(or why I am diehard fan of her work)
Every once in a while along the meandering paths of life, there comes a moment, maybe a chance meeting, a work of art, a dream, an intuitive hit, a relationship, a journey to a new land, or some hard work that pays off – that becomes a deeply transformative experience. As I get older, these moments read like post it notes or chapter titles across the timeline in my mind. 2013 was the year I turned 48. It was my year of Awakening.
A Reiki teacher recently told me that 48 is a significant number; in fact, she said that every 12 years of life an alignment takes place. I think she is right. By age 12 I knew my life calling was to be a therapist after a significant incident; at 24 I met my husband; at 36 I had my second daughter and moved to a new, but very old New England home; 48 was a soulful year with a trip to Malaysia and Bali with my daughter Sophie. I met with various teachers, thought leaders, and healers of different stripes and colors, over the course of the year. I also received a huge innovation grant from the National Institutes of Health. It was incredible.
Indeed, my 48th year was a consolidation and a launch pad for my life’s work. I had already begun defining what I call the 5 Cs – compassion, commitment, connection, courage and confidence – as defining principles or core values of my work. And then the year unfolded in a remarkable way that affirmed all of these values.
In 2013 I met and was taught by Rick Hanson, PhD (author of The Buddha’s Brain, and Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence), Chris Germer PhD (author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion), Kristen Neff, PhD, (author of Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind), and Brené Brown (author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead and The Gifts of Imperfection). Maybe it took a while to find my tribe. On the other hand, the Universe unfolds in its own way and its gifts appear when we need them or when we can finally see them.
I’ve named this year, 2014, the year of Super Radiance, which refers to a phenomenon when the energy of disparate, living things illuminate or resonate. It was a phrase that jumped out at me when I listened to Lynne McTaggart’s book, The Intention Experiment. 2014 is also significant according to numerologists as it adds up to 7 no matter how you cut it (2014 = twenty + fourteen = 34; 3+4 = 7 or 2 + 0 +1 + 4 = 7). The number 7 represents wisdom and understanding and the word for 2014 is “trust.” I’ll take that.
Today I reflect on the work of Dr. Brené Brown, researcher and storyteller, and founder of the Daring Way™ method, in which I am a certified candidate.
A funny happened recently, when I was toting around her most recent book, Daring Greatly. It had been a long wintery day, and when I came home I didn’t even bother to empty my satchel and take out my laptop and charge it for the night. When I awoke the next morning, to my horror my water bottle leaked. My entire bag was soaked. Brené’s book (the one she signed!) was ruined. But miraculously, the pages mopped up the water and my Macbook remained dry. All my work and intellectual property lives in that device!
It took weeks for the book to dry out. The pages are now crinkled and smudged. I have not yet replaced it. I still leaf through it for words of wisdom as I incorporate the method in to my practice.
Turning the yellowed pages got me to think about the “seven” reasons I have found the work so transformational. For me, the Daring Way™ method:
- Affirms the work my previous teachers at Mclean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where I interned ages ago, the thought leaders who founded the Stone Center at Wellesley College, and who bravely championed a new way of thinking about human connections: the Relational Model in women’s psychology,
- Provides a common, non-judgmental language to talk about some of the most difficult but timeless experiences of the human condition: shame and vulnerability,
- Demonstrates how vulnerability is the flip side of courage and how we need to step into our vulnerability in order to be brave and show up in our lives,
- Embraces empathy and compassion as the antidotes to shame,
- Allows us to talk about shame not as a dirty word but as a universal experience that often keeps us small, scared, disengaged, and armored,
- Honors mindfulness as both a skill and a way of being that enables self-kindness and compassion toward others and fosters courage from the inside out,
- Re-introduces the word “wholeheartedness” into our lexicon as an attribute people can develop and live by in their personal, family and work lives.
What’s so beautiful about the Daring Way method is that Brené Brown’s work is based on thousands of interviews of men and women. Through people’s stories – their own words – she has illuminated the keys to why some people can live with – or overcome – the most difficult life experiences and still be able to thrive. That’s why it the work is so relatable. And it’s also why it is so hopeful.
We all can adopt practices of compassion and courage as a way of being in the world. In small ways or big ways. Every day.
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