Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


Everybody Needs a Tap Code: The Healing Grace of Social Connection

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak



There are two things we can safely say about human
beings. The first is that we are social creatures. The second is that we are
highly resilient, able to withstand the most horrific of circumstances and
resume life once the trauma is over. These two basic human truths are intertwined
as portrayed in the story of the tap code. Bob Shumaker was a POW in Vietnam
and suffered a long captivity including three years of solitary confinement. He
attributes his survival to the use of a tap code that allowed him to
communicate with his fellow prisoners. This meager fellowship consisting only
of taps on a wall was sufficient to create the social holding that integral to
our well-being. When the Buddha gave his teachings he emphasized three things:
Buddha-Dharma-Sangha
. Buddha refers to our ability to wake up and realize our
Buddhanature. Dharma can be translated as
natural law, or the Way, or as the teachings of the Buddha. We can think of dharma
as the straightforward, testable, and livable wisdom contained in the Four
Noble Truths. Sangha was the community
of like-minded practitioners practicing the dharma together. From the outset,
the Buddha created community, and the Sangha is one of the oldest continuous
living human institutions. Contemporary research confirms this inclination
towards community initiated by the Buddha 2500 years ago. Psychiatrist Dennis
Charnay who has studied the neurobiology of posttraumatic stress says, “The tap
code kept many of the POWs’ spirits up, even when they were in solitary
confinement. Everyone needs a tap code. Everybody needs people in their lives
to help them get through the tough times.” The tap code is a metaphor for the importance of social connection and, indeed, the social matrix that makes us who we are. 




  • virginia

    it takes so little to connect, to let another know that he/she isn’t alone, that an experience is shared. it’s in this sharing that strength can pass from one heart to another, energetically–simply as a result of the connection. what’s communicated is caring–& a sense that together, “we” can get through whatever is happening. . . each person then wants to “be there” for the other, & in so doing, is “there” for themselves, as well. this tapping story is profoundly moving in what it says: words do not have to be exchanged, languages can differ, & yet–there is meaningful communication that reaches beyond the physical & embraces the numinous within and around all of life.

  • http://exquisitemind.com Dr. Arnie Kozak

    Thanks for your reflection on connection. We really are social beings through and through, whether we are extraverts or introverts we develop in a social matrix. Hopefully this matrix will be loving and attuned, helping us to be resilient to adversity, curious about our world, and able to transcend our own concerns to be of service to others. Relationships have profound power to heal and to damage. I’m glad to connect through this medium of the Internet. Thanks for reading.

Previous Posts

Citizen of the Cosmos
I recently heard Ann Druyan interviewed on Radio Lab. She spoke of falling in love with Carl Sagan when they were working together on the Voyager mission in the late 70s, where she was in charge of developing the content that would be sent out into space for alien cultures to discover. It was a touc

posted 9:59:05am Oct. 14, 2014 | read full post »

The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Discovery
Polly Young-Eisendrath has a new book out, her fourteenth. This is a book like no other that I've ever read. It is a memoir and it recounts events that I lived through as dharma friends of Polly and the love of her life, Ed Epstein. The Present Heart is a statement on the nature of love. It defin

posted 8:41:37am Oct. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Mindfulness and Climate Action
One Earth Sangha presents Mindfulness and Climate Action, a series of online conversations. These are free and start today and will continue through October into November. I am especially excited that Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield will be presenting today. I hope you can catch it. You can regi

posted 8:31:51am Oct. 05, 2014 | read full post »

A Chilling View Inside the Quiet Room: Electric Shocks Preferred to Sitting Still
A study recently published in Science provides a window into the restless soul of Americans and a compelling case of why we need mindfulness. University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson and colleagues conducted a series of experiments where subjects spent time alone in an unadorned room. We

posted 8:53:12am Aug. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Drive by Shooting: Mindfulness on NPR
It's not surprising when a feature on mindfulness appears in a major media outlet. Mindfulness is popular. This time it is a sub-four minute interview on NPR. Tamara Keith spoke with Sharon Salzberg, one of the co-

posted 6:25:54pm Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.