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What to do when you’re running out of patience

9 hours 29 min ago

Mitch Abblett, Mindful: Here are suggestions for going beyond a passive view of patience to making it the crucial skill it is—one that you actively build into your daily life.

Since first published in the poem “Piers Plowman” (attributed to William Langland) in the 14th century, we’ve all had it drilled into us since childhood that “patience is a virtue.” What is striking to me about patience is that we’ve at all needed to be “told” of its importance. It’s as though we, especially in modern, Western society, need to be convinced—we need proof that patience figures large in our lives. Patience …

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Is mindfulness meditation safe?

September 1, 2015 - 6:46am

Charles Francis, Psych Central: There has been some growing concern recently about the safety of mindfulness meditation. Some claim that the practice can have severe side effects, such as panic, depression, and confusion. Are these concerns well founded? Maybe.

The main study cited by opponents of meditation is a British study of the effects of mindfulness meditation on a group of prison inmates. The inmates participated in a 90-minute weekly meditation class for 10 weeks. The study found that the inmates’ moods had improved and they had experienced a lower stress level, but remained just as aggressive as before the intervention.

I fail to see …

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What science says about meditation: it improves your focus and emotional control

August 28, 2015 - 9:00am

Joseph Stromberg, Vox: “Mindfulness meditation has been shown to cause distinct changes in brain structure and brain function,” says Yi-Yuan Tang, a Texas Tech neuroscientist who studies meditation and recently reviewed the state of the research for the journal Nature. In experiments, he and others have found that regular meditation seems to improve people’s focus and emotional control, in particular.

There are plenty of caveats to this research. It’s early on, and some of the studies include relatively few people. Many are controlled trials(which track how a period of regular meditation affects people, compared with a comparison group that doesn’t meditate), but others involve …

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Is something lost when we use mindfulness as a productivity tool?

August 27, 2015 - 7:37am

Charlotte Lieberman, Harvard Business Review: I came to mindfulness as a healing practice after overcoming an addiction to Adderall during my junior year of college. I found myself in this situation because I thought that using Adderall to help me focus was no big deal — an attitude shared by 81% of students nationwide.

Adderall simply seemed like an innocuous shortcut to getting things done – and to do so efficiently yet effortlessly. I still remember the rush I felt my first night on Adderall: I completed every page of assigned Faulkner reading (not easy), started and finished a paper several weeks before the due date (because …

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Make meditation a daily habit

August 26, 2015 - 7:41am

Sit : Breathe : Love (Sep 1–28) is a 28 Day Meditation Challenge with the aim of helping you to set up the habit of meditating daily.

It’s suitable for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.

The benefits of regular meditation have been demonstrated again and again in multiple studies. Meditating makes you happier, is good for your health, protects your brain from aging, boosts your intelligence, and helps reduce pain, stress, and depression.

But it’s not easy to set up a regular meditation practice.

So we’re here to help you!

The aim of the 28 Day Challenge is to work to build up a daily habit of meditation by sitting every day for 28 days.

We set the bar for success at a realistic level: although we hope you’ll meditate for 20 to 40 minutes a day, a “successful” day is one in which you’ve done some form of sitting meditation for at least five minutes — because there are Days Like That, aren’t there?

In the 28 Day Challenge we’ll teach you how to find a comfortable meditation posture (“Sit”); we’ll teach you how to calm your mind and settle agitated emotions by practicing the mindfulness of breathing (“Breathe”); and we’ll teach you how to appreciate yourself and others more through the practice of lovingkindness (“Love”). Hence, Sit : Breathe : Love”.

You’ll receive an email every day containing meditation instructions and links to guided meditations.

Register today and challenge a friend or co-worker to join you!

The way you talk to yourself matters–tips for kids and adults alike

August 25, 2015 - 7:59am

GoZen!:

I’m such an idiot! I can’t believe I locked the keys in the car. What am I going to do now? How am I going to get home? I can’t even call my husband because my phone’s in the car and my purse!! I’m totally stuck. I have no idea what to do. I am hopeless!”

I’d like to say that this is a purely fictional situation: that I have never locked my keys, purse and phone in the car, and that, moreover, I would not address myself in such a negative way. But, unfortunately, I cannot.

Firstly, I have found myself in …

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You are not your story, mistake or inner critic’s comments

August 24, 2015 - 8:11am

Margarita Tartakovsky, Psych Central: So many of us take one isolated event — a mistake, a painful situation — or the critical comments of our inner critic and let it color who we are. Completely. It’s as though we become this one thing. This one negative thing.

Maybe your inner critic regularly spews remarks about your weight and how you look disgusting and horrible in everything. So you become the person who looks disgusting and horrible all the time.

Maybe you made a big mistake or a bad decision, which you regret. So you become the person defined by that decision, that one mistake.

Maybe you’ve …

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Meditation trickles down to ‘regular’ people

August 21, 2015 - 11:10am

Kathleen McLaughlin, The Bulletin: When Kevin Meyer picked up Transcendental Meditation in 1971, the practice was sweeping college campuses. The Beatles had made a pilgrimage to India a few years earlier, so meditation was cool, but it also required some pretty big life changes.

“It was a struggle because you couldn’t drink or smoke pot for 30 days before the training,” Meyer said. In that way, he said, meditation was like a “counter-culture to the counter-culture.”

Meyer, 63, has been meditating off and on since his days at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, mainly because of the calming effect it has on his everyday life. Meditating first thing …

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DREAM BIG!

August 20, 2015 - 1:23pm

If you live in or near Connecticut you might be interested in an event I’m participating in that takes place from September 13–14, 2015. It’s at The Spa at Norwich Inn, which looks like an amazing place. I’m really looking forward to going there.

The event is “Dream Big! The Power of Health and Inner Peace.” It’s organized by Marie Mozzi, who was formerly the director of the spa at the world famous Greenbrier, in West Virginia.

?Being healthy, vibrant, and filled with peace and passion requires a real sense of self, the ability to dream, set goals and the desire to achieve whatever you set out to do…

Fall is the perfect time to take stock in your life, review the past year and set expectations for the next. Join us this September, and you’ll work with our team on how to produce successful outcomes for the goals you set with concrete steps in laying a foundation for your next “season”. Learn how to create “space” to reach your goals and feed your body and your mind
to set you up for success.

I’ll be teaching meditation, of course—showing how the clarity of mindfulness can connect us with both our vision and our passion. Dorothy A Martin-Neville, PhD, who is a mentor and coach, will be helping you to connect with your dreams, and to become the person you’ve always wanted to be. Chef Lee Masten will help you to expand your horizons, breaking out of the dietary ruts we tend to get into.

Having worked with Marie Mozzi at the Greenbrier, I know that this will be an amazing event. For more information, or to reserve a place, call 1-800-275-4772 and ask about the DREAM BIG event!

How mindfulness is so good at connecting well-being to academic achievement in class

August 20, 2015 - 10:49am

The Mindfulness Pedagogy: There is a rhythm to all complex behaviour. When energy is expended it must be restored (stay with me here). The heart beats and rests, we breathe in and out, we work and rest (please stay with me). Learning is no exception – it is very fatiguing.

It requires tension and the right degree of anxiety to go out and meet the challenge, to adapt, and to accommodate. No muscle in the body can function for more than a few seconds without rest. The secret of any continuous endeavour, any task requiring effort and perseverance, like learning is the secret of rhythmic …

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How an intensive ten-day meditation retreat could transform your life for the better

August 19, 2015 - 8:56am

Zoe Schlanger, The Independent: It was 5:30 in the morning on my third day of silent meditation when I noticed something in me take a sharp turn left. I was groggy, frustrated by my inability to sit still and hungry for the breakfast that was still an hour off. I got up from the spot on the floor of my bedroom where I’d been attempting to meditate and walked outside, to the new-growth woods behind the residential quarters at the Vipassana Meditation Centre in Shelburne, Massachusetts. It was springtime, and the outdoors seemed spring-loaded with potential: the buds on the trees were sharp little things …

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Zen and the Art of Dying Well

August 18, 2015 - 9:15am

Courtney E. Martin, New York Times: What is the “right” way to die? We’re experiencing a zeitgeist moment about that. “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” by Atul Gawande, is a best-selling book. Videos by Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old who wanted to die in a way of her own choosing, went viral last year. And in more than 20 countries, thousands of people have dined and discussed dying through a project called “Death Over Dinner.”

In fact, we can’t afford not to have this conversation. According to the National Institute of Health, 5 percent of the most seriously ill Americans account for …

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Teach mindfulness, invite happiness

August 17, 2015 - 8:35am

Erin Sharaf, Edutopia: By objective measures, our young people are more anxious, more depressed, and have more psychopathology in general than students did a few decades ago. This has important implications for educators, school administrators, and society at large. What if our traditional school systems are unwittingly contributing to the problem — and what if a relatively simple practice could help?

As we are all well aware, the current educational system is narrowing its definition of what defines student success. It’s almost all cognitive knowing, as evidenced by standardized testing. The pros and cons of that system have been widely debated, so I won’t rehash them here. However, a …

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Hiding from pain by pursuing pleasure

August 13, 2015 - 7:47am

There’s a famous teaching, the Sallatha Sutta, in which the Buddha discusses our suffering as consisting of “two arrows.” The first arrow is simply the unavoidable suffering that we all experience as a result of being human. We’re all going to experience loss, hurt feelings, physical pain, illness, etc. The wise person simply observes this pain mindfully. The unwise person responds to suffering through resistance: “Why is this happening to me? This is terrible!”

The Buddha called this reaction “grief, sorrow and lamentation,” and he pointed out that this was like responding to the first arrow with a second one! Our resistance to pain simply causes further pain—perhaps even more than we’d originally experienced. Every thought we have along the lines of “This is awful; I wish it would stop!” merely adds another stab of pain.

But the Buddha pointed our another unhelpful way that we commonly respond to pain. Many people skip this when discussing the Sallatha Sutta—probably because the Buddha didn’t offer an image to accompany this third form of suffering.

“Being contacted by painful feeling, he seeks delight in sensual pleasure. For what reason? Because the uninstructed worldling does not know of any escape from painful feeling other than sensual pleasure.”

Those with more wisdom know that the escape is, once again, mindfully bearing with the painful feeling until it passes. He or she “understands as it really is the origin and the passing away” of the discomfort.

It seems to me that the attempt to escape from underlying painful feelings (which are more likely to involve boredom, anxiety, or loneliness than physical pain) more often involves the pursuit than the experience of pleasure.

There may be pleasure involved when we attempt to hide from discomfort by bingeing on ice cream, indulging in a marathon session of “Orange is the New Black,” or having a few too many beers, but often there isn’t. In these cases it’s the pursuit itself that is the real distraction. That’s why these activities continue for so long. I sometimes find myself, late at night, restlessly clicking on a link to read “just one more article,” as if pleasure was just a webpage away. There’s little pleasure in this restive surfing, but much pursuit. It’s because stable pleasure isn’t found that we keep faring on.

For me, the creative escape from the fruitless pursuit of pleasure comes when I shift my attention from the screen in front of me to the unpleasant feelings in my body that are driving my behaviors. The moment I connect with my felt experience, it seems that an umbilical cord of emotional attachment between me and the computer is broken. Mindfully aware of my discomfort, I am now free to act in ways that are more truly in my best interests. I’ve stepped out of the “faring on” that is samsara—at least temporarily.

