Want to change your brain? Be more compassionate? Listen better to others?
Check out these resources based on the Q and A from Mindful Compassion and Connection, a training I facilitated in conjunction with the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio for Americorp volunteers and teachers.
What are more strategies or resources to help with implicit bias?
Implicit bias is defined by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity as, “The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. Activated involuntarily, without awareness or intentional control. Can be either positive or negative. Everyone is susceptible.”
In addition to the Narratives of Inclusion activity (which we did in the workshop), here are a few additional resources I would suggest as helpful tools to mitigate the effects of implicit bias.
Harvard Project Implicit has published online quizzes you can take in order to discover your specific implicit bias.
Facebook has made public their implicit bias training called “Managing Unconscious Bias.” You can go through the entire course here.
What are more strategies and resources on brain change?
One resource I would recommend if this is a strong area of interest would be Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well Being by Linda Graham.
Neuroplasticity, or the science of brain change, shows that we can change our brains in many different ways- for better or worse; this is a very broad question with many answers.
My suggestion would be figure out what you think you would like to change, and then start from there. In addition, this book by Graham is an excellent resource to begin pondering what change is helpful and how it can be accomplished. I learned so much from reading it.
I would also recommend the work of Dan Siegel. I am reading his book Mindsight now and have seen him speak; he changed the way I think about mindfulness and how it transforms the brain.
On November 9, I facilitated a Writer’s Workshop at the Educational Service Center. Below you will find the Q and A and some resources I use for the event.
To begin, here is a link to the Power Point used in the workshop. In addition, here are other resources you may find helpful:
- Overview of writers workshop (handout)
- Writer’s workshop coaching sheet
- Writer’s workshop note taking sheet
- Writers workshop revision record
Also, here are the TEDTalks from Brene Brown on vulnerability and shame that I mentioned.
Pilgrimage: A journey into the unknown undertaken for the purpose of uncovering deeper meaning and connection*
*defintion by me but inspired by others more quote worthy : )
I am at a transition point in my life, a pilgrimage of sorts. Like all pilgrimage, it requires me to let go of the creature comforts to which I have become accustomed. This means releasing the security of operating my business as a “side endeavor” so that I can remain less attached from its success or failure. It also means leaving a community I love, once again, to take a step into a future that looks more solitary for awhile.
In plain terms, I have been running my business while also being a full-time student. I am leaving school in order to try this thing for real. Am I scared? Yes. Yes I am.
“Squeaky swings and tall grass
The longest shadows ever cast
The water’s warm and children swim
And we frolicked about in our summer skin”
– “Summer Skin,” Death Cab for Cutie
There is something about the summer months that change the way it feels to be human. Maybe it is the thick, humid air. Maybe its some sort pheromones from the fecund earth (if the earth has pheremones). Who knows. It’s one of those great mysteries of existence.
I do know what it feels like though. Something like this:
The dirt on my hands connects me to the earth in a new way, the sweat on my brow reminds me I am part of everything else that came from that dirt. I feel lazy for everything but laying in the grass, staring up at trees and tracing clouds in the sky. Being human feels like enough.
It’s pretty beautiful.
A few weeks ago, we set up at a camping site at Mohican State Park with a clear, cold river running twenty feet behind our tent. We built fires every night and played in the running water every day, burning to ash then washing away all of the worries built up through the busier months, leaving something else behind. Not refreshment exactly, but more like reminder. It’s still all over my skin.
What changed in my life while going without makeup for two weeks? Surprisingly little. Not a single person made a comment to me about looking “tired.” No one treated me any differently. People continued to be kind, caring and concerned in the way I know most humans to be on the average day.
The only thing that really changed for me is that when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t love my face. This sounds bad, but I wasn’t like, “Ugh, I hate myself. Why do I look like this?” It was more, “Yeah, I don’t really dig this right now.” And when I walked away from the mirror, the thought didn’t follow me around, didn’t nag me, didn’t even occur to me to be honest.
This is surprising considering that had I never stepped foot in front of a classroom or gone to a professional meeting without my safety blanket- concealer, blush, mascara and eye shadow. I did both of these things five days into the two weeks, and there was literally no difference between that day and any other.
The following will be my attempt to summarize my ten days of silence at the Vipassana Center in Illinois. If you want to get the gist on what Vipassana is before you read it (which I would recommend), check out this post. It has some of the rules, guidelines and a little about the ideology- all good background for what I experienced.
In my program, I am required to take multiple courses on drugs and addictions. Last semester I took a chemical dependency course where I was required to write a paper about popular street drugs. One drug I chose was Ayahuasca. Why? Because people I knew who didn’t use drugs were talking about this substance and seemed interested. This was strange. Here is my opening paragraph from the paper:
“If there was a chance to experience [improved] healing and wholeness in the matter of twenty-four hours, but the path to reach that end goal was going through hell, would it be a temptation? This is not [only] a figurative hell of bad emotional places, but a literal hell of demons battling and slithering serpents, a replaying the worst experiences of one’s life, a sweating, panting, heart pounding experience complete with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. For most people, this particular path would probably not be a temptation, which is why the drug Ayahuasca will probably never enter main stream society as anything other than a subversive and interesting sub-culture fad. However, [according to some] for those who are willing to venture into the dangerous and terrifying possibilities inherent in using the drug, there is the possibility of a renewed self and an extended spiritual experience- a calculated risk not without serious dangers and consequences.”
This drug was not, and is not, a temptation for me, so I want to make it clear that I do not advocate for the drug nor am I a user. This being said, I had no idea that Vipassana would be, for me, the closest I could ever get to this experience without taking a mind-altering substance.
I know there is probably some curiosity about my silent retreat experience, which I am still processing and will write about soon. Until then, here is something I wrote about friendship, racism and being a privileged white woman who realizes her own blind spots. I wrote it months ago and have been hesitant to publish it because the topic is so complicated, so uncomfortable, for me and for others.
In my life lately, and also in my dreams, race and relationships have been a theme. A few months ago I started having dreams in which interracial relationships were continually a topic. Around the same time, I also became part of a group of racially diverse women-writers for a project on which I was working.
At this time and since, my dreams and my reality have swirled in my head. I find myself having conversations about race with other women continually. In each conversation, I try to tentatively explore where I am being led.
On Wednesday, I will be leaving for a seven-hour drive to the Vipassana Center in Pecatonica, Illinois. I will be going alone and leaving behind quite a few things I love- my family and friends for one, but also things like: books and other reading materials, pens and paper, COFEE, yoga and other forms of recreational/health-based exercise, alcohol of any type, SUGAR, my laptop and cell phone, eye contact with other humans, and the ability to speak at will without breaking social norms and written agreements. Oh yes, and also yoga pants and leggings- for modesty’s sake.
…So… This should be interesting….
The schedule for a day in the life of a silent retreat is something like this:
4:00 a.m. wake up call
I won’t go on as you probably get the picture
So what is this about, you are probably wondering? Here is the description of Vipassana practice from the code they sent me: