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”
Walking across Central Park one morning, I watched a dog wiggle and waggle in anticipation of chasing a ball. His attention was absolutely fixed on the ball in his human companion’s hand. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else registered as the ball was finally in the air and he ran after it with great enthusiasm. This got me to thinking about how powerfully the focus of our attention affects what we perceive and how we engage the world. Read More “Week 628: Where Do You Place Your Attention?”
In this time of so much polarization and conflict, it feels more important than ever to include heart perception and intelligence as part of moving through everyday life. I’ve written many times about how being mindful offers ongoing opportunities for choice and, these days, having access to being able to choose how we want to engage and move through conversations with people with whom we may disagree becomes a very important resource.
One of the other things I know I’ve mentioned a number of times is the powerful quality and orientation of the heart brain’s intelligence and perception. Most of us are quite familiar with our head brain’s ways of perceiving and of our cognitive styles of intelligence and understanding. The heart brain often perceives and understands things quite differently, which becomes immediately apparent when we take the time to tune into it.Read More “741st Week: Cultivating Heart Perception”
One of the primary practices I follow on a daily basis is to move through the world reminding myself that everyone and everything I encounter along the way is, in some way, “kin”. All are part of this planet’s life and nothing I see or engage with in the course of my daily activities is outside this planet’s origins. One of the things I’ve noticed, as a result of this practice of remembering that I am related to everyone and everything around me is that it has nurtured a deepened sense of connection. It doesn’t really matter what I may feel connected to in any given moment. The underlying and overall experience is one of never really being alone.
Indigenous peoples have understood and lived this perspective naturally, and there are other non-indigenous teachers who also hold this perspective. Among them is David Spangler, a mystic and spiritual teacher who was part of the early years of Findhorn, in Scotland. Through an organization, Lorian, David has published a number of books that speak to these kinds of experiences. There is also Daniel Foor, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with ancestors but now also focuses on the theme of animism, an approach to life that says all are kin. The perspective we share is that nothing is outside the collective life of this planet, nothing is without its own inherent value and right to be acknowledged and respected.Read More “745th Week: Expanding Our Sense of “Kin””
As I write this practice, we are entering a week in the United States where we are being asked to practice a high degree of “social distancing”. For many of us, that means doing our work on-line. For some of us, it means staying home and not interacting with other people for now. The purpose of this need for many of us to not be in contact with people any more than we absolutely have to is to slow down the transmission of the current coronavirus outbreak so that our health-care system isn’t overwhelmed.
Without question, these are activating and stressful times, and I wanted to share a couple of practices that I’m using to steady myself. Our collective field of human consciousness is intensely activated and that affects us all. Whenever any one of us can orient to steadiness and ease our own levels of activation, we immediately and automatically contribute that shift to everyone else.
One of the practices I use daily, which I’ve shared before and which comes from the work of Peter Levine, the founder of Somatic Experiencing®, is to make the sound “voo” each morning before I begin the day. In the way I use this process, I take an easy breath and, as I exhale without effort, I make the sound “voo”. When you do this, allow yourself to make the sound in whatever tone allows you to feel it vibrate throughout your abdomen, all the way down to the bottom. Then, when the breath is complete, I take in the next gentle inhalation and make the sound again. I recommend that you do this three times and notice how you feel. Be sure to track your physical sensations and orient to wherever you may feel more settled.Read More “780th Week: Returning to the Present Moment”