Meditation + Talk: Honoring the Deepest Wants in Yourself and Others

Meditation + Talk: Honoring the Deepest Wants in Yourself and Others

This Wednesday Night Meditation included a 33-minute meditation and 47-minute talk and discussion about Honoring the Deepest Wants in Yourself and Others.

I hope you find it helpful, and you are welcome to join my free Wednesday Meditations – open to everyone!

Meditation: Honoring the Deepest Wants in Yourself and Others

Talk: Honoring the Deepest Wants in Yourself and Others

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These teachings are offered freely, at no charge.

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Generosity itself is a beautiful practice that opens and gladdens the heart, relaxes the contraction of “self,” and ripples out into the world to touch many people – and perhaps, eventually, even oneself.

Additionally, many expressions of generosity are not about money. People offer attention, encouragement, and patience many times a day. Sometimes we withhold when it would be so easy, actually, to listen quietly for another minute or to offer a word of appreciation or simply a look that says, “I’m with you.” Try being a little more generous for a day and see what happens.

Honoring the Deepest Wants in Yourself and Others Talk (download transcript here)

Rick Hanson [00:00:00] I’d like to tell two stories as a way to enter the subject of deep wants. The first had to do with my PhD dissertation a long time ago in which I videotaped 20 mother-toddler 15-month-old pairs to explore what happened when the parent, instead of thwarting or ignoring the child’s wants if they were problematic, instead offered an alternative. Switch and engage. And what I found after blearily coding all that video second, by second, by second, which is a lot, I found that indeed, parents who offer to kind of switch their kids or they find alternatives that are all right—not the chainsaw, sweetie, how about the cute plastic spoons here? When parents did that, they reduced the negative emotional expression of their children, the negative feelings of their children, and increased happiness. And also, they got more compliance overall. It was kind of a gratifying regulation, if you will, as an important aspect of parenting.

[00:01:13] The key point about all that is that I got to see many moments up close, live, and then really up close going through the recording in which a little child like you or me as a toddler 15 months old, can’t really speak English or whatever your native tongue was at that time, very dependent to get your wants met by caregivers who are busy and have their own wants and their own complications. Not blaming any mothers here, just talking factually that I saw it many, many times that a child, we, want to get what we want. We want what we want. All right.

[00:02:00] More deeply, we want to have a sense that the other person over there actually understands what we want. They get it. They may not give it to us, but they actually get it, what we want. And most deeply of all, we want a sense that the other person over there wants to understand our wants. They reserve their right, the mothers reserve their right to not gratify a particular want, maybe by redirecting the child or drawing the child into something else. But there is a deep commitment to regarding the child as a thou to the I of the parent with an ongoing commitment to try to understand what the child wanted and then try to gratify it and respond to it in reasonable ways. Not perfectly, but to be able to be called to that commitment to understanding what the child wanted. And what was really evident when that was not present, when there was a repeated just misunderstanding or ignoring of the wants of the child, clearly, in other words, the parent in that moment at least was not really committed to understanding the wants of the child, it was very upsetting. It was very upsetting to feel, as we all had a chance to feel when we were very young and vulnerable, to feel that we’re with someone for whom in some way our deeper qualities or our deep needs and nature doesn’t somehow exist for them in their own mind. They just don’t get it. In the moment, maybe. And then chronically, when all those moments add up again and again and again, as a little kid, we start to form the very accurate and understandable sense that deep, important parts of ourselves are just flying by the the other parent or actually the parent doesn’t like them or doesn’t want us to have them and deals with that in part by, you know, not wanting to explore them. That has a lot of impact on us. When we feel ourselves that we’re with people now in adulthood, let’s say, who, not so much whether they give us what we want or not, we’ll work that out, but they just seem repeatedly clueless or deliberately misunderstanding or a kind of refusal to recognize what it is that we need and want most deeply. It’s maybe outside of their frame or they don’t want to know about it or they just want to go there. Or they’re afraid that if they actually did understand this thing in you that you really long for affection, closeness, being understood, empathy, help with the kids, help with the dishes, you know, help with the finances that you know, if they really understood what it is that you really wanted, well, then they’d be on the tack, right? Suddenly, the negotiation begins. So if they can just sort of not get it, well, it lets them off the hook for a while. Maybe that’s what’s going on.

