I just spent a week teaching at the Cape Cod Institute in Massachusetts and find myself filled with a celebration of green trees and fresh, cool air. As I contemplate returning to New York City on what will be a hot summer’s day in the city, I find myself deeply grateful for the ability we have to carry images and impressions with us wherever we go. I can take the green along with me, and the generous remembered presence of birds, and, at times, deep quiet.
This all gets me to thinking yet again about the importance of where we place our awareness, and with what kinds of memories and impressions we nourish ourselves. Where we focus our awareness matters, and has a direct and noticeable impact on the resilience and health of our body-mind being. Read More “719th Week: Taking Time to Renew Yourself”
A post on Facebook had a picture of Mr. Rogers describing what creates success and there were three sentences all ending in “kindness”. This got me to thinking, yet again, of the importance of kindness as a primary stance in moving through daily life. In the present state of our collective interpersonal life, adding in more kindness seems an important and useful antidote (at least in all the small ways kindness can make a tangible difference).
Thinking about kindness also got me to thinking about the relationship between heart intelligence and perception and kindness, as it feels to me that kindness arises and emerges from the heart. I recently read an article about what is now considered by science as the real possibility of a “heart brain”. Stories of people who have received heart transplants attest to the fact that the heart is more than merely a physical pump.Read More “771st Week: Kindness, Kindness, Kindness”
Continuing with a recent theme, I’ve been thinking about what practices can offer support during a time when so many sources of distress, uncertainty, suffering, and fear are in our personal and collective atmosphere just about all the time. As I pondered our current collective situation, solution-focused therapy practices came to mind. In solution-focused therapy, clients are invited to place an emphasis on noticing things that go right in their environment, relationships, and everyday lives.
With this in mind, I’d like to offer a practice around noticing what’s going right. When we are able to do that, we perceive the world through a filter more focused on wholeness, where there is room for everything—for what causes discomfort and distress and what offers support, optimism, hope, inspiration, and enjoyment. All too often, it seems to me, we can become caught in a focus on what’s negative or destructive and forget that there are also positive and constructive things going on in our world.
A mundane example related to the situation with my feline housemates that I described last week is not only a recognition of the pain and distress caused by surgery but also a recognition of the blessings offered by medication that reduces pain and the slow “bouncing back” of all concerned.
And so, for this week, here’s a practice to play with. As you do, please track where you find yourself not wanting to shift from problems to what’s going right. It can be very illuminating to discover how loyal we can be to what causes us distress and our culture tends to discount, if not negate outright, positive actions and events happening locally and around the world.Read More “857th Week: Noticing What’s Going Right”
Walking to an appointment the other day, I passed a man who carried a large manila envelope filled with what looked like x-rays. Whatever they may actually have been, I imagined that he was going to or from a doctor’s appointment. That got me to thinking about how everyone has a story, everyone has experiences and circumstances at some point in their lives that challenge them as I imagined this man might be being challenged in his life right now.
This also got me to thinking about how important it is to remember that everyone—every human and every other living being—has the capacity to suffer and wants to be free from suffering. I found myself thinking about the importance of cultivating and strengthening my capacity for empathy, to nurture a habit of remembering that even people with whom I fervently disagree also want to be free from suffering, just as I do. What I find, again and again, is that insisting on orienting to empathy—which has nothing to do with agreeing with someone—can be very hard at times.Read More “746th Week: Everyone Has A Story”
Each morning, I post a “daily inspiration” on the Devadana Sanctuary Facebook page. It’s something I do 365 days a year and it’s the first computer thing I do once my morning routine of getting my own act together is accomplished along with taking care of the three felines who live with me.
On a recent morning, I opened the computer and found that none of my documents would open. I decided to restart the computer and when I did the computer simply stopped booting up. I was left with a dark screen and no way into the computer. I shut it down and gratefully went to my smaller travel computer to do the post. Later, after my regular computer had had some time to rest, I turned it on and everything was back to normal. What struck me was that my recent intention to resonate with qualities of flexibility was very much in the foreground of this experience, as I didn’t get activated or tense when my computer stopped working. Having a backup device certainly made a difference but the “old” me would have been agitated anyway.
This is a very small adaptation compared to what’s happening in people’s lives all around the planet, so I don’t present it as something that was hard to do. Rather, it brings to mind the current reality of how we are confronted with a need to adapt to change in countless ways. With the pandemic and climate change, these moments of having to be flexible and generate new options appear just about every day. They are further complicated when what unfolds generates trauma, loss, financial fears and need, food scarcity, and so much more.
In my experience, one of the characteristics of flexibility is the ability to “soften” in the presence of frustration and obstruction. One thing I want to be sure to say now, rather than later, is that being flexible and softening don’t in any way mean not to respond or take actions that may be needed. Even when we are flexible, we also maintain the ability to act in whatever ways are called for, be these personal actions or actions on behalf of others.Read More “848th Week: Cultivating Flexibility, Generating Options”