Give Over to Good

Give Over to Good

What is living you?

The Practice:
Give over to good.

Why?

In every moment, you and I and everyone and everything else – from quantum foam to fleeting thoughts, intimate relationships, rainforest ecosystems, and the stars themselves – are each a kind of standing wave, like the ever-changing through a persistent pattern of water rising above a boulder in a river.

We are the result of multiple causes flowing through us. As Buckminster Fuller famously said, “I seem to be a verb.”

This fact is amazing, but both modern physics and deep ecology corroborate it. We can get silly-cosmic about it (done this myself – not only as a college sophomore!), but the implications are very down to earth.

As unique standing waves, you and I are constructed each moment by the currents – the forces and factors, both internal and external – flowing through us. We have no choice about being lived by these currents, continually given over to them.

But we can choose to give ourselves over to the good ones.

By “good,” I mean that which leads to happiness and benefit for you and others; “bad” means the opposite. (Of course, honesty about what is actually turning out to be truly good is important; history holds many cautionary tales about people giving themselves over to things they thought were good – e.g., Nazism – but weren’t.)

Giving over to good means relaxing into, opening to, being buoyed and guided by things like your own naturally good heart, the impulse to take the high road, love, compassion, vitality, courage, the longing for justice, and the wisdom and support of good friends.

Then your life’s wave becomes simpler, happier, and more beneficial.

How?

There are two steps: knowing what the “good” is for you and then giving yourself over to it.

So, first step: what’s the good that would serve you to give yourself over to these days? In your mind, on paper, or talking with a friend, make a list for yourself. Probably it won’t be long. Listen to your inner knowing of what the good is for you. If appropriate, open to counsel from others (e.g., parent, friend, therapist, I Ching, prayer), but don’t let anyone push their view on you.

Your list might include self-nurturance, the peacefulness of nature, more self-expression, a long-deferred dream, sobriety, inner strength, certain health practices, meditation, the needs of your temperament, the simple truth that a particular job/career/relationship is not right for you, or the wisdom of your body that knows when it’s full and needs no more food for now.

For what it’s worth, these “goods” have been important for me personally to give over to lately: the need for true down-time . . . self-soothing . . . the love and loyalty of friends . . . an underlying deeply peaceful sense of truly being nothing but a standing wave and that’s alright . . .

Next, the second step: pick one of the good currents you’ve identified, and open to it in your mind and body. Relaxing, receiving, surrendering to it . . . notice how this feels. Try to find pleasure, ease, and comfort in this current. Notice any reluctance to being carried by this force for good in your life, and then see if you can let that reluctance pass away.

Imagine letting this good live you . . . what would that be like? What might change for the better – for you and others? Let the impact of those positive changes land in your mind; let yourself sense their rewards; let yourself become more motivated to lean toward them.

Then, for the next minute, hour, or day, focus on this one good thing and giving yourself over to it. In effect, “willpower” becomes redefined as yielding: surrender to the best within you and around you.

Let this good be your guiding principle, your North Star. Let it be what gets you out of bed in the morning, fills you, breathes you, animates you. Enjoy the contentment, relief, and sense of integrity that swell in your heart through living from and as this good. Let yourself know that you know what’s good. Feel yourself becoming more committed to this good. Feel yourself becoming this good.

As you like, repeat this process with other good things.

Love the wave!



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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