How to be happy when the world seems to be falling apart? What's wellbeing? This episode shines a light on all things positive and good and hope-full.
These days it feels as though our well-being is assaulted from every direction. And it could be easy to argue that happiness doesn’t have much of a place in the world as it is these days.
There’s so much that’s breaking our hearts, both collectively, and individually … it can seem just too self-absorbed and narcissistically privileged to even bring up the topic of wellbeing.
Who has time to deal with wellbeing and happiness when the world is falling apart?!
There are millions of people in this country who are desperate to feel something positive and hopeful, something good, to be engaged in focusing their attention on living well, even in the midst of heartbreak and uncertainty.
It's more important than ever before to develop a practice of wellbeing. Yes, many things are falling apart. And yes, much is transforming.
What more effective tool do we have than to seed our future using the 12 keys of wellbeing?
Melanie discusses each of the 12 building blocks of individual and community wellbeing, from the researchers and experts at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Those building blocks, in alphabetical order, are:
In this episode, Melanie explores the connection between shame, anxiety, and depression, as well as the difference between guilt and shame.
Shame can wreak havoc with our mental health. And it's pretty sneaky, in that we often don't understand what shame feels like, and so it gets confused with guilt.
But it's a powerful emotional response that can become a lifelong companion living just underneath the surface of our awareness.
It's an important topic to unpack if you're feeling creatively blocked, unable to achieve reasonable goals, or can't quite put your finger on why you're stuck.
Chronic shame can be one of the major psychological blocks to achieving goals, realizing dreams, and manifesting intentions.
Melanie quotes Dr. Brene Brown, who says shame is an "unspoken epidemic," and mentions her incredibly popular TED Talks.
Research data have proven that guilt and shame are strongly correlated with depression, as well as with anxiety disorders including social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder.
Negative health consequences of anxiety and depression include digestive disorders, heart disease, obesity, chronic pain diagnoses such as migraines, arthritis, and fibromyalgia; sleep disruption — which is another pathway to all sorts of medical issues.
In fact, researchers now know that chronic physical pain shares some biological mechanisms with anxiety and depression.
The reality is that the world we’re living in isn’t becoming a more peaceful place. We’re not heading into a future, at the moment, that projects a less anxiety-ridden world.
It’s becoming the norm to be anxious and depressed, even for people who aren’t genetically or environmentally prone to those two emotional and physiological states.
This information-packed episode is an important one to listen to and learn from.
How to be better with money is something almost everyone wants to know more about. And Doug Lynam is the guy to talk to about your money, your budget, finances, your blocks about money ... like that.
Doug is an industry thought leader in ethical and sustainable investing, founder of the non-profit ESG Fiduciary™ Institute, a partner at LongView Asset Management, LLC, in Santa Fe, and he's devoted his life to service.
He's also the author of the popular book From Monk to Money Manager and has been a guest on this show many times.
In this episode, Doug and Melanie talk about why money is such a tender spot for so many people, as well as money trauma, money wounds, and healing our money wounds.
Doug explains the basics of attachment theory from psychology, and how that's pertinent to our relationship with money. And he discusses the meaning of this quote: “the quality of [our] financial life has a bigger impact on [our] perceived wellbeing than the combined benefits of fitness, job satisfaction, and my overall relationship stability.”
Yep, there's a strong relationship between how we feel about money and our happiness.
Mental health during Covid 19 is a thing. And it's going to be an issue for a while.
We're all struggling with ongoing Covid-19 trauma. No matter how well we're doing, we're all feeling it.
In this episode, Melanie shares research data and coping suggestions from Dr. Diane E. Meier, the longtime director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Meier is also a 2008 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship.
About the Covid pandemic, Dr. Meier says, “The fear and anxiety is completely different. It’s not that getting a diagnosis of dementia or cancer or kidney failure is not frightening. It is, but it’s somewhat normalized. You know people it’s happened to. Whereas the Covid pandemic — there was so much interesting coverage marking the 500,000th death about how invisible all the grieving is and how the whole country is in a state of numbness and denial because it is all too much to take in. It is too much to process." https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/22/magazine/diane-e-meier-interview.html
As a result, Dr. Meier says, "people are trying desperately to make room for one's inner life."
We’ve got two feet in the Before Times. And one foot in the not-yet-here world. We’re betwixt and between. It’s a liminal time.
