The Most Important Thing You Never Knew About Relationship

Most people, most of the time, treat conversation as a form of information exchange. You tell me what you're having for dinner tonight, I tell you what I did at work today, you tell me where you went on your vacation, etc. The assumption is: the value of connection comes from the content we exchange.

Similarly, when communication doesn't work or a relationship falls flat, we often blame the content. "They don't care about things that interest me." "We never talk about deep stuff."

While there is some value in shared interests, much research has pointed to the far greater value of non-verbal cues in the overall experience of communication. Psychologist Albert Mehrabian famously discovered that in communications of our attitudes and opinions, only 7% of the meaning comes from the words themselves. The rest is embedded in our facial expressions and body language. More recent research has pointed out that when we are most deeply connected, we feel each other’s feelings in our own bodies—this is true empathy.

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“You give yourself a command”

Shortly before his death, the writer and spiritual teacher Carlos Castaneda was interviewed over lunch in Los Angeles. The interviewer, Michael Ventura, describes a moment during the meal…

A woman at the table said she loved her job, her husband, and her child, but still she felt a lack — it was that she had no spiritual life. How could she achieve a spiritual life?

Answering this woman, Carlos didn’t change the lightness or generosity of his manner; yet a steely thing came into his voice, a tone that made his words pierce all of us. He said that when she got home at night she should sit in her chair and remember that her child, her husband, everyone she loved, and she herself, were going to die — and they would die in no particular order, unpredictably. “Remember this every night, and you’ll soon have a spiritual life.”…

Later in the conversation this woman asked how she could discipline herself to follow his advice, deeply follow it, so that it wouldn’t be just an exercise. Carlos said: “You give yourself a command.”
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6 Tips for Mindful Self-Care Over The Holidays

The holidays are fast approaching, and many of us are heading home to spend time with family. For some, this means confronting challenging political views and challenging interpersonal dynamics. As far as mindfulness is concerned, these are the moments where the rubber meets the road!

If you’re anxious about holiday family time, here are six tips to keep your mindfulness and compassion alive:

  1. Schedule time to connect with friends. Though you may be across the country from your social circle or romantic partner, a few well-placed phone calls can provide a much needed dose of connection and co-regulation. Let it be a good 20 minutes, and be present for it—find a quiet place, lie down, and soak in the connection. No need to complain about Uncle Bob’s misogynistic comments—you can talk about anything! A large part of the psychological benefit that comes from connection comes regardless of the content being exchanged.
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Why Mindfulness Matters In Organizations

My father, Ed Ryterband, is an organizational psychologist and a committed meditator. Last month, we worked together to create an article about the importance of mindfulness for leaders in business.

Beyond individual leaders, it’s possible for mindfulness to inform the culture of an entire organization. Using mindfulness tools to build empathy, co-workers can more effectively anticipate each other’s needs, and management can better understand the challenges and acknowledge the successes of the people on their teams. Because of the kindness and clarity that mindfulness cultivates, communication can improve and conflict can be resolved more easily. And perhaps most fundamentally of all: mindfulness bonds people. Group mindfulness practices can provide a felt sense of interconnection which brings care and compassion into working relationships.

Mindfulness is a powerful set of tools. I believe in making these tools as broadly available as possible, whether that means using them to understand the most basic structures of our inner lives, or allowing them to bring us into more effective, receptive contact with the world. In the long run, these two agendas are one-in-the-same.

Spiritual Bypass & Somatic Emotion

Fragile_EmotionAs humans, we are evolutionarily wired to avoid what is uncomfortable or unknown. Mindfulness is counterintuitive in that it trains us to turn toward discomfort, allowing it to be just as it is (more on that here).

As you may know, this is not a simple training, and it’s relatively common to slide off the path into various forms of avoidance along the way. This phenomenon is called “spiritual bypass,” and no particular technique or practice is immune. In Psychology Today, Ingrid Mathieu put it brilliantly: “spiritual bypass is an equal opportunity defense mechanism. It is more related to what we as human beings do with spiritual practice than it is related to the practice itself.”
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