Your Setting Sun – from The Shambhala Principle

The following is an excerpt from a book I am currently read, The Shambhala Principle by Sakyong Mipham, which struck me as particularly insightful.

“Naturally, when we feel that we are faulty, we mistreat ourselves, and then we mistreat others in the same way.

“When this lasts for a while, that depressed and aggressive state becomes the norm, and anything not depressing begins to appear naïve or unsophisticated.  Even our nature appears insubstantial and small.

“Thus, the psychic repercussions of… the ceremony of unworthiness have created a depressed culture, and the product of that culture is cynicism and doubt.  Our sense perceptions are padded.  Generally speaking, we are spooked by our own thoughts.  Self-doubt arises, and we start doubting others.  We forget about bravery as our minds are consumed by doubt, becoming unstable and fickle.  Saying and doing negative things begins to make sense, and developing our warrior mind seems completely unrealistic.  We have fallen into the cowardly realms, where the mind is trapped and depressed.  It buys into aggression as a way to accomplish things.  We have great confidence in anger, we are really certain that aggression is going to work, and we forget about patience and compassion – even towards ourselves.

“The mind that arises from the combination of intelligence and a depressed state is essentially obsessed with negating everything, since the basic premise of such a mind is death and nihilism – hence my father’s term “the setting sun.”  To say our age is marked by setting-sun tendencies is not necessarily saying the world is over but that, at the day’s end, our care and curiosity are diminishing, like a clock winding down.  There is a deflated feeling: Why work for the future when we feel that we are coming to the end?”


Habits as Ceremonies

The present moment is the what is happening right now.  Ceremonies of unworthiness are particularly dangerous because they cloud our ability to perceive the truth of the present moment.  And I always find it a peculiarly poetic paradox that ceremonies of unworthiness actually lead to an INFLATED sense of self. Instead of seeing the truth of the present moment, we habitually scan an impartial world for evidence that we are different than everyone else.

The mind complicates.  The mind complicates.  The mind complicates.  When we believe everything our mind tells us, we will become lost, unable to see the difference between what is true and what is just a myth we nourish through the ceremonies in our lives.  For example, if we cultivate the habit of comparing ourselves to others, we have created a daily ceremony of unworthiness that will begin to feel true.  It is not TRUE that you are unworthy, even if it feels true.  It is a just myth that you strengthen in your mind each time you choose to compare yourself to someone else.

Ceremonies of unworthiness prevent us from being present with ourselves and others, which is the only place where truth occurs.  We must be brave to look for these ceremonies in our lives, and then bravely choose to replace these ceremonies with new ones that celebrate the truth of the present moment.  It means saying to yourself over and over and over, “I am just one starfish in the sea.  No more or less deserving than any other starfish near or far from me.”  (Hey – I just made that up!  I like it!)


Exploring your Ceremonies of Unworthiness

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself about ceremonies of unworthiness that may have arisen in your life.

What ceremonies of unworthiness are present in your daily routines?  Internal:  What thoughts arise in your mind that support the illusion of unworthiness?   External: What behaviors have your developed that nourish the illusion of being unworthy?


What myth is being nourished through these ceremonies of unworthiness?


Ceremonies of unworthiness nourish fictional myths in your mind, which in turn keep you from seeing how things really are in the world.  How might your ceremonies of unworthiness block your ability to see observe what is actually happening in the present moment?



Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed, Song by Silver Jews and video by My Little Pony

I think everyone needs a playlist on hand for those days (.. or weeks … or months) when they are just feeling blue. This song is one of my favorites of my Blue Day collection. And look! I found a fan video with all My Little Ponies – with the images spot on with the lyrics! My heart is happy in this moment.

I love this song because in those moments of feeling down, it is too easy to get stuck in our own story and forget that we are part of something much larger than ourselves.  Somehow just the phrase “sometimes a pony gets depressed” can help me remember that we can find respite from our suffering by stepping outside our immediate circumstance and kindly keeping ourselves company as it is our turn to be depressed.

I love this video with my little ponies because….  well, duh.  MY LITTLE PONIES VIDEO.  Self explanatory.