Help new Buddhists in India go on retreat

August 13, 2015 - 6:41am

Born as an “untouchable” in India (literally considered so polluted that a caste Hindu would have to purify him or herself after making physical contact) Bhimrao Ambedkar publicly converted to Buddhism on 14 October 1956, in Nagpur, India.

The significance of this is that, despite having been banned from sitting in a schoolroom with other (caste Hindu) children, Ambedkar had managed to gain an education, study abroad, and had become India’s first law minister—and the architect of the newly independent country’s constitution.

Ambedkar realized that most ex-untouchables were chained to the idea that they are inferior and that it was by changing themselves—through the practice of the Buddha Dhamma changing those deep-seated ideas—that they could become truly free.

Ambedkar’s conversion was a symbolic rejection of Hinduism and its brutal caste-based apartheid system. He proceeded to convert half a million of his supporters who were gathered around him. Unfortunately he died soon afterward, leaving his conversion movement adrift.

A number of Buddhists stepped into the breech and continued to provide support and inspiration for these new Buddhists. Among those was Urgyen Sangharakshita, who was later to found the Triratna Buddhist Community (formerly the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order).

These “Dalits” (meaning “the oppressed ones), are largely the poorest in a country in which poverty is endemic. Members of the Triratna Buddhist community have continued working with these new Buddhists, providing much-needed healthcare, educational resources, and opportunities to practice Buddhism.

This November a major retreat is being held at the Urgyen Sangharakshita Meditation Centre, in Maharashtra, India, over the Diwali vacation. I’ve contributed money to supporting this event, and I invite you to do the same.

Of the millions of Dalits who have converted to Buddhism since 14th October 1956, only a small proportion have been able to ‘hear’ the Dhamma. They have much devotion but little knowledge.

These retreats have been held over the last 4 years with between 500 and 600 people attending from some of India’s poorest communities.

These retreats take advantage of the Diwali holiday, when people are more free to attend, to give Dalits the opportunity to hear the Dharma they thirst for. Most are very poor, and to allow them to come, these retreats are offered free. It is a great opportunity for them to not only hear the Dharma, but to experience Sangha. Triratna is undertaking to raise the money for approximately 550 people to go on retreat.

Hearing the Dharma in the context of a retreat can, in India, have remarkable results. Triratna Order member Vipulakirti, who co-leads these events, said, “I met a woman on one retreat who told me that her husband had been on the retreat the previous year and had been completely transformed. Previously he had been a drinker, beaten her regularly and taken no responsibility for the children. Now he didn’t drink, treated her with kindness and helped with childcare. He had discovered what being a Buddhist meant in practice, to the benefit of himself and his family.”

If you want to help these desperately poor new Buddhists to deepen their practice, turn their lives around, and continue with the work of transforming and humanizing Indian religious culture, donate via ‘MyDonate‘. MyDonate take no commission. Your entire donation goes towards spreading the Dharma in India and transforming the lives of hundreds of people.

Why some schools are making time for meditation

August 12, 2015 - 8:51am

Jessica Kendorski, Philly.com: Full disclosure, I mediate almost every day, and I’m in good company. Each year more and more people, from super star athletes to successful CEOs, are attributing at least part of their success to a regular meditation practice. For me, meditation helps keep me present and reduces my stress level, and existing research supports those benefits. A recent analysis concluded that adults participating in mindfulness mediation programs show reduced anxiety, depression, and pain.

Now, schools are getting in on the mindfulness and meditation trend, and many schools around the country are finding time for meditation, silence, and stillness.

But what …

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My two forthcoming events at New York Insight

August 11, 2015 - 10:27am

My book, “Living as a River,” is an experiential exploration of the Buddhist teaching of non-self.Last year I was honored to run a workshop on self-compassion at the New York Insight Center. I’ve been invited back to teach again this fall, and this time I’ll be involved in two events.

