Self Help

Bouncing Back - Linda Graham, Mft

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 95 min read

The book Bouncing Back by Linda Graham has received widespread praise from experts in the fields of psychology, mindfulness, and neuroscience. They highlight several key strengths:

  1. It integrates insights from neuroscience, psychology, wisdom traditions and mindfulness practices. This provides a comprehensive perspective on resilience and overcoming adversity.

  2. It offers practical advice and exercises for developing resilience and rewiring your brain. The practices are accessible and helpful for dealing with everyday stresses and challenges.

  3. It provides encouragement and inspires confidence in the reader’s ability to change and grow. The tone is compassionate, caring and hopeful.

  4. It explores the psychological and neurological dynamics behind resilience in an in-depth yet easy-to-understand manner. This helps readers gain insight into their patterns of responses.

  5. It incorporates timeless wisdom and teachings on healing, growth and flourishing. The perspectives span from ancient philosophies to cutting-edge science.

  6. The practices and tools can benefit people from all walks of life. The lessons apply to individuals, relationships, communities and society as a whole.

  7. It is written in a very engaging, imaginative style that makes learning and personal development an enjoyable process. The concepts come across as a conversation with a wise friend.

In summary, Bouncing Back is a comprehensive, inspirational and highly practical guide to cultivating emotional resilience and thriving in the face of life’s challenges. It comes highly recommended by leading experts and promises to be an invaluable resource for therapists, teachers and general readers alike.

  • Resilience refers to the ability to bounce back from difficulties, setbacks, trauma.

  • Our brains are constantly changing and adapting based on life experiences, relationships, behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs. This is known as neuroplasticity.

  • Early childhood experiences shape the development of neural pathways in the brain that establish our tendencies to be either resilient or vulnerable in the face of adversity.

  • The good news is we can rewire our brains for greater resilience and well-being through mindfulness, empathy, positive emotions, relational intelligence, somatic intelligence, and emotional intelligence.

  • Key practices include cultivating self-awareness, self-compassion, gratitude, bonding and belonging, inner security, relational skills, balance and flexibility.

  • We can overcome adversity and thrive by nurturing wisdom and discernment, reflecting on life’s meanings, and focusing beyond ourselves.

  • By developing greater resilience in ourselves, we can build a more just, compassionate and sustainable world. Resilience starts from within but ripples out.

That covers the essence and arc of the concepts and practices covered in the book for rewiring one’s brain and recovering resilience. Please let me know if you would like me to explain anything in the summary in more depth.

  • Life inevitably brings difficult and traumatic experiences as well as mundane frustrations and stressors.
  • How hard these life events hit us and how quickly we recover depends on three factors: the intensity of the challenges, our vulnerabilities, and our compensating resources.
  • We all have vulnerabilities, but we can strengthen them over time by developing resilience - the ability to adaptively respond to difficulties.
  • Resilience allows us to cope with unwanted life changes and setbacks. It helps us navigate stresses and recover from trauma.
  • Resilience is an innate capacity in the brain that we can rewire and strengthen. It involves resources like mindfulness, self-compassion, flexibility, and positive emotions.
  • The author shares an example of resilience in action from her client Deborah. Deborah skillfully navigated several stressful life events in one day, including memories of past trauma resurfacing. With the support of a friend, she was able to expand her awareness, access her inner strengths, find calm, and feel gratitude.
  • Most people face internal stresses daily and serious challenges to resilience at some point. Developing resilience helps us cope with life’s difficulties.

The key message is that life brings hardships, but we have an innate capacity for resilience that we can strengthen. Resilience allows us to skillfully navigate challenges, recover from setbacks, and adapt to unwanted changes. Though life can throw us off balance, developing resilience helps us find our footing again.

• Humans have innate capacities for resilience that are hard-wired into us by evolution. However, how well these capacities develop depends on our life experiences and how those shape our brain. Whether we recover well from difficulties or not depends on learned patterns of responding to events, which become deeply ingrained in our neural circuits early on.

• Neuroscience has only recently started to understand how to radically rewire these neural circuits and restructure brain functioning to increase resilience. New technologies allow us to observe brain functioning, but applying neuroscientific findings to real-life situations is still developing. Daily discoveries are still being made, leading to contradictions and controversies. However, it is clear we can learn to become more resilient by rewiring learned coping patterns.

• The author draws on neuroscience, psychotherapy, meditation, and work with clients. The book presents conditioning, which shapes how we learn resilience initially, and neuroplasticity, which allows rewiring. It teaches the five Cs of resilience: calmness, clarity, connection, competence, and courage.

• Part 1 explains how early experiences shape the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s resilience center. Understanding brain functioning helps change it. Part 2 teaches self-directed neuroplasticity using mindfulness and empathy to rewire coping strategies. Parts 3-7 have experiential exercises to build skills and rewire the brain, with explanations of the neuroscience.

• The author has seen people rewire their brains and become more resilient. The tools and techniques here, refined through experience, neuroscience, and meditation, help rewire the brain through new experiences and interactions. Many models assume people have resilience, but this book develops it. Part 8 shows what resilience enables: meaning, fulfillment, creativity, productivity, connection, well-being, and compassion. We need to re-envision ourselves and the world.

• In summary, we can learn to bounce back better by consciously rewiring our brain’s learned patterns of coping using new experiences. This book presents tools and techniques for developing resilience by rewiring maladaptive patterns and learning new skills. With practice, we can master the capacities for staying calm, seeing clearly, connecting, calling on competencies, and persevering courageously. Resilience enables us to thrive.

  • Our brains develop resilience through learning from experience. Two key mechanisms are conditioning, which establishes habitual patterns of response, and neuroplasticity, which allows the brain to remain flexible and change those patterns.

  • Much of this development occurs in the prefrontal cortex, the “CEO of resilience,” which guides the encoding of experiences and integrates the work of other brain regions. When development goes well, we build a solid foundation for resilience. But sometimes conditioning produces rigid or dysfunctional patterns that undermine resilience.

  • The brain is a social organ that develops through interactions with other brains. Early interactions stimulate brain growth and the expression of certain genes. The prefrontal cortex develops over 25 years through empathic relationships.

  • We learn our earliest resilience strategies through attachment relationships in infancy. The fear-attachment system drives infants to seek proximity to caregivers in times of distress. Secure attachment relationships build neural foundations for resilience. Insecure attachment can undermine development of the prefrontal cortex and establishment of adaptive coping strategies.

  • Although initial brain wiring depends on early experiences, later healthy relationships can help rewire the brain to strengthen resilience. Understanding how the brain develops resilience helps us forgive ourselves for struggles and gives us tools to deliberately rewire it.

  • Our attachment experiences with caregivers in infancy strongly shape our ability to cope with challenges and recover from difficulties. Secure attachment, where caregivers respond empathically and sensitively to a baby’s needs, leads to the development of resilience.

  • The brain learns patterns of thought and behavior through conditioning. Repeated experiences cause neural pathways to form, stabilizing certain ways of responding to the world. Early attachment experiences are highly conditioning and shape lifelong patterns of coping.

  • Secure attachment conditioning promotes flexibility, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, as well as stability, the ability to remain calm in the face of stress or threat. It leads to confidence in one’s ability to get needs met and solve problems.

  • Interacting with other resilient people continues to shape our coping skills over the lifetime. Resilience is learned socially through relationships, communication, and shared experiences.

  • The prefrontal cortex coordinates resilience by activating the five Cs: staying calm and collected, maintaining clarity of thought, connecting to internal and external resources, being competent to respond in helpful ways, and having confidence in one’s ability to cope. Repeatedly activating these capacities in response to life’s challenges develops them into stable patterns.

  • We can deliberately recondition our neural pathways to strengthen resilience using the brain’s neuroplasticity. Repeatedly practicing strategies like accessing social support, problem-solving, and self-soothing can form new habits of resilient thinking and action. The key is repetition and consistency.

In summary, resilience arises from a lifetime of experiences, particularly early attachment experiences, that condition the brain and shape beliefs and patterns of coping. It is a skill that continues to develop through ongoing learning and practice. Understanding how resilience is built gives us the power to recondition ourselves by practicing strategies for resilient thinking and action.

The experiential exercises in this book help strengthen our ability to cope with challenges and setbacks. By drawing on past experiences of persevering through difficulties, we can tap into that same courage and determination now.

Our brains naturally become conditioned to respond in habitual ways, but this conditioning process is neutral. We can develop good habits and coping strategies, or we can develop unhealthy ones. We have the ability to retrain our brains by building new neural connections, a process known as neuroplasticity. By focusing our attention on the patterns we want to change, we activate those neural networks and can then alter them. With practice over time, we can rewire our reactions and responses.

The lower, more primitive parts of our brain, like the limbic system, react rapidly to perceived threats before our conscious mind is aware. The amygdala evaluates situations as either safe or dangerous and triggers a fight, flight, or freeze response if needed. The prefrontal cortex, the higher, more evolved part of our brain, can regulate these fear reactions if it is strong and well-developed. By strengthening our prefrontal cortex, we enhance our ability to recover from setbacks and cope in a resilient manner.

The techniques presented in the book help us retrain unhealthy patterns and habits by building new neural connections through neuroplasticity. By understanding how our brain processes experiences and learns to respond in habitual ways, both consciously and unconsciously, we can better direct our efforts at rewiring our reactions to cultivate greater resilience. With practice, we can overcome stuck patterns and adaptive ways of coping that no longer serve us well.

The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and insula are two key integrative centers in the brain that work closely with the prefrontal cortex.

Anterior cingulate cortex:

  • Focuses attention
  • Senses pain
  • Coordinates thoughts, feelings, and body’s responses to feelings
  • Notices errors


  • Senses what’s happening in the body
  • Acts as a conduit between the limbic system and cortex
  • Helps with reflecting on emotional experiences

The prefrontal cortex is the executive center of the brain. It integrates information from the lower brain (survival responses) and higher brain (reasoning and reflection). Key functions include:

  • Regulating the body and recovering from stress
  • Quelling the fear response of the amygdala
  • Managing emotions and modulating extreme emotions
  • Attunement: tuning into others’ feelings
  • Empathy: making sense of others’ and our own feelings
  • Insight and self-knowledge
  • Response flexibility: pausing, reflecting, shifting perspectives, creating options
  • Intuition and morality

The prefrontal cortex coordinates the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which process information differently:

Right hemisphere:

  • Nonverbal processing of visual images, body sensations, emotions, experiences in relationships
  • Holistic processing
  • Emotional processing and sense of self

Left hemisphere:

  • Verbal processing of language, speech, and symbols
  • Linear and logical processing
  • Rational processing of abstract reasoning, analysis, cause and effect

The hippocampus, though part of the limbic system, works with the prefrontal cortex. It translates experiences from implicit to explicit memory, allowing us to draw on memories to guide our choices.

The anterior cingulate cortex allows us to focus attention and switch between thoughts and feelings.

The insula senses what’s happening in our body and helps us reflect on emotions.

  1. Problems in learning strategies of resilience from others: Our early experiences with caregivers shape our brain development and lay the foundation for how we cope with stress. When attachment is insecure or avoidant, it can derail the development of resilience.
  • Insecure-avoidant attachment: When caregivers are distant, indifferent or rejecting, a child learns “I don’t matter. I’m not good enough.” This leads to walling off emotions and relationships to avoid pain. The prefrontal cortex does not develop flexibility. Coping becomes rigid and avoids emotional experiences. This makes it hard to learn new strategies.
  1. The brain’s negativity bias: Our brains have evolved to focus more on threats than rewards. This “negativity bias” leads us to dwell on risks, criticism and disappointments rather than positive experiences. It takes conscious effort and practice to overcome.

  2. Learned helplessness: When we face repeated experiences of loss, failure or lack of control, our brains can encode a sense of helplessness - the belief that we cannot impact outcomes or escape suffering. This undermines motivation, optimism and problem-solving.

  3. Rumination: Excessively and repetitively dwelling on upsetting thoughts, feelings or events. This makes negative experiences feel bigger and more threatening, and prevents us from moving on to more constructive responses. It is linked to anxiety, depression and PTSD.

  4. Cognitive distortions: These are habitual patterns of irrational or unrealistic thinking that twist our perception of experiences in a negative direction. Examples are all-or-nothing thinking, catastrophizing, emotional reasoning, etc. They fuel negative emotions and limit resilience.

The good news is we can use neuroplasticity to rewire these patterns. We can strengthen our prefrontal cortex, build flexibility and optimism, overcome learned helplessness and develop healthier strategies of resilience. The following chapters provide tools and techniques to achieve this.

