As I write this practice, I—along with most other people in the U.S. and in many places around the world right now—am at home practicing “social distancing”. Because of the current coronavirus pandemic, I’m not having my daily experience of crossing Central Park, to and from my office. I have to say that I miss the powerful and inspiring emergence of Spring in the park as well as the quiet presence of so many trees.
A couple of weeks ago, before we were all asked to stay home, I was in daily amazement at the beautiful colors of this season in the Northern hemisphere, the emergence of abundant, colorful life after the quiet grays and dun colors of winter. As I write this, I’m sitting at a bench I often inhabit on weekend mornings. This is a cool morning and it will be raining soon, but I wanted this early-morning opportunity to touch into this favorite place where I feel deeply connected and attuned to the nature around me.
As I sit here, I find myself wondering, yet again, how did nature ever know to create the brilliant yellows, pinks, and whites of Spring? All around me, trees are in bloom and all over the park are daffodils and other bulbs showing their wonderfully enthusiastic yellows, blues, whites, and purples. These colorful displays speak to my bodymind in ways that bring me alive, that remind me that life seems to always be waiting to express in creative and energetic ways.Read More “781st Week: The Gift of Inspiration”
I’m sure I’ve written about this many times, but here I go again. Where we focus our attention, what we think about, how we engage our imagination has a powerful impact on the quality of our inner life and on how we behave and act in our world. What we attend to matters. What we imagine matters.
This week I want to share some thoughts about engaging what’s called the “imaginal realm”. When we enter the imaginal realm, we aren’t engaging something “imaginary”. Instead, we touch into a kind of language or communication that uses visual and other sensory impressions rather than strings of words. Our culture tends not to privilege awareness that operates in the imaginal realm and yet it’s one of the most powerful creative forces we have available to us.
For example, spend a moment right now bringing into awareness either an image of some beautiful place you’ve been—a place that touched you deeply, or recall a sound, fragrance, or sensation that moves you in a way that is meaningful to you. Since images are my main language in this realm, I often “see” trees that have touched me, such as the giant Sequoia I’m imagining right now. This image generates a powerful felt-sense of awe and heart-filling expansion, with my whole body-mind responding to the memory of the presence of this magnificent tree. Or, I might bring into awareness an image of one of the cats who live with me doing something amusing, something that fills me with delight and touches my heart, as well as generating a smile and a chuckle.
We know from science that our brains register imaginal experience in much the same way as actual lived experience, creating a full experience in the body (sensations) and psyche (emotional and mental states). The only difference is that these experiences and awareness arise and unfold in the imaginal realm.Read More “829th Week: The Imaginal Realm”
As I write this, I’m sitting in the Admiral’s Club of American Airlines, waiting for a flight to California. I’m flying business class today, on miles, and I’m struck by the difference between the experience I’m having right now—complimentary coffee and food and a comfortable place to sit—compared to what it’s like when I fly economy. What this brings into my awareness is how easy it could be to overlook the quality of life being lived by people who don’t have the economic privilege I do. I find myself wondering how I would cultivate a deepened empathic awareness of people in need if my everyday life were regularly as generous and comfortable as the situation I’m in at the moment.
I remember reading some recent research that suggested that the more money people have the lower their scores on tests of empathy. Sitting here this morning, I can understand how that could happen. So, the question I have deals with any and all areas of privilege, be that economic privilege, racial privilege, gender privilege, ethnic privilege, religious privilege, or any other kind of privilege that comes automatically to certain classes of people. How do we expand our awareness to include those who don’t have access to whatever kinds of privilege we may take for granted and not even recognize as privilege? Read More “713th Week: Cultivating Empathy”
If you’d like to experience this meditation with nature images, here’s a link to the youtube version: