Mindfulness

The Transpersonal Nature of Intimacy

“In Zen Buddhism, intimacy is a very important word. In the early Chinese literature of Zen ... it was used as a synonym for the ... breakthrough that’s more commonly called realization or enlightenment. When you are intimate, you are one with. When you are not intimate, you are in your head.”
- Aitken Rōshi, The Ground We Share
Most of us experience a deep longing for an intimate connection. But have you considered how this longing stems from the very same impulse that moves us toward a spiritual life?

A vital spiritual life is different than clinging to high-minded religious ideas. Spirituality is synonymous with being intimate with our world. It’s not about the ideas in our head; it’s about the love in our heart. It's about our capacity to open to something larger than ourselves. We come into direct contact with the quiet pulse of life that flows through us and between us.
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Aging

Psychology Around the Net: August 13, 2016


The world is deep in the throes of the 2016 Summer Olympics, and while such competition has to bring a certain level of anxiety and stress to athletes, sports can help to improve both your body and your mind.

Of course, Olympic athletes face much more pressure than those of us who dabble in the occasional friendly tennis match, which is where professionals such as sports psychologists can help. Learn more about these mental health experts, as well as the latest on the mental health benefits of those who volunteer, how you can make performance anxiety work for you, a new non-medical approach to mental health care that's gaining ground but leaving some psychiatrists skeptical, and more.

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Addiction

A Higher Power for Those Who Don’t Believe in a Higher Power

This article is not directed toward individuals who do not find themselves struggling to embrace a Higher Power of their understanding while working toward recovery. It is directed at those who may want to embrace something, yet cannot identify with what they are comfortable.

Several of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (and Narcotics Anonymous) involve a Higher Power, so one could imagine this being offputting to someone who does not identify one. It can be challenging to wrap your head around the steps if God or a Higher Power is not in your life.

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General

Childhood Trauma: Overcoming the Hurt of Invalidation

“When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”
-- Brene Brown
I talk about my childhood trauma because I lived in denial for most of my life. I write about it because I didn’t understand what happened, why it happened, what it meant. I couldn't explain all these feelings of shame, depression, and disgust. As I grow to understand it better, I hope my writing can help other victims who feel lost and scour the internet for answers -- for a childhood they can relate to.
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General

Differentiating Shame from Guilt: It’s Not So Easy

It is clear that toxic shame is a destructive emotion that saps our energy and robs us of the joy of being alive. But does that mean that all shame is bad

Brene Brown defines shame as “The intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging -- something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”

But toxic shame cuts to the core of our identity. We carry a dark sense of being deeply flawed and defective. This is so painful that we desperately try to hide it from others and develop compensatory behaviors (such as seeking power and wealth or constantly joking) that are designed to distract people from noticing how flawed we are (or think we are).

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Anxiety and Panic

Spirituality vs. Mental Disorders: God Doesn’t Hate Medication

I grew up in a family that had high expectations of me, and I have personally struggled with anxiety. For several years, I thought that my anxiety was a normal part of life. I didn’t realize that I should not have been having full-blown anxiety at the age of nine, but I was.

My family didn’t believe in mental illnesses, besides those that were obvious to the untrained eye. We did, however, attend a church regularly. I was highly interested in Christianity and studied it on my own. I was able to combat the unnatural anxiety through my relationship with God, and was able to overcome the anxiety throughout middle and high school. College, however, was different.
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Brain and Behavior

4 Tips for Feeling Successful

"If I try to fail and succeed, which have I done?" - Anonymous
I use the above quote with my college students. I try to challenge them to look at life from a different perspective. In challenging our perspectives I am not merely playing semantics -- I firmly believe that words actually do hold meaning. Words have the power to affect our emotions. By challenging ourselves to look at our own definitions from a new perspective, we have the ability to change how we feel.

How I define success influences how I feel about myself. Many of us have culturally learned that success is defined by tangible goods and wealth. We hear expressions such as “If I have more things than someone else, I am successful” or “if I have a title or initials after my name, I am successful.” Does someone else's level of success negate my perceived level of success? In other words, is one's success defined in relation to another's accomplishments?

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Children and Teens

Why You Should Support Your Child’s Interests

My 11-year-old son Tommy collects stuffed bananas. You know, stuffed banana plush toys. He found his first one (and all of them, in fact) at the thrift store. This initial stuffed fruit was not just an ordinary banana, it was a stuffed Rastafarian banana complete with dreadlocks.

“What is this?” he asked.

“It’s a Rastafarian banana,” I said with glee.

Needless to say, Tommy had to have it. The price was right -- $3. We bought it and took it home.

This purchase brought on an extensive Internet research project on the Rastafarian religion.
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Celebrities

Whom Do You Respect?

Take a minute and consider the question, whom do you respect? Should this be a long list or a very short one? The problem with a long list is the candidates probably can’t be well vetted. A short list may make us out to be too cynical.

Let’s define the size of the list. You can only put five names on this esteemed list. This won’t restrict you, just possibly be a cause for adjustment of the definition.

Maybe you’ve gotten this far and can’t figure out why you should bother to make such a list. It’s because this list is a reflection of who you have become, failed to become, or still desire to become.
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Caregivers

Caregiving: Trading Solitude for a New Place of Wholeness


For many years, I looked to solitude as a sacred space for nurturing my soul. My routine was to get up early, retreat to a small desk by a window, light a candle, and then meditate while waiting for the sun to rise. I found this morning ritual deeply satisfying and helpful in setting an intention for the day. I never posted an actual “Do not disturb” sign, but I certainly relished this time alone for meditating, reflecting, and journal writing.

But then things changed. My husband became chronically ill, and I became his caregiver. This meant being available and responsive to his needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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