Each morning, I post an inspirational quotation and a nature photo to the Devadana Sanctuary website and also to the Devadana Sanctuary page on Facebook. This morning, as I looked through all the photos I have available to post, I again felt so deeply moved by the beauty of our earth. This got me to thinking about all the various quotations I find that have to do with loving our earth as our mother, as our true home.
As I looked through prior posts, I became aware of how important it has become to me to take in something inspiring at the beginning of each day. For me, looking at images of our beautiful planet touches an important place in my being and helps me orient to the love I have for our earth and all the life within and on it. For me, taking time to love our planet, to love the nature that gives us life, automatically invites us to shift into heart awareness. The perception and intelligence of the heart (the heart-brain, actually), tends to naturally offer a different perspective than does the brain we carry around in our heads.
I am also moved by beautiful music or by the sound of birdsong, stories about acts of kindness, encountering a fur-friend, and more. Sources of inspiration might be different for you. For this week’s experiment, I invite you to pay even more attention to what brings you inspiration and deepens your heart awareness. Also, notice what happens when you remember to shift to something inspiring if you begin to feel overloaded by the challenges, suffering, and hardships you either experience personally or see happening in your world. If you don’t already start your day with inspiring input, notice what may be different about your experience of entering the day if you include something in your morning routine that offers you inspiration.
It’s helpful to remember that finding inspiration needn’t require anything special. There may be a plant in your living room that gives you pleasure and it may be inspiring to see new growth there. Or, you may have a piece of artwork or an object that brings a smile each time you look at it. It’s a matter of orienting to the quality of inspiration and then to noticing how you feel in your heart space when you engage this quality.
As with all these practices, there is no right way to engage this one. It is one more opportunity to become more deeply aware of how the quality of your consciousness, of where you orient your attention, affects the quality of your inner life. Bringing along curiosity as your constant companion supports discovering new sources of inspiration along the way. And, remembering to pat judgments on the head as they arise, move through, and move on, letting them go without having to engage them, can support an ever-deepening connection with whatever inspiration may offer itself to you.
Often as I walk through Central Park, I thank workers along the way for the help they offer in keeping the park a wonderful place to spend time. Yesterday I thanked a worker and he said, “We love this park, so we love this work.” This morning I thanked a garbage man for helping to make our city more livable. I always thank the postal carriers at both my office and at home when I see them, along with people from all the various delivery services that bring packages filled with things that make my life work. Without these people, life would be very different.
As I move through New York City, I pay attention to people whose job it is to support the rest of us, people who help make our lives easier to navigate. For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to do the same and, if you are already someone who thanks people along the way, ramp it up a bit and see how that feels. Gratitude brings its gifts not only to those we thank but to us, as well. It has the power to lift our spirits, as well as those who receive gratitude from us.
Our sense of well-being is nourished when we engage in expressing gratitude to the people around us. We are more likely to remember that we are part of a community and that, without the whole community, we wouldn’t be able to live our lives in the ways we do. This awareness of community can also remind us of the underlying interdependence that is fundamental to human existence. We depend on one another for just about every aspect of our lives and taking the time to thank people we don’t know and may never see again helps to reinforce an awareness of just how much we need one another.Read More “744th Week: Expressing Gratitude”
One of my primary practices doesn’t have a name, or at least I don’t know of one for it. It has to do with noticing and then choosing the quality of thoughts, emotions, physical states, and energy with which I resonate as I move through the day, as an exercise in shifting to a more constructive frequency. When I first learned mindfulness and realized that each moment offers a new choice as to where I place my attention and energy, Read More “Week 647: Resonating with Your World”
Recently, a colleague posted an article to Facebook that more deeply explores the importance and power of cultivating kindness. The article is by Sharon Salzberg, the esteemed Buddhist teacher, and it offers suggestions about how we might create a deeper and more readily accessible relationship with kindness, even in the presence of cruelty. She also describes how kindness affects our internal quality of life and state of being, something that I have experienced in my own relationship with kindness.
Here’s the link to her article, “How to Be Kind When Confronted with Cruelty”, and I feel it’s worth your time to read it and explore her wise suggestions. Even for those of us who practice kindness regularly, what Sharon offers in this article can nourish and deepen that treasured relationship.Read More “771st Week: Meeting Cruelty with Kindness”
Recently, I participated in a conversation in front of a large group of people where a colleague and I discussed intersections between Somatic Experiencing® and other body-based approaches and Buddhist practices and concepts. What became the underlying theme for me was to convey to the audience that when we feel activated—under threat or overwhelmed—our perception narrows and we lose sight of the bigger picture. We can see this dynamic all around us at this time, where people on every side of an issue become locked into their perspective and are seemingly unable to take in new information that would widen their understanding of a given stance or situation. Also, we lose sight of all the good that’s happening in the world when we’re overwhelmed by activation.
The discussion went on to underscore the importance of being aware of our own particular activation signals and behaviors, and how essential it is to be able to manage ourselves and bring ourselves back into regulation when we notice that we are activated. I spent some time talking about the difference between the “trauma brain” and the “present-day brain”. The “trauma brain” operates within an either/or, lack-of-options framework, so when we’re activated, it’s difficult to see possibilities that weren’t initially obvious. The “present-day brain” operates within a framework of both/and, along with an ability to imagine a range of options.Read More “757th Week: Coming Back to Grounding”