I learned a very simple rule years ago about giving advice, whether to friends, relatives or children. It is amazingly simple, incredibly effective, and really hard to stick to. The rule is:
Get permission before giving advice or offering suggestions.
My experience, and the reports I get from the people I have shared this with, is that when we have permission to give advice then we are much more likely to be listened to. And if we are not given permission then by graciously keeping quiet we avoid wasting a lot of energy and annoying the listener.
This is a very hard rule to follow so the damage-control rule is:
If you gave advice without permission, apologize.
Regarding when to start doing this with children. Once when my daughter was 3 she was having difficulty putting her shoes on. I asked her if she wanted some help and she replied “I do it myself!!”
One common complaint I hear is the sense that the person is trapped in their thoughts, especially worried thoughts. This is a technique to train your mind to shift attention away from thoughts into your body, without trying to stop thoughts. It teaches you to get out of your head. The more skill you have shifting your attention away from thoughts to sensations the easier it will be to ignore worried or other unhelpful thoughts without having to stop them or change them. Continue reading Escaping From Thoughts – Fast→
I have had a few people with questions about how to use their imagination to evoke beneficial physical or emotional changes. There were a couple of points that they were struggling with. One was whether what they were imagining needed to look similar to what was going on in their body. Another was a tendency to get concerned if their image changed as they continued to practice.
One of the social aspects of addiction is the sense of community that addicts have with each other. While a major emphasis of that community is the drug/alcohol use, it still provides a sense of belonging. That can make it difficult for addicts to stop using because they do not yet have a healthy community with whom to feel that sense of belonging. Continue reading Authority Figures, Community and the Addict→
In this post I discuss how addiction is both a disease and a choice. I also describe a meditation exercise for dealing with cravings, which are a symptom of the disease. The description includes the transcript from a session with a patient. Continue reading Addiction: Disease, Choice, or Both→
One of the common themes I hear from addicts is how they experience their mind as hijacked. They are on their way to obtain drugs and the whole time they are telling themselves “Turn around!!! This is crazy!!! I can’t do this!!!” But their body is under the control of something other than themselves. I have also heard this from people who are addicted to behaviors other than just drug use, such as eating disorders or gambling. How can someone be a prisoner in their own body, watching in horror as they engage in behaviors that are abhorrent to them? To understand this let’s shift gears and look at the jewel wasp. Continue reading Addiction, the Brain, and the Jewel Wasp→
Meditation techniques train various mental qualities. We can use the qualities for many purposes. Spiritual traditions emphasize that the most important purpose for meditation is spiritual practice, and the development of qualities such as love or peace. The following meditation begins as a relaxing breathing exercise and then flows from that to an experience of a peaceful presence.
If you want to download the audio you should be able to at Soundcloud by clicking on the Soundcloud link in the top menu.
I have had a couple of patients recently who described their intense emotional pain after hearing people make derogatory comments at them while they were shopping for food or in other public places. I think its obscene how it seems OK in our society to bash fat people for being fat. You’re not supposed to bash people because of their gender, race, sexual orientation or whatever (which is good), but if someone is fat then its OK (which is just wrong).
I want to explain why making people feel guilty about being fat just makes things worse, This has nothing to do with being politically correct, and everything to do with neuroendocrinology. Along the way I hope to give you some insights into the way the body deals with weight and fat that may help you understand how we can attain and maintain a healthy weight. Here we go. Continue reading Stress and Obesity, part I→
This is a somewhat extended meditation technique that goes into a bit of detail about a method for training the mind to be able to disengage from repetitive or irritating thoughts. The particular focus in the meditation is to help disengage from thoughts about comfort food.
This is another technique for reducing pain that involves changing the way the brain experiences the pain rather than distracting the brain from the pain. It seems to work best for neuropathic pain or chronic pain rather than acute pain. In this technique we focus on how the perceived location and extent of the pain can vary with the intention of having our brain reduce the size of the area that is feeling the pain, and perhaps moving it out of the body altogether. Over time our brain can become more skilled at reducing the extent of the pain and reducing the intensity.
Many people who are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression relate to the world as if it is hostile, or likely to become hostile at any moment. This increases their stress, anxiety or depression which can make the world feel even more hostile. Accurate or not, this is definitely not helpful. Continue reading Meditation on a Friendly Universe→
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