I’m finally getting around to memorializing some of the “self-help” books that have helped me over the years. The thread that runs through this grouping is the difference between “I” and “me” (or “true self” vs. “false self” or “observing self” vs. “observed self”—this has been described in various ways).
“Me,” the conceptual self, can suffer; “I,” which is pure awareness or consciousness, never can. The end of suffering involves withdrawing your attention from “me” and resting in “I.”
This can be a little difficult to understand, let alone practice, which is why I seldom use it psychotherapeutically. But for those who are ready, it can be liberating.
Anthony de Mello’s Stripping Down to the “I” (starts on Page 46) is a great place to start. If it seems like nonsense, don’t be troubled and simply ignore this post. If, however, you’re intrigued, consider reading on.
Remember airplanes? In the event of an emergency, flight attendants advise us to adjust our own oxygen masks before helping others. I’ve always found that an apt metaphor for anyone in the healing arts.
Tomorrow I’m presenting on self-care during a pandemic (but it could be any personal or shared crisis really). Not self-care for our patients and clients—but self-care for ourselves. The main message concerns the relationship that we have toward time and the present, although there will some other stuff sprinkled in as well.
The Twins were eliminated by the Astros yesterday, however, it’s still baseball season! In that spirit, I’m “pitching” a split doubleheader today in two different ballparks through the wonders of Zoom.
Downtown Minneapolis is bleak right now. The towers have been empty since the shelter-in-place order was issued last winter. Many buildings are boarded up due to property damage from rioting. Sirens are constantly going off because of the sharp increase in crime. Street vagrancy is prevalent outside of my office building.
The world is upside down, however, this abandoned church reminds me every morning to continue healing the sick. ✸
There is currently considerable interest in telehealth addiction care. Allina Health began offering it in February 2019 to address geographic voids in greater Minnesota. We were thus well-positioned for virtual care when the Covid-19 pandemic occurred about a year later.
I’m helping one of my employers with a four-week “meditation challenge.” It grew out of a recent lunch and learn for employees that included some material on mindfulness. The more the merrier, so I’m sharing this with my entire social network.
Here’s the challenge: Meditate three times per day, generally in the morning when you wake up; sometime in the afternoon; and again in the evening right before you go to bed. Start with 5-minute sessions, increasing the duration week-by-week as follows:
Week 1: 5 minutes, 3 times per day
Week 2: 10 minutes, 3 times per day
Week 3: 15 minutes, 3 times per day
Week 4: 20 minutes, 3 times per day
In terms of technique:
Assume any comfortable position. I personally like a semi-supine position (see below)
Set a timer (e.g., on your phone) with a soft alarm
Close your eyes
Direct your attention to your breath. This might be your nose, chest or belly
Follow your breath in and out. Some people use simple mental mantras for each in-breath and out-breath. Examples are: in-out, deep-slow and calm-ease
Internal and external distractions will occur. Just let thoughts, emotions and sensations pass without judgment. Return to your breath, using a mantra, if needed. On the flip side, don’t worry if you feel sleepy or even doze off. Allow that to pass without judgment, too.
And that’s it!
Please let me know how you feel during and after the challenge.