872nd Week: Noticing Mutual-Empowerment and Power-Over Dynamics
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 “
761st Week: Holding Space for Ourselves and All Our Kin (Which is Everyone)
As I write this practice, current violent events that have caused immense distress and suffering continue to fill the news and Internet. Working through my own responses got me to thinking about what I might offer as this week’s practice that might be both supportive and useful.
Whenever I am in the presence of suffering and challenges that I can’t directly change, I inevitably turn to my heart space for support, comfort, and as a way to actively and mindfully process my sense of outrage, helplessness, or despair that may arise. And, inevitably and thankfully, my heart space is able to process and manage these difficult feelings in a way that always surprises and eases me. It may be because I feel like I’m doing something, or it may be—as the HeartMath Institute’s research has shown—that a coherent heart eases the amygdala and reduces activation.Read More “761st Week: Holding Space for Ourselves and All Our Kin (Which is Everyone)”
2023 March Meditation
This month, we continue with our theme of presence and the many reciprocal relationships we have with the world around us. We breathe in oxygen, a gift from trees who then breathe in our carbon dioxide. Bringing into awareness all the organisms and beings whose presence and activities contribute to what makes the world work for us, i.e., fungi, micro-organisms and more we don’t see and may not even recognize. Also insects, amphibians, reptiles, beings that fly, crawl, and swim and many other participants in the collective, interrelated system that creates your local environment and ecology. We have an opportunity to offer gratitude and blessings to everything in the environment with which we have a reciprocal relationship.
Please remember never to listen to these audio meditations when driving or operating dangerous machinery…
714th Week: When Every Being is Kin
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”
Week 665: Rediscovering Curiosity
Recently, I saw a clip from Fox News that got me to thinking about how many of us now engage conversations not to understand one another but to convince or to show that we are “right”. Read More “Week 665: Rediscovering Curiosity”