And that can make us feel unmoored, ungrounded.
The good news is that there is an almost infinite number of ways to make room for our inner lives. Natalie Goldberg, the writer, recently did two shows with Melanie in which she talks of haiku as a way, a path, a spiritual discipline.
Techniques for exploring beyond the bounds of performative “work” are as varied as there are people.
The reasons for doing exploring our inner lives are compelling, indeed.
For the truth is that we aren’t gonna take whatever money we’ve earned or jewelry we love or cars or houses with us when we die.
But we’re here now, breathing. Feeling. In community with others, whether we’re in person or not.
We’re still here. Might that be enough meaning and purpose?
Here’s a poem from the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, titled Caminante, No Hay Camino, Traveler, There is no Road/There is no Way.
Traveler, your footprints
are the only road, nothing else.
Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
As you walk, you make your own road,
and when you look back
you see the path
you will never travel again.
Traveler, there is no road;
only a ship's wake on the sea.
Finally, this, from e.e. cummings, entitled 53
may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know …
Can astrology help us ease fear and anxiety and learn how to be happy? Can Psychoastrology help us understand the subconscious patterns that hold us hostage? What is a "core wound"?
These questions, and many more, are answered in this engaging conversation with Lisa Tahir, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) for over 20 years, an inventor with a US patent, EMDR Level I, and Reiki Level II practitioner, and Certified Thought Coach.
Lisa's also the founder of Psychoastrology® and author of The Chiron Effect: Healing Our Core Wounds through Astrology, Empathy, and Self-Forgiveness, which has been endorsed by His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama.
Lisa talks about her own fears of publically sharing herself, as well as the challenges she faced in finding and articulating her own voice.
As she writes, "oftentimes, the greatest things we have to contribute to this world will only manifest if we are willing to live outside the box of what we think is possible.”
The book's dedication reads, in part:
" ... to those of you who are learning the value of being happy over being right, and those who view missteps and challenges as opportunities to become a more evolved and happier version of themselves, and those who have chosen to rise from the dark nights of their souls with a beautifully scarred yet open heart … ."
This is a fast-paced episode, rich with thought-provoking ideas for you to ponder.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” -Carl Jung
“The root causes of your wounding can become the source of your greatest healing and empowerment.” -Lisa Tahir
Everything mindfulness is the topic of this episode. The beloved mindful meditation / mindful working / mindful loving / mindful living teacher, Michelle DuVal, is in the virtual studio.
Michelle is the director of The Mindful Center in Albuquerque, the leading provider of mindfulness training in the Southwest.
She offers ongoing training in MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), has online courses and meditations, and facilitates retreats at Ghost Ranch, in Abiquiu, NM.
In this episode, Michelle and Melanie talk about the hunger for mindful awareness, how to meet what's happening with awareness, and much more.
Michelle shares her wisdom and experience in this fun, contemplative, light-hearted show.
"Stress is a form of holding on, peace is a form of letting go." Michelle DuVal
Cynthia Jurs is a remarkable woman. She's a Buddhist teacher, trained by the beloved Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. A practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism. A Lama, initiated in Nepal, in recognition of her many years of dharma practice and dedication to the work of global healing through the Earth Treasure Vases.
She founded Alliance for the Earth and is the Executive Director of the Earth Treasure Vase Global Healing Project.
Finally, Cynthia is the guiding teacher at the Gaia Mandala Sangha in Santa Fe, where she's been leading meditation groups, retreats, and pilgrimages offering a unique blend of engaged Buddhism and sacred activism.
In this episode, Cynthia shares insights about the goddess Tara, Gaia -- Mother Earth -- and how to recognize a sacred calling.
In the stunning New York Times bestselling book Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Katharine May writes that wintering is "the active acceptance of sadness. It is the practice of allowing ourselves to feel it as a need. It is the courage to stare down the worst parts of our experience and to commit to healing them the best we can.”
In her acknowledgment of sadness and unhappiness, Katharine opens the door to the possibility of healing from those inevitable dark times when we don't think we can bear more suffering.
Yes, suffering is part of being alive. Yes, there is hope. And choice about how we respond to those inevitable times.
Part of what helps us get better at navigating metaphorical winter includes doing the "deeply unfashionable things [of] — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — [it's] a radical act now, but it is essential."
