One of the things the Internet has given us is more access to connecting and communicating with one another. This is all to the good when the communication promotes the well-being of everyone. It becomes a problem when it allows people to feed their fears. We see this phenomenon around the world in those groups that seek to oppress or eliminate other groups of people who may be different from them or in some way represent a threat.
As a trauma specialist, this got me to thinking about how important it is to be conscious of our fears and to cultivate ways to become even more conscious of, meet, and process this powerful emotion. So much of what creates division and conflict among human beings—be they in a one-on-one relationship, a family, a community, a country—is the presence of underlying, and often unrecognized or disowned, fear.
For this week’s practice, I’d like to offer a practice that can be helpful in recognizing and dealing with the presence of fear. Fear isn’t an emotion we can eliminate because it’s an important survival response that we need throughout life. It’s essential that fear can motivate us to jump out of the way of a bus we hadn’t seen, or remind us not to walk down a dark alley alone in the middle of the night. The problem is that we are often afraid of things that aren’t threatening and, when we act on these kinds of fears, we often generate even more trauma in ourselves and others.Read More “747th Week: The Power of Fear”
I woke up one morning—on one of those delicious mornings when I was able to awaken naturally, without an alarm—and discovered that I was smiling. It was a surprising discovery, as the smile was simply planted on my face and wasn’t going anywhere. Read More “Week 621: Mouth Yoga”
In this month’s audio meditation, we continue with the year’s theme of wholeness and connecting with an array of our other-than-human earth-kin, imagining the wholeness that lives within all life we encounter along the way.
If you’d rather listen to the meditation with images from nature, here’s our YouTube version:
I’m writing this practice shortly after hearing that a pending strike by building workers in residential buildings in New York City has been resolved by an agreement with the union that, if ratified, will be in place until April 2026. For those of you who live in large buildings with a large staff as I do, you’ll understand the depth of relief those of us who no longer face the possibility of having to cope with what it means not to have the support of those who keep these buildings working. What moved me most about this experience is that these building employees are now recognized as essential workers, which they absolutely are.
This brought to mind the importance of acknowledging and expressing appreciation and gratitude for all the people whose efforts and time go into making life livable in both urban and non-urban settings. Each morning, as I give the cats fresh water in their bowls, I bless the Spirit of Water and also send acknowledgment and appreciation to all the people who make this water available to those of us living in this city. It’s an enormous undertaking and I am constantly grateful to have access to free-flowing and clean water. Then, there are the people who work to keep electricity running in the city and I acknowledge and appreciate them each day, as well. The list goes on and on and I’m sure there are many things I still take for granted and don’t actively recognize in this way.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to bring your awareness to all the essentials and conveniences you have in your life and take a moment to imagine the many people you will never know whose efforts have made possible what you have at your disposal. This kind of practice reminds us that we are inescapably interdependent—that our well-being is dependent on a multitude of people we will never know. What a powerful gift!Read More “870th Week: Service and Gratitude”
Whenever I go into Central Park, I take time to see what has changed, how the trees look, what wildlife is around. I enjoy listening to the birds and, also, to the many languages I hear on any given day in New York City. This Fall season, I have enjoyed watching the trees change from their brilliant colors to bare branches after their leaves have been released. For me, this time of year brings its own beauty, and during this season I can see the creative, complex, and varied ways that trees find expression in the shapes and reach of their branches. It’s magical to me and I discover new trees every year—trees I have only noticed during their leaf-laden seasons.
This process that is so familiar to me got me to thinking about the importance of looking for inspiration, beauty, and things that are new as part of nourishing our vitality and aliveness. I was surprised to discover that I had a link to the importance of “awe walks” in my notes that fits perfectly with what I’ve experienced this Fall as the trees have taken on their winter look. Here’s a link to that article. (You can click on the blank space and it will take you to the article. For some reason, the link doesn’t offer visible content, but it’s here…)
Even though this article refers to “older people” and some research that was done with this population, the effects of awe apply to us all. There’s been a good bit of research in this area. Here’s a link to an article reflecting the impact of small moments of awe on anyone’s overall health and well-being.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to engage in even more “awe walks” than you may already do. Pay attention to what happens in your body, emotional tone, and thoughts as you look for things that inspire, things you didn’t notice before, things that fill you with awe. If you can’t go outdoors, then do this practice in your home, taking time to notice what you have around you that inspires you and also to invite yourself to notice small details that you may have overlooked.Read More “858th Week: The Importance of “Awe””