Listening to a cooking show on NPR this morning, there was an interview with a man who has a restaurant in Houston, TX called Underbelly Hospitality. I didn’t hear the very beginning of the interview, but the gist was that the owner/chef has a great interest in foods of every kind, from many different countries, and has spent a great deal of time with other chefs/restauranteurs in the area getting to know the in’s and out’s of their particular kinds of food, including Vietnamese and others. What struck me most powerfully is that he is a man who practices what I call “mutual empowerment”. At his restaurant, there was a time when the check for meals was accompanied by a list of other restaurants in the area where people could go, inviting them to explore how these foods tasted in various places. His goal was, and is, to share all the wonderful resources in his city and to cultivate his close relationships with other chefs in the city.
I’ve written before about the power dynamics of “power-over” and those of “mutual empowerment.” In the “power-over” model, there are only two positions: who’s on top and who’s on the bottom, who has power and who is over-powered. We see this kind of power relationship in many countries in the world right now, including the United States. In the “power-over” model, only a relatively few people are granted the privilege to have power over a vast majority of people. Many are left out…Read More “767th Week: Practicing Mutual Empowerment”
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”
So many of us have been taught that the nature of nature is “survival of the fittest”, suggesting that competition is the underlying principle of evolution. Elisabet Sahtouris, an evolutionary biologist, points out that the early stages of a species development involves competition, and that the mature stage is characterized by cooperation and collaboration within and between species. Agustín Fuentes, a biological and evolutionary anthropologist also points out the many moments of collaboration and cooperation in our human species, moments that arise spontaneously and seemingly without thought countless times each day.
There’s no question that we humans can be cruel and injurious to one another, and to other species, and I don’t in any way mean for us to ignore those realities. As I listened to Elisabet recently in an interview, though, I thought about how important it is to support the movement toward maturity in our species, and also pay attention to the natural expressions of compassionate collaboration among our kind, not only to each other but to other species, as well.
I’ve mentioned many times that I start the day watching or listening to something that inspires me. That’s where I again encountered Elisabet and her wonderful wisdom. Because of this commitment to finding inspiring resources, I’m more able to live with my heart open and free of hatred and fear—well, not overwhelmed by fear or carried away by outrage, anyway—and to allow my heart to be a major source of information and understanding. I’ve written any number of times about the importance of orienting to heart intelligence, which has a different take on things than does our brain intelligence. In fact, I’ve posted as a past practice a process of shifting into heart intelligence when pondering a problem or exploring a situation, then comparing what your heart says to what your head said. It’s a very useful practice!Read More “818th Week: The Prevalence of Compassionate Action”
As we collectively continue to be met with powerful challenges of loss, grief, change, and concerns about the future, having practices available that allow us to ground ourselves, re-center ourselves, and orient to a more heart-centered perception and awareness is more important than ever. One of the practices that I have found comforting during difficult times is to remember that I am part of a much larger context of connection and to orient my awareness toward ways of experiencing that sense of connection.
For this week’s practice, I’d like to share one of the approaches that helps me feel more grounded during times of distress and uncertainty. It relates to something I say all the time, which is, “We’re not in this alone.” As much as we may feel disconnected at times, from an energy perspective, and from the perspective of collective consciousness, it’s impossible for us to be truly alone, impossible not to be connected to our larger collective presence, comprised of each of us and of all our earth-kin.Read More “810th Week: Cultivating A Sense of Connection”