An essential part of being human (and in fact of being a primate) is what psychologists call “theory of mind,” which is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intentions, desires, plans, knowledge, thoughts, and so on—to others. When you have to give bad news to someone, for example, you know that they may become upset, and you take this into account in the way you talk to them. If you’re explaining something to another person you may anticipate certain questions they might ask. This is you employing a theory of mind.
This is such a basic part of our lives that we don’t give it a second thought, but that in itself can become a … Read more »
In other words, I took the very enlightened approach of pretend it didn’t happen—one that’s about as effective as other common responses such as get angry, push people away, blame yourself, or wallow in the pain.
Even for the relatively self-aware and emotionally adept, struggles …
What is suffering? It’s traditionally described as an ill fitting wheel on a chariot. I tend to think of a buckled wheel on my bicycle. It’s a bumpy unsatisfactory journey from A to B. However suffering can be an invitation for us to do the work.
The Buddha has done the work for us. All we need to do is practise. When the Prince became distressed at the sight of aging, sickness and death, he stepped onto the path. He was inspired by a mendicant who was radiating peace and begging for alms. With great energy, faith, meditation, concentration and wisdom, he found an end to suffering and … Read more »
But the good news is that we can learn to cultivate self-compassion. Which is vital. Self-compassion helps us to meet life’s challenges in a supportive way …
One of the most interesting studies I’ve ever seen was by James Pennebaker, a University of Texas psychology professor, and Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, who is now associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.
Poets are particularly prone to taking their own lives, and Pennebaker and Stirman were interested to see if the writings of poets who had killed themselves contained linguistic clues that could have predicted their fate. They matched together, by age, era, nationality, educational background, and sex, poets who had and had not killed themselves, and ran their works through a computer program that looked for patterns in the language they used.
What they found was that the poets who … Read more »
Allegra Abramo and Lisa Riordan Seville, NBC News: The men filed into the chapel, pulled chairs into circles, and sat. Then this corner of New Jersey’s Bayside State Prison got quiet.
A short meditation opens each weekly session of Heart-to-Heart, a mindfulness and nonviolence program run at three east coast prisons. Silence, said founder Stephen Michael Tumolo, helps bring “present moment awareness.”
That’s where he believes transformation starts.
“One thing we have choice in is where our mind is,” said Tumolo. “Present moment awareness can radically alter one’s experience in the moment. And then it can radically reshape the next steps we take.”
Zoë Krupka, The Conversation: Almost every person who walks through my practice doorway is anxious in some way. And so they should be. While their anxiety might be blasting messages at an overly high volume, the messages themselves are worth paying attention to: abusive relationships, significant losses and workplaces that have squeezed their personal, physical and spiritual lives into a corner too small for a hamster to burrow in.
Most come in hoping that the volume of their anxiety will be turned down, but many also hope that the messages themselves will go away. Like all of us, they want to find a way …
There’s a famous teaching, the Sallatha Sutta, in which the Buddha discusses our suffering as consisting of “two arrows.” The first arrow is simply the unavoidable suffering that we all experience as a result of being human. We’re all going to experience loss, hurt feelings, physical pain, illness, etc. The wise person simply observes this pain mindfully. The unwise person responds to suffering through resistance: “Why is this happening to me? This is terrible!”
The Buddha called this reaction “grief, sorrow and lamentation,” and he pointed out that this was like responding to the first arrow with a second one! Our resistance to pain simply causes further pain—perhaps even more than we’d originally experienced. … Read more »
Stephanie Weaver, Huffington Post: More than 100 million adults in the U.S. deal with chronic pain. After reading an article by Dr. Christiane Wolf, I reached out to her to learn more.
You say that chronic pain is a malfunctioning side of evolution. What do you mean by that?
This is my theory as I’ve considered chronic pain. Acute pain is important; it alerts the brain that there is danger. But for chronic pain, there is no separate system. It continually alerts the brain that there is something wrong, and yet it doesn’t stop. There is no way to calm it down.
Does mindfulness …