Conversations about somatic psychology, relational therapies, mindfulness and trauma therapies.
Gregory Kramer about Buddhism & psychotherapy
In this conversation, Gregory Kramer compares the perspectives that psychotherapy and Buddhism have on dealing with human suffering.
Gregory Kramer teaches, writes, and is the founding teacher of the Insight Dialogue Community. His primary focuses are sharing a relational understanding of the Dhamma and teaching Insight Dialogue, an interpersonal form of Buddhist insight meditation. He has been teaching worldwide since 1980.
In his new book A Whole-Life Path, Gregory invites us to see the noise, complexity, and challenges of today’s world as doorways to fully embodied Dhamma wisdom. Drawing on decades of meditation, study, and teaching, he explores the essence of each factor of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. He looks at modern life and offers to put all the Buddha’s teachings into practice—individually, relationally, and socially. More than 50 experiential practices allow us to test his guidance—right here, right now. See website.
Published March 1, 2021
Michael Changaris: The power of mindful touch
In this conversation, Michael Changaris talks about how crucial touch is to our sense of self and our well-being. He refers to research as well as examples in clinical practice and in everyday life. The conversation concludes with an invitation to a simple way to experience this in your life.
Michael Changaris, PsyD. is the Chief Clinical Training Officer, health psychology groups program lead & psychopharmacology rotation lead for the Wright Institute, Integrated Health Psychology Training Program (IHPTP) an APA accredited internship in health psychology. He is an adjunct professor with John F. Kennedy University and The Wright Institute. Dr. Changaris is a clinical health psychologist with a specialty in multicultural psychology, stress physiology, and the neuroanatomy of PTSD. Michael Changaris is a 2018 UCSF, California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) Leadership Fellow. He currently serves on the health disparities committee at Contra Costa County Health and along with the team, was recognized with the 2018 ‘Health Partnership’ award for work addressing implicit bias in health care. See website.
Published December 2020.
Francesca Maximé: Embodied anti-racism
Francesca Maximé talks about how to find mindful, embodied responses to racialization and racism.
Francesca Marguerite Maximé is a Haitian-Dominican Italian-American embodied antiracism educator, somatic psychotherapist, award-winning poet/author, certified mindfulness meditation teacher. She also hosts the ReRooted podcast on Ram Dass’s Be Here Now Network focusing on neuroscience, trauma healing, social justice, and the creative arts. Francesca integrates secular mindfulness wisdom practices on gratitude, forgiveness and compassion with Buddhist psychology, attachment theory, modern neuroscience, psychoeducation, positive neuroplasticity, Nonviolent Communication, Focusing, narrative expression and somatic “bottom-up” approaches. She’s certified in Relational Life Therapy for couples, Somatic Experiencing, Focusing-Oriented Therapy, Indigenous Focusing-Oriented Therapy, mindfulness, and has also completed Brainspotting 1 & 2 and several Coherence Therapy trainings. She practices privately seeing adults, couples and groups around the country and world as an antiracism educator and somatic coach through her Maximé Clarity, LLC offerings, also working with a group somatic psychotherapy practice in Brooklyn, New York: Brooklyn Somatic Psychotherapy. See website.
Published November 2020.
David Allen: The implicit pressures that shape our clients
To be effective, therapy has to address the implicit pressures that shaped our clients and continue to shape them. This includes the implicit messages people derived from their upbringing (e.g. parent implicitly encouraging child to act out while explicitly not doing so). This also includes the social milieu which exerts implicit pressure for them to keep conforming.
David M. Allen, MD, is professor emeritus of psychiatry and former director of psychiatric residency training at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN. He has carried out research on personality disorders, is a psychotherapy theorist, and is the former associate editor of the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. He is the author of “Coping with Critical, Demanding, and Dysfunctional Parents: Powerful Strategies to Help Adult Children Maintain Boundaries and Stay Sane“, “How Dysfunctional Families Spur Mental Disorders” and other books, as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters.
Published October 2020.
Understanding social myth: Why it’s so hard to find common ground & how to do it
The other day, I saw a poster. It’s the iconic picture of Rambo with bulging muscles and a bazooka. But, instead of the head of Sylvester Stallone, it has the head of Donald Trump. The caption goes, “Trump. No Man. No Woman. No Commie Can Stump Him.”
My first reaction was to think of it as satire, making fun of Trump’s exaggerated opinion of himself. But, no, given the context, this was meant as a prideful statement by one of his followers.
Do his followers not know that he is obese and averse to exercise? Is it possible that they don’t know that he avoided the draft? How could they believe in something that is so far from the truth?
Pausing for inner experience
I pause a moment as I’m pondering these questions. I pay attention to my inner experience. I notice that what this brings up for me is some mixture of outrage and smugness. Outrage: how dare they represent something that is so far from the truth? Smugness: the sense that I am more in touch with reality than these people.
I know that, if I stay with my sense of outrage and smugness, all I do is reinforce my preconceptions. So I try, for a moment, to shift into a different perspective. I tap into a sense of curiosity about what this picture might mean to the people who proudly display it. Does one need to take it as literally true to be inspired by it?
Probably not. We, human beings, have the ability to use symbolic thinking. We use metaphors. Sometimes, the metaphors we choose are very carefully related to the topic. Occasionally, we voluntarily choose metaphors that present a stark contrast to highlight an aspect that is especially important to us. For instance, I remember how Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa liked to use the metaphor of warriors to reflect the quality of courage. Mindfulness practitioners are certainly not warriors in the typical sense of the term. They are not belligerent, far from that. The warrior metaphor serves to draw attention to their hero quality.
But what if the metaphor is so over the top that it loses any power? When Vladimir Putin displays pictures of himself bare-chested, it is consistent with his background as a sportsman, a judo practitioner. But what could the man who avoided the draft because of bone spurs possibly have to do with a Rambo-like figure?
Calvin & Hobbes
To better understand this, I find it helpful to think of one of my favorite comic strips, Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is a little boy, and Hobbes is his tiger. Clearly, for Calvin’s parents and all the other characters in this strip, this is what Hobbes is: a stuffed animal, a toy. But, whenever Calvin interacts with him, Hobbes is represented as fully alive. A magnificent, powerful tiger. More than that, a tiger who is also able to speak and play with Calvin.
You could say that all of the stories take place in Calvin’s imagination. So what? Saying that misses out on what gives these stories their charm. They don’t just talk about the fantasy world of the kid. They draw us into it. To enjoy the story, you suspend disbelief that this is a stuffed animal. You see and experience Hobbes as a full-fledged character, not a toy but an animal. Actually, an animal who is also a person. But also a stuffed toy, because the story works on many levels. You have to follow it on all the levels as it unfolds.
The story that unfolds does not have an “as if” quality. It would be boring if it were possible to reduce it to what’s happening in Calvin’s imagination. What makes it captivating is that it is also happening in our imaginations. The power of good stories is that they draw us into the world of fantasy. What makes a story enjoyable is not how closely it hews to literal truth. It is how it captures something compelling that literal truth cannot capture as well. It is akin to how a simple drawing can capture a sense of a p...
Merete Holm Brantbjerg: A gentle, resource-oriented approach to stress & trauma
Merete Holm Brantbjerg talks about working with low energy states and our “invisible parts” in the context of Relational Trauma Therapy.
Merete Holm Brantbjerg developed Relational Trauma Therapy, a psychomotor and systems-oriented approach. She is an international trainer, group leader, and therapist based in Denmark. See website.
– PDF of ROST presence skills.
– A resource for clients: Video and PDF transcript of Merete Holm Brantbjerg for the general public.
Published August 2020.