Sitting in Central Park on a recent weekend morning, someone passed by where I sat without smiling or any acknowledgment. That wasn’t odd. People have all kinds of responses as they walk along. Some smile and say hello. Others smile briefly as they go by without saying anything. Some look over without smiling. Some pass on by without doing anything but continuing their walk. This young woman was one of those folks.
I happened to look up when she was a good bit beyond me and I noticed that she was looking for or at something on the ground. I thought she might have dropped something. She finally found a small branch on the ground, stripped off the leaves, and then reached down between her feet and worked to move what was either a worm or some other crawly other-than-human off the walkway. When she finally had the crawly on the branch, she took it to the grass and left it there.
What touched me about this interaction is that this person cared enough to take the time to take the crawly other-than-human person out of harm’s way. That she noticed it and actively responded brought to mind the power of small acts of kindness, of the little things we do that add up over time. They are expressions of a fundamental kindness and a recognition that we share this world with countless others, some of whom are human and some of whom are other-than-human people. All are our earth-kin.Read More “844th Week: Small Acts of Kindness Add Up”
As I begin this practice in conscious living, it’s 5 degrees outside with a sparkling blue sky and strong wind. I find that I am deeply grateful to be indoors, to have heat, and have no reason to go outdoors on this very cold day. What this brings to mind are all the people who don’t have this choice because they work in jobs that serve the rest of us—in the post office, trash collection, the local Starbuck’s and other businesses, fire fighters and other emergency personnel, bus drivers, subway operators, cab drivers. The list goes on and on and, as I think about them, I am filled with gratitude. I also feel concern for them, as it’s a day when it’s not really safe to be outside.
What this brings to mind is the importance of gratitude. It’s a response that not only nurtures one’s own well-being, but it also orients awareness to the contributions of so many participants in our daily lives. Those contributors may be people, they may be other-than-human companions, they may be offerings from nature—food, water, fresh air.
As I write this, I’m eating a pear. What an amazing gift! I often find myself mystified as to how Nature draws on a dynamic creativity that generates all the amazing life forms on this planet. Ecology at times leaves me speechless with its complexity and fundamental collaborative/cooperative underpinnings, so my gratitude, including amazement, often orients itself to the dynamic creativity and intelligence of this planet’s eco-systems.Read More “906th Week: Gratitude“
As we experience the intense polarization and conflict in the United States, and also that which has arisen in so many other countries, it feels more important than ever to engage practices that remind us that we are one earth family and that we can’t survive independent from the countless contributions of our human family and our other-than-human earth family.
I’ve written before about the South African concept and practice of Ubuntu—“I am because you are”, which recognizes and lives into the reality that it is only through the support of the people around us that we are able to be. Here’s one reference describing Ubuntu, one among many: https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ubuntu_(philosophy)
Another approach to this same idea comes from Psychiatrist Dan Siegel who has developed what he calls “Intraconnection”, where he describes our awareness as moving from “me to we to mwe”. Here’s a link to his new book on the subject: https://www.amazon.com/IntraConnected-Integration-Belonging-Identity-IPNB/dp/0393711692/ref=sr_1_2?crid=N39CCKTAR989&keywords=Dan+Siegel+intraconnected&pldnSite=1&qid=1658667706&sprefix=dan+siegel+intraconnected%2Caps%2C124&sr=8-2
Then, there’s Thich Nhat Hanh’s coining the verb interbeing, where he says that we interare in every moment, that we cannot really be separate from everything around us. Here’s a link to an article by Thich Nhat Hanh on interbeing: https://www.garrisoninstitute.org/blog/insight-of-interbeing/
These and other related approaches and concepts invite us to expand our worldview to move beyond U.S. culture’s (and the cultures of other countries, as well) emphasis on individual issues such as rights, freedom, and independence. For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to dive a bit more deeply into this subject than you may have done before and ask yourself, each day, to recognize your interbeing and interdependence in some way you might ordinarily ignore it.Read More “883rd Week: Cultivating A Deeper Awareness of Interbeing and Interdependence”
This month, we continue the theme of how we are in relationship with everything around us. This meditation is an invitation to sense into the presence of the environment around you, noticing how your radiating presence contributes to this environment even as its presence, and all that comprises it, touches you.
Please remember never to listen to these audio meditations when driving or operating dangerous machinery…
Recently, I found myself thinking about the complex infrastructure that allows us all to connect on platforms like Zoom, that allow us to have the internet in all its complexity. I also thought about the infrastructure that allows our communities to function with roads, bridges, traffic signals, and everything else that keeps us organized and makes the complexities of living together run more smoothly.
This also got me to thinking about our internal infrastructure. Physically, our skeleton is one form of internal infrastructure. All the other aspects of our physicality are part of the bodily infrastructure that allows us to be here. Then, there’s the internal infrastructure of our nervous system and psyche, the means by which we move through life grounded, regulated, and steady—or, at least we hope we are able to move through life in this way.
Just as we have to attend to the various infrastructures of living in our modern world, we also have to attend to the internal infrastructure that allows us to re-center ourselves when life serves up challenges and experiences we neither anticipated nor were prepared to meet.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to explore even more deeply the ways in which you orient to an internal steadiness, find your internal center of gravity, re-center yourself, and regulate your nervous system. All these practices help to cope with present-day life in which changes and challenges are normal parts of what any of us may encounter on any given day.Read More “860th Week: Nurturing Your Internal Infrastructure”