Yearning for Perfection Can Be Counterproductive

If you’re thirsty, you crave water. If you’re hungry, you want food. If you’re lonely, you yearn for companionship. Once our basic needs are met, we sometimes strive for perfection or seek self-actualization.

A recent discussion with my six-year-old grandson, Ryland, helped me realize how misguided striving for perfection can be. Ryland, getting frustrated with a picture he was drawing, told me that he wanted it to be perfect. When I asked him what he meant by perfect, Ryland explained that it means everything is exactly right.

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How to Let Go of Letting Go

The art of moving into the peaceful state of Letgo.

After thirty years in the mental health profession, I have grown leery of psychological catchphrases. Sure, they make good headings on posters and coffee mugs, and as personal mantras they can even have a stabilizing and healing effect.

However, much of the time these Neo-Freudian one-liners have all the sincerity of political sound bites and the illuminating power of an Itty Bitty book light.
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Memory and Perception

Choosing and Doing: Don’t Live by Default

"What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing." -- Pablo Picasso
In a world where we have so many options, so many choices, many of us find ourselves not choosing at all. Ironic, isn’t it?

Often, we have the intention of doing something important, but it is perhaps too much for us to think that we could actually get it done. So we end up choosing, and thus living, by default. But is this a wise choice?
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Revisiting “Be Here Now”: Making Room for Feelings

During my college years in the 1970s, I was awed by the book Be Here Now, a counterculture bible. It was written by former Harvard psychologist and spiritual teacher Ram Dass. It sold over two million copies and was one of the first guides for Westerners interested in embodying Eastern spiritual teachings. It has influenced luminaries such as Steve Jobs, Wayne Dyer, and Michael Crichton.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Letting Go of the Things You Cannot Change

I met with a new doctor yesterday. I’ve been interviewing them like babysitters lately.

"Do you believe there is such a thing as a mood disorder?" I asked him.

"Yes," he replied. "At least in language there is."

"When and why did you decide to break from conventional medicine and practice a more holistic approach?"

"Eight or nine years ago. I was tired of looking at the lists of medications people were taking. I couldn’t, in good conscience, prescribe meds to treat the side effects of other meds."
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Is Your Spirit Steering Your Relationships or Is It Your Ego?

I like to describe the ego’s job as the protector. This "guy" is the part of us that stands on the bow of our relationship and frantically yells, "Iceberg!" when it sees trouble ahead. This is useful information, for sure.

However, when the Iceberg Guy is scared, he becomes erratic and impulsive and wants to grab the wheel. But he is not trained in navigation and not the guy you want haphazardly steering the ship.

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Anxiety and Panic

How to Redefine Boundaries to Your Own Personal Freedom

“The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.”

- Tara Brach
I was in the heart of my Ph.D. program when I received the diagnoses: OCD, depression, and binge eating disorder.

It explained a lot, of course. All those years of anxiety, self-doubt, and intrusive thoughts were not normal after all. Eating to the point of gaining forty pounds in a few months was foreign to most people.

I wanted an explanation. Why me?

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Practicing Non-Attachment: How to Live in the Now

“Live in the now!” Garth exhorts Wayne as he fawns over a beautiful guitar he can’t afford in the film Wayne’s World. This is a message that we get over and over again in many Eastern philosophies: live in the present moment, not for the past or the future. Further, we learn to practice non-attachment: avoiding clinging to things in a world whose nature is constant change.

It all makes an intuitive kind of sense. When I’m sitting in meditation or flowing through my yoga practice, I get it. Go with the flow. Feel what’s in front of you. Release the past and the future.

But then I leave my yoga mat and the theory sort of breaks down: what about in relationships?
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3 Stress-Busting Tips to Free Your Mind

Need to pull yourself back together super QUICK? Here are 3 fixes to ease your mind in no time.

Are you like me? Whenever I read the paper or watch the news and see stories about war, starvation, killing rampages, rape, and other atrocities, I feel anxious and worried. In addition to worrying about the fate of the world, on a personal level, I also sometimes feel frustrated by annoying work or family relationship issues.

Although I try my best to meditate every day to quiet my stress and remember my inner happiness, after 24 hours, I seem to collect a new array of fears or angers.
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Self-Starvation: Who’s in Control of Your Prison Sentence?

Dusk fell over the Greek island with a soft strumming sound: the salty, minty sea breeze sighing over sand and stone and shattered shrines. Down village lanes gone bruise-blue with the dying day, the breeze collected kitchen smells: frying fish, fresh oregano, fluffy white bread, sweet-sour meatballs served in olive-studded sauce, ten thousand sticky pastries shaped like books and birds' nests -- and, everywhere, the soft attar of olive oil.

For the thousandth time that day, my hand raced to my pocket, tracing the contours of the peanuts and raisins I kept there in a small paper sack, replaced every few days when I'd eaten them, but never varying. They and sporadic bowls of rice were all I ate that summer.

I was living the dream: writing a book for a major publisher about goddesses in whom I believed. Yet I was fixated on food: on striding past some of the most delicious food on earth while eating as little as possible.
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