Why Self-Compassion Isn’t Bullshit.

Of the many responses you might have to chronic pain or stress, self-compassion does not usually top the list. It’s ineffectual. It’s Stuart Smalley. Self-compassion is often seen, at best, as a salve for when we stink at something – a vague way to be “nice” to ourselves. What we are drawn to are solutions, or at least strategizing in our head about solutions. Often, pain and anxiety can shift us into an increasingly turbulent state of mind I call the Treadmill of Self-Improvement. On the treadmill, peace is just a shoulder roll…continue reading →
Insight on Suffering: the Podcast

Insight on Suffering: the Podcast

  In this podcast IDP teachers Kimberly Brown and Dan Cayer discuss their experience with both physical and mental suffering, how it informs their teaching, and the ways they've learned to bring patience, kindness, and compassion to themselves. Kimberly Brown is the executive director of The Interdependence Project, and a graduate of its Meditation Teacher Training Program.  She leads mindfulness and compassion classes, workshops, and retreats for groups and individuals in NYC.  Kim studies American and Tibetan Buddhism and practices lovingkindness meditation.  Her teaching methods integrate depth psychology, compassion training, and traditional Buddhist…continue reading →
Don’t Make Pain the Enemy: The Podcast

Don’t Make Pain the Enemy: The Podcast

Most approaches to solving chronic pain fail because they try to either overpower the pain through exercise or PT regimens, or ignore the discomfort and ‘get on with life.’ Both approaches act as if the pain and uncertainty aren’t there. Both approaches act as if you aren’t there – dealing with the swirling feelings and thoughts that arise. In my 20 minute interview on the podcast, “Body Learning,” I share a different approach to resolving chronic pain that I’ve tested out in my personal life and with hundreds of students. My interview discusses:…continue reading →
It’s Hard to Heal by Your Lonesome.

It’s Hard to Heal by Your Lonesome.

Isolation: The Shadow That Follows Illness One of the familiar characteristics of being ill, or going through a tough time, is a sense of isolation. Maybe we reach out less often to our friends, or enter into a cold orbit that takes us further away from our partner and other people we share a living space with. Simple questions like, “How are you?” become complicated and unpleasant. Even if we could really communicate what we are going through, what good would it do? You might imagine, who wants to hear about my depressing…continue reading →
Don’t Make Pain the Enemy.

Don’t Make Pain the Enemy.

My friend Jeff once told me a strange story about a Japanese monk imprisoned during World War II. The Zen monk was being interrogated by the militaristic government for any possible information on antigovernment activities. To crack the monk, he was restrained on a table as water was slowly dropped on his forehead for many hours. Years later, during a reconciliation program in Japan, one of the guards who participated in the interrogation encountered the monk. Incredulously, he asked the monk, “You were the only one who didn’t break or fall apart. How…continue reading →
How to Rest: a Workshop for Activists and Concerned New Yorkers

How to Rest: a Workshop for Activists and Concerned New Yorkers

The other night, I tried to turn off my computer but the white circle in the center of my screen kept spinning for several minutes. Was it stuck, “loading”? Or, like me, had it been reading The New York Times too much and not exercising? If you’ve been lying awake in bed at night, hostage to your own spinning, I can relate. The turbulence in our world is impossible not to feel and metabolize somehow. Maybe we are protesting, or thinking about protesting (which is probably more draining), or maybe we have other…continue reading →
Learning to Run like a Child, As an Adult.

Learning to Run like a Child, As an Adult.

This guest blog comes from my colleague, Lindsay Newitter, who is doing incredible work with running: Running has become as habitual as laundry or brushing my teeth.  I make time for it 3-5 times/week.  I feel normal when I do it and I feel off when I don't.  This was not always the case.  I've been running regularly for about 3 years.  The seed was planted two years prior that I might want to start running, but apparently I needed some time to warm up to the idea. Stepping back even farther, let's…continue reading →
Healing the Underlying Condition: Ourselves

Healing the Underlying Condition: Ourselves

Over the last few years, I’ve been hatching a book, tentatively titled, Don’t Get Better: How to Discover Sanity, Well-Being, and Your True Path. I will periodically share excerpts in this newsletter and around the Internets on various blogs. Today’s installment (which includes a brief exercise at the end) is from a chapter called, “Healing the Underlying Condition: Ourselves.” “Pain is like a truffle hunting pig, which with its blunt snout digs up uncomfortable emotions.” When I was growing up, my mom and I watched Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, a TV series about…continue reading →

Letter from a Capsized Boat: My Plan for Life after Tuesday

(Sent with my newsletter last week) Dear friends and students, I suspect I may never forget the details of this last week, seared into my memory through shock and mass anxiety. Wednesday morning on my commute, the disappointment of several passengers was palpable. Their expressions were downcast, and their bodies were quiet without the usual manic smartphoning. There’s a sense that as our world rearranged itself Tuesday night based on the number of votes, our bodies and heads are slowly rearranging themselves to catch up. Some of us feel elated and vindicated, others…continue reading →
How to Be Nervous

How to Be Nervous

There is plenty of advice on how not to be nervous: by breaking big tasks down into actionable steps, for instance. In fact, there’s a whole industry of bloggers and app developers to help you feel more prepared and in control. But what doesn’t get a lot of press is how to deal when things are out of control (you know, like most of the time). So I thought I’d let rip a few hundred words on how to be nervous since even an organizational black belt will sometimes find themselves with sweaty…continue reading →