“Debugging the Dharma”

The first one isn’t on the NYI website yet, as far as I know. I’ll update this post when that changes. It’s a conversation between myself and James Shaheen, editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. We’ll be discussing the topic “Debugging the Dharma” as part of NYI’s Dharma in Dialogue series, which has included teachers such as Sam Harris, Sharon Salzberg, and David Loy.

Tricycle has been running a lot of articles recently debunking misunderstandings of Buddhism that are common among modern western practitioners. It’s a sort of “straightening out” of what is and what isn’t Dharma. There have been contributions by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Bhikkhu Thanissaro, David Brazier, and myself. I’ve been contributing columns on Fake Buddha Quotes, such as this one.

Of course I also have my fakebuddhaquotes.com website, and my recent Buddhist Geeks conference talk was based on the idea that the Dharma texts and commentaries are sometimes garbled, but that the understanding of Dharma that comes from practice, plus insights from scholarship, can help us get closer to what the Buddha might actually have been trying to communicate.

So it seems that both James and myself have a desire to “straighten out” some of the teachings that we’ve received, or to clarify what those teachings are actually saying. I think it’ll be a great conversation.

“From Me to We—And Beyond!”

The second event is about realizing interconnectedness. This is the key to living with wisdom and compassion. Buddhism teaches that the delusion of separateness is at the root of all our unhappiness, and encourages us to recognize our deep connectedness to all beings and all things.

The Buddha gifted us a beautiful meditation—the Six Element Practice—to help us let go of our narrow sense of self-identity so that we can experience instead an expansive and liberating sense of connection with the world and with other beings.

In this day-long retreat we will explore our interconnectedness with each other and with the elements, with planet earth and with the universe. We’ll learn to see ourselves afresh, with awe and appreciation at our place in the scheme of things, and a sense of gratitude and wonder at the miracle of being.

The day will include sitting practice, as well as short talks, with plenty of time for group sharing.

As for what’s “beyond we”—you should attend the day event if you can, but it involves letting go of any identifications whatsoever, since identifying anything as “I” (or even as “us”) involves limiting our perspective on who and what we are. The state of Awakening involves complete liberation from all limiting perspectives.

Find out more at the NYI website. My last event was very full, so I’d advise booking early.

Shamatha or mindfulness

August 11, 2015 - 8:17am

Free Press Journal: Shamatha, or mindfulness, is how we make this mind more stable, more useful. The word “shamatha” in Sanskrit means “peacefully abiding”. Peacefully abiding describes the mind as it naturally is. The word “peace” tells the whole story. The human mind is by nature joyous, calm and very clear. In shamatha meditation we aren’t creating a peaceful state—we’re letting our mind be as it is to begin with. This doesn’t mean that we’re peacefully ignoring things. It means that the mind is able to be with itself without constantly leaving.

In meditation we learn how to calmly abide: we learn how …

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Empathy is actually a choice

August 10, 2015 - 10:16am

Daryl Cameron, Michael Inzlicht and William A. Cunningham: New York Times: One death is a tragedy. One million is a statistic.

You’ve probably heard this saying before. It is thought to capture an unfortunate truth about empathy: While a single crying child or injured puppy tugs at our heartstrings, large numbers of suffering people, as in epidemics, earthquakes and genocides, do not inspire a comparable reaction.

Studies have repeatedly confirmed this. It’s a troubling finding because, as recent research has demonstrated, many of us believe that if more lives are at stake, we will — and should — feel more empathy (i.e., vicariously …

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From shame to self-worth: development of shame spectrum feelings in childhood

August 6, 2015 - 8:21am

Shame is a very primal emotion, one that has a lot of traction in the mind.

As we grow up, from infants to adults, shame elaborates many nuances, like the branches and twigs growing from a single trunk.

Let’s consider four common sources of shame spectrum feelings.

First, consider a young child who is continually signaling her state of being and her needs. Maybe her caregivers respond routinely with attunement, empathy, and skillful responsiveness: this sends messages, associated with positive feelings, of existing for and mattering to her caregivers, of being inside the circle.

