"We tend to approach pleasurable opportunities to promote well-being and survival, and conversely avoid or withdraw from painful experiences as protection from harm. This biological approach-avoid dichotomy underlies all motivational tendencies, forms the basis of emotion and promotes adaptation. We're biologically and culturally programmed to seek pleasure and avoid discomfort."
However life includes not only pleasure, but also pain, as well as uncomfortable periods of growth that take "place beyond one’s comfort zone - in liminality - a state of in-betweenness & ambiguity. Avoidance of liminality is the basic obstacle to engagement.
Mindfulness practice cultivates acceptance of, and ability to work within, liminality, and should therefore improve engagement."
During meditation we learn experientially that we are safe, that "everything is workable."
Lovas J, Gold E, Neish N, Whitehorn D, Holexa D. "Cultivating Engagement through Mindfulness Practice." Poster Presentation, American Dental Education Association annual meeting, March 19, 2012, Orlando, FL.
Our inherent approach-avoidance dichotomy (above) is markedly exaggerated by trauma:
“If you feel safe and loved, your brain becomes specialized in exploration, play, and cooperation;
if you are frightened and unwanted, it specializes in managing feelings of fear and abandonment.”
Bessel Van Der Kolk. “The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” Penguin Books, 2015.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP):
“One of AEDP’s significant contributions is that it demonstrates that compassion, generosity, self-compassion and kindness are not moral values that have to be instilled and taught, but are natural qualities of the mind that emerge in safe environments.”
AEDP Overview with Diana Fosha: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HasX4sW3mRw
“I have seen 'evil' men become 'good' and that’s the only miracle that interests me." Satprakashananda
Dana Sawyer “Huston Smith: Wisdomkeeper. Living the World’s Religions. The Authorized Biography of a 21st Century Spiritual Giant.” Fons Vitae, 2014.
Courtesy of Buddha Doodles www.buddhadoodles.com