Recently, a colleague posted an article to Facebook that more deeply explores the importance and power of cultivating kindness. The article is by Sharon Salzberg, the esteemed Buddhist teacher, and it offers suggestions about how we might create a deeper and more readily accessible relationship with kindness, even in the presence of cruelty. She also describes how kindness affects our internal quality of life and state of being, something that I have experienced in my own relationship with kindness.
Here’s the link to her article, “How to Be Kind When Confronted with Cruelty”, and I feel it’s worth your time to read it and explore her wise suggestions. Even for those of us who practice kindness regularly, what Sharon offers in this article can nourish and deepen that treasured relationship.Read More “771st Week: Meeting Cruelty with Kindness”
Early this morning, I turned on the radio and listened to a brief political report on WNYC, the local public radio station here in NYC. What I heard was a recording of a recent political rally where what I call “the language of separateness” characterized what was said by the speaker. In addition to the sadness I felt at hearing language that had a violent and aggressive tone, language that demonized the “other”, I also began to think about the difference between “the language of separateness” and “the language of interbeing’. Interbeing is a verb created by the Buddhist monk and teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn, and is now used beautifully and often by Charles Eisenstein, a speaker who focuses on social, economic, and ecological issues.
Later, I listened to an interview with Krista Tippett in her On Being broadcast where she talked with a woman who described how she engages people on the opposite side of the spectrum from where she lives politically and socially as a way to discover what was of key importance to both her and to the other person. Read More “728th Week: Language of Separateness; Language of Interbeing”
For this week’s experiment in conscious living, I draw from my book, Sacred Practices for Conscious Living, 2nd Edition, from the chapter on “Compassion and Lovingkindness: Living with An Open Heart”. Here’s a quotation from that chapter:
“For many people, the process of awakening to a greater sense of compassion initially feels overwhelming. A question many ask is, “What can I, one person, do in the face of so much suffering?” The answer is, perhaps surprisingly, quite a lot… Read More “672nd Week: Nurturing Compassion”
I post a daily inspirational quotation and nature photo each morning on Facebook and on the Devadana Sanctuary side of my Portal to Multidimensional Living that keeps coming back to me this morning, so I’d like to share it here, along with some resources that have inspired me recently. Here’s that quotation. It’s a long one, but it has two elements in it that will be the basis of this week’s practice:
“So in this time, the Shambhala warriors go into training in the use of two weapons. The weapons are compassionand insight. Both are necessary, the prophecy foretells. The Shambhala warriors must have compassionbecause it gives the juice, the power, the passion to move. It means not to be afraid of the pain of the world. Then you can open to it, step forward, act.
But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other you need insightinto the radical interdependence of all phenomena. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart.
With insight into our profound inter-relatedness, you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of compassion. Together these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world.” ~ Joanna Macy Read More “737th Week: Embracing Compassion and Insight”
One of the things that most of us find challenging is to manage uncertainty. It’s a natural response to be uncomfortable with not knowing what’s going to happen next or where we are headed, individually and collectively. For some people, finding conspiracy theories offers an experience of “knowing what’s going on” that calms the discomfort most of us feel around uncertainly. For others, anxiety becomes a constant companion and they have difficulty truly soothing themselves. For yet others, becoming numb and shutting down is their natural response to constant and mounting uncertainty.
Also, I want to affirm that having a response to uncertainty is certainly normal and not necessarily something that needs the kind of process I’ll describe below, so please be gentle with yourself when circumstances elicit discomfort and anxiety about the future.
As I’ve been thinking about how we can expand our capacity to be uncomfortable and find some degree of equanimity, I found myself thinking about a concept I have taught for many years—a process of uncoupling trauma-based associations, called over-couplings in the Somatic Experiencing® world. Let me define these terms as I did when teaching SE.
Trauma over-couplings are associations that become “glued together” during times of overwhelm or distress. These are individual elements of experience or learnings that actually don’t belong together. One common trauma-based, attachment-oriented over-coupling is: If I do what I want, they (whoever “they” might be) won’t love me. Those two things don’t really belong together and especially so in adult life. Another common trauma-based over-coupling is: Unless I know what’s going on, I won’t be safe. The problem with trauma-based over-couplings is that they predict something that may not, or probably won’t, happen. They often arise from childhood experiences where we were not only ill equipped to have options available to us but when we also weren’t mature enough to understand what was happening.
I’d like to offer one way to deal with these trauma-based over-couplings. I called it “therapeutic dissociation” in my book, Getting Through the Day, but it’s actually a form of uncoupling adult awareness and options from those arising from earlier overwhelming experience.Read More “812th Week: Managing Uncertainty”