As I write this practice, I’m at a professional training outside New York City. The trainings are held in a hotel where we have been many times and it recently changed management. What many of us experienced as we arrived for this training was a noticeable difference in the “feel” of the hotel, a noticeable change in how we were met by the front desk, and a noticeable change in the quality of service we have encountered along the way.
At this training, my job is to manage the assisting team, as well as deal with participants who have questions or issues about the team. Each morning, we have a team meeting and take time to connect, settle in, and clear up any problems, questions, or issues that may have arisen during the prior day. One of the things I do as part of our team meeting is to take time for all of us to connect to our individual core presence and internal steadiness and, then, to connect with our collective team presence and steadiness. Our keynote is kindness, and I invite all of us to embody that particular quality as we move through the training days. Our job is to offer supportive containment as well as teaching input.
One of the things I’ve asked the team to keep in mind is to extend that kindness to the hotel building and all its employees. I ask this because we inevitably radiate into our environment the qualities that we carry with us as we move through the world. I can imagine that the employees and building receive a good bit of negative input, given the ways in which the place has changed, and I want to ensure that we don’t add to a collective quality of dissatisfaction, annoyance, and other activating feelings that the changes tend to elicit.Continue Reading
Walking to an appointment the other day, I passed a man who carried a large manila envelope filled with what looked like x-rays. Whatever they may actually have been, I imagined that he was going to or from a doctor’s appointment. That got me to thinking about how everyone has a story, everyone has experiences and circumstances at some point in their lives that challenge them as I imagined this man might be being challenged in his life right now.
This also got me to thinking about how important it is to remember that everyone—every human and every other living being—has the capacity to suffer and wants to be free from suffering. I found myself thinking about the importance of cultivating and strengthening my capacity for empathy, to nurture a habit of remembering that even people with whom I fervently disagree also want to be free from suffering, just as I do. What I find, again and again, is that insisting on orienting to empathy—which has nothing to do with agreeing with someone—can be very hard at times.Continue Reading
One of the primary practices I follow on a daily basis is to move through the world reminding myself that everyone and everything I encounter along the way is, in some way, “kin”. All are part of this planet’s life and nothing I see or engage with in the course of my daily activities is outside this planet’s origins. One of the things I’ve noticed, as a result of this practice of remembering that I am related to everyone and everything around me is that it has nurtured a deepened sense of connection. It doesn’t really matter what I may feel connected to in any given moment. The underlying and overall experience is one of never really being alone.
Indigenous peoples have understood and lived this perspective naturally, and there are other non-indigenous teachers who also hold this perspective. Among them is David Spangler, a mystic and spiritual teacher who was part of the early years of Findhorn, in Scotland. Through an organization, Lorian, David has published a number of books that speak to these kinds of experiences. There is also Daniel Foor, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with ancestors but now also focuses on the theme of animism, an approach to life that says all are kin. The perspective we share is that nothing is outside the collective life of this planet, nothing is without its own inherent value and right to be acknowledged and respected.Continue Reading