Melanie was thrilled to find out that not only is Katharine May a great writer, she's also a fantastic guest!
There's lots of laughter, lots of transparency, and lots of deep, well-lived experience in this episode.
We're beginning to wake up, to emerge from the darkness of the literal winter, as well as the “wintering” we’ve had to endure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Not quite ready, though. nature needs us to be mindful and intentional about how quickly we emerge.
Just this morning, I saw another reminder on Facebook about not clearing out old leaves and dead-looking plant stems from our gardens until the temperature is consistently over 50 degrees. ‘Cause, who knew? butterflies and bees and other pollinators overwinter in those places.
If I clear out the dead-looking stuff in the garden too soon, some very important members of our ecosystem get lost in the process.
The same with beginning to re-emerge from the past pandemic hell year. A small percentage of folks have gotten fully vaccinated; many more have received their first shot. And millions have yet to get any.
Those who've received vaccinations must hold onto their impatience for freedom, and continue wearing good masks and socially distancing so that the rest of the human ecosystem can catch up.
As the literal winter is ending in the northern hemisphere, so too the metaphorical wintering caused by pandemic lockdowns. This metaphorical wintering is an energetic, emotional, and psychological wintering.
The idea comes from a beautiful book written by Katherine May, called Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times.
Here’s how she describes it:
"Wintering is a season in the cold. It is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, side-lined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider. Perhaps it results from an illness or a life event such as a bereavement or the birth of a child; perhaps it comes from a humiliation or failure. Perhaps you’re in a period of transition and have temporarily fallen between two worlds. … . However it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely, and deeply painful."
Don’t you think it’s true that we’ve all been wintering? And that, while some of us may be emerging, many others are not.
We haven’t really begun to tally our losses, or to grieve what’s been lost — a statement that may be true for both our lives, as well as this pandemic year.
One of the things that helps me so much is being reminded of the beauty that’s everywhere. It’s something that Katherine’s book is rich with, both in her writing, as well as the things she writes about, such as a sleeping dormouse.
If you can, please read or listen to her book.
In the meantime, you can listen to Part 1 of the interview we did together (Part 2 airs next week).
We are in the midst of a collective transformation that affects each one of us. As Katherine writes:
“Transformation is the business of winter. In Gaelic mythology, the hag deity known as the Cailleach takes human form at Samhain to run the winter months, bring with her winds and wild weather. … . The Cailleach is thought to be the mother of the gods, the gruff, cold originator of all things. … . … The Cilleach offers us a cyclical metaphor for life, one in which the energies of spring arrive again and again, nurtured by the deep retreat of winter. We are no longer accustomed to thinking in this way. Instead we are in the habit of imagining our lives to be linear, a long march from birth to death in which we mass our powers, only to surrender them again, all the while slowly losing our youthful beauty. This is a brutal untruth.”
We can honor the cyclical nature of life — leave the garden looking scraggly until the hibernating pollinators are awake and getting on with it, wear a mask and social distance until everyone has gotten vaccines, and breathe into and be with our personal winterings.
In doing so, we're alive to the great wonder of being human.
sadness, depression, illness, happiness, nature, mindfulness
We know that grief, fear, and hardship are hitting millions of people, both at home and around the world. We know it’s not going to magically get better all of a sudden. No one has a cosmic magic wand with which to sprinkle glistening fairy dust over our crown chakras and clear the dark, heavy energy of all that’s accumulated as a species since humans have been walking upright.
So then … how do we deal? How do we get through the day?
Melanie takes a look at the evidence-based solutions for surviving a crisis through the lens of disaster and trauma psychology.
From a recent Scientific American article, "Megan Hosey, a rehabilitation psychologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, says that 'most of us … "will be able to adapt and recover." To do so, however, we will need to be flexible, open and honest with ourselves and learn how to take things one day at a time.'"*
It turns out that there are five top psychological needs common to everyone in a crisis. William Garmoe, a neuropsychologist, has researched important psychological needs people have in the midst of a disaster. Those “top five are to feel safe, calm, self-efficacious, socially connected and hopeful. When people engage in activities that benefit others, they may be able to check off three of those needs — feeling more useful, [being more] connected and hopeful about the future.”*
Listen in as Melanie shares research findings and how-to-cope ideas when dealing with a disaster such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Please don’t imagine that my decade of writing practice and Zen meditation have silenced or fully pacified the angry self-critics in my head. That’s not how things work. I’m just much better at managing those voices.” Natalie Goldbert, Three Simple Lines
Beloved New Mexico author, teacher, and Zen Buddhist practitioner Natalie Goldberg is back for the second of two episodes.
