Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

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

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 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.

  • 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.

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