Tag Archives: brain

Inner Resource – iRest

Inner Resource – iRest


We all have hardwired within ourselves an Inner Resource that we can call upon in every moment. This Inner Resource is a powerful ally that enables us to remain grounded, in control, at peace, in harmony, and at ease within ourselves; it helps us respond to each and every situation we encounter throughout our lifetime.

The Inner Resource is unique to each of us; a powerful companion of unchanging stability; a foundational stone in our practice of yoga, meditation and iRest that supports true health, healing, resilience and well-being.

Richard Miller, PhD

 

Tears Release The Beloved

Tears Release The Beloved

I have been singing with Threshold Choir for more than three years, and have been singing at the bedsides of the dying for about two. Much of my singing is at nursing homes and falls into the category of “visiting the shut-in,” but two recent bedsides have been an important learning experience for me.


The first time I sang at the bedside of Bruce, he was at home, surrounded by his beloved miniature longhair dachshunds and his wife. He did not interact with us, and others from our choir sang at his home in the following weeks. Then he was transferred to ICU for breathing problems. He had been sick for a long time, and I was part of the team that sang for him while he was on breathing support. Breathing support was removed the next day and we sang for him two more times. His room was always filled with friends and someone was always holding his hand. We had been instructed to sing upbeat, gospel-style songs. His wife told us that she had told Bruce that it was okay for him to go, but his vitals had not changed much from when he was on breathing support. He did not interact with us during any of these visits.

On the fourth sing, Bruce’s wife was holding his hand and the mood in the room had changed from the upbeat vibe the day before to something more somber. Our song mother sensed the change and did not sing the gospel songs, instead singing the end-of-life songs that are our true mission. As we sang, the steadfast courage the wife had been displaying slipped away and she began to quietly sob, her tears falling on Bruce’s hand. We continued to sing with lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes until she regained her composure. Bruce passed away that night.

Last Friday, I sang at the bedside of an eight-year-old girl. She was at home with her mother who proudly showed us a video of her daughter singing. It clearly showed that this little girl had been “medically fragile” since birth. The mother expertly infused fluids into the girl’s IV. The girl was on the couch in the living room and was on breathing support, too. We were visited by her older brother, for whom we sang Hollow Bamboo, and her baby sister, in diapers and still nursing. The mother was trying to be brave, but when the other two children were cleared from the room and she was there with us and holding the hand of her dying daughter, she began to weep during “Guide Me Through The Darkness.” We kept singing softly until she regained her composure. Eva died that night.

Both Bruce and Eva were deeply loved by their families, and yet I could see how holding on to what must be released is the source of so much suffering. The people who were on the Threshold seemed to need to be released by those whose prayers held them back. When the bereaved person truly let them go, the communication seemed to flow through holding the hand of the loved one on her tearful face.

We sang at the end of Bruce’s funeral — the gospel song.

“Strangers In Their Own Land”

“Strangers In Their Own Land”

“Anger and Mourning on the American Right” is the subtitle of this book by Arlie Russel Hochschild, a Berkeley sociologist. Based mainly on interviews with Tea Party Republicans in Louisiana, she delves into the “why” of poor white votes for Trump and other Republicans. Louisiana is one of the poorest and least-healthy states. It is heavily polluted because weak enforcement of weak regulations make it attractive to oil and chemical plants. Polluting industries seek the “least resistant personality profile” in the residents of the area they plan to poison (page 81):

  • Longtime residents of small towns in the South or Midwest
  • High school educated only
  • Catholic
  • Uninvolved in social issues, and without a culture of activism
  • Involved in “nature exploitative occupations” such as mining, farming, ranching
  • Conservative
  • Republican
  • Advocates of the free market

Hochschild develops a “deep story” to explain their traditional values of loyalty, sacrifice, and endurance. Polluting industries manipulate them into fearing the loss of their income if they don’t turn a blind eye to the secret pollution, the dying trees, the disappearing fish, the increasing illness. Church, state, and politicians tug their loyalty strings to believe in Capitalism at the expense of the environment. They endure the secret spillage into their waterways, staying close to home and their traditional values. They resent Liberals who point to the contamination and tell them they “are not feeling the right feelings.”

These white people work hard and they scorn the shiftless, no ‘count people below them in the social order who live on government handouts and never work. They identify with the white plantation owners, the 1%, and believe that through hard work, luck and family connections, they too will live in the white-columned mansions along the Mississippi River. But they don’t go to college and they don’t learn new technology or new ways of thinking.