[00:05:21] And then most deeply, perhaps after you kind of attempt to talk about it at some point, you start to realize sometimes that there’s a person over here who honestly really doesn’t want to know you in that way, doesn’t want to know your depths, doesn’t want to be emotionally available to you in those deeper ways, and doesn’t really want to understand you at that deeper level. Whoa. Now, that’s not a problem for the toll taker or the person who’s doing customer service for you, you know, on the phone or something. It’s not a big deal. But in a significant relationship with a lover, a partner, a child, a parent, a relative, a friend, a significant neighbor, wow, to feel like in some ways deep needs, deep qualities in you, deep wants just are outside the frame, they’re chronically unknown and unknowable by that other person, whoa, that really lands. And then we internalize that alienation from our own wants. They’re alienated, they’re oblivious to it when they are. And you know how good it feels when someone is tuned in to you, even if they’re not going to give you everything you’re asking for, they’re still tuned in, they’re tracking it and they’re aware, and they want to understand, including the deeper levels of what you want. You know, you know what that feels like. But to feel that someone is just alienated from you in that way and then you internalize it to yourself, especially if you grew up, as I did in this kind of way whoa, then you become alienated yourself from your own deeper longings, your own deeper wants, the deeper cry of the heart. This is very consequential, very consequential.

[00:07:25] I grew up with very loving and decent parents, wonderful people, many wonderful qualities in them. And I had the chronic experience starting very young and then continuing, frankly throughout my life with them that there were vulnerabilities in me and tender longings and important values, priorities deep inside me that they just really couldn’t track. And it was because at bottom, they were alienated themselves from those deeper tendernesses or longings or vulnerabilities or sweet needs inside themselves. And so we can pass these things on generationally, the kind of alienation, disconnection from our deepest home in our heart. That’s a big deal. That’s a big deal, isn’t it?

[00:08:38] So here’s a second story, which is one time I was passing through the airport. And I was kind of in a hurry, I was going to get on the plane. This was pre-COVID, 10, 15 years ago when I was traveling a lot more and I wanted to get some water. So I rolled in to one of these little shops in the airport mall and there was a man there who was loading the case, the refrigerator case with bottles of water. And I saw him putting in bottles and I thought to myself, oh, he’s probably putting in the fresh bottles. So I reached for one of his bottles. And he saw me doing that and then what he did is he reached further into the case—and they were all equally fresh—and he pulled one out and he said, here, this is a cold one. Aha! So in that moment, he went out of his way, he disrupted his own flow of just stocking the refrigerator. And you can imagine that kind of work and eight-hour shifts and just doing a lot of stuff while all the people in the airport walk on by. But no, he took a moment to understand my intentions, what it was that I wanted. He got them. He cared about them. And then he had the good intention to help me further. Right? To give me something. And I was startled. I remember looking him in the eye and I wondered instantly, have I done something wrong? Am I being corrected here? Am I being criticized? And then I could just see instantly, he had a simple, good intention. It was not more than what it was, but it was not less than what it was. It was a very brief interaction. But in his heart, it was real. There was a good intention behind his action, which essentially corrected what I had done and offered me a replacement. And I think right there, what happens inside us when we recognize the good intentions in others deep down, whether it’s a toddler making a batch of ginger snap cookies, which was one of the tasks in my study, sure to kick up a lot of control episodes where that wants to the child in the wants of the parent diverge when you’re making a batch of cookies together with a researcher, me, junior researcher with a camera going the whole time, you know, whether you’re a 15-month-old or someone working in an airport, you want to know that your good intentions are recognized. And you want to know that other people kind of get what lies below the surface. Our wants or layered like a parfait. There might be a superficial want, you know, let’s organize the dishwasher this particular way. But underneath that, you know, there are other kinds of wants, like wanting a sense of teamwork with your roommates or wanting a sense of just kind of orderliness or not wanting to have to think about how to load the dishwasher every single time or enjoying the process of cleanliness and preventing contamination of various kinds, promoting health and orderliness in your life. These are deeper, deeper wants. Helping yourself find a kind of peacefulness in the satisfaction of conscientiously loaded dishwasher, as I am able to experience sometimes. These are the deeper longings, the deeper needs, the deeper wants that underlie the surface. And part of what’s really important for us individually is to get a sense that other people are tracking what’s underneath our words, what’s behind the mask we wear, what is the underlying longing of the heart that maybe is expressed just kind of euphemistically or cautiously because we’re nervous about really putting our cards on the table in terms of what it is that we’re really asking for from that other person.

