When I actively taught Somatic Experiencing, one of the themes that I passed along from my first SE teacher and good friend, Diane Poole Heller, was the distinction between expressions of “power over” and those of “mutual empowerment.” Diane embodies and expresses mutual empowerment in her relationships with the people around her and her influence and modeling have had a powerful impact on me. The distinction between power over (where there are only two options—you’re on the top or you’re on the bottom) and mutual empowerment (where no one has to lose power in order for things to work out) has stayed with me as an active intention to support mutual empowerment in every way I can. I have lived that not only as a teacher but also as a mentor. When people talk about the “new Earth” that needs to arise from the breakdown of the old institutions that are now being challenged around the world, what comes to mind for me is a fundamental shift from power-over styles of leadership and dominance, including our relationship with the planet and all our human and other-than-human earth-kin, to styles that embody and express mutual empowerment within every aspect of our lives.
A key thing about mutual empowerment is that it has, as its foundation, the belief and experience that your having power doesn’t automatically take away from anyone else and their having power doesn’t automatically take away from you. A stance of mutual empowerment tends to naturally engender respect, as well as wishes for others to have as much success, happiness, satisfaction—whatever—as is possible for them.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to pay attention to those times when you encounter people or situations that express “power-over” dynamics and those where you see, or experience, styles of “mutual empowerment”. Also notice these dynamics in yourself so that if you have slipped into a power-over style of interaction you’ll be able to choose whether you want to continue in that mode or if you want to experiment with shifting into a mutual-empowerment style.Read More “872nd Week: Noticing Mutual-Empowerment and Power-Over Dynamics “
As I write this practice, I’m sitting in Central Park on a Sunday morning, having some quiet time to write, to soak in the sounds of birds, insects, hawks, dogs, and people. It’s a place I come to each weekend morning when weather and schedule permit. What comes to mind this morning is that I bring my iPad so I can write. I bring my container of coffee. I bring the muffin I buy along the way. I carry everything in my backpack, including my phone and earbud connections.
As I think of all these things that are part of my weekend morning routine, I also begin to think about the many people and resources that went into making this moment possible, people I will never know and yet without whom I wouldn’t have all the things with me that I want to bring along on these quiet, meditative morning journeys. Read More “725th Week: Noticing Relationship and Gratitude”
Each morning, I post an inspirational quotation and a nature photo to the Devadana Sanctuary website and also to the Devadana Sanctuary page on Facebook. This morning, as I looked through all the photos I have available to post, I again felt so deeply moved by the beauty of our earth. This got me to thinking about all the various quotations I find that have to do with loving our earth as our mother, as our true home.
As I looked through prior posts, I became aware of how important it has become to me to take in something inspiring at the beginning of each day. For me, looking at images of our beautiful planet touches an important place in my being and helps me orient to the love I have for our earth and all the life within and on it. For me, taking time to love our planet, to love the nature that gives us life, automatically invites us to shift into heart awareness. The perception and intelligence of the heart (the heart-brain, actually), tends to naturally offer a different perspective than does the brain we carry around in our heads.
I am also moved by beautiful music or by the sound of birdsong, stories about acts of kindness, encountering a fur-friend, and more. Sources of inspiration might be different for you. For this week’s experiment, I invite you to pay even more attention to what brings you inspiration and deepens your heart awareness. Also, notice what happens when you remember to shift to something inspiring if you begin to feel overloaded by the challenges, suffering, and hardships you either experience personally or see happening in your world. If you don’t already start your day with inspiring input, notice what may be different about your experience of entering the day if you include something in your morning routine that offers you inspiration.
It’s helpful to remember that finding inspiration needn’t require anything special. There may be a plant in your living room that gives you pleasure and it may be inspiring to see new growth there. Or, you may have a piece of artwork or an object that brings a smile each time you look at it. It’s a matter of orienting to the quality of inspiration and then to noticing how you feel in your heart space when you engage this quality.
As with all these practices, there is no right way to engage this one. It is one more opportunity to become more deeply aware of how the quality of your consciousness, of where you orient your attention, affects the quality of your inner life. Bringing along curiosity as your constant companion supports discovering new sources of inspiration along the way. And, remembering to pat judgments on the head as they arise, move through, and move on, letting them go without having to engage them, can support an ever-deepening connection with whatever inspiration may offer itself to you.
881st Week: Adapting with “Attitude Adjustments”
I just returned from a week away for vacation. I was at an all-inclusive spa-type location, surrounded by the beauty of nature. On the third evening there, a powerful thunderstorm came through, some said bringing it with it a “small tornado”. The storm brought down three transformers in the area, so all the power flicked out in a moment and didn’t return for a bit over 24 hours.
The loss of power ended every imaginable kind of activity and the employees at the resort were really quite creative and focused in coping with the loss of power, especially around how they managed a kitchen that needed to feed three meals a day to a lot of people.
An immediate effect of the power outage was the dwindling power in every kind of gadget. Because of this, many of us searched for the few outlets that were connected to the generators and this led to a group of five of us hanging out in a room that had four connections wired into the floor. Sitting together for several hours, we discovered new friendships we wouldn’t have had time to create had the power not gone out.
All this got me to thinking about the powerful impact of the choices we make when faced with challenging or disappointing circumstances—although, admittedly, this was a challenge of privilege and not a challenge of survival or even of need. I started thinking about the importance of being willing to have an “attitude adjustment” when faced with unexpected developments, and that awareness demonstrated how our attitudes generate the filter through which we experience and interpret our world and our experience.Read More “”
I haven’t posted a practice in conscious living for a few weeks now, as life has intervened with some challenges that have required my deep attention. As I’ve thought about this recent time, I want to share a practice I have engaged that may be useful to describe.
One of the sweet feline family members who live with me has required medical attention and I found myself faced with having to give him a subcutaneous infusion for hydration every day, to support what his kidneys can’t currently do efficiently right now. My relationship with needles has mostly been around experiences of blood draws, shots, and acupuncture, but I haven’t been the one managing the needles. So, I found myself dealing with some anxiety about having to use a needle each day to deliver the hydration to my dear feline.
Moving through this experience reminded me of the importance of grounded, steady presence and of being mindfully connected to this present moment. I decided to take on the daily process as a spiritual practice, bringing awareness, calm, and love to something that would allow my furry family member to survive. Along with focusing in my heart and connecting with my love of this sweet being, I have asked myself to track my internal state so that I am calm and centered during the infusions. Even as I give the infusions, I track my body and go back into calm if I find myself tensing or becoming anxious. Gently breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth helps to return to a more settled state and I sense how that state in me helps my furry friend to relax a bit more.
And so, for this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to notice whatever challenge may come into your life that requires you to dig a little deeper, perhaps into your capacities, your emotions, your ability to stay grounded in the presence of something that might be upsetting, etc. Then, notice what you experience when you choose to take on the challenge as a spiritual or psychological practice where you can develop some new or deepened skill or response that helps you move through the experience.Read More “912th Week: Responding to Challenges”