For those who prefer images with the audio meditation, here’s the link to the YouTube version…
I’m writing this practice shortly after hearing that a pending strike by building workers in residential buildings in New York City has been resolved by an agreement with the union that, if ratified, will be in place until April 2026. For those of you who live in large buildings with a large staff as I do, you’ll understand the depth of relief those of us who no longer face the possibility of having to cope with what it means not to have the support of those who keep these buildings working. What moved me most about this experience is that these building employees are now recognized as essential workers, which they absolutely are.
This brought to mind the importance of acknowledging and expressing appreciation and gratitude for all the people whose efforts and time go into making life livable in both urban and non-urban settings. Each morning, as I give the cats fresh water in their bowls, I bless the Spirit of Water and also send acknowledgment and appreciation to all the people who make this water available to those of us living in this city. It’s an enormous undertaking and I am constantly grateful to have access to free-flowing and clean water. Then, there are the people who work to keep electricity running in the city and I acknowledge and appreciate them each day, as well. The list goes on and on and I’m sure there are many things I still take for granted and don’t actively recognize in this way.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to bring your awareness to all the essentials and conveniences you have in your life and take a moment to imagine the many people you will never know whose efforts have made possible what you have at your disposal. This kind of practice reminds us that we are inescapably interdependent—that our well-being is dependent on a multitude of people we will never know. What a powerful gift!Read More “870th Week: Service and Gratitude”
A colleague and I were talking about the polarization currently expressing in human communities all around the world. I mentioned that I have a practice of sending universal love to people who are caught up in the kinds of fears that generate aggression, harsh laws, nationalism, and other similar responses. As we continued to talk, I also mentioned something that I learned in a class with David Spangler: When we find ourselves encountering energy or behavior that we experience as negative or threatening, remember to generate a frequency that is inhospitable to that energy or quality of being.
In my experience, the most positive frequency or quality of energy is universal love. Every spiritual tradition I’ve explored speaks to the power of universal love, that it is the most essential healing energy in the universe. Because of this, I’d like to offer a practice this time that orients to offering the essence, the frequency, the light of Universal Love to our beautiful planet and all beings on it. In this practice, not only do we imagine Universal Love pouring into our precious planet but remembering that this energy naturally conveys blessings and healing. Gaia, Earth’s intelligence, then decides where healing is needed most.
For many people, doing this kind of practice means imagining the light of Universal Love, usually a white or golden light, but see what color comes to you, flowing into the body perhaps through the back of your heart, filling your entire heart space, and then out through your heart to the planet. For this practice, I invite you to imagine a place on the Earth that you experience as a sacred place. It may be a mountain, a lake, a forest, or some other natural setting that calls to you. Hold in your awareness that this sacred place accesses the intelligence of Gaia, of our Earth, and that Gaia receives the healing energy and will distribute it as needed most.
In addition, and I offer this only as an additional suggestion, I also hold the thought that all humans on the planet who suffer from fear, and who act in violent, repressive, and/or aggressive ways, even when they don’t realize that it’s fear that drives them, will also receive an inflow of universal love, along with the blessings and healing that this powerful energy automatically conveys. I don’t qualify the blessings or healing in any way, other than to hold the thought that these people can be healed from the grip of the kind of fear that leads to hatred and division.Read More “915th Week: A Practice in Sending Universal Love”
When I actively taught Somatic Experiencing, one of the themes that I passed along from my first SE teacher and good friend, Diane Poole Heller, was the distinction between expressions of “power over” and those of “mutual empowerment.” Diane embodies and expresses mutual empowerment in her relationships with the people around her and her influence and modeling have had a powerful impact on me. The distinction between power over (where there are only two options—you’re on the top or you’re on the bottom) and mutual empowerment (where no one has to lose power in order for things to work out) has stayed with me as an active intention to support mutual empowerment in every way I can. I have lived that not only as a teacher but also as a mentor. When people talk about the “new Earth” that needs to arise from the breakdown of the old institutions that are now being challenged around the world, what comes to mind for me is a fundamental shift from power-over styles of leadership and dominance, including our relationship with the planet and all our human and other-than-human earth-kin, to styles that embody and express mutual empowerment within every aspect of our lives.
A key thing about mutual empowerment is that it has, as its foundation, the belief and experience that your having power doesn’t automatically take away from anyone else and their having power doesn’t automatically take away from you. A stance of mutual empowerment tends to naturally engender respect, as well as wishes for others to have as much success, happiness, satisfaction—whatever—as is possible for them.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to pay attention to those times when you encounter people or situations that express “power-over” dynamics and those where you see, or experience, styles of “mutual empowerment”. Also notice these dynamics in yourself so that if you have slipped into a power-over style of interaction you’ll be able to choose whether you want to continue in that mode or if you want to experiment with shifting into a mutual-empowerment style.Read More “872nd Week: Noticing Mutual-Empowerment and Power-Over Dynamics “
Recently, I heard about a metaphor that I liked a lot and it got me to thinking again about the impact of our frame of reference on our perceptions as we move through any kind of experience. The metaphor was about stained glass windows. The underlying theme is that, even though every stained glass window has a different pattern or scene on it, even if the difference is very small or incredibly large, the fundamental reality of it is that the same light shines through it and every other stained glass window. Read More “Week 620: Finding Our Similarities”
One of the gifts I give myself each morning is some time with what I think of as “good news”, with posts on Facebook or emails I receive that bring interesting stories and examples of some of the beautiful things that are happening in the world. The regular news reports offer ample information about the terrible things that are unfolding, about the seemingly unremitting suffering of our human family and of the earth itself. Quite a long while ago, I made a commitment to myself to offer myself a broader picture than is available in the mainstream media so that I can continue to move through the world with an open heart.
Also, choosing to include good news as part of your media diet supports a more accurate view of our human wholeness—of the good in us as well as the dysfunction we express so actively in our interactions with one another, with our planet, and with our wide variety of other-than-human earth-kin.
For this week’s practice, I’d like to offer some resources for good news and also a brief practice for nourishing an open heart. As you play with these resources this week, notice how you feel—does your heart feel more open or does it feel clenched and closed? Notice your body—do you feel softer and more at ease or tense and constricted? Notice your thoughts—do they orient to thoughts of possibility or do you find that you are mired in judgment and/or negative thinking? What we feed ourselves psychologically has a lot to do with how we feel physically and emotionally, as well.Read More “869th Week: Taking Time for Good News”
I just read something on Facebook that brought to mind the terrible power of enactment. I won’t relate it here, as it was a disturbing report in the news about someone being attacked. For me, this kind of event is a reminder of the deep need we all have to teach ourselves to bring awareness to what we do or want to do. Read More “Week 639: Awareness Instead of Enactment”