As I did some exercise in Central Park the other day, I came to a tree that I wanted to greet, so I put my hand on it and kind of leaned in and thanked the tree for being such an important presence in my life. I also asked the tree to extend my appreciation to all the other trees in the park. Together, they create an environment in which we humans can find a degree of comfort and inspiration. As I talked with the tree, a woman walked by and said, “I do that, too!” As I turned to face her, she said it again and we both commented on how lucky we are to have the park as a living part of our urban lives.
Continuing on, I noticed how many other elements of the park speak to me and offer a sense of belonging to something so much more than my individual human self. I noticed, and have as park friends, some of the large boulders that are found throughout Central Park. I also noted and appreciated, as I always do, the earth under my feet, this precious earth. Then, there are the squirrels, hawks, pigeons, rats, and other wildlife who inhabit the park and who appear here and there as I walk along. No insects to honor at this time of year, but they’ll be back come Spring.Read More “825th Week: Offering Appreciation to Nature”
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”
During this time of political struggle and worldwide human suffering and strife, I’d like to begin this week’s practice in conscious living by sharing a quotation from Steven Charleston, a Native American elder who posts messages on Facebook. Here is one I read recently that I feel speaks to this time in our lives:
“There is a spiritual skill that many of us will probably need in the days to come: the ability to maintain a sense of calm in times of trouble. While I cannot predict the future, common sense and the front page both tell me we have more economic and political white water to come. Therefore, I engage my focus on serenity now in order to be prepared. I intentionally sit still, breathe slowly, and look to the Spirit in meditation. I steady my soul. I become the calm I need.”
I have seen other spiritual teachers echoing this same idea—that this is a time when being able to access a state of calm, as well as steadiness, is something that can benefit each of us. Because of my belief in collective consciousness, I also feel that when we are able to be steady and calm we contribute those qualities to our human collective and, for me, that is an important form of subtle activism.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to deepen your familiarity with calm and your ability to access it, as well as to deepen your access to the steadiness that lives at the core of your being, a steadiness that cannot be disturbed no matter what happens. For me, one of the important aspects of orienting to calm and steadiness is that these qualities in no way detract from also being able to act in whatever ways you feel called to do in response to what you experience in your world. It’s a both/and kind of thing. You can be calm and steady and also take action you feel is necessary.
I emphasize this because sometimes we think that being calm and steady equals not being engaged or moved by what’s happening around us. Nothing could be further from the truth. I feel that the calm and steady presence naturally lead to a powerful orientation to our heart space, where we open ourselves to the suffering in the world, to injustices that need to be challenged, to whatever situations we feel called to respond to.Read More “896th Week: Finding Steadiness in Challenging Times”
I often listen to BBC news when I get a chance to do so, as their global focus offers an opportunity to become aware of what’s happening around the world. One of the themes that shows up constantly is how polarization and aggression seem to be in the forefront of so much human activity these days. It may always have been this way, but we now have access to knowing what’s going on in places we may never experience in person.
This current global situation brings to mind the importance of expressions of kindness, as well as a commitment to actively cultivate kindness in our everyday lives. Many of us remember the time when “random acts of kindness” was a subject that was often in the forefront of our awareness. For me, these acts of kindness not only benefit both the giver and the receiver, but they also benefit our collective human consciousness—that field of consciousness that contains everything that humans express and experience. We often talk about environmental pollution here in the physical world. It’s also helpful to remember that we are also in a collective psychic environment which is generated by our collective thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and responses. What we do individually immediately becomes part of this collective field.Read More “830th Week: Supporting and Cultivating Expressions of Kindness”
One of my favorite dynamics when working with clients or managing my own internal process is to notice what’s in the foreground of awareness and what’s in the background. For me, there are certain qualities that are always in the background of my being, whether I’m aware of them or not.
One of these that is also always present in my body, within the core presence that is always inside me even when I’m not aware of it, is the quality of steadiness. Whenever I work with myself or anyone else, I inevitably invite bringing awareness to this ever-present steadiness before jumping into anything else. Also, related to the reference I made in last week’s practice about tapping into universal archetypes, I hold the belief in, and experience of, what I call the Spirit of Steadiness—what you might think of as the Archetype of Steadiness, the embodying presence that radiates this quality as its primary expression.
For this week’s practice, I’d like to share with you a “foreground/background” practice of bringing the steadiness that is always there in the background into the foreground of awareness as well as your embodied felt-sense. I’ll share it the way I’m used to doing, but I hope you’ll adapt what’s below to match what works best for you:Read More “788th Week: Cultivating Steadiness”
One of the things that has been very much on my mind these days is an awareness of the stunning lack of empathy expressed by public figures, particularly in the political realm. What feels so impacting is that this apparent lack of empathy resonates with so many people around the world, as reflected in news reports about the many ways in which we harm one another. Read More “670th Week: Generating Empathy”