One of the gifts I give myself each morning is some time with what I think of as “good news”, with posts on Facebook or emails I receive that bring interesting stories and examples of some of the beautiful things that are happening in the world. The regular news reports offer ample information about the terrible things that are unfolding, about the seemingly unremitting suffering of our human family and of the earth itself. Quite a long while ago, I made a commitment to myself to offer myself a broader picture than is available in the mainstream media so that I can continue to move through the world with an open heart.
Also, choosing to include good news as part of your media diet supports a more accurate view of our human wholeness—of the good in us as well as the dysfunction we express so actively in our interactions with one another, with our planet, and with our wide variety of other-than-human earth-kin.
For this week’s practice, I’d like to offer some resources for good news and also a brief practice for nourishing an open heart. As you play with these resources this week, notice how you feel—does your heart feel more open or does it feel clenched and closed? Notice your body—do you feel softer and more at ease or tense and constricted? Notice your thoughts—do they orient to thoughts of possibility or do you find that you are mired in judgment and/or negative thinking? What we feed ourselves psychologically has a lot to do with how we feel physically and emotionally, as well.Read More “869th Week: Taking Time for Good News”
One of the things the Internet has given us is more access to connecting and communicating with one another. This is all to the good when the communication promotes the well-being of everyone. It becomes a problem when it allows people to feed their fears. We see this phenomenon around the world in those groups that seek to oppress or eliminate other groups of people who may be different from them or in some way represent a threat.
As a trauma specialist, this got me to thinking about how important it is to be conscious of our fears and to cultivate ways to become even more conscious of, meet, and process this powerful emotion. So much of what creates division and conflict among human beings—be they in a one-on-one relationship, a family, a community, a country—is the presence of underlying, and often unrecognized or disowned, fear.
For this week’s practice, I’d like to offer a practice that can be helpful in recognizing and dealing with the presence of fear. Fear isn’t an emotion we can eliminate because it’s an important survival response that we need throughout life. It’s essential that fear can motivate us to jump out of the way of a bus we hadn’t seen, or remind us not to walk down a dark alley alone in the middle of the night. The problem is that we are often afraid of things that aren’t threatening and, when we act on these kinds of fears, we often generate even more trauma in ourselves and others.Read More “747th Week: The Power of Fear”
Recently, I’ve been ramping up a practice as I go through Central Park on my way to the office that has to do with recognizing that everything I encounter along the way, every living being—human or otherwise—is kin. This recognition comes from the awareness that we are all “children of Gaia”, with no exceptions. A colleague mentioned to me last week that she saw a documentary in which the anthropologist pointed out that not so long ago, geologically speaking, we humans were part of nature’s “wildlife”. It was only when we began to use agriculture that we shifted from actively participating as local wildlife. It was a reminder that we humans, as well as every other life form, are born from the same source of physical life—we are all Gaian beings.
This practice got me to paying more attention to what I experience as I recognize that every living being I encounter in the course of my daily activities is kin. On my walk, for example, acknowledging people, trees, bushes, birds, dogs, grass, rocks—everything I encounter along the way—as kin, I notice that my heart becomes more open and I feel more immediately connected to the world around me. It’s hard to describe, but I become aware of a deepened sense of relatedness to, and part of, my world. That experience then touches something deeper that nourishes a richer sense of well-being. Read More “714th Week: When Every Being is Kin”
When I woke up this morning, I noticed that I was feeling a sense of hopelessness around the edges and this is an unusual response in me. Rather than make up any stories about what it meant—above and beyond the obvious challenges we currently face collectively as well as individually, I found myself turning to my tried and true sources of grounding, practices that help me return to a steady sense of presence.
There are two reasons I stay on top of this. First is my belief in collective consciousness and I don’t want to add extra distress to what is already a powerful experience happening to many people in our human family. The second reason is that I know how easy it is to inadvertently add activation to an already-distressing internal state and I have spent many years learning how not to do that. Adding activation to activation doesn’t help me or anyone and, when it leads to a sense of overwhelm and potential shutdown, can keep many of us from engaging in those actions that really could make a difference.
I’ve written about two practices I use all the time and I think they can’t be described often enough, especially these days. So, I offer them below, as I have a number of times before, and again invite you to experiment with them to find out if there are ways these approaches may also be useful to you.Read More “808th Week: Easing Distress”
This month’s audio meditation continues with our theme of wholeness–the wholeness of our individual self, the wholeness of nature, the wholeness inherent in our planetary being. It supports our experiencing these ever-expanding expressions of wholeness as an embodied reality.
For those who would prefer images from nature with the audio meditation, here’s our YouTube version:
Each morning, I post a daily inspirational quotation and nature photograph on the Devadana Sanctuary Facebook page and the one I put up recently has stayed on my mind. I thought I’d share it as this week’s practice, given the amount of contention and negative feelings and events happening in so many of our human communities around the world.
The quotation is from the work of Pierre Predervand, who writes about the powerful practice of offering blessings as an aspect of, and activity in, daily living. I include gratitude in this practice because, for me, both offering blessings and expressions of gratitude are powerfully related. Here’s the quotation from Pierre Predervand (from his book, The Gentle Art of Blessing) that I posted the other day:Read More “749th Week: Offering Blessings and Gratitude”