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 probably noticed this … [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 - feed the mouse - addressed how … [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 … [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 it up. Concerned that it might be freezing to death, I placed it on 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...]

Rest

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...]


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