As we know, the one thing we can depend on in life is change. What I’ve learned in my years as a psychotherapist who specializes in treating trauma is that it makes a big difference if we have time to prepare for change. When life brings unexpected changes, it’s often much more difficult to meet and adapt to those kinds of change in a relatively comfortable way. In my years of teaching Somatic Experiencing, one of the many important things I have learned is that readiness allows our nervous system to meet and move through change in ways that tend to be less traumatic compared to what we experience when something unexpected jumps into our experience. Read More “705th Week: Preparing for Change”
835th Week: Finding Sources of Nourishment
As I sit in the park this morning, surrounded by large trees, I am keenly aware of what is a deep “relief of return”. Each year when the trees again wear their garments of green, my body and psyche go through the same kind of relief—almost a physical “sigh” as I settle into the visual and physical feast of taking in the green. The challenge is to remember to give myself this gift as often as I can.
This gets me to thinking, yet again, about sources of nourishment and how important it is to take time to nourish ourselves, body and psyche. Sources of nourishment are quite individual. For example, some people I’m close to are nourished by engaging in creative activities such as acting, singing, or crafts (severely curtailed during Covid but still happening on-line). Others have created regular zoom gatherings with friends, finding ways to keep up to date with each other and share experiences. Still others find ways to go hiking as often as possible, immersing themselves in the presence of nature as they exercise.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to bring to mind your most treasured source of nourishment and then to see how you might offer it to yourself a bit more often. For me, it means getting up early enough to be in the park before it’s crowded with all the people that flock here later in the morning and throughout the day, picnicking, exercising, walking, sitting—enjoying the park in a wide variety of ways.Read More “”
As I begin to put together the year-long offerings of audio meditations on my website, I’ve been thinking about the focus for the coming year. Lately, I’ve had a deepening awareness of the importance of experiencing all the other life on this beautiful planet as “earth-kin”. We are all related, all children of the same mother planet, and many of us humans have been taught that we are somehow superior or “more evolved” than our other earth-kin.
I recently read a book, “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?”, by Frans de Waal, that addresses this humancentric bias. De Waal offers many examples of how our research on other earth-kin has tended to orient to human assumptions and human ways of doing things. One of my favorite examples had to do with making a mark on an elephant’s face or head and then having this earth-kin look in a mirror to see if he or she recognized themselves. They didn’t and someone realized that the problem wasn’t that elephants can’t recognize themselves but rather that the mirrors weren’t elephant sized. Once large enough mirrors were provided, the elephants immediately recognized that something was on their face and responded appropriately.
Another example had to do with research on gibbons, where researchers decided that they weren’t as intelligent as other primates because they couldn’t do a particular task that required them to use their hands in a certain way. A young researcher noticed that the task was oriented to human hands and not to the way that gibbons use theirs. When the experiment was retooled to reflect gibbon digits and manipulation, not surprisingly they performed as well as any other primate.
It can be both surprising and startling to know that slime mold does very well solving the challenge of a maze, better and faster than some other kinds of earth-kin. It can also be surprising to know that some species chose to evolve toward more complexity while others chose to evolve into less complexity, each and all having their own style of measurable intelligence. Here’s a link to a quick video about slime mold moving through a maze and also creating a complex network of connections that match the design of the Tokyo rail system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyzT5b0tNtkRead More “822nd Week: Honoring Our Earth-Kin”
Over recent months, I have found myself painfully aware of everything I throw in the trash in the course of my everyday life. Being a long-time recycler, I’ve always been mindful of my use of paper, bottles, cans, and other recyclables. Lately, I’ve been aware of all the plastic that lands in my trashcan, with new additions just about every day. About a year ago, I started shopping with canvas bags and stopped using small plastic bags for produce at the grocery store. While these steps won’t save the planet, they do cut down on the amount of plastic that moves through and from my home.
This deepened awareness of plastic, and all the photos we now see of what plastics are doing to the inhabitants of our oceans and other waterways, got me to thinking about the natural capacity we humans have to generate options when confronted by circumstances that demand change.
Confronted as we are by mounting evidence that our current lifestyle cannot continue unchanged, I got to thinking about the importance of our innate curiosity, flexibility, and ability to generate options when circumstances require change. Drawing on these skills as part of everyday living is like engaging in exercise each day. It builds a kind of “psychological muscle” that allows curiosity, flexibility, and an ability to generate options to become more readily and spontaneously available as part of how we engage the world around us.Read More “752nd Week: Cultivating Flexibility”
I find myself having to very consciously return to heart perception many times a day these days. I find that this perception adds in a different, or maybe more expanded, perspective to whatever I might experience in a given moment. Especially when I feel activated or discouraged, Read More “Week 654: Returning to Heart Perception”
Early this morning, before the world was really up and going, I awakened to hear fire engine sirens going down Second Avenue here in New York City. As I listened, I found myself filled with gratitude for all the people who have worked to take care of the rest of us during this time of the pandemic. I thought about the firefighters on the trucks I heard outside my window. I thought of the people who collect garbage, all the workers in my apartment building who have traveled back and forth from home to work throughout the pandemic. I thought of police officers (those who serve with care), grocery workers, street cleaners, the amazing health-care workers who have given their all during this time, those people working to offer vaccines to the rest of us—the list goes on and on and on.
Without all these people, life in the city—pretty much life anywhere—would not be possible and I am filled with gratitude overflowing for their service to the rest of us. I have been safe in my apartment, working on zoom throughout the past year, and because of countless people, most of whom I will never meet, I’ve been able to have food, electricity, water, medical care if needed.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to pay even more attention to expressions of gratitude than you may already be doing. These expressions needn’t be out loud. The important thing is that the contributions of so many people can live in your heart and generate the internal experience of gratitude. That said, I have a tendency to thank people as I see them, which includes those I mentioned above, as well as the people who take care of Central Park so the rest of us can enjoy some time there.Read More “828th Week: Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude”