As I write this practice, I’m sitting in Central Park on a Sunday morning, having some quiet time to write, to soak in the sounds of birds, insects, hawks, dogs, and people. It’s a place I come to each weekend morning when weather and schedule permit. What comes to mind this morning is that I bring my iPad so I can write. I bring my container of coffee. I bring the muffin I buy along the way. I carry everything in my backpack, including my phone and earbud connections.
As I think of all these things that are part of my weekend morning routine, I also begin to think about the many people and resources that went into making this moment possible, people I will never know and yet without whom I wouldn’t have all the things with me that I want to bring along on these quiet, meditative morning journeys. Read More “725th Week: Noticing Relationship and Gratitude”
I just saw a little dog standing in an open area of lawn, wildly barking at a squirrel who was up a very tall tree nearby. It made quite a funny picture, with the lawn and the size of the tree making the small dog look even smaller. What it brought to mind was a sense of focused intention and energetic commitment. The squirrel was all that mattered and the little fur-face on the ground was giving it all he was worth.
This got me to thinking about where we put our energy. All the barking in the world wasn’t going to get the squirrel within reach of the dog and I found myself wondering about all the energy we may put into things that aren’t really available to engage with us. With all the gadgets that we now have available to us, and with most of us carrying around a computer in our pocket in our smart phones, there are increasing opportunities to spend time in less conscious and less focused ways. At times, I find myself doing a word game that can take up an unexpected amount of time and I’ve made a commitment to myself that I’ll only do that a couple of times a day. Instead of that activity, I now spend the same time reading on my kindle and I find that it’s much more satisfying, ultimately, than endlessly playing the word game.
Also, at my age, I’m keenly aware of a more limited amount of time in front of me and I have made it a practice to ask myself if what I’m doing honors the fact that I don’t want to waste whatever time I have left to be here. I hope that doesn’t sound morbid because, for me, it’s a powerfully positive motivator and invites me to focus my attention more clearly.Read More “836th Week: Noticing Where We Put Our Energy”
Sitting in Central Park the other morning, I did my usual thing of being there from the perspective of my heart intelligence and perception. I find that whenever I shift into my heart space as the center from which I perceive and interpret my world, I inevitably experience a deeper sense of connection, relatedness, oneness, and care for whatever I may encounter along the way. I have written many times about the importance of cultivating heart awareness, and of the benefits of doing practices such as HeartMath’s Inner Balance and the Buddhist heart-centered practice of Tonglen. The older I get, and the more involved I become with these kinds of practices, the more I value the benefits of shifting from head to heart perception. Read More “679th Week: Shifting into Your Heart’s Perspective”
As I sit to write this week’s practice, I find myself orienting to some recent research that was brought to my attention. At a time when we need increased empathy for all life forms, for all our kin and for the earth itself, it seems that there is a new trend. The report shows that people in the United States, where the research was conducted, have shifted in their relationship to empathy. Whereas people used to feel empathy in general, it now seems that it is becoming normalized not to care about what happens to people who are outside a person’s immediate sphere of relations. It seems that anyone outside the “tribe” doesn’t deserve empathy. Instead, people tend to blame the victim instead of opening their hearts to the suffering of people who are different—be they different because of ethnicity or different because of their beliefs or lifestyle.
We can see reflected in the state of our planet’s environmental destruction, with the extinction of species caused by human activity, and with the escalating levels of conflict between so many groups of people all around the planet that we need a collective awakening to the cost of being empathically disconnected from one another.
Because of this new trend toward less empathy, it feels more important than ever to engage practices that cultivate empathy and compassion not only for the people we know, but for all life—to make empathy a true practice of the heart.Read More “751st Week: Cultivating Empathy”
As a child, my grandmother was my first spiritual teacher and many of the things she taught me have stayed in my awareness over all these many years. One of the things she taught me I’ve written about before—the raincloud of knowable things. What continues to touch me about this concept is how vividly it reminds me that I’m never alone, that I am always and inevitably part of something much bigger than myself. In this case, it reminds me that I’m part of a vast collective consciousness that contains the wisdom of all humans across all time and that I and everyone else contributes to and draws from this collective all the time. This is an idea that has supported my work as a trauma specialist in psychotherapy and it is an idea that has given me hope even when things may have looked profoundly bleak.
It also touches into an experience that gets stronger for me as I age—that I am in community with a reciprocal environment all the time. I saw an illustration of this the other day as I walked across Central Park. I noticed a gentleman, early in the morning, taking cans and bottles out of the trash bins scattered throughout the park. It was a Monday morning, so the bins had quite a few offerings and I began to think about how this man’s activities support recycling, and that he contributes something meaningful that I usually wouldn’t know anything about. That got me to thinking about all the activities going on in my world that I don’t see and yet add to the quality and support of my life. It reminded me of the fact that, even at subtle levels, we constantly contribute to and draw from our collective environment.Read More “769th Week: The Raincloud of Knowable Things”