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390 | Learn to Navigate Grief with the help of Kimberly Brown!

January 09, 2023

390 | Learn to Navigate Grief with the help of Kimberly Brown!
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For over a decade, meditation teacher and author Kimberly Brown has offered classes and retreats that emphasize the power of compassion and kindness techniques to reconnect us to ourselves and others. She is the author of Navigating Grief and Loss: 25 Buddhist Practices to Keep your Heart Open to Yourself and Others (November 2022; Prometheus Books) and Steady, Calm, and Brave: 25 Practices for Resilience and Wisdom in a Crisis (revised version to be released in January 2023; Prometheus Books). Kimberly’s teachings provide an approachable pathway to personal and collective well-being through effective and modern meditations based on traditional practices. She is a long-time Buddhist student, trained in both the Tibetan and Insight schools of Buddhism, who retreats regularly at Insight Meditation Society and a Certified Mindfulness Instructor. Kimberly teaches at many meditation centers, including The Rubin Museum, Mindful Astoria, New York Insight Meditation Center, and The Interdependence Project, and is a regular contributor to Tricycle, Lion’s Roar, and other publications. You can learn more about her and her work at

This is a production of K M media dot Pro. Welcome back to positive talk radio. Our goal is simple to explore evolving ideas, one conversation at a time. So come on over into our world, I know you'll like it. Because on today's show, today we're going to talk a lot about meditation. We're going to talk about the Eastern philosophies a little bit. And we're going to talk about if you're going through a period in your life where you are stuck in what seems like, in neverending period of grief and, and lack of understanding of what's happening in your world. We've got a young lady who's with us who's going to be very, very instrumental in helping us do that. But first, I have to say hello to my friend Nathan. How are you, sir?

Good afternoon, Kevin doing well, how about yourself?

Oh, awesome. Thank you, boy have we had the week here and positive talk radio, haven't we? We have Monday with Christina siwi, who was a top 10 finisher in American Idol. And as the author of a children's book, and that was that was a wonderful interview. And then Elena Chapman was on Wednesday, and she helps people get in touch with their soul. And today, we've got Kimberly Brown, and we're going to be talking she's an author, and a motivational speaker in terms of all kinds of wonderful things. And we're going to be talking to her in just a second. But, you know, if you want to go pick up any of these these episodes that have been on K K NW, or on the podcast, you can go to positive talk and you can download and listen to all of them. I highly recommend you do that. It's we do a good job for you and, and some really, really, really interesting people. I do have to say so. Nathan, the weather's good. The the traffic's, okay, everything good.

Yeah, weather. It's just typical Seattle, rainy, wet gray out there and looks like it's gonna stay that way for a while. But at least the winds are gone. Surprisingly, I did not lose power.

I was weird. I was very, very fortunate that we didn't we didn't lose the power and, and all that because especially in the wintertime, I don't have a fireplace. So if I lose power, I get cold.

Neither do I. So I mean, I can start to see my breath in my house if that power goes.

Yeah, that's that's never a good thing. That's never a good thing. So Well, very good. I'm glad everything's in order. And we are going to begin right now with Kimberly Brown. And, and Kimberly, welcome to the show. How are you?

Hello, Kevin. I'm well, thank you, it's really terrific to be here to see you again.

It's awesome to see you as well. And I want to bring our audience up to speed a little bit because you grew up as an adoptee and you had an alcoholic parent, and you had a lot of strife going up when you were when you were younger? And then there came a point in time, when you kind of made this switch. Can you talk about a little bit about how that came to be?

Yeah, absolutely. You know, Kevin, when I was a young adult in my 20s, I, that's when I recognized how much I was struggling. And, of course, I wasn't sure what to do. And I tried all the things that were kind of taught to do, like, you know, have ambition, try to get money, try to get, you know, a date, all of those things. And it is I still didn't feel very good. And I started to recognize this, I think for everyone is a really good learning that I needed to ask for help. As I began doing traditional therapy, and that was really helpful to me. And then I guess a few years later, I was training to be a therapist, and I started to have panic attacks. And I realized, Oh, I know exactly why I'm having this panic attack. You know, I can tell you my history and what triggers it. But I didn't really understand or have the tools to work with my mind in a way that was useful. And that's what led me to learn meditation. And it was through meditation and through simple mindfulness practices that helped me just feel less swept away by these panic attacks. And also I would, and I still do sometimes start to have fear of having a panic attack which would just compound you know the whole experience. And so with these practices, both of mindfulness meditation and compassion I should practices, you know, practices of offering myself kindness and love that has eased those sorts of experiences for me, and they haven't vanished. But when those experiences happen, I just feel that they're less. They're less powerful. And they're less, I'm less afraid of that. And I bore understanding that, well, this is a part of my life that will happen from time to time, it's not a bad thing. And they come and go.