They are resentful of affirmative-action types (women, blacks, refugees) who “cut in front of them in line” for the good jobs. They believe the government paid for Obama’s education, and for Michelle’s Harvard education, too. Because they never bought and read his books, they don’t realize that their education loans were paid for with the book royalties. They believe the government subsidizes this “line-cutting” that has stagnated their wages and lives.

They don’t want to feel like downtrodden victims like blacks, women and gays. They want to feel like the white 1%. Their endurance is a matter of honor. Honor is sacrifice. With their tight communities and limited education, their feedback loop is small and fed by Fox News.

Trump cashed in on Identity Politics for white men who felt trapped in 1950s ethics and values. The ones holding the KKK signs in Atchafalaya. Read David Brooks review of the book in his Fourth of July column.

Empathy and Lack of Empathy

Empathy and Lack of Empathy

Two videos: one from Brene Brown on how empathy differs from sympathy. The second, a TED talk, on how narcissists lack empathy, and how ordinary narcissism differs from covert narcissism.

How are Covert Narcissists different from the garden-variety kind? According to Spartan Life Coach

You are Told: Narcissists are always brash, loud, assertive, flashy and Confident.

The problem is: Coverts are quiet, insecure and passive.

You are Told: Narcissists will never apologize for things they do.

The problem is: Coverts can learn that a quick and TOTAL apology is a really slick way of getting their target to “go back to sleep” if it looks like they are waking up.

You are told: Narcissists are ambitious, successful, go-getters full of energy and pumped with charismatic charm.

The problem is: Coverts are marked by failed ambition, chronic feelings of emptiness, fragility, low functioning and when depleted can frequently sink into outright depression.

You are told: Narcissists can be detected because they will always tell you how amazing they are and by bragging about their achievements.

The problem is: Coverts are known for presenting themselves as vulnerable victims who can even use that vulnerability as a hook to bait you in!

The article goes on to say that while the overt narcissist believes they are awesome, the world largely agrees with them. On the other hand, the covert narcissist believes they are awesome and the world largely disagrees with them. Narcissistic supply is scarce, forcing them to be more cunning and deceptive than the overt narcissist.

PSYCHOLOGY TODAY offers the Seven Signs of a Covert Narcissist. A key differentiator is passive-aggressiveness.

Some introverted narcissists deal with disagreeable people or circumstances in passive-aggressive ways. Upon receiving a reasonable request from you, they might say ‘okay,’ “yes,” “of course,” or “as you wish,” then either do nothing, or behave however they please. When you inquire why they didn’t follow-through on an arrangement, they may shrug it off with an excuse, or say nonchalantly that their way is better.

Perhaps SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN said it best. “23 signs You a Covert Narcissist Masquerading as Sensitive Introvert

In a post on The Narcissistic Life, Amanda says in the comments:

Gary, thank you for bringing up the Empath. As a daughter and sister of Narcissists, I do not see myself as an “inverted narcissist.” After a failed marriage of 24 years, I was told my ex was a narcissist. The signs were all there right in front of me, but I couldn’t see them or didn’t want to. Since the divorce I have been in a few relationships and most were narcissistic. The Narcissist is attracted to the Empath so they can gain control, power and they know the Empath will submit. The last relationship lasted for 2 years instead of 24 and he is a sociopathic/narcissist. The signs were there, but I ignored them because the “love bombing” was intoxicating and almost suffocating. I believed every word he said.

When he began to tire of me he started finding ways so I would push him out of my life. I ended up telling him he had 24 hours to get his things. I already knew he had shut me down or “discarded” me..

I can see my part in the desire for being loved from these type of men. Since I couldn’t find that in my dad and brothers, I sought this need through men.

In each relationship, there is a longing to show and express love, but they don’t seem to want this love. Maybe I never was able to attach to my dad because he was not able to love himself. As his daughter, I could sense this and tried over and over I tried to tell him how wonderful he is and how much he is loved.
He has never accepted this from me or accepted this within himself.

The fixer…

Commenter Tmoney goes on to say:

… “the inverted narcissist is a person who grew up enthralled by the narcissistic parent … the child becomes a masterful provider of Narcissistic Supply, a perfect match to the parent’s personality.” is what sets it apart. The Empath is never looking to feel like a masterful provider (someone with power over someone else), Empaths serve because they want to, its natural. Its not a way to control people.

The Inverted Narcissist is ultimately seeking to feel POWERFUL by having a Narcissist depend on them. (Because if they are the supply, they can manipulate the one who needs it.)

The Empath is seeking to feel LOVED by having someone depend on them.

This is why I feel they are separate beings/personality types. I THINK THEY CALL THEM MIRROR NARCISSISTS BECAUSE THEY PUSH AND PULL JUST AS MUCH AS THE NARCISSIST DOES, SO THEY ARE THEIR EQUAL OPPOSITE.

EMPATHS ON THE OTHER HAND ARE NOT PUSHING AND PULLING SO THEY ARE DIRECT OPPOSITES TO NARCISSISTS. THEY ARE THE LACK OF PULL/PUSH TO THE NARCISSIST’S PULL/PUSH. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but that’s the only way I can describe it.

Inverted Narcissists and Narcissists play an equal tug of war. Narcissists invite Empaths to play tug of war and the Empaths drop the rope, which is why the Narcissists find them so interesting.

Know Breaks

Know Breaks

Rick Hanson Ph.D., author of Buddha’s Brain, teaches at UC Berkeley. His Positive Neuroplasticity trains your brain to turn passing experiences — like self-compassion, mindfulness, grit, gratitude, and self-worth — into lasting inner resources that are encoded in your nervous system.

His Just One Thing weekly newsletter suggests a simple practice for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind. Today, the message was to PAUSE.

When the mind is running fast, it can feel like a juggernaut with no brakes. When in a heated discussion, it is important to be able to PAUSE the flow of words so we may consider better responses. Know to take a break. Rick Hansen says:

nobrakesIf need be, PAUSE the interaction altogether by suggesting you talk later, calling time out, or (last resort) telling the other person you’re done for now and hanging up the phone.

Before doing something that could be problematic — like getting high, putting a big purchase on a credit card, firing off an irritated e-mail, or talking about person A to person B — stop and forecast the consequences. Try to imagine them in living color: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then make your choice.

He recommends that we stop for a few seconds before starting a new activity and tune in to what’s going on, especially our physical feelings, so that we can briefly touch what Richard Miller calls our “inner resource.”  To know breaks give us a chance to regain our center, to calculate the consequences of actions, to compose ourselves, and to know peace.

Training Your Brain

Wendy Sullivan, LMSW, a licensed social worker, developed a set of Just One Thing downloadable cue sheets to help people to structure their efforts to train their brains to feel more peace and joy. Find out more about the Just One Thing book.

Stress Can Be Your Friend

Stress Can Be Your Friend
Stress Can Be Your Friend

StressIsYourFriend
People who feel that they control the events in their lives and believe that they can learn fast and perform well end up doing better on nearly every important measure of work performance, according to the team led by University of Florida psychologist Tim Judge.

When you can persuade yourself that you are in control, and you are confident in your ability to adapt quickly to life changes, you can be a top performer.

Ever noticed how you wait until the last minute to start a creative project? Our brains are hard-wired to need anxiety to get started. The chart they developed show that performance peaks and “flow” conditions are created with moderate, managed levels of anxiety.

Convert Anxiety into Excitement

The better you get at managing the anxiety, the better you will perform when facing uncertain or challengine situations. Some techniques”

  • What are the foreseeable pitfalls? Plan the action you will take.
  • Focus on positive actions you can take, turnout the fears of failure.
  • Re-write your script. We live our lives according to what we believe.

embracestress
Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D tells us in this TED Talk that people who view stress as an opportunity for courage or a chance at joy bypass the damaging cardiovascular effects caused by a flood of cortisol.

So, what can you do to regain your center and make stress your friend? How do you turn nervousness into excitement?
unplug

Yield to the Present – 10% Happier

Yield to the Present – 10% Happier
Yield to the Present – 10% Happier

“Yield to the Present” was the sign near the door when Dan Harris, the ambitious ABC reporter, arrived at Spirit Rock in Marin for his 10 day silent retreat in an effort to become “less of a jerk.” The book was a dishy read of behind-the-scenes at ABC news, which I loved, and had a lot of good information on his walk toward Buddhism

Dan’s teachers suggest using our native curiosity to train our Default Mode Network to move from Aversion to Compassion. To move from being a jerk, in his parlance, to a mensch. He shows the brain chemistry and meditation techniques to do it, including asking yourself, when you are ruminating on the same thought for the nineteenth time, “is this useful?”

