844th Week: Small Acts of Kindness Add Up
Sitting in Central Park on a recent weekend morning, someone passed by where I sat without smiling or any acknowledgment. That wasn’t odd. People have all kinds of responses as they walk along. Some smile and say hello. Others smile briefly as they go by without saying anything. Some look over without smiling. Some pass on by without doing anything but continuing their walk. This young woman was one of those folks.
I happened to look up when she was a good bit beyond me and I noticed that she was looking for or at something on the ground. I thought she might have dropped something. She finally found a small branch on the ground, stripped off the leaves, and then reached down between her feet and worked to move what was either a worm or some other crawly other-than-human off the walkway. When she finally had the crawly on the branch, she took it to the grass and left it there.
What touched me about this interaction is that this person cared enough to take the time to take the crawly other-than-human person out of harm’s way. That she noticed it and actively responded brought to mind the power of small acts of kindness, of the little things we do that add up over time. They are expressions of a fundamental kindness and a recognition that we share this world with countless others, some of whom are human and some of whom are other-than-human people. All are our earth-kin.Read More “844th Week: Small Acts of Kindness Add Up”
826th Week: Being, Doing, and Self-Talk
As I write this practice, it is vigorously snowing outside and I am deeply grateful to be tucked in and warm. As I watch the snow fall, I find myself pondering something that came up recently and that is the relationship between, and differences around, being and doing.
This got me to thinking about the importance of how we be and that our being is so much more important than our doing. That doesn’t mean doing doesn’t play a significant role in how we engage and impact the world, but it seems to me that the bottom line really focuses on the quality and tone of our being.
I’ve said before that our internal self-talk is a form of self-hypnosis and that the quality of our self-talk plays a major role in determining the quality of our internal life, of our felt-sense of who and how we are in the world. There are many practices that invite us to track our self-talk, along with suggestions as to how we might shift from self-critical internal conversations to those that reflect acceptance, support, and gratitude for who and how we are. Some are from cognitive therapy approaches and some are from the ever-expanding influence of mindfulness practices.
For this week’s practice, first, I invite you to become even more aware of the internal conversations you have with yourself and to notice how these moments of self-talk affect you. Do they lift you up and make you feel more able to engage the world, to dive into activities and projects that nourish you, to help you settle into a deeper sense of comfort with yourself? Or, do these moments of self-talk drag you down, generate shame, or make you feel that you want to avoid connecting with your world?Read More “826th Week: Being, Doing, and Self-Talk”
763rd Week: Subtle Activism—Practices We Can Do When We’re Overwhelmed
When the world is so filled with suffering and chaos, we can sometimes feel not only overwhelmed but pushed into collapse and fatigue because of how helpless we may feel. One of the practices I’ve been doing for quite a while that now has a name is “subtle activism”. Subtle activism involves activities such as prayer, blessing, sending healing thoughts, intentions, and images, radiating gratitude and other life-affirming qualities into the world. Subtle activism involves anything we do with our imagination and our heart-felt emotions that orients to wholeness, healing, easing of suffering, and fundamental well-being.
One of the qualities that many people believe is healing in and of itself is love—love for life, love for the planet, love for all beings—however that may express in any of us, along with a recognition that everything we encounter anywhere in life arises from the same sacred source as we do. Here are some thoughts that others have had about subtle activism, love, and the importance of the recognition of the underlying sacred in everything:Read More “763rd Week: Subtle Activism—Practices We Can Do When We’re Overwhelmed”
Week 622: What You Do Matters
Because of an ongoing project I have, I’ve developed a habit of pulling quotations from the Internet, from books, from talks, from wherever I may find them. I ran across one this morning that I think fits into an experiment I’ve been pondering for a while now. It’s a quotation from the scientist David Bohm: Read More “Week 622: What You Do Matters”
889th Week: Embracing Wholeness with Kindness
Note: At the bottom of this written practice there is a recording of it, if you would prefer to listen. In the practices that contain a guided meditation, please remember never to listen to these recorded meditations when driving or working with dangerous machinery.
One of the themes I’ve noticed in my work in recent years is an increasing emphasis on inviting clients to notice their wholeness, and on accepting the fact that our human wholeness includes aspects of ourselves that we don’t particularly like. This means acknowledging and accepting these aspects of self, recognizing that we can’t remove or eliminate parts of our human wholeness.
One metaphor I use for managing wholeness when we’re in touch with things about ourselves that we want to hide or exorcise is a rainbow. We can’t take a color out of the rainbow, even if we don’t like it. Another metaphor is the foreground/background dynamic I’ve written about a number of times, where aspects of our wholeness are sometimes in the foreground of our awareness and behavior and then sometimes in the background. Whatever moves into the foreground can be invited into the background and whatever lives in the background can be invited forward.
In addition to becoming aware of and engaging more consciously the foreground/background dynamic inherent in our wholeness, one of the practices I’ve encouraged people to engage is to imagine that they put a gentle arm around parts of themselves that they don’t like. This would include aspects of themselves that generate shame or discomfort of some other kind, ways of being that they see in themselves that they swore they would never express, responses and behaviors that embarrass them or that they dislike intensely. We can’t escape our wholeness, but we can learn to relate to this fact of being with kindness and gentleness rather than with criticism, aggression, and anger.
And so, for this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore the following guided meditation and notice what works for you and what doesn’t. Please be sure to allow and track mixed feelings, as they are inherent in our wholeness. The key is to bring awareness to them without having to do anything with them right now.Read More “889th Week: Embracing Wholeness with Kindness”