Original oil painting by Lisa Lindeman

Hello there,

If you haven’t taken a deep breath in the past hour, do so now. Just one deep breath. As you exhale, know that all pain is temporary. Have you been grieving, worried, or frustrated? Okay, let’s take another deep breath. Know that there exists a future in which you are genuinely happy, where you are bathed in contentment, deeply at peace, and full of joy. If those words feel hollow, I understand, but I promise, they are sincere. You can and will feel better.

I’m a research psychologist and long-term meditation practitioner with a background in trauma-informed care. I write about emotional wellness and the human experience from both a personal and professional perspective. These are my letters:

Where do you find comfort?

Life has endless beauty but also horror. Most of us will encounter the darkness at some point. What do you do to cope? I keep reading the news despite, or perhaps because of, the grief it brings. Most of us will encounter life’s horrors at least once. Some of us have faced it again and again with episodes of pain accumulating like snow into the avalanche of complex trauma. Whether we attempt to make the world a better place or give up, we are presented with the challenge of finding solace. And some comfort is necessary. It is not possible to live well while witnessing horrors in their raw form. Invariably, we all find some comfort somewhere, somehow. Some find it in beliefs that…

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Phantom Selves and the Simulations You Stuck Them In

Until a few weeks ago, a part of me was still dying. The power of the past to live on in my imagination was never so apparent. You may have one or many simulations running on an endless loop in the back of your mind. In these you have trapped a phantom self, a portion of your whole self where you face dangers or losses that once came your way and have since vanished.

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Rubble in the Pipes

Why do we feel bad on good days? Listen to your intuition. Valid causes of emotion are not always simple and clear. Even when emotional pain is recognized as a legitimate signal that something personally significant is happening in the outside world, intense or lasting pain is often considered a faulty signal, like a broken smoke alarm going off in the absence of smoke. We have a tendency to categorize emotions as either justified or faulty–a sign that some life event is affecting us, or a sign that we’re in error. The latter, taken to its extreme, may prompt the perception that our thoughts and feelings are somehow defective. All of this hinges upon the ability to notice how the world evokes our emotions.…

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Join me for some tea

If an avalanche of devastating news or personal losses weighs heavily on your heart, know that you are not alone. You live among countless likeminded souls dedicated to coaxing this aching planet into an epoch of healing and wholeness. We can come out of the protective caves, the small hiding places, and feel joy again.

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When you’re hurting, do you ask, “What’s wrong with me?”

I’d like to suggest a different question. We have emojis to express feeling happy, sad, angry, afraid, surprised, and more of what we might call everyday emotions. As far as I know, other than a few suggestive images (like the face with a bandage) there are no emojis for depression, panic attacks, profound grief, dissociation, post-traumatic stress, or a dreaded existential crisis. What would they even look like? People sometimes use smiley faces when chatting about negative topics as a way of masking pain or depression, according to a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology. The study confirmed what other researchers have found. When we have any emotion, especially emotional pain, that experience is couched in a world of social norms and cultural…

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What happens to our empathy when we visualize boundaries?

From protective bubbles to black smoke, it’s hard to find a metaphor for both sanctuary and connection. I will start by admitting that I never liked the popular meditation in which you visualize yourself in a protective bubble. The idea is to imagine a barrier, however lovely and light, that keeps negative or harmful forces at arm’s length. The image is the most basic of all boundaries, an enclosed sphere surrounding oneself like the membrane of a cell. Only good vibes may enter. Visualizations can alter how we feel, particularly in our interactions with others. Mental imagery has enormous power to change our emotional state and transform our relationships. Whenever I’ve tried the bubble visualization, however, something felt off. During meditation, you can loose…

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A Little About Me

I’m currently working on several writing projects, giving form to ideas evolving in my head and heart for three decades. I have a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. My goal was to study emotional well-being, to help chart paths from pain to joy, through difficult life circumstances to unconditional happiness. That area of study was challenging, because the field of psychology tends to pathologize emotional suffering. I ended up creating an “individualized graduate major,” blending coursework in various areas to forge my own path, exploring how suffering can arise in any person and how to create well-being in a world that continuously threatens it.

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Don’t Miss the Next Letter

Get my Letters in your Inbox. I write about emotional wellness, healing, and happiness from three perspectives:

  • Personal experience facing adversity and trauma
  • Thirty years of meditation practice and a doctorate in psychology
  • The conviction that emotional suffering is normal, and social and economic factors play a large role in shaping our well-being

If you’re suffering, my heart goes out to you. I hope my letters bring a little peace and joy to your life.

My Projects

Original oil painting by Lisa Lindeman

Author Blog

What do we need–mentally, socially, spiritually, and economically–to experience emotional well-being and heal from trauma? Follow thoughts and stories from a research psychologist, meditation practitioner, and non-profit advisor.

Reverse Dreamwork

Discover a journaling system for dream incubation rooted in research on lucid dreaming and tested therapies for transforming nightmares. Watch for the forthcoming journal,
Sweet Dreams.

Impact illustrated

Looking for books and other resources that honor the cognitive, spiritual, and social paths to well-being? Coming soon, get personal recommendations from experienced therapists, teachers, researchers, healers and helpers.