Systems thinking and economic indicators

I’ve been reading about Internal Family Systems (IFS) again recently, and so I’ve been freshly re-exposed to that systems thinking way of seeing. Viewing our behaviors and reactions as interdependent/interwoven, as opposed to as independent symptoms that can be individually targeted and “fixed.” For instance, the book  No Bad Parts  includes a case study that illustrates how one woman’s suicidal, manic, sleepy/dissociated, and abused parts are all occurring in relationship to one another. It can be easy or tempting to pathologize various parts, but targeting one part without an understanding of the reality it exists in—or that it perceives it exists in—can lead to an increased sense of threat and further spiraling, as the system bounces back even more intensely. In recent circling contexts, I’ve also been engaging in systems thinking in the form of the concept of leading and lagging economic indicators. “A leading indicator is an economic factor that tends to change before the economy

What I mean by modulo

This is an idea that I use often but don't express, because it's a little technical. However, I'm also really excited I am about it, so I'll try to explain it in this blog post. In math, modulo—or "mod"—is an operation that gives the remainder when one integer is divided by another.  In other words, a (mod n)  =  b , means that  when you divide a by n , the remainder is  b . This can also be stated as a and b are the same—except for differences accounted for or explained by n . So for example,  5 mod 2 = 1  and   2 mod 5 = 2 .  The shape of this operation is taking something out and looking at what's left. The question that I am asking myself when I try to "mod" something out of my experience is "What is there other than this?," and because the answer is always "a lot," I employ several different strategies for quantifying the a lot, such as looking for the holding (i.e., "what's my relationship to this?"), pr

The shadow of owning your experience

Owning your experience is one of Circling Europe's Five Principles of Circling . To me, owning my experience is a way that I can continuously practice recognizing that my experiences are a projection of my own mind. While this is just one lens we can use to interpret the world, it can often result in less suffering than the lens of blaming others or putting responsibility onto them. However, like any other principle, when "owning your experience" is taken as absolute dogma, we can start to more clearly notice its shadow. (cf. Alexandre Dumas: "All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.") The ugly part of ownership that I've observed in myself and many others is that in trying to own our experience, we inadvertently end up reinforcing our own ideas of who we are, as well as a sense of being separate from and invulnerable to others. The shape of this pattern is similar to how, in practicing equanimity, we can accidentally suppress or repress our feeling

[Video] post-month of circling in Europe update


[Video] post-MAPLE residency life update!


Breaking patterns and mindfulness

I've become more aware of a phenomenon that I've begun to think of as "the gravity of patterns." (And when I say patterns I'm referring to the patterns of how we relate to ourselves and the world, which manifests in all sorts of "internal"- and "external"-facing behaviors.) There's a way in which we create the relationships and circumstances that we come to expect, or habituate ourselves to, and this is the force—gravity—that draws others in. And in a sense, makes others complicit in our views of reality. To give a slightly more obvious example, in the past I've self-identified as being powerless and untrustworthy. This led to behaviors like bulldozing my own preferences and not setting boundaries, and also giving others the authority and power to "solve" my own problems. From the other side, this kind of pattern is very tricky, because its gravity pulls you towards giving the other person what they want, and yet what they wan

Mindfulness and investigation

In a conversation I had with my friend Glen , I was struck by how he described mindfulness as a good friend. For me and my patterns (of perfectionism and self-hate), that kind of framing of mindfulness was just so different and novel that it left an impression on me. And in the most recent silent meditation retreat I sat, I was able to explore that perspective: of mindfulness (i.e., awareness) as something that is caring rather than a state that means I’m failing if I’m not constantly in. 😂 What I found was that mindfulness can be seen as a tool, rather than an end in and of itself. And in particular, mindfulness was the tool that allowed me to investigate   karma. Karma refers to the law of cause and effect, which is something you can directly observe with enough mindfulness. Somehow, I found the investigation of karma to be exhilarating. I saw somehow because “exhilarating” may be a surprising way to think of someone’s experience on retreat. But it was! It was actually amazing to wi

Important questions I've asked in my life

I've been reflecting recently on how I started on my spiritual path. During a sit last week, the first two of these questions came back to me, with the rest flooding in shortly afterwards. Somehow I feel that all of them are deeply connected to my path. And I am sharing them because I think that they say something important about who I am and the kind of life I've lived so far.  In the 4th grade, I asked, "What is happiness?" At the time, I was living with my father, step-mother, baby half-sister, and paternal grandparents in Baton Rouge. We were living in a 3-bedroom house in the suburbs. The small backyard was full of Chinese vegetables, which my grandparents had planted (they were farmers). The house was crowded and dirty, in my memory. I slept over at my friends' houses frequently and found a lot of joy in that. When I was in middle school, I asked, "What does love mean?" This was after I moved to Charlotte, NC, to live with my mother, step-father,

Reframing lose-lose situations

Reality is objective, but how we interpret it is our subjective experience, and that governs the way we live our lives. A pattern that I've been loosening over these last few months is the pattern of interpreting reality in the way that gives me the least credit, the least benefit of the doubt. Another way to say this is that I habitually create lose-lose situations for myself.  For instance, I offered to help my friend change her fitted sheet after she hurt her neck. However, when the time came, I was dreading doing the task. I did it anyways, but felt bad that the only reason why I was doing it was because I had committed to doing it, rather than also out of a feeling of goodwill and generosity in the moment. I then realized that I was doing "this thing" again—the reality is that I had agreed to help, and then didn't want to help. If I actually didn't help (reneged on my commitment), I definitely would have felt bad about that. But even with what did happen—that

No man steps in the same river twice

I love this quote, and here is the full version: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man” (Heraclitus). In the past, I fixated on the “[for] he’s not the same man” part of the quote. I thought, every time I face a challenge, I’m benefiting from all the past work I’ve done and all the experiences I’ve had. Each moment, a new me is born, and this is the me that engages with the world anew.  More recently, the “for it’s not the same river” bit has become more salient to me. As I wrote in my ( senior thesis ) solo show, “ I thought I found myself over my gap year, I thought I had grown self-confidence, and had learned how to love myself. It’s funny which lessons you have to relearn over and over. Life is so weird, and beautiful like that.” 💕 What those lines don’t capture is how frustrating it feels to struggle with the same thing, over and over again.  But actually, what I realized, and what Heraclitus’s quote is pointing

[Video] post-monastic apprenticeship video diary


On binge eating and yin-yang energies

tw: mentions of disordered eating I’ve struggled with binge eating behaviors for a long time, knowingly since I was in college, but likely for almost all of my life, unknowingly. I remember when I was a kid, my mom bought me a bag of sour gummy worms, and when we got home, she put it in a cabinet where I theoretically wouldn’t be able to access it. But one day when I was alone, I climbed on a chair to open the cabinet and ended up demolishing that bag after doing that multiple times throughout the day. That was way too many sour gummy worms for my stomach and body to handle, even as a kid! More recently, I’ve been aware of how I use binge eating to self soothe—as a type of unhealthy coping mechanism that in the process of doing it, causes other short- and long-term discomforts to arise. Notably, I feel like it will be very difficult for me to deepen my self-love and self-trust if I maintain this self-sabotaging pattern. During the February silent meditation retreat here at MAPLE, I had