Well, I have to ask you, because I don't know. Well, I don't know what I don't know. So I don't know whether I've ever had a panic attack or not, what is a panic attack? And what are the physical symptoms and mental symptoms that go along with it?

Sure, you'll sometimes hear them called anxiety attacks, you'll hear people say that they're triggered. Sometimes, if they're very extreme, they're considered a trauma response. So all of those are kind of synonyms. For the same experience. And this experience is a very intense feeling of fear, really, Kevin, it's not just everyday like, Oh, I'm feeling a little anxious and a little worried about this might happen. It's an experience. It's both physical and mental. And it usually includes symptoms like, you might feel like you might actually shake, your stomach might be upset, my break into sweats, your heart may race. This is why sometimes we will have panic attacks or anxiety attacks, and they wind up in the ER, they think they're having a heart attack, because their heart is racing and their breath is very shallow. And not everyone experiences all of those symptoms, but it's very acute. And they may last for you know, an hour, they may last for 20 minutes, they may last for two, they're usually accompanied by thoughts that are very fast, and they see very real, that something terrible is about to happen to you. In general, what's happening is something in your life seems similar to your past, whatever it might be, you know, maybe I'm afraid of going to get fired. Right? And that, to me, as an adoptee speaks to a lot of rejection, right? Terrible rejection. So rather than just being able to wow, that's a little upsetting. I feel flooded by all of these symptoms. And so the way to, you know, work with these symptoms is, you know, there are there certainly medications you can take. And like I said talk therapy is really helpful. And so is mindfulness to just sit down and be with these symptoms, and not try to push them away and not try to argue with them, but rather be with the experience that you're having with your lack of kindness.

You know, you mentioned triggers, and that that certain things will trigger these events. Can you can you kind of describe because I think there are lots of people that are listening in the audience that may have had one and then recognize what it is, and don't know why. And they don't know what triggered them. They all They just know they got triggered. So describe what the term triggered and what it what it means when when something happens to somebody Is it is it like a flash from the past, something that happened before that you're scared is going to happen again. What exactly is it?

Well, I think first of all, for everyone, it's going to be a little different. And I also want to the word trigger is used up often today. And it's often just means upsetting. You know, someone will say no, don't read this, you'll be triggered and what they really mean is don't read this, it might make you anger. It might make you sad. And that is not what we're talking about. Anger, sadness, feelings are okay. But when, when use clinically, triggering means that something in your environment has causes and conditions in your environment. Have an association with something in your past. It could be an event, a car accident, it could be you know, a difficult relationship with a family member. It's not super specific Kevin and apt for very few of us at least that Oh, every time there's a loud noise. This happens to me. It's more like when something outside of me reminds me of something terrible that happened to me, or that I associate is terrible or remember is terrible. Then I'm sort of swept back to that same feeling, even though right now in the present, that terrible event is that.

But you don't really know that it's not happening, which is why the you are triggered by that. And it means so much to you. That right?

Exactly, exactly. Kevin, and that's part of working with panic attacks is recognizing, oh, I am having all these symptoms, and I'm feeling afraid, terrified, right? Whatever the feeling is, but there's nothing in my environment that's triggering that I'm actually okay right now. Then being able, you know, to be with yourself and say, Okay, I'm safe. Everything's safe right now. It's I was just having a, like a set of triggers, probably not even the right word I causes and conditions have come together to remind my body and mind of something to make me believe that it's the same terrible thing.

Well, now, because of those, and because of what was happening in your life, you turn to, for lack of a better term, I think you turn to Eastern philosophy, which would be Buddhism, and stuff. Now, you know, I don't know that anybody know, you study quite a quite a bit. And I don't know, if I, if you were to say to me, describe Buddhism, I'm not sure that I could I know about meditation, I know some of the mindful practices. But what exactly is Buddhism? And why did it help you to the degree it did?

That's great question, Kevin. First, I just want to say Buddhism is very, like any other great world religion, that like Christianity, there are many different sects, many different lineages, so I'm not speaking for every Buddhist religion, or tradition. But what they all have in common and what Buddhism is helpful for, is it provides meditations and techniques and guidance to help alleviate suffering. The point of Buddhism is to use these tools to see what's true. Okay, what is true in all our lives, well, everything is impermanent, not just our life, but everything is moving, the light changes, today's not yesterday, everything's changing, that's a truth. It's true that we all have struggles. That's true. It's true that all of our actions are everything we say, and do, you know they have outcomes they can make have effect. It's true that what we think of as ourself, you know, this Kipnis, or Kevin Jonas, is, is also dynamic and changing and fluid. So, all of the disciplines in Buddhism, how to recognize the truth, and through these truths, we don't have to struggle and suffer against what's real. And what's real is, for example, most of us are trying to change what can't be changed, that's happening all the time, or make things permanent, that aren't permanent, you know. And that causes us a lot of struggle and strife. So these practices enable us to notice of trying to try to make my mom not an alcoholic, Kevin, and that is not going to happen. Okay? That was causing me a lot of grief. And so letting go and knowing what you can control what you can't is really useful. And the tools of Buddhism that failed, many of them are meditation based, but others are action based in trying to orient your speech in a careful way trying to orient your actions in a way to benefit yourself and be truly wise.

You know, I'm just curious to know, because it's, it strikes me that there's a there's a real difference between Western religion and Eastern religion. Why do you think that is? Because Eastern religion was around long before Christianity and Western religion was, but why did they not adopt some of these? These, I think some real founding principles as as a matter of fact, in the Lutheran church, when I was growing up, meditation was considered not something that you would do because it's, quote, unquote, of the devil, at least in the sector that I was part of. And it doesn't make any sense to me because it's just being quiet. It's very similar to prayer. But it's it's very, it's very quiet and and it can it can really be helpful. Why? Why do you think we have this disconnect?

You know, it's interesting. I'm not a religious historian, obviously, but i was i i He had learned that at one time, all the Abrahamic religions had a contemplative art. That's Islam and Christianity and Judaism. And that over the centuries that got lost, I think, for different reasons in different traditions, that there has been a movement toward reviving that, at least in the US. There is a beast named Father Richard Rohr, he's so beautiful books. He talks a lot about contemplative prayer, and walking the labyrinth, in the Catholic tradition, there is a big movement in the Jewish tradition in the US to revive contemplative techniques against different types of prayer, I'm not so sure about the Islamic tradition, but I believe all are trying to, to use them again, because they are useful tools. Kevin, know, if, if you really want to be understanding of yourself, you have to get quiet and be with yourself. And you don't really even need a religion to do that. But it's necessary talking is not going to, it goes only a certain, it only goes so far. And you have to stop talking. And just be

we know, it's interesting, because if you the reason that they call it the what really caught the Abrahamic traditions, or because they all came from one guy. And that was Abraham. And his and his offspring and his children, and one form the Muslim religion and the other form of Judaism. And then Judaism morphed into Christianity later on. But so if those guys were not part of that, and didn't understand the Eastern traditions, it would have gotten lost in their world, because they weren't part of that. So at least at least, that in my humble opinion, that's so. But it's interesting, because I think that we are finding, with the advent of acupuncture in the 70s, and 80s, and, and chiropractic, and different modalities like that, that we're finding that things that we thought we knew, we don't know. And so it's really important to search in other ways and stuff. And that's one of the things that you do is you written a couple of books, one is navigating grief and loss 25 Buddhist practices to keep your heart open to yourself and others. And I want to focus on that, because it's a particularly tough time right now. It is January of 2023. And that seems like a lot of people are leaving the planet. And I don't have any statistics for that. But but it seems like every day you hear about something tragic that happened to someone. And so grief is grief and loss is a major topic of discussion this time of year, I think, do you find that to be in the people that you talk to?

Yes, absolutely. If not, because, as you say, people are dying. In you know, this time of year, it's also a time of year in which we're reminded of losses. You know, it's the new year, we just got through the holiday season. And many people are reminded of people that they care about who are no longer here with us. And so it can be a time where people are grieving and mourning.

