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This task was not small. Every place has a deep-seated culture as to how things are done. ‘Culture is the sum total of shared habits and expectations,’ [Bill] Thomas told me. As he saw it, habits and expectations had made institutional routines and safety greater priorities than living a good life, and had prevented the nursing home from successfully bringing in even one dog to live with the residents. He wanted to bring in enough animals, plants and children to make them a regular part of every nursing home resident’s life. Inevitably the settled routines of the staff would be disrupted, but then wasn’t that part of the aim? ‘Culture has tremendous inertia,’ he said. ‘That’s why it’s culture. It works because it lasts. Culture strangles innovation in the crib.’ To combat the inertia, he decided they should go up against the resistance directly – ‘hit it hard,’ Thomas said. He called it the Big Bang. They wouldn’t bring a dog or a cat or a bird and wait to see how everyone responded. They’d bring all the animals in more or less at once. Atul Gawande

Panorama 5872 to 5874Image by Richard Droker on flickr


Emotions too have grooves. As with mental grooves, emotional ones are also like well-worn paths. We cycle the same emotions over and over. We’re on a hamster wheel of thoughts. Thoughts and emotions feed each other. We live within stories we’ve created and some we’ve inherited. Stories are important. They give us a sense of place, belonging and continuity. They can also restrict and limit. Stories can be rewritten. But before that’s possible emotions have to be understood. First, they have a magnetic quality which means similar emotions clump together. Emotions can self-attract within a person or from person to person. That’s why a family, group of people, a community or a habitat can have certain emotional tones. Pamir Kiciman

Calatrava.spadesImage by Josef Stuefer on flickr

From wholeness to separation

Wounds are part of us, but they are separating experiences. Wounds move us away from wholeness to separation. Wounding happens, it’s part of living, learning, growing and being human. We can’t avoid wounds, nor do we want to. We can become wiser about allowing wounds, but the road to that wisdom goes through certain life events that have wholeness hidden in them.

Pamir Kiciman

 end of the same day!Image by Marilylle Soveran on flickr


In the brain, naming an emotion can help calm it… Name it to Tame It.

Dan Siegel

 Cyathus spImage by George Shepherd on flickr

Mindfulness obstacles

The uncertainty about whether something will “work” or not often plagues many people in the beginning of their practice. The thoughts is, “this can work for others, but it won’t work for me.” Sometimes doubt is healthy, teaching us to look closely at things before we buy them. But the unhealthy doubt just takes us away from experience before it teaches us anything.


We have to remember that thoughts are just thoughts; they’re not facts (even the ones that say they are). When we notice this doubt slipping in, just take note of it, perhaps even notice the fear that is often underneath it, and then gently return back to the practice.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

 through the patio doorImage by Marilylle Soveran on flickr