As I was growing up, I often found myself in the role of family peacemaker and wondered what it would take for people to focus more on the ways that connected them rather than divided them — not just in families, but in communities and the workplace, too. The more I thought about it, the more the world seemed like one big dysfunctional family. When I was a young adult, these concerns led me to attend peace demonstrations, to visit India to seek inner peace and, finally, to become a psychotherapist.

In India, I learned the mindfulness method for monitoring our thoughts. It allows us to view our dysfunctional habits as a kind of cloud that covers our true, healthy nature. Mindful awareness can apply to mental and emotional patterns, like the dance of subjugation and entitlement, where one person imposes his or her agenda at the expense of the other, who passively surrenders to the other’s control.

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