You know, it's interesting because in, in my family, we spent a lot of time in the holidays, celebrating holidays, in a Chinese restaurant. And the reason for that was that we were near the hospital, because somebody inevitably would be in the hospital, either my father or my brother or my sister and and so the only thing open were Chinese restaurants. So we always ended up there. So that's, that's kind of a trigger for my family is the holidays were particularly difficult time. And so we didn't we are really kind of relieved now that that we made it through the holidays, and nobody ended up in the hospital. So that was kind of cool. And happens to a lot of families is that it's it's a tough time of year

is a tough time of year and here's the thing, you know, we talk about this me too, Kevin like, Oh no, this person died, oh, no, this person got sick. And of course we don't want that to happen and we do our best to prevent those things from happening and it's going to happen. So part of grief and loss is normalizing that yes, loss indeed will happen. We do our best to keep ourselves and others safe and how ALC and yet each one of us will get sick will grow older will die. No. And so part of what Ken exactly covered that's perfect. Because that's that's sort of how we all feel like, oh, no, no, no, don't I don't want to see that. And I feel that way too. And yet, it's a truth. And the more that we push it away, the less we're able then to actually feel like wow, that that is sad, that is painful. And how can I appreciate life right now? How can I recognize Wow, it's very precious, it doesn't last forever. How can I do my best to you know, create conditions for myself and for others to thrive, and live a long time.

Even even when you lose somebody, I lost my brother a couple years ago, and I lost my mother last year. And even when you lose people, if you have a certain faith and belief structure, then you can get through the grief. And yeah, of course, I'm going to always miss their physical presence, but I haven't lost their presence. Does that make sense?

Yes, that's beautiful. Because I think that there are ways in which we learn through our society, which was a very, you know, grief, and death denying society, to kind of push the grief away, and not pay attention to it. And when you do that, then how can you think or hold your dear one, you can't, because you can't even bring it up. And what you find is when you can have your grief and understand it, recognize it and bring kindness to it? Well, then you get to also honor and keep in your heart, all of the memories, and also all of the all the ways you were affected. And you know, beautifully by you're someone you care about,

you know, that is so true. And I just have to say, We and in the United States, we have sterilized death to the point of where we don't even while Did you know that there are there are services that are 24 hours a day, that will come in, when somebody dies, they will come and they will take them and take them where they need to go. So in a lot of cases, in some cultures, that doesn't work like that, they they stay in with the family and the family can, can can grieve over them. And they can they can pray over them and that sort of thing. And then they buried them. But in our society, we're sanitizing it so that somebody can somebody is paid to come along and to take these people and then they they're gone. And then you never see him again. And oftentimes it's it's you if they're if you do a cremation, then you don't ever see them again. And if so, we and I know you've also worked in hospice, and you've volunteered at hospice and stuff. So you're, you're really well aware of the circle and the cycle of life.

Yes, and yes, you know, it's a century ago, we all would have seen someone die or been with someone who has recently died. And now like you said, you might not even be able to do that. Why is it valuable? Well, I think it's valuable to not look away. Like you said, we're trying to kind of sweep it all under the rug. But this will happen. And is it upsetting? My gosh, of course it is to be with someone who love who's dying, that is very distressing. And it's very beautiful. And it's very, it can't be very healing to see someone through their life without looking away, and being able to be present with their struggle and yours. Anybody else? Who's there?

Exactly. You know, and the one thing that that we don't do nearly as much today as we did when I was a kid, is that we don't we don't have funerals with open caskets and, and that sort of thing. And so that you have an opportunity to say say goodbye to that person. But my observation of that was, you don't. And this is goes to part of my belief structure and my faith is that when my grandparents when my grandfather was alive, he looked a certain way. He his face, his facial features looked a certain way, the way he that his his lips were the end, and his eyebrows and all that kind of stuff. Well, after they pass away. Oftentimes the person that's making them up, can't duplicate what they were like alive, because their soul is no longer there. Their inner essence is no longer there. And so that taught me at a very early age, that yes, we have a soul and yes when they die The soul continues and leaves the body. And I learned that the and I know that the in the in the eastern philosophy and and in your practices you believe that as well?

Well, it's it's subtly different because Buddhism doesn't believe there is like a soul. But they do believe there's a continuity. They just don't feel that it's kind of one. There's no Kim. But there is a life being. I don't have the answers, Kevin, and I kind of don't. I don't know what happens when we die. I'm more more interested in how to live well. But there certainly is like you're saying, if you've been with someone who died, they're not there anymore, immediately. They're not there anymore. What does that mean? What is a life force? What is a soul? Something is it's clear that we're not just these bodies.

