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”
Sitting in Central Park on a quiet Sunday morning, I find myself wondering what to offer for this week’s practice. One of the things most of us need at this point are ways to settle ourselves, reliable ways to re-center in the presence of so many adaptations required in this world of both a pandemic and an essential confrontation with racial and economic inequities that have been accepted as normal for far too long.
As I’ve been doing lately, I’d like to offer some practices that might be of help during stressful times. As a collective, we face necessary demands for fundamental social change even as we adapt to learning to manage a pandemic we don’t yet fully understand, and these inescapable realities are sources of stress for most of us.
Drawing from my hypnosis background as well as Somatic Experiencing and EMDR, here are some practices I’ve found useful over the years:Read More “800th Week: Some Approaches to Ease Stress”
As I wrote this practice, I was on vacation and had planned not to do any work-related activities while out of town. I spent the first week in a family-oriented resort that touched me in a way that has stayed with me and left me wanting to share what I feel is the underlying dynamic that brought a vividly heart-centered experience to me.
One of the themes I’ve written about many times is the importance of recognizing that every quality we express is its own frequency. We radiate qualities and frequencies as we move through the world and this is true of individuals, groups, and places. I’ve written before about how it can be a powerful experience to tune into the quality of a building or a place in nature and to resonate with what you find there.
At this particular family resort, there was a pervasive quality of what I can only call “happiness”. As a trauma specialist, it was heart-opening and heart-nourishing to watch parents with children of all ages interacting with kindness, interest, and a focus on fun. Again and again, I saw parents engaged in play with their children, and families engaged in enthusiastic and laughter-filled “team” activities. Even the trees and many animals around the property—deer, chipmunks galore, birds, geese, fish, and the occasional bear—seemed to also resonate with a fundamental and underlying experience of being welcomed and at ease.Read More “760th Week: Heart-Centered Living”
Somewhere in my meanderings through Facebook, reading, and listening to talks, I ran across a statement that captured my attention. I believe it was Jon Stewart who talked about how the human species is fundamentally “tribal” Read More “Week 656: Expanding the Tribe”
Listening to an interview this morning with Krista Tippett and Trabion Shorters, the subject they explored resonated deeply with me. Shorters describes his approach as viewing people, institutions, and society within what he calls “asset framing” instead of the usual “deficit frame” we draw on to think about and perceive people who may be in need or are in a challenging situation. It reminds me of the solution-focused psychotherapy approach where we are encouraged to see what’s going right rather than focusing on what’s going wrong. It also reminds me of the way that our brain’s default mode network. It’s the part of the brain that—when nothing else is going on—drifts into daydreams, thoughts, or questions about ourselves and our world. If our fundamental beliefs are negative, this is where our default mode networks hangs out. If they are positive, that’s where our awareness will go. Fortunately, if we find ourselves mired in negative or deficit thinking, we can talk to our default mode network and create shifts toward the positive or asset frame.
Listening to the interview, I could sense how important it is to actively promote an “asset frame” as part of our fundamental assumptions about the world and about the people around us. Instead of thinking of people in terms of their poverty or lack of opportunity, we can begin with focusing on what’s going right in their lives, on what they have accomplished, what their dreams are. For me, this also touches on connecting more realistically with the fact that we all—regardless of our culture, race, socialization, gender identity, or any of the other aspects that support our diversity—want much the same things in terms of quality of life. It reminds me of the Buddhist Lovingkingness meditation where we ask that all beings be free from suffering and be happy.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to first listen to this interview if you haven’t already heard it. Here’s the link from Tippett’s On Being website: https://onbeing.org/programs/trabian-shorters-a-cognitive-skill-to-magnify-humanity/Read More “863nd Week: Exploring “Asset Framing””
I had a conversation recently with a friend who was agitated and highly distressed about the current political situation in the U.S. As I listened to them, I found myself wondering if they were aware of the qualities they were radiating into themselves and into the environment around them because of the intensity of their agitation. This got me to thinking about the power and importance of cultivating an awareness of the frequencies with which we resonate from moment to moment.
One of the practices I follow as best I can is to notice the tone and quality of my internal state and how that translates into what energy and qualities I radiate into myself and my environment. This doesn’t mean ignoring distress. If I feel grief and need to actively allow it to process and move through me, or if I feel outrage and need to act on behalf of what I want to support, that’s important too and can happen without generating additional activation.Read More “811th Week: Tracking Frequencies, Avoiding “Adding Logs to the Fire””