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She was highly manipulative, spoke in ways that could make a sailor blush, and was prone to physical aggression. At such a young age, she was already possessed of an uncanny ability to read people for their weak spots. Once, during a court-mandated supervised visitation (often a humiliating experience for all parties involved), she became violent and was restrained by my supervisor. Betty screamed at her, You cunt! You never helped anybody a day in your life! My supervisor looked up at me, mouth ajar. The little girl had homed in on the biggest insecurity a bleeding-heart social worker could possibly have, and she went for it. She got after it just like any extremely bright kid who'd been conditioned to understand that their survival was constantly at risk would. Betty's daily life had primed her for this. Before we continue exploring the neuropsychology of our emotions in the context of active traumatization, there's something that simply must be said: children cannot make mistakes. If you want true understanding of Buddhism, you should practice this way. These forms are not a means of obtaining the right state of mind. To take this posture itself is the purpose of our practice. When you have this posture, you have the right state of mind, so there is no need to try to attain some special state. The defining marks of this posture are a sense of spaciousness, clarity, and calm at the level of mind, and a feeling of subtle, but vibrant, energetic flow at the level of body. So unaccustomed are we to the presence of this quality of experience that it's easier to define by citing the more conventionally familiar aspects of experience that are absent when we successfully assume the posture of meditation. Ordinarily we believe that we are an entity named I who lives and resides in the physical body and to whom all experience is ultimately referred. When, however, we open to that place in ourselves to which the term Buddha refers, that aspect of mind for which I is an accurate label becomes significantly less substantial. Instead of dominating our sense of self, it recedes to the background of awareness and may even disappear. Whereas formerly we conceived of the body and mind as an object named I that moves through space, now we see that, at a deeper level of mind from which Buddha emanates, we're like space itself through which pass all the components of experience that we can directly perceive through our sensory fields.

After several weeks of watching her friend struggle, seeing the dark rings around her eyes from lack of sleep and the clear evidence that she wasn't coping, she told Clare she couldn't stand by any longer and was going to speak to their boss. Later that afternoon Clare's boss called her into his office to discuss new arrangements that would provide her with greater flexibility in managing the school drop-offs and pick-ups, and the option of working from home one or two days a week. Knowing she was cared for and supported in this way gave Clare the confidence boost she needed to get back on track emotionally and mentally and move forward. The greatest gift we can ever give another human being is the gift of caring. In these last three articles we'll examine what helps us to connect and care for each other, because everything gets so much better when we do. The Train of Human Connection Buy your tickets now to jump on the train for greater connection. Carriage 1: There's plenty of space here for nurturing greater trust and respect. Carriage 2: Roll up, roll up to expand your conscious contribution to greater kindness and compassion. Carriage 3: With empathy in tow, oh the places you can go. Children cannot be wrong. They don't live in a mindset where right or wrong exist; Rather, that's a mindset we adults impose on them. They live in a world of spontaneous, thought-free impulse. All any child is ever doing is exploring and spontaneously expressing the life force within them. They don't know what this world and this life are yet, and their only means of figuring it out is trial and error. Then they are conditioned by whether or not the result of their actions leads to--guess what--an increase in their subjective sense of safety, gratification, and belonging. While it might be tempting to label Betty as a problem child, as is so often done, such judgments are delusion. They are out of alignment with the truth of who and what we humans are, of the innate wisdom that we are born with and the wild ways it can be shaped. What Betty was up to was done without awareness or even volition, really.

Our former state of mind and experience was tight, compacted, and claustrophobic. In contrast, the enlightened state of mind and experience is much more expansive, radiant, and spacious. The key to this transformational shift can be found in the marks of the posture of meditation. A body that is not aligned, relaxed, and resilient creates in itself a great deal of tension and extraneous pain. Any unnecessary tension that exists in the body directly translates itself into tension in the mind. Mentally we feel compressed, bound in. If, on the other hand, we're able to bring the body into a state of alignment, relaxation, and resilience, then the mind begins to soften and expand as well. If we live in a land that's continually damp and cloudy, we may not believe that anything like the sun, with its warmth, brilliance, and power of penetration, exists at all. Once a break in the clouds has appeared, though, and we have a direct experience of the sun, then we can never more doubt its existence, even when a layer of clouds again forms to conceal it. When we take refuge in Buddha, we are also acknowledging the importance of assuming the posture of meditation. Trust and respect I am in a very unsettled condition, as the oyster said when they poured melted butter all over his back. Edward Lear That carries its own risks, but there's a good chance it will alleviate your pain, prevent further nerve damage and allow you to get on with your life. The thought of ending up in a wheelchair was enough for my husband to agree to undergo neurosurgery on his neck. The big decision was who should do the operation? After seeking the opinion of a respected neurosurgeon and talking with him at length about the pros and cons of what would undoubtedly be a high-risk procedure, he made his decision. He left the consultation confident he could trust the surgeon he had chosen to do the best job. Intuitively we know just how much trust matters. It determines who we will consent to remove our child's tonsils or to service our car, or which employer we will stick with.