We know the really cool part of that is none of us is ever going to find out until we get there. That's right. That's right. So we have to so we get to we get the opportunity to wait, by the way we were talking with Kimberly Brown, if you want to go to her website, meditation with is our website. And then she's got her stories there and also about the books that she's written. And we're going to talk more about navigating grief and loss. And we need to take a really quick break and I promise it's just really quick. So we'll need to do that and, and we'll be back more with Kimberly brown right after these messages. Please stay with us. Hey there, I'm excited that you're listening right now. And if you like what we're doing here, you're gonna love positive talk radio dotnet on positive talk radio dotnet. Each show which is recorded live is packed with positive information with real people discussing real issues and positive solutions that can work for everyone. I hope that you'll join us on positive talk radio dotnet and listen to all 340 Plus shows. I think it's worth your time. That's just me. That's positive talk radio dotnet your home for great progressive positive podcasts.

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That came out in the middle of the pandemic, it was very, at that time, I wrote it very quickly. Yes, because I, my students were really bright that struggling in that crisis. And it's been revised now to address more than just a pandemic, and any of the crisis is we might face you know, health crisis or natural disaster, how we can keep our mind steady even, even at times like that.

And that would be that would be really hard to do keep your mind steady when, as an example, around here, if we have a major earthquake, or mount Mount Rainier decides to, to blow up, or something like that. So you know, we don't we don't really know. And you never know, until it until it happens. And then then you have to deal with it. So I'm glad you're working through that. Now. We're looking at 25 Buddhist practices, and principles, what are some of these that can help us get through both the grief process and also remaining steady and calm in times of crisis?

Yeah, I mean, first off, it's, you're right, in a crisis, it's really hard to keep your mind steady, it's really hard not to be afraid not to make a rash decision sometimes. So the best idea is to practice now, practice when things are calm, right, you're building up a skill, that skill is to not get caught in anxiety, fear, anger, right to be able to notice when you have anxiety, fear, anger, and to be with it, not have to say anything, or do anything. So the practice is the very first one is one that many people already know, mindfulness, you don't have to be a Buddhist practice mindful. First, you start to develop concentration by putting all your attention on your breath, lets it sit quietly, notice your breathing, then you'll start thinking about lunch or something you have to do or a movie you saw, okay, no problem, you come back, you keep coming back to your breath to this one place. And in doing so, you develop an ability to not get so caught up in events, right? The ability to say, oh, okay, I know where my mind is, I'm gonna come back, come back to right now, this present moment, whatever is happening in your senses is happening right now. Right, you can't breathe tomorrow or yesterday. So that is the first and easiest way to start to develop a steady mind. Another way to stay steady and to keep your heart open to yourself and others in tough times, is to practice a type of meditation called meta M E T. T. A. It's translated as loving kindness. And these are simply phrases to repeat to yourself, may you be happy? May I be happy? May you be safe, may I be safe. And the repetition of these phrases in itself become both a way to orient your thoughts toward something more positive. And to again, study your mind. So you're not spun out to what happened yesterday, or what you're afraid might happen.

We're always looking at what happened yesterday, or what's going to happen tomorrow. You know, there was a gal that she was a port, let's say a three time cancer survivor. And she was part of now you've also been part of Gildas Club. And the Gildas Club was here. And I think they changed the name now. But tell us a little bit about your work with builder's club back East.

Yes, they have also changed their name. It's now called the red door. And for several years through the pandemic. I was teaching online to people who people either who were being treated for cancer or had had cancer or had a loved one who was affected by cancer. And so it was interesting because most of my students are you know, people who aren't Didn't crisis who don't have a health scare who don't have cancer? And so their worries are if something like that were to happen, right, but to work with people who already have a serious illness or are close to it, they've already had that phone call. And it's interesting. They already many of them know what's important. You know, there aren't a lot of trivialities, though to concern about. So working with that group is, it was really it's a learning for me when I work with people there, because they already have a certain wisdom from their experience.

Well, yeah, you know, it's interesting, because the Gout now this goes back all the way back to 2003. But the Gildas Club came, you know, first of all, at that time guilders Club was started by all the actor Young Frankenstein. Nathan helped me. Gilda Radner. Yeah, her well, her husband after Gilda died. Okay, Gene, Wilder, thank you very much. Thank you very much. Gene Wilder started because Gilda died of cervical cancer, I believe. And, and he wanted to, to, to honor her. And so it was a club where people could go that had cancer and also a support group for people who were relatives of people who had cancer. And so this, this nice young lady came on to the show, and we were talking about life and past and present and future. And she she looked at, she looked at me, and she said, you know, if you have one foot in the past, and you have the other foot in the future, you're peeing on the present. And even though it's not necessarily, you know, kosher to say, but it is it really is that that all we have is today, all we have is right now. And when you have a life changing event like that, you become to understand that a little bit better, don't you?

