Back to Basics

What’s fundamental? The Practice: Back to basics. Why? In middle school, I thought it would be cool to play a musical instrument, and picked the clarinet. My wise parents rented one rather than buying it, and I started practicing. (In the garage because it sounded pretty screechy.) After a week or two of doing scales,

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Don’t Rain On The Parade

Why do we have cheerleaders? The Practice: Don’t rain on the parade. Why? Let’s say you’ve had an interesting idea or moment of inspiration, or thought of a new project, or felt some enthusiasm bubbling up inside you. Your notions are not fully formed and you’re not really committed to them yet, but they have

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Speak Truly

What’s in your heart to say? The Practice: Speak truly. Why? It’s been said that the most powerful tool for physical health is a fork (or spoon), since the choices you make with it determine the good or bad things you put into your body. In the same way, perhaps the most powerful tool for

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Don’t Take it Personally

Is it about you? The Practice: Don’t take it personally. Why? Here’s an updated parable from the ancient Taoist teacher, Chuang-Tzu: Imagine that you are floating in a canoe on a slow-moving river, having a Sunday picnic with a friend. Suddenly there is a loud thump on the side of the canoe, and it rolls

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Forgive Yourself

Are you hard on yourself? The Practice: Forgive yourself. Why? Everyone messes up. Me, you, the neighbors, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi, King David, the Buddha, everybody. It’s important to acknowledge mistakes, feel appropriate remorse, and learn from them so they don’t happen again. But most people keep beating themselves up way past the point of

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Questions About Relationships

“Does the brain develop primarily due to the influence of relationships?“ “Will you speak to the process of dealing with a relationship loss?“ “What advice can you give to someone whose partner abuses drugs or alcohol?“ You can find the answers to these and almost 100 other questions on 20+ different topics on my FAQs page.

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Patterns of Closeness and Independence

Intimacy and autonomy are independent dimensions, and it is their combination that counts. The qualities in each category, imperfectly summarized by a single word, characterize both types of individuals and, more importantly, states of mind we all transit: Integrated – Comfortable and skillful with both closeness and agency; able both to carry others in her

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Intimacy and Autonomy Working Together

Intimacy and autonomy are channels for expressing your natural goodness. For example, being kind toward someone naturally involves both an affinity with that person and a certain autonomy for the kindness to be genuine. Besides its obvious rewards in everyday life, intimacy supports personal growth and spiritual practice through bringing you into relationship with things.

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The Dance of Intimacy and Autonomy

Love tends to join and hate to separate, but joining is not the same as love, and separation is not hatred. Sometimes the most loving thing a person can do is take a step back: that’s distance in the service of attachment. And it’s not loving to join in invasive or smothering ways. Most people

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Give Them What They Want

What’s up with these people? The Practice: Give them what they want. Why? Research shows that relationships are built from interactions, and interactions are built from moments. A critical moment in an interaction is when one person wants something from the other one. (“Wants” include wishes, needs, desires, hopes, and longings.) The want could be [Read more...]


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