Being For Something

Being For Something

This is the second post in the series on Your Precious Life. You can find Part One here. In it we’ll look at the power of Being For Something.

Let’s do a brief practice together. Think of it as an exercise for your mind. You can keep your eyes open or closed, take notes or not, and go as deeply as you want. Please know that you cannot always predict or control what comes up for you in an exercise. Much of what we are doing here is seeding your fertile unconscious, the dark and loamy soil of the mind – to which the great majority of the brain is dedicated, since only a tiny fraction of all neurological processes get represented in any way in consciousness – so that sprouts of valuable learning pop up later and bear fruit in time.

Here we go.

Get comfortable. Be aware of your body as a whole . . . the body breathing . . . breathing the body.

Bring to mind some person or something that you really care about. Perhaps a child, a mate, a parent or sibling, a friend, a teacher or mentor, even a pet. Or perhaps a place, like a meadow or the seashore, or a cause, like justice or the caring for the poor.

Take a moment to wish that person or thing well. You might explore putting that goodwill into words such as “May you be well . . . May you be safe from harm . . . May you be healthy . . . May you be happy . . . May you live (or exist) with ease.”

Take a moment to be mindful of the experience of caring, of wishing well, of kindness. Sense how it contains a feeling of being for the person or thing you care about.

Take a moment to explore that feeling of being for something . . . how it feels in your body . . . the emotions intertwined with it or associated with it . . . the attitudes or points of view that come with it . . . the behavioral orientation that comes with it, the inclination to protect and support, to take action.

If you like, take a moment to see if you can intensify that feeling of being for something. Maybe through breathing a little more deeply, or bringing yourself to feel your caring – perhaps your love – more deeply, perhaps more fiercely. Maybe through recalling times when you felt really strong . . . recalling a sense of strength in your own body and mind . . . a sense, perhaps, of great resolve and determination . . . and then applying that sense of strength to what you are caring about here.

Take a moment to be mindful of this experience of strength, of power . . . of resolve, of determination . . . regarding what you are for. See what is associated, in your mind, with that sense of commitment toward what you care about. . . what is associated with those feelings of strength and power in yourself?

Enjoy that sense of strength and determination in being for something good. Breathe it in . . . breathe it out . . . Breathing a sense of strength . . . Strength breathing you.

Notice that sense of strength and determination. How would your life change if you approached it from that place?

Notice any resistance to being for good things. Like a sense of futility, exhaustion, learned helplessness, or a fear of shame. How would your life change if you grew more skeptical of those feelings of weakness?

Can you start letting go of these blocks in yourself?

Dr. Ramani Durvasula is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, and expert on the impact of toxic narcissism. She is a Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and also a Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg.

The focus of Dr. Ramani’s clinical, academic, and consultative work is the etiology and impact of narcissism and high-conflict, entitled, antagonistic personality styles on human relationships, mental health, and societal expectations. She has spoken on these issues to clinicians, educators, and researchers around the world.

She is the author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist, and Don't You Know Who I Am? How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Her work has been featured at SxSW, TEDx, and on a wide range of media platforms including Red Table Talk, the Today Show, Oxygen, Investigation Discovery, and Bravo, and she is a featured expert on the digital media mental health platform MedCircle. Dr. Durvasula’s research on personality disorders has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and she is a Consulting Editor of the scientific journal Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Stephen Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He is a former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and has been president of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences, which represents approximately twenty-thousand biobehavioral scientists. He’s led a number of other organizations and received a wide variety of professional awards.

In 1994 he proposed the Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behavior and emphasizes the importance of physiological states in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms mediating symptoms observed in several behavioral, psychiatric, and physical disorders, and has had a major impact on the field of psychology.

Dr. Porges has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across a wide array of disciplines. He’s also the author of several books including The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.

Dr. Bruce Perry is the Principal of the Neurosequential Network, Senior Fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy, and a Professor (Adjunct) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. From 1993 to 2001 he was the Thomas S. Trammell Research Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital.

He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of trauma in childhood, and his work on the impact of abuse, neglect, and trauma on the developing brain has impacted clinical practice, programs, and policy across the world. His work has been instrumental in describing how traumatic events in childhood change the biology of the brain.

Dr. Perry's most recent book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was released earlier this year. Dr. Perry is also the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. Additionally, he’s authored more than 300 journal articles and book chapters and has been the recipient of a variety of professional awards.

Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith is a child clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma and issues of race. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and then received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She performed postdoctoral work at the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. She has combined her love of teaching and advocacy by serving as a professor and by directing mental health programs for children experiencing trauma, homelessness, or foster care.

Dr. Briscoe-Smith is also a senior fellow of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and is both a professor and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Wright Institute. She provides consultation and training to nonprofits and schools on how to support trauma-informed practices and cultural accountability.

Sharon Salzberg is a world-renowned teacher and New York Times bestselling author. She is widely considered one of the most influential individuals in bringing mindfulness practices to the West, and co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts alongside Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Sharon has been a student of Dipa Ma, Anagarika Munindra, and Sayadaw U Pandita alongside other masters.

Sharon has authored 10 books, and is the host of the fantastic Metta Hour podcast. She was a contributing editor of Oprah’s O Magazine, had her work featured in Time and on NPR, and contributed to panels alongside the Dalai Lama.

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