Search Results for: Christian Conte

Christian Conte: Healing Conflict: Listen, Validate, a...

Christian Conte, PhD, is a mental health specialist and leading authority on anger management. With Sounds True, Christian has published Walking Through Anger: A New Design for Confronting Conflict in an Emotionally Charged World. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon talks with Christian about his Yield Theory of emotional management, focusing on the process of “listen, validate, explore options.” Christian explains the events that led to his interest in anger management, as well as the origins of Yield Theory. He emphasizes the importance of meeting others where they are, giving them the opportunity to drain anger’s charge from their limbic system. Christian and Tami discuss why it’s necessary to cultivate humility and how Yield Theory might be applied to our currently divisive culture. Finally, they speak on “the cartoon world” that angry responses often create, as well as the importance of watching what we add to our minds.(63 minutes)

The Joy that Death Does Not Have the Power to Destroy

James Finley, a renowned teacher in the Christian contemplative tradition, speaks with Tami Simon about the enduring wisdom of 14th century Christian mystic Meister Eckhart. James, who studied at the Abbey of Gethsemani with Thomas Merton, is the author of the book Christian Meditation, and with Sounds True has created many audio courses, the latest of which is Meister Eckhart’s Living Wisdom: Indestructible Joy and the Path of Letting Go. In this episode, James speaks with Tami about what he has found most compelling in the life and teachings of Meister Eckhart, what it means to be illumined by faith and to live in vulnerability, and leads us through a Christian meditation practice in the mystical tradition. (68 minutes)

James Finley: Breathing God

Tami Simon speaks with Jim Finley, a master of the Christian contemplative way and a renowned retreat leader. Jim left home at the age of 18 and studied at the Abbey of Gethsemani with Thomas Merton for six years. He’s a clinical psychologist in Santa Monica, California, and the author of Christian Meditation and the book The Contemplative Heart, as well as the Sounds True audio learning programs Christian Meditation, Thomas Merton’s Path to the Palace of Nowhere, and along with medical intuitive Caroline Myss, the audio program Transforming Trauma. Jim discusses embracing our brokenness and the attitude of nonjudgmental compassion, the value of spontaneous moments of meditative awareness, and false perceptions about the practice of meditation. (56 minutes)

3 Ways to Welcome the Sacred Feminine This Holiday Sea...

3 Ways to Welcome the Sacred Feminine This Holiday Season (2)

If you are anything like me (and almost everyone I encounter these days), you are growing bored with the patriarchy and eager to reclaim feminine wisdom across the spectrum of human community: politics, academia, pop culture, and religion and spirituality. It’s not a matter of personal preference. The well-being of our Mother the Earth is inextricably entwined with our choice to either lift up and center the feminine or continue to bury Her. Here are a few ways for you to welcome the sacred feminine this season. 

Reclaim Mother Mary

With so much of the attention of the Western world focused on the legendary birth of a boy baby, we sometimes forget he had a badass mom. Mother Mary was anything but meek and mild. She was a powerful prophet, an unconditionally loving force, a broken-open heart on fire. She offered her divine YES (Hineyni, in Hebrew) and spoke truth to power with love. How can you soften and step up to the resounding call to be the instrument of peace you were born to be? Look to Mary as a guide.

Read Women’s Poetry

There are a host of truth-tellers in the form of contemporary women poets & they are brimming with mystical treasures. Back away from the news for a moment and pick up a poem. Read it three times. The first time, you are knocking on the door of the poem. The second time, the door opens. And the third time, you are invited all the way in. Here are some recommendations: Marie Howe; Ellen Bass; Lyla June; Hashem Beck; Lynn Unger; Naomi Shihab Nye; Jane Hirshfield; Linda Pastan; Mohja Kafh.

Cultivate a Sabbath Practice

The tyranny of tasks that bosses us around most of the year can intensify around the holidays. Even as the mystical traditions invite us to turn inward & rest in stillness during this season, the larger culture demands that we engage in an endless array of duties and expenditures. In the Jewish tradition, a weekly observance of Shabbat, infused with the Feminine Presence (the Shekinah), is not only a requirement of the faith, but the sweetest blessing. Find your way to keep the Sabbath holy.

Mirabai Starr writes creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialog. A certified bereavement counselor, Mirabai helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. She has received critical acclaim for her revolutionary new translations of the mystics, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Julian of Norwich. She is the award-winning author of GOD OF LOVE: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and CARAVAN OF NO DESPAIR: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, and Mother of God Similar to Fire, a collaboration with iconographer, William Hart McNichols.  Her latest book is Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics. She lives with her extended family in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

The community here at Sounds True wishes you a lovely holiday season! We are happy to collaborate with some of our Sounds True authors to offer you wisdom and practices as we move into this time together; please enjoy this blog series for your holiday season. 

To help encourage you and your loved ones to explore new possibilities this holiday season, we’re offering 40% off nearly all of our programs, books, and courses sitewide. May you find the wisdom to light your way. Use promo code HOLIDAY10 and receive an additional 10% off your order.

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Coming Awake to Your Projections and Loving Yourself

Coming Awake Loving Yourself Header Image

When I was in my twenties, I noticed something odd.

Hanging out with my more conservative friends often meant that I’d be called out for my hippie tendencies. What was more, I found myself being swept along by the current of their opinion; I felt like a hippie around them. Because of that, I wound up falling into more “hippie-like” behavior.

With my more bohemian friends, though, I was referred to as The Conservative. And with them, I felt and acted more conventional. It was simply easy to fulfill their expectations. “What gives?” I thought. “I’ve been the same person this whole time!”

I wanted so much for everyone to just see me. What a painful and lonely feeling.

I wanted so much for everyone to just see me.

This phenomenon—being mistakenly and reductively typecast­—wasn’t just happening with my friends. It was happening with my husband. It was happening with my family members. And, it was happening within my own mind.

This kind of thing can make knowing and loving yourself a bit confusing.

WHAT IS PROJECTION?

Over time, I’ve come to realize that humans are constantly projecting. People I don’t know very well, my closest friends, my family members, co-workers… everybody does it. This can include assumptions, expectations, stereotypes, attributes, simplifications, unrealistic positives and negatives, and so on.

Have you ever noticed something like that happening to you?

Perhaps, as a woman, you’ve been treated like you’re not as smart or capable as you actually are. Maybe you’ve been feared as a man, seen as more aggressive than you actually are.

Perhaps someone treated you as a doormat when you’re not. Maybe someone thought you had more patience or expertise than you do. It’s possible and common to experience different—even opposite—projections coming from different people.

I’m uncomfortable with negative projections, but I’m uncomfortable with the positive ones, too. Because neither are the real me. At least, not what I believe to be the real me. And they certainly don’t include the whole picture.

Another thing: I’ve noticed that when someone makes a strong projection on me, no matter what I do, I just seem to confirm what they’re already projecting.

Through it all, I still just want to be seen.

By now I’m thinking of that famous saying, “Everyone’s crazy but thee and me. And sometimes I wonder about thee!” We’re thinking it’s everyone else who’s projecting like mad. Um, how about you and me?

Yuck. Is there a way out of this?

COMING AWAKE IN WESTERN THOUGHT

Coming Awake Loving Yourself Western

Let’s start with a look at how some in the West work with projection.

Psychoanalyst and spiritual explorer Carl Jung (1875-1961) had some very helpful things to say on this. He explored the idea that we all have some version of all characteristics and characters—both positive and negative—floating around inside of us, somewhere. And, for one reason or another, there are some we aren’t able to see in ourselves.

As our personalities form, we take some of those characters and consciously identify with them: I’m a savior/warrior. I’m the class cut-up. I’m a geek. I’m a bad boy. I’m the nurturing father. I’m the dependable one.

The qualities we’ve set out in the sunshine, for all others to see, get the chance to develop nicely. How lovely for them. But what about all of the other qualities and characters that we aren’t claiming with our conscious mind?

They’re underground—in the basement.

The ones we really don’t want to claim, we do our best to keep in that dank, dark basement.

Instead of getting a chance to develop and mature, our unclaimed characteristics just kind of… fester. They get frustrated and funky. And trust me—they don’t stay obediently in the basement forever.

COMMUNICATING WITH OUR UNCONSCIOUS

We’re the last to be conscious of our own unconscious. There’s a bumper sticker for you! 

Jung popularized the concepts of dream interpretation and something called active imagination to try to coax our unclaimed natures into our conscious mind.

I was lucky enough to go to a Jungian Analyst who, borrowing from Fritz Perls’ Gestalt work, had me sit in another chair and become some disowned part of myself. I then went back and forth between the two chairs, having a conversation.

I found this approach extremely clarifying and helpful. I immediately tried it out with a client who had a terrible procrastination problem.

I had her go back and forth between two chairs: one was like her older sister, whom she saw as overbearing, and the other was like her more childish self. The two had a rousing debate over what she should do with her weekend—party or study. Each of them passionately insisted they had her best interests at heart. They were both right.

Then, I had her sit in the middle and be the peacemaker. She got her dissonant selves to forge a deal to alternate between partying and studying.

