Forget about strokes for a while

It’s mid-May and I already can’t stop thinking about . For many parents, myself included, summer is when we try to help our children learn to swim. I’ve taught many children and adults who received bad or traumatizing instruction so I thought I’d share the three most important lessons to help your child swim and love the water (these don’t always go together).

1. It’s Not about the Stroke (at First)

Learning how to swim front crawl, breaststroke, or doggy paddle, for that matter, comes after being comfortable in the water. I’ve seen countless parents and teachers try to push a scared kid through learning the front crawl…

Practicing joy in difficulty

I have a genuinely cheerful friend who, as far as I know, coined the term, “joy-ging,” to describe her combination of running, dancing, and spontaneous movement. This kind of joy — possible while sweating and heaving up a hill — is so different than how joy has been marketed to us all these years.

Think of a commercial for a diamond ring and how the woman’s face lights up when she sees the rock. Or a Best Buy ad: look at Dad, barely sentient on the couch, reveling in football on a big screen TV. Not that these people (actors)…

Anger, addiction, and the work of healing.

Just a reminder that Your Body Is Your Practice is rolling again, Mondays at 8 PM.

This week, I’m excited to introduce you to Ralph de la Rosa, a trauma-focused psychotherapist, seasoned meditation instructor, and the recent author of Don’t Tell Me to Relax: Emotional Resilience in the Age of Rage, Feels, and Freak-Outs .

I talked with Ralph about his unconventional views on dealing with strong emotions and how he has connected his psychotherapeutic training with Buddhism to help people suffering from childhood trauma, anxiety, depression, and addiction issues (among others).

You can listen to the 25-minute interview above…

A brief case for patience

The busier I get, the less patience I have for the learning curve of others. On one of these packed afternoons, I felt so annoyed because my older daughter couldn’t figure out how to work the speed dial after I already showed her one time!

[Sigh] How often I structure my days to depend on every single thing working out, the first time.

But meditation and the Alexander Technique and parenting teaches that life builds towards something better when we stop being so results-oriented. …

What if meditation felt natural?

Imagine having a practice that began with spaciousness and appreciation. There is a popular narrative that after a long hard struggle we may find a peacefulness in meditation. But the secret of meditation experts like Thich Nhat Hanh or Chogyam Trungpa is that they teach us to start with an attitude of kindness. If we don’t bring aggression into our meditation practice with unreasonable expectations then it’s unlikely to become a war.

I gave this talk, “Your Body Is Your Practice,” a few weeks ago at an event hosted by the New York Shambhala Meditation…

And the monk who empowered me.

Join me tomorrow night, Tuesday, for a public talk titled, “ Your Body Is Your Practice ,” hosted by the Shambhala Center of NYC.

The first person to teach me meditation was a towering Australian named Thubten Gyatso. He was living in Mongolia, as I was in the spring of 2003, and he just happened to open the door at the Federation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) when I came knocking one afternoon. He was wearing the crimson and gold robes of a Buddhist monk and the sight of his bare arms took me back. I was…

Instructions for a 12–15 minute session

[Listen to a guided audio version]

Find a Place: Depending on how many people are home on any day, I meditate either in my kids’ room, which is quiet and large (and not drafty), or in my wee office. In olden days, I would practice meditation for a minimum of 25–30 minutes but at this season of peak parenting, I often sit about 12–15 minutes in the mid-morning once the flurry of breakfast and getting people dressed has subsided.

Set a Timer: After the usual procrastinating has run its course, I set a timer on one of the various surveillance…

In case you weren’t on a cross-country flight in the early 2000’s, here’s the plot of the movie Maid in Manhattan: J. Lo is a maid with movie star looks toiling at a Waldorf-Astoria type hotel who gets onto senatorial candidate Ralph Fiennes’ gold-plated radar despite her low socioeconomic status or, perhaps, because of it (Fiennes says with a surprised grin, “No woman ever speaks like that to me!”). The movie begins as a comedy of mistaken identity and resolves itself with J. Lo and her son being helicoptered out of poverty’s narrow choices into a wide-open life with Fiennes.

And what a truce with pain feels like.

I’ve been in pain the last several days. The phrase “ in pain” relays the immersive experience of it, as if you were in an aquarium tank going in circles. Currently, the muscles up around my spine feel like a twisted geyser and my head seems to be pulling to the right.

Without quite realizing it, I’ve been practicing the ‘Getting Through It’ mentality. You know, you’re walking around kind of on fire and yet you have to keep calm and complete the day’s itinerary. I get like this sometimes. My world narrows to a long, darkened hallway and there…

A Four-year-old’s Perspective on Illness

Last week, I discovered this handwritten message that had been taken off the wall of my daughter’s Pre-K classroom. My daughter had said these words during a classroom meeting when her teacher wanted to know why a “Doggy” game had led to so much arguing and crying.

As far as the game, I think you get the idea: the kids take turns acting like a dog, crawling on the floor, rolling over, barking, and sometimes being sick and needing to be taken care of. To be an “owner” was more responsibility. …

Dan Cayer

Meditation + Alexander Technique teacher. Author of “Don’t Get Better,” forthcoming guide to sanity, humor, and wisdom during illness.

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