My wife and I are older parents. We like to think we have much wisdom to pass on, but we have to be mindful of some very negative things we can pass on as well. Age brings healthy skepticism, and raising a daughter who reasonably questions authority will not be a bad thing. However, cyniscm often accompanies skepticism, and the last thing we want is a cynical child. Childhood should be about wonder and possibility. Cynicism can quickly kill that. So we have to keep the negativity in check.
A far more dangerous pattern also often emerges with age. Wrongs, suspicion, anger, and mistakes often brew contempt. And there is nothing less childlike than a contemptuous adult. Couples too easily become contemptuous of each other. People actually hold those with opposite views on social issues as enemies. Sometimes even the smallest infraction is left to simmer to years later boil over as hate.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Certainly, the people closest to you want what’s best for you. They want you to be safe, secure, and, if possible, happy. Sometimes they want these things for us even more than we want them for ourselves. This is loving, caring, and compassionate. And it can be a burden that holds us back from our true potential.
Friday, July 10, 2015
I recently presented to a large group of Direct Support Professionals, people who support individuals with behavioral challenges. I have conducted similar workshops for family members of those with serious mental illness. We talk about stress management, self-protection, and the limits of compassion. We meditate together. But the topic that always garners the most interest is how the supporters’ own reactivity, or fight or flight response, can precipitate negative behaviors in the individuals they support.
Thursday, July 9, 2015
One of the doctrines of meditation, especially Buddhist inspired meditation, is radical acceptance. Often misunderstood, at its root lies the need to experience things as they are, not bound by judgment, opinion, or our desire to change things to better suit our expectations. Also informing many people’s meditation practice is the Buddhist idea that an attachment to anger is one of the causes of suffering, again colored by judgment, opinion, and a desire to change. Desire itself, or an attachment to desire, is cited as another cause of suffering. Not accepting things as they are, wanting them to be different, can cause us great emotional distress.
But what if our experience itself is unacceptable?
Monday, July 6, 2015
I wrote in a post titled Discipline and Diagnostics that one of the benefits of meditation to a person with a mental illness is the ability to detect episodes early. Well, I’m in one.
It’s been hard to sit at all, let alone for the thirty minutes I do each day. I find myself agitated and fidgety. My thoughts are all over the place. This is not unusual during meditation, but in taking note of the subjects of my thoughts, I can see hypomania creeping in. I’m thinking of buying stuff. I’m thinking of trading stocks. I’m thinking of another career change, discarding good ideas for more exciting, if undoable, ones. All of my thoughts are about getting and doing. Anything. Right now I feel smarter, more creative, and more energetic than I usually do. That might be dangerous, but that’s what I’m feeling, and that’s what I encounter during meditation.