NOTES FROM A TIDEPOOL : Mindfulness & Compassion

SAN FRANCISCO – Dr Lewis Thomas once compared the scientific community to a tidepool. Science progresses when a naturalist explores the entire pool, perimeter, depths, and nooks and crannies, and discerns particular groupings and connections amongst the various lifeforms – the organisms, in this analogy, standing for scientists and also their research papers. Such spirit of advance was the nature of MINDFULNESS & COMPASSION : The Art & Science of Contemplative Practice. As quietly as the … [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!" The saint set down the teapot and replied, … [Read more...]

Remember The Big Things

What matters most to you? The Practice: Remember the big things. Why?In every life, reminders arrive about what's really important.I've recently received one myself, in a form that's already come to countless people and will come to countless more: news of a potentially serious health problem. My semi-annual dermatology mole check turned up a localized melanoma cancer in my ear that will need to come out immediately. The prognosis is very positive - this thing is "non-invasive" - but … [Read more...]


Busy, busy? The Practice: Rest. Why?This practice is definitely a case of teaching what you need to learn: I've been working through a big bucket of tasks lately with little chance to rest. (I console myself with knowing that the bucket is emptying a lot faster than it's filling with new tasks.)Sometimes you can really feel what you need to do by feeling what's happening for you when you don't. "Don't," that is: ease up, unwind, recharge, put your feet up, take a load off, just … [Read more...]

Give Over To Good

What is living you? The Practice: Give over to good. Why?In every moment, you and I and everyone and everything else - from quantum foam to fleeting thoughts, intimate relationships, rainforest ecosystems, and the stars themselves - are each a kind of standing wave, like the ever-changing though persistent pattern of water rising above a boulder in a river.We are the result of multiple causes flowing through us. As Buckminster Fuller famously said, "I seem to be a verb."This fact … [Read more...]

Relax, You’ve Arrived – Just One Thing

Are we there yet? The Practice Relax, you've arrived. Why?We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.Part of this comes from our biological nature. To survive, animals - including us - have to be goal-directed, leaning into the future.It's certainly healthy to pursue wholesome aims, like paying the rent on time, raising children well, healing old pain, or improving education.But it's also important to see how this focus on the future - on endless striving, on getting the … [Read more...]

Notice You’re Alright Right Now – Just One Thing

Are you basically OK? The Practice Notice you're alright right now. Why?To keep our ancestors alive, the brain evolved strong tendencies toward fear, including an ongoing internal trickle of unease. This little whisper of worry keeps you scanning your inner and outer worlds for signs of trouble.This background of unsettledness and watchfulness is so automatic that you can forget it's there. So see if you can tune into a tension, guarding or bracing in your body. Or a vigilance about your … [Read more...]