Election 2016

I’ve been struggling for days to come to some clarity about how to hold the grief many of us are experiencing as a result of the election. Personally, I’ve gone through waves of deep sadness, a couple restless nights, and about 36 hours of believing that at some point I’d simply wake up from this dark dream. I’ve felt despair. I’ve felt incredibly motivated to engage. And at times I’ve felt strangely numb. Then suddenly, about 20 minutes ago, my fingers started typing out a set of instructions for myself which seemed surprisingly coherent and helpful. In navigating whatever you are going through, I hope these instructions help you too:

  1. Examine the function of thinking & behavior in this moment: are you co-regulating, catharting, necessarily processing grief, anger, fear that needs to be processed (either with others or on your own)? Or is this unnecessary rumination, driving you into the ground? Another way to look at it is: is this moment serving to bring you back into balance, encourage connection (even in grief), and increase awareness/compassion, or is it fueling divisiveness, pushing you further out of balance, and diminishing your capacity to take care of yourself and others and/or get through the day? It could be the same angry words, the same tears, the same painful phone call. The underlying motivation is what matters most.
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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.

Independence Day 2016

I dedicate this Independence Day to our interdependence.

Let this be a celebration of the healthy ways we need each other. Our well-met needs give us the strength to venture out in the world. Let this be a celebration of each other's independence—holding one another with open hands so that in being free to explore, our friends, lovers, and children are free to come home. Let this be a celebration of the ways we navigate relationship. A celebration of setting clear boundaries. Acknowledging needs for space and closeness.

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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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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