[00:12:37] So we have these elements here already, right? We have the deep impact on us developmentally when there’s a chronic and significant, particularly related to our own vulnerabilities and temperament and health issues as a little kid, there’s a chronic lack of deep understanding and appreciating of what it is we long for way deep down inside. So we have that point. We have, second, the ways in which it really is a gift to other people, and it’s helpful to them, much as it’s helpful to us when we recognize their good intentions. Not covering over or casting a blind eye to injustice and so forth, but recognizing the good intentions in other people. That’s a real important thing. And you might ask yourself, to what extent are you recognizing the good intentions of the people you work with or live with, including people who might be problematic for you? And you might think about what it could do in that relationship if you said back to other people at a deeper level what it is you think they’re asking for or valuing or the underlying purpose that you can maybe join with, even if you’re taking issue with the ways they’re going about accomplishing that underlying purpose. So we have that point there, too. And then last, we have the notion of wants as layered. That there is indeed, there are indeed deeper layers underneath certain more superficial ones. OK.

[00:14:15] Now, talking about the Buddha, it’s really interesting that in his own teaching life, as best we know from roughly 2500 years ago, in his own teaching life, he clearly established that there are certain values that are really useful having to do with moral conduct and virtue, the cultivation of virtues of various kinds. But in particular, he really, really emphasized a kind of listening to the innermost longing of your own heart for a kind of existential relationship to this one wild and precious life, as Mary Oliver might put it, or did put it. Can you treat this life as a precious opportunity for learning and healing and growing and awakening along the way? Can you, can we relate to our lives seriously, in a sense? Not with indifference, but with a kind of cherishing. Not a vain or narcissistic or arrogant self-importance, but a sense that this life really matters. And as Henry Shukman taught last week, our guest teacher, using the Zen Koan that the heart of practice is, after eating, wash your bowls, essentially. That we can bring this quality of tenderness and cherishing and care to everyday activities such as eating and then cleaning up afterward.

 

[00:16:09] So there’s a kind of commitment to oneself that the Buddha exemplified in his own very serious practices for seven or so years before he had his awakening. And then he exemplified that commitment in his teaching career for 40 more years after that, you know, that we can obviously want to take the next step that’s in front of us, to be sure, and still deep down when we really listen into our heart there is this longing. Therer is a longing for union with everything, extending into mystery, perhaps the divine. Longing for that. There’s a longing for real freedom from suffering. We cannot escape pain. Inevitably in this life as frail animals, there is pain, there has been pain, there will be pain. There will be emotional pain. There will be loss. There will be hopefully old age, which is accompanied inevitably, as I’ve seen it directly with my parents, accompanied by disease and eventually death. There will be those kinds of pains physical and emotional, but we can become increasingly free of any suffering, any upset in relationship to them. You know, there’s a longing in us deep down, isn’t there, for this kind of release and a longing to be lived by what is most wholesome, most important, as a current flowing through us expressing our contributions into the world. We want that deep down, don’t we? We want to understand. We want to be skillful. We want to develop more mastery in relationship both to our inner and our outer world. Not in stressful control, but a kind of fluid skillfulness with both our thoughts and feelings and our conduct with, you know, word and deed. We want that. And the Buddha, really interestingly, he took people right where they were, whether they were odd characters 2500 years ago who thought that the heart of spiritual practice was to walk around on all fours barking like a dog or to stand on one foot their whole rest of their life. You know, he took them on, talked with them. He also talked with regular people, everyday people. And certainly he encouraged people both to take the next step in terms of your wants, your needs, your goals, your priorities, take this step that’s in front of you while keeping in mind, keeping in view the snowy peaks, the snowy peaks of awakening. And he said, the fundamental purpose of this holy life, this life of practice, is not fame and fortune. It’s not mystical experiences. It’s that unshakable liberation of the heart, resting in the highest happiness, which is peace. So we have that.

[00:19:38] And you might have a sense of that as you meditate, those aims, those longings, those aspirations. You might ask yourself, hmm, what are the deeper longings underneath it all in my work? And in the way I feed myself, the way I tend to my body, in the way I manage my health, manage my finances, interact with others, engage social action and politics, enjoy myself, what are the underlying deep values that you can hear if you listen to them deep down in yourself? Giving yourself the same kind of gift that is enormously important for parents to give their children as best they can. And for us, this gift to give to other people when we recognize the good intentions and the deeper wants and needs that underlie, sometimes, for us at least, bothersome behavior. This is a profound practice. It’s like listening. You know? Treating yourself as a thou, in effect, that you listen deeply to. Or really looking at another person, often in the middle even of a conflict, when you kind of get your wits about you, which sometimes may take me a bit with another person, where you just sort of slow it down and just ask yourself, what do they really want here? What would it look like if I gave them what they wanted, deep down? From a practical perspective, would it make it more likely for me, maybe to get more of what I want from them in the future if I really, really focus on the maximum reasonable response I can offer to what they’re wanting for me right now? Doesn’t mean that I need to over give or get exhausted or go beyond my boundaries. But what would happen if I stepped out of reactivity and I stepped into a freedom to feel and see and listen to the deeper layers in what they want and consider how I could actually be responsive to them? And then in similar ways as appropriate, have more courage. Have more sense of advocacy for oneself to be able to name even more vulnerably, explicitly, truly what it is you really want with other people.

[00:22:36] Of course, you can do that with everyone. In fact, with some people you shouldn’t do it because they’ll use it against you or use that as an opening to bring in the Trojan horse that will then, you know, occupy and defeat. No. But with many, many people, many people, friends, family, even coworkers, we can find ways to describe what we want without getting all touchy feely about it, necessarily. Although maybe that is appropriate sometimes. We can describe it a little more deeply and then see what happens. Do they just not get it even after we try to really make it clear? Do they not want to get it? Or maybe they get it, and they’re mad at us for revealing that we’d really like something more. No knock on what’s happening, but we’d like something more. OK. Then you see with your own plain view. On the other hand, maybe after a little back and forth, they get it. And you can see it landing, what you want, what you’re asking for in them and then they do respond to it. Wow, that’s a nice mending of the fabric of relationship. That’s a nice knitting of an even stronger relationship, which is good. And you can also appreciate and enjoy that you’ve really landed in them. All right.

[00:24:10] So I want to bring it to a close here and then open it up for discussion and questions, maybe with some of you actually live. I’ll look through the side bar and see what I see and maybe pick out some themes that can kind of coalesce or respond to a particular question. And then sure, I’ll look for someone, maybe one or two people who might raise their hands. You do that by pushing, going to the reactions button at the bottom of your Zoom window and you push the little raise hand feature and then I’ll see you. If I don’t get to you, I apologize. I may not get to you, but I’ll do the best I can. OK? All right, great. So very good. I really appreciate what people are saying here, it’s fantastic.

[00:24:58] So first, Lisa makes a great point at 7:01, one minute after the hour. What if you cannot trust a person’s motives? And you can’t. And then often you don’t quite know, so you’re testing. Or you’re trying to learn, wow, what their motives really are. And then you kind of work with it. You know, in a certain kind of relationship, you go back and forth about, you know, what are our priorities here? What are your priorities? What are my priorities? You know, as in motives. And kind of what’s underneath it all? What’s really going on here? We go back and forth and often we’re able to kind of work something out. And in that process, especially if people are there in good faith. Even if they disagree with each other and have different priorities, but if they’re there in good faith, has healthy process. Key question.

[00:25:55] Then often the expression of your own deeper wants and the listening for and the checking out without trying to play therapist or be invasive, but the—oh. We’re going to start the recording again. That was interesting. We’ll figure that out later, anyway. That can actually make it go better on the one hand. On the other hand, back to Lisa, if it’s revealed over time that they’re, you know, motivated a lot not in good faith, or they are motivated not to treat you as a thou with respect, if they’re committed maybe actually to doing things in their own self-interest that harm you, well, then that becomes revealed over time. And then, you know, disengage from that person or do the best you can with that person or bring in other allies with regard to that person. But no, I’m not speaking here in any way, not that you’re saying that, Lisa, but I just want to be clear, I’m not talking about naively trusting other people. We inquire, we explore, we discern, and we try to see what’s underneath it all for that other person. OK.

[00:27:17] So Fran asked a really interesting question at 6:55 p.m. that if I could generalize—what if we’re in situations in which we want X and other people want Y. And maybe they’re in a business setting, it’s very transactional, they’re profit oriented, it’s about the money. And, you know, they basically understand what we want, they just don’t want to give it to us. OK. So much as we have to recognize in ourselves the right to say no to others, we understand, in a, as long as we’re staying inside the line, you know, we’re not being robbed, that other people have the right to say no to us. OK. That’s reality.

[00:28:06] That said, we can often, not always, but we can often get a better result for ourselves if we find a way to translate our wants into the language or value system of the wants of the other person. And then it starts to make sense with them. Maybe, for example, we live in an apartment building or a condominium complex or a community, and we care about mold. Mold, we’re sensitive to it, or maybe our kid or our partner is sensitive to it. We’d like to have some mold repair. But it’s expensive and the apartment managers don’t want to deal with it. They don’t get it. They don’t believe it. Mold, shmold. It’s never bothered them. Why should they care? You’re some kind of snowflake. Go away. Right? On the other hand, if maybe you let them know that more and more of the state authorities are recognizing that property owners have real liability exposure if mold is discovered in their building and it’s not remediated. Oh, money, lawyers, state agencies, we don’t like that. Or maybe you discover that as mold is not dealt with it just gets worse. And then it becomes harder and harder to rent apartments or sell buildings. Oh, now you’re in the frame of their language. I’m not going to go any further with this kind of specific example, but you can see that. You can see that.

[00:29:35] And I find, to say it a little differently, often in relationships with friends and especially with couples, partners of different kinds, often there’s a kind of asymmetry in which one person, for whatever reason, places a very high value, broadly stated, on autonomy. Not being bossed around, not being monitored, not being advised, not being directed, definitely not being criticized. You know, kind of prickly about that. Hmm. Speaking of myself. But maybe there’s the other person in the relationship who places a high value on what could be called, broadly, intimacy. Feeling like we’re on the same page. We’re on the same team. We’re joined in common cause and that there’s mutual interest in good process and in both people really being heard and received by each other. Kind of a classic balance. Now it’s not either or and we have those people who are high on autonomy like me still value connection and intimacy of different kinds. People who are high on, let’s say, intimacy, you know, still want to not be bossed around or controlled in inappropriate, unjust ways. Got it. But still, there’s kind of a different of valuing.

[00:30:56] Well, it’s really helpful for the person who loads heavily on autonomy to look at the person who loads more on intimacy values and realize that their desire for connection is not inherently a challenge to autonomy. And in fact, there are things we can do, one can do, to help that other person feel more heard, more reassured, more clear that you’re just not going to go wild independently on your own in ways that are problematic. You know, to address their intimacy needs, not falsifying who you are becoming a doormat, but deliberately leaning into hearing and meeting to the maximal reasonable extent possible for you, the deeper need of the other person that might be buried underneath a discussion about how to load the dishwasher, in my famous example.

[00:31:50] Going the other way, if you’re a person who loads heavily on intimacy and you’ve got a partner has pretty prickly about any kind of monitoring or control, autonomy, you can use very simple things from the get go to reassure the other person you’re not trying to boss them aroun. You know, they’re fully entitled to their own opinion, and you’re not trying to tell them what to do and all the rest of that. And, you know, they have their own field of action that they have autonomous control over in their own sphere, and you really appreciate that and respect that. No problem with that. And on the basis of that hearing and meeting of their deeper need, ah, you then can speak more readily maybe about your desires for feeling connected and that the other person just doesn’t suddenly withdraw or break off contact or go silent. What’s the expression in social media these days? To ghost you. They don’t start ghosting you, you know, even if you’re sleeping with them in the same bed. That’s a really creepy—hello, anyway, there? Are you still there? That’s really freaky. You know, my point is that, you know, they can be more comfortable with you still. OK, can you get the big picture. OK. That part.

