One of the great gifts of vacation time is to have an opportunity to do some reading. One of the books I had an opportunity to read over this year’s recent vacation is Pierre Pradervand’s book, “The Gentle Art of Blessing.” In his book, Pradervand speaks of offering blessings as a powerful practice of presence. In part, this practice brings us back into presence because of the way it invites us to shift from reactions and judgments into offering blessings in a spontaneous, moment-to-moment way.
As I read his book, my feeling was that what he offers powerfully supports a shift from moving through the world from a mental perspective, drawing primarily on the brain in the head, to moving through the world from the perspective the heart. Read More “724thWeek: The Practice of Blessing”
I’m in the process of putting together my next webinar for professionals and I find myself orienting to the subject of belonging, to the importance of feeling that we belong to something more than our individual selves. One of the practices I’ve followed for a while now is an adaptation of one that comes from David Spangler, the founder of Incarnational Spirituality and Lorian.org. The practice is called “heightening” and it focuses on offering acknowledgment and appreciation to the world around us.
Above and beyond being a practice derived from a spiritual approach, there is something deeply practical about actively acknowledging and appreciating ourselves and all that we encounter in the environment around us. From a psychological perspective, it is deeply important that we feel ourselves to be part of something bigger than our individual selves and that we find our connection to that “something more” that adds meaning to our lives.
Imagine a time when someone looked at you with delight in their eyes, a smile on their face, and expressed their pleasure in seeing you. You may have noticed that you suddenly felt more alive, more energized, as though all the lights inside you suddenly lit up. What if you noticed that the lifeforms and objects around you are made of the same “stuff” as you and are all alive in their own particular ways? If that’s an idea that’s too far out for your taste, then stick with what you consider to be living beings—plants, animals, insects, all the lifeforms in nature. For me, I consider everything alive in a certain way because all of us on this planet are made up of the same kinds of particles that we think of as comprising life as we know it. And, in my world view, everything is conscious and aware, although in a wide variety of ways.Read More “837th Week: A Practice of Acknowledgement and Appreciation”
Walking through Central Park one morning, the sound of the birds, the slow but steady haze of green emerging on the trees, the emerging daffodils and other spring flowers all offered gifts that are part of the park’s waking up to a new season. As I walked, I took in the sounds, smells, and visual delight of this emerging season and the experience got me to thinking about the process of receiving.
Receiving is an active, reciprocal process. It acknowledges that something has been given and recognizes that the act of receiving can be an expression of generosity that can enhance this experience. I often invite people to notice their style of receiving. For example, when they sit down on a chair and receive the support available, do they actively take in the support that is present? Do they engage the reciprocal process of receiving what is offered with awareness? This may apply to any kind of receiving: support, friendship, kindness, much-needed food, clothing, or shelter, a smile—whatever is offered. How would you answer these questions? Read More “711th Week: Receiving Generously”
I just saw a little dog standing in an open area of lawn, wildly barking at a squirrel who was up a very tall tree nearby. It made quite a funny picture, with the lawn and the size of the tree making the small dog look even smaller. What it brought to mind was a sense of focused intention and energetic commitment. The squirrel was all that mattered and the little fur-face on the ground was giving it all he was worth.
This got me to thinking about where we put our energy. All the barking in the world wasn’t going to get the squirrel within reach of the dog and I found myself wondering about all the energy we may put into things that aren’t really available to engage with us. With all the gadgets that we now have available to us, and with most of us carrying around a computer in our pocket in our smart phones, there are increasing opportunities to spend time in less conscious and less focused ways. At times, I find myself doing a word game that can take up an unexpected amount of time and I’ve made a commitment to myself that I’ll only do that a couple of times a day. Instead of that activity, I now spend the same time reading on my kindle and I find that it’s much more satisfying, ultimately, than endlessly playing the word game.
Also, at my age, I’m keenly aware of a more limited amount of time in front of me and I have made it a practice to ask myself if what I’m doing honors the fact that I don’t want to waste whatever time I have left to be here. I hope that doesn’t sound morbid because, for me, it’s a powerfully positive motivator and invites me to focus my attention more clearly.Read More “836th Week: Noticing Where We Put Our Energy”