Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   


Tuesday
Jun262012

Get your feelings out! 

Not so fast!   If you feel like murdering someone, kicking your dog, running from challenge, eating til you can't breathe....do you do it?

No.  right?  you don't, right?  

Feelings are not facts, but they make our beliefs seem like facts.

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Monday
Jun252012

Take Anger, for example

The problem with anger is that not only are we really not allowed to murder people, but we've been told since day 1 (ok, maybe 121, but still, pretty early) that if we are angry, we are bad and wrong and...crazy...also ugly....and...well, maybe it's just me but it's a rare duck that really surfs with anger.   With all those nasty descriptions, it would certainly seem like a better idea to not get angry.  But we do anyway, right?  So we try to hold it in.

So, then when we were 20something maybe we got the idea that we should let it all out.  We went around telling people the truth about the way I feel.

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Friday
Jun152012

Happiness is Attention

We may not want to believe it but happiness is entirely available, no matter what.  Attention itself makes us happy, not its object.   Says Spinoza, "When the mind regards itself and its own power of activity, it feels pleasure."   Allow me to emphasize: Pleasure!  Not just boring old serenity.   And it's not just regarding the mind that is so much fun.  Attending even to something awful is surprisingly interesting.

Ogre is paying attentionAgain and again, my clients describe the agony of anticipating and imagining a disastrous event.  A huge amount of preparation and tension goes into preventing the dreaded thing, and yet the ACTUAL event is, without fail, a better experience than its imagining. 

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Thursday
Jun142012

I am I: A Tribute to Margaret Cho


Inspired by Cho's gestures, energy, and mission, a group of dancers celebrate human diversity in all its splendid manifestations.  

Conceived and Choreographed by Irene Ruiz-Riveros
Video Directed and Edited by Elena TaJo
Music by Steve Elson

I am I: A Tribute to Margaret Cho screened in June of 2010 at Anthology Film Archives as part of an excellent series curated by New York Women in Film and Television.  Running time 5:37 minutes
 

Wednesday
Jun132012

An Oasis of Peace

Wahat al-Salam Neve ShalomWahat al-Salam in Arabic. Neve Shalom in Hebrew.   Oasis of Peace.  The name evokes both longing and sadness. Just an oasis?   In a human desert of outright wars and subtle destructions of the spirit, there is a place where people from opposing sides of what is arguably the most difficult conflict on earth choose to live in peace.

I wanted to visit this place because I am a very jaded psychologist--an optimist disappointed with the failure of ideals

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Saturday
Jun092012

Gay Pride, Woman Shame

Along with so many others, I cheered for New York State last weekend--for our Governor who showed courage and resolve, for all the beautiful people who could now marry their beloved.  At the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, we were all bubbling in a soup of triumph and ecstasy.  Most of you know that several years ago I decided to divorce my heterosexual spouse because the unfairness of the whole thing, especially the "Defense of Marriage Act," was unbearable. 

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Thursday
Jun072012

Crips on the Subway

Updated on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:33PM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

My hips were already hurting as I was standing on the platform.   I could almost feel the relief of the seat as I waited for the train…and waited…and… the desire intensified with the growing awareness of the delay, the imagined relief intensifying the pain.  

By the time the train pulled in, a crowd had gathered and I was terrified of the competition for seats.   Naturally, there was exactly one seat in the car and the woman who pushed her way past me got it.    In agony, I pondered:  Was she disabled?  My hips don't have a big sign on them and I'm not carrying any supports like crutches.  Do I say something?  What if she is mentally disabled and doesn't understand the subway protocol?   If she gets angry and accuses me, do I understand her as limited or mean?  What's the difference?  Who deserves what?

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Wednesday
Jun062012

My Toe is my Teacher

Part 1:  The Cure

Have you ever had an electric toe?  It's quite an experience, unlike any other pain.  You step on it funny and suddenly a shocking, excruciating pain shoots through the toe into the whole body and the brain contracts in the instant.  It goes away and you think, ok, that was that, and then it happens again.  After several repetitions you become like one of those freaked-out lab mice terrified of the next shock, seeming to have no control.   Except that then you notice that getting tense makes it happen more!

Like other life koans, this was impossible to grasp.  How could I possibly relax into something that made my body involuntarily seize up?

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Wednesday
Jun062012

How to Change the World, Justina

Updated on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:40PM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

One morning on the way to Ballet class, I hear the news that Black Americans are moving away from northern urban areas toward the South and into the suburbs.  This interests me for what it will mean for diversity, so I remember it.  

As we chitchat before class, Justina, a young Black woman just returned from a family visit to Tennessee, comments:  "The South never changes."   I argue briefly and then ponder her comment for the remainder of class.  (You can blame all my mistakes on that!)   When class is over I ask her what she meant.  A graduate student in Social Psychology, she is frustrated by entrenched patterns:  expectations shape behavior, behavior reinforces expectations, and the cycle perpetuates itself.   Indeed, I agree.   Except here she is, an exception.

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Tuesday
Jun052012

Yes, but can you wipe your ass?

The first time I heard the question was shortly after I told my rheumatologist about the pain in my knees after tap-dancing for some length of time.  I recall that I was rehearsing for a little showcase.  I recall that I was proud.  I recall that he said: These are not normal knees…of course you are going to have inflammation if you tap-dance.  And a little while later he asked if I have trouble wiping myself.   It's important, obviously.   Tap dancing?   Not so much.

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