OMG – this guys is so super awesome. What?! Who is this guy and can he be my spirit animal? Is that a thing?

And the thing about the birds? Officially in my tool kit. Thank you awesome (and not to mention adorable) spirit animal!

I’ve been on the road for a bit and I am very happy to be back home.  That was a long time for me to be away.  Speaking of home, I thought I’d share this cool post about the work a friend/colleague, Beck Tench, does over at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC.  If I get to come back, I hope I end up with her job the next time around.

“One of the greatest gifts of my babymoon is the opportunity to share the Museum 2.0 author’s desk with brilliant colleagues who inspire me. First up is Beck Tench, a “simplifier, illustrator, story teller, and technologist” working at the Museum of Life & Science in Durham, NC. Beck is the brain behind the risk-taker/space-maker paradigm I’ve shared here in the past. In this post, she writes about Experimonth, an intriguing set of crowd-sourced projects that connect scientists with research participants in surprising ways.”

This game is like Pong meets Paintbrush!  What a great game to help keep your mind company as you hunker down as a big emotional wave rolls through:


Not sure what I mean by distress tolerance tools?  Click here to learn more.

Want some more suggestions of distress tolerance activites?  Click here for more suggestions.

Social Security Removes Surgical Requirement for Gender Marker Change |


Beautiful post from Kasey Edwards.  Worth the whole read.

But I was wrong, Mom. Now I understand what it’s like to grow up in a society that tells women that their beauty matters most, and at the same time defines a standard of beauty that is perpetually out of our reach. I also know the pain of internalizing these messages. We have become our own jailors and we inflict our own punishments for failing to measure up. No one is more cruel to us than we are to ourselves.

This is One Corner

June 25, 2013

This is one corner

I just love love this TED Talk.  In a world full of too much knowledge and not enough wisdom, he is a treat to hear speak.

From this talk:

“Ultimately, what is a story? It’s a contradiction. Everything is a contradiction. The universe is a contradiction. And all of us are constantly looking for harmony. When you get up, the night and day is a contradiction. You get up at 4am and that first blush of blue is where the night and day are trying to find harmony with each other. Harmony is the notes that mozart didn’t give you, but somehow the contradiction of his notes suggest the harmony. It’s the effect of looking for hamony in the contradiction that exists in a poet’s mind, the contradiction that exists in a story teller’s mind. In a story teller’s mind is the contradiction of moralities. In a poet’s mind there is a conflict of words. In the universe’s mind between day and night. In the contradiction between male and female we’re looking for harmony within each other. The whole idea of contradiction – the acceptance of contradiction – is the telling of a story. Not the resolution. The problem with storytelling in Hollywood and many films is we try to resolve the contradiction. Harmony is not resolution – harmony is a suggestion of a thing that is much larger than resolution. Harmony is a suggestion of something that is embracing and universal, and of eternity, and of the moment. Resolution is something that is far more limited. It is finite. Harmony is infinite. So in storytelling, like all other contradictions in the universe, is looking for harmony and infinity in moral resolutions – resolving one, but letting another go. Letting another go and creating a question that’s really important.”


Picture 484

Here is the beginning of a post I just put up on Medium.  You can read the full article here.

“Reading Harriet Brown’s critique of my profession felt like someone was pouring salt on a wound I didn’t know I had. I recently went into private practice as a therapist, leaving behind the world of research in clinical psychology with mixed emotions of elation (no more bosses!) and grief (goodbye dear research). It’s been a tough transition and Ms. Brown’s epic failure to understand the challenges faced by therapists is both hurtful to me and harmful to those who might take her critiques at face value.

Ms. Brown is concerned that patients are not getting the therapy they need largely because we therapists choose to disregard science and instead like to think of therapy as an art. Now I wholeheartedly agree that not all therapists are competent (some astonishingly so). But this common critique of my profession is filled with misunderstandings, errors, and straw men that lead the people away from a deeper understanding of the complexities that exist in the development and delivery of evidence-based mental-health care. Let’s take a critical look at some reasons why patients often do not receive therapy based solely on what the science says to do…..”