All of this was a revelation to her. She had identified only with the fun-loving gal. Then, in desperate moments, her other side would come out of the basement and become a crazed slavedriver. Through this conversation, she found that she could make a clear plan to have a balanced, happy weekend that didn’t jeopardize either her happiness or her grade point average. And it expanded her identity, her sense of herself. Her view of her older sister changed, too.

COMMUNICATING WITH OUR LOVED ONES

Here’s another idea. It goes something like this: We admit that we’re all projecting on each other all the time, and we’re each the last to know we’re doing it.

Usually, the projectee knows way sooner than the projector. So let’s make a deal: If you gently tell me what you’re perceiving (hopefully with specific examples, because I’ll probably be clueless), I’ll do the same for you.

We both give each other permission to do this. We both learn how to do it with skill and kindness.

Note that this approach works for both parties. The projector can let us know what they’re seeing; the projectee can share what they think the projector might be inaccurately (or incompletely, and certainly unintentionally) projecting onto them. And vice versa.

Imagine if, alongside doing the inner work, we all helped one another, too. We might get better and better at knowing ourselves—both the good and bad—and begin to take back our natures as a simple consequence of self-love and acceptance.

COMING AWAKE IN EASTERN THOUGHT

Coming Awake Loving Yourself EasternThe array of Tibetan practices offer a myriad of profound tools. These help us take our characters out of the basement and bring them into their fullest, most highly developed forms.

There are, for example, the One Hundred Peaceful and Wrathful Deities, as well as practices involving various enlightened masters. Each is an image of an archetype—a facet or principle of reality. Being principles of reality, these archetypes are all everywhere, including in each of us.

An archetype is like one of those snowflake stencils many of us created as kids by making little cuts in a piece of paper. You spray paint through it and when you take it away, voilá, a snowflake you can make again and again.

Once you use the stencil, you just see the painted snowflake. Jungians like to use the metaphor of a magnet hidden under a piece of paper that has iron filings on it. As you move the hidden magnet, it draws the filings into different shapes. We see only the shapes of the filings, not the magnet.

COMMUNICATING WITH ARCHETYPES: THE GREAT MOTHER

Let’s take the Great Mother archetype. 

In Tibetan practice, both men and women practice Green Tara. They invoke that principle from outside, and evoke it from the inside.

Since we have trouble relating to the pure unseen principle/archetype, we use image (a beautiful green lady), archetypal sound (mantra), and even smell (incense).

Coming Awake Green Tara

Image courtesy of Osel Shen Phen Ling: www.fpmt-osel.org.

We all tend to have internal conversations and dramas with people. But in this case, the setup for our connection with Green Tara is perfectly designed to give us a much more profound, powerful, and enlightened experience than, say, imagining calling our earthly mom on the phone.

Though our mom is just a human being, with faults and foibles, Green Tara is the image that naturally evokes the perfect facet of enlightened mind that is the essence of the mother principle.

The classic progression is that we consciously project Tara out from our hearts, where Tibetan Buddhists believe our mind mainly resides. We project her above us, seeing her clearly in our mind’s eye. 

We do this by inviting her, welcoming her, asking her to sit, offering her water, flowers. Then we say the mantra associated with her: Om tarey tuttarey turey soha.

Often we then imagine her descending into us, dissolving into us, becoming indistinguishable from us. We emerge as Tara ourselves, grounding ever more strongly in the owning of that pure archetype.

COMMUNICATING WITH ARCHETYPES: HAYAGRIVA

Let’s take Fred, for an imaginary example. He thinks of himself as a Mr. Nice Guy.

This means that when people want to walk all over him, he doesn’t have the wherewithal, in his conscious array of characters, to assert himself. His Tough Guy or Warrior is in the basement. It’s been lurking there all his life, and isn’t very presentable, as a result.

Whenever Fred gets cornered he suddenly bites the person’s head off … then regrets it later, and may not even get what he needs. Martha Beck refers to this as an “exploding doormat.”

Fred might do well to practice Hayagriva, a fierce, enlightened being of a class known as protectors. They can act with great ferocity, but always with wisdom and compassion.

Coming Awake Hayagriva 2

Magdalena Rehova / Alamy Stock Photo

If Fred were to inhabit Hayagriva the way we talked of inhabiting/owning Tara, he would find his way to the pure essence of that murky, funky character who popped out when he exploded. Once he’d spent time owning and inhabiting Hayagriva Fred is much more likely to skillfully, kindly, and firmly ward off people walking all over him.

Whether it’s a peaceful one like Tara or a more wrathful one like Hayagriva, we must fully own the archetype. It has gone from something we can’t see or feel, to a pure presence that we fully identify with.

COMMUNICATING WITH OURSELVES

Over time, as we get used to owning these presences consciously, we have little need to project it onto someone else. And in owning this purer form, we can often bring forth those qualities in everyday life. They’re much more at our fingertips.

In Tibetan Buddhist deity practice, the goal is to take us from our usual, banal and confused state, to dak-nang, or pure vision—seeing things as they really are.

Imagine if everyone did such well-honed practices, on a lot of different deities. I believe we would then be able to take the various characters out of our basements, develop them, and “play” them in various moments in life.

Playing with a full deck, you might say!

A CULTURE COMING AWAKE

Coming Awake Ocean Culture

Reality is a vast, perfect ocean that loves to create ever-changing waves and play with them. This ocean is bursting, overflowing with love and joy. But most of us waves don’t see it that way.

The essential intent of the Buddha is to use practices to wake ourselves from the dream/trance we find ourselves in. “Buddha” means one who is awake.

We don’t realize that we’re not just a wave, but made of ocean. We are all both wave and ocean.

COMMUNICATING WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE

Imagine if a critical mass of people became fluent in these skills and capacities, bringing us closer together in camaraderie rather than causing us to build walls of protection and projection against each other.

Imagine less of a need to blame others for our own issues. Less excuses to act snotty and selfish and ignorant and even rageful. How different this world would be.

I believe this is something we all must do to solve the problems that now threaten our happiness and our very existence. We must progress from the swarm of projections, both societal and personal, which cause such pain, to really seeing each other.

Then we could all relax our defenses—because those projections feel terrible—and we could work together to solve the dire problems we’re all actually facing together.

Beyond even that, we’d find that human relations can be much simpler than we thought! They can feel deeply connected, warm, and delicious. We can be seen in our full light.

* * *

In our Namchak Learning Circles, we encourage people to awaken to their unconscious selves. We offer a weekend training in working on projections, in which we learn not only about projections but about how to work compassionately and skillfully to talk about them with each other. As you have probably gathered, that last part is important!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lama Tsomo Author Photo

Lama Tsomo is a spiritual teacher, author and co-founder of the Namchak Foundation and Namchak Retreat Ranch

Born Linda Pritzker, Lama Tsomo followed a path of spiritual inquiry and study that ultimately led to her ordination as one of the few female American lamas in Tibetan Buddhism. 

Today, she works to share the teachings of the Namchak tradition, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Utilizing her psychology background, Lama Tsomo works to make it easier for Westerners to bridge contemplative practice and modern life. She is particularly passionate about reaching young people and supporting those working for positive social change. 

Fascinated by science from an early age, Lama Tsomo’s teachings often reference the science behind meditation and the proven neurological impact. She holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and is the author of Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling? An Introduction and Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Practice and co-author of The Lotus & the Rose: A Conversation Between Tibetan Buddhism & Mystical Christianity.

Inspiration: 27 Vital Aspects of Breath

Pause, Breathe, Smile by Gary Gach

Have you ever paused to consider how amazing your breath is? Here’s a list of some inspirational aspects of breath. (The word inspiration itself means to breathe.) Some might already be familiar to you. You may feel drawn to appreciate some more than others. Devoting close attention to any one will lead to all the others. It’s all there – in a breath.

 

1  Present-ness

My mind wanders. My thoughts drift off. Sometimes, I could drown in regret, lost reviewing the past. Meanwhile, my breath is always precisely in the present moment.

2  Happiness

When we drop our worries and hurries, we can fully connect with our aliveness. Breathing with this joy on our lips, we learn a deeper, more enduring happiness. It’s our birthright. Conscious breathing can be a great relief, having nothing else to do but be – and a reminder there are enough simple reasons for happiness in this present moment.

3  Leadership

I’m a follower of my breath. Following my breath can tell me volumes about how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking; where I am and where I need to go in my life. When I notice my mind has wandered – I simply draw attention back to my breath.

4  Constant Companion

Since my birth, no one and no thing has been as close to me, without fail, rain or shine, as my breath. No sensation has been as familiar to me. When I follow my breath, I feel myself coming home, where I’ve always belonged.

5  Best Friendship

Ultimately, no one may love me as much as I do. To remain faithful to my part of the relationship, I pay utmost attention to my breath. Sometimes, I need to take time for us to get to know each other better.

6  Relational

I say, “my breath,” but I could b breathing in your out-breath. The simple implication of breath’s merging of within and around can dramatically shift my perspective.

7  Inspirational

We have many muses in our creative life. They may take the form of rituals, people, or substances. My primary inspiration is breath.

8  Nature
Through my breath, I observe my connection to Nature and her processes. The in-and-out of breath mirrors the natural cycles – the tides, the sun and moon, life and death.

