As a child, my grandmother was my first spiritual teacher and many of the things she taught me have stayed in my awareness over all these many years. One of the things she taught me I’ve written about before—the raincloud of knowable things. What continues to touch me about this concept is how vividly it reminds me that I’m never alone, that I am always and inevitably part of something much bigger than myself. In this case, it reminds me that I’m part of a vast collective consciousness that contains the wisdom of all humans across all time and that I and everyone else contributes to and draws from this collective all the time. This is an idea that has supported my work as a trauma specialist in psychotherapy and it is an idea that has given me hope even when things may have looked profoundly bleak.
It also touches into an experience that gets stronger for me as I age—that I am in community with a reciprocal environment all the time. I saw an illustration of this the other day as I walked across Central Park. I noticed a gentleman, early in the morning, taking cans and bottles out of the trash bins scattered throughout the park. It was a Monday morning, so the bins had quite a few offerings and I began to think about how this man’s activities support recycling, and that he contributes something meaningful that I usually wouldn’t know anything about. That got me to thinking about all the activities going on in my world that I don’t see and yet add to the quality and support of my life. It reminded me of the fact that, even at subtle levels, we constantly contribute to and draw from our collective environment.Read More “769th Week: The Raincloud of Knowable Things”
In my years of teaching about trauma resolution, I’ve drawn on something one of my dear friends and teachers, Diane Heller, taught me many years ago. It was the distinction between a power model that encompasses only two options—power over or overpowered—and a mutual empowerment model that says one person’s power in no way diminishes the power of anyone else. Since learning about this, I have done my best to interact with others from a mutual empowerment model.
I’ve also spent many years helping psychotherapy clients notice how comparing themselves to others almost always leads to suffering, as does the habit of taking things personally. Read More “677th Week: Nurturing Mutual Empowerment”
Listening to a report on poverty on NPR this morning got me to thinking more deeply about the difference between compassion and empathy. The report included research on the impact of compassion and empathy in the presence of suffering. Read More “Week 646: Compassion and Empathy”
On my birthday last year, I had an opportunity to offer myself an unexpected gift, one for which I was inordinately grateful. It turned out that, upon awakening the morning of my birthday, it became immediately evident that I urgently needed a root canal. Much to my relief, my endodontist was able to see me at exactly the time my schedule allowed that day, although I would have canceled whatever I had to in order to see him.
As I sat in his chair, the local anesthesia taking effect I was filled with gratitude that this man had gotten training that allowed him to relieve my pain in such skillful and, frankly, easy ways. Read More “697th Week: Gratitude for Help Along the Way”