Saturday, August 10, 2013

Joyful Emotional Contagion

Yesterday, I had the great privilege of presenting to an assembly of Catholic nuns at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, California. These women are all doing wonderful work in the world, and it was great sharing with them about mindfulness-based dementia care, and ways that they can use the approach to better serve their ailing sisters and others also dealing with the illness. 

I want to talk about something else though . . .

What struck me, once more, is the powerful impact on oneself, of keeping company with those deeply immersed in the spiritual life. I felt uplifted, literally, and filled with gladness during my whole visit at Mercy Center. This morning, the joy is still there, coursing through my whole body. Emotional contagion is very real. It can go both ways and one needs to guard oneself from toxicity or just plain unconsciousness in one's close networks. Conversely, one is to cultivate friendships with others whose whole life is devoted to the pursuit of inner happiness.  

Again, I ask myself, which company do I want to keep? Which people do I want in my life? Which place do I want to dwell in? Which activities do I want to keep? Which ones to I want to let go of? One very good friend whose life was nearly taken away by cancer, shared the same concern this morning. "I feel that God gave me another lease on life. And I ask myself, am I to continue as before? I know the answer is no. I just need to figure out what to do differently" 

Sure, we want to have compassion for those with dust in their eyes. We want to extend loving kindness to them. And, at the same time we need not, should not seek or maintain their company. 


  1. thanks for the great post. it is a really big issue in the world. it's not just our personal contacts in the physical world, but the negative emotional contagion of the news, papers and some entertainment. some of my friends joke that I live in a bubble, but I guard myself from a lot of media exposure which feels pretty toxic to me.

  2. Maguerite I think you should think about becoming a nun. It would take courage and fortitude. You could probably continue with some of your work to a limited extent. Or perhaps it might be best to let it go altogether.Of course I know little about your life but having read you blogs on and off I feel that this is the direction you should be moving in. Best wishes......