Stay Loose

Seven months into the State of Emergency, and the virus has not changed. The ways it spreads have not changed. It’s degree of fatality has changed only slightly for all but the richest and most privileged. And the patterns of government and behavior that have escalated the spread of the virus have also not changed. “How do we cope with all this?” is the question I often hear from clients and friends, and…

Continue Reading

Pandemicide [Full text]

David J. Bookbinder, LMHC david@transformationspress.org First, they came for the Mexicans and the Muslims. Then, they came for the refugees and the immigrants. Then, they came for the Blacks, the Latinxs, the Native Americans. Then, they came for the old, the sick, the poor. Now, they come for us all. Pandemicide. Therapist as Analyst I’m a psychotherapist. It may seem unusual for someone with a background in psychology to analyze national public health…

Continue Reading

URGENT: Pandemicide

I hope you’re doing well during this difficult time.  For the past couple of years, I’ve been focusing on balance – in these posts, in my book The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World, in a forthcoming online course, and in my own life. The greatest unbalancer most of us have experienced in our lifetimes is happening right now, so I thought I’d better directly address it. I began with…

Continue Reading

The Art of Balance in a Global Crisis – Step 2, Assess

I typically see people for psychotherapy after they’ve broken through denial but before they reach a state of true acceptance. Often, they come to my office wanting something to change but wanting to change nothing in themselves. Once we get to the radical acceptance phase, they’re able to stop vacillating between one strong emotion and its opposite and take a realistic look at their situations, the obstacles to their recovery, and also at…

Continue Reading

The Art of Balance in a Global Crisis – Step 1, Detect

Among my clients, friends, and family, those who are doing well in the pandemic have accepted that this is the way the world is now. They’ve arrived at a modified way of life that feels safe, and from that base of safety they’re looking for opportunities during this crisis and beyond. But they didn’t start out doing well, and neither did I. Shifting from the breakdown of denial to full detection of imbalance…

Continue Reading

The Art of Balance in a Global Crisis – Step 0, Denial

I’m a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and my work for the past 17 years has been to help people overcome psychological and situational problems that cause them emotional distress. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many people back into counseling – I’m now seeing, through telemedicine, almost twice as many clients as I was seeing in person before the pandemic. It has also led many who never worked with a therapist into counseling for…

Continue Reading

TL;DR: Do’s and Don’ts for Navigating a Global Crisis

I’ve been working on a detailed article about how the Art of Balance system applies to the current global crisis, and how to use it to navigate your way back to balance. In the meantime, I’ve also been keeping track of what’s been helping my clients, neighbors, friends, and family members — and also what hasn’t been so helpful. So, without further ado, I bring you this list of Pandemic Do’s and Don’ts.…

Continue Reading

The Art of Balance in a Global Crisis: Part I, Origins

The scenario: UnBalancer sweeps the globe. It begins in the wild, unbalancing a tiny creature that’s captured, taken to a live market in China, and slaughtered. From one vendor’s cart, it scurries around the market, dividing rapidly, like tiny UnBalancer rats and fleas. Buyers, unaware, take it home and UnBalancer enslaves them to its will. Swiftly and relentlessly, UnBalancer spreads. Throughout the world it appears, emulating scenes from scary movies and silly pop…

Continue Reading

Is it live or is it Memorex?

(Faking it till you make it and the cure for hypochondria) If you’re old enough, you might remember the iconic Memorex television commercials from the 1970s in which jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald shatters a wine glass with her voice. Then, the playback of a recording of Fitzgerald on Memorex tape shatters another. The announcer asks: “Is it live or is it Memorex?” More on Memorex in a moment. But first, a brief trip…

Continue Reading

Stuck? Find the bottleneck.

