A friend sent me this quotation after a particularly violent and challenging week in American life and it touched into an awareness that’s been growing in me over recent years. There is so much suffering within our human family, so many acts of cruelty and violence around the world, and we are aware of so much more of it with the Internet. Because of this, it can be hard to remember wholeness, the wholeness inherent in our human family, when we see so many examples of how we, as a species, are capable of hurting one another.
I was very moved by the quotation from Howard Zinn and wanted to share it as part of this week’s practice. I think that it not only inspires but it also speaks to a powerful and ever-present truth: within wholeness there is more than whatever aspect of it is in the foreground at any given moment in time.
Here’s the quotation: Read More “731st Week: Wholeness”
A post on Facebook had a picture of Mr. Rogers describing what creates success and there were three sentences all ending in “kindness”. This got me to thinking, yet again, of the importance of kindness as a primary stance in moving through daily life. In the present state of our collective interpersonal life, adding in more kindness seems an important and useful antidote (at least in all the small ways kindness can make a tangible difference).
Thinking about kindness also got me to thinking about the relationship between heart intelligence and perception and kindness, as it feels to me that kindness arises and emerges from the heart. I recently read an article about what is now considered by science as the real possibility of a “heart brain”. Stories of people who have received heart transplants attest to the fact that the heart is more than merely a physical pump.Read More “771st Week: Kindness, Kindness, Kindness”
I posted this quotation to the Devadana Sanctuary website and Facebook page, as one of the daily inspirational posts that go up each morning:
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
~ John O’Donohue
One of the things I seem to always experience with the poetry of John O’Donohue is how alive his words become as I live into them and allow them to touch me. This poem feels deeply relevant to our current experience of the Covid pandemic and reminded me of the importance of taking time to nourish ourselves in gentle ways.Read More “801st Week: Nurturing Gentle Moments”
One of the practices I’ve followed for many years is to take time to notice that the space that we think separates us actually is what connects us to absolutely everything else. Notice what happens when you think of space as that which connects—everything to everything else. It can help to break the habit, the illusion, of separateness, the habit of thinking that we are disconnected from the complexity of relationships all around us.
Here’s a meditation practice to explore:
- To begin, find a place where you can sit up, supported and alert and yet also relaxed.
- Bring your awareness to the place in you that you recognize as your internal home base. Many people find this when they follow the next out-breath all the way down to the bottom of the breath and notice where they naturally settle.
- In your internal home base you also find your radiating core presence, the unique energy signature that arises from your core.
- Take a few moments, now, to become even more aware of the quality and tone you radiate throughout your body-mind being and then out into the environment around you. We touch everything with our presence.
- Now, notice your body, this amazing, complex organism that allows you to be here in this world. Notice how your body supports your consciousness, your presence.
- Next, notice the surface under you and the way in which your body receives that support. Remember, support is a reciprocal process—it is offered and then it is received.
- Bring your awareness, now, to the environment around you and notice the quality and tone of that environment. It is comprised of the presence of everything in it coming together to create a particular quality.
- Next, open your eyes if they aren’t already open and look around your environment. Notice the space between you and something else. Notice what you experience when you remember that the space between you is actually what connects you.
- Take some time to experience the space that connects you to everything in your environment.
- Then, if this appeals to you, extend your awareness to the space outside your immediate environment and continue to expand your awareness, recognizing that there is nothing you are not connected with through the space around you.
- Spend some time, now, simply being present to this inescapable fact of being connected to everything because of the space that connects. That space is everywhere and connects you to everything.
- Notice what happens in your body, in your emotions, and in your thoughts as you take in this experience of connection. Be sure to allow any mixed feelings to arise to have a place in your awareness. Because of our wholeness, it’s normal, if not inevitable, to have mixed feelings from time to time and it’s a gift to make room for whatever arises. Your awareness can make room for it all, so you don’t have to leave anything out.
- Take a few moments to imagine how you might move through your daily activities if you were able to maintain an awareness of the underlying connection between you and everything else.
- When you’re ready, bring your awareness back to your core, to the radiating note of your unique energy presence. Feel the support of your body, of the surface under you. Then, wiggle your fingers and toes to bring yourself all the way back.
As with all these practices, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything with or about them. And, as always, explore this practice in whatever ways work best for you and be sure to change whatever doesn’t work for you in the way I’ve offered it.
This morning, Krista Tippett aired a 2015 interview with Mirabai Bush, a meditation teacher who became a corporate consultant teaching people mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and how to be more aware of how they move through the world. Also this morning, a colleague sent me an article on the impact of kindness and how practicing it enhances our sense of well-being. Both of these practices invite us to orient to the heart, to our sense of connection with ourselves and others, and to a more spontaneous and available tendency to be kind.
I’ve mentioned the importance of cultivating heart intelligence and perception in many of these practices and it seems more important now than ever to do so. All of us, on every side of any political, social, or spiritual/religious spectrum, wants the same thing—to be happy, not to suffer, and to be free from fear. The Buddhist practice of lovingkindness specifically addresses this similarity within and amongst all living beings. Read More “730th Week: Practicing Kindness, Living with An Open Heart”