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BIrd Neshama Trungma  

Bird is the author of two books of poetry and one prose memoir, all on the subject of "maitri." Maitri is a radically different approach to working with one's mind and one's life, in which the mind and all emotions become one's allies in the pursuit of m

The main problem people have is a lack of self-esteem or self-confidence.  We all watch the Madison Avenue commercials and the t.v. shows depicting perfect people living happy lives. When we are not just like them, we think "What's wrong with me?  If I am not happy, I must be sick or pathological in some way.  I had better fix it!"  Soon we run to psychotherapists to fix our minds. 

Then the psychotherapists tell us to get rid of the negative emotions: 

"Don't be depressed."  (Depression is a form of mental illness.) 

 "Understand the underlying causes for your anger." (so you can get rid of it, because anger is bad and must be done away with.) 

Sometimes, we turn to religious counselors or religious teachings instead.  Here we are told:

"Jealousy is evil.  We should never be jealous.  If you feel jealous, ask God to help you get rid of it!" 

In one way or another, all of these professional "helpers" we turn to make us feel worse, by labelling us either bad or sick. 

The teachings of  maitriactually say the opposite.  Our emotions exist for good reasons, and we should not be trying to rid ourselves of them.  Understood and worked with properly, they can radically enhance our lives.  Most of the so-called "mental illnesses" come about not from the emotions themselves, but from our attempts to fight with them and get rid of them.  It is inevitable that a mind will seem ill if it is perceived as an enemy and treated as such.  Maitri teaches us how to make friends with our own minds.  It shows us how to have an attitude of good will toward even the most awful seeming or bizarre emotions. 

Then we can use these emotions to create better, happier lives - not for the psychiatrists who happily collect and spend our money - but for ourselves.  In Bird's talks, she explains how she came by these ideas and this knowledge through the painful experiences of her own life.  She talks about how she gave away her power to others, both doctors and religious leaders, and how she finally awakened to reclaim the power that lay in her own mind. 

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