On Anger

Beautiful treatment of anger, written by David Whyte:


at its heart, is the deepest form of compassion, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family and for all our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger is the purest form of care, the internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for. What we usually call anger is only what is left of its essence when it reaches the lost surface of our mind or our body’s incapacity to hold it, or the limits of our understanding. What we name as anger is actually only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.

What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.

Our anger breaks to the surface most often through our feeling there is something profoundly wrong with this powerlessness and vulnerability; anger too often finds its voice strangely, through our incoherence and through our inability to speak, but anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics: a daughter, a house, a family, an enterprise, a land or a colleague. Anger turns to violence and violent speech when the mind refuses to countenance the vulnerability of the body in its love for all these outer things – we are often abused or have been abused by those who love us but have no vehicle to carry its understanding, who have no outer emblems of their inner care or even their own wanting to be wanted. Lacking any outer vehicle for the expression of this inner rawness they are simply overwhelmed by the elemental nature of love’s vulnerability. In their helplessness they turn their violence on the very people who are the outer representation of this inner lack of control.

But anger truly felt at its center is the essential living flame of being fully alive and fully here, it is a quality to be followed to its source, to be prized, to be tended, and an invitation to finding a way to bring that source fully into the world through making the mind clearer and more generous, the heart more compassionate and the body larger and strong enough to hold it. What we call anger on the surface only serves to define its true underlying quality by being a complete and absolute mirror-opposite of its true internal essence.”

©2014 David Whyte
Excerpted from ‘ANGER’ From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning in Everyday Words

Healthy Boundaries — How do I get some of those?

Practicing healthy, flexible boundaries is a form of self-care. If you don’t stand up for yourself and allow others to manipulate, guilt, or control you, it’s likely that your personal boundaries are porous. If you find it hard to listen with an open mind to someone else’s opinion, tend to become highly emotional, argumentative, or give advice to correct them or, conversely, shut down to keep them away, it’s a sign that your personal boundaries are rigid.  When you can stand up for your boundaries, own your own thoughts and feelings yet still be open to hearing and let another person express their ideas and feelings  it’s a sign that you have flexible boundaries and your inner self applauds and thanks you. (more…)

Driven to Distraction in the Digital Age

— Are Your Relationships Being Impacted?

Notice how natural it feels to just keep walking over to look at your inbox when you’ve sent emails and are waiting for replies? Or how easy it is to use up 15 minutes mindlessly trolling through Facebook posts when you probably could be doing other more productive, like focusing on a task at hand, doing some relaxing activities or how about no activity at all, like lying down or sitting and doing a gentle meditation or breathing practice? I sure find myself in these mindless habits.

It becomes so easy with screened distractions pulling at us to stop having great chats with your loved ones over a meal or coffee about each others’ day, and not even notice it’s happening. (more…)

I don’t have time for that!

“The faster we go, the more we are able to hide from ourselves and others. Jai!”

~ Judith Hanson Lasater

It’s so easy to make a meditation or breathing practice one more thing on our to-do list that we’re hard on ourselves for not doing. I definitely fall off the wagon regularly when life’s demands pull at me  and can even mostly forget about my meditation practice until its absence makes itself know by negatively impacting my mood and balanced quality of mind. I need  to return over and over to the practice.

Whether we’re wishing to start or resume a short practice getting started (or resuming) both are best done with an attitude of gentleness and appreciation for ourselves for taking the time to practice.  Gratitude for the traditions we’re diving into tend to quickly follow. (more…)

Self-Compassion — It’s Not What You Think!

Hint:  It won’t make you lazy or turn you into an unbearable egomaniac.

Self-compassion gives us caring space inside that is free of judgment and allows us see our hurts and failures and soften in response to them.  Caring and kindness directed at ourselves is much more effective and happiness producing than using guilt, shame and fear as motivators.

“Self-compassion is not a way of judging ourselves positively, but it’s rather a way of relating to ourselves kindly, embracing ourselves as we are, flaws and all” self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff explains. Self-esteem, is different than self-compassion because it requires that we feel special and above average in order to feel worthy. It is not logically possible for everyone to be above average at the same time, Neff, points out, and the relentless pursuit of self-esteem leads to many traps such as perfectionism, narcissism, bullying, self-absorption, self-righteous  anger, prejudice, discrimination, and so on. Not very social behaviors or traits are they? Self-compassion, however, “offers the same protection against harsh self-criticism as self-esteem, but without the need to see ourselves as perfect or as better than others” Neff clarifies, and naturally leads to more natural compassion for others. (more…)

Be Nice to Yourself!

“If you think that the key to greater willpower is being harder on yourself, you are not alone. But you are wrong. Study after study shows that self-criticism is consistently associated with less motivation and worse self-control. It is also one of the single biggest predictors of depression, which drains both “I will” power and “I want” power. In contrast, self-compassion—being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of stress and failure—is associated with more motivation and better self-control. Consider, for example, a study at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, that tracked the procrastination of students over an entire semester. Lots of students put off studying for the first exam, but not every student made it a habit. Students who were harder on themselves for procrastinating on their first exam were more likely to procrastinate on later exams than students who forgave themselves. The harder they were on themselves about procrastinating the first time, the longer they procrastinated for the next exam! Forgiveness—not guilt—helped them get back on track.”

~ Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. from The Willpower Instinct

We tend to be more critical and much harder on ourselves than we are about others. It can seem natural and even adaptive to either resist our emotional pain when we make mistakes by blaming others or distracting ourselves so that we can soldier on with our lives. (more…)

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