Nov 18, 2013
“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” Rainer Maria Rilke
A woman on the Triratna Buddhist Community’s Urban Retreat, which this year focused on the theme of cultivating lovingkindness, or metta, asked a question about how to deal with “strong emotion” — especially grief — that may arise during lovingkindness practice. For this person, grief tended to arise particularly while she was cultivating lovingkindness toward herself, and she wondered how to be honest with her experience but not dissolve into and become lost in it.
I offered her a few suggestions, which I’ll enlarge on here:
1. Stop considering grief as an emotion.
Is grief an emotion? Is “emotion” even a meaningful term, in the context of Buddhist practice?
Increasingly I find the …
Aug 16, 2013
An awareness of the heart (the physical organ, not the metaphorical seat of emotion) and its role in empathy. Noticing the heart concerns a process called interoceptive awareness (IA), which is just a fancy term for how we monitor the body’s internal state. There’s evidence that interoceptive awareness is important for social cognition, including empathy.
Neuroscientists think we detect our own heart-beats via two routes. One is “somatosensory” — that is, we feel the movement of the heart’s beat through our sense of touch. The other route is via the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain down to the heart and beyond, and which carries electrical impulses in both directions.
Dec 31, 2012
Robert Wright, a senior editor at The Atlantic and the author, most recently, of The Evolution of God, writes from time to time about his meditation practice, especially when he’s going on retreat, for example here and (most recently) here.
Wright has found, as many people have, that meditation improves his life. He talks of the “sharp, even cold, clarity” he gains from sitting, as well as the “warm and fuzzy” feelings that arise from that clarity.
Surprisingly, to my mind, Wright finds himself in the position of having to “defend” finding that meditation makes him happier. One commenter said, for example:
Well, if you’re talking about
Jan 20, 2012
Saddhamala wrote the other day about how we “catch” emotions from others. As she points out, this happens when you’re hanging around someone who is negative, and it brings you down, and that it even happens when we watch a movie!
So this is definitely a part of our experience.
You may not have realized, though, just how infectious our emotions are. The effect of one person’s emotions — whether negative or positive — can be measured as they ripple outward through our friendships and contacts.
Let’s deal with the negative first.
An important study by University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo showed that lonely people tend to …
Nov 17, 2011
As I wrote in my most recent book, Living as a River:
Relating to someone as a “self”—on the basis of how we see them right now—is like seeing a video reduced to a single frame, or seeing a ball hurtling through the air in a freeze-frame photograph. It’s life-denying. It’s a static way of seeing things. In taking a snapshot of a thing we lose its sense of trajectory, the sense that it’s headed somewhere. We’re disconnected from the reality of change and process. But imagine if we could consistently see a person not as a thing but as a process—if we could, at least in our imagination—see that person
Rick Hanson PhD
Nov 10, 2011
As we grow up and then move through adulthood, we all have normal needs for safety, fulfillment, and love.
For example, children need to feel secure, adolescents need a growing sense of autonomy, and young adults need to feel attractive and worthy of romantic love. When these needs are met by various “supplies” — such as the caring of a parent, the trust of a teacher, the love of a mate-the positive experiences that result then sink in to implicit memory to become resources for well-being, self-regulation, resilience, self-worth, and skillful action. This is how healthy psychological development is supposed to work.
But it doesn’t always go this way, does it? …
Rick Hanson PhD
Aug 08, 2011
We evolved to be afraid.
The ancient ancestors that were casual and blithely hopeful, underestimating the risks around them – predators, loss of food, aggression from others of their kind – did not pass on their genes. But the ones that were nervous were very successful – and we are their great-grandchildren, sitting atop the food chain.
Consequently, multiple hair-trigger systems in your brain continually scan for threats. At the least whiff of danger – which these days comes mainly in the form of social hazards like indifference, criticism, rejection, or disrespect – alarm bells start ringing. See a frown across a dinner table, hear a cold tone from a supervisor, …