Give No One Cause to Fear You

What puts people at ease? The Practice: Give no one cause to fear you. Why? We evolved to be afraid. The ancient ancestors that were casual and blithely hopeful, underestimating the risks around them – predators, loss of food, aggression from others of their kind – did not pass on their genes. But the ones that were nervous were very successful – and we are their great-grandchildren, sitting atop the food chain. Consequently, multiple hair-trigger systems in your brain continually… Read more

See the Good in Others

What do you notice in people? The Practice: See the good in others. Why? Many interactions these days have a kind of bumper-car quality to them. At work, at home, on the telephone, via email: we sort of bounce off of each other while we exchange information, smile or frown, and move on. How often do we actually take the extra few seconds to get a sense of what’s inside other people – especially their good qualities? In fact, because… Read more

Ask Questions

What are you learning? The Practice: Ask questions. Why? My dad grew up on a ranch in North Dakota. He has a saying from his childhood – you may have heard it elsewhere – that’s: “You learn more by listening than by talking.” Sure, we often gain by thinking out loud, including discovering our truth by speaking it. But on the whole, listening brings lots more valuable information than talking does. Nonetheless, many people are not the greatest listeners. (You’ve… Read more

Stay Right When You’re Wronged

What happens after you’re mistreated? The Practice: Stay right when you’re wronged. Why? It’s easy to treat people well when they treat you well. The real test is when they treat you badly. Think of times you’ve been truly wronged, in small ways or big ones. Maybe someone stole something , turned others against you, broke an agreement, cheated on you, or spoke unfairly or abusively. When things like these happen, I feel mad, hurt, startled, wounded, sad. Naturally it… Read more

Wake Up ! Tour : Mindfulness for Young People ( 17 – 35)

SAN FRANCISCO — Mindfulness: have you heard the word? It’s a vital way of learning how to understand, accept, and realize our mind’s true nature. It’s about being fully alive in the present moment (the only moment ever available for us to be alive). To be honest, being in the present is also about learning to return to the present : our bodies are in the present, but our untamed mind can wander in 1,000 directions. (You’ve noticed?) Yet all… Read more

Hug the Monkey

Longing for love? The Practice: Hug the monkey. Why? Your brain evolved in three stages (to simplify a complex process): Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “us” The first JOT in this series – pet the lizard – was about how to soothe the most ancient structures of the brain, the ones that manage the first emotion of all: fear. The next one -… Read more

Feed The Mouse

Got cheese? The Practice: Feed the mouse. Why? As the nervous system evolved, your brain developed in three stages: Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “us” Since the brain is integrated, avoiding, approaching, and attaching are accomplished by its parts working together. Nonetheless, each of these functions is particularly served and shaped by the region of the brain that first evolved to handle it…. Read more

Pet the Lizard

Down deep, do you feel at ease? The Practice: Pet the lizard. Why? I’ve always liked lizards. Growing up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, I played in the foothills near our home. Sometimes I’d catch a lizard and stroke its belly, so it would relax in my hands, seeming to feel at ease. In my early 20’s, I found a lizard one chilly morning in the mountains. It was torpid and still in the cold and let me pick… Read more

What If You Knew You Had Only 10l,000 Days Left To Live?

SAN FRANCISCO. Peter Baumann is one of the great adventurers of our time. Early in his career, he was an innovator in electronic music, associated first with Tangerine Dream with whom he toured the globe. Then, after another decade as CEO of a record company, he was drawn to a differnt adventure. Sometime during the dawn of this new millennium, it sems, he’d realized he’d had about 10,000 days left to live. At least, according to actuarial tables. So he… Read more

Empty The Cup

Are you full to the rim? The Practice: Empty the cup. Why? Once upon a time, a scholar came to visit a saint. After the scholar had been orating and propounding for a while, the saint proposed some tea. She slowly filled the scholar’s cup: gradually the tea rose to the very brim and began spilling over onto the table, yet she kept pouring and pouring. The scholar burst out: “Stop! You can’t add anything to something that’s already full!”… Read more


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