703rd Week: Supporting A Sense of Connection
I am, without question, a creature of habit. There is a place in Central Park where I sit on weekend mornings and do a lot of the writing that shows up here as weekly practices. Because I’m pretty much a regular during seasons that encourage being outdoors, I have come to know others who are also regulars on weekend mornings. One man who works at the restaurant in the park comes by each weekend morning and we have a bit of a chat. One morning, because it rained the day before, he mentioned that he missed seeing me on his way to work… Read More “703rd Week: Supporting A Sense of Connection”
841st Week: Revisiting Kindness
I wrote last week about drawing on steadiness as a form of subtle activism. Another quality that is sorely needed within our human family is the expression of kindness. Here in the United States, we’ve had an unfortunate shift toward a lack of civility toward one another, and it seems that there is a lessening of kindness in many places on the planet. This lack of kindness, and an accompanying lack of care, extends to our other-than-human earth-kin and to the planet in general.
Kindness and care are expressions of the heart more than the head. They are heart-centered responses and it’s possible to strengthen the tendency to express kindness and care when we offer ourselves practices that orient to heart perception and intelligence. I’ve written about this a lot and continue to return to it because of its central role in helping us to be with one another in more compassionate ways.
Drawing on a combination of information from HeartMath (www.heartmath.org) and other sources, I’ve spent a good bit of time orienting to my “heart brain” and to checking in with what my heart thinks about various issues. How often the heart perceives things differently from how the head brain understands them and how helpful it can be to have both perspectives available!Read More “841st Week: Revisiting Kindness”
687th Week: The Inner Smile
For many years now, I have explored and practiced a variety of mind-body approaches. This focus in my life came naturally, as I was raised in a family that followed a health-food-oriented physician named Henry Bieler. This was many years before that was a popular idea, so my family’s ideas about how to stay healthy were different from most of the other people in my world. My grandmother was also a healer, so I was immersed in an environment where alternative options to everyday physical ailments were also available… Read More “687th Week: The Inner Smile”
862nd Week: Watering the Seeds of Our Wholeness
I continue to resonate with the passing of Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh and the powerful teachings he brought to the world via his practices of mindfulness, of constantly returning to the present moment, and of his acknowledgment and acceptance of the complexities of our inherent and inescapable wholeness as human beings.
For quite a while now, I’ve focused on wholeness and self-acceptance as being central to a sense of well-being, supporting clients (and myself!) to acknowledge and accept aspects of themselves that aren’t what Buddhists would call “skillful”. I encourage clients (and myself here, as well) to also acknowledge and accept the aspects of themselves that are gifts to their well-being and quality of life. This acknowledgement can sometimes be even more difficult than looking at what we experience as negative in ourselves.
From Thich Nhat Hanh: Your mind is like a piece of land planted with many different kinds of seeds: seeds of joy, peace, mindfulness, understanding, love, and more; seeds of craving, anger, fear, hate, forgetfulness, and more. These wholesome and unwholesome seeds are always there, sleeping in the soil of your mind. The quality of your life depends on the seeds you water. If you plant tomato seeds in your gardens, tomatoes will grow. Just so, if you water a seed of peace in your mind, peace will grow. When the seeds of happiness in you are watered, you will become happy. When the seed of anger in you is watered, you will become angry. The seeds that are watered frequently are those that will grow strong.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to notice what seeds of your wholeness you regularly water. Notice which seeds/aspects of your wholeness you feed. Where do you place your attention? What’s your style of expressing yourself with your self-talk and in your relationship to the world around you? Bringing awareness to this kind of practice offers the possibility of choice. If you discover that you water seeds that bring distress, disappointment, or other forms of painful suffering, notice what it’s like to shift your attention to something that is soothing, comforting, beautiful, or in some other way nourishing to you. This doesn’t mean to ignore feelings that need attention and validation. Instead, it’s more about how many of us have developed automatic ways of focusing our attention on watering “seeds” that lead to unhappiness or suffering.Read More “862nd Week: Watering the Seeds of Our Wholeness”
869th Week: Taking Time for Good News
One of the gifts I give myself each morning is some time with what I think of as “good news”, with posts on Facebook or emails I receive that bring interesting stories and examples of some of the beautiful things that are happening in the world. The regular news reports offer ample information about the terrible things that are unfolding, about the seemingly unremitting suffering of our human family and of the earth itself. Quite a long while ago, I made a commitment to myself to offer myself a broader picture than is available in the mainstream media so that I can continue to move through the world with an open heart.
Also, choosing to include good news as part of your media diet supports a more accurate view of our human wholeness—of the good in us as well as the dysfunction we express so actively in our interactions with one another, with our planet, and with our wide variety of other-than-human earth-kin.
For this week’s practice, I’d like to offer some resources for good news and also a brief practice for nourishing an open heart. As you play with these resources this week, notice how you feel—does your heart feel more open or does it feel clenched and closed? Notice your body—do you feel softer and more at ease or tense and constricted? Notice your thoughts—do they orient to thoughts of possibility or do you find that you are mired in judgment and/or negative thinking? What we feed ourselves psychologically has a lot to do with how we feel physically and emotionally, as well.Read More “869th Week: Taking Time for Good News”