Yes, you absolutely do. And it's funny that don't pee on the president, I had a Zen teacher who would say don't miss your life. And he meant it the same way. When we're in a fantasy about tomorrow or worry about yesterday. Well, you're missing right now. And, and practicing mindfulness and wisdom is coming to right now. And noticing what might seem dull. You know, people think, well, nothing is going on. Well, if you sit and close your eyes, everything's going at a light is changing, you'll hear the birds outside, you'll, you know, see thoughts and feelings. getting accustomed to paying attention to these subtleties. It's very, it's very gratifying. And it gives you an a new appreciation for for right here right now.

Most of us spend every waking day thinking about what we have to do thinking about what we did, thinking about what the consequences are, and all that kind of stuff. How do you teach your students to be more mindful to be more and living more in the moment?

Yeah, I mean, for me, I'm a meditation teacher. So that's the, that's the skill that has helped me and help my students learn to be more mindful, there are many other techniques, but this one has worked the best for me and for others. And so what I suggest to people and anybody who's listening, if you don't have a practice, begin what, set a timer for 15 minutes, put all your devices away, sit down, bring your attention to your breath. You'll soon start thinking or remembering or having images or they keep up what you got to do, like you just said, and that's okay. Because the practice is to start to notice where your mind is, where's my attention? Okay, guess what? I have a choice where I can bring it. And Kevin, I was never taught that. I was just taught, you know, your mind works. And you get caught here caught there. And I don't know, what's the choice? Well, you have a choice. You can choose to react or not. You can choose to let your stories go and believe them or not. And when you start to practice in this way, it's very like, well, it's like lifting a weight. If you go to the gym, and you're kind of crabby that day, or you're happy that day. When you lift that weight, you're gonna get a muscle. And it's the same here. You might sit down your mind might be very wild. You might get caught in an argument you had with someone and you keep coming back and you keep coming back to your breath. What's happening right now. And then you gave that same skill, you're able to keep coming back. And then when things are rough, Kevin, there's an earthquake or your boss's jerk. You can stand more steady and calm in that moment to count on your old breath. And through that, you're much more likely to make good decisions for yourself and others, because you're seeing more clearly what's real, and what's not. What's fantasy.

When you say to people in your class, okay, put down your device. Do you ever get ever get pushed back? It's like, where do you mean push? What do you mean? Put down my device? Do you mean I can't meditate and be scrolling through Facebook at the same time? Do you ever get

really hard for people I have? I it's funny I had, like, early on when I was teaching, this was almost a decade ago, Kevin. So one sent their husband who I live in New York City, and he it was a man in his 50s, a partner and a big law firm. He was very busy and very influential. And he came to me for you know, a lesson. And I was, you know, I asked him to put his BlackBerry down. And he did, but he kept picking it up. He said, No, I have to. And then he said, Well, can I practice this while I'm in? While I'm at the gym, in the Steam Room? And I said, Well, no, you can only do one thing at a time. And it was just very funny. I did. I wasn't quite as confident as teacher. And now I would not let him even keep that phone next time. You know, we would put in another role. But yes, it's very hard for people because the thoughts seem very powerful. It seems very real. No, no, no, no, no, don't take it from me something very important is going to happen if I don't have it, if I don't answer it, right. But when you slowly set it down, you start to see No, no, that's not true, everything's fine. I can sit here for 15 minutes. Without it, it's fine.

You know, I'm a little bit older. And I remember the days when if people called you, you actually had to go over to where a phone was, and pick the phone up. And then if you missed the call, a lot of times, it just you they would have to call back because before you had an answering machines. And I thought the answering machines were the coolest thing that happened in like in the 70s and 80s. But before that, if he and some people even had a party line, so they might have two or three other households that are using the same phone line. And now you have people who cannot put down their phone because they have to check their email, they have to check their their, their their calls, and they will not sit down and just be and just let it go. And just relax, it will still be there when you're done. And so you're able to convince people of that now.

Yes, I am. So although there are some selective given, you know, they're choosing to learn meditation, I know they have to, but for everyone, whoever is listening, you don't even have to meditate, just put your devices down, go have a cup of tea in the kitchen without a device. And really allow yourself to experience the T experience yourself. Because as you say, we are losing that ability. And I also just want to say I am not anti Tech, I use computers and phones, you know, it's amazing the things that we've been able to do. And we want them to be our tools that we don't want them to be our masters, no. So being able to you be in charge of it, you set it down, you take the time to take care of yourself appropriately.

