Monday, November 8, 2010

Thoughts on Freedom

There's been a lot of talk of "freedom" with the recent election. What I find is that many people in our society equate freedom with consumption. We feel entitled to own things, preferably newer, shinier, and bigger. Yet what winds up happening is that the drive to consume, the need to equate success and meaning with material wealth, the need to compete with our neighbors drives a lot of pain for a lot of people. A lot of us have confused our sense of what freedom is to what we can own. Is this freedom? What about freedom from suffering? Is there something you can buy that can lead to that kind of freedom?

True freedom comes from within-- the freedom to release your inner potential. Freedom is not being held hostage to our desires, but freedom from them. The first step to freedom is learning how to manage stress. I would venture to say that unhealthy coping drives unhealthy consumption, and is the true enemy of freedom.

Want to be free? Become mindful of your breath.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Blog Entry on Huffington Post

My first submission to the Huffington Post was posted recently. It provides 8 tips for managing grief.

There will be another post in the next few months about managing stress mindfully.

Please distribute to anyone you know who may benefit from the tips within them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rumination about Booksigning

So, tonight (3/20) is my first booksigning for my new book, The Mindful Path Through Worry and Rumination, at Books and Books in Coral Gables. Come by at 7pm if you want to check it out.

The irony is, I actually had a worry-type dream about it. In my dream, I spent a leisurely Saturday getting ready for the event. At 4pm, I decided to take a nap. But when I wake up, it's 8:36pm. I've totally missed my booksigning. The dream made me laugh, because I hardly have any of these kinds of dreams, certainly not as stereotypical anticipatory type dreams.

I guess I'll start off the booksigning with a public disclosure that after 15 years of a daily meditation practice, this kind of stuff still happens. Difference is, you laugh.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Five Simple Lessons to Avoid Therapy

In a society that values consumption, materialism, and pleasure as appropriate substitutes for genuine happiness, the new economy of recession has laid bare the pitfalls of unsustainable lifestyle choices. Lately, it seems that five basic guidelines would save a lot of us a lot of trouble.

1) Live within your means. If you can't afford it, don't buy it. Don't confuse your purchasing power with your self-esteem, and don't confuse Shiny New Things for genuine pleasure.

2) Keep your promises. If you are supposed to be somewhere at a certain time, show up. If you promise to be there for someone, show up. If you are married, keep your vows, unless your partner is abusive.

3) Don't tell lies. It's way too stressful to keep secrets, especially petty ones. Sleep with a clear conscience.

4) Be grateful for one thing every day, and express gratitude to at least one person every day. It makes you attractive, and makes it easier to smile!

5) Do at least one healthy thing a day for yourself. Exercise. Meditate. Eat well. No therapist can coach you 24/7; our job is to make sure you don't need us (at least it should be).

If more of us could do these five things, we'd be spared a lot of trouble, and our society would probably be much happier.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti: When prayers are not enough

I recently started a new job at the Memorial Healthcare System. Today, I met with the nurse manager on the oncology floor in the hospital to introduce myself and the services I provide to cancer patients and their families. She was very warm and caring, and immediately expressed her concern about some of her nurses who have family in Haiti. We will coordinate a grief workshop for these nurses next week, once they have hopefully established contact with their families. Many of them will not have good news.

How immensely sad and poignant. These are dedicated nurses, caring for cancer patients day in and day out. Many of these patients are actively dying or close to it, some of them hospitalized for intensive chemotherapies and sick 24/7. Yet there is no exemption for these nurses. Despite their selflessness and dedication, they have had family members gone missing, dead, or injured back at home. No doubt, some of these nurses are the breadwinners for extensive family networks and have left childhood environments few of us can fathom.

I was reminded yet again of the awful and inescapable truth of the Nine Charnel Ground Contemplations, the mindfulness practice taught by the Buddha to be practiced in the face of death and decay: "This body is like that, it too if of that nature, none of us are exempt from that fate."

I said a prayer of healing, compassion, and for rebirth into the Pure Land for those whom it was appropriate, but prayers are not enough. Please consider a more active form of helping and giving: