As I pondered what this week’s practice in conscious living might be, I came across an article I saved a while back about research that’s been done on gratitude. This research demonstrates the powerful health-giving effects of what David Steindl-Rast calls gratefulness. Then I ran across another note I saved about a Buddhist practice that focuses on “finding the hidden people”… Read More “691st Week: Return to Gratitude”
Each morning, I post an inspirational quotation and a nature photo to the Devadana Sanctuary website and also to the Devadana Sanctuary page on Facebook. This morning, as I looked through all the photos I have available to post, I again felt so deeply moved by the beauty of our earth. This got me to thinking about all the various quotations I find that have to do with loving our earth as our mother, as our true home.
As I looked through prior posts, I became aware of how important it has become to me to take in something inspiring at the beginning of each day. For me, looking at images of our beautiful planet touches an important place in my being and helps me orient to the love I have for our earth and all the life within and on it. For me, taking time to love our planet, to love the nature that gives us life, automatically invites us to shift into heart awareness. The perception and intelligence of the heart (the heart-brain, actually), tends to naturally offer a different perspective than does the brain we carry around in our heads.
I am also moved by beautiful music or by the sound of birdsong, stories about acts of kindness, encountering a fur-friend, and more. Sources of inspiration might be different for you. For this week’s experiment, I invite you to pay even more attention to what brings you inspiration and deepens your heart awareness. Also, notice what happens when you remember to shift to something inspiring if you begin to feel overloaded by the challenges, suffering, and hardships you either experience personally or see happening in your world. If you don’t already start your day with inspiring input, notice what may be different about your experience of entering the day if you include something in your morning routine that offers you inspiration.
It’s helpful to remember that finding inspiration needn’t require anything special. There may be a plant in your living room that gives you pleasure and it may be inspiring to see new growth there. Or, you may have a piece of artwork or an object that brings a smile each time you look at it. It’s a matter of orienting to the quality of inspiration and then to noticing how you feel in your heart space when you engage this quality.
As with all these practices, there is no right way to engage this one. It is one more opportunity to become more deeply aware of how the quality of your consciousness, of where you orient your attention, affects the quality of your inner life. Bringing along curiosity as your constant companion supports discovering new sources of inspiration along the way. And, remembering to pat judgments on the head as they arise, move through, and move on, letting them go without having to engage them, can support an ever-deepening connection with whatever inspiration may offer itself to you.
I would never have thought of myself as someone who is easily distractible, or even has a tendency in that direction, but I have to admit that after a number of years of attending to social media, I have learned to be distracted, which is a great surprise to me. As a psychotherapist, being focused is part of what I do every day, just about all day, and yet I notice that in my personal life my tendency now is to jump around from focus to focus in ways that are entirely new to me.
This development has gotten me to thinking about not only the benefits of regular mediation, which I don’t do in as focused a way as I used to, but also the importance and gifts of silence. Thinking about distraction took me back to some notes I collected about silence a couple of years ago and I want to share them here. The benefits of silence are profound and cultivating practices that include it becomes increasingly important in these times where there are so many ways to be distracted.Read More “738th Week: The Gifts of Silence”
One of the truly challenging practices for many of us is to live with harmlessness, called “ahimsa” in Sanskrit. A question that arises is, how do we engage the world actively without causing harm? I remember someone once saying that the Buddha said it’s impossible not to cause harm in many small ways, simply by living. We eat other beings as food, we inadvertently step on insects when walking around, we use and then throw away many things throughout the course of our daily lives. And, when it comes to social action, how do we engage that if we have a commitment to ahimsa?
Read More “667th Week: Practicing “Ahimsa”, Harmlessness”