This website is mostly a collection of essays I have written about recovery from childhood trauma, addictions and codependency. It also includes teachings that I have learned that when practiced, can lead to a happier, less reactive and more heartfelt existence as well handouts and other tools helpful in recovery and compassionate self knowledge.
For most of my life, I have struggled to be comfortable in my own skin, whether it be the sensations in my body or the thoughts coming from my mind. As a result, I have tried numerous strategies to change how I felt, to manage my discomfort. Until I was 50, it was mostly about changing the material things around me: What I put in my body, what I did with my time, where I lived, who I was with. More or less, I remember feeling mostly two things: stress and anger. Even when I celebrated a victory, the feeling was often infused with self righteous anger.
After I stopped putting drugs and alcohol in my body at age 31, I started to have glimpses of calm and occasional satisfaction or even joy, primarily because I was reasonably competent at improving the material things in my life, and my material successes would often generate, albeit just briefly, pleasurable feelings. But the pursuit of those accomplishments and successes was exhausting and while decisions in my 30s often struck gold, the choices in my 40s were almost all losers.
At age 50 I hit an emotional and spiritual bottom, having lost any sense of moral compass, and although I wasn’t drinking, I might as well have been. Having realized that my way of doing things was no longer working, I decided to try a completely different strategy to feel better. It was then that I truly started an inward journey, one that focused less on the material aspects of life and more on trying to understand just how in the hell had I got to where I was. Little did I know at the time that this journey would lead to an opening of my heart, and all the pain, grief, joy and bliss that came with that.
Besides my participation in 12 step programs, I immersed myself in paths of compassion and recovery: Buddhism, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) by Marshall Rosenberg, the teachings of Pia Mellody, Harvel Hendrix, Pema Chodrion, Thich Nhat Hahn and many others. I attended workshops, silent meditation retreats, evening dharma talks and weekend yoga festivals. I read two or three books at a time, and replaced my old habits of thinking with the kind words I found in audio books and podcasts. I took my sacred wound of obsession and directed it to understanding myself in all my manifestations, and the more I got to know why I was the way I was and did the things I did, the more I started to accept myself, and to eventually feel love and compassion towards myself. Simultaneously as that happened, the urge to change the material aspects of my life became less and less important.
This path, which has included regular exercise, meditation, community and good friends, has culminated in a kind and loving awareness that I didn’t know was even possible. While once my immediate reaction to what someone might do or say was judgment, now it’s often compassion or joy for them. While before I had constant tapes running in my head as to how bad I was or how I needed to change the way things were, now I can rest my attention gently on my breath or body and experience life in the present moment. While before I would immediately try to change whatever I thought was causing me to feel bad, now I know that I cause my own feelings and that allowing others to be exactly as they are has worked better than any other strategy to promote change.
The key points of what I have learned in these last 10 years are:
- Buddhism, NVC and nearly all recovery groups and self help practices are about connecting to the heart and getting out of our habitual thinking mind.
- If we can be mindful in the present moment, we don’t need much else to have peace and serenity in our life.
- That humans are habitual creatures, and it is unskillful habits that create suffering, and with skillful habits we can eliminate suffering.
Mindfulness of Needs
Throughout this website you will see the term Mindfulness of Needs as well as the acronym MFN. This term attempts to include in one phrase the mindfulness of Buddhism with the spiritual needs consciousness of Nonviolent Communication (NVC.) I originally was going to write only about the need awareness, but over time have realized that although needs are always at the root of what is alive within us, awareness of only our needs is not enough to turn around a life in a downward spiral or to be fully present with our entire inner life. Therefore, in this website you will find writings addressing a whole range of internal characteristics, including feelings, thoughts, judgments, conditioning, trauma and beliefs, as well as ways to hold ourselves with enough kindness and compassion to reverse destructive behavior.
The website is organized somewhat like a book but it is also to support my work as a coach and teacher of meditation and Nonviolent Communication, which I am currently doing in Madrid, Spain. The “book” sections are to the right, with several chapters on different topics on mindfulness and inner life awareness, and at the bottom in the footer are handouts, exercises, links and information about classes and workshops. The first book section is entitled What is Mindfulness of Needs and includes chapters on the philosophy of needs consciousness as well as other related topics. The second section is called Challenges and includes chapters on specific areas where the practice can be helpful. The third section explores some needs in more depth. The fourth section includes various practices and meditations. In addition, there are handouts and links to other useful webpages.
This work is not yet copyrighted and you have my permission to use any of it, until I copyright it. If I do.
I welcome any suggestions, experiences, insights etc.
Blessings to all,