If you’d like to experience this guided meditation with images, here’s the youtube version: https://youtu.be/bT-DbKga6nc
Walking in Central Park a few days ago, I found myself deeply nourished and uplifted by the return of the green and by the powerful wind that accompanied my walk and workout. Again and again, my eyes were drawn to the green, to the beauty of the trees again filling out their leaves, creating patterns of light and shadow that have been missing over the winter season. And, the wind brought with it a sense of invigoration that was, in its own way, quite delicious.
At some point along the way, I also noticed a trumpet player who competed with a singer who has a weekly gathering of children on Saturday mornings. Fortunately, the sound of the trumpet didn’t overpower the singing and guitar playing of the entertainer and his class of young ones. Then, I also noticed the ever-present helicopters that hover over the park these days as a tourist activity, usually beginning sometime around 9am, taking away the silence that is so precious here in the city.
What struck me most is that these sounds didn’t seem to take away from my deep enjoyment of the return of green and the beauty of the tall trees all around me. This got me to thinking about how important it is to notice where our attention is absorbed, where we focus and what we notice. Even though the sounds were obvious, they weren’t in the foreground of my awareness and I also noticed how my lack of irritation allowed both the trumpet and the helicopters to slip into the background. There have been mornings where these kinds of sounds seem to pierce through my wish to drop into silence or into awareness of the beauty around me and irritation takes the place of pleasure. Today, for whatever reason, it was powerfully clear to me that my focus of attention allowed for the pleasure with no hint of irritation.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to pay even closer attention to what you focus on, where you place your awareness, and what you choose to notice. I could have shifted into dwelling on the helicopters or the trumpet and that would have created a whole different quality of experience. Just as I couldn’t make those situations go away, notice how it is when you are faced with something you can’t change but where you can shift your focus of attention to something else. It might be noise, a smell you don’t like, disruption of some kind—anything that might normally create irritation or some other reaction in you. Then, notice what happens if you shift your awareness to something that inspires, nourishes, or pleases you in some way.Read More “833rd Week: Where We Place Our Attention”
I wrote last week about drawing on steadiness as a form of subtle activism. Another quality that is sorely needed within our human family is the expression of kindness. Here in the United States, we’ve had an unfortunate shift toward a lack of civility toward one another, and it seems that there is a lessening of kindness in many places on the planet. This lack of kindness, and an accompanying lack of care, extends to our other-than-human earth-kin and to the planet in general.
Kindness and care are expressions of the heart more than the head. They are heart-centered responses and it’s possible to strengthen the tendency to express kindness and care when we offer ourselves practices that orient to heart perception and intelligence. I’ve written about this a lot and continue to return to it because of its central role in helping us to be with one another in more compassionate ways.
Drawing on a combination of information from HeartMath (www.heartmath.org) and other sources, I’ve spent a good bit of time orienting to my “heart brain” and to checking in with what my heart thinks about various issues. How often the heart perceives things differently from how the head brain understands them and how helpful it can be to have both perspectives available!Read More “841st Week: Revisiting Kindness”
One of the great gifts of vacation time is to have an opportunity to do some reading. One of the books I had an opportunity to read over this year’s recent vacation is Pierre Pradervand’s book, “The Gentle Art of Blessing.” In his book, Pradervand speaks of offering blessings as a powerful practice of presence. In part, this practice brings us back into presence because of the way it invites us to shift from reactions and judgments into offering blessings in a spontaneous, moment-to-moment way.
As I read his book, my feeling was that what he offers powerfully supports a shift from moving through the world from a mental perspective, drawing primarily on the brain in the head, to moving through the world from the perspective the heart. Read More “724thWeek: The Practice of Blessing”