Could a focus on aging, sickness and death relieve your anxiety?

The teachings of the Buddha are countercultural in the most radical ways, and there is no better example of this than the teaching known in Buddhism as the Five Reflections. Here they are in a form that I hope makes them clear:

This body is of the nature to age; so it’s only natural for me to age.

This body is of the nature to sicken; so it’s natural that I get sick sometimes.

This body is of the nature to die; so it’s natural that what I think…


But if you have, you’re not wrong

Tired woman, face down on bed, looking through half-open eyes toward the viewer.

A year into the pandemic, I posted an article in response to an AoE prompt about burnout. That article, I Haven’t Burned Out Despite 1000s of Trauma Clients, looked at one specific thing that can help a therapist prevent burnout. It got pretty good feedback. One colleague especially liked the fact that it spoke to a way of working that helps prevent burnout, rather than being another article about what to do after you’ve already burned out.

So while I still work that way, and I stand by the original article, I want to say very clearly that my way…


To find our solution, we must first see the problem

We’ve looked at the Buddha’s Four Nobles Truths, with a promise to explore his Eightfold Path in some detail. Here, we begin with an explanation of the beginning of the Path, Right View. Sometimes people prefer the phrase “Wise View” to avoid causing bristle. But since we are talking about the direction of our lives, I’m sticking with the word “Right.” I’m using the word not in terms of opinions or judgments, but in terms of right or wrong direction. When you have been walking in the woods for a…


Humans 101

Many of us neglect our own needs to avoid seeming self-centered — and then we wonder why we’re so unhappy

Portrait of a person—wearing a bob haircut, big dark sunglasses, and an orange knitted sweater—looking to the left side of the image in a very dark space. Reflected in the sunglasses is an open window showing a sliver of blue sky on each lens.

In my early twenties, the subject of “selfishness” came up frequently in my therapist’s office — specifically, my fear of being selfish. In my attempts to avoid selfishness, I was living in its opposite — and equally self-centered — extreme: self-negation.

My therapist explained it like a thermometer: Boiling hot was selfishness. Freezing cold was self-negation. And somewhere in between, right around the normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees, is a self-caring and responsible zone (which involves moving through a challenging zone of self-doubt that lies between 98.6 and ice).

“I feel like you’re freezing to death. I’m trying to…


There’s power in being a supporting actor

Temperamentally and statistically speaking, I’m a prime candidate for burnout even at the best of times. A serious child in a family that dealt with various mental illnesses and addictions, I was reading This Stranger My Son in the fourth grade. I was not unique among future therapists. A woman I once interviewed to work in a rehab told me she read The Fifty-Minute Hour at around the same age.

By the time I was in high school, I was beginning to think happiness was not for me. I believed that for me to be happy, everyone I cared about…


The Metta Sutta as the heart of nonviolent communication

When we take the traditional Five Precepts as part of a dedicated Dharma practice, we are first clearing our path of what is harmful. This is why the precepts are voiced in terms of what we don’t want to do. They provide the most basic description of a person committed to living as a human being in this realm: such a person lays a foundation for that by abstaining from five things — murder, theft, rape, lies, and intoxication. …


Let’s assume — for the moment — that you want to be free

Earlier this month I enjoyed a rich couple of days with ministerial students who were together for their first in-person retreat at Heartwood Refuge in North Carolina. These were 25 or so people — a beautiful array of humanity wearing a variety of genders, ages, races, from various parts of the country and levels of experience in Dharma practice. Some have been practicing for decades, including a few who’ve been teaching meditation for a number of years. …


Allowing is a dance

I first posted this article on my own website three years ago, when colleague Karen Moran and I were leading a class in Mindful Parenting. The framework for the class was built on the “5 A’s” of mindful loving — Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection and Allowing — introduced by Dave Richo in his book How to Be an Adult in Relationships. This is the 5th of five.

The fifth aspect of mindful loving, and therefore mindful parenting, is Allowing. By this we mean allowing appropriate privacy and space, of course. But we also mean leaving physical…


Touch has never been more important

I first posted this article on my own website three years ago this month, back when colleague Karen Moran and I were leading a class in Mindful Parenting. The framework for the class was built on the “5 A’s” of mindful loving — Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection and Allowing — introduced by Dave Richo in his book How to Be an Adult in Relationships. This installment in the series feels especially poignant in 2021.

Affection is how we experience true belonging

The fourth of the five aspects of mindful loving is Affection. Relative to…


A “just-because” kind of love

I first posted this article on my own website three years ago this month, back when colleague Karen Moran and I were leading a class in Mindful Parenting. The framework for the class was built on the “5 A’s” of mindful loving — Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection and Allowing — introduced by Dave Richo in his book How to Be an Adult in Relationships.

When love is examined through the prism of mindfulness according to Dave Richo, the third color of its 5-part rainbow is Appreciation.

In the past few weeks our Mindful Parenting group…

Christine Bates

She/Her ~ Buddhist Minister at Deep South Dharma. Brainspotting Professional. Writer. All about Practice.

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