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”
The election in the U.S. and events unfolding in other countries around the world have been sources of anxiety and distress for many people. Sometimes, events escalate to the point where it feels possible to lose a sense of hope for the future. I’ve just finished participating in an on-line forum where we focused on subtle activism and how to engage change in ways of being and acting that don’t feed destructive emotions or tendencies. Read More “Week 660: Accessing Hope”
For many years now, I have explored and practiced a variety of mind-body approaches. This focus in my life came naturally, as I was raised in a family that followed a health-food-oriented physician named Henry Bieler. This was many years before that was a popular idea, so my family’s ideas about how to stay healthy were different from most of the other people in my world. My grandmother was also a healer, so I was immersed in an environment where alternative options to everyday physical ailments were also available… Read More “687th Week: The Inner Smile”
For many of us, these are trying times and it can be challenging not to fall into collapse and discouragement over our collective political, social, and ecological situation. One of the things I’ve found helpful is to remember that there tend to be natural and inevitable cycles that shift what’s been in the foreground to the background and vice versa. When things look the worst, it sometimes means that change is just around the corner, that the pendulum is reading to swing the other way. Read More “696th Week: Trusting in Cycles”
As I begin this week’s practice, I’m watching a video of yesterday’s memorial celebration for the beloved Vietnamese teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, in Plum Village, France. For those of you who may not have encountered Thay or his teachings, he was a Buddhist monk who brought important and accessible mindfulness teachings to the West, was also advocate for peace and a supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr., who nominated Thay for a Nobel Peace Prize.
As I listen to the chanting of the people of Plum Village, I am reminded of the importance of accessing practices that allow us to access states of being that touch not only into the presence of the Sacred all around us, but also into those internal states that bring us into a deep inner quiet and settled ease. What I’d like to offer for this week’s practice is an adapted version of a very simple and direct meditation that Thay offered to us early in his teachings. It has stayed with me over the years as one of the most direct and effective ways to settle and find a sense of inner presence. As I weave his teaching into the following practice, I apologize for whatever changes I’ve made in this practice that may inadvertently not accurately reflect Thay’s intention, words or teaching.Read More “861st Week: Honoring Thich Nhat Hanh and the Practices He Taught”
I posted this quotation to the Devadana Sanctuary website and Facebook page, as one of the daily inspirational posts that go up each morning:
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
~ John O’Donohue
One of the things I seem to always experience with the poetry of John O’Donohue is how alive his words become as I live into them and allow them to touch me. This poem feels deeply relevant to our current experience of the Covid pandemic and reminded me of the importance of taking time to nourish ourselves in gentle ways.Read More “801st Week: Nurturing Gentle Moments”