Listening to an episode of On Being on NPR this morning, I was inspired and moved by Krista Tippett’s guests, two poets – one a Muslim man, Interfaith Visionary Eboo Patel, and the other, former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, who is also a biracial woman. Read More “Week 649:Orienting to Empathy”
As I sit to write this week’s practice, I find myself orienting to some recent research that was brought to my attention. At a time when we need increased empathy for all life forms, for all our kin and for the earth itself, it seems that there is a new trend. The report shows that people in the United States, where the research was conducted, have shifted in their relationship to empathy. Whereas people used to feel empathy in general, it now seems that it is becoming normalized not to care about what happens to people who are outside a person’s immediate sphere of relations. It seems that anyone outside the “tribe” doesn’t deserve empathy. Instead, people tend to blame the victim instead of opening their hearts to the suffering of people who are different—be they different because of ethnicity or different because of their beliefs or lifestyle.
We can see reflected in the state of our planet’s environmental destruction, with the extinction of species caused by human activity, and with the escalating levels of conflict between so many groups of people all around the planet that we need a collective awakening to the cost of being empathically disconnected from one another.
Because of this new trend toward less empathy, it feels more important than ever to engage practices that cultivate empathy and compassion not only for the people we know, but for all life—to make empathy a true practice of the heart.Read More “751st Week: Cultivating Empathy”
Even though I’ve given up my office and am now practicing psychotherapy at home on zoom, I still get into Central Park just about every day. On weekends, I go to a bench that’s under a gathering of trees and read and do writing such as this. This particular morning, as I think about our troubled world, I am also aware of the steadiness, presence, and seeming serenity of the large, towering trees around me. When I’m able to clear my mind and simply be with the trees, I find that my bodymind begins to fill with their essence of steady presence. These earth-kin, because of their size and stature, convey to me—whether this is my projection or something actually coming from the trees—a deep settling.
I also notice the boulders and large rock formations that are so much part of the park and can sense into their grounded stability, as well. Somehow, these earth-kin, along with the trees, speak to me this morning about qualities of patience and presence. In addition, the vivid greens of the trees speak to me of healing, health, well-being, and I soak those qualities in, as well.
When I’m not in the park, I can have the same kind of experience with the “trees” that live in my apartment and with all the stone people who also share my home. The three felines who are my animal companions also convey a powerful ability to totally relax and then immediately be available for play or alertness, as the situation may invite or demand.Read More “807th Week: Nurturing Well-Being with Nature”
Sitting in Central Park on a quiet Sunday morning, I find myself wondering what to offer for this week’s practice. One of the things most of us need at this point are ways to settle ourselves, reliable ways to re-center in the presence of so many adaptations required in this world of both a pandemic and an essential confrontation with racial and economic inequities that have been accepted as normal for far too long.
As I’ve been doing lately, I’d like to offer some practices that might be of help during stressful times. As a collective, we face necessary demands for fundamental social change even as we adapt to learning to manage a pandemic we don’t yet fully understand, and these inescapable realities are sources of stress for most of us.
Drawing from my hypnosis background as well as Somatic Experiencing and EMDR, here are some practices I’ve found useful over the years:Read More “800th Week: Some Approaches to Ease Stress”
One of my daily practices is to post an inspirational quotation and nature photograph to the Facebook page of Devadana Sanctuary and to the Devadana Sanctuary website at www.portaltomdl.com each morning. A surprising gift that comes to me as part of this practice is to be able to look at our beautiful planet at the beginning of each day as I choose the photograph of the day. As I review the library of inspirational quotations that I collect along the way, each morning also offers an immersion in the wisdom of so many inspiring people.
As I prepared the posting for today, I came across a couple of quotations that stuck with me and I want to share them here. They touched me because they speak to the ways in which our moment-to-moment, day-to-day choices make a difference in how we move through our world and in what we contribute—or don’t—to our collective well-being. Here are the quotations that caught my attention: Read More “723rd Week: Making A Difference, Choice by Choice”