Recently, I’ve been ramping up a practice as I go through Central Park on my way to the office that has to do with recognizing that everything I encounter along the way, every living being—human or otherwise—is kin. This recognition comes from the awareness that we are all “children of Gaia”, with no exceptions. A colleague mentioned to me last week that she saw a documentary in which the anthropologist pointed out that not so long ago, geologically speaking, we humans were part of nature’s “wildlife”. It was only when we began to use agriculture that we shifted from actively participating as local wildlife. It was a reminder that we humans, as well as every other life form, are born from the same source of physical life—we are all Gaian beings.
This practice got me to paying more attention to what I experience as I recognize that every living being I encounter in the course of my daily activities is kin. On my walk, for example, acknowledging people, trees, bushes, birds, dogs, grass, rocks—everything I encounter along the way—as kin, I notice that my heart becomes more open and I feel more immediately connected to the world around me. It’s hard to describe, but I become aware of a deepened sense of relatedness to, and part of, my world. That experience then touches something deeper that nourishes a richer sense of well-being. Read More “714th Week: When Every Being is Kin”
Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague that revolved around the subject of cultivating an internal sense of safety. We talked about how external safety isn’t a sure thing and, in these uncertain times, doesn’t ring true as a possibility for many people.
My deepest sense, as we talked, was that the only place I could find a reliable sense of safety, and it’s a relative thing, is inside my own embodied core presence. This is because embodied presence is something we carry within us all the time, even when we’re unaware of it.
I’ve talked many times about the dynamic of “foreground/background”. Depending on what we experience in any given moment, feelings of activation, distress, overwhelm, and/or shutdown may have moved into the foreground of our awareness. When this happens, our internal steadiness and embodied core presence slide into the background and we no longer experience these qualities of our inherent being.Read More “813th Week: Cultivating an Internal Sense of Safety”
I often write about the importance of kindness. An essential companion to that practice is cultivating empathy. A definition of empathy found on google says: “Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. … “ I would add to this definition, “…and the ability to imagine what any other living being might be thinking or feeling…”
Because I have focused on cultivating a deepened awareness of heart perception in recent years, on the quality of intelligence that naturally arises when orienting to the heart brain, I find that it hurts my heart when I notice the increasing lack of expressions of empathy in public and social spheres of my American culture. And, this lack of empathy is not only focused on a wide array of our human kin. It also applies to many, if not most, of our other earth-kin. What often saddens me is how a lack of empathy leads to a lack of kindness, as well.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to pay more attention to your relationship with empathy. One way to do this is to ask your heart brain, rather than your head brain, what someone else might be feeling or experiencing. I find that heart intelligence has a different take on, or brings different qualities to, most experiences. In this week’s practice, notice what happens if you take the time to ask your heart what it has to say about someone else’s experience.Read More “827th Week: Cultivating Empathy, Along with Kindness”