Or maybe her caregivers ignore her signals, or continually misinterpret them, or simply have a kind of dismissive tone – “I’ll put up with you if you don’t ask too much of me” – or even punish her for expressing her needs at all: this sends messages, associated with negative feelings, of not mattering (and sometimes not even existing), of being outside the circle. As many such experiences get layered on top of each other, there is a growing sense of being unwanted, of lacking value.

In the extreme, in cases of severe neglect and abuse, there can be a global sense of worthlessness.

More commonly, a kind of bargain is struck, in which the child learns that as long as she walks inside certain lines – and inhibits certain forms of expressing her true self (her true needs, her true feelings, her true perceptions of her world) – then the supply train keeps coming and all is well. But step outside those lines and wham, it’s the chilly exile or the hot attack.

Second, a child’s environment – both adults and peers – will praise certain qualities and behaviors and criticize or punish others. Those behaviors and qualities get associated with feelings of worth – or shame.

For example, the psychoanalyst, Erik Erikson, described shame in terms of Freud’s stages of psychosexual development, as the emotion that arises naturally when that which should be hidden (e.g., excretions, private parts) is exposed. But how would a child know that certain natural aspects of life should be hidden without messages from his environment.

So what is it that gets criticized? Certainly, it is specific behaviors, and there is a place for that in healthy child-rearing. Examples include hitting your kid brother, lying, or stealing another kid’s cookie. Even if the criticism is not so wholesome, as long as it stays at the behavioral level, it’s not so bad.

But it rarely does. It’s a short hop from “That was so stupid” to “You’re so stupid,” from criticisms of actions to criticisms of persons.

That criticism is often conveyed implicitly, as a communication of disdain, disrespect, contempt, scorn. Think of the power in human societies when certain groups institutionalize the devaluation of others. I still remember my shock in 1963 in North Carolina for the summer when I saw three bathrooms at a gas station, labeled “Men,” “Women,” and “Colored.” As if African-Americans were something other than “regular” men and women, and not just other, but less as well in not being worth separate bathrooms for their own men and women. Racism has certainly not disappeared in the past 45 years, and other forms of devaluation exist today; just think of the fear-driven labeling these days of Arabs and others from the Middle East.

Researchers such as John Gottman have found that disdain is typically the most corrosive element in a relationship. Be very careful with it. It’s especially insidious when we feel it is justified, as with others in the political world that we disagree with. Or those in our everyday life who are Exhibit A for a roll of the eyes and the thought, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

In turn, those criticisms of the individual overall are very easy to internalize, and “You’re so stupid” becomes “I’m so stupid.” The contempt of others become hatred of the self. In terms of transactional analysis models of the personality – classically, child/nurturing parent/critical parent . . . or the modern formulation of victim/persecutor/protector – the internalized critic or persecutor has way too much power, and the internalized nurturing parent or protector is too weak.

Third, we are intensely social animals, with an evolutionary history that associates survival with belonging to a group, for its protections, nurturance, and opportunities for finding a mate and passing on one’s genes. To be outcast, exiled, banished, shunned, etc. is a terrible thing, exposed to the cold whistling winds of the elemental world, trudging alone and vulnerable through life. Traditionally, it was the most severe punishment short of death, which puts it in perspective.

Those associations are active somewhere deep in the brain when a preschooler trots over to a group of children to play and they ignore her, when a child gets picked last for a team, when you audition for the school play and don’t get a part, when you apply to a special college and don’t get in, when you aren’t hired for the job . . . whenever by action or word you’re told: “You are the weakest link!” “You’re fired!” “You’ve been voted off the island.”

It’s kind of sick that there is a weird vicarious gleeful schadenfreude – pleasure in another’s misery – in reality shows watched by millions in which one person after another gets publicly scorned and rejected until there is only one . . . “American idol!!!!!” It’s somewhat the modern equivalent of the gladiator battles in the ancient Roman Coliseum.

