Archive for December, 2010

Soft Brown Shirt

December 29, 2010

In a recent post on attachment parenting I offered the notion of “containment parenting,” as a middle ground, at least in terms of verbiage, between “attachment” (which perhaps, to some, sounds a bit too involved, fussy or enmeshed) and some abstract opposite, such as “non-attachment” (which might sound good if you’re hanging with Thich Nhat Hahn, but not with an infant).  A reader inquired if I could say more about “containment parenting,” and while I could suggest an old post on the colander and the bowl, a poem made its way into my head.  At least it’s easier reading than my typical post 🙂 …


I fell in love with a

Brown-eyed girl

Who had a brown shirt

In New York city


I saw that same shirt

In a Soho shop,

Soft brown cotton on Sullivan

Street.  It was dear indeed


But I wanted to be just

Like her.  Cotton as soft

As her lover’s touch,

And I wore it until


It fell apart.  And we were

Left to love without shirts

On our backs until children

Held on tight:  monkey arms,

Piggy rides and broken banks


Parenting soft like that brown

Shirt.  Softly holding until

A butterfly drifts up and away

From your sun-warmed hands

Off to explore the garden

And back again for snacks


Her eyes sparkled brown except

When enraged.  Then they flashed

Green at the bars of her cage

Until they were mirrors

And the world and the stage

And we all loved each other

so much that we sometimes wept


And on that note I close 2010—wishing all those who happen across these words Brightness, Good Cheer, freedom from fear, the realization that true desires are already fulfilled, All Good Wishes and, most of all, Love.

Namaste, BD



December 22, 2010

Yesterday was the winter solstice and on this year it coincided with a lunar eclipse at midnight December 21st—at least on the west coast of North America.  Whatever this portends, as we approach Christmas I thought maybe we might dedicate this post to unity.  And in the spirit of unity—a story harking back 96 years…

World War One commenced in August of 1914 and by December 23rd the war was mired down in abject horror and misery; trenches of the British stood sixty yards from trenches of the Germans.  Rats, death and hardening mud were mainly what soldiers on both sides stood to get for Christmas.

Battered troops on both sides of the equation were losing their mojo for fighting and a live-and-let-live spirit was arising out of the broken lethargy, worrying British High Command (who hung out 27 miles away from the trenches in a chateau).  Suddenly, little candle-lit Christmas trees appeared along the crest of the German trenches against the darkening sky.

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Attachment in the lab, implications on the couch (and in the brain)

December 15, 2010

In bare bones and admittedly simplified terms, I wish to share some emerging understandings from the cutting edge of attachment research and interpersonal neurobiology.

I am quite fortunate to have UCLA in my hood, and have just returned from a weekend conference there where the world’s foremost experts in attachment research, Mary Hain and Erik Hesse, were down from Berkley and having a highly illuminating love-fest with their former student/spiritual son, and true brainiac, Dan Siegel.

While my inner nerd was thrilled to soak up the technical details of nuances in attachment and to refine my understanding of the hippocampus, insula and dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, I thought a cool challenge to myself might be to put it all in plain speak and see what it looks like—in the hopes that it might spread the word on what helps and what hurts, what heals and what direction a parent (and our wider culture) might head, with regard to security, insecurity and attachment.

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Mirror Mirror

December 8, 2010

Perhaps today is a good day to take seven minutes and forty-four seconds to watch a TED talk on mirror neurons by Vilayanur Ramachandran.

Whether you watch or not, Ramachandran might posit that you already know about it… at least at some unconscious level—because you gave that talk (at least the part of you that is Vilayanur Ramachandran).

While this sort of talk is all too familiar to aging new-agers and adherents of Eastern ideas, the fact that it is making its way into the corridors of Western science, by way of mirror neurons, strikes me as significant: what neuroscientists are discovering in the laboratory, the Buddha discovered under the Bodhi Tree:  there is no independent self, no distinction, ultimately, between your consciousness and my consciousness.

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Fear of Crying… Attachment Parenting on the Couch (or on the Hot Seat?)

December 1, 2010

I knew Erica Jong from my furtive erotic readings of pre-pubescence.  Fear of Flying sat modernly on my parents’ bookshelf, right next to The Happy Hooker (“What did she do with the German Shepherd?” was one of our eternal in-joke lines between my brother and our two best friends, also brothers).

Fear of Flying was less than satisfying to the curious and vaguely horny tween in the elephant-bell early 70s—I suppose it was more intelligent than The Happy Hooker, but for intellectual-sexual I could better relate to Portnoy’s Complaint.  All I really remembered from The Fear of Flying was the concept of the “zipless fuck” (I apologize if you carry a fear or repulsion at the F-word, but Erica started it).

Imagine my surprise, all these years later, to learn that Erica Jong was weighing in on, of all things, attachment parenting.  I learned of the controversy from the blogosphere, but then went to the source—The Wall Street Journal (another unexpected place to host a heated, and rather misinformed, debate on parenting)… but now that Rupert Murdoch owns it, the call to controversy may have resounded in those venerable halls.

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