  1. Our early childhood experiences shape our patterns of coping and relating to the world in profound ways. These patterns become ingrained in the neural circuitry of our brains.

  2. These ingrained patterns of coping can become problematic when they are self-reinforcing and rigid. They act as filters that make it difficult to learn new ways of responding, even when we want to change.

  3. Self-reinforcing patterns of coping that become too rigid or chaotic can lead to getting “stuck” in maladaptive ways of responding. We have trouble adapting to new situations or challenges.

  4. Getting stuck in these kinds of patterns can have serious negative consequences, limiting our capacity for resilience and growth.

  5. The good news is, while these patterns may be deeply ingrained, our brains remain plastic. We can learn new coping skills and strategies to overcome rigid or chaotic patterns, developing earned security and resilience. This is explored further in the next part of the book.

The key themes are:

  1. Our early childhood experiences shape lifelong patterns of coping.

  2. These patterns can become self-reinforcing and maladaptive, limiting our resilience.

  3. But we can overcome these patterns by rewiring our neural circuitry through new experiences. Our brains remain plastic and open to change.

The examples given illustrate how problematic patterns of coping can manifest and the kinds of consequences that may result when we get “stuck” in these kinds of patterns. The book argues that understanding our patterns of attachment and coping is key to cultivating resilience.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key ideas and themes presented in the selected passages? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

  • Much of our learning and behavior is governed by implicit memory, outside our conscious awareness. Implicit memories are established early in life and continue to strongly influence our coping behaviors into adulthood.

  • Our earliest coping strategies are encoded in implicit memory before we develop conscious control or awareness of them. These strategies become our default ways of responding to difficulties, even when they are maladaptive. Unless we intentionally work to change them, they tend to persist lifelong.

  • The negativity bias of our brain, established to support survival, causes us to register and remember negative experiences more readily than positive ones. This tendency is stronger in the lower and right brain, which develops earlier in life. Early experiences that reinforce negativity bias can strengthen unhealthy coping patterns.

  • Learning resilience consciously, through reflection and choice, helps us develop healthier coping strategies. But these new learnings rest on the foundation of our earliest conditioning. In times of stress, we may revert to default strategies from implicit memory.

  • To overcome unhealthy coping patterns encoded in implicit memory, we must access these memories and rewire them using tools that harness neuroplasticity. This allows us to recondition default responses and develop new resilience.

  • Our capacity for neuroplastic change gives us the ability to overcome unhealthy patterns from the past, but it requires conscious effort and practice. The tools in Part 2 show how to do this.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key points about implicit memory, negativity bias, and overcoming unhealthy coping patterns in the passage? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand the summary in any way.

Our innate resilience and ability to cope with adversity can be compromised by:

  1. Less-than-optimal early conditioning and experiences that shape our initial coping strategies. These can set us up with unstable (like a neural swamp) or inflexible (like neural cement) patterns of coping.

  2. Repeated experiences that reinforce these conditioned patterns, making them harder to change over time. We develop habits of coping, good or bad, that become habitual.

  3. The brain’s innate negativity bias, which helped our ancestors survive but can skew us toward the negative, especially as we age.

  4. Traumatic experiences that overwhelm our ability to cope and even damage our brain’s ability to recover resilience.

However, there is good news:

  1. Later experiences, especially healthy relationships, can rewire our brains and allow us to develop different, more resilient coping strategies.

  2. Changes we make in our behavior and coping can create lasting changes in our brain. Even learning about rewiring our brains rewires our brains.

  3. New experiences can strengthen our prefrontal cortex, enabling it to better integrate information from other brain areas and help us make wise, measured decisions. The more we use our prefrontal cortex, the better it functions.

  4. We can harness the brain’s neuroplasticity through specific tools and techniques to recover from the effects of trauma and overwhelm and build stable resilience. We can move from negativity, anxiety and trauma toward equanimity, energy and well-being.

The key is using mindfulness, gratitude, perspective-taking and other practices to recondition our brains and install positive resilience and coping. Rather than dwell on blame for how our resilience was compromised, we can take action now to rewire our brains. Neuroplasticity gives us the ability to change in positive ways no matter what our life experiences have been so far.

Making wise decisions and cultivating mindfulness can help build our resilience. Mindfulness involves paying close attention to our experiences without judgment. It leads to greater self-awareness and flexibility in our responses.

Two key practices that can guide our brain change in a positive direction are mindfulness and empathy. Mindfulness helps us see situations clearly and understand how we are reacting to them. It allows us to choose different responses instead of just reacting habitually. Empathy expands our awareness of resources we can draw on to cope.

Mindfulness of the breath, in particular, builds structures in the brain involved in focusing our attention, self-awareness, and flexibility. It strengthens the prefrontal cortex and leads to more integrated brain functioning. With regular mindfulness practice, we can rewire our brain to become more resilient.

The more mindful and empathetic we become, the more we strengthen our capacities for coping with difficulties. We can accelerate our resilience and thrive.

We can strengthen our emotional nourishment, relational support, and confidence by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us become more present, engaged, and self-assured.

A simple mindfulness exercise is focusing on your breath. Notice the rhythm and sound of your inhales and exhales. Observe your belly rising and falling. Pay attention to how your whole body breathes. Notice when your mind wanders and gently bring your focus back to your breath. Even practicing for one minute can change your brain.

As we practice mindfulness, we notice that we notice. We realize we can observe our experiences without getting caught up in them. This awareness of awareness makes us feel safe to observe difficult patterns in ourselves without distress. We can then work to change those patterns.

Mindfulness allows us to see our thoughts, feelings, and reactions as just thoughts, feelings, and reactions - not facts or truths. We recognize our beliefs, identities, and stories as merely beliefs, identities, and stories - not absolute realities. While noticing these, we remain anchored in the awareness observing them.

Research shows that mindfulness strengthens the insula, allowing us to notice big emotional reactions before they intensify. It trains our brain to observe initial reactions without spiraling into reactivity. It helps us become aware of and detach from unhealthy patterns of thinking and reacting so we can choose healthier options.

An exercise in steadying awareness involves sitting still, focusing on your breath, then shifting to awareness itself. Notice sounds, sensations, thoughts, and states of mind arise and pass. Don’t fixate or push them away. Return your focus to your breath if needed. Reflect on your ability to concentrate and how it’s developing an essential skill for resilience.

With regular practice, we can anchor in awareness and clearly see challenging situations as they arise, enabling flexible response and greater resilience.

Here is a summary of the article:

  • Mindfulness meditation allows us to experience the spaciousness between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that we identify as the self. With practice, we can dissolve the seeming solidity of the self.

  • Neuroscience shows that focused attention activates the prefrontal cortex and pulls together our sense of self. In contrast, a defocused and open awareness activates a different neural network that allows for a more fluid sense of self. Shifting between these two networks requires a mature prefrontal cortex.

  • Mindfulness strengthens the prefrontal cortex, increasing self-awareness and resilience. While mindfulness was originally a Buddhist practice, it has become secularized and used as a therapeutic tool. But at its core, mindfulness leads to an understanding of the causes of suffering and a compassionate, wise response.

  • In Western psychology, reflective self-investigation also develops resilience by strengthening the prefrontal cortex. The “observing ego” can step back from anxiety and reflect on sensations, thoughts, and beliefs. By exploring the origins of old belief systems, we can gain insight and make new choices.

  • The example of Sue shows how mindfulness and reflective awareness work together. By pausing, breathing, and borrowing the therapist’s perspective, Sue could reflect on her anxiety. Exploring the physical sensations and thought (“we’re doomed”) led her to see it was an old belief from childhood. With insight into this belief’s effects, she could make a choice to continue therapy.

  • In summary, both Eastern and Western practices that cultivate awareness and acceptance of our moment-to-moment experience can dissolve old patterns, gain insight, rewire neural connections, and build resilience. A flexible sense of self and trust in our ability to meet difficulties are foundations of resilience.

Empathy uses the resonance circuit to catalyze powerful changes in your brain and create safe conditions for doing so. This includes:

  1. Resonance: Picking up the “vibe” of other people. All humans instantly perceive and communicate emotions and actions of others, especially signals of safety or danger. This is essential for survival.

  2. Attunement: Feeling into another’s experience and feeling felt by them. Requires openly receiving others’ signals and responding in a way they feel understood. This builds trust and intimacy.

  3. Empathy: Sensing any experience is completely understood and accepted. Makes sense of your or another’s experience, conveys shared understanding of the meaning.

  4. Compassion: Literally “feeling with,” keeping the heart open and caring in the face of struggle or suffering.

  5. Acceptance: Coming to terms with what is or has been, so you can cope going forward.

Exercises to develop these strengthen your prefrontal cortex, reinforcing your innate worth and competence and fueling your resilience.

Even without secure attachment early on, you can use new experiences now to strengthen your prefrontal cortex, expand your capacities for trust, connection and self-acceptance, and build resilience. The power of neuroplasticity allows this.

Strengthening these five elements of empathy will allow your prefrontal cortex to more easily rewire your coping strategies. A better-functioning prefrontal cortex in turn boosts your resilience by reinforcing your sense of inherent worth and ability.

The prefrontal cortex uses resonance to relate to other beings. We instinctively read the signals flowing between ourselves and others. Resonance explains emotional contagion and how we can share emotions. Though it operates unconsciously, we can become aware of resonance and use it skillfully.

Attunement is paying attention to tune into our own or others’ experiences. It moves processing from the limbic system to the cortex. Attunement strengthens the prefrontal cortex to read emotional meaning, from basic to nuanced. We read others’ emotions through nonverbal signals processed by the right hemisphere. Mirror neurons may enable understanding others’ emotions by mirroring their signals, feeling as if in our own body. The insula sends this to the prefrontal cortex to decipher.

Attunement adds awareness to resonance. We intentionally tune in and know we are doing so. This allows naming emotional states, enabling empathy.

Empathy generates understanding of experience, ours or others’, by the prefrontal cortex. It makes sense of experience and reactions, positive or negative. Empathy creates meaning and can fuel stories, true or false. Empathy catalysts rewiring messages about self, connections, competence, vulnerability, and courage.

The experience of empathy, giving or receiving, spurs rewiring. Dan calmed as Joe empathized with his anger and grief, allowing facing reality. Empathy brings comfort of feeling safe to pour out thoughts and feelings, sure of kindness sifting and keeping the worthwhile.

Flatworms and sea anemones, frogs and eagles, squirrels and chimps, and us and our neighbors all relate through neural resonance. We can strengthen resonance and empathy through awareness and kindness. Resonance, attunement and empathy build connections and meaning.

Empathy requires understanding what others are experiencing and distinguishing that from your own experience. Compassion involves extending care, concern and goodwill for yourself and others, especially in times of suffering.

Cultivating empathy and self-compassion involves:

  1. Recognizing behaviors in others you find unpleasant and noticing your reactions. Then set aside judgment and be curious about the other’s experience. Remember times you have acted similarly. Understand these behaviors developed as survival mechanisms. Extend understanding and forgiveness.

  2. Communicating your empathic understanding to the other person to ensure it resonates. This strengthens your prefrontal cortex and ability to respond flexibly. It may help the other person recognize and change their behavior.

  3. Recognizing theory of mind - the ability to know what others feel and think, and that their experience differs from your own. This allows you to experience empathy without being overcome by the other’s emotions.

  4. Developing compassion for the suffering inherent in the human experience and the suffering we sometimes cause by our reactions. Compassion keeps our heart open even in difficult times so we can address what’s in front of us.

  5. Recalling a time you felt compassion for another’s difficulty. Direct that same compassion toward yourself regarding your own challenges. Let yourself receive care and nurturing. This can help rewire your sense of yourself and open you to new possibilities for change and resolution.

Cultivating an approach stance through empathy and self-compassion strengthens flexibility and resilience. Compassion is more effective for resilience than self-esteem alone.

Self-acceptance involves accepting yourself as you are, with compassion and without judgment. It allows you to integrate difficult life events into your sense of self and develop a coherent narrative. This capacity is crucial for resilience.

To cultivate self-acceptance:

  1. Pair negative beliefs about yourself with embracing messages like “I deeply and completely accept myself.” This helps you hold seemingly opposite truths.

  2. If that is too difficult, start with “I’m willing to consider accepting myself.” Notice that self-acceptance and negative beliefs can coexist. Self-acceptance may change the beliefs over time.

