The Paradox of Passion

The sign of a successful caring organization may reside in how its impact ultimately overshadows its origins.

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In 1981, my wife and I founded The Hartsbrook School not far from Mind & Life’s offices here in Hadley, Massachusetts. At the time, Hartsbrook was merely an idea voiced among a few new friends in our living room. There were no students yet, no teachers, no facilities. There was only an idea, one that became our passionate aspiration. We longed to not only educate children intellectually (as important as that is), but also to cultivate their imagination by integrating the arts, music, theatre, and poetry throughout the curriculum. We wanted to teach environmental values through a program that included gardens, goats, chickens, sheep, and milk cows. And most importantly, we believed these bright young beings should experience the ever-present care and love of their teachers for all of who they were: body, mind, and spirit. Read More

Theory of Mind

Contemplative science begins to unpack the critical elements of caring

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BLOG_TheoryofMind (LEADWRAP)

One of the central elements of caring involves the capacity to see things from another person’s point of view. In psychology, this ability is referred to as “theory of mind.” If we want to be able to respond to someone compassionately, we must first understand what he or she may be thinking, feeling, or perceiving—we must have a theory of his or her mind.

In order to do that, we must shift from our own perspective and “put ourselves in their shoes.” In that process, however, we don’t completely abandon our own view. Since we can’t observe others’ minds directly, we instead make use of personal memories and experiences, intuiting what another person is going through by way of analogy. If you think about it, this is actually a complicated set of cognitive operations, but we make this shift effortlessly, many times each day. Read More