Natalie wrote the internationally renowned Writing Down the Bones, published in 1986, and has since published memoirs, essays, poetry, more writing books, a novel, and a notebook.
Her brand-new book, Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku, is the focus.
Natalie and Melanie riff on such things as beauty, staying calm in chaotic times, mindfulness, meditation, writing practice, life and death, spiritual connection ... and yes, so much more.
If you missed the first show with Natalie Goldberg, please download it from Melanie's site here.
This haiku was composed by Natalie:
your lips on mine
"Haiku is a refuge when the world seems chaotic, when you are lost, frightened, tangled, and nothing is clear." Natalie Goldberg, Three Simple Lines
Natalie Goldberg is an author, teacher, and Zen Buddhist practitioner. She wrote the internationally renowned Writing Down the Bones, published in 1986, and has since published memoirs, essays, poetry, more writing books, a novel, and a notebook.
This is the first of two parts, talking with Natalie about her brand-new book, called Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku.
Natalie is such a wonderful teacher that Melanie signed up for the Haiku writing virtual workshop through Upaya Zen Center as a result of this interview.
Melanie shares reflections from a variety of experts, including Winnie the Pooh. “Well,” said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.”
Fantasy travel trips, the psychology of hope, neuroscience, Blue Zones -- all of this, plus Winnie the Pooh! Come listen.
"Millions of people have been traumatized by the political climate of the last few years.
"Millions of people have been traumatized by brutal bureaucracies created to perpetuate systemic poverty, racism, misogyny, ableism, and so much more.
"Millions have been traumatized as children in the families, schools, and/or cultures in which we've lived.
"Millions have been traumatized by the out-of-control Covid-19 pandemic." - Dr. Melanie Harth
Let's acknowledge the truth of the trauma. And then, let's learn to harness our minds to help regulate our emotions, which helps us feel safe.
Which helps us think more clearly, and move into solutions and possibilities.
As National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recited/performed during the Presidential Inauguration, “ … there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
"I’m asking you, my friends, if there’s a part of you that’s ready to stop participating in the insanity that’s become what we in this country believe is important. What is true for you at this point in your life? What matters to you? Who are you helping? Who’s helping you?" - Dr. Melanie Harth
Melanie presents a potpourri of ideas from Jungian depth psychologists to political scientists, and from Geneen Roth to Melanie's thoughts on what a mess we're in, and how we can begin cleaning it up.
Yep, it's a big show. Yep, it works.
Jamie Lerner has a master’s degree in social work from Loyola University, has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for many years, and is a passionate amateur equestrian rider on the AA horse show circuit.
Also a world traveler, Jamie has explored a wide variety of spiritual healing modalities.
And she's the co-author of the book “The Ever-Loving Essence of You”.
Melanie and Jamie take a deep dive down into wellbeing, happiness, inner guidance, and re-creating the greatest relationship of all -- the one we have with ourselves.
Jamie's thoughtful, measured wisdom helps shed light on the inner resources each of us has to live a rich, full life.
“The most important thing to understand is that you have choice: your choice to soar, or your choice to spend the remainder of your life arguing for your limitations.” from The Ever-Loving Essence of You
The artist, Stanford prof, and thought leader Jenny Odell's provocative book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy is the focus of this episode.
Odell's book is a provocative take on taking ourselves back.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, was named one of the best books of the year by Time, The New Yorker, NPR, Vulture, Fortune, Boing Boing, and was one of President Obama’s Favorite Books of 2019.
Melanie shares writings from the book, along with her own observations and thoughts and personal stories.
When we can wield our attention in a more intentional way, we have agency over our choices, our fears, our subconscious biases, and outmoded beliefs about how the world works. If this pandemic has done nothing else, it’s demonstrating just how out of control we are about how the world is supposed to work.
Which gives us the space, the incentive even, to begin forging better pathways forward.
As Odell writes: “Simple awareness is the seed of responsibility.”