During this political season, there are constant and vivid examples of how we humans have a tendency to create categories of “us” and “them”. It seems to be a natural response to difference of just about any kind and often emerges from an underlying fear or discomfort in the presence of people, ideas, behaviors, and species who are different from how we know ourselves and our world to be. Read More “Week 634: Moving Beyond “Us and Them””
Note: At the bottom of this written practice there is a recording of it, if you would prefer to listen. In the practices that contain a guided meditation, please remember never to listen to these recorded meditations when driving or working with dangerous machinery.
As I sit in Central Park, one of the great gifts of this time is that I can soak in the steady and quiet presence of the large trees that surround me. Above and beyond the beneficial chemicals that the trees naturally emit, and above and beyond the oxygen they offer in the process of their own respiration, there is also the radiating quality of their steady stature and strength. Even though I’m sure that I project onto and into them qualities I imagine or need, I sense that the presence and qualities they exude are not all from my imagination. What I feel in my body is a deep response to the gifts offered by the trees, which include the physical and emotional nourishment I receive from the time spent with them.
This got me to thinking about all the different aspects of nature that we encounter all the time if we are lucky enough to either live in the country or to be able to spend time outdoors in parks, near lakes, the ocean, and more if we live in an urban setting. Because I live in New York City, Central Park has been an important resource for me, a place I can go and soak in the gifts of nature’s qualities. There are other parks, as well, and all of them offer gifts of healthy nourishment and well-being to those of us who are urban dwellers.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to become even more aware of the aspects of nature that support your sense of steadiness, grounding, upliftment, well-being, contentment, and more. For example, there may be boulders or other stone people in your immediate environment, perhaps in your backyard if you have a yard with your home. As you lean on them, or look at them, notice their steady presence, notice what it’s like soak in their solidity, their strength. Or, there may be birds and you find that you can imagine being one of them, flying over the landscape. Notice what you experience in your body as you do this. There may be bodies of water where you can find inspiration and where you may even be able to swim, kayak, or in other ways engage the water directly. You can even connect with clouds or with the wind currents that flow around the planet, imagining that you have that freedom of movement and then noticing what happens in your body.Read More “888th Week: Drawing on Nature’s Presence”
One of the things that always touches me is listening to the critical ways in which so many of us talk to ourselves. It’s as though we culturally tune into a particular channel of self-awareness and are taught to give ourselves a hard time, weighing ourselves down with “shoulds”, comparing ourselves negatively to others, and making sure we jump on ourselves immediately if there is any hint that we might not be measuring up to whatever judgments we may carry.
For many of us, there is also the underlying anxiety, uncertainty, and downright fear that arose during times of trauma when we may have experienced verbal or physical abuse. With abuse tends to come an internal dialogue of self-blame which then grows into an internal litany of what’s wrong with us and why we, or our lives, will never be okay.
Recently, I watched a Tedx Talk by Andrew Newman, the creator of the Conscious Bedtime Story Club and the author of many children’s books. The talk is entitled, “Why the Last 20 Minutes of the Day Matter” and I was captivated by what Andrew had to say. Here’s a link to his talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfcZhlK-FAURead More “776th Week: Programming Ourselves for More Gentle Self-Talk”
With all that has happened in the United States since January 6th, it seems a good time to revisit the process of returning to steadiness. Also, it’s a time to keep in mind that where we place our awareness and attention has an impact on the quality of reality that we experience and engage.
For many of us, it’s challenging to even begin to imagine how we will collectively heal the polarities and divisions we see not only in the United States, but all around the planet. I have framed this current situation as a potential “healing crisis”, where we are seemingly stuck in a collective situation that seems not to have an easy or ready solution.
In my recent return to explorations into dynamics that are more “quantum” in nature, I have been inviting myself to be curious as to how to orient myself to the idea of an “optimal human family” living on the planet in ways that support healthy living for everyone, including our non-human earth-kin. I’ve done this in much the same way as I have worked with the concept of the “optimal future self” over the past almost 40 years.
When I think of the idea of an “optimal human family”, I recognize that I have no way to envision specifics around this potential. So, drawing on what I have done with the “optimal future self” over all these years, I find myself calling on this potential, more than imagining it, and asking for it to move into this reality, holding the assumption that such a process is possible.Read More “824th Week: Returning to Steadiness Revisited”
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.Read More “745th Week: Expanding Our Sense of “Kin””