One of the books from graduate school that powerfully impacted me was “Blaming the Victim”. I was in a class where I focused my work on shame—collective and individual—and got deeply immersed in how we tend to blame the victim as a way to validate our beliefs and actions. The impact of that class, and particularly the above book, has never left me. It started me on a 40+ year journey of tracking my own internal process of judging and blaming, catching myself when I can and challenging my own rationalizations about what’s happening to people locally and around the world. Even with this practice, I know that there are countless times when I engage in blaming the victim, unaware of my own biases and limiting beliefs.
As I watch the current situation in the United States—and we are not alone in our mistreatment of people we consider to be “other”—I not only feel deep heartache and distress, but am also keenly aware of how vividly a “blaming-the-victim” mentality seems to have captured the minds of those in power. That this stance lacks empathy goes without saying. The deeper problem is that blaming victims allows us to remain unaware of our privilege, of our seemingly justifiable disconnection from the suffering of others. Read More “716th Week: Blaming the Victim”
Recently, I’ve been ramping up a practice as I go through Central Park on my way to the office that has to do with recognizing that everything I encounter along the way, every living being—human or otherwise—is kin. This recognition comes from the awareness that we are all “children of Gaia”, with no exceptions. A colleague mentioned to me last week that she saw a documentary in which the anthropologist pointed out that not so long ago, geologically speaking, we humans were part of nature’s “wildlife”. It was only when we began to use agriculture that we shifted from actively participating as local wildlife. It was a reminder that we humans, as well as every other life form, are born from the same source of physical life—we are all Gaian beings.
This practice got me to paying more attention to what I experience as I recognize that every living being I encounter in the course of my daily activities is kin. On my walk, for example, acknowledging people, trees, bushes, birds, dogs, grass, rocks—everything I encounter along the way—as kin, I notice that my heart becomes more open and I feel more immediately connected to the world around me. It’s hard to describe, but I become aware of a deepened sense of relatedness to, and part of, my world. That experience then touches something deeper that nourishes a richer sense of well-being. Read More “714th Week: When Every Being is Kin”
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”
Walking across Central Park one morning on my way to my office, I was aware of a cacophony of insect sounds all around me. It reminded me of when I lived in the Berkshires, where summer nights were filled with the songs of tree frogs and insects. Something about being enfolded in all that beautiful sound also reminded me of times I’ve been in landscapes with waterfalls, or near the ocean, where complete silence is never present, except in the momentary pause between waves on the shore.
As the enthusiastic insect songs accompanied me that particular morning, it got me to thinking about the place each of us has inside that embodies silence, no matter what may be going on around us. Our culture doesn’t tend to promote a conscious relationship with this aspect of ourselves, but deep inner quiet is always available somewhere deep inside each of us. Read More “727th Week: Finding Inner Silence”