One morning, after a snowstorm the day before, as I walked across Central Park to my office, a young woman caught my eye and told me to be careful, as I was approaching an area of black ice that wasn’t obvious. As I walked on, Read More “Week 663: Small Acts of Kindness”
One of the things that comes to mind just about every day, as I listen to the news, is how powerfully fear motivates actions that cause suffering to so many. It might be fear of difference, fear of losing power, fear of the “other”. Whatever the focus of fear, it can become a motivator for lashing out, tearing down, striving to get rid of or destroy that which is feared.
One of the practices I’ve used over many years now is a derivation (my own “translation” of the process) of the Buddhist practice of Tonglen. As a trauma therapist, there have been many times where I’ve sat with someone working on an overwhelming trauma and what has offered me support in staying steady and present over all these years has been this practice of Tonglen. It allows me to keep my heart open in the presence of suffering and pain and has helped me not to be overwhelmed by what clients have shared over these years.
A number of years ago, I realized that Tonglen was a beautiful example of a subtle activism practice—of a practice I could use regularly to help metabolize collective fear and hatred. When I do this practice as subtle activism, I focus on fear because of my belief that this state of being is the source of hatred, violence, and so many other ways in which we harm one another.
And so, for this week’s practice, I invite you to explore the following guided process of using Tonglen (my derivation of it) to contribute to our collective healing. If you haven’t done this kind of practice before, let me say just a few things about it. Pema Chodron, the Buddhist teacher, has wonderful material on Tonglen. You can find her in her books and on YouTube. One of the things I heard her say early on in my explorations of Tonglen is that the light of the heart is fiery and is capable of neutralizing negative energy. She has also said that the more we do this kind of practice the brighter the fiery love in our heart becomes. I have found this to be true and, at this point in my life, I deeply trust the fire in my heart to be able to neutralize or transmute negative energy.Read More “902nd Week: A Practice for Healing Collective Fear“
I seem to be returning to a theme I’ve written about many times in recent weeks—the healing power of love and the benefits of living with an open heart. Those of us in the United States, as well as so many people all over the world, find ourselves living in a world of loss, suffering, and discord. I’ve spoken many times about my sense that our species is in a developmental crisis, where we have an opportunity to grow into a deepening sense of oneness and a recognition of our underlying interdependence. The question that is not yet answered is whether we will take this developmental step into recognizing that we are inherently responsible for one another, as well as having responsibility for how we treat all our other earth-kin, including the care and well-being of the earth itself.
Because I can’t begin to imagine what the answer is to resolving this developmental crisis, I have consistently turned to calling on universal love to enter the hearts of everyone and, there, to elicit whatever healing is possible. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I hold the intention that universal love will generate healing that serves the greatest good for the greatest number. I have some confidence in this particular intention because it draws on a wisdom well beyond my own that orients to serving the greater good, whatever that may be.Read More “819th Week: More About Focusing on Love”
When I was young, my grandmother taught me a practice called “breathing color” as a tool for healing and settling in. She was my first spiritual teacher, from whom I learned to meditate and to attend to the spiritual side of reality as a part of daily living and color breathing became one of the tools I called on regularly in those early years. Read More “668th Week: Breathing Ease”