One of the books from graduate school that powerfully impacted me was “Blaming the Victim”. I was in a class where I focused my work on shame—collective and individual—and got deeply immersed in how we tend to blame the victim as a way to validate our beliefs and actions. The impact of that class, and particularly the above book, has never left me. It started me on a 40+ year journey of tracking my own internal process of judging and blaming, catching myself when I can and challenging my own rationalizations about what’s happening to people locally and around the world. Even with this practice, I know that there are countless times when I engage in blaming the victim, unaware of my own biases and limiting beliefs.
As I watch the current situation in the United States—and we are not alone in our mistreatment of people we consider to be “other”—I not only feel deep heartache and distress, but am also keenly aware of how vividly a “blaming-the-victim” mentality seems to have captured the minds of those in power. That this stance lacks empathy goes without saying. The deeper problem is that blaming victims allows us to remain unaware of our privilege, of our seemingly justifiable disconnection from the suffering of others. Read More “716th Week: Blaming the Victim”
As I write this practice, current violent events that have caused immense distress and suffering continue to fill the news and Internet. Working through my own responses got me to thinking about what I might offer as this week’s practice that might be both supportive and useful.
Whenever I am in the presence of suffering and challenges that I can’t directly change, I inevitably turn to my heart space for support, comfort, and as a way to actively and mindfully process my sense of outrage, helplessness, or despair that may arise. And, inevitably and thankfully, my heart space is able to process and manage these difficult feelings in a way that always surprises and eases me. It may be because I feel like I’m doing something, or it may be—as the HeartMath Institute’s research has shown—that a coherent heart eases the amygdala and reduces activation.Read More “761st Week: Holding Space for Ourselves and All Our Kin (Which is Everyone)”
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”
Over the course of the past year, it has disheartened me to see how many people on Facebook and in other social media contexts have become comfortable using language that is attacking rather than curious, inviting, clarifying, or compassionate. Not only are the words being used distressing through their intention to diminish or humiliate other people, but the anger inherent in these posts—anger that doesn’t suggest solutions or options—is decidedly jarring.
In my years of teaching about trauma resolution, I’ve drawn on something one of my dear friends and teachers taught me many years ago… Read More “694th Week: Practicing Mutual Empowerment”