9  Slowness

Nature reminds me to slow down, since my observation reveals how slowness tends to predominate our surroundings. Paying attention to breathing, it tends to deepen and slow, of its own, naturally. Living in a culture addicted to an ever-accelerating pace, slowness can feel like salvation.

10 Calm

Paying attention to breath allows it become as deep as it wishes to be. When I feel my belly soften and breath grow deep, my vestigial instincts of flight-fright-or-fight have gone away: less stress! I am aware of how calm I feel.

11  Solidity

Without calm, my strength can dissipate, disperse, and scatter. Without calm, I cannot engage in gentle inquiry into the nature of self and reality. My reserve of calm assures my presence has solidity, even in emergency. I can show up, and be present when I show up.

12  Silent

Paying attention, I notice breath is slower than thought. Nor does it obey the restrictive patterns of verbal language. I pay close attention to each quiet breath, from beginning, middle, and end – and with a blank space, in between. This silence is not blind.

13  Anonymity

My breath is totally unconcerned whether or not I am up with latest fashion, or what I look like. I don’t need to cultivate an identity. Breath accepts as I am. In that complete acceptance, I could be nobody – or anybody. This is anonymity is a passport to the undomesticated world of the wild.

14  Impermanence

Breath is a living example of the impermanence of all things – a reminder of the importance of flow. You can never breathe the same breath twice.

15  Focus of Awareness

Meditating, I could focus on sound, which is also ever-present, but I like breath best.

16  Emotional Self-Regulation

Being intimate with how a breath arises, manifests, then falls away is a transferable skill, applicable to emotions and thoughts. These too arise, take form, and pass. Besides my recognizing they’re impermanent, it’s great to also be able to catch negative thought forms and destructive feelings at their inception – before they’ve pulled us along by the nose – learning to step away from their pull on us, understand them, and heal and transform their energies.

17  Direct

Breath isn’t symbolic nor abstract. There’s no need to look behind breath, searching for hidden meaning. Beyond anyone else’s words or labels, connecting with breath is to see for one’s self, through direct experience.

18  Intentionality

Wanting to change my behavior – my thoughts, my words, and my deeds – conscious breathing is wonderful training. To be conscious of just one breath immediately sets intention into motion. Conscious breath provides a space where I can consider how to respond, rather than react.

19  Universal

Like the wind that encircles the planet, breath is everywhere. It knows no religious denominations, national boundaries, ethnic differences, or social classes. Languages vary but they all tend to point to the vital connection to life of breath.

20  Vital

Mindful of breath, I return my attention to the fountain of life. Dead people don’t breathe. Many languages equate our personal breath with a connection to something greater than ourselves.

21  Centering

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi once likened breath to a hinge between mind and body. In present-moment awareness of breath, my body and mind find each other. In the vital spaciousness of breath, body mind spirit can align as one.

22  Interconnection

Scientists tell me my breath nourishes the green world of vegetation, and vegetation nourishes my breath. I know, first-hand, such interdependent interconnection of all things through my breath. I can feel how body conditions mind … mind conditions body … breath conditions both.

23  Letting Go

Breathing out teaches me a central lesson: letting go. I can’t breathe in without breathing out.

24  Ineffable

Breath is invisible. It has no color, no shape. It’s invisible. Breath – like mind, like life – is ineffable.

25  Selflessness

Breathing out, I let my exhalation simply fall away from my body, as if as far as to the horizon. Then I wait. I am as still as a hunter waiting for a deer. I don’t summon it, nor try to will it into existence. My next breath comes, nevertheless. As if of itself. Without fixed identity, lacking any separateness, empty of ownership. In this, it is perfectly open to anything and everything, as limitless as a big clear sky. Selfless.

26  Prayer

Mindful breathing can be a form of prayer.

27  Engaged

Breath can’t be confined to a monastery. It’s actively engaged in the world.

 

Gary GachGary Gach hosts Zen Mindfulness Fellowship weekly in San Francisco, since 2009. He’s author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buddhism and editor of What Book!? ~ Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop. His most recent book is PAUSE   BREATHE   SMILE ~ Awakening Mindfulness When Meditation Is Not Enough. This brings mindfulness full-circle, back to its roots as a spiritual as well as secular path for complete awakening. It’s available in both paperback and as an audio book. His work has also appeared in over 150 periodicals and a couple dozen anthologies, including The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Huffington Post, In These Times, Language for a New Century, The Nation, The New Yorker, Technicians of the Sacred, and Yoga Journal.  More info : GaryGach.com.

 

Pause, Breathe, Smile by Gary Gach

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Copyright © 2019 by Gary Gach.

 

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