Caring for Trauma with Compassion
In a recent study of over 3,000 people, the American Psychological Association reported that we are now seeing a nation impacted by collective trauma, which can follow dramatic events or long-term circumstances—such as the millions of deaths from the pandemic, climate-related disasters, global conflicts, and racism. In one way or another, trauma touches us all.
Lessons from a Year of Solitude
At the end of the summer of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, rising global temperatures and raging wildfires, in the midst of a hot mess of violence and protests on the streets of America, I set out on a solitary meditation retreat for a year. I brought with me my own hot mess: a body run down and twisted in knots from having had Lyme disease for eight years, and a mind that was angsty and foggy—like a feral-but-tranquilized cat.
What to Do When Your Mind Wanders
If you’ve ever meditated, you may have noticed that your mind likes to wander. In fact, many people who subscribe to this very newsletter tell us that they can’t meditate because their mind is always wandering.
But this is a myth! And if it’s keeping you from meditation, please read on.
Meditation in Troubled Times
There’s an old Zen saying: “The world is topsy-turvy.”
Who is not aware of this today? The state of the world is painful to everyone. The world careens onward in its topsy-turvy course, causing a pervasive sense of inward dread many of us can’t afford to entertain.
Opening to the Fullness of Life
In our New Year’s Challenge, a member of the Ten Percent Happier community drops the hard truth of what it means to get into meditation. We’re sharing an excerpt about her experience below, along with follow up from meditation teachers Matthew Hepburn and Cara Lai.
Freedom from the Infinite Scroll
“I don’t have time,” I tell my friends, “to do anything anymore.” When I’m not taking care of the baby, I’m cleaning something. When I’m not working, I’m trying to catch up on sleep. But I conveniently fail to remember the 45 minutes (or was it an hour and 45 minutes?) I spent on my phone today, reading reviews for electric toothbrush heads on Amazon, looking at old photos, and asking Google questions like “does Raffi have kids?” and “is it normal to pee every hour?” .
Help for the Holidays
We are approaching the longest nights of the year, and, not coincidentally, the time when many cultures and religions celebrate light, love, and the sacred.
For many people, the good cheer and family time of the holiday season brings light to the darkness outside. Yet for many others, the holiday season can be profoundly challenging. Some of us are alone, while others are with family members with whom we have difficult relationships. Some of us love Christmas music, decorations, and shopping, while others feel alienated or excluded by those things. Despite what commercials suggest, there’s no one right way to feel at this time of year!
Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, I want to encourage you to bring mindfulness and meditation with you – and Ten Percent has resources that can help.
Some Things Just Hurt
It’s inevitable that by simply living a life, there will be times of adversity – like now. It’s not because of our attitude that times like these are uncomfortable or heartbreaking. Some things just hurt.
Perhaps surprisingly, I find this truth to be liberating.
Gratitude and Grief
Training as a Buddhist monastic, we rose at 4:00 a.m. I generally enjoy waking up early, but 4:00 is a stretch. I felt groggy, irritable, and found it difficult to meditate. My teacher suggested I reflect on gratitude for the first ten minutes of morning meditation.
Too Stressed to Meditate?
Here’s a problem with stress. We know—and the research backs me up on this one—that mindfulness and meditation can really help reduce stress. But sometimes, you might think, as I sometimes do, that sitting down to meditate when the mind is spinning so fast is, itself, a non-starter. So what to do?
Fortunately, there are many ways to practice mindfulness, even when sitting down and following your breath might just feel like too much. You just need to think outside the box.
Pain x Resistance = Suffering
This may sound weird, but meditation has taught me that you can have joy even when you have pain.
In the beginning, most of us start meditating to eliminate our pain. I know I did. I wanted to get rid of my sadness and fear. But meditation doesn’t eliminate pain -- it eliminates suffering.
What’s the difference?
Living a Worthy Life
Krista Tippett, a longtime interviewer and host of the “On Being” podcast, recently took the other side of the mic on the Ten Percent Happier podcast to share deep insights on how to live wisely and lovingly. While not wholly adequate, we hope the below will offer some support in this moment of immense grief and uncertainty.
Fear Shrinks the Mind
Editor's Note: Sharon Salzberg is one of the most loved teachers in the Ten Percent ecosystem and in the broader meditation community. For the next couple weeks, we’re celebrating the publication of her new book, Finding Your Way. Thanks, Sharon, for all you do to help us wake up and get real!
Think of the last time you were lost in fear. The last time you were harshly unforgiving of yourself. The last time you felt trapped. The last time a craving was so strong that all reason and common sense fled (remember, for example, those old infatuations). The last time any sense of potential change collapsed and you fell into hopelessness. Those are times we experience limited options, the blunting of our creativity, a feeling of disconnection, the dimming of our vision of what is possible.
Finding Peace with Work
Stress, these days, seems to be inseparable from work. There’s a rapidly growing litany of desk-work-related maladies with catchy rhyming phrases such as “online spine,” or “tech neck,” not to mention “screen apnea,” where we suspend breathing or breathe shallowly as we email, text, or Zoom. And that’s just for people who work at computers! Regardless of what we do to “earn a living,” it can take a toll.
Get Outside the Little Cave of Your Brain
Editor's Note: Poet and author Ross Gay was a recent guest on the Ten Percent Happier podcast, and spoke with Dan about the power of joy, delight, and connection. Gay recently released a new collection of essays, The Book of (More) Delights. This was a continuation of a project that began when he decided to spend a year writing out moments of delight throughout the day. He explains the difference between delight and joy:
“I think delight is occasional. Delight is the hummingbird buzzing by your ear. Whoa! That's delight. …Joy is something that is always present, and it's available to us, and you kind of enter it, or it finds you. But it doesn't feel like it requires an occasion… I think of joy as our fundamental connection.”
He goes on to describe how delight can be contagious and provide opportunities for connection.
“This sort of contagion of moods is a real thing—our own moods and other people's moods... I'm not just delighted inside of the little cave of my brain. I'm delighted because I'm observing things outside of the little cave of my brain. And often those things are like these instances of sweetness. It's the witnessing of a kind of sweetness outside of myself…People are so inclined after they hear about this, they're like, ‘After I read your book, I did that for a little bit.… I talk to my kid and I ask what's delighting them.’ And it is my experience that when people are like, ‘yo, this is what I love’, that I'm inclined to be like, ‘oh yeah, what do I love?’.”
Another key element and outcome of this practice has been strengthening a sense of curiosity. Gay shared a conversation he had with Sharon Salzberg:
“I was talking with Sharon Salzberg a few days ago, and she said something along the lines of, ‘Despair is the result of knowing everything.’ But curiosity, wondering about how it's going to go, is something else... Not knowing how it's going to go might provoke all kinds of feelings. But when I feel curiosity, it invites a sense of, ‘okay, well, I guess I should check. I guess I should see.’ In the smallest way, we can all relate to this in our relationships. If I just know how a conversation is going to go, why am I going to have it? As opposed to being like, ‘well, I wonder how it's going to go. I guess I better fess up to the fact that I don't actually know everything about this other person.”
This curiosity and connection can also help us be with the inevitable pain of change, together. Gay says:
One of the ways that I think of joy is something that isn't separate from or an alternative to sorrow, but it's something that actually emerges from sorrow. Joy doesn't actually exist absent of sorrow. And one of the expressions of joy is the way that we help each other, how we carry each other through our sorrows. It's a kind of ground that things change—everything we love is going to be gone. Joy is as likely to make you weep as it is to make you dance—neither of which are more or less evidence of joy. But it does feel like joy comes from both, or joy might make you want to do both.
Check out the full interview in the app or wherever you listen to podcasts.
The Stress of the Inner War
Several years ago, I woke up one morning with a case of vertigo so bad that I couldn’t stand up, walk, or move my head without waves of nausea and vomiting. It turns out I had an inner ear infection and had to be on bed rest for several weeks. During this time, I kept asking myself, “how did I end up here?”
The answer was that I was stressed–not necessarily from the external world, but from a battle that was taking place within me. The problem boiled down to this: after more than a decade of toiling away and climbing the ranks in my dream job, I didn’t want to be there anymore.
Learning to Stress Better
We can't change the fact that there are stressors in the world and that there are things that are going to make us upset. We're going to have illnesses. We're going to have difficult periods in our lives. But we can change our response.
Looking for a specific topic or article? Search here to find more: