Category Archives: Thoughts

Words and Meanings and Our Work

It becomes very difficult indeed to use words to get across an idea to another person, because each of us attributes a meaning to each word that is personal to us. Our meanings don’t quite match since we are all different from each other in some ways, though we are the same in other ways. And so it is with the meanings of words.

Although the meanings we are trying to convey to each other don’t quite match we can get close, or at least make an attempt to get close. Transferring our meanings for words is like trying to catch butterflies. We can run around with a net, but the net has to be bigger than the butterfly. That’s what meaning is. It’s bigger than, so we need a whole net full of words surrounding the meaning, to try and catch the meaning.

We can use mindfulness to get away from our automaticity and be present for another person, but there is a dichotomy in this process: we are dependent on our automaticity. We are dependent on the organ that is our brain, and we have to somehow transform that dependency and get outside the limits of that.

Information transfer is relatively easy, but the capture of knowledge is something else. Humans everywhere have developed cultural ways to transfer knowledge. We started transferring information orally. Through stories and personal narrative people shared their life experience but that information had to be worked upon to become part of a lived experience.

At my age I can talk about the information that has come my way in my life, and at this stage I have a lot more memories and stored information than someone who is twenty. Condensing my lived experience into words, though, and then saying, “Now you know what I know” is at best only an attempt at sharing my knowledge.

Although I encounter many challenges when I attempt to share what I’ve learned with people who want to find another way to raise their kids, sometimes I am able to reach them and they are able to understand what raising kids actually means. Then we both triumph; I get to share the meaning of my work, and their capacity to raise their kids in a mindful way expands.

We are an integrated brain system

The body is connected to itself.  And although all of the cells that make up our body are distinct from each other, when our consciousness comes into play, all of the parts cooperate.

This gives rise to another way to think about the brain. On a micro scale, all of the body’s cells, all of its parts, are interconnected. The big toe is actually part of the brain. The toe supports our balance, which allows mobility, and in this way the big toe allows our brain to get around.

Every one of our body’s structures serve the brain in one way or another.

Stepping out from this, we are group animals, each with an individual brain, which in attachment mode serves to support other individual brains.

On a macro scale, when we step further out we can view our  society as an integrated brain system.


Reality is an Agreement

Claudius Ptolemy, an astronomer who lived in Rome about 100 AD asserted that the sun orbited the earth. It was logical to presume the sun was orbiting the earth, since the sun seemed to arrive in the morning and leave at night, return the next day and leave that night.

Many centuries after Ptolemy’s model was formulated, Polish mathematician and astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus revealed a different way of seeing things, a different way of perceiving consciousness.

In 1543 he introduced the idea that the sun was the centre of the solar system. At the time Copernicus’ sun-centred theory was considered radical thought that went unproven until science eventually had the tools to confirm his reality.

Although centuries ago it was commonplace to hold the belief that the sun orbited the earth, no one asserts that old reality now.

The story of the shift from the belief of an earth-centred to sun-centred universe is an example of the summation over time of our experiences. Even culturally, when we accept new and contradictory information, the old reality or program of thought is pruned away.

Summing Human Experience

The possibility of the brain appears limitless.

In actual fact, the structure of our brain depends on summation of the brain’s information.

In the same way that our individual brains sum up, the enormous mass of information makes it necessary to sum up human experience as well.

Because we have so many different experiences, the information that is summed differs widely across different groups, which creates cultures.

When the information is summed and edited in a group, it reinforces the culture, and enables individual and collective brains to retain evolutionary knowledge to survive adversity from wars, clashes, poverty, and famine.

Reality is an agreement. It is what people say it is.

Although we may think our particular group’s consensus is reality, this belief contributes to the silly argument that one culture has more validity than another.


“Yes” and “No”

We want to be close but we know how dangerous it is to be close. In the balance between being connected and being separated, we put up boundaries to maintain separation; because when we offer love and support the other has the option to say they don’t want it.

We are two separate entities in the world, and we know losing the other is going to hurt. When we are bound to another, if they die, we die. Survival demands that we separate.

We can all run away from each other, or we can run towards and try to console each other.

At times we make up for lost years spent apart, and put out the flame of pain and separation through simply setting it aside. A little bit of joy can change everything.

When we have a  balance of pain and joy, the pain that comes along is not overwhelming. It doesn’t mean that we avoid the pain, but the affect becomes softer. Perhaps we return to someone we have lost and suddenly discover all of the things we had with them, and notice that those things still exist. We still have them. We may have lost the person but we have pieces of joy inside us as we remember the past, and we soothe ourselves with that joy.

It is magical how this structure comes together, and we see it happen around great pain, during periods of separation, or in times of danger.

In many cultures, funerals are safe places to express affection we have for the departed that we may have been afraid to fully express in life in the danger of being close. In that safety we say, “Yes”.

Consolation springs out of our shared experience, and everyone takes on a share of the pain.

Saying “No”


“No” is a functional word in relationship, not a dysfunctional one.

Most of the time the exchange of “No” is disguised by automatic behaviour patterns from childhood and infancy, wherein we learn how not to be offensive to others when we are the one who says, “No.”

Tracing that back to where it’s an actual “No” – “No, I’m not going to do that” – becomes disguisable. We ask:  “Do you want to go to the movies?” And the other person says, “That sounds like a good idea.” The next question is, “What movie shall we go to?” Negotiating the movie means that someone has to say, “No, I don’t want to go to that movie.”

We have many ways of avoiding. For instance, we might say, “I would prefer…” But when we say, “No”, our message is that we are a separate person with separate attachment needs.

This gets confusing when we are dealing with children. We say “no” to kids without the subtlety, because they have to learn how to create reciprocal relationships with other people. Children just want what they want. We ask them, “Do you want to share your toys?” They say, “No,” and we say, “I think you should. There’s a benefit to sharing your toys.” As one of the children refuses to share, the other child cries. Mom and Dad intervene, and the event becomes an avoidance of the issue: we distract one of the children and give them something else so they don’t fight for the toys.

Learning to say, “No” is about peeling the onion of attachment down to the basics of reciprocal behaviour, which is based on appreciation for the other person, and trusting that the relationship is strong enough to allow, “No”.