Weekly Practice in Conscious Living

817th Week: The Healing Power of Love

Sitting in Central Park on an absolutely beautiful morning, I find myself focusing on a daily practice I’ve taken up since the political situation in the United States became so contentious. I’d like to share it here, in case you, too, would like to engage a way to contribute each day to whatever healing may be possible for all of us.

Because of my history of growing up in a multidimensional reality, where my grandmother was a healer and collaborated actively with the “unseen world”, I have been deeply grateful to have been able to engage in what is called subtle activism. For some people, this means a practice of prayer and/or meditation. For others, it’s a practice of imagining positive energies and outcomes, offering healing energy to situations of trauma and distress, and more.

The practice I’ve taken on as a serious daily aspect of my spiritual life is to imagine the essence of universal love flowing onto the planet and into every living being, offering whatever healing and inspiration may be available. I also imagine this universal force as flowing into our human collective consciousness, touching our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs with the healing essence of love. My underlying intention is to support “the greatest good for the greatest number”. This intention allows me to be fully engaged without having to figure out how we will get to an outcome that serves the greatest good for the greatest number.

What appeals to me about imagining universal love touching and filling everything and everyone is that this force doesn’t come with any belief system. Every spiritual approach I’ve encountered has identified love as the most healing force in the universe and it comes with an open neutrality, content-wise, that appeals to me. One doesn’t have to believe anything in particular to have the healing benefits of universal love. One doesn’t have to do anything at all in order to receive love—it holds no prejudice, it expresses absolutely no separateness or tribalism. 

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Weekly Practice in Conscious Living

816th Week: Return to Silence

Sitting in my living room on a Sunday morning, I’m filled with the gift of silence. No city noises disturb the quiet this morning and that is a great gift. It has gotten me to thinking about the brain research I’ve mentioned before that reflects the benefits of silence in fundamental and literal ways. 

One of the benefits of having quiet time, time spent in silence, is that we gain access to our default mode network. This is the aspect of brain activity where we allow our minds to wander, to think deeply, to listen to our internal experience. All it requires is for us to move away from distractions and give ourselves quiet time to simply be present to our awareness.

Another reason to seek out times of silence is that research has shown that two hours of silence daily can lead “…to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion.” In addition to this, we know that noise pollution raises blood pressure and creates stress for both body and mind. According to researchers,  “Just as too much noise can cause stress and tension, research has found that silence has the opposite effect, releasing tension in the brain and body.” These findings were reported in the Huffington Post by Carolyn Gregoire and shared by Daily Good a while back.

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Weekly Practice in Conscious Living

815th Week: Radiating Steadiness

As I write this practice, those of us in the US are in the midst of an election process that generally moves along smoothly. Many of us have voted early, many by mail, and because of Covid many by absentee ballots. Because of the mail and absentee ballots, including those that always come from our neighbors in the military, the vote count is taking its natural time to allow for tabulation of each and every vote. People on every side of every issue feel the stress of wondering what the final outcome of a number of races will be.

One of the practices that I have cultivated over the last four years has been to strengthen both my access to, and experience of, the inherent steadiness that lives in the core of my body-mind being. It’s a steadiness that lives in the core of everyone, although often not easily recognized by Western culture, which hasn’t historically emphasized an embodied way of being.

For this week, I invite you to follow the practice below to both access a deeper awareness of the steadiness in you but also to invite yourself to radiate this steadiness into our collective consciousness and into your immediate environment. It’s important to keep in mind that the steadiness to which I refer in this practice is an aspect of your being that cannot be disturbed. It is not affected by the ups and downs of everyday life nor is it rattled or upset by what unfolds in the world around you. It is an aspect of the fundamental core of your being and, if you follow any spiritual practices, represents that aspect of you that arises from your Source, whatever you imagine that to be.

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Weekly Practice in Conscious Living

814th Week: Being Kind Doesn’t Mean You Have to Agree

In a recent On Being broadcast on NPR, I heard a story about Howard Thurman’s grandmother. Howard Thurman was a prominent figure in the civil rights movement and was an influential theologian. He was a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King and also one of the principle architects of nonviolent protests. His grandmother was a former slave who owned land in an area where there were also white people.

Apparently, Thurman’s grandmother had a neighbor, a white woman who apparently was unkind to all in her neighborhood and not just to Thurman’s grandmother. At one point, the neighbor began to gather chicken droppings from her chicken coop on a regular basis and dump them on the garden of Thurman’s grandmother. Rather than retaliate, his grandmother turned the chicken droppings into the soil each time they arrived. In time, her garden flourished because of all the natural fertilizer in the chicken droppings.

The neighbor woman eventually became quite ill and, because of her way of relating to people, no one was willing to visit her or help her. One day, Thurman’s grandmother went to visit the woman, taking her a large bouquet of flowers. The woman was surprised and delighted to receive the flowers and commented on how beautiful they were. Thurman’s grandmother said in response that the flowers were so beautiful because of all the neighbor’s contributions of fertilizer to her garden.

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Weekly Practice in Conscious Living

813th Week: Cultivating an Internal Sense of Safety

Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague that revolved around the subject of cultivating an internal sense of safety. We talked about how external safety isn’t a sure thing and, in these uncertain times, doesn’t ring true as a possibility for many people. 

My deepest sense, as we talked, was that the only place I could find a reliable sense of safety, and it’s a relative thing, is inside my own embodied core presence. This is because embodied presence is something we carry within us all the time, even when we’re unaware of it. 

I’ve talked many times about the dynamic of “foreground/background”. Depending on what we experience in any given moment, feelings of activation, distress, overwhelm, and/or shutdown may have moved into the foreground of our awareness. When this happens, our internal steadiness and embodied core presence slide into the background and we no longer experience these qualities of our inherent being.

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