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”
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”
As a general practice, I spend time each morning looking at videos, interviews, and professional talks that support a positive sense of connection and wholeness. Beginning each day orients me to a perspective and sense of being that colors my day with a quality that nourishes my body and soul. During one of these forays into cyberspace, I ran across an article, which touched me with its emphasis on a more mystical sense of our world.
The author, Michael Edwards, says the following: “…spirituality can give us an actual experience of the unity of all things. This experience, when nurtured as a constant practice, roots quality-consciousness, non-discrimination, non-violence and reverence for all people and the earth deep into our core.” Read More “706th Week: Living With “Wide Open Eyes”
One of the things that most of us find challenging is to manage uncertainty. It’s a natural response to be uncomfortable with not knowing what’s going to happen next or where we are headed, individually and collectively. For some people, finding conspiracy theories offers an experience of “knowing what’s going on” that calms the discomfort most of us feel around uncertainly. For others, anxiety becomes a constant companion and they have difficulty truly soothing themselves. For yet others, becoming numb and shutting down is their natural response to constant and mounting uncertainty.
Also, I want to affirm that having a response to uncertainty is certainly normal and not necessarily something that needs the kind of process I’ll describe below, so please be gentle with yourself when circumstances elicit discomfort and anxiety about the future.
As I’ve been thinking about how we can expand our capacity to be uncomfortable and find some degree of equanimity, I found myself thinking about a concept I have taught for many years—a process of uncoupling trauma-based associations, called over-couplings in the Somatic Experiencing® world. Let me define these terms as I did when teaching SE.
Trauma over-couplings are associations that become “glued together” during times of overwhelm or distress. These are individual elements of experience or learnings that actually don’t belong together. One common trauma-based, attachment-oriented over-coupling is: If I do what I want, they (whoever “they” might be) won’t love me. Those two things don’t really belong together and especially so in adult life. Another common trauma-based over-coupling is: Unless I know what’s going on, I won’t be safe. The problem with trauma-based over-couplings is that they predict something that may not, or probably won’t, happen. They often arise from childhood experiences where we were not only ill equipped to have options available to us but when we also weren’t mature enough to understand what was happening.
I’d like to offer one way to deal with these trauma-based over-couplings. I called it “therapeutic dissociation” in my book, Getting Through the Day, but it’s actually a form of uncoupling adult awareness and options from those arising from earlier overwhelming experience.Read More “812th Week: Managing Uncertainty”
One of the primary practices I follow on a daily basis is to move through the world reminding myself that everyone and everything I encounter along the way is, in some way, “kin”. All are part of this planet’s life and nothing I see or engage with in the course of my daily activities is outside this planet’s origins. One of the things I’ve noticed, as a result of this practice of remembering that I am related to everyone and everything around me is that it has nurtured a deepened sense of connection. It doesn’t really matter what I may feel connected to in any given moment. The underlying and overall experience is one of never really being alone.
Indigenous peoples have understood and lived this perspective naturally, and there are other non-indigenous teachers who also hold this perspective. Among them is David Spangler, a mystic and spiritual teacher who was part of the early years of Findhorn, in Scotland. Through an organization, Lorian, David has published a number of books that speak to these kinds of experiences. There is also Daniel Foor, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with ancestors but now also focuses on the theme of animism, an approach to life that says all are kin. The perspective we share is that nothing is outside the collective life of this planet, nothing is without its own inherent value and right to be acknowledged and respected.Read More “745th Week: Expanding Our Sense of “Kin””
Often as I walk through Central Park, I thank workers along the way for the help they offer in keeping the park a wonderful place to spend time. Yesterday I thanked a worker and he said, “We love this park, so we love this work.” This morning I thanked a garbage man for helping to make our city more livable. I always thank the postal carriers at both my office and at home when I see them, along with people from all the various delivery services that bring packages filled with things that make my life work. Without these people, life would be very different.
As I move through New York City, I pay attention to people whose job it is to support the rest of us, people who help make our lives easier to navigate. For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to do the same and, if you are already someone who thanks people along the way, ramp it up a bit and see how that feels. Gratitude brings its gifts not only to those we thank but to us, as well. It has the power to lift our spirits, as well as those who receive gratitude from us.
Our sense of well-being is nourished when we engage in expressing gratitude to the people around us. We are more likely to remember that we are part of a community and that, without the whole community, we wouldn’t be able to live our lives in the ways we do. This awareness of community can also remind us of the underlying interdependence that is fundamental to human existence. We depend on one another for just about every aspect of our lives and taking the time to thank people we don’t know and may never see again helps to reinforce an awareness of just how much we need one another.Read More “744th Week: Expressing Gratitude”