Practicing mindfulness, empathy, compassion and self-acceptance strengthens the prefrontal cortex, enhancing resilience. These practices help access your “wiser self” or “true nature,” a source of intuition, equanimity and well-being.

To connect with your wiser self:

  1. Imagine traveling to meet your wiser self, who embodies your highest qualities and aspirations.

  2. Have an imagined conversation with your wiser self. Ask for advice and listen.

  3. Imagine embodying the qualities of your wiser self. Receive a symbolic gift from your wiser self to remind you of their wisdom.

  4. With practice, you can access your wiser self’s wisdom in daily life. Integrating mindfulness and empathy practices, though different, both strengthen the prefrontal cortex. Using embodied reflection and empathy, they access deep patterns in the brain to build conscious compassion and resilience.

In summary, self-acceptance, connecting with your wiser self, and integrating mindfulness and empathy can help build the neural capacities for a flexible, resilient response to life’s difficulties. These are skills that can be practiced and strengthened over time.

• Presence means cultivating an awareness of the present moment through focus on your senses, breath, and awareness of awareness. It creates mental space and calm that allows the brain to rewire itself.

• Intention means focusing your attention on developing a particular quality, attitude, or pattern of behavior. Repeated focus primes the brain to notice opportunities to act in accord with your intention and strengthens neural pathways that support it.

• Setting intentions based on possibility rather than demands leads to less pressure and more learning. Moving from “must” to “trust” encourages flexibility and resilience.

• The practices of presence and intention work together to accelerate rewiring the brain. Presence creates receptivity and Intention provides direction. Each reinforces the other.

• My client Sean used the practices of presence and intention each morning to calm his mind and body, reducing the time it took from over an hour to just a few minutes. The brain rewired to more easily access a state of equilibrium.

• The brain is most receptive to rewiring when it’s in a state of calm alertness. The practices of presence and intention cultivate this state.

Finding refuge in people who provide unconditional support and acceptance helps us calm down and reestablish stability when we feel emotionally overwhelmed or unsettled. Trustworthy friends and relatives who listen without judgment and reassure us that we will be okay act as a refuge. Their calmness and stability help us remain flexible and able to cope during difficult times. Simply being with people who accept us as we are calms our nervous system and allows our brain to return to a state where we can think clearly again. Refuge in others renews our sense of safety so we can regroup and move forward.

In a crisis, I turned to my colleagues for support, as we did during an earthquake. If you don’t have strong support networks, don’t worry. You can create an effective support system in your imagination. Visualize people you trust and feel supported by, like close friends or spiritual figures. Repeatedly imagining their support can help strengthen your ability to cope in difficult times.

I experienced this during LASIK eye surgery. I asked friends to think of me during the procedure, and while lying on the operating table, I thought of their support and love. About 10 minutes in, I felt an overwhelming sense of love and lost my anxiety. Imagining support can be as powerful as real support for changing your brain.

Exercise 4 helps you create an imagined circle of support. Identify a situation where you want support, like asking for a raise or confronting someone. Visualize supportive people with you and practice feeling their refuge until it becomes habit. This can increase your resilience in challenges.

We all need safe places to retreat to in hardship, like nature, places of worship, or our homes. Repeatedly using a place as a refuge instills a sense of safety there. Any place that suits you can be a refuge. My friend Dale lost money in 2008 and found peace at his refuge, a park bench. Though it didn’t solve his problems, it helped him recover flexibility and begin coping.

Exercise 5 guides you to create an imagined safe place. Visualize opening a gate and following a path to your special place. Notice the sights, sounds, and smells. Relax and feel safe there, changing anything you want. Return through the gate, knowing you can come back. Practice envisioning this place so it’s there when you need it. You’re using neuroplasticity to build a coping resource.

Contemplative practices like meditation, yoga, and centering prayer can deepen mindful empathy and help you hold challenges with compassion. They lead to wisdom and resilience.

Exercise 6 suggests choosing a practice that resonates with you. Try different traditions openly and see what feels right. Stick with one practice at a time to allow deep rewiring. Look to role models with qualities you want, like resilience, to guide your choice. The right practice for you can sustain your growth long-term.

Here are some key practices that have helped people cultivate resilience:

  • Connecting to social support networks. Spending time with others who provide empathy, care, and practical support. This could include close friends, family, or support groups.

  • Engaging in physical activity. Exercise releases feel-good hormones that improve mood and act as a buffer against stress. Yoga, walking, biking, etc. can all help.

  • Practicing mindfulness. Spending time each day focused on your breathing and the present moment. This helps reduce rumination and strengthen awareness and acceptance of your experiences.

  • Getting enough sleep. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to allow your body and mind to rest and recharge. Lack of sleep impairs your ability to cope with stress and adversity.

  • Limiting alcohol/substance use. While these may seem helpful in the moment for escaping problems, they ultimately deplete resilience and coping ability.

  • Engaging in relaxing activities. Do something each day that you find meaningful and rejuvenating like reading, gardening, cooking, etc.

  • Maintaining a sense of purpose or meaning. Having pursuits that motivate or inspire you helps give you a sense of direction and reason to overcome obstacles. Connecting to spiritual or religious practices can help for some.

For me, the practices that most resonate are: connecting to my close social supports, staying physically active with yoga and walking, practicing mindfulness through meditation and conscious breathing, and engaging in relaxing hobbies like reading, writing, and baking. Limiting alcohol and maintaining healthy sleep have also been key for building my own resilience. The specific practices will differ for each person, but in general, the more you can strengthen your connections, self-care, mindfulness, and meaning, the more resilient you will become.

Does this help summarize some of the key practices for cultivating resilience? Let me know if you have any other questions.

• New conditioning creates new neural pathways in the brain by seeking out and repeating new experiences that encode adaptive coping strategies. This can lead to greater resilience.

• Repeating these new experiences causes neurons in the brain to fire in ways that create and strengthen neural pathways for the new strategies. Over time, these new strategies can become automatic habits that override old, less functional habits.

• To rewire your brain for resilience, seek out new experiences that will encode more adaptive coping strategies into your neural circuitry and repeat them. For example, practicing being calm can create neural circuits that support remaining calm. Practicing competence in a particular skill can create neural pathways for that skill.

• New conditioning is a neutral process that will encode either more or less resilient patterns, depending on what experiences are chosen. When supported by mindfulness and empathy, it is more likely to encode resilient patterns.

• New conditioning has a global impact on the brain and can help recover innate capacities like motivation, equanimity, creativity, and altruism, in addition to resilience. Resilience allows us to recover other capacities.

• The case study of Bill shows how new conditioning can be used to override old patterns. Bill learned to say “Be kind!” whenever he started to criticize his partner, which created a choice point to respond with empathy and compassion instead. With practice over six months, this became his automatic response.

• New conditioned patterns can redefine our sense of self in relationship to triggering events and create new ways of coping. Developing and reinforcing these patterns helps us become our more competent and courageous adult selves.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key points about new conditioning from the passage? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

Bill wanted to change his habitual critical reaction towards his wife Sharon. He went through a process of reconditioning his brain.

  1. He identified the trigger (his wife losing her job) and the habitual negative reaction (criticism of Sharon).

  2. He chose a new response (showing kindness) and a cue (“allow”) to remind himself to shift to the new response.

  3. He practiced the new response repeatedly whenever the trigger arose until it became habitual. The old critical habit faded as the new kind habit strengthened.

  4. To further change his conditioning, Bill practiced mindfulness and cultivating feelings of compassion. This helped loosen the grip of the old critical habit.

  5. However, when Bill was stressed, the old critical habit resurfaced. So he went through reconditioning.

  6. Reconditioning involves activating an old memory network (the criticism of his father) while simultaneously activating a positive contradictory memory network (playing with and feeling kindness for his father).

  7. By intensifying focus on the positive memory, the two memories reconsolidate together in a new network. The emotional intensity of the negative memory eases.

  8. Bill experienced the easing of the negative emotions around criticizing his father. The positive memory of kindness became the dominant pattern, overriding the habitual criticism.

  9. Bill applied this reconditioning process to changing his criticism of Sharon. His kindness towards her became the dominant pattern.

The key steps in reconditioning are: identifying the trigger and old habit, choosing a new response, using a cue to remind yourself of the new response, practicing the new response until it becomes habitual, cultivating a mindful and compassionate perspective, activating the old negative memory network and a positive contradictory memory network simultaneously, focusing intensely on the positive memory until it becomes dominant. With practice, reconditioning can effectively shift lifelong habits and patterns.

  • Bonding and belonging with others who see our innate goodness help us develop resilience. Even when early attachment experiences were less than ideal, we can recover resilience through new relationships.

  • The prefrontal cortex develops and matures through interactions with other mature prefrontal cortices. We learn resilience from interacting with resilient people.

  • We learn the five Cs of coping—calmness, clarity, connection, competence, and courage—from resonant relationships where we feel seen, safe, soothed, and secure.

  • Mirror neurons help us learn coping strategies by observing others staying calm and coping well. We can activate our own mirror neurons by visualizing resilient role models.

  • Oxytocin, the “bonding hormone,” is released in resonant relationships, calming stress and encouraging trust and generosity. Oxytocin helps undo the effects of early trauma or neglect.

  • Empathy, compassion, and kindness shown by others help shape our brains in ways that support resilience. We can cultivate our own ability to show empathy and kindness as a way of developing resilience in ourselves and others.

  • Recognizing our own innate goodness and the goodness in others builds the foundation for resilience and healthy relationships. Relationships of mutual understanding and caring contribute to individual and collective well-being.

In summary, relationships that provide opportunities for bonding, belonging, empathy, and compassion help foster resilience through development and healing of the prefrontal cortex. Our brains learn from interacting with other brains, for better or worse. But with conscious intention, we can choose interactions, visualizations, and practices that will help rewire our brains in ways that support resilience and well-being.

People can learn resilience from others who embody desirable qualities, such as remaining calm under pressure or having courage in difficult situations. However, for those who have experienced traumatic or toxic relationships, relying on other people for support and learning can be challenging. Negative past experiences can lead to anxiety, distrust, and withdrawing from relationships.

Nonetheless, developing resilience requires building positive new experiences in relationships to rewire unhealthy patterns. The most powerful relationships for building resilience are those with “true others” - people who see and accept your inherent worth and best qualities. Relationships with true others create a sense of safety and self-acceptance that allows you to face difficulties with confidence.

Several skills and exercises can help build inner security and trust through relationships:

  1. Healing presence and deep listening: Giving another person your full attention and listening without judgment. This can help them feel seen, understood, and accepted.

  2. Imagining a wise and caring guide: Visualizing an empathic figure who offers wisdom and support. This activates the social engagement system in a positive way.

  3. Compassionate friend: Speaking to yourself with empathy, kindness and encouragement as you would to a close friend. This cultivates self- acceptance and resilience.

  4. Best possible self: Imagining your best self and best possible life in the future. This inspires optimism, motivation, and resilience.

Building security and trust through relationships rewires our patterns of relating in a healthy way and strengthens our ability to face difficulties. The power of relationships with true others can help us rediscover our most resilient self.

The most powerful way to connect with another person is by listening. Giving someone our full attention and listening without judgment can be incredibly healing. When we listen deeply, we set aside our own agendas and become fully present. We open our minds and hearts to understand what the other person is saying and not saying. Listening in this way is a great gift we can give to others and ourselves.

We can practice deep listening with ourselves as well. We can notice our thoughts, feelings, body sensations without judgment. When we drop into a space of calm and clarity, we can sense our wholeness. Practicing this kind of deep listening creates safety and trust in our relationships with ourselves and others. It strengthens our brains in a way that supports resilience.

Sharing with others in a kind and compassionate way also builds safety and trust in relationships. Recalling moments of kindness, courage or patience and sharing them with someone who will listen strengthens our ability to connect. As we share, our brains light up with the full memory of the experience. And as the listener mirrors and attunes to us, their brain also lights up, creating an intersubjective experience of connection. This sharing and mirroring enhances empathy, relational intelligence and resilience.

Experiencing the innate goodness in ourselves and others is another way to build trust and openness. Noticing small acts of goodness helps us relax old patterns of judgment and see ourselves and others with more compassion. Recognizing our own goodness, and reflecting on it, enhances self-confidence and self-worth. Seeing the goodness in others increases our receptivity, flexibility and kindness toward them. Together, these practices of deep listening, sharing and experiencing goodness cultivate resilience in our relationships and in life.

