Sunday, May 13, 2012

No-Self Improvement

A lot of my teaching derives from a combination of  Zen training,  graduate studies and practice of psychotherapy, and  training and teaching of mindfulness-based stress reduction.  And of course, there is my own endlessly repeating life experience of loss and survival.   A central theme for me has been to stay simple -- to work with what arises in the mind, heart and body, and avoid getting caught up in ideas, so common in our culture, of improving the self.   Among the countless books and methods that seek to instruct us in having a better life, there is a small group of guides that describe this simple way of being.  It really is possible to stay with what arises, to meet, open to, and create space around whatever it is,  and then to watch transformation occur and/or find a way to actively meet our situation.

Three books that I've been enjoying lately come from different spiritual traditions, but all have this same theme -- the simple power and naturally transformational quality of  meeting what is.  One is an old favorite, Radical Acceptance, by Tara Brach.  Another has been the most exciting book I've come across is some time:  Soul without Shame, by Byron Brown, a guide to working with your inner judge.  (And come on, you know you have one -- we all do.)  And the most recent book is a a lovely little guide called The Misleading Mind: How We Create Our Own Problems and How Buddhist Psychology Can Help Us Solve Them, by Karuna Clayton.

However you decide to become what you already are, to realize your Buddha nature, there's no time like the present to start.


  1. And the Misleading Mind is on kindle. I take great comfort when things come together.
    I am always amazed how you and David start from so different points, but always seem to finish in the same spot.
    I am eternally grateful to you both.

  2. From someone who has spent lots of money on self-improvement books that have since become yard sale materials...I appreciate these words of wisdom, Melissa and book recommendations. Reminding ourselves not to judge ourselves so a key to enjoying the time we have.

  3. I admit, I have not been on this web page in a long time... however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues. Self Improvement