Walking across Central Park after a light snow, I noticed that the dogs were energetically jumping into the snow, running in it at full tilt, and generally having an enthusiastically delightful time. It got me to thinking about how important it is to remember that Read More “Week 661: Finding Breathing Space”
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”
Listening to a cooking show on NPR this morning, there was an interview with a man who has a restaurant in Houston, TX called Underbelly Hospitality. I didn’t hear the very beginning of the interview, but the gist was that the owner/chef has a great interest in foods of every kind, from many different countries, and has spent a great deal of time with other chefs/restauranteurs in the area getting to know the in’s and out’s of their particular kinds of food, including Vietnamese and others. What struck me most powerfully is that he is a man who practices what I call “mutual empowerment”. At his restaurant, there was a time when the check for meals was accompanied by a list of other restaurants in the area where people could go, inviting them to explore how these foods tasted in various places. His goal was, and is, to share all the wonderful resources in his city and to cultivate his close relationships with other chefs in the city.
I’ve written before about the power dynamics of “power-over” and those of “mutual empowerment.” In the “power-over” model, there are only two positions: who’s on top and who’s on the bottom, who has power and who is over-powered. We see this kind of power relationship in many countries in the world right now, including the United States. In the “power-over” model, only a relatively few people are granted the privilege to have power over a vast majority of people. Many are left out…Read More “767th Week: Practicing Mutual Empowerment”
A while back (764th Week’s practice), I wrote about choosing frequencies and engaging practices that make that process more fluid. Another helpful approach is to cultivate an awareness of the “foreground/background” dynamic that is present in every moment. Whatever is in the foreground of your awareness, there is likely to be something different in the background.
One way to think about these foreground/background dynamics could be the distinction between moments of upset in the foreground and an awareness of the present-day observer in the background. The observer is the part of us that notices what we experience and is able to make choices about what to do with what we notice. In this case, we’re exploring finding ways to shift from the foreground upset to a background of a more regulated quality, if that’s what you choose to do.
Drawing on an awareness of foreground/background allows more choice about whether you want to continue with the focus of your attention and experience or if you want to shift frequencies to something else that you may find in the background. For example, you may be upset over a news report you just heard, with your body tense, fear in the foreground, and thoughts of what terrible things might unfold. These responses are natural in these times, but you don’t need to live there. Once you notice how distressed you are, it’s possible to become curious about what might be in the background. Perhaps you notice a quality of quiet, or ease, internal steadiness, or reassurance of some kind. This doesn’t mean you are ignoring or denying issues that are realistically upsetting. Instead, it means that you will be able to respond more coherently if you aren’t caught up in the activation related to them.Read More “778th Week: Foreground/Background Dynamics Revisited”