A few months ago, I took a business bootcamp course from Mirasee, an organization that helps build and scale businesses using a combination of audience-building strategies and online courses. The intention of the course designer and company founder, Danny Iny, was to teach participants how to jump start a business. I’m not sure, yet, whether the course will help me do that, but it’s already made a difference in how I approach problems…

Continue Reading

The Reluctant Carnivore

Last week, I happened upon a Facebook video that gave me pause. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=Sx-CxuAeVPo Until a few years ago, I’d always eaten meat. I love a good hamburger, a steak, turkey breast, salmon, grilled chicken. And I’d always been aware that I was indirectly killing a sentient creature. But, I thought, I’m also an animal, and other animals eat animals. I could hunt for my food if I had to. In April, 2014, a…

Continue Reading

Dive Deep to Live Creatively

Creative activities—and the creative approach to life that often accompanies them—can help us better withstand the huffing and puffing of life’s Big Bad Wolf. Creative activities are rewarding outlets for self-expression. They give us a sense of accomplishment, often have a centering effect, and they’re usually fun to do. But besides these obvious benefits, creative activities can also enhance how we approach our lives. When we work creatively, we dive deep into ourselves.…

Continue Reading

Clean Up Your Cat Hairs!

Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by fighting without delay is desperate ground. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War Stress is one of the most insidious challenges to building resilience. It can be a constant strain on our natural balancing mechanism, gradually wearing down its efficacy and slowing its response time. Basic ways to reduce stress that therapists often recommend include changing your emotional relationship to the stressor…

Continue Reading

The View from 30K

I recently flew from Boston to the West Coast to see my oldest and closest friend. I don’t fly often, but when I do, I try to get a a window seat. Yes, there’s less legroom, and yes, I have to step over people if I want to use the restroom, but there’s no other way to get the view from 30K, and the view from 30K is important to me. On this…

Continue Reading

Artists for Artists (Part I)

While I was waiting for my flight home in the vast Hong Kong International airport, I reflected on the many things that had been stirred in me by the experience of being in Hong Kong. Chief among them was a vague sense of fraudulence. Although I’d just run a vital, stimulating workshop on cultivating creativity at the Asia Yoga Conference, my own artistic creative output had been sadly lacking for nearly a year.…

Continue Reading

Guest Post: Ken Ring is Still Waiting to Die….

Waiting to Die – Part II Kenneth Ring I might have been a tad too glib when in the first installment of what clearly will be a terminal series having to do with my personal terminus, I observed that at least for me waiting to die was rather boring. After this winter, I have had cause to change my mind. For a while there, I thought it might be more of a matter…

Continue Reading

Justice: Attorneys, samurai, and Old Testament Jews

In the late ’50s, psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg observed that as we mature, we progress through three basic levels of moral development. At the pre-conventional levels, our sense of what’s fair and just is self-centered; we are concerned mainly with satisfying our own needs and avoiding punishment. Most of us move on to the conventional levels, where our sense of justice is based mainly on societal expectations; we make moral decisions based on rules,…

Continue Reading

How (and why) I became a therapist

Recently, I was in touch with a woman who is transitioning from being an engineer to becoming a therapist, and we’ve been exchanging emails on our respective paths. I thought I’d share a bit of mine, here. My path to becoming a therapist was a slow, trial-and-error process. I’m 67 now and was 51 when I enrolled in Cambridge College’s program to become a mental health counselor. I grew up a sort of…

Continue Reading

25th Anniversary Celebration

NOTE: Today is the 25th year anniversary of my near-death experience, an event that ended one phase of my life and began another, like the period at the end of this sentence ends it. And then a new sentence begins. This post from my book Paths to Wholeness: Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas describes that experience and its aftermath. GRACE: CONTINUATIONS On February 21, 1993, at about 7:45pm, I was granted a form of grace…

Continue Reading

“I Apologize.”

Before I started my training as a therapist, I took a short course in community mediation. Most of my mediation experience was as a volunteer in small claims court. We mediators helped conflicting parties try to reach a mutually satisfying agreement rather than simply letting a judge adjudicate the case. Small claims court is all about settling financial arguments, and money was always the identified issue in the cases we handled. But in…

Continue Reading