For those of you who would prefer a meditation with images of nature, here’s the youtube version:
900th Week: Wishing People Well (and Yourself, too!)
As our human world continues to experience polarization and suffering and, in the United States at least, a lessening of civility and empathy, I’ve been thinking about the importance of cultivating a practice of wishing people well. I find that when I move through the day wishing people well, I automatically tap into an attitude of heart-oriented awareness. When I pay attention to my heart brain and take time to listen and feel into how my heart interprets the world, I automatically feel more generous toward my fellow humans.
Media and entertainment programs so often focus on competition, problems, aggressive behaviors—on what is dramatic, and much of the time negative. Because of this, we risk developing a habit of orienting to what’s not working, what’s traumatic and upsetting, what’s nasty and contentious and we may not be aware that we are becoming accustomed to seeing life through a lens colored by these qualities.
It’s helpful to remember that we perceive what we believe, that we interpret our world based on the filter through which we experience it. When we move through the world wishing people well, we generate a filter that is more likely to orient to noticing what’s going right, noticing where we see people cooperating, helping each other, interacting in positive ways. I’ve written many times about what’s called solution-focused therapy, where people are invited to notice only what’s going right, to actively seek out what’s going right in their environment and in their lives. This generates a filter that sees even more of what’s going right, just as the more negative filter easily focuses on what’s going wrong.
This doesn’t mean to ignore things that need to be changed or fixed. It doesn’t mean that everything is fine so there’s nothing to worry about. But it does mean not to live there full-time or permanently. Taking action is an important option when we see things that we feel are unjust or just plain wrong. But to live with a perceptual filter that orients to what’s out of place, what’s dangerous, or what’s wrong tends to prevent us from noticing interactions and circumstances that are more positive in nature.
And so, for this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore what you experience when you move through your daily activities wishing people well—people you may pass in the street, people with whom you work, people you may encounter in the course of your daily errands or chores. Track the quality of your internal experience as you do this and notice what you feel in your body. Also notice your emotional experience and the tone and quality of your thoughts, including your self-talk.
And, be sure to include yourself in your well-wishes. This could be a whole practice by itself—orienting ourselves to self-acceptance and embracing our wholeness. Notice how you feel when you include yourself in your well-wishes. Notice what you experience when you offer yourself the quality of support that well-wishes naturally convey. Pay attention to what you experience in your body, in the tone of your self-talk, in the quality of your emotional experience when you remember to wish yourself well each day.
A more formalized way of doing this kind of practice is found in the Buddhist practice of lovingkindness, or metta. If you feel moved to do so, here are three links to a lovingkindness practice:
(I ran into a glitch here, so please google “lovingkindness practice” and you’ll find a number of lovely scripts and practices. So sorry that I can’t figure out how to offer just the links, but I can’t seem to include other URLs as part of flow of the written practice here.)
As with all these practices, be sure to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything about them. And, as always, be sure to make room for mixed feelings, as they are a natural aspect of our wholeness. As you do with judgments, there’s nothing you have to do about these. The gift is to notice them gently as you continue to wish yourself well.
Here’s a recorded version of this week’s practice, if you would prefer to listen…
Because of my interest in subtle activism—defined as those inner activities we undertake to support positive collective outcomes—I am always aware of the constant opportunity to contribute to our collective well-being through the attitudes, responses, and qualities we generate internally and emanate into our world in the course of our everyday lives. Just about every moment of any day, we can stop for a moment, take note of what we are radiating into the environment around us, and make a conscious choice to resonate with states of being that are positive, compassionate, and/or settling.
The other day, as I was settling into the steadiness I inevitably find within my embodied core presence, I was reminded of the fact that the steadiness I experience immediately flows out and into the environment around me and, from there, into the field of information that is our human collective consciousness. A while back, I realized that purposefully orienting to steadiness—or any other quality that supports self-regulation—can be a powerful and dynamic form of subtle activism.
It’s probably not hard to imagine how much our global human species currently needs steadiness. There is so much distress, chaos, and activation in the world that it seems to me that any added moments of steadiness might be a support in ways I haven’t imagined to people I will never know and yet who are people who share with me our connection within our shared collective consciousness.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, here’s a brief outline of a meditation on steadiness that can become a daily subtle activism practice:Read More “840th Week: Offering Steadiness as Subtle Activism”
As I write this, I’m in Amherst, Massachusetts, having just completed a small professional workshop. One of the things I always share with colleagues is the power of “being water” when working with clients, moving through life in general and, especially, when facing challenging situations. As I talked about being water, it reminded me of Read More “Week 632: Being Water”
Sitting in Central Park listening to early morning birdsong, surrounded by the gift of lush green and inhaling the fragrance of Locust trees laden with their summer flowers, I find myself soaking it all in with a grateful heart. With so much strife and suffering in the world, these quiet moments with nature represent a powerful gift, a time of restoration and deep nourishment.
As I sit here, my thoughts turn to a conversation I had recently with a group of colleagues. We were talking about practices that enhance a focus on heart intelligence and heart perception, and how different a heart-based orientation is when compared to experiencing the world primarily through a head, or brain-based, orientation. Read More “7l7th Week: Thinking with Your Heart”