Walking across Central Park the other day, I thought about an interview I listened to as I got ready to move into the day. Generally, I spend the morning carrying my laptop computer around with me, as I watch or listen to inspiring interviews I find on youtube and other websites. It’s a habit I began a number of years ago after Read More “Week 625: Setting the Tone for Your Day”
Sitting in Central Park one weekend morning, a morning that was cloudy and quiet in the park, I felt a deep sense of peace radiating from all the trees around me. The quality of the trees and the environment they evoked reminded me of the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”, where people go amongst trees to soak in the healing that naturally emerges.
Attuning to the peaceful quality of the trees is, for me, similar to tuning in to a particular radio station, television channel, or on-line program… Read More “681st Week: Resonating with the Essence of Peace (Playing with Foreground/Background Dynamics)”
Walking across Central Park one morning on my way to my office, I was aware of a cacophony of insect sounds all around me. It reminded me of when I lived in the Berkshires, where summer nights were filled with the songs of tree frogs and insects. Something about being enfolded in all that beautiful sound also reminded me of times I’ve been in landscapes with waterfalls, or near the ocean, where complete silence is never present, except in the momentary pause between waves on the shore.
As the enthusiastic insect songs accompanied me that particular morning, it got me to thinking about the place each of us has inside that embodies silence, no matter what may be going on around us. Our culture doesn’t tend to promote a conscious relationship with this aspect of ourselves, but deep inner quiet is always available somewhere deep inside each of us. Read More “727th Week: Finding Inner Silence”
Recently, I talked about finding a deep experience of peace as I sat in Central Park, and how I could stay with that inner sense of quiet even as children, dogs, birds, all kinds of people came and went in the area where I sat. It was fundamentally an experience of playing with foreground/background dynamics: I chose to have the sensations of peace stay in the foreground of my awareness as the sounds of activity came and went in the background.
Playing with foreground/background dynamics is its own kind of mindfulness practice… Read More “683rd Week: More Foreground/Background Dynamics: Finding Home Base”
One of the primary practices I follow on a daily basis is to move through the world reminding myself that everyone and everything I encounter along the way is, in some way, “kin”. All are part of this planet’s life and nothing I see or engage with in the course of my daily activities is outside this planet’s origins. One of the things I’ve noticed, as a result of this practice of remembering that I am related to everyone and everything around me is that it has nurtured a deepened sense of connection. It doesn’t really matter what I may feel connected to in any given moment. The underlying and overall experience is one of never really being alone.
Indigenous peoples have understood and lived this perspective naturally, and there are other non-indigenous teachers who also hold this perspective. Among them is David Spangler, a mystic and spiritual teacher who was part of the early years of Findhorn, in Scotland. Through an organization, Lorian, David has published a number of books that speak to these kinds of experiences. There is also Daniel Foor, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with ancestors but now also focuses on the theme of animism, an approach to life that says all are kin. The perspective we share is that nothing is outside the collective life of this planet, nothing is without its own inherent value and right to be acknowledged and respected.Read More “745th Week: Expanding Our Sense of “Kin””
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”