[00:33:06] I want to take, let’s say Lynn and then Talbert who had their hands raised. I’m going to start with you, Lynn, because I think you’ve had your hand up in the past. I’m going to ask you to unmute yourself, Lynn, and ask you to turn your camera on if you, having raise your hand, want to talk with me here.

Lynn [00:33:27] Hi, Rick.

Rick Hanson [00:33:30] Hey There. Yeah.

Lynn [00:33:31] I’m not able to put my video on for now.

Rick Hanson [00:33:35] OK.

Lynn [00:33:37] But I’m just going to go ahead and ask my question.

Rick Hanson [00:33:39] And by the way, I should have said this from the outset. I say it all the time. It’s not personal, Lynn. Please ask a concise question that’s specifically related to what I’ve been talking about tonight. OK, great. Now the pressure’s on, Lynn.

Lynn [00:33:56] The pressure’s on. So my question is how do we recalibrate boundaries with people who don’t reciprocate our deep seeing of them? So it feels more like a one way street. Because an extension of that question, it’s how do we also deal with that disappointment within ourselves of that lack of mutual deep seeing? You know? And sometimes a deeper seeing like maybe from an animal towards you, you know, and for that fleeting moment you feel the profound magic of being seen.

Rick Hanson [00:34:36] Yeah. Well, thank you for both of those. Yeah. If I follow you right, I think it does happen sometimes that we’re in relationships with people in which there’s a fairly dramatic asymmetry. And sometimes in ways that are healthy, we can accept that. In other words, for example, one person in the relationship is just much more committed to developing greater and greater emotional intelligence. They’re interested in the life of the innermost being, the life of the soul, they develop mindfulness, they read Psychology Today, they meditate, they listen to my talk. Right? And the other person is a fine person, but they’re just not into that stuff. And so there is not going to be an equal level of insight into the human heart, including in very practical ways. And for various reasons we just go, OK, I get it. You know? You’re just not going to give me that. You’re going to give me other things, maybe, you know, maybe other reasons for me to be in this relationship, but there won’t be a reciprocity there. And gosh, it’d be nice if there would have been or would be, but so be it. I mean, sometimes that can happen. And in my own case, I’ve often caused trouble in relationships that could have basically gone on being fined for me by pushing too hard or pulling too much for what was just not within reach for this other person. It’s kind of like I think it’s useful to recognize the real causes and conditions in other people and recalibrate our expectations accordingly on the one hand.

[00:36:29] You know, on the other hand, there’s balance where we keep looking, we keep testing from time to time, we keep inviting, you know, we keep doing what we can and then we see. And sometimes after some time, a decade or more, another person makes a shift. And then, you know, there’s more mutuality with us and them over time. But often what really I think is the path is to find your own true community. Find a community, a tribe of people with whom, or non-human animals, dogs, horses, nature all together, in which you can feel, really, you can rest and lower your guard and be who you are without always looking over your shoulder about who’s going to judge you, you know, later on. I think it’s very important. It’s very important. Often we keep trying to get blood from the proverbial stone and we get trapped into these dead end dynamics with people where we’re trying to get something from them. And sometimes they’re motivated not to give it. You know, that’s how they win somehow or preserve their rightness, maybe. And what’s often, sadly, poignantly more skillful is to move on to where there might be, you know, more fertile ground for the seeds of the heart that we’re offering.

[00:37:59] And then how to deal with the grieving in us, that’s a big, big deal. I think it’s very helpful to look for ways to feel filled up elsewhere. It doesn’t replace the loss from a parent or a lover, a partner, a child, even an adult child. It doesn’t replace that, but it could help us a lot. It’s still painful, but we may not need to suffer it so much if we fill ourself up in other ways. That’s very important. And to feel you have the right to do that, to look for other relationships or other interactions in which you do feel felt, in Dan Siegel’s phrase. You feel felt. And, ah, something softens in us and opens in us when we do that.

