bullies …
Mar 20, 2008
Vajradaka looks back on a meeting in a smoky Jazz club and explores the mystery of empathetic communication between artist and audience.
I once had a chance encounter with a jazz musician that had a big effect on me and characterized some of the important qualities of living a creative life. At the time I was living up in the hills of Wales and coming down to London periodically. During one such visit I went to a jazz gig at the old Vortex in Stoke Newington, as part of the London Jazz Festival. It was smoky and dark with only a dozen people in the audience. We did not need much empathy to …