As I write this, I’m sitting in the Admiral’s Club of American Airlines, waiting for a flight to California. I’m flying business class today, on miles, and I’m struck by the difference between the experience I’m having right now—complimentary coffee and food and a comfortable place to sit—compared to what it’s like when I fly economy. What this brings into my awareness is how easy it could be to overlook the quality of life being lived by people who don’t have the economic privilege I do. I find myself wondering how I would cultivate a deepened empathic awareness of people in need if my everyday life were regularly as generous and comfortable as the situation I’m in at the moment.
I remember reading some recent research that suggested that the more money people have the lower their scores on tests of empathy. Sitting here this morning, I can understand how that could happen. So, the question I have deals with any and all areas of privilege, be that economic privilege, racial privilege, gender privilege, ethnic privilege, religious privilege, or any other kind of privilege that comes automatically to certain classes of people. How do we expand our awareness to include those who don’t have access to whatever kinds of privilege we may take for granted and not even recognize as privilege? Read More “713th Week: Cultivating Empathy”
One of my primary practices doesn’t have a name, or at least I don’t know of one for it. It has to do with noticing and then choosing the quality of thoughts, emotions, physical states, and energy with which I resonate as I move through the day, as an exercise in shifting to a more constructive frequency. When I first learned mindfulness and realized that each moment offers a new choice as to where I place my attention and energy, Read More “Week 647: Resonating with Your World”
It’s a Sunday morning and, when I have time, I listen to On Being with Krista Tippett. It comes on at 7am on the East Coast and is an inspiring and nourishing way to begin the day. This morning, she interviewed neuroscientist Richard Davidson and they talked about a lot of things that have kept me thinking throughout the day.
One of the themes was neuroplasticity, the ways in which our brains change with new learning. Davidson talked about how our behavior around and with others changes their brains and that got me to thinking, yet again, how important it is to model kindness as we move through our daily lives. The implication from neuroplasticity is that if we are taking actions or speaking in ways that convey kindness, we are literally spreading that around as people’s brains spontaneously respond to our acts of kindness.Read More “743rd Week: Neuroplasticity and Kindness”
The contention around whether to wear masks or not during this pandemic brings into vivid focus what happens when we forget that we are all in this together and that we need to work together to help prevent unnecessary illness and death. So, this week’s practice in conscious living is going to be somewhat shorter and to the point:
- For the coming week, I invite you to notice what you are doing to contribute to the welfare and well-being of all of us. That might include wearing a mask, which infectious disease scientists have said again and again will reduce the spread of the virus. It might include donating money to a cause you care about, marching in a protest, or doing volunteer work in your community. It might mean checking in on elderly neighbors to make sure that they have what they need, or creating a friend network, if you haven’t done so already, so that everyone has someone to turn to in case of need.