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Nature vs. Nurture

On Nature vs. Nurture, the author makes a great point. Not only is the case for nurture growing stronger, the BELIEF that ability is not fixed is a strong predictor of improvement over time. In other words, when we FOCUS ON the nurture side of things and decide that we can better our circumstances, cognitive abilities, performance, etc., we can.

As a society, this points our attention toward the aspects of our inheritance that we can actually affect. It points us toward the way we take care of our children, how we love and root for those in our lives, and how we hold ourselves. It points toward the disempowerment that can come from labeling and pathologizing.

Of course, in the nature vs. nurture argument, there are two sides. The question here is, which side can we do something about?

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Sincerity

Many people struggle to cultivate positive emotions in meditation, because the task feels forced or insincere. How can I practice lovingkindness when I don’t feel it in my body? How can I cultivate happiness if there’s also fear, anger, or sadness present?

For me, it is very often the case that pleasant and unpleasant feelings arise together. Rather than waiting for a moment when things are only pleasant to deem it “sincere” to practice lovingkindness, I have changed my definition of what sincerity means.
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The Harsh Critic

People often seek out mindfulness because they don’t like how they are treating themselves. But then the harsh critic part of them shows up to learn the practice.

We can’t whip ourselves into kindness. We can’t whip ourselves into love. We have to be willing to take a leap of faith, and stand in some unknown ground outside of the harsh critic. Some unfamiliar vantage point that sees even that harsh part increasingly unflinchingly, increasingly with kindness and acceptance.

Photo credit Flickr TRF_Mr_Hyde

winter-forest

Seize This Moment

I leave for retreat today. One month in silence at Insight Meditation Society, in the snowy woods of central Massachusetts. This will be the longest retreat I have done, and a deep dive into my personal exploration.

I'm continually humbled by the courage it takes to thoroughly explore, to see things through, to go all-in. But as the fleeting-ness of life becomes more apparent, so too does my commitment to engaging fully.

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“For Us, There Is Only The Trying”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the different ways people relate to the explorations of their lives. Certain underlying views can significantly inhibit a person’s sense of skill, capacity and security in exploring (in careers, partnerships, etc.). These views tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies, leading to timid, incomplete ventures and unreliability.

But they are not objective truth. (Is there such a thing?) They are merely colored lenses we were long ago conditioned to wear. We can treat these views as meditation objects, watching the distortions arise and pass instead of assuming that we are seeing things the way they are.

As I’ve worked with my own distortions, I’ve realized: more than keeping me from succeeding, they keep me from trying. When self-doubt and fear prevent me from being both-feet-in, I never get to know if I would have succeeded or not. In other words, giving in to fear of failure ensures failure.

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