The practice of loving kindness meditation cultivates positive feelings of goodwill and kindness towards ourselves and others. It helps us access our innate goodness and supports our psychological resilience. The phrases we repeat in our minds during this meditation evoke and strengthen feelings of loving presence, spacious awareness, and openness. With regular practice, these qualities become traits of our being.

Loving kindness meditation works by activating the brain’s defocusing mode, which enables rewiring and lets go of conditioning. This makes us calmer, wiser, more connected, skilled, and courageous in coping with challenges.

The exercise of honoring the innate goodness of others builds on loving kindness meditation. Doing it with a partner, while maintaining eye contact in silence, can lead to a profound sense of connection and shared humanity. We begin by wishing our partner well and seeing their radiance. Then we send them compassion for their suffering. Finally, we feel joy in their happiness and accomplishments. This helps us relate to others with resonance and skill.

In summary, these practices give us a glimpse of our fundamental wholeness and goodness. They make our relationships and coping abilities more resilient. With regular practice, they become an integral part of who we are.

Here is a summary of the exercise:

  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing to settle into awareness and presence.

  2. Imagine you are outside a theater. Walk in, enter the lobby, and then the theater. Walk down to the front row and take a seat.

  3. On the stage are three chairs. In the first chair is a wise, compassionate part of yourself. In the second chair is a part of yourself you would like to understand better. In the third chair is an observer part of you.

  4. Have a dialogue between your wise self and the part you want to understand. Your wise self asks open-ended questions to learn about this inner part, understand why it behaves as it does, and determine how it’s trying to help you. Listen without judgment.

  5. Now observe the dialogue from the observer chair. Notice the effect on you and insights that emerge.

  6. Invite the inner part into your heart. Embrace it with compassion as you deepen your understanding of yourself.

  7. Reflect on your experience and new insights. Set the intention to befriend more of your inner selves.

This exercise uses an imaginative dialogue to increase self-understanding and self-acceptance. Speaking with your inner parts through the wise self allows you to understand them without judgment, meet their deeper motivations and needs, and embrace them with compassion. Over time, this can help integrate divided aspects of yourself into a coherent whole. The insights gained help build resilience through self-acceptance, integration, and inner balance.

The key ideas in the passage are:

  1. Nearly half of us miss out on early experiences that would have encoded resilience into our neural circuitry.

  2. We can recover an “inner base of resilience” through new experiences in relationships that strengthen the prefrontal cortex. This provides a sense of competence and confidence.

  3. Research shows the inner base of resilience is marked by:

  • A sense of safety and trust in relationships
  • Flexible focus of attention
  • Balancing independence and interdependence
  • Belief that relationships will work out
  1. Receiving unconditional love from others is key to developing this inner base of resilience. Unconditional love says “I love you no matter what.”

  2. As the prefrontal cortex processes unconditional love, it establishes an expectation of relationships as a source of safety, nurturing, and joy. This expectation allows us to stay open to learning and growth.

  3. We can purposefully evoke experiences of unconditional love and acceptance from others. This strengthens the neural circuits of resilience.

  4. Exercises in this chapter aim to build the inner base of resilience through new experiences of yourself in relationships. This allows you to realize your potential and navigate challenges.

  • Receiving unconditional love and acceptance from others nourishes our inner resilience. This helps create new neural pathways that give us a sense of security and self-worth.

  • “Taking in the good” by noticing and savoring positive moments in our relationships helps strengthen our resilience. Pausing to let these good experiences register in our mind and body creates new neural circuitry that supports a positive sense of self and relationships.

  • We can tap into the intuitive wisdom of our “wiser self” to gain clarity in situations of inner conflict or conflict with others. By relaxing into a mindful state and deconditioning from habitual thoughts and roles, we can listen for the guidance of our essential wisdom and goodness. This helps us make choices that nourish our deepest needs and support our resilience.

Here is a summary of the key points from the section:

• Relational intelligence refers to the social and emotional skills that allow us to navigate relationships and interact with others in a competent, effective, and resilient manner.

• Relational intelligence is similar to the concept of social intelligence. It involves forming connections with others that help sustain us through good and bad times.

• Close relationships and social bonds are among the biggest contributors to our happiness, well-being, and resilience.

• The skills that comprise relational intelligence include:

  • Empathic listening and speaking
  • Wishing for the happiness and well-being of ourselves and others
  • Taking in the good
  • Befriending all parts of ourselves and others
  • Reaching out for connection and support
  • Setting wise boundaries
  • Repairing ruptures and navigating conflict
  • Letting go of unhealthy relationships

• These skills help us create healthy, mutually supportive relationships as well as handle difficult interactions and set proper boundaries. They are key to developing resilient connections with others.

• No one is born with these skills — we must work to develop and strengthen them over our lifetime. With regular practice, they can become habits and help us sustain well-being even in the face of challenges.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key highlights from the section? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any of the points.

To develop relational intelligence and resilience, work on:

  1. Reaching out for help: Overcoming tendencies to isolate yourself and instead connect with others for support. This helps calm your nervous system and access resources to solve problems. Practice imagining asking for help and accepting help from others.

  2. Setting limits and boundaries: Developing the ability to differentiate your own thoughts and needs from others. This involves stepping back from assumptions and expectations of how you and others “should” feel or act. Practice asserting your own needs while understanding the other person’s perspective. The goal is finding the “sweet spot” between aggression and being a doormat.

  3. Negotiating change: Discussing compromises and solutions to get your needs met in a relationship. This involves communicating clearly while also listening to the other person. Look for common ground and be willing to understand different viewpoints.

  4. Repairing ruptures: Recognizing when tensions or conflicts arise in a relationship and working to resolve them. Make amends if needed and find ways to prevent future misunderstandings. Forgiveness and rebuilding trust are important.

  5. Forgiving: Letting go of resentment and hurt in a relationship. Forgiveness does not mean excusing harmful actions but rather acknowledging what happened and making a choice to move on from negative feelings. This allows you both to start rebuilding.

To develop these skills:

•Reflect on your tendencies in relationships and how they support or undermine resilience.

•Practice imagining and role-playing different relational scenarios to build new habits. Start with small issues before addressing bigger challenges.

•Focus on listening, understanding different perspectives, and finding common ground and compromises. React less and respond more.

•Be willing to engage in difficult conversations, make amends, and work to repair trust and hurt. Forgive yourself and others.

•Keep in mind that building relational intelligence and resilience is a lifelong practice. Be patient and compassionate with yourself and continue learning and developing these skills.

  1. Repair is the most important phase in the rhythm of relating, connecting, rupturing, and repairing connections. Repair strengthens relationships and builds relational competency and mastery.

  2. Repair requires empathy, mindfulness, and relational intelligence on at least one side of a rupture, ideally on both sides. These skills create a sense of safety that allows the brain to stay open to new understanding.

  3. Seeing the goodness in yourself and the other person leads to a larger perspective that makes repair possible. Taking responsibility for your part in a rupture, then listening to understand the other’s experience, are key to repair.

  4. To repair a rupture, express sincere regret for your part in causing distress. Acknowledge the impact of your actions and listen to the other person’s experience. Ask open-ended questions to make sure you understand their perspective fully.

  5. State your positive intentions and values regarding the relationship. Express a desire to reconnect and find a mutually agreeable solution. Negotiate the specific changes needed to rebuild trust and closeness. Thank the other person for their willingness to work on repairing the connection.

  6. Practice the new solutions you have agreed on. Express ongoing appreciation for the other person and the relationship. Repetition of the new pathway through the repaired connection will strengthen it. Be patient through any relapses into old patterns.

That covers the essence of the process of repairing ruptures in relationships. The key is taking responsibility, listening with empathy, finding mutually agreeable solutions, practicing them, and expressing ongoing appreciation. With time and repetition, the new circuitry of repair and reconnection will become strongly established.

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

• Mindful empathy and insight into theory of mind (understanding other perspectives) are crucial for repairing ruptures in relationships. When you can remain aware of your own experience and empathize with the other person’s experience, it engages the resonance circuits in both of your brains, allowing for reconnection and repair.

• Forgiveness is a practice of cultivating inner peace and wisdom that allows us to see our pain as part of the universal human condition, reset our moral compass, and remain compassionate. It involves dropping into a defocused mode of processing that allows us to access kindness, compassion, and goodwill.

• Forgiveness does not mean condoning harmful actions or forgetting injustice. It means releasing resentment and hostility, which only cause us further suffering. It is a practice of understanding, compassion, and releasing burdens that have weighed on our hearts.

• The forgiveness practice engages the shift from a self-focused mode of processing to a more expansive, defocused mode that allows us to see the larger context of suffering and compassion. This shift allows new, more adaptive responses to emerge.

• Developing mastery of the processes of deconditioning (dropping habitual patterns), learning (taking in new information), and reconditioning (establishing new neural connections) helps build internal resources and the ability to navigate challenges with wisdom and care.

• Exercises in mindful listening, boundary setting, repairing ruptures, and forgiveness help build skills of relational intelligence to engage constructively in all of our interactions and relationships.

The key skills and practices help us move from less adaptive ways of relating to more constructive, compassionate, and intelligent ways of engaging with others and with life’s challenges. The exercises are meant to be practiced regularly to continue strengthening these abilities.

Here’s a summary of the key points:

• The window of tolerance and equanimity refer to a calm, balanced physiological and mental state stabilized by the prefrontal cortex. This state allows us to stay calm and respond wisely in the face of stress or adversity.

• When we’re in our window of tolerance or equanimity, we don’t overreact or shut down in response to disruptive life events. We can pause, become aware of our initial reactions, and choose not to react to those reactions.

• We can cultivate equanimity through mindfulness practices like noticing our reactions and reactions to reactions, then letting them go and returning our focus to the present moment.

• Practicing equanimity strengthens the prefrontal cortex and trains the brain to return to a balanced calm state. This builds inner resilience.

• There are times when we need to focus on problems, but equanimity practice teaches the brain to choose to return to balance and calm. This allows us to respond wisely rather than reacting impulsively.

• A few key skills for maintaining equanimity:

  1. Notice your reactions and reactions to reactions without judgment.
  2. Let go of reactions and return your focus to the present moment.
  3. Keep practicing — it takes persistence to retrain your brain.
  4. Make the choice to return to your window of tolerance when needed.

The key benefits of equanimity and staying in your window of tolerance are inner balance, wise and skillful responding, and resilience. Equanimity is a vital skill for recovering and sustaining resilience.

• Losing our equilibrium is normal due to our hardwired survival responses. Our amygdala acts as an alarm system to detect safety, danger or threat and activates our autonomic nervous system to respond accordingly.

• The sympathetic nervous system revs us up in response to stress while the parasympathetic nervous system calms us down. These operate like the gas pedal and brakes of a car.

• When the amygdala detects possible danger, it alerts the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex then makes a more comprehensive assessment and determines the most flexible response, including connecting with others for help. It sends signals to the amygdala to regulate our nervous system and return us to our window of tolerance.

• The vagus nerve and resonance circuit help the prefrontal cortex connect with others and calm the amygdala. Interacting with well-regulated people strengthens our vagal tone and helps our brain learn to self-regulate.

• Recovering our equilibrium after losing it is a learnable skill. We can cultivate equanimity through practice. This expands our window of tolerance, making us more resilient.

• Resonating with the calm of well-regulated others helps us calm down by activating our vagus nerve and mirror neurons. Their facial expressions and presence reassure our amygdala, calming our fear center. This dyadic regulation teaches our brain to self-regulate.

• Equanimity practice retrains our brain by creating new neural pathways that reinforce calmness. This makes equanimity our new baseline state. We suffer less by reacting less and expanding our window of tolerance.

In summary, while losing our equilibrium is normal and inevitable, we can become more resilient by learning skills to recover it. Cultivating equanimity and resonating with the calm of others are two effective ways to do this. With regular practice of these skills, we transform our brain and expand our capacity for coping.

Here is a summary of The Window of Tolerance:

  • The autonomic nervous system has two branches:
  1. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activates us to respond to perceived threats or challenges. When fear is regulated, the SNS leads to positive states like interest, curiosity, play. When fear is not regulated, the SNS leads to the fight-flight-freeze response - feeling too revved up, agitated or anxious.

  2. The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) deactivates us, slowing us down. When fear is regulated, the PNS leads to relaxation, daydreaming or sleep. When fear is not regulated, the PNS can lead to collapse - dissociation, numbness or fainting.

  • Our window of tolerance is the optimal zone of arousal where we feel calm and engaged. Within this window, we have access to our full cognitive abilities. Outside this window, our survival responses are activated.

  • It can be hard to return to our window of tolerance because:

  1. Our fast-track survival responses can activate before our slow-track reflection. Our lower brain reacts instantly to threats while our prefrontal cortex takes seconds to respond. This can lead us to react in ways we later regret.

  2. Stress responses release cortisol, which can impair our prefrontal cortex. Too much cortisol knocks our prefrontal cortex offline, making it hard to regulate our emotions and return to our window of tolerance.

  • Developing equanimity - the ability to pause and reflect before reacting - helps us stay within our window of tolerance. Equanimity requires understanding our conditioning and giving our prefrontal cortex time to respond. With practice, we can improve our self-regulation.

• The hormone oxytocin counters the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone. It promotes feelings of calmness, safety, and connection.

• Activating the release of oxytocin is the fastest way to overcome excess cortisol and return to a state of equilibrium. Once oxytocin is released, cortisol levels decrease and blood pressure drops.

• Oxytocin can be released through warm, loving touch and physical contact with other people, such as:

› Head rubs: Gently massaging your scalp, face, and ears for 2 minutes releases oxytocin and lowers stress.

› Vagus nerve massage: Gently massaging the back of your neck where it meets your skull activates the vagus nerve and triggers oxytocin release.

› Hugging: A 20-second full-body hug with someone you feel safe with releases oxytocin in both people.

› Other forms of touch: Holding hands, snuggling, dancing with a partner, petting animals, massage, etc.

• Oxytocin creates lifelong changes in the brain and is the neurochemical foundation of resilience. Releasing it helps you stay calm and engaged so you can cope better with challenges.

• Using oxytocin-releasing techniques before you face a stressful situation helps prevent excess cortisol release and keeps your prefrontal cortex functioning optimally so you can respond resiliently.

• The effects of oxytocin help explain why human contact and relationships are so vital for health, happiness, and resilience. Loving touch and social bonds activate this “calm and connect” system.

• These techniques give you tools to intentionally activate your body’s “calm and connect” response, overcome the effects of stress and cortisol, and build your resilience. With regular use of these oxytocin-releasing skills, you can rewire your nervous system to default to a calmer state.

That covers the main highlights from this section on using oxytocin to recover balance and build resilience. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Skill 2: Activating the Release of Oxytocin through Loving Connection

We can intentionally activate the release of oxytocin in our brain to calm our stress response and return to our window of tolerance. Feeling safe and loved releases oxytocin. We can connect with others, remember connections, imagine loved ones, or place a hand on our heart to trigger oxytocin release and shift our state.

Breathing deeply and thinking of feeling loved activates the calming parasympathetic nervous system. Memories of feeling cherished activate the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, releasing oxytocin. Through oxytocin, we return to our window of tolerance, where we can think clearly and respond skillfully.

Other tools include:

Skill 3: Somatic Resourcing through Breathing

Slow, deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body and mind. Consciously breathing positive emotions into the heart supports resilience. Slow breathing can ease panic and establish calm.

Exercise 3a: Deep Breathing to Relax the Body

Lie down, close eyes, sense your body. Place one hand on your heart, one on your belly. Breathe slowly and deeply, filling your body. Focus awareness on your breath moving through different areas of your body to release tension. Stay present with each inhale and exhale. Continue for 5-20 minutes.

Skill 4: Grounding through Body Awareness

Noticing sensations in your body, especially feet on the ground, brings you into the present moment. This grounds you when stressed or triggered. Scan your body for points of contact and tension. Release tension through breath and imagination. Stay with the present; don’t get lost in thoughts. Continue as needed.

Exercise 4: Body Scan for Grounding

Lie or sit comfortably. Start at your feet, notice sensations. Work up through ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, belly, lower/upper back, shoulders, arms, neck, and face. Release tension and breathe fully into each area. Imagine warmth and heaviness flowing from your core into your limbs. Stay with the present; gently redirect attention from thoughts back to your body. Continue for 5-20 minutes.

Here are the key steps in summary:

  1. Identify an emotional or mental state you want to explore.

  2. Allow your body to assume a posture embodying that state. Feel your way into the experience for 30 seconds.

  3. Allow your body to lead you into an opposite posture. Feel your way into this experience for 30 seconds.

  4. Return to the first posture for 15 seconds, then the second posture for 15 seconds.

  5. Notice how the sensations, images, and thoughts associated with the difficult state may have shifted. Often there is a lightening or loosening of the grip of afflictive states when we embody their opposites.

This simple exercise helps rewire emotional and cognitive patterns by activating different neural pathways in the brain and body that can balance and broaden our range of response. When we are stuck in difficult states, it is usually because the neural pathways that reinforce those states have become overdeveloped through repetition, while pathways leading to more balanced and easeful states have atrophied through lack of use. This movement technique helps reactivate and strengthen those underdeveloped neural pathways.

With regular practice of techniques like this one, we can develop fluidity and choice in moving between the high road and the low road, learning from both but favoring the high road of our better nature. The neuroplasticity of the brain allows us to change patterns, and this change often begins in the body, not in the mind alone. The body leads the mind. By compassionately and curiously inhabiting our experience through mindful movement and posture, we create new moments of choice and new consequences that in turn create new neural connections, new maps in the brain and new traits of character. This is how change happens.

• Priming the brain means preparing it to feel a certain emotion or physiological state that could be adaptive in an anticipated situation. This helps build somatic intelligence and resilience.

• Strategies for priming the brain include:

› Imagining yourself handling the situation calmly and competently. This activates the same neural circuits as actually experiencing the situation and builds confidence and competence.

› Focusing on your breath to activate the calming parasympathetic nervous system. This makes it easier to stay grounded when reacting to upsetting news or events.

› Practicing mindfulness, compassion, and self-reflection. This strengthens the prefrontal cortex and its ability to regulate reactivity from the amygdala.

› Reviewing your strengths, values, and past successes. This boosts confidence and the willingness to risk making mistakes.

› Identifying somatic resources that calm your body. Using these during stressful situations helps you stay within your window of tolerance so you can respond effectively.

› Practicing somatic empathy by imagining how others might feel in the same situation. This broadens your perspective and fosters flexibility in how you might respond.

• Priming the brain and developing somatic intelligence take practice. But regularly using these strategies rewires your brain for greater calm, clarity, and resilience.

› Start with low-risk situations and build up your ability to regulate emotional reactivity through experience and success. Take opportunities to strengthen your prefrontal cortex each day.

› Become aware of your own tendencies toward catastrophic thinking or harsh self-judgment. Counter them with more constructive perspectives. Your thoughts profoundly impact your physiology and resilience.

› Accept that you cannot control what happens in the world, only how you choose to respond. This attitude of openness fosters the flexibility and adaptability key to resilience.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key points and strategies discussed in the section on priming the brain and developing somatic intelligence? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

  • Priming refers to creating an emotional or physiological state before a situation arises to prevent negative emotions like fear, anger or shame. Priming can be used to remain calm during stressful events.

  • Oxytocin release can be used to prime the brain to be less reactive to stress. Releasing oxytocin by thinking of loved ones acts as a buffer against stress even before it happens. Studies show those primed with oxytocin experience less anxiety and pain during stressful events.

  • Priming the brain by starting the day with a sense of loving connection or ease and well-being builds resilience against stress. Regularly checking in and returning to a calm state primes the brain to stay within the “window of tolerance” and meet challenges with equanimity.

  • Developing “current confidence from previous competence” means relying on past successes to feel confident facing present challenges. A feeling of “I can do this!” comes from remembering overcoming past difficulties. Confidence is a somatic memory of competence that can be recalled during stressful events. Even an inflated sense of past competence can provide confidence now. Standing tall and feeling grounded can anchor this confidence.

  • For resilience, the sense of mastery from a success matters more than the size of the success. Successes achieved independently provide a strong sense of competence to draw from during stressful times. Drawing from a range of life experiences, not just major achievements, builds resilience.

  • Using visualization and imagination to strengthen the neural circuits of confidence and competence. Vividly recalling or imagining facing difficulties with mastery and confidence wires the brain with those resources.

The three skills discussed are:

  1. Wiring in current confidence from previous competence: Identify situations where you want to feel more confident. Recall specific moments where you felt a sense of mastery and success. Focus on the somatic sensations from those memories and apply them to the current situation. This helps rewire your brain to build resilience.

  2. Reframing incompetence as competence: When you experience embarrassment or feel incompetent, recall a memory of success to regain a sense of confidence. Pair the memory of incompetence with the memory of competence. This can help reframe your view of the situation and move you back to a resilient state. Using a gesture like “ta-da!” can help reframe the moment as simply human and maintain your resilience.

  3. Training your brain to risk something new: New experiences can trigger a sense of discomfort and hesitancy. But you can use the reward of dopamine to push past that. Dopamine is released when we have an expectation that is met. Disrupting expectations - by trying something new - briefly reduces dopamine, causing a sense of unease. But pushing past that and trying something new leads to a reward of dopamine and a sense of pleasure. This can train your brain to become more comfortable with uncertainty and risk.

The summary highlights how these skills work by using memories and experiences to rewire your brain, reframe situations, and push past discomfort to build resilience. A key part of this is learning to become comfortable with uncertainty and being willing to try new things. By disrupting expectations and experiencing the reward, you can train your brain to become more resilient in the face of risks and unfamiliar situations.

• Our emotions evolved to keep us alive and help us adapt to challenges. They signal what is important and shape our decisions and behaviors.

• For a long time emotions were seen as disruptive, “unruly urges.” Now neuroscience shows they involve complex brain activity and serve important functions. They provide valuable information and help form social connections.

• Emotions become a problem when they are too intense, last too long, or don’t match the situation. Being stuck in a particular emotional state prevents us from responding flexibly and learning from experiences.

• The dichotomy between reason and emotion is false. Emotions are inextricably linked to our thoughts, perceptions, and rational decision making. They shape what we pay attention to and what we value.

• Emotions can be regulated and modified. We have some ability to influence what emotions we experience and how we express them. Self-regulation of emotions involves the prefrontal cortex inhibiting impulses from the limbic system.

• Emotional intelligence—the ability to understand, express, and regulate your own emotions and respond to the emotions of others—is key to well-being, relationships, and success in life. It involves being aware of your emotions, managing distressing emotions, harnessing positive emotions, and cultivating compassion.

• Compassion and kindness release feel-good hormones like oxytocin and activate the reward centers of the brain. We can cultivate positive emotions through thoughts, images, memories and by committing acts of kindness. This builds our capacity for joy and resilience.

• Accepting our emotions—even the unpleasant ones—is important for our well-being. Making room for a full range of emotions helps us stay flexible and open to learning. Suppressing emotions often makes them stronger and more difficult to manage.

• relationships are profoundly shaped by emotions. We can enhance our emotional connections to others through empathy, compassion, kindness, gratitude and forgiveness. This strengthens bonds and boosts well-being for both parties.

Curt was upset after his daughter Cathy came home from school crying. She told him that she had to pick up trash during recess as punishment from her teachers. Curt became angry at the school administration for what he saw as their unfair treatment and public shaming of Cathy. However, with coaching, Curt was able to calm down and process his emotions. He placed his hand over his heart, breathed slowly, and focused on the love and care he felt for his daughter. This allowed him to relax, notice and name his feelings, and respond in a more flexible and resilient manner.

Here are the steps for Exercise 1: Noticing and Regulating Your Emotions:

  1. Sit quietly, letting your awareness settle comfortably. Take a few deep breaths to relax your body. Close your eyes if that feels comfortable for you.

  2. Bring to mind a recent experience of feeling disappointed or sad. Notice how that felt in your body — perhaps a heaviness in your chest or a lump in your throat. Where in your body do you sense that emotion the most? Focus your attention there.

  3. Observe the emotion with an attitude of openness and curiosity. Notice if the feeling changes or stays the same. Does it intensify or lessen? Move through your body or remain in one area? Notice how your thoughts change as the emotion arises.

  4. Now bring to mind a memory when you felt very peaceful and content. Notice how that felt in your body. What sensations do you notice that contrast with feeling disappointed? Enjoy the peaceful feeling as long as you like.

  5. When you’re ready, re-examine the disappointed feeling. Has it changed in any way? Notice if you feel less caught up in the thoughts or physical sensations. You may find the intensity has lessened or the feeling seems more fleeting and less solid. Your awareness has helped regulate the emotion.

  6. Appreciate your ability to notice and influence your emotional experience. With practice, your resilience in responding to difficult emotions will grow stronger.

