No problem. I stayed up late the night before the webinars and created the slide show. But first, we took the kids out for dinner and planned a family celebration for the next Wednesday. That morning, I set up the technology for my webinar in the same way I do for my regular video conferences and I was ready to go. You are no longer a victim; You can decide how you feel regardless of the events in your life. All of our emotional responses are based on our personal perspectives and they are totally subjective. As you move toward an attitude of emotional neutrality, you also move toward a greater degree of personal freedom. It is much easier to see what choice would be most beneficial when you aren't overwhelmed by your emotions. It takes time and practice to become emotionally neutral. You can begin by noticing what you are telling yourself. If you are angry about something, start by admitting that you're telling yourself that event is making you angry. As much as possible, detach from the event and go inside yourself so you can become aware of your inner dialog. We are strongly invested in our emotions. The snow dust on the ice is being blown toward me, not in a cloud or mass but in thin rivulets, coursing and undulating across the frozen surface. Like small streams of water, or of sand, the strands of snow snake across the lake, merge, divide as far as I can see. They're hit by the low light of the setting sun. They glisten. A diaphanous veil stretched across the ice like some Buddhist weaving meant to show impermanence, the strands plait and twist, becoming glorious patterns that are gone as soon as they form--beauty and loss breaking into each other, the two states simultaneous. When the rivulets reach my snowshoes, they branch and rejoin behind me as if I'm a boulder in a stream.

My stillness an unimportant obstacle amid all this collective motion. That night I dream that my veins rearrange themselves each time my heart beats. When I wake, I go back to the window to write. Mug of tea in my hand, a table beside me on which my papers are strewn, covering a jigsaw puzzle of vegetables canned in Mason jars. On the flip side, there's scientific consensus about the many benefits of caring relationships. People who have them enjoy increased immunity, display greater emotional resilience, and live longer, happier lives. There's only good news about how your biology responds to nurturing. You might never have thought about loneliness and connection in terms of how your brain works, but understanding this aspect of your biology allows you to fine-tune your choice of relationships. I'll present two concepts, which I've simplified, that you can apply to daily life. Concept 1: Engage Your Mirror Neurons The brain is no fool when it comes to emotions. It reacts to the effects of both loneliness and nurturing. A seminal advance in neuroscience is the identification of mirror neurons, distinct brain cells that register emotional interchanges (a topic I introduced in article 4's discussion of empathy). Not much gets by them. Or so I thought. My first webinar was a technological disaster. Luckily I had all of Monday afternoon to figure it out before my second webinar. Which I did, thanks to Coach Google, in between baking delicacies for our celebration with my daughter and her friend. The second webinar was 95% flawless and well-attended. After the webinar - because, again, I'm a last-minute person - I spent much of the night figuring out how to upload my recording to send out to all of my listeners.

I have a skilled support team who could do it for me in a second, but unlike me, they were asleep, and I wanted to get the replay to those who couldn't make the webinar live immediately because I truly believe that the information I shared is life changing. After, at about 2:00 am, I cleaned the kitchen and packed away all the pastries. I didn't even eat any. OK, maybe one. Be patient with yourself--becoming emotionally neutral is a process. It is hard to admit that our emotions are self-generated; If you are angry, fearful, sad, hopeless, or joyous for that matter, it is because you are telling yourself something. Emotions are all based on judgments. Release the judgments and your emotions will change. You can practice placing yourself in a nonjudgmental state by doing Meditation Two in Appendix A. YOURSELF are your favorite emotions? emotions do you avoid? The Toltecs recognized that we create our own emotions--they are not truly a response to something or someone else. My mother had left the puzzle unfinished when she last was here. Between articles or paragraphs, I'd futz with the pieces, fitting rings of peppers or halves of beets into place until the whole thing was finished. It was a way of thinking, and it somehow felt like talking to her, which always pulls me closer to what I really want to say. With the puzzle done, I sit and stare out the window more, waiting for ideas to take shape. Suddenly there's movement far out on the ice, a dark, loping animal that can only be a coyote. At first I'm delighted--what a spotting!

Rarely, here, I'd hear coyote howls in the woods, the sound cutting across the summer night into my open windows, but not as often as the eerie calls of loons or of the great horned owl. And though I've seen the displaced city versions a time or two in Providence, which feed on urban chicken coops and unfortunate pet cats, I'd never seen a coyote in its true habitat. Now here one was, large, lean frame gracefully making its way across the frozen lake, all shaggy beauty and wildness. Until something begins to seem wrong. you're with a friend in pain, these neurons trigger the pain centers in your brain. with compassion or other emotions. For better or worse, humans resonate on a feeling level, which may impact their emotional type, particularly if they're empaths. an Energy Psychiatrist, I'm intrigued by our capacity for biological empathy, a cellular form of intuition that synchronizes us with the moods of others. are catchy. recent brain mapping study demonstrated that when women were about to receive an electric shock, they felt calmer and their brain circuitry quieted when their spouses calmly held their hands. Realize that loving presences have a profound biological impact, and start harnessing this brain-to-brain link to become emotionally freer. By seeking relationships that nullify your stress response. Think about how your mirror neurons are reacting to others, for better or for worse. Make this a part of your everyday consciousness. I noticed myself wanting more - many more - we had made a variety of flavours, but I chose to feel light instead. The next day was a full day of coaching, parenting, kids' basketball games, debate tournaments, and delivering on a promise to watch gymnastics training. No problem for me. Here's why. I know I can do it all. Because I chose it all.

The busy, crazy, fun, endless activity, and fulfilling of obligations and promises. None of it burdens me. I know I don't have to do any of it if I don't want to. And that makes all the difference. Because each of us is the source of our emotions, we need not, indeed, should not, take anything personally. When someone loves me, she feels that way because I awakened her own self love. I don't take it personally. When someone dislikes me, it's because I've awakened the pain of her own self-judgment. Regardless of her emotions, they are not about me; What does all this have to do with seeing with clarity? When we see with clarity, we are aware of reality, rather than the universe we create with our filter systems. We're accustomed to having an emotional reaction to events out there that is essentially pre-programmed. When we recognize that out there is of our own making, we can consciously choose how we want to act. And when we recognize that all the people in our lives see the world through their own filter system and are acting accordingly, we need not waste another moment concerning ourselves with their judgments of us. I had eagerly grabbed a set of binoculars and fixed its circle of magnified light on the coyote. He'd trot a ways across the ice, losing his footing occasionally on a slick spot only to regain it. But then he'd turn around and with the same pace run back in the direction whence he'd come. Another turn. A long run. A turn again.