These associations to lethal exile are triggered in one-to-one contexts as well, when someone doesn’t want to be your friend, or lover, or mate . . . especially if they have been that to you – and don’t want that any longer. When these events occur, haunted by their ancient shadows, they typically trigger strong and painful feelings of being unwanted – because, in fact, that is indeed the case.

Fourth, to function in life, we need to learn from our experiences, and that requires feedback. We have to look in the mirror and see if there’s some spinach stuck in our teeth. We need that internal evaluator continually registering: that worked and that didn’t; that helped and that hurt.

As long as the evaluator is clear-eyed and friendly, it’s a wonderful internal resource. But if it grows harsh – often through absorbing the emotional residues of the anger and contempt of others, or the meanings derived from social exclusions – it can become a terrible monkey on your back . . . actually, worse, a terrible growling spitting monkey in your mind. This negativistic evaluator blurs together with the internalized critic/persecutor, and then looks continually for the shortfall between “should” and “did.”

With each lash of the critical whip, the evaluator gets a little more powerful, and the inner self gets a little more cowed and resigned.

And so it goes, and here we are today.

These four sources of shame-spectrum feelings are exacerbated by a range of external factors, such as:

  • Belonging to a group that has associations with low-status, e.g., ethnic and religious minorities, women, homosexual orientation, poor, overweight.
  • Disintegration of traditional community structures that gave people a sense of belonging and value.
  • Extending the period during which youth are in schooling and unable (usually) to make much of a contribution to society.
  • Events that challenge self-worth, e.g., company downsizing, (often) becoming a mother, divorce, teenage (or adult) children being cold or rejecting, illness or disability (or even aging) that compromises the capacity to do those things that gave one a sense of value.
  • The sheer complexity and ambiguity of modern opportunities and expectations, which is a double-edged sword. These days, there are so many more choices to be had that there are many more ways to go wrong or fall short in making any of them. And this is especially intense in the American culture that equates worth to success.

These external factors add to the lived history of inadequacy that is buried in emotional memory. They also intensify any here-and-now challenges to self-worth.

So – as a result of these four sources of shame-spectrum experiences, exacerbated by external factors, we have within us circuits of shame that are ready, willing, and able to be activated by any appropriate trigger. That’s why little things can have such a big impact: it’s just a tiny spark, yes, but there’s that pile of dynamite there . . .

And then we often add insult to injury by feeling ashamed of getting ashamed!

If you like, you could try this exercise, though you definitely need a partner for it. Here are the original instructions for the exercise from our script, which you can adapt freely:

“Find a partner, pick an A and a B. A’s will go first – after which you will go back and forth.

A’s, find a positive quality within yourself that you can sense is also present in B. Then say to B: “The presence of _________ in me recognizes the presence of __________ in you.”

Both A and B take a moment (often just a few seconds) to register this, and then it’s B’s turn to say something in the form of: “The presence of _________ in me recognizes the presence of __________ in you.”

Examples include:

  • The presence of caring in me recognizes the presence of caring in you.
  • The presence of happiness in me recognizes the presence of happiness in you.
  • The presence of loving being in wilderness in me recognizes the presence of loving being in wilderness in you.
  • The presence of being silly in me recognizes the presence of being silly in you.
  • The presence of strength in me recognizes the presence of strength in you.

It’s okay to name good qualities in yourself or the other person without false modesty or fears of flattery. These are facts, not compliments. And it’s okay if these qualities are not present all the time; perhaps they are deep down, even covered over, and would be served by calling them out.

This exercise can be very powerful, and enjoy and let sink in the beautiful feelings it brings up.

In the days and weeks ahead, you are encouraged to keep moving from shame to worth. As one simple way to do this, keep recognizing the factual existence of your good qualities and accomplishments. “Just the facts, ma’am.” In closing, to quote Meher Baba, six words to live by: “Don’t worry. Be happy. Make efforts.”