Mindful Musing

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Victor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. He was the founder of logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy that felt the purpose in life was the search for meaning. I never realized Victor Frankl was a Buddhist.

What a beautiful description of mindfulness. The capacity to be aware of what is happening, step back into a mindful space or pause, and then make a skillful choice of how one is going to respond rather than react.

by Dr. Phil Blustein

Just a Problem to Be Solved, Not Being the Problem


I have just taken up Pickleball with fun and frustration. I hit the ball into the net. This just isn’t about a shot that was intended to go over the net but didn’t. It means a whole lot more than just that. There is this belief that not only is the shot bad but “I” am bad. I have a childhood belief that I need to be perfect in order to feel safe and loved. The imperfect shot triggers this historic memory and the immediate associated self-criticism and judgment! Everything that we encounter is referenced against our personal unique belief system that represents who we believe we are. What core belief do you have about yourself that is the basis for judging your present moment to moment action?

If we bring awareness to this process we have the potential to move beyond being trapped by our conditionality. I would like to suggest a 4 step process to help lessen our self-criticism.

1) SENSATION: When your mind starts to judge and criticize you immediately look just for the initial stimulus. For me it is: “The ball was hit into the net.” That’s all that happened to start. Everything else is an add on.

2) SELF-REFERENTIAL JUDGMENT: Next look for the judgment of self that arises. In my example it is: “This is terrible. I am terrible. How could I have missed that shot. I should have done better.” Identify the criticism of self that has arisen from the initial sensation. Isn’t it amazing what we create from hitting a ball into the net. A self comes into existence and then we judge it. If we are aware of our personal story and our unmet need we can even look for what is calling to be heard in the moment. My need to be perfect to feel loved.

3) NON-SELF-REFERENTIAL DISCERNMENT: Now we inquire what would the response be if the present moment experience was not referenced against our sense of self. The observation would be: “The ball was hit into the net. The aim of the game is for the ball to go over the net and ideally score a point.” Nothing about me! No judgment or criticism. Only information about the action and what it informs me about how to improve. Everything is meant to be the way it is driven by either uncontrollable external circumstances or by our subconscious automatic internal conditioned actions.

4) SKILLFUL ACTION: “What needs to be done if it wasn’t about me?” At this point you bring your attention back to the original sensation and enquire what needs to be done about what has happened, without a sense of self being present. In many situations nothing needs to be done. What we normally believe we are dealing with is: “What if, not what is.”

Next time your mind starts to yell at you, Pause and then try this 4 step inquiry. It is amazing to witness how our minds create such illusions based on what actually happens.

by Dr. Phil Blustein

Walking Each Other Home

Walking Each Other Home

Ram Dass, Mirabai Bush – in Walking Each Other Home
This person has a body and a mind, just like me.
This person has feelings, emotions, and thoughts, just like me.
This person has experienced physical and emotional pain and suffering, just like me.
This person has at some time been sad, disappointed, angry, or hurt, just like me.
This person has felt unworthy or inadequate, just like me.
This person worries and is frightened sometimes, just like me.
This person will die, just like me.
This person has longed for friendship, just like me.
This person is learning about life, just like me.
This person wants to be caring and kind to others, just like me.
This person wants to be content with what life has given them, just like me.
This person wishes to be free from pain and suffering, just like me.
This person wishes to be safe and healthy, just like me.
This person wishes to be happy, just like me.
This person wishes to be loved, just like me.
Now, allow wishes for well-being to arise:
I wish this person to have the strength, resources, and social support they need to navigate the difficulties in life with ease.
I wish this person to be free from pain and suffering.
I wish this person to be peaceful and happy.
I wish this person to be loved . . . because this person is a fellow human being, just like me.

What a beautiful poem that demonstrates how we are all interconnected and similar through our common needs, fears and desires. When one is tempted to criticize and judge other, bring to mind what connects us and allow that be what guides your behaviour.


Acceptance: Understanding

Acceptance is not what you might think. A lot has been said about mindfulness being nonjudgmental. This does not mean we don’t have feelings about things that might be unpleasant. It just means that we should spend a moment accepting what is right in front of us or within us before we rush to making a hasty decision based on strong emotions.

Acceptance does not mean:

  • You deny your feelings
  • You have to like it. 
  • You have to “suck it up”
  • You are neutral or indifferent to an injustice.
  • You have to make something positive out of it
  • You have to agree with what is present

In the coolest form of acceptance is non-resistance. This enables us to meet whatever is showing up and getting to know each intimately before we investigate it and ask ourselves, “What is called for now?”

by Dr. Allan Donsky