Here’s the YouTube version of the audio meditation with images:
Here’s the YouTube version of the audio meditation with images:
As I write this practice, it is vigorously snowing outside and I am deeply grateful to be tucked in and warm. As I watch the snow fall, I find myself pondering something that came up recently and that is the relationship between, and differences around, being and doing.
This got me to thinking about the importance of how we be and that our being is so much more important than our doing. That doesn’t mean doing doesn’t play a significant role in how we engage and impact the world, but it seems to me that the bottom line really focuses on the quality and tone of our being.
I’ve said before that our internal self-talk is a form of self-hypnosis and that the quality of our self-talk plays a major role in determining the quality of our internal life, of our felt-sense of who and how we are in the world. There are many practices that invite us to track our self-talk, along with suggestions as to how we might shift from self-critical internal conversations to those that reflect acceptance, support, and gratitude for who and how we are. Some are from cognitive therapy approaches and some are from the ever-expanding influence of mindfulness practices.
For this week’s practice, first, I invite you to become even more aware of the internal conversations you have with yourself and to notice how these moments of self-talk affect you. Do they lift you up and make you feel more able to engage the world, to dive into activities and projects that nourish you, to help you settle into a deeper sense of comfort with yourself? Or, do these moments of self-talk drag you down, generate shame, or make you feel that you want to avoid connecting with your world?Read More “826th Week: Being, Doing, and Self-Talk”
During this time of political struggle and worldwide human suffering and strife, I’d like to begin this week’s practice in conscious living by sharing a quotation from Steven Charleston, a Native American elder who posts messages on Facebook. Here is one I read recently that I feel speaks to this time in our lives:
“There is a spiritual skill that many of us will probably need in the days to come: the ability to maintain a sense of calm in times of trouble. While I cannot predict the future, common sense and the front page both tell me we have more economic and political white water to come. Therefore, I engage my focus on serenity now in order to be prepared. I intentionally sit still, breathe slowly, and look to the Spirit in meditation. I steady my soul. I become the calm I need.”
I have seen other spiritual teachers echoing this same idea—that this is a time when being able to access a state of calm, as well as steadiness, is something that can benefit each of us. Because of my belief in collective consciousness, I also feel that when we are able to be steady and calm we contribute those qualities to our human collective and, for me, that is an important form of subtle activism.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to deepen your familiarity with calm and your ability to access it, as well as to deepen your access to the steadiness that lives at the core of your being, a steadiness that cannot be disturbed no matter what happens. For me, one of the important aspects of orienting to calm and steadiness is that these qualities in no way detract from also being able to act in whatever ways you feel called to do in response to what you experience in your world. It’s a both/and kind of thing. You can be calm and steady and also take action you feel is necessary.
I emphasize this because sometimes we think that being calm and steady equals not being engaged or moved by what’s happening around us. Nothing could be further from the truth. I feel that the calm and steady presence naturally lead to a powerful orientation to our heart space, where we open ourselves to the suffering in the world, to injustices that need to be challenged, to whatever situations we feel called to respond to.Read More “896th Week: Finding Steadiness in Challenging Times”
The other day, two things happened in rapid succession that got me to thinking about how we interact with each other in our everyday world. Going downstairs in an elevator in my apartment building one morning, two people got on at different floors as the elevator went down to the lobby and both of them, as soon as they were in the elevator, locked their attention onto their phones. No “good morning” or “how are you”…just immediately heads down writing texts. Then, when I was out on the street, I noticed that most people were so engrossed in their phones that some people were nearly bumping into others. That same morning, while walking across the park, I also noticed the people who were looking at their phones rather than the trees, dogs, or other people.
All this got me to thinking about how we have been programmed in recent years not to take time to notice or interact with one another in ways that were a matter of course in the years I was growing into adulthood. Watching people almost bump into each other while walking along, and being present to absolute silence in the elevator (which doesn’t happen all the time, for sure), touched into a sense of a different level of disconnection from one another than I am used to observing and/or experiencing. This sense of disconnection seems to me to also show up in Facebook posts, and I’m sure also in other places, where people’s comments about public figures or one another are stunningly disrespectful.
As I have continued to notice people locking in on their phones in situations where, in prior years, there might have been a bit of polite conversation, I got to wondering what would happen if I decided to make a concerted effort not only to be cordial to people along the way, but also to emphasize—in my thoughts as well as my actions—an active attitude of respect. One of the results of this practice is that I just about always say hello to people on the elevator, unless they are already engrossed in their phones. These are brief encounters, but I feel better when I’ve acknowledged someone who’s sharing the elevator ride with me. It’s not that I press for conversation. Instead, it’s just an acknowledgment that there are more than just myself sharing the same space.Read More “775th Week: Exploring Respect”