I gave a talk at Unity of New York this morning and as I prepared for my presentation my mind went to the Buddhist idea of “finding refuge”. For me, this means having access to those experiences, places, and states of being that give us some relief and rest from the challenges of troubling times such as these.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I’d like to share some ideas around “finding refuge” within our own creative, imaginal lives, as well as in our own embodied, grounded sense of being. Some of these practices I’ve shared before, so they may be familiar. That said, I figure that it’s always helpful to be reminded of resources that may become overlooked in the hurry and scurry of our everyday lives.
Leaning into Stillness
Over the years, I’ve had a practice that can, when it works well, bring immediate relief from mounting stress. It has to do with remembering that within and behind every thought, feeling, impulse/urge, physical sensation, or action there is an ever-present stillness. For me, the stillness arises within an infinite field of stillness that is behind any perception you can imagine.
One place where I connect with stillness is in the space between breaths and I often follow an out-breath down into myself and then, in the gap between the out-breath and the next in-breath, I enter into the stillness that is always there.
I also find refuge in leaning into the field of stillness that’s right behind me and often do this when I’m teaching. For me, this kind of stillness isn’t the same as emptiness. Instead, it’s more like a holding space where I can find rest and restoration.Read More “867th Week: Practices for Finding Refuge”
Over the last four months, I’ve gone through an experience that many people have had—the slow decline of a feline animal companion with acute kidney disease. He made it known when it was time to help him leave his body, which fortunately was able to happen at home.
As the time progressed in this shared experience, I found myself delving more and more deeply into loving acceptance of what was happening, allowing grief to accompany love every step along the way. The challenge of this time was to constantly choose love and to be fully present to what unfolded day by day. Throughout this time, I was keenly aware of the countless other people who have been, or were, in exactly the same process I was, slowly shepherding a beloved animal companion from this life. I was also aware of how many of us have taken whatever action was required to meet the unfolding experience, even when those actions were completely outside of our previous experience—our willingness to do whatever was needed to offer comfort and support to our loved ones.
The practice this brought to mind is the presence and power of choice, moment to moment, day by day. The choice I came back to again and again was to meet this experience with my heart—to let love guide each action, and with a deep commitment to honor the needs and experience of my animal family member. I also made the choice to honor the grief I felt and to allow it to be present during those moments when there was nothing else to do but enfold my sweet feline in my arms and my love.Read More “Practice #916: Change and the Power of Choice”
Continuing with our theme this year of our presence and how we are connected to, and in relationship with, everything in the world around us. There’s a statement from an ancient tradition that says, “We are all part of Indra’s net, out of which we cannot fall.” This also means that we are in a community of life which we touch and impact every day, without fail. We have an opportunity to offer gratitude and blessings to our world in every moment…
Please remember never to listen to guided audio meditations while driving or using dangerous machinery.
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’ve run across a number of articles recently that speak to the physical benefits of silence. One I just read a few days ago talks about how silence generates new cells in the hippocampus of mice. This is an intriguing finding, given that we know that trauma shrinks the hippocampus. Here’s the link to that article: http://www.lifehack.org/377243/science-says-silence-much-more-important-our-brains-than-thought
Another article, which I read a while ago, speaks to a number of benefits that arise from spending time in silence, Read More “702nd Week: Befriending Silence”