It was a matter of instinct driven by biological imperatives. As children, this was true for you and me, too, no matter what untruths we internalized. WE ARE COMPELLED TO RECREATE TRAUMAS In his article Waking the Tiger, Peter Levine, perhaps the most important trauma theorist on the planet, tells the story of watching baby cheetah cubs being chased by a predatory lion on TV. The adult lion found the cubs while mama cheetah was out fetching lunch for them. The lion gave chase and was faster than the cubs, but the cubs were more agile. They managed to escape the predator by zigzagging back and forth, throwing the speedy lion off course. The cubs eventually made their way up a tree too flimsy for the heavy, adult predator to climb, and thus secured their survival. What happened next, though, is most telling. Once the threatening beast was gone, the cubs came down out of the tree and reenacted what they had just been through. By assuming this posture, we reduce the suffering and pain that are the daily fare of the person whose body is imbalanced, tense, and frozen. Dharma, the second of the gemlike attitudes that can so valuably assist us, refers to the specific teachings that Gautama developed as a result of the insights that the enlightened nature of his mind revealed to him. The essence of these teachings (as expressed in a series of four short statements called the Four Noble Truths) is that we lock ourselves into a condition of continual discontent and ongoing frustration by wanting things to be different from what they are. We may desire things or conditions that don't currently exist, or we may be dissatisfied with the ones that do. Any desire keeps us removed from the ability simply to accept ourselves and the conditions in which we find ourselves. The corollary to this insight is an obvious one. If we can uproot our constant, frantic tendency to want things to be different, then we can lessen the pain and mental suffering that this tendency constantly creates. The habit pattern of the body and mind, however, is a formidable foe with which to contend. Constantly clinging to objects or conditions that we desire, constantly reacting with aversion to the ones that we don't, we find it exceedingly difficult simply to accept things as they are. The teachings tell us, however, that while the task may appear justifiably difficult, it's not impossible.

As the foundation of all relationships, trust is the social glue that binds us to partners, friends and colleagues. We value it and mourn its loss. Trust gives you confidence and faith in the reliability, integrity and honesty of another person or entity. When someone you trust tells you they'll show up at 11 am you are confident they will. When a trusted colleague tells you they can handle their side of the project and deliver on time, you know you can relax because you take them at their word. One of your brain's primary organising principles is safety first, then find the reward. As a social being, your trusted relationships enable you to prosper and grow. Feeling trusted and trusting your colleagues makes it so much easier for you to work well together. When the culture is one based on trust, you want to collaborate, contribute and be an effective team member. Trust builds loyalty and respect, reduces stress, breaks down silos and has been shown to be important to ethical decision making. They took turns, one of them playing the predator while the other child-cheetahs zigzagged away from the play-lion and up the tree. Over and over again they rehearsed and relived this experience, which we can plausibly conclude produced two crucial benefits. For one, it gave them an avenue with which to discharge the intense stress of almost being eaten alive. And, two: they used the stress productively--to rehearse their important new survival skill. The stress produced by the terrifying experience ends up serving an exceptionally adaptive purpose. When it comes to us human animals--whether we live in developmental housing or in a mansion--we are biologically compelled to repeat traumatic experiences. It's crucial to understand that not all stress turns into traumatic stress and not all traumatic stress becomes post-traumatic stress disorder. What happens in the aftermath of intense adverse experience plays an enormous role in determining how it all consolidates into the nervous system. If we can discharge the stress, make meaning of it (such as when justice is served), be validated and empathically honored in the wake of the experience, it changes how the event comes to live in the body. If we are, however, met with judgment, told it's our fault, or told we're making it up or exaggerating, then the event is likely to take hold in the body in a very different way.