Whenever I go into Central Park, I take time to see what has changed, how the trees look, what wildlife is around. I enjoy listening to the birds and, also, to the many languages I hear on any given day in New York City. This Fall season, I have enjoyed watching the trees change from their brilliant colors to bare branches after their leaves have been released. For me, this time of year brings its own beauty, and during this season I can see the creative, complex, and varied ways that trees find expression in the shapes and reach of their branches. It’s magical to me and I discover new trees every year—trees I have only noticed during their leaf-laden seasons.
This process that is so familiar to me got me to thinking about the importance of looking for inspiration, beauty, and things that are new as part of nourishing our vitality and aliveness. I was surprised to discover that I had a link to the importance of “awe walks” in my notes that fits perfectly with what I’ve experienced this Fall as the trees have taken on their winter look. Here’s a link to that article. (You can click on the blank space and it will take you to the article. For some reason, the link doesn’t offer visible content, but it’s here…)
Even though this article refers to “older people” and some research that was done with this population, the effects of awe apply to us all. There’s been a good bit of research in this area. Here’s a link to an article reflecting the impact of small moments of awe on anyone’s overall health and well-being.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to engage in even more “awe walks” than you may already do. Pay attention to what happens in your body, emotional tone, and thoughts as you look for things that inspire, things you didn’t notice before, things that fill you with awe. If you can’t go outdoors, then do this practice in your home, taking time to notice what you have around you that inspires you and also to invite yourself to notice small details that you may have overlooked.Read More “858th Week: The Importance of “Awe””
Walking through Central Park one morning, the sound of the birds, the slow but steady haze of green emerging on the trees, the emerging daffodils and other spring flowers all offered gifts that are part of the park’s waking up to a new season. As I walked, I took in the sounds, smells, and visual delight of this emerging season and the experience got me to thinking about the process of receiving.
Receiving is an active, reciprocal process. It acknowledges that something has been given and recognizes that the act of receiving can be an expression of generosity that can enhance this experience. I often invite people to notice their style of receiving. For example, when they sit down on a chair and receive the support available, do they actively take in the support that is present? Do they engage the reciprocal process of receiving what is offered with awareness? This may apply to any kind of receiving: support, friendship, kindness, much-needed food, clothing, or shelter, a smile—whatever is offered. How would you answer these questions? Read More “711th Week: Receiving Generously”
There is an excellent documentary on a Tibetan monk, Lobsang Phuntsok, who trained with the Dalai Lama, taught Buddhism and meditation in the West, and now takes in children in the Himalayan foothills of India. The name of his community translates to “the garden of love and compassion” and he and his colleagues/assistants work with kindness and gentle, but consistent, guidance as his way of offering them a safe and secure family experience. Here’s a link to the video:
In our world at this time, the Internet allows us to see more vividly the impact and effects of how we aren’t figuring out how to be in a world that thrives on diversity. This is an unfortunate response that encounters disagreements about worldview and beliefs and turns them into a response that views people with whom we disagree as “other”. Because of my belief in, and experience of, a fundamental oneness underlying reality, it isn’t really possible to have anyone or anything be an “other”. Everything and everyone are kin within a context of oneness, or what Thich Nhat Hanh and Charles Eisenstein call “interbeing”.
What I’d like to offer this week is a practice that supports a sense of connection with everything around us. Deepening this sense of connection can have an impact on how we perceive and respond to the world and may serve to support more constructive responses when we are confronted by people or situations with which we disagree.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t many times when we come up against situations that need to be changed. This isn’t a call not to act on our own behalf and that of others. Instead, it’s an invitation to remember that, even when we may vehemently disagree with what someone is doing, or with a situation that is untenable, we still remember that we are all connected within a fabric of life that weaves us together as kin. And, our kin are comprised of every kind of life form we encounter along the way, not just human beings.Read More “774th Week: The Space that Connects”
Whether we orient ourselves to climate change and the environment, racial injustice, species degradation, power grabs, hunger, or disease, our global Internet connections bring into awareness the immensity of suffering happening on our planet at this time. It also underscores that we are all in this together, given that we travel around the world, share economic and cultural activities, that we are one human family living with countless other earth-kin, on our precious planet that has its limits.
It can become overwhelming to recognize that there’s nowhere to go to escape our interdependence and interbeing. The fact is that we are bound to one another. As the African word “ubuntu” states, “I am me because we are.” Ubuntu invites us to treat others with respect and to acknowledge that we are irrevocably dependent on one another. Here’s a Ted-x talk that speaks to actions that arise from an awareness of ubuntu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrnhdY0B7Cg
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore the principles of Ubuntu more deeply, in whatever way works for you and within whatever philosophical or spiritual orientation resonates with you. Because ubuntu focuses on humanity, I also invite you to expand your definition and experience of family to include all our earth-kin, all the life that arises from the natural world that is our true home.Read More “832nd Week: We Are All in This Together”