love as our first thought

Sitting with clients this week and sharing our pain, I came across these words from Greg Snyder (Brooklyn Zen Center)


“This morning I got really irritated about something not that important and realized I was resisting letting my heart break for Orlando. Then it just did. I have no idea what to say here, other than Charleston, Orlando, on and on – enough with the hatred, all of us. I am speaking from grief, so forgive my insistent tone; but we have just got to stop as a nation, as a people of many peoples, communities, and take stock, slap ourselves in the collective face and wake up to the ways we are creating the conditions for this. People are being executed… executed in nightclubs and churches, on streets for nothing. Nothing. Nothing. They are worshipping and dancing and walking. I pray every person with a shred of sanity – especially those of privilege and power – train her or his heart on love and, from that place, work to expose and heal hatred wherever we see it. I would encourage us all to take up the practice of watching our every word and silence, every action and inaction, every thought and distraction, every vote and political shrug of the shoulders, and ask ourselves – Am I right now cultivating a world of love or hate? Is the language I’m getting behind a language of love or hate? I know I fail at this intention everyday of my life, but all I feel right now is that we must work tirelessly to cultivate a society deeply rooted in love. Most of us will fear this because love is both personally and societally revolutionary. Love will shake us to our core as people and as nations. But it’s so long past time. It has been said so many times that it’s boring, but business as usual really has to stop being business as usual. I can already see the story unfolding in the news and soon it will be all too easy just to blame this on ISIS and take no stock of who we are. We too easily use this or that terrorist or sociopath as a free ticket for moving on. This too has to stop. We have to bring the world into our hearts and make love our first thought, our first intention for ourselves and every person we meet. That means we have to critically engage the mental and societal habits that resist love. Despite all we can do to each other, I choose to have faith in humanity. Yes, we can be a wind of fire that leaves scars and burning, but we are also dear and precious and deserving of our birthright of peace and happiness, every one of us. I vow to focus my heart on the latter, knowing that we must learn to clearly see and end the conditions for the former. May the mystery forever cradle those murdered in Orlando and may we all learn to care for each other while here. Love to the families and communities of those lost. Love to all of you, my sacred sisters and brothers.”

Fickle Fate

The universe is an amazingly fickle and eventful place, and our existence within it is a wonder. If a long and unimaginably complex sequence of events stretching back 4.5 billion years or so hadn’t played out in a particular manner at particular times- if, to take just one obvious instance, the dinosaurs hadn’t been wiped out by a meteor when they were- you might well be six inches long, with whiskers and a tail, and reading this in a burrow.” From *A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

Who is responsible?

In the 1960s, Julian Rotter, Jewish -American Psychologist, started looking at how “successful” people think. He wondered what makes one equally talented _______ (artist, musician, author, code writer, bean counter) stand out over another? This was a step away from looking at how to cure people who are sick and a step toward looking at why we all don’t suffer from the many and varied mental illnesses. He looked at behavior + thoughts or what I like to call ATTITUDE.

The term “Locus of Control” can be defined as who is responsible for my life. Other people or God or Luck determine fate=External Locus of Control. You or Hard Work or Can Do Attitude determine fate= Internal Locus of Control.

Rotter discovered that successful, contented people tended to have a stronger Internal Locus of Control. This internalized responsibility also made them more adaptable and responsive to change.

Rotter is now famous for the Rotter scale, which is usually determined by a 20 question test that is composed of two paired statements (sort of) similar to the ones below:

a. Many of the unhappy things in people’s lives are partly due to bad luck.

b. People’s misfortunes result from the mistakes they make.


a. There are certain people who are just no good.

b. There is some good in everybody.

Now, most of us might fall somewhere in between these extreme statements (like c. Success can be a combination of hard work and good timing ), but the test is a good way to see where people are on the scale between External and Internal Locus of Control.

How does one develop a stronger Internal Locus of Control? I’m glad you asked. First, by setting small goals and experimenting to see if the outcome is different. Another way is by looking at one’s self-talk; ‘faulty thinking’ or how we talk to ourselves can affect our sense of power or determination.

So, the answer to our quiz today is You.

welcome to my first post…

Let’s get the ball rolling with words from Pema Chodron

There is a teaching, a very advanced teaching which people always perk up when they hear which says, The more neurosis, the more wisdom. People like this because they know they have a lot of neurosis. But no one can really understand this at first hearing because it doesn’t ever feel like ‘the more neurosis, the more wisdom.’ It actually feels like ‘the more neurosis, the more despair.’ But what I have found in working with this is that if you are all caught up and it occurs to you to just open, there is so much energy which is available to wake up —there is so much more energy available at this time.

Often you feel that you cannot let go. But if you have the courage to just experiment with abruptly opening at this time, there is enormous ability to have the mind open completely because there is so much energy. Of course the energy is pregnant with wanting to close right back down into the discursiveness or the mood that you are in. But you do get ‘the most for your money,’ the most for your moment at this time when you are all caught up. You get the most for your instant —you are propelled further than you would otherwise go on the energy which pushes you further. The hardest time to do this practice is also the most powerful time to do the practice.

Pema Chodron

This is it, the reason why psychotherapy “works” when it does, when people are ready to harness that energy that brought them to the point of seeking a change, a different way from their old stand-bys. Pema is saying that at some point you have enough problems or a big enough problem that gives you enough motivation. The gift is actually the problem, because before then we were just getting by, suffering perhaps or just coping. That small hole in the boat becomes a large enough hole that forces us to fix the boat, get a new boat, or maybe learn to swim.