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Spirituality Articles

The Question of Forgiveness

Friday, September 14th, 2012

The Question of ForgivenessA classic Buddhist proverb states: “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Forgiveness is one of the most important lessons life has to offer, but it is also one of the more difficult sentiments to learn and practice.

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, empirical research confirms the proverb’s message. “Forgiving people are less likely to be hateful, depressed, hostile, anxious, angry, and neurotic,” Lyubomirsky says.

9 Practical and Spiritual Tips for Letting Go of Unhealthy Attachments

Monday, August 20th, 2012

The Relationship Between Happiness and Gratitude

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

The Relationship Between Happiness and GratitudeIt’s easy to get sideswept by everything that’s going wrong. Maybe you’re not feeling 100 percent, or work is inducing stress. Perhaps you got into a fight with a significant other and wish that exchange never occurred. Now what happens if you exert a sense of gratitude? What if you focus on everything that is going right?

Thank goodness you’re in general good health, and at least you have work to do (however frustrating it can be).

Fighting also never is enjoyable, but you know that the connection between the two of you certainly can override the rocky grounds.

When realizing that there can always be gratefulness for what you do have, you will be one step closer to peace.

In Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, she refers to gratitude as “a kind of meta-strategy for achieving happiness.”

More Coping Tips for Highly Sensitive People

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

More Coping Tips for Highly Sensitive PeopleI recently wrote about 10 tips for highly sensitive people. As a highly sensitive person (HSP) myself, it’s great to learn about all the different things I can do when I find myself in a noisy, overstimulating environment.

An important part of coping effectively as an HSP is knowing how to soothe your senses. HSPs aren’t just sensitive to loud sounds; we also might be sensitive to bright lights, TV and computer screens, strong odors and certain foods (and their temperature).

For the article I spoke to Ted Zeff, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and author of The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide. Zeff includes a helpful chapter in his book on what you can do to calm each of your five senses.

Here are some of those valuable tips.

Video: A Warm-Weather Mindfulness Activity

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Video: A Warm-Weather Mindfulness Activity Happy Autumn! The leaves are beginning to change colors and there’s a cozy chill in the air that invites jackets and light scarves. Isn’t it nice?

Just kidding.

But did you stop for a second to look at the calendar? You know, just to make sure that May through September didn’t blindly pass you by?

You can’t find seasons at the Lost and Found

It’s true: you can miss an entire season if you’re not paying attention. Have you ever taken a shower (yes, I hope, but let me continue…) in which you’re completely blind to the fact that you’re even taking a shower until the second you shut off the tap?

This is what happens when we let our minds hang in the past or scurry to the future. We forget where we are, what we’re doing, and what the present moment holds for us.

Some Help for Getting Through Tough Times

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Some Help for Getting Through Tough Times Life is hard for everyone. That’s why it helps to have an assortment of tools to navigate life’s inevitable lows.

And that’s exactly what you’ll find in Russ Harris’s book The Reality Slap: Finding Peace and Fulfillment When Life Hurts. Harris is a psychotherapist and renowned expert in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). The book is based on ACT’s principles.

The reality slap is a term that Harris uses to refer to life’s various lows, which include everything from losing a loved one to experiencing failure or envy.

According to Harris, after a reality slap strikes, we face another problem: “the reality gap.” The reality gap consists of two sides. One side is the reality we have; the other side is the reality we want.

The bigger the gap between these realities, the more painful our emotions.

Introducing Faith on the Couch

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Introducing Faith on the CouchOur lives do not exist in a vacuum. If they did, I suppose life might …

What Came First, Religion or Depression?

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

What Came First, Religion or Depression?There’s a cartoon picturing a chicken and an egg in bed together. The chicken is smoking a cigarette with a very satisfied expression on his face, and the egg is restless and disgruntled. The egg finally looks over to the chicken and says, “Well, I guess that answers that question.”

That’s how I think of the relationship between religion and depression: like the chicken and the egg debacle.

I can’t say which came first in my life, because they were both there from the start. And you need only read through a few of the lives of the saints or walk the exhibition aisles at the Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit to see that holy people aren’t all that happy much of the time.

How is it that we depressives tend to be more spiritual? Or is it that the more religion you get in your life, the more depressed?

Scrupulosity: What It Is and Why It’s Dangerous

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

If you sprinkle a hefty dose of Catholic (or Jewish) guilt unto a fragile biochemistry headed toward a severe mood disorder, you usually arrive at some kind of a religious nut. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! For I am one.

I have said many places that growing up Catholic, for me, was both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing in that my faith became a refuge for me, a retreat (no pun intended) where my disordered thinking could latch unto practices and traditions that made me feel normal. Catholicism, with all of its rituals and faith objects, provided me a safe place to go for comfort and consolation, to hear I wasn’t alone, and that I would be taken care of. It was, and has been throughout my life, a source of hope. And any speck of hope is what keeps me alive when I am suicidal.

But my fervent faith was also a curse in that, with all of its stuff (medals, rosaries, icons, statues), it dressed and disguised my illness as piety. So instead of taking me to the school psychologist or to a mental health professional, the adults in my life considered me a very holy child, a religious prodigy with a curiously intense faith.

6 Facts About Transpersonal Psychology

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

6 Facts About Transpersonal PsychologyI don’t remember learning about transpersonal psychology in my clinical psych program. (With all that reading and lack of sleep, it’s also possible I just missed that lesson.) So I was intrigued when I recently came across the term, and decided to do some digging.

In the Foreword of The Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology, writer Ken Wilber defines “transpersonal” as “personal plus.” He explains that transpersonal work integrates both personal psychology and psychiatry but then “adds those deeper or higher aspects of human experience that transcend the ordinary and the average—experiences that are, in other words, ‘transpersonal’ or ‘more than personal,’ personal plus.”

It turns out that transpersonal psychology focuses on the spiritual. Bruce W. Scotton, M.D., one of the editors of the book, describes “spiritual” as “the realm of the human spirit, that part of humanity that is not limited to bodily experience.”

4 Tips on Cultivating Mindfulness When You Live in a Busy, Bustling City

Monday, October 31st, 2011

4 Tips on Cultivating Mindfulness When You Live in a Busy, Bustling CityI don’t live in a big city. (In fact, the only noises I typically hear are birds chirping or cats in heat. Don’t ask.) But I’ve lived in NYC and have been visiting my family there several times a year for over a decade. So I have a fairly good grasp of what it’s like to be surrounded by a cacophony of car horns and ambulance sirens, a flurry of feet pounding the pavement, and hours (many hours) of traffic. Though it has many perks, city life is rarely peaceful or serene.

That’s why I really like the book Urban Mindfulness: Cultivating Peace, Presence & Purpose in the Middle of It All by Jonathan S. Kaplan, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and founder of UrbanMindfulness.org. In it, he addresses specific problems that plague city dwellers and gives readers a variety of strategies to feel more calm and fulfilled. (He lives in NYC, so I think he knows what he’s talking about.)

He breaks his book down into exercises you can do “At Home,” “At Play,” “At Work,” “Out and About” and “Anytime, Anywhere.”

The 12 Steps of Positive Psychology

Monday, October 17th, 2011

The 12 Steps of Positive PsychologyThe positive psychology movement is surely gaining momentum. In a recent discussion with two of my colleagues we joked that positive psychology’s really about a type of recovery from negative thinking.

This got me wondering if a 12-step process might be worth identifying. So guess what…? I think it is.

Here is what I propose for the 12 steps of positive psychology.

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