One of his mentors, Mark Epstein, explains on page 164 discussion Dan could become 10% happier because of mitigation of misery, not alleviation. The waterfall of drama is still there, you gain the ability to step behind the waterfall, creating a space to witness what is going on. Instead of the kneejerk stimulus —> reaction, you have walked behind the waterfall of emotion and created enough space to move to stimulus —> response because you are less caught up in the melodrama that is unfolding. You are less attached to the outcome. You have space for a little insight because you are not clinging to success so desperately. Here the metta prayer he learned at Spirit Rock:

May you be happy
May you be safe and protected from harm
May you be healthy and strong
May you live with ease

My favorite part was in the appendix where Dan Harris mentions the research of Jud Brewer, MD, PhD, addiction psychiatrist at Yale. Here’s Jud’s TED talk shows how to calm the posterior cingulate — get it to “turn blue” in the fMRI.

Why I’m Not Rich

Why I’m Not Rich

Sometimes I wonder why I’m not rich. I have worked so hard, studied so much… When I was in graduate business school, I thought I would be rich by now. Here’s what I have learned about being a woman in business.

1. Men are not the problem.

2. Women are the problem more often than you would think. I have been back-stabbed and undermined by women far more than by men. When it comes to women getting ahead in business, the gender that is the greater stumbling block is other women. “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down,” seems to be a pervasive and self-destructive attitude in women’s culture. The only woman I personally know who got rich did it in the heavy construction business.

3. Sheryl Sandberg is right. Effective and Nice are mutually exclusive for women. The word bitch should be reserved for female dogs, who are the most powerful individuals in the dog-breeding world.

4. There might be a Glass Ceiling and it might be biology-based.

Y and X chromosomes

Y and X chromosomes

The Y chromosome is on the left in this image. Men have one of these, and one X chromosome, the big one on the right. Women have two X chromosomes. What is on all that extra DNA that women have that men don’t?

Why are there so few women CEOs? Is there something on that extra DNA that interferes with women becoming Chief Executive Officers?

Mary Barra is a rare example of a female CEO. She has worked for GM since 1980. She got a bachelor’s in electrical engineering on her own, but GM sent her to Stanford Graduate School of Business because she had so much talent. When GM went bankrupt, the government sent in a “rescue executive” to get it back on track and to find the best talent to lead the company back to solvency. He picked Mary Barra for CEO because she was “a car guy.”

GMceoWithin weeks, she discovered that faulty ignition switches were implicated in several deaths, and she publicly announced a recall, to the dismay of many. This move took a lot of courage because it would cost the company a tremendous amount of money and be a serious public relations blow.

But if she failed to recall the dangerous products there would be more deaths, unnecessary deaths. She eventually discovered that the cover-up extended to more models, so she issued more recalls. Interestingly, company revenue increased, and eventually, GM’s approval rating surged as her ethical way of dealing with the problem emerged in government hearings. Is biology an element here?

For a long time, women were excluded from combat. Why? “Because they take all the fun out of it,” my friend Todd Armstrong once told me. Women are not likely to participate in wartime rape or mayhem (the crime of maliciously injuring or maiming someone, originally so as to render the victim defenseless).

The Glass Ceiling may be real because there are things that most women won’t do. It is possible that most women would not let customers continue to die to protect the company’s reputation. She had the courage to reveal a years-long cover-up, and to take a huge financial hit, in order to stop the needless deaths.

The male CEOs at the time of the cover-up did not choose this path. They stonewalled the inquiries and litigated them away.

So, I am not rich because hard work and being smart, while necessary for success, are not sufficient. An effective team is always more productive and innovative than a single person, and I am still working on that. Success also requires building a strong support system and good connections. It might demand being more ruthless than I am willing. And maybe a few more things I don’t know about.

So, I didn’t get rich, but I have enough.

On Being a Digital Immigrant

On Being a Digital Immigrant

I went to a lecture yesterday at SRJC by Ofer Zur, Ph.D. on “How the Internet Changes Brains.” He is about 65 now, and he spoke about “digital natives” which are people who grew up with computers, and “digital immigrants” who acquired these skills in adulthood.

Social-Media6logosTen years ago, when I started my business, I knew more than anyone else in Santa Rosa about how to increase revenue for a brick-and-mortar business by using Google advertising. To help these businesses, I used my extensive background in marketing and advertising, and my expertise in media buying, along with my web development skill. The oldest “digital natives” were about 15 and still in high school.

Now, they are 25 years old and they completely understand Twitter, SnapChat, YikYak, Pinterest, Instagram and all the social media channels that have left me behind. There is so much more to know about online marketing and finding the right audience, and I realize I am no longer the best in town. It is time to hire a partner.

Dr. Zur spoke about facing age-related limitations on his recent motorcycle trip to the Himalayas. Being a digital immigrant, alas, is another age-related limitation.