One of the things that comes to mind just about every day, as I listen to the news, is how powerfully fear motivates actions that cause suffering to so many. It might be fear of difference, fear of losing power, fear of the “other”. Whatever the focus of fear, it can become a motivator for lashing out, tearing down, striving to get rid of or destroy that which is feared.
One of the practices I’ve used over many years now is a derivation (my own “translation” of the process) of the Buddhist practice of Tonglen. As a trauma therapist, there have been many times where I’ve sat with someone working on an overwhelming trauma and what has offered me support in staying steady and present over all these years has been this practice of Tonglen. It allows me to keep my heart open in the presence of suffering and pain and has helped me not to be overwhelmed by what clients have shared over these years.
A number of years ago, I realized that Tonglen was a beautiful example of a subtle activism practice—of a practice I could use regularly to help metabolize collective fear and hatred. When I do this practice as subtle activism, I focus on fear because of my belief that this state of being is the source of hatred, violence, and so many other ways in which we harm one another.
And so, for this week’s practice, I invite you to explore the following guided process of using Tonglen (my derivation of it) to contribute to our collective healing. If you haven’t done this kind of practice before, let me say just a few things about it. Pema Chodron, the Buddhist teacher, has wonderful material on Tonglen. You can find her in her books and on YouTube. One of the things I heard her say early on in my explorations of Tonglen is that the light of the heart is fiery and is capable of neutralizing negative energy. She has also said that the more we do this kind of practice the brighter the fiery love in our heart becomes. I have found this to be true and, at this point in my life, I deeply trust the fire in my heart to be able to neutralize or transmute negative energy.Read More “902nd Week: A Practice for Healing Collective Fear“
Sitting in Central Park one weekend morning, a morning that was cloudy and quiet in the park, I felt a deep sense of peace radiating from all the trees around me. The quality of the trees and the environment they evoked reminded me of the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”, where people go amongst trees to soak in the healing that naturally emerges.
Attuning to the peaceful quality of the trees is, for me, similar to tuning in to a particular radio station, television channel, or on-line program. It reminded me, yet again, of the importance and power of mindful awareness, of being able to choose where I focus my attention… Read More “692nd Week: Resonating with the Essence of Peace”
The other day, I puzzled over a dilemma I had with one of the cats who live with me. She needs an asthma inhaler twice a day and for quite a while she has been very cooperative with the process. About a month ago, she began to run away from me and the process became quite arduous. Over many years, I’ve had a habit of asking for help from sources I don’t see but assume are present in this wide world of many dimensions and synchronistic moments. What the sources of help are, I can’t begin to say, but I have found that there are times when helpful responses are available. It may be that they arise from my own intuitive non-conscious awareness, where my questions prompt my own internal knowing that allows answers to pop into the foreground of my awareness.
Whatever the source, one evening, I asked for help around how to invite this particular feline family member more gently into the bathroom in the morning and evening for her inhaler. I woke up the next morning with a new plan around how to engage her without all the running away. It worked that morning and has worked ever since and she now again goes to the bathroom before I do and waits for me.
Again, I don’t know if the answers I tend to get when I ask for help are my own non-conscious wisdom popping up or if they are inspirations received from sources I can’t perceive. It doesn’t really matter. The key seems to be to ask and then to be open to receive input. I think that being receptive and then responsive, i.e., to act on the information received, supports a “conversation” with a wider source of inspiration, be that our own deep wisdom or some collective or other source.Read More “890th Week: Asking and Receiving”
This year, we focus on the theme of frequencies, of the qualities of energy with which we resonate, what we express, and how we perceive and interact with ourselves and our environment. The theme for May is the frequency of Love, one of the most powerful energies we can access, experience, and express.
If you’d rather experience this meditation with images of nature, here’s the YouTube version…