This exercise helps strengthen your awareness and regulation of emotions. The key is developing your capacity for noticing emotions without immediately reacting to them or pushing them away. This awareness and the ability to regulate difficult emotions are core skills for building resilience. Regular practice will enhance your proficiency.

  1. Emotions typically last just 8 seconds if we allow them to move through us. We can sustain emotions by ruminating on the thoughts and stories that fuel them. This blocks the emotion from guiding resilient action.

  2. To process an emotion skillfully, we perceive it, acknowledge it, stay with it, take the useful information it provides, and then let it move through us.

  3. One way to develop skill in managing emotions is to expand our awareness to a context larger than any story about the emotion. We can access this bigger context through deconditioning - dropping into a state of open, receptive awareness. In this state, we can still listen for the wisdom the emotion offers about what needs our attention.

  4. Anger often signals a need to establish a boundary or stand up for ourselves. But acting from anger often leads to poor outcomes. It is better to acknowledge the anger, let it pass through, and then determine the best action with a calm, focused mind.

  5. Fear signals a perceived threat and the need to determine if action is required. But fear is often disproportionate to the actual threat. It is important to evaluate the fear, reality-test thoughts fueling it, and choose a response based on facts rather than alarm. Fear can motivate but also paralyze. A balanced response is best.

  6. Sadness signals a loss or longing for connection. It is important to comfort ourselves, limit ruminating on sad thoughts, stay socially connected, exercise and engage in self-care. These strategies help prevent depression and make the sadness more bearable as we adjust to the loss.

  7. Disgust signals something that could be contaminating or make us ill. But we can overgeneralize disgust to people and groups. It requires inhibiting disgust, challenging stigmatizing thoughts, and approaching those we view with disgust with an open and curious mind. This builds compassion and social cohesion.

  8. Joy signals reward, safety and strong social bonds. We can sustain joy through gratitude, mindfulness, creative pursuits, play, humor, music, exercise and social interaction. Making the time for these joy-producing activities prevents burnout and enriches life.

Does this summary cover the key points you wanted to convey? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

To resolve the shutdown of emotions like depression, we can take action to reconnect with our capacity for emotions that lead to connection with others and engagement with the world. We can use mindfulness and compassion for our experience to confront painful emotions in a gradual, manageable way. Focusing on memories of goodness, joy and well-being, we can strengthen these positive emotions to rewire our neural pathways, allowing difficult emotions to fade. Paired with memories of loving connection, ease or beauty, positive emotions have the power to repair afflictive ones.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, we can use delight to shift despair. We focus on the feelings of opposing emotions, using empathy to strengthen the more positive one, letting the difficult emotion fade. This restores our ability to feel and act, reversing the collapse into inertia. With practice, we can fully experience a range of emotions without being overwhelmed.

Here is a summary of the key steps in the gratitude practice:

  1. Take time to reflect on people who have helped or supported you in small ways recently. Focus on the feelings of gratitude these memories evoke. Notice the sensations of gratitude in your body.

  2. Expand your awareness to gratitude for people in the larger community who help keep life going - hospital staff, emergency responders, infrastructure workers, farmers, etc. Practice gratitude for the web of support in the community.

  3. Reflect on your experience of practicing gratitude. Notice any changes in your emotions, thoughts or sense of self from focusing on gratitude.

Gratitude practices can help rewire the brain by conditioning more positive patterns. The reflections and conscious focus on gratitude activate neural circuits linked to positive emotions and social connection. Repeated practice strengthens these new patterns over time. The benefits of gratitude include increased positive emotions, resilience, sleep, longevity and prosocial behavior as well as decreased negative emotions and health issues.

You can cultivate gratitude and positive emotions by intentionally practicing gratitude for a few minutes each day for 30 days. Focusing on the good things in your life will lead to experiencing more positive emotions and inspire positive actions.

Neuroscience shows that positive emotions activate the left side of the brain, linked to an approach motivation. The right side of the brain, linked to avoidance, develops earlier so negative emotions tend to dominate. Positive emotions can overcome this negativity bias and increase resilience, creativity, and well-being.

Spending time with emotionally healthy people also helps rewire your brain in a positive way through emotional resonance and shared positive emotions. Their joy and well-being can lift your own mood and emotional state. Connecting with compassionate people, whether in person or remotely, is beneficial.

Doing activities like reading poetry together is a great way to decondition unhelpful patterns of thinking and open up neural receptivity to positive change. Poetry integrates the hemispheres of the brain and helps regulate emotions. Connecting with others over poetry or shared positive experiences is highly effective for building resilience.

Seek out emotionally healthy people to connect with, whether in person or remotely. Share positive emotions and experiences with a “gratitude buddy” or “joy buddy.” Read poetry together or do other activities that lift mood and inspire positive feelings. These social connections and shared experiences are key to overcoming negativity bias and rewiring your brain for greater well-being and resilience.

  1. Arrange regular check-ins with a trusted friend or partner to build resilience. Share positive experiences and emotions, listen without judgment, and notice how you feel better after connecting.

  2. Toxic shame undermines resilience by activating our threat detection systems and making us feel inadequate or unlovable. It tends to spiral downward, feeding on itself.

  3. Four things happen in the brain during toxic shame:

  1. External threats activate our fight or flight response.
  2. This quickly switches to a collapse response, which makes us want to hide or withdraw.
  3. This triggers memories of past shame and a sense of deficiency.
  4. We may dissociate or go numb to avoid the painful feelings.
  1. The best way to overcome toxic shame is connecting with someone who accepts and loves you as you are. Then, build on that to develop self-love and acceptance. Connection helps rewrite the neural pathways that feed shame.

  2. An example is Richard, who felt insecure going to a friend’s engagement party after two failed marriages. His inner critic caused a shame spiral that distracted him and led to a car accident. Though friends supported him, he initially couldn’t take in their love due to his shame. Connection and self-acceptance helped him recover.

The question is: How can I develop emotional intelligence? The answer is:

  1. Sustaining and being sustained by love and appreciation. Actively cultivate feelings of love, care, affection and appreciation for others. Notice how this makes you and others feel and build on those positive emotions. Let others’ care and appreciation for you support you in return.

  2. Recognizing and managing your own emotions. Become aware of your emotions and how they influence your thoughts and actions. Learn techniques to regulate intense emotions and channel them in constructive ways. Stay flexible in your emotional responses.

  3. Handling relationships and influencing others with skill. Develop empathy for others and insight into relationship dynamics. Communicate in ways that inspire trust and motivate others. Resolve conflicts in mutually beneficial ways.

In summary, developing emotional intelligence involves strengthening your own emotional self-awareness and regulation, fostering compassion for others, building supportive relationships, and using your emotions to inform skillful action. With practice, emotional intelligence can become second nature.

  • The teacher instructed the students to write down the names of all their classmates and something they appreciated about each one.
  • The next day, the teacher gave each student a sheet with comments of appreciation from all their peers.
  • Many students were surprised by the positive feedback from their classmates.
  • 10 years later, a student who had died in Vietnam had kept that sheet of appreciations in his pocket. Another classmate still carried her sheet as a reminder.
  • The exercise showed how we are sustained by the love and appreciation of others and need to be regularly reminded of that.
  • Sharing appreciation with others uses emotional intelligence to nourish them too.

An exercise is suggested to carry a list of appreciations from others in your wallet for a month to build resilience by taking in that positivity daily. This activates positive feelings and optimism, builds connections, and enhances coping.

  • Self-compassion, like self-appreciation, builds emotional intelligence and resilience. It helps address inner criticism with self-care.

  • An exercise is suggested to write a letter to a friend about inner criticism, then reply as the friend with empathy, care, and acceptance to access self-compassion. This can rewire those critical neural patterns.

  • Compassionate communication is also important, using self-compassion to overcome habitual reactive and judgmental mindsets in order to have constructive conversations. This involves self-care, calming anxieties, and seeking to understand others.

• Learning to respond flexibly rather than reacting automatically takes practice and rewiring our brains.

• We can choose to see disruptive life events as cues to learn new, more constructive responses rather than reacting habitually.

• Instead of seeing events as only disruptive or traumatic, we can shift our perspectives to view them as opportunities to grow and choose healthy responses.

• The space between stimulus and response is our opportunity to choose our response. Our responses shape our growth and freedom.

• We have the freedom and power to choose our attitude and response in any situation.

• Identifying options and choosing wisely among them allows us to respond flexibly rather than reacting habitually.

  • Researchers have found that people who can vary their responses to life events as needed tend to be more resilient. This is because they have more flexible neural pathways in their prefrontal cortex.

  • The exercises in this book, including mindfulness, help build more neural flexibility and resilience. They teach skills like noticing patterns, shifting perspectives, and creating options.

  • Mindful self-awareness allows you to see your reactive patterns clearly and rewire your brain to have more flexible responses. You can use conditioning, deconditioning, and reconditioning to modify patterns. This creates a more flexible mindset so you can consider new options.

  • Noticing and naming your reactions in the moment helps build response flexibility. It activates your prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and insula so you can notice bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotion patterns. This creates choice points where you can choose a different response.

  • Our brains have encoded many beliefs and rules from past experiences that filter our current perceptions. Some are helpful, but some can be distorted. Mindful self-awareness helps you see these patterns clearly so you can rewire them and have a more balanced perspective.

  • An example is noticing and naming your reactions to seeing a friend greet or ignore you. You can notice bodily sensations, thoughts, and how your thoughts follow familiar patterns. Naming the reactions and patterns builds prefrontal cortex flexibility.

  • With practice, you can notice and rewire reactive patterns quickly, using mindful empathy. This boosts your ability to face difficulties without avoidance. You can challenge distorted beliefs and see more balanced options.

So in summary, the key skills for building resilience are: noticing your patterns, naming them with self-compassion, using that awareness to rewire them into more flexible responses, and as a result being able to see more choice and options in difficult situations. Mindfulness and mindful self-awareness are foundational for developing these skills.

Negative and self-limiting thoughts can reinforce themselves and become entrenched patterns that limit our resilience and options. Identifying these patterns is the first step to changing them.

By cultivating mindful empathy, we can notice thoughts, feelings, and mental states as they arise, see them as patterns rather than truths, and choose to shift to different perspectives. For example, noticing anger arise in response to frustration and seeing that pattern of reactivity allows us to choose a different response, like patience or calm.

With practice, we can identify the perspectives we filter experience through most often and choose more flexible, adaptive responses. Recognizing opportunities to shift old patterns is key. For instance, while preparing taxes, noticing negative self-talk arise, seeing it as an unhelpful pattern, and choosing to shift to a more constructive perspective.

The ability to see thoughts, feelings, and states of mind as passing phenomena rather than truths is a skill of the prefrontal cortex. Exercises that enhance this ability, like identifying different states of mind that shape our perspectives and shifting between them, can strengthen this capacity. This allows us to step back from reactivity, see options, and make choices that serve us better.

In summary, awareness of the patterns of mind that limit us, coupled with the ability to witness them as temporary and see other options, is key to building resilience and well-being. With regular practice of these skills, we can transform entrenched habits of mind that keep us stuck in suffering.

Shirley got stuck in her usual mindset when preparing her taxes. She took a walk to clear her mind and came back with a different mindset. She framed preparing her taxes as an opportunity to practice noticing her thoughts and staying open-minded. She noticed when her mind started to close in confusion and called her neighbor for advice. By the end of the day, she finished her taxes and felt proud of herself for shifting her mindset, trusting herself and her practice.

Noticing opportunities to shift mindsets and create new options activates the prefrontal cortex, enabling reflective choice. Exercise 3 provides steps to recognize these opportunities:

  1. Identify 5 triggering situations where you respond automatically.

  2. Next 3 times this happens, pause and notice your thoughts/feelings before responding. See if a “wiser self” view changes your perspective or provides new options.

  3. Apply views from different mental states to events. Notice how perspectives/interpretations change. See which allow flexible responses. Include the “wiser self” view.

  4. Apply different views to a troubling event. Notice how perspectives change.

  5. Intend to see events, especially stressors, as opportunities to notice patterns and create options. Reshape responses.

  6. Like Pema Chödrön says, see difficulties as opportunities to transform yourself by staying with discomfort and not habitually reacting. Your prefrontal cortex can transform on the spot.

Key lessons:

• Step back to reflect on experiences triggering old reactions. Noticing them strengthens self-awareness to create new options.

• Recognize moments to shift mindsets and behaviors. Practice reflection and clarity to make new choices.

• Develop response flexibility - the basis of resilience.

The next chapter discusses using your prefrontal cortex to reflect on, shift and transform any patterns you choose.

• We can redirect our thoughts when we’re feeling bad to improve our mood. For example, thinking of our son scoring a goal at a soccer game instead of sitting in the dentist’s chair. Or remembering a fun vacation with friends instead of feeling anxious about giving a public talk.

• Regularly redirecting our thoughts and shifting our perspectives strengthens our brain’s ability to be flexible and resilient. Neuroscience research shows the power of positive thoughts to activate different brain circuits and change our view.

• An exercise to shift perspectives is replacing automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) with automatic positive thoughts (APTs). Identify a habitual negative thought and brainstorm alternative positive thoughts. Practice the positive thoughts immediately when the negative thought arises. This creates new neural pathways and habits.

• Another perspective shifting exercise is “belly botany” - observing a small patch of ground up close for several minutes. Then look up and notice the change in scale and perspective. This helps us loosen our grip on old ways of thinking and gain a fresh view.

• Shifting between focusing and defocusing networks in our brain helps generate new insights and perspectives. Focusing on small details then shifting to a larger view activates different brain circuits and a more open, receptive state of mind.

• Giving up smaller, limited stories about ourselves and embracing larger stories that allow for growth and change is key for development. Old identities and internal models can be shed and replaced with new ones through new experiences and reconditioning our minds.

• An example is a client realizing she lacked an understanding of play between mothers and daughters based on her own experience. Recognizing this pattern and the desire to change it was distressing but allowed for the possibility of reconditioning her mind for a new identity as a playful mother.

• We gain empowerment and resilience through learning to monitor our perspectives and modify them when needed. This allows us to discern wise choices and respond with flexibility.

• Once we experience successfully shifting from a helpless to an empowered perspective, even once, we create the most significant shift of all. We move from seeing ourselves as helpless victims of circumstance to knowing we can generate options and choose wisely among them.

• This empowered “I” allows us to find the calm and courage to make wise choices and respond flexibly in difficult circumstances. We use our abilities to stay calm and connected to discern the wisest choice and respond to challenges with competence and courage.

• The poem “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” depicts this journey to empowerment and resilience. We start out helpless, then pretend the challenges aren’t there. We finally see the challenges but habitually fall into them. Eventually we learn to walk around them. Finally we choose an entirely new path.

• New perspectives provide the keys to our growth and freedom. Choosing them, even in small ways, leads to empowerment, resilience, and new possibilities. Our neural flexibility increases as our perspectives expand.

• Making wise choices involves discernment: assessing our situation accurately, listening to our intuition and wisdom, evaluating options for the responses most aligned with our values and well-being. We consider both short-term and long-term consequences.

• Responding flexibly means adapting to challenges with an open and curious mindset instead of rigidity. We look for options rather than seeing only obstacles. We stay responsive to new information and are willing to adjust our responses accordingly. Flexibility allows us to navigate difficulties with greater ease and competence.

• Both discernment and flexibility are skills we can strengthen through conscious practice and repetition. We start by applying them in small, everyday situations and build from there. Each time we choose well and respond flexibly, we build our confidence in using these vital resilience tools.

To harness neuroplasticity and develop flexibility and resilience, we need to create options, make discerning choices, and choose wisely. This involves:

  1. Assessing the situation clearly by getting all the facts, expert input and identifying past patterns. This requires resources like time, help from others and open-mindedness. Assessment is key to developing response flexibility.

  2. Identifying options through brainstorming with others. This helps spark new ideas through associations. Generate many ideas quickly without judgment. Then categorize the ideas by topic, still without judgment.

  3. Identifying and avoiding self-limiting beliefs and automatic patterns that limit options or resilience. Adopt new perspectives from your “wiser self” to approach the situation with optimism and courage.

  4. Identifying core values to guide choice-making. Our moral compass, shaped by influences like parents, guides our choices. Your “wiser self” embodies your highest values.

  5. Consulting your wiser self through presence and listening. Share your dilemma and options. Listen for wisdom and guidance on values, not specifics. Register this guidance in your awareness.

  6. Discerning which options match your values. Some will feel right, others off. Strange as it sounds, sometimes you must trust your intuition.

  7. Choosing wisely based on discernment and values. Be willing to take responsibility for your choices. You can always reassess and choose again.

The key is developing the neural capacity to see options where you saw none before, discern the best ones and choose wisely. Every choice has an impact so choose based on your values and learning. You can always reassess and choose differently.

  1. The prefrontal cortex integrates input from many parts of the brain to make decisions. It uses both the focusing and defocusing networks, the rational left hemisphere and the intuitive right hemisphere, and draws on both explicit memories and intuitive wisdom. The stronger the prefrontal cortex, the better we can assess situations, identify options, determine values, and make wise choices.

  2. We have practiced exercises to build response flexibility and a neurobiological platform for resilience. We can now reflect on our patterns, use brain change processes to modify them, assess situations, identify options and blocks, determine values, and make wise choices.

  3. This platform allows us to demonstrate the 5 Cs: stay calm in crises, see clearly, connect to resources, become competent, and show courage.

  4. We can now notice how the 5 Cs are integrated into our personal self and behaviors. Then we can use the defocusing network to suspend the prefrontal cortex and open to reverie, insights, and epiphanies about ourselves.

  5. We can then open awareness further to an unconditioned experience of nonself and insights that rewire negative patterns. Using the prefrontal cortex to integrate self and nonself experiences integrates the brain.

  6. Brain scans show this process increases neural firing frequency, synchrony, and resilience. Awareness observes the transient self and contents, allowing us to find the space between stimulus and response.

  7. We start by focusing awareness on the present moment and sense of self. Then we defocus into nonself, integrate the experiences, and tap into intuitive wisdom.

  8. Although we share basic neural structures, how they develop and function creates our unique personalities and coping styles. Mindfulness practice helps integrate them.

  9. The personal self emerges from conditioning and culturally transmitted beliefs about identity. Mindfulness helps see beyond these to the unconditioned.

  10. The unconditioned is an open, spacious awareness without judgments or resistance. Resting here, insights about self and reality may arise, altering brain maps of self and increasing well-being. This is a state of simple being.

The key points are using different types of awareness and states of consciousness to build response flexibility and integrate the brain, tapping into intuitive wisdom and well-being. Shifting between self and nonself, conditioned and unconditioned, helps achieve this. The practices in this chapter facilitate these shifts and the benefits that can result.

  • The sense of self is constructed in the brain and evolves over a lifetime. Though all human brains share some similarities, no two selves are identical.
  • The prefrontal cortex helps develop a unique sense of self as we mature, though the contents of the self continuously change.
  • We can explore the contents of the self through mindfulness and notice how fluid and shifting they are. The “self” is not fixed or monolithic.
  • Exercise 1 involves recalling moments demonstrating the 5 C’s of coping (calm, clarity, connection, competence, courage) and noticing how our sense of self emerges from these memories and associations. We can see how our sense of self is fluid, not fixed.
  • In exercise 2, relaxing into a reverie state allows insights about the self to emerge. The brain’s default mode makes new associations and the right hemisphere looks for new connections. This can lead to epiphanies or “aha” moments about the self.
  • Though the sense of self dissolves in reverie, the hard work developing a resilient self is not lost. The brain can quickly reconstitute a sense of self if needed. Relaxing into reverie and gaining self-insights requires openness, curiosity, and non-judgement.
  • Neuroscience shows the brain is active even when unfocused. The default mode searches for new associations and insights. The right hemisphere connects dots in new ways, enabling epiphanies. The anterior superior temporal gyrus may correlate with insights.
  • Dissolving the sense of self into simply being allows us to tap into “nonbeing” and inner space, as in the poem by Lao Tzu. The personal self is constructed, but underneath is a less constructed sense of simply being.

The key ideas are that the self is fluid and constructed, though we all share some similarities. We can gain insight into the self by relaxing control over constructing it and noticing what emerges in reverie. Beneath the personal self is a more fundamental state of simply being. The brain is always active, and insights arise from its default mode of making new associations, especially in the right hemisphere.

  • Exercise 2 offers practice in entering a state of reverie where we can let go of conditioned patterns and gain new insights. It uses a technique to shift into a diffuse mode of awareness to expand our consciousness beyond limitations and conditioning into an unconditioned state. In this state, a sense of nonself or simply being can arise. This is an embodied experience, not just a concept. Resting in spaciousness, we access open possibility.

  • Focusing awareness on awareness gives the brain something to anchor it as we encourage it to do less. As awareness approaches nondoing, the mind can rest in unconditioned awareness. Focusing on the breath anchors us in reality as everything else recedes. There is only being and awareness of being.

  • Caution: Repeatedly deconsolidating and reconsolidating the self on a large scale requires a safe context, like connecting with our inner secure base. Dropping into unconditioned awareness should not drop us into an existential void but into wholeness. We must be careful of the negativity bias of the right hemisphere, which is more active in defocused states. If overwhelmed, reconnect with what is stable and supportive.

  • Exercise 3 guides us to dissolve the self into the unconditioned nonself through expanding awareness of breathing from oneself, to others nearby, to all people everywhere, to all living things, to all existence. Resting in vast spacious awareness, we experience simply being. Taking time to reflect on this experience of lightness or openness allows insights to arise. Though we can access this state through practice, we must still engage with our immediate situation.

  • Meditators adept at transcending into awareness of awareness show increased gamma waves, indicating concentration, unity, and bliss. Gamma spikes precede insights. Focusing awareness on awareness creates conditions for revelation.

  • Epiphanies in unconditioned awareness reveal deep truths with a sense of certainty. They often inspire awe and convey benevolence or oneness. Seeing our innate goodness builds resilience. This goodness is realized in stillness as everything else falls away. It brings well-being and is a resource for rewiring less-resilient patterns.

  • Bypassing simply being for doing causes us to miss opportunities for awakening and growth, repeating old patterns. There is a natural tendency to become what we truly are. We need only align with what wants to happen naturally and make the effort to support it.

  • While steady practice could bring enlightenment, for human functioning we need the brain’s ability to access mindful presence, see the big picture, tolerate uncertainty, and shift between diffuse and focused modes. This integration of self and nonself allows freedom, creativity, and functioning.

• Exercising awareness of awareness and dissolving into a sense of oneness or nonself can radically transform our sense of self and our patterns of response. This leads to a deeper integration in the brain and greater mental capacity and resilience.

• We can use the awareness of our true nature or nonself to rewire old conditioned patterns of our personal self, transforming our beliefs and responses. This creates a more coherent and whole sense of self.

• We have many layers of self: our inner child, our adult self, our wiser self, our true nature, and the unconditioned. Integrating awareness of all these layers leads to experiencing our whole self. This flexibility and ability to navigate different levels of self sustain our resilience.

• Focused attention activates the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, involved in constructing our sense of self and taking action. Spacious, open awareness activates the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, involved in creating new associations and rewiring the brain. Alternating between these networks leads to deeper brain integration.

• Integrating focused and defocused modes of processing in the brain, and the self and nonself, sets in motion a transformative process. It leads to high-frequency gamma brain waves, creating new neural networks and greater harmony in the brain.

• We can use tools to strengthen the prefrontal cortex and harness neuroplasticity, rewiring trauma responses, improving emotional regulation, empathy, insight, choice, and flexibility. This leads to productive rewiring of old patterns and building resilience.

• Deeper integration of self and nonself, and the brain networks involved, anchors our resilience and coping in our true nature, giving us an inner compass to guide our actions.

To maintain and continue to strengthen our resilience, we need to keep challenging our brains through new learning and interactions that foster neural integration and flexibility. Resilience is a skill we can choose to cultivate throughout our lives by:

  1. Continuing to practice self-directed neuroplasticity through the tools and techniques we’ve learned. Repeated practice rewires and strengthens brain circuits.

  2. Pushing our brains outside of their comfort zones by learning new complex skills that require the integrated functioning of both brain hemispheres, such as learning to play an instrument, speak a new language, memorize poetry, or engage in frequent problem solving. These challenges build cognitive reserve and neural flexibility.

  3. Adopting a model of lifelong learning and mastery. We move through four phases of competence and awareness:

  • Unconscious incompetence: We don’t know what we don’t know. Ignorance.

  • Conscious incompetence: We realize we lack some knowledge or skill. This can be an “Oh shit!” moment but also the beginning of gaining competence.

  • Conscious competence: We know how to do something and are aware that we know. We build mastery and confidence through experience and practice.

  • Unconscious competence: What we have learned and the skills we have gained have become second nature. Mastery.

  1. Choosing to make resilience a central organizing principle in our lives, not just an occasional lifesaver. Resilience supports well-being, happiness, and the flexibility to adapt to challenges. It is a skill we can continue improving throughout our lives.

Through continued learning and practice, resilience can become an unconscious competence and way of being. But we must always remain open to becoming consciously incompetent again, so we stay humble and open to continued growth. The keys are perseverance, maintaining a growth mindset, and embracing challenges as opportunities to expand our capacities. With practice, resilience does become easier and more natural.

  • Learning new skills and developing competencies strengthens our resilience. As we practice a new skill, we progress through four stages of learning:
  1. Unconscious incompetence: We don’t know what we don’t know.
  2. Conscious incompetence: We realize we have a gap in our knowledge or skills.
  3. Conscious competence: We acquire knowledge and skills through practice and effort.
  4. Unconscious competence: The new skill becomes second nature through experience.
  • We can cultivate resilience by identifying attributes we want to develop, like assertiveness, and practicing them in real-life situations. With experience, these skills become wired into our sense of self.

  • Our lives are shaped by the “big organizing principles” (BOPs) or values that guide our actions, like patience, faith or creativity. We can identify BOPs that resonate with us and look for opportunities to manifest them in our daily lives. Developing competence in applying our BOPs strengthens our resilience.

  • There are many models or “keys for cracking the code of life” that can provide guidance on values and practices that lead to meaning, fulfillment and well-being. We can explore different models, apply what resonates with us, and adapt them to our own needs and circumstances. Finding a model that provides a moral compass helps ensure we don’t “drift, get lost, or sink.”

  • In summary, developing competencies, identifying and manifesting our BOPs, and finding useful models or keys for living a meaningful life are ways we can craft a resilient self. Resilience is a lifelong learning process.

The key to a meaningful and fulfilling life is finding ways to strengthen our resilience and act with compassion towards others. Researchers have found that practices which move our focus beyond ourselves enrich our own lives and the lives of others.

Altruism, or unselfish concern for the welfare of others, is one way to express resilience. When we feel empathy for others and are moved to act, our behavior is motivated partly by oxytocin, the “tend and befriend” hormone. With secure attachment, we can maintain a balanced focus on ourselves and others, allowing us to act generously. There are many examples of altruistic acts, large and small, that can inspire us. Regular acts of altruism, no matter the scale, can build our own resilience.

Compassionate action allows us to become agents of change. Our mature resilience gives us the ability to meet challenges and solve problems, fueling our capacity to generate positive change in the world. We can change the world through small, committed actions, one at a time. Finding ways to create change through our own efforts can lead to growth and fulfillment.

In summary, resilience is something we are born with, though we must work to strengthen it. We have the tools and ability to rewire our brains, create supportive conditions, choose interactions and experiences that build resilience, and develop confidence in the face of challenges. With regular practice of skills like mindfulness, empathy, and gratitude, we can maximize our resilience and well-being. A meaningful and joyful life is built through compassion for ourselves and others.

  • The book draws on teachings, experiences, and input from 16 individuals including Peter Baumann, Judith Bell, Dan Clurman, Andy Dreitcer, and Daniel Ellenberg.

  • Three key places served as refuges and resources for the author’s writing and thinking: Wilbur Hot Springs in Northern California, Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, and the author’s own garden.

  • The author expresses deep gratitude for the editing support and input from Shoshana Alexander, Caroline Pincus, Jason Gardner, and Erika Büky.

  • The author also thanks several friends and family members for their encouragement and support, including Margaret Deedy, Michael Goldberg, Karuna Graham, Barb and Bob Hirni, Cherry and Emma Jones, Katherine Mapes-Reznik, Steve McKiernan, Lorrie Norby, and Marianne and Stan Stefancic.

  • The author expresses special gratitude for the love and support of the “Gourmet Poets’ Society,” including Dina Zvenko, William Strawn, Eve Siegel, Lynn Robinson, Lynne Michelson, Cariadne MacKenzie-Hooson, Phyllis Kirson, Gary Horvitz, Marilynne Chophel, Paul Basker, and Bette Acuff.

Here is a summary of your notes:

  • There are four general styles of attachment and coping: secure, anxious, avoidant, disorganized. These attachtenet styles are formed in early childhood and shape how we relate to ourselves and others.

  • 80% of neural connections are formed by age 3. Early experiences shape brain development and coping styles. Researchers know that coping styles we learn as children persist into adulthood.

  • The brain has a “negativity bias” and tends to focus more on threats than rewards. Trauma disrupts the brain and body’s natural resilience. Repeated trauma without resolution can lead to psychological and physical problems.

  • “Self-directed neuroplasticity” means we can use our mind to change the brain. All mental activity creates new neural connections. Mindfulness, empathy, and other practices can help rewire the brain.

  • There are five elements of empathy: resonance, attunement, empathic listening, self-observation without judgment, and compassion. These elements allow for empathic connections between people. Self-empathy is also important for well-being.

  • The brain learns best through novelty, repetition, emotion, play, and social interaction. Setting an intention, persevering toward goals, practicing self-regulation and stress reduction, spending time in nature, mindfulness, and EMDR are ways to rewire the brain.

  • Integrating mind/body approaches with talk therapy can be very effective. Blending paradigms allows us to work at multiple levels of the brain and mind. A combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches may have the strongest and longest-lasting impacts.

Here is a summary of the “Resilience and Renewal” workshop:

  • The workshop focused on cultivating resilience - the ability to bounce back from adversity - through understanding the neuroscience of relationships and practicing skills to build healthy connections.

  • Our early experiences shape our nervous systems and capacity for resilience. Secure attachment in childhood leads to greater resilience. We can re-shape our neural circuits through new experiences of secure attachment in relationships.

  • Practices for building resilience include:

  1. Mindfulness - paying attention to the present moment without judgment. This strengthens the prefrontal cortex and lowers stress.

  2. Self-compassion - being kind to ourselves. This engages the caregiving system in our brains and soothes distress.

  3. Positive psychology - intentionally cultivating positive emotions, gratitude, and strengths. This builds optimism and well-being.

  4. Emotion regulation - learning to identify, express and manage our emotions in healthy ways. This widens our window of tolerance for difficult experiences.

  5. Relational skills - making eye contact, listening, empathy, compassion, forgiveness. These help us connect with others, feel felt by them, and find mutual support.

  6. Finding our secure base - connecting to our own sources of comfort, safety and guidance within. This internal secure base provides stability in times of distress.

  • Summary: We can build resilience through understanding how our brains and relationships interact, and by regularly practicing skills that establish secure connections - both outwardly with others and inwardly with ourselves. Resilience arises from the quality and health of our inner and inter connections.

  • Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that promotes social bonding and trust. Exposure to oxytocin can increase positive social interactions and relationships.

  • Safe, warm physical touch and contact releases oxytocin and other feel-good hormones in the brain. This can cultivate positive feelings and social connections.

  • Slow, deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which calms the body and mind. This can help reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being.

  • Evoking positive memories or mental images also releases feel-good hormones and can lift one’s mood. This is a way to tap into positive emotional resources.

  • Releasing muscle tension through stretching or massage helps calm the autonomic nervous system. This can help shift one’s mood and make one feel more at ease.

  • Noticing positive emotions, naming them, and dwelling in the momentary experience of them can strengthen positive neural pathways in the brain. This builds resilience and emotional flexibility.

  • All emotions serve a purpose and contain useful information. The key is developing the ability to manage emotional reactions and find the meaning, message or lesson in them. This involves the prefrontal cortex.

  • Cultivating positive emotions such as gratitude, compassion and joy builds psychological and physical health. Positive emotions broaden thinking, build resilience and strengthen social relationships.

  • Having positive, meaningful social interactions and relationships stimulates the release of oxytocin and other reward circuits in the brain. This leads to a sense of well-being and contentment.

  • Practicing self-care, mindfulness and embracing lighthearted moments help shift mood and add more positive experiences into each day. This builds the capacity for happiness and life satisfaction.

Here is a summary of the seminar “United by Compassion,” presented by Linda Graham, MFT, at the Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley, on June 11, 2010:

  • The poet Roger Housden described compassion as the ability to “suffer with” another, to feel deep empathy for their suffering. The Dalai Lama described compassion as the “fundamental element” of human nature.

  • Empathy has two components: resonance, the ability to feel what another is feeling; and compassion, the motivation to relieve suffering. Resonance activates the mirror neuron system; compassion activates the caregiving system. Both can be strengthened through mindfulness practices.

  • Self-compassion is also important for well-being and resilience. It has three elements: self-kindness, common humanity (recognizing our shared human frailty and suffering), and mindfulness (a balanced awareness of our experiences). Like compassion for others, self-compassion can be cultivated.

  • Healthy self-appreciation and self-compassion balance difficult feelings of shame and turn “toxic shame” into sustainable humility and wisdom. This involves changing beliefs, finding our basic goodness, and practicing self-care and self-compassion.

  • Emotional intelligence skills such as recognizing and managing our own emotions and showing empathy and compassion for others are learnable and contribute to well-being, happiness, and success in relationships. These skills can be enhanced at any age through mindfulness and compassion practices.

  • Mindful resilience comes from facing suffering with an open and calm heart. We can strengthen our capacity for mindfulness and compassion through formal meditation and by bringing mindful awareness and self-compassion to everyday life. This supports greater ease, wisdom, and inner peace.

The key message was that by cultivating compassion - for ourselves and others - we can enhance individual and collective well-being, create healthier relationships, and build a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. Mindfulness and compassion practices offer methods for developing and strengthening these vital inner resources.

Here are the summaries:

81–83: Exercises, self-acceptance, and strengthening resilience capacities

88: Mindful empathy entails attunement, compassion, and clarity. It leads to resilience.

Exercises: Activating the release of oxytocin through head rub, hand on heart, hugs, and massaging the vagus nerve. Bringing attunement and resonance to consciousness. Choosing a practice. Coming into presence. Creating a better choice through new conditioning. Creating a circle of support. Creating a safe place. Creating material resources. Cultivating empathy and self-empathy. Equanimity. Self-acceptance. Self-compassion.

• Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt in response to experience. Mindful empathy can harness neuroplasticity through deconditioning and reconditioning processes.

• Deconditioning involves loosening up habitual patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving through mindfulness practices. It promotes response flexibility and opens us up to new ways of perceiving and engaging with ourselves and others.

• Reconditioning involves cultivating new neural connections through repeated experiences that strengthen empathy, attunement, resilience, and other prosocial capacities. Intention and imagination play a role in directing reconditioning.

• Mindful empathy relies on networks in the brain involved in attunement, emotional processing, interpersonal relating, and self-awareness. Core capacities include resonance, attunement, acceptance, compassion, and response flexibility.

• Mindful empathy can be strengthened through a variety of mindfulness practices, including mindfulness of the breath, loving kindness meditation, reflective practices, imagining others’ perspectives, and embodied exercises like deep listening.

• Benefits of mindful empathy include improved emotional and social intelligence, healthier relationships, reduced toxic shame and defensiveness, increased resilience and calm, and an expanded sense of connection with oneself and others.

• Poetic sensibility and learning from life experiences also help cultivate mindful empathy. Key lessons involve embracing imperfection, practicing generosity and kindness, honoring innate goodness in self and others, and finding meaning through connection.

Here is a summary of the pages you requested:

Page 324: The Mindful Therapist (Siegel) discussed, focusing on attuned communication and response flexibility.

Pages 330–33: Discussed shedding old identities and conditioning through deconditioning and reconditioning. Letting go of old views and patterns is a mindfulness practice that allows for new perspectives and responses.

Page 352: Self-awareness allows us to witness our experiences and responses without overidentifying with them. This leads to greater clarity and wisdom.

Page 230: Somatic intelligence exercises help build the capacity to detect and understand bodily sensations and cues. This allows for better self-regulation and attunement to others.

Page 51: Mindfulness is defined as consciously paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. It leads to greater self-awareness and clarity.

Page 87: Mindful empathy is attuning to others with an open, nonjudgmental stance. It allows us to resonate with others’ experiences while maintaining a witnessing awareness.

Does this help summarize the requested pages? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

Here’s a summary of the items:

Eleanor, 41 Marshall Rosenberg, 300 Robert Ross, 133 Theodore Rubin, 138 Rumi, 154 sadness, 252, 259, 261 Virginia Satir, 151 Jeffrey Schwartz, 50 Albert Schweitzer, 275 secularization, 62

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