You know, I was in middle management for the in the in the era of the cell phone. And what I found was that because of the cell phone, you never got it night off. Because if you had to, in the olden days, way back when if somebody wanted to call you they call you between nine to five or they'd leave a message or, or they would wait till the next day. Now they can call you at 6789 and then you or leave you a text, and then you have then you have to answer the text. And so you so we don't ever get a chance to just rest and be in a lot of cases because we've got all these distractions that are coming at us from all these different places. And then and then you have your TV on and you're texting. And that's crazy. And it doesn't work for your mental well being very well does it?

No, it doesn't. And again, you know, all of these devices, it's all wonderful in many ways and and has been such a useful thing to the human race. And as you're saying, what's happened is where many of us use these devices to take us away from this moment because we haven't learned just to be with ourselves. I start to worry I start to get hungry I start to get think about yesterday and I pick up a phone because it's just an instant way to move away from my experience. So relearning just to be with yourself. Be with whatever's arising The Good, the Bad, the boring. And then also, when you have that ability, you can do it with other people too, you could be with them and their excitement and distress and feel more connected.

Exactly. And that says, like, I really don't like texting. Because I don't think texting gives you the true flavor of what conversation you're actually having with someone. Because it's just words. And if if you say the words in the wrong order, or they seem abrupt, and stuff, you don't get a feel for what it's like to actually have a conversation with somebody. But But Nathan, I gotta ask you, you're a little younger than we are. And, and so if I were to say to you, I want you to put your phone down. And for a day would you be? Would it be possible for you to do that?

I think it'll be five minutes. And I'm already thinking about it.

Yes, because that's what you're conditioned to do now. But it's not good for you, in the, in the, in the grand scheme of things. So. So by the way, we are talking with Kimberly Brown, and if you want to go to meditation with, that's a website. It's a beautiful website, by the way.

Thank you, Kevin.

You're welcome. And you've got one, and you've got lots of lots of stuff there. And, and you can actually, if somebody wants to work with you, how do they get that done?

Oh, well, you know, you have some choices. If you go to the website, that meditation with heart, duck calm, you can see a there's access to a number of talks that you know, those are all free. And there's a blog there, you can read my writing. I also give group classes, most of those are online. And you can take a look I have that evening on February 14 Valentine's Day, and it's a grief and loss, navigated grief, talk and meditation. And then I have a six week program coming up in March, or those who have experienced a loss to, you know, learn some tools and techniques to bring kindness to your grief. I also work with people individually, I have a lot of one on one students, and that is on the website, as well as information about that. I have a newsletter, you'll see it all there. You can always just email me Kim at meditation got caught meditation with

So your class is on February 14, which is Valentine's Day.

Yes, it is.

That's pretty cool.

Thanks. Yes, I'm teaching it through a meditation center Shantideva Meditation Center here in New York. And we both felt that maybe that was going to be a hard day for people that are grieving or have experienced loss. And so it's that evening, actually, from seven to 830. Eastern time.

I think I think that's a really good I had to put my dog down on on Valentine's Day, and that that just about killed me. But so and I think, you know, even though Valentine's Day and other, you know, days are celebratory, I think that there's a lot of folks that had negative things that happened to us on that day. And, and so it would be helpful to get some guidance and some help to get through some of the icky stuff that happened to us all the time. And stuff. So that would that would be good. And now is that going to be online?

That will be online. That'll be on soon.

And how do they get interactive? Just go to your website, right?

Yeah, there's a calendar on my website. It has all of my upcoming teachings. Cabot? Yeah. Oh, very

good. So what's next for you? Do you think?

Well, I'm, I haven't begun it yet. But I'm writing a proposal about a book on joy. It'll be in the same series, the 25 practices series. But it I think we all have some obstacles to feeling joy, both relationally and just allowing ourselves to appreciate small things and have gratitude for our life. So it will be very similar, but I hope a little bit more uplifting, perhaps.

Exactly, you know, if you're, if you're sitting inside and you're in your cubicle, and you're listening to this or and I will encourage you the next time you go outside, rather than just keep bustling along, to stop. Just stop and watch and absorb what's going on around you. And then the sheer majesty of where we were in Washington where we live the sheer majesty of all the things that are going on It can really be a calming influence, especially if you're going to then get into your car and go get on the highways, you need to be calm when you do that. So just just stop and take it in. And that's, that's a good mindful practice, isn't it?

Yeah, it's beautiful. It's perfect. What you what you're saying to take it in most of the time, we're standing here and like you said, we're, we're looking or listening, or you have this like doing, doing doing, and what you're suggesting, just stand here. Let see what's in front of you hear what's in front of you, in a beautiful environment, like that smell what's in front of you, and just allow it all to be and you'll, you will have a certain calming experience from just being here if what you're experiencing.

Because after all, we are not a human doing. We are a human being.

That is correct.

I would love to take credit for that. That's Neale Donald Walsch conversation. But, but but that's, that is so true, that we don't in we don't stop. And then when we get to the end of our life, we don't, we don't get to do that enough. So you know, do it now. Do it now. And also, by the way, be kind and be loving to all the people that you know, and make sure that they know, because you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. And that it you know, so make sure you tell everybody you love him and give him a hug. That's good advice, isn't it?

Yes, absolutely is Kevin, you want to I mean, part of what makes us happy, and that psychologists agree with this is our relationships with other people. And as connected and as kind as we can be to ourselves and each other, it really works. And it increases our sense of satisfaction.

And that's important, because you you, it just is it just as important. So by the way, again, we're talking with Kimberly Brown, and go to our website, which is meditation with Kimberly, we've got about three minutes and 54 No 40 seconds left. So I'm gonna set myself aside and I would like you to have the opportunity to tell our audience anything that you would like them to know.

Well, what I'd really like people to know whoever's listening, especially those of you who might have experienced a loss, a loss could be a death in your family, it could mean someone close to died, it might be that you got fired or lost a job you liked or got a divorce, or maybe your pet died. So if you're listening, and you've experienced a loss, I just want everyone to know that it's normal to grieve, that you can't have these feelings and this loss. And you can still experience joy, and enjoy your life and keep connected to yourself and each other.

That's really beautiful. Thank you very much. Thank you very much for that, you know, I know people who are experiencing grief and have been for like 20 years. That's not normal, is it?

Well, I hate to use the word normal, but what are not normal, you know, to suggest that, but this clinically, that's it's considered prolonged mourning. And if you are in prolonged mourning, which means not only do you miss someone that died, and it's many years later, but it's impacting your day to day life, then that is a time to ask for help, you know, talk with family and friends talk with a bereavement counselor, because there is a way in which you can still miss that person who died. Yeah, have a happy life now.

Isn't it true that that's if if they could speak to you that's what they would want you to have a happy life.

You know, most people that love you Yes, I believe that's true that that would be what they'd wish for. You know, I would wish that

we do need to like get get over yourself go have fun. That's easy, life is short. You gotta go relax and enjoy yourself. By the way, I Kimberly Brown has been our guests meditation with is the is the website and Nathan we got something new happening on Monday. I am excited for it. What are the what is what do we have new that's happening on Monday

in addition to listening to the show just audio only if you follow the Facebook page of positive talk radio and see the live shows well on Facebook and YouTube well that's gonna happen on K K NW. Now so all the K K NW shows will have Have a video to go along with the audio.

So you can see some of the beautiful guests and beautiful people that we have and and Nathan over there and then unfortunately you're gonna have to look at me too but that's beside the point. So it's but it's great fun and I want to thank Kimberly Brown for being here. And thank you so much and Nathan, I will see you on Monday and we're going to do the live streaming thing and by the way, everybody do me a favor, please. And be kind to one another because you know, each other is all we've got. We'll see you Monday afternoon. Have a great day.
Kimberly BrownProfile Photo

Kimberly Brown

For over a decade, meditation teacher and author Kimberly Brown has offered classes and retreats that emphasize the power of compassion and kindness techniques to reconnect us to ourselves and others. She is the author of Navigating Grief and Loss: 25 Buddhist Practices to Keep your Heart Open to Yourself and Others (November 2022; Prometheus Books) and Steady, Calm, and Brave: 25 Practices for Resilience and Wisdom in a Crisis (revised version to be released in January 2023; Prometheus Books). Kimberly’s teachings provide an approachable pathway to personal and collective well-being through effective and modern meditations based on traditional practices. She is a long-time Buddhist student, trained in both the Tibetan and Insight schools of Buddhism, who retreats regularly at Insight Meditation Society and a Certified Mindfulness Instructor. Kimberly teaches at many meditation centers, including The Rubin Museum, Mindful Astoria, New York Insight Meditation Center, and The Interdependence Project, and is a regular contributor to Tricycle, Lion’s Roar, and other publications. You can learn more about her and her work at

Kevin McDonaldProfile Photo

Kevin McDonald


Creator and Host of Positive Talk Radio and its Parent Company