For those of you who would prefer a meditation with images of nature, here’s the youtube version:
Whether we orient ourselves to climate change and the environment, racial injustice, species degradation, power grabs, hunger, or disease, our global Internet connections bring into awareness the immensity of suffering happening on our planet at this time. It also underscores that we are all in this together, given that we travel around the world, share economic and cultural activities, that we are one human family living with countless other earth-kin, on our precious planet that has its limits.
It can become overwhelming to recognize that there’s nowhere to go to escape our interdependence and interbeing. The fact is that we are bound to one another. As the African word “ubuntu” states, “I am me because we are.” Ubuntu invites us to treat others with respect and to acknowledge that we are irrevocably dependent on one another. Here’s a Ted-x talk that speaks to actions that arise from an awareness of ubuntu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrnhdY0B7Cg
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore the principles of Ubuntu more deeply, in whatever way works for you and within whatever philosophical or spiritual orientation resonates with you. Because ubuntu focuses on humanity, I also invite you to expand your definition and experience of family to include all our earth-kin, all the life that arises from the natural world that is our true home.Read More “832nd Week: We Are All in This Together”
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”
Sitting in my living room on a Sunday morning, I’m filled with the gift of silence. No city noises disturb the quiet this morning and that is a great gift. It has gotten me to thinking about the brain research I’ve mentioned before that reflects the benefits of silence in fundamental and literal ways.
One of the benefits of having quiet time, time spent in silence, is that we gain access to our default mode network. This is the aspect of brain activity where we allow our minds to wander, to think deeply, to listen to our internal experience. All it requires is for us to move away from distractions and give ourselves quiet time to simply be present to our awareness.
Another reason to seek out times of silence is that research has shown that two hours of silence daily can lead “…to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key brain region associated with learning, memory and emotion.” In addition to this, we know that noise pollution raises blood pressure and creates stress for both body and mind. According to researchers, “Just as too much noise can cause stress and tension, research has found that silence has the opposite effect, releasing tension in the brain and body.” These findings were reported in the Huffington Post by Carolyn Gregoire and shared by Daily Good a while back.Read More “816th Week: Return to Silence”
Listening to the news these days can be a challenge with all the reports of rabid polarization, anger, and fear. This got me to thinking yet again about processes of subtle activism—things we can do within our own body-mind being that might add something positive and, at the very least, not add to the distress going on all around us.
This morning, as I sit in Central Park taking in the green of trees and abundant birdsong, I remember that we all “interare”. The word “interbeing” was created by Thich Nhat Hahn, the Buddhist monk and teacher, and he offered it as a way of reminding us that we are not only dependent on each other and on every other life form that is part of our ecological niche, but we are also related to everyone and everything on the planet. Even when we violently disagree with one another, we are related, part of an earth community of interbeing.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to spend some time living with this idea. If it’s already natural to you, then take it a step deeper and find even more earth relations you may have left out of your experience of connection. In a world of interbeing and interdependence, no one and nothing can be omitted. We are part of one global ecosystem and we deeply depend on this earth family with which we are connected.Read More “842nd Week: Interbeing: Connection, and Interdependence”