For those of you who prefer to have images with your meditation, here’s a link to the youtube version for this month.
A while back, I listened to a book by Merlin Sheldrake, called “Entangled Life”. Sheldrake is a specialist in fungi and the book is an inspiring journey through all things fungal. He shares stories about how fungi participate in the “wood-wide web”, creating mycelial networks in collaboration with tree roots to support communication and access to nourishment under forest floors. He also describes the creative and truly inspiring research and development that are happening that use fungi to generate building materials and countless other products used by humans.
Listening to the book reminded me how important it is to find sources of inspiration that support an awareness that there is a much bigger picture unfolding than the one our daily lives encompasses. Given our current range of local and global crises, it can be challenging to access inspiration, possibility, and an awareness of potential creative solutions to so many problems we humans have generated and now must solve.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to take a bit of time each day to orient your awareness to something that moves, enlivens, inspires, or fills you up in a positive way that I don’t know how to put into words for you. It may be something as simple as looking out the window and seeing a bird on a tree branch, as I just did. I’m on vacation out of the city and it was inspiring to see this bird standing on a branch in a beam of sunlight. It may be that you are reading a book that touches your heart and that reading just a few lines is a way to begin a new day with a sense of possibility, or with the feeling of a deeper connection in a way that nourishes you.Read More “838th Week: Finding Inspiration in Troubling Times”
So many of us have been taught that the nature of nature is “survival of the fittest”, suggesting that competition is the underlying principle of evolution. Elisabet Sahtouris, an evolutionary biologist, points out that the early stages of a species development involves competition, and that the mature stage is characterized by cooperation and collaboration within and between species. Agustín Fuentes, a biological and evolutionary anthropologist also points out the many moments of collaboration and cooperation in our human species, moments that arise spontaneously and seemingly without thought countless times each day.
There’s no question that we humans can be cruel and injurious to one another, and to other species, and I don’t in any way mean for us to ignore those realities. As I listened to Elisabet recently in an interview, though, I thought about how important it is to support the movement toward maturity in our species, and also pay attention to the natural expressions of compassionate collaboration among our kind, not only to each other but to other species, as well.
I’ve mentioned many times that I start the day watching or listening to something that inspires me. That’s where I again encountered Elisabet and her wonderful wisdom. Because of this commitment to finding inspiring resources, I’m more able to live with my heart open and free of hatred and fear—well, not overwhelmed by fear or carried away by outrage, anyway—and to allow my heart to be a major source of information and understanding. I’ve written any number of times about the importance of orienting to heart intelligence, which has a different take on things than does our brain intelligence. In fact, I’ve posted as a past practice a process of shifting into heart intelligence when pondering a problem or exploring a situation, then comparing what your heart says to what your head said. It’s a very useful practice!Read More “818th Week: The Prevalence of Compassionate Action”
One of the things that always touches me is listening to the critical ways in which so many of us talk to ourselves. It’s as though we culturally tune into a particular channel of self-awareness and are taught to give ourselves a hard time, weighing ourselves down with “shoulds”, comparing ourselves negatively to others, and making sure we jump on ourselves immediately if there is any hint that we might not be measuring up to whatever judgments we may carry.
For many of us, there is also the underlying anxiety, uncertainty, and downright fear that arose during times of trauma when we may have experienced verbal or physical abuse. With abuse tends to come an internal dialogue of self-blame which then grows into an internal litany of what’s wrong with us and why we, or our lives, will never be okay.
Recently, I watched a Tedx Talk by Andrew Newman, the creator of the Conscious Bedtime Story Club and the author of many children’s books. The talk is entitled, “Why the Last 20 Minutes of the Day Matter” and I was captivated by what Andrew had to say. Here’s a link to his talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfcZhlK-FAURead More “776th Week: Programming Ourselves for More Gentle Self-Talk”
As I begin this week’s practice, I’m watching a video of yesterday’s memorial celebration for the beloved Vietnamese teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, in Plum Village, France. For those of you who may not have encountered Thay or his teachings, he was a Buddhist monk who brought important and accessible mindfulness teachings to the West, was also advocate for peace and a supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr., who nominated Thay for a Nobel Peace Prize.
As I listen to the chanting of the people of Plum Village, I am reminded of the importance of accessing practices that allow us to access states of being that touch not only into the presence of the Sacred all around us, but also into those internal states that bring us into a deep inner quiet and settled ease. What I’d like to offer for this week’s practice is an adapted version of a very simple and direct meditation that Thay offered to us early in his teachings. It has stayed with me over the years as one of the most direct and effective ways to settle and find a sense of inner presence. As I weave his teaching into the following practice, I apologize for whatever changes I’ve made in this practice that may inadvertently not accurately reflect Thay’s intention, words or teaching.Read More “861st Week: Honoring Thich Nhat Hanh and the Practices He Taught”
During this political season, we have experienced the emergence of an underlying polarization that has had more power and pervasive presence than I suspect many people would have anticipated. For me, above and beyond political considerations, this polarization expresses the fundamental difference in a stance that holds an assumption of oneness and a stance that assumes separateness. Read More “Week 641: Orienting Everyday Activities Toward Oneness and Kindness”