As I thought about what to write for this week’s practice in conscious living, I found myself pondering the painful lack of empathy, kindness, and care that seem to characterize our human family’s interactions in my country. It has been quite disheartening to watch people focus so fervently on their own well-being and self-interest. For just one example, to know that countless people are currently losing their homes because they can’t afford rent due to the pandemic is heart-breaking. It’s as though we forget that we’re all in this together and that nothing happens in isolation or outside our collective social life.
This week’s practice may feel heavy if you choose to do it, but it also is a heart-opening and heart-expanding practice. Empathy requires our heart perception, even when it’s painful to go there, as it opens us to an awareness of the experience of others. Deepening empathy also deepens our sense of connection and belonging to a larger community of being. It expands our sense of identity beyond our personal self.
So, for this week, I invite all of us to deepen our experience of empathy. This means being able to imagine how something feels to someone else, to imagine how we would feel were we in their situation. For example, notice how you feel when you imagine that you don’t have enough food to eat today. Or that you are saying goodbye to your home and have nowhere else to go but out on the street.
Empathy can expand to include our other-than-human family, as well, and our earth environment as a whole system. For example, empathy might extend to polar bears who find that their environment is changing so drastically that starvation is a constant possibility, an ever-emerging reality.
Here’s a brief practice focused on empathy and it draws from the Buddhist practice of metta or lovingkindness.Read More “855th Week: Cultivating Empathy”
This month, we continue with our theme of presence and the many reciprocal relationships we have with the world around us. We breathe in oxygen, a gift from trees who then breathe in our carbon dioxide. Bringing into awareness all the organisms and beings whose presence and activities contribute to what makes the world work for us, i.e., fungi, micro-organisms and more we don’t see and may not even recognize. Also insects, amphibians, reptiles, beings that fly, crawl, and swim and many other participants in the collective, interrelated system that creates your local environment and ecology. We have an opportunity to offer gratitude and blessings to everything in the environment with which we have a reciprocal relationship.
Please remember never to listen to these audio meditations when driving or operating dangerous machinery…
I ran across the quotation on Facebook the other day, from Pema Chodron’s book, “The Pocket Pema”:
“Am I Going to Add to the Aggression?
Every day we could think about aggression in the world, in New York, Los Angeles, Darfur, Iraq, everywhere. All over the world, everybody always strikes out at the enemy, and the pain escalates forever. Every day we could reflect on this and ask ourselves, ‘Am I going to add to the aggression in the world?’ Every day, at the moment when things get edgy, we can just ask ourselves, ‘Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?’”
This got me to thinking about how, in just about every moment, we face choices about how we move through the world, how we choose to express ourselves in a multitude of situations and circumstances. Even when we are in a situation like the current pandemic, where most of us stay at home much of the time. As we move through our daily experience even at home, endless moments arise, each offering choices about how we are going to respond to whatever may be unfolding.
Because I believe that we are part of a larger collective consciousness, one to which we contribute and from which we draw all the time, I also believe that it’s impossible not to affect ourselves and the collective through the choices we make as we respond to the world around us. I’ve written before about experimenting with orienting to heart perception and intelligence by asking ourselves, “What would my heart do right now?” Or, “How would my heart respond right now?” This doesn’t mean we will never be angry, distressed, embarrassed, or outraged. What it touches on is how do we choose to handle these feelings.Read More “831st Week: What Do We Add to the World Each Day?”
When I was very young, my grandmother used to talk to me about a schism she saw coming in what she felt would be my future. This was back in the early ’50’s, when she essentially became my first spiritual teacher. Read More “Week 652: Oneness and Separateness”
This year, we’ll focus on frequencies, the energy qualities that we embody and express in every moment. Each month, we’ll draw on a different frequency, exploring identifying, accessing, embodying, and deepening awareness of various frequencies.
If you would prefer to explore this meditation with images of nature, here’s our YouTube version: