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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

How to Find the Wisdom Inside to Mend Your Life

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 26th 2010


In the beginning of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook (March 1, 2010), Bob Stahl and I cite Mary Oliver's infamous poem "The Journey" saying:

One day you finally knew

What you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice -

 thought the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

Each voice cried.

The poem beautifully continues to relay the story of how even with this deep cry; we continue falling in the same traps over and over again. And then, over time, "as you left their voices behind," a new voice emerged which "you recognized as your own." With this voice came a determination to do what needed to be done to break through the dark clouds and "save the only life you could save."

How often have you or someone you loved felt that "old tug" to mend your life? We began the book with this poem because it speaks to an almost universal experience in us. Each one of us has had the experience of suffering and each one of us has had the voices that keep shouting their "bad advice."

There's another thing that each one of us has that this poem speaks to.

Each one of us has an inner wisdom inside, call it a wise self. This wise self is a voice inside that may be subtle and faint, but in the quiet of the storm we might be able to access it, feel it, and hear it.

This wise self knows what needs to be done and has the courage to do it. This wise self is within each and every one of us, but each and every one of us does not know how to access this vital part of ourselves.

So how do we do it? Here are two things to consider:

  1. I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't note that the workbook provides a step by step program (along with audio guidance) with 30 years of research with people who have suffered with stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and much more. The information and practices allow us a way to cultivate deeper and sustained insights to mend our lives.

  2. For a more momentary way to access this inner wisdom, imagine someone who you consider to be a wise person. This person may be living or dead and imagine them taking over your body for a bit of time and showing you how they would handle the situation. It may be that they do nothing, but sit with a sense of compassion and kindness toward their own suffering (rather than entertain the voices with "bad advice.") Or, maybe they recognize the need to actually do some things and show you that. Everyone's experience is unique to them.

Try this out and feel free to share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Expect Good practical Advice - Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. - Mar 1st 2010

Hi Steve,

You will absolutely get a step by step guide for this program. I hope you enjoy it and please spread the word,


My MBSR Workbook Arrives Tuesday! - Steven L. Carr, Cincinnati, OH, USA - Feb 28th 2010

And I cannot wait to get started.  I am hoping for some very practical advice on integrated mindfulness into my life.  Thank you Elisha and Bob for writing it, I'm greatly expectant.

Best Regards ~ Steve

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