Recently, I talked about finding a deep experience of peace as I sat in Central Park, and how I could stay with that inner sense of quiet even as children, dogs, birds, all kinds of people came and went in the area where I sat. It was fundamentally an experience of playing with foreground/background dynamics: I chose to have the sensations of peace stay in the foreground of my awareness as the sounds of activity came and went in the background.
Playing with foreground/background dynamics is its own kind of mindfulness practice… Read More “683rd Week: More Foreground/Background Dynamics: Finding Home Base”
As I write this week’s practice, we’re about a month into “sheltering in place” here in New York City. For all of us, the whole world of human beings, this is a time of challenge beyond what many of us would have imagined possible. The fact that we are able to be connected around the globe is a previously unimagined gift of being able to move through this experience as a connected human family.
I had an experience this week that touched me deeply and I want to share it as the theme of this week’s practice that I’d like to invite you to explore. I got an email through my website and it was from someone who had noticed that I hadn’t posted a practice last week. She hoped that I was okay and wanted to make contact to be sure everything was all right with me.
As I read this unexpected email, my heart filled with gratitude and warmth that this person cared enough to be in touch and to check in with me. It got me to thinking about how powerful it is when we care about and for one another, what a balm it is to the heart, and how such an act can fill someone with a sense of connection, warmth, and gratitude.Read More “783rd Week: The Gift of Caring”
One of the practices I’ve taken on even more actively these days is imagining that I am an open and always-available channel for the energy of universal love to flow through me as I move around in the course of my daily life activities. When I use the word “love”, I’m not referring to the personal kind but, instead, to my sense that the most potent healing energy in the universe is Love with a capital “L”.
It seems to me that this particular kind of “subtle activism” can be an addition to whatever else I, or we, may do to help heal our distressed world, our human family, and all our other earth kin. Imagining the energy of love flowing through me throughout the day doesn’t ask anything of me other than to bring my awareness to the process as often as I choose to do so. And, I feel somewhat confident in saying that choosing to be a channel for the healing quality of love probably doesn’t have a downside when we don’t personalize it…when we realize that we are, indeed, simply open channels for this universal energy to flow through us and into our world.
For years, I’ve had a practice of blessing everything around me. This particular practice became much more an ongoing part of my life when I went through seminary and was ordained as an Interfaith (now called Interspiritual) Minister back in 2003. In recent years, I’ve found that taking classes with David Spangler through his Lorian Association has helped me focus even more fully on these ways of moving through the world.Read More “786th Week: The Gift of Transmitting Love”
When the world is so filled with suffering and chaos, we can sometimes feel not only overwhelmed but pushed into collapse and fatigue because of how helpless we may feel. One of the practices I’ve been doing for quite a while that now has a name is “subtle activism”. Subtle activism involves activities such as prayer, blessing, sending healing thoughts, intentions, and images, radiating gratitude and other life-affirming qualities into the world. Subtle activism involves anything we do with our imagination and our heart-felt emotions that orients to wholeness, healing, easing of suffering, and fundamental well-being.
One of the qualities that many people believe is healing in and of itself is love—love for life, love for the planet, love for all beings—however that may express in any of us, along with a recognition that everything we encounter anywhere in life arises from the same sacred source as we do. Here are some thoughts that others have had about subtle activism, love, and the importance of the recognition of the underlying sacred in everything:Read More “763rd Week: Subtle Activism—Practices We Can Do When We’re Overwhelmed”
If you’d like to experience this guided meditation with images, here’s the youtube version: https://youtu.be/bT-DbKga6nc
For mental health practitioners and others in the healing arts, it’s helpful to have a way to sit with people’s suffering and distress without getting caught up in it ourselves. In reality, for everyone, regardless of the focus of your work, it’s helpful to have a way to cope with the suffering and distress in the world so that you don’t become swept away by it.
For me, doing therapy with an open heart is essential and yet having my heart open means that I can’t ignore, deny, or distance myself from the suffering of others. Instead, I use the Buddhist practice of Tonglen to metabolize and manage the emotional experiences—my own and those of others—that touch my heart or threaten to overwhelm it. What I want to share is my version of this practice. In Sanskrit, Tonglen means taking and sending, and it’s a breathing practice that focuses on neutralizing activating emotions in oneself and in others in the world who feel the same way.Read More “754th Week: Psychological Support in Troubled Times”