Week 634: Moving Beyond “Us and Them”
During this political season, there are constant and vivid examples of how we humans have a tendency to create categories of “us” and “them”. It seems to be a natural response to difference of just about any kind and often emerges from an underlying fear or discomfort in the presence of people, ideas, behaviors, and species who are different from how we know ourselves and our world to be. Read More “Week 634: Moving Beyond “Us and Them””
Week 641: Orienting Everyday Activities Toward Oneness and Kindness
During this political season, we have experienced the emergence of an underlying polarization that has had more power and pervasive presence than I suspect many people would have anticipated. For me, above and beyond political considerations, this polarization expresses the fundamental difference in a stance that holds an assumption of oneness and a stance that assumes separateness. Read More “Week 641: Orienting Everyday Activities Toward Oneness and Kindness”
757th Week: Coming Back to Grounding
Recently, I participated in a conversation in front of a large group of people where a colleague and I discussed intersections between Somatic Experiencing® and other body-based approaches and Buddhist practices and concepts. What became the underlying theme for me was to convey to the audience that when we feel activated—under threat or overwhelmed—our perception narrows and we lose sight of the bigger picture. We can see this dynamic all around us at this time, where people on every side of an issue become locked into their perspective and are seemingly unable to take in new information that would widen their understanding of a given stance or situation. Also, we lose sight of all the good that’s happening in the world when we’re overwhelmed by activation.
The discussion went on to underscore the importance of being aware of our own particular activation signals and behaviors, and how essential it is to be able to manage ourselves and bring ourselves back into regulation when we notice that we are activated. I spent some time talking about the difference between the “trauma brain” and the “present-day brain”. The “trauma brain” operates within an either/or, lack-of-options framework, so when we’re activated, it’s difficult to see possibilities that weren’t initially obvious. The “present-day brain” operates within a framework of both/and, along with an ability to imagine a range of options.Read More “757th Week: Coming Back to Grounding”
767th Week: Practicing Mutual Empowerment
Listening to a cooking show on NPR this morning, there was an interview with a man who has a restaurant in Houston, TX called Underbelly Hospitality. I didn’t hear the very beginning of the interview, but the gist was that the owner/chef has a great interest in foods of every kind, from many different countries, and has spent a great deal of time with other chefs/restauranteurs in the area getting to know the in’s and out’s of their particular kinds of food, including Vietnamese and others. What struck me most powerfully is that he is a man who practices what I call “mutual empowerment”. At his restaurant, there was a time when the check for meals was accompanied by a list of other restaurants in the area where people could go, inviting them to explore how these foods tasted in various places. His goal was, and is, to share all the wonderful resources in his city and to cultivate his close relationships with other chefs in the city.
I’ve written before about the power dynamics of “power-over” and those of “mutual empowerment.” In the “power-over” model, there are only two positions: who’s on top and who’s on the bottom, who has power and who is over-powered. We see this kind of power relationship in many countries in the world right now, including the United States. In the “power-over” model, only a relatively few people are granted the privilege to have power over a vast majority of people. Many are left out…Read More “767th Week: Practicing Mutual Empowerment”