When I was in college, I was fascinated by the large-scale experiment known as Biosphere2. Carried out in the Arizona desert, it was an enormous, enclosed, and theoretically self-sustaining ecosystem. Eight people lived inside for a year. It contained rainforests, coral reefs, rivers, and thousands of species designed to keep the system healthy.

There were many insights that came from this project, but my favorite, by far, was something quite unexpected. The trees in Biosphere2 grew incredibly rapidly when they were first planted. However, as the trees began to mature, many of them simply fell over.

When scientists looked at…

Before you read any further, I want to be clear that this article makes reference to childhood abuse. If you are someone for whom this may be a trigger, please treat yourself with care — including taking a pass on reading it if that feels right.

I sit every morning in mindfulness meditation. I began doing this many years ago as a way to cope with anxiety and anger. This practice has helped me find acceptance for strong and uncomfortable emotions rather than fighting them.

Recently I have been feeling intense sensations in my body that dominate my meditation. I…

Mindful breathwork might be a better way to start

Man doing mindful breathing.
Man doing mindful breathing.
Image credit: Olezzo.

I started a mindfulness practice because I was desperate.

I was very anxious and stressed a lot of the time. I had begun to have intense panic attacks that were making it harder and harder to function. Neither talk therapy nor medication was making much of a dent in my suffering, and many of my coping strategies were making things worse.

So, I started sitting in silence because I didn’t see another way. It was mostly difficult and frustrating to sit still for 20 minutes at a time and simply pay attention. My mind was crazy busy and my body…

“I thought I was powerless in this situation, but I can see now that underneath that was a fear of being worthless.” This insight was expressed by a client who has been working through an incredibly challenging circumstance in his life.

In my coaching I have come across many clients who discover they are driven by an underlying ambition — to prove to themselves and everyone else that they are enough. When they look more closely at this, they discover that the engine behind this drive is fear.

FoBU — the fear of being unworthy, unimportant, unappreciated, unseen, unheard, unloved…

Dear Friends,

Today I am finishing up my 55th trip around the sun. It began with an early morning trip to my favorite coffee shop, a walk on the beach with our puppy, and a swim in the ocean. What a blessing.

I am feeling deep gratitude for all those who have supported, encouraged, pushed, challenged, and just plain hung in there as I have muddled, stumbled, sprinted, crawled, and waded my way through these five and a half decades.

I hope you will indulge me in sharing some thoughts as I begin my 56th lap. There is something about…

A past retreat attendee wrote me recently to tell me about a challenge he has been facing. I have edited his note for privacy and brevity.

I got COVID on the first of the year and spent 8 days with standard symptoms at home. Then I was in the hospital for 11 days with pneumonia. I’m back at home, still on oxygen and limited in what I can do physical and mentally. It has been 3 weeks since I got out and I am progressing well.

I had been meditating regularly since our retreat, as well as doing some breathing…

Have you ever yelled at a small child about the importance of kindness? This is a question I ask whenever I speak to parents. There is always some combination of laughter and sheepishly raised hands as well as some downward glances and slow nodding of heads. This question is rarely met with blank stares.

My parents were bright, kind, curious and committed people. However, when something was not the way she wanted or expected, my mom’s first reaction was “Oh sh*t!” …

Let’s start with a question — when was the last time you saw a doctor and they asked you about how you breathe — length, frequency, depth, chest, abdomen, nose, mouth? I can tell you that no medical professional has ever asked me. Sure, they put a stethoscope against my back and listen, but no questions. One of the most influential health behaviors we know of is rarely discussed in routine medical exams.

I love reading nonfiction books and primary research articles. Not traveling for work during the pandemic has afforded me the time to intensively research and practice breathing.

Anne had an intense crush on Oscar all through high school. Her friends often reminded her that she was free to talk to him — or even tell him how she felt. Just the thought of it sent her into a tornado of imagined scenarios of rejection and embarrassment. At her 5th year reunion, a few cocktails gave Anne the courage to approach him and express what she had felt all through high school. He smiled and responded — “I felt the same way, but I was too nervous to tell you.”

Our relationship to discomfort

In my experience, many…

After the chaos and bloodshed at the Capitol last week, Joe Biden (along with plenty of other well-intentioned politicians) proclaimed that “this is not who we are.”

Then, last weekend, professional golfer was caught on a hot mic making a homophobic slur after missing a putt. His apology contained the sentence “This is not who I am.”

I can get super judgy around all of this. I can run for the moral high ground and point fingers with the best of them. And all I have to do to bring myself back to reality is look honestly at my own…

Dave Mochel

Dave has been studying and teaching the practices and principles of mindfulness, well-being, leadership, and effective teams for more than thirty years.

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