[00:38:44] The last thing I would say is that if it’s accessible to you in your practice and as practice develops, the sense of opening into kind of everything, opening into awareness, disengaging from the contents of awareness, the experiences passing through it, opening into awareness and by extension, a sense of, you know, being kind of a local rippling in the ocean of reality, then in a funny way, you do start to feel somehow so deeply known that the pain of a particular person not really hearing you is not so acute and painful. I was talking with my wife the other day, and I thought to myself that in effect, it’s like there are these sort of three almost stages. They all swirl together, but there are three. They’re distinct. One is basically if you use the metaphor of an ocean with many waves. First stage as this wave, you know, my wave see’s your wave. That’s great. Recognizes your wave, honors your wave, respects your wave, is skillful in relating to your wave. Great. Then the second level is this wave recognizes ocean. Whoa. Whoa. All these waves are ocean. The nature of all waves is ocean. You know? And then in the third step, you are ocean. You are ocean. And then even in the fourth step, there is a kind of dropping into the nature of the ocean and an ongoing awareness of the nature of ocean. You know? The great perfection of everything. So when you’re opening into that, and practice progresses in those ways and we can have intuitions and tastes of it as well, that can really feel somehow deeply soothing and healing of the pain of separation, which is what you’ve been talking about here because we’re so profoundly connected as I nearly knocked my bowl off the table. OK, I hope that was helpful.

[00:41:16] And I want to talk with Talbert. Talbert, I’m asking you to unmute. OK, great. Yeah.

Talbert [00:41:23] Hi, Rick. Can you hear me?

Rick Hanson [00:41:24] Yes, very well.

Talbert [00:41:26] Thanks for sharing your first-person story about like your parents. And it sounds like an example where someone might result in, like, you know, insecure anxious attachment in adulthood.

Rick Hanson [00:41:39] Avoidant in my case, but yeah.

Talbert [00:41:40] Yeah, yeah. Perpetuating, like, troubling relationships, right? And so what I’ve gathered from your talk, and just let me know if this is right, is just generally to recognize the good intentions in most people and through active listening, understand one’s true intentions and sort of like ask what they’re truly asking for underlying whatever is said superficially. So would you say these are like the main ways one can go about reversing their adult attachment to issues? Or are there additional ones you could recommend?

Rick Hanson [00:42:24] That’s a fantastic practical summary of little steps, you know, word by word, interaction by interaction, relationship by relationship, day by day, that we can take in really practical ways. That’s wonderful. And in that as well, yeah, that’s wonderful. And then I would make explicit something implicit in what you said that when we start to have what are called in psychology world corrective emotional experiences, broadly, we get today forms of what was missing when we were young and vulnerable, then it’s so important to engage the processes I teach a lot of, to take in the good and turn that state into a trait. In other words help that experience really land inside us, not making it more than what it is, but really, really eating and chewing and digesting, you know, what it actually is. OK.

[00:43:26] The second major headline from today, in addition to what you said at the very practical level, is to really encourage you in the innermost temple of your being where you can treat yourself like a thou as you might want to treat others as a thou to you, even if we disagree with the, really listen to the longings in your heart. The deeper longings, including longings for the unshakable liberation of the heart, you know, that the Buddha spoke of. And the longings for in whatever ways are realistic for you going to the next step in your own development, in stabilizing your own realization, in living more in harmony in your thoughts, words and deeds, and what you eat, and what you drink, and who you hang out with, and what you watch on TV, and how, you know, what positive things do you nourish in yourself through exercise or little efforts or creative expression or political action, you know, that you live more in harmony in your actions, you bring your actions more in line with the most tender, the most central longings in your heart, including longs for union and liberation. That would be the other major headline from today. Thank you.

[00:44:55] Well, how about we just kind of sit with each other for a handful of breaths, letting all this kind of land and whatever way is helpful to you? Being honest with yourself all the way down deep, way down deep, what do you really care about? And being honest with yourself, living into the rest of today and then tomorrow, the days to come, what would it look like to live even more in harmony with what you can really honestly discern most matters to you? What would help you do that from other people, from your circumstances, from your schedule and your daily practices? And what would you love, what would you enjoy if you lived in this way?

[00:46:19] I’ll see you next week and hope to hear all about it. I’ll be working the same path myself. Thank you for your kind attention and your practice.



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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