For those who prefer images with the audio meditation, here’s the link to the YouTube version…
Walking to work one morning, I was in an area of Central Park where dogs gather for their morning playtime. As often as possible, I walk off the pathways, so I was in the middle of the doggie play area when a dog went by whom I hadn’t seen before. Both hind legs had been amputated and he had one artificial leg in the back to accompany his two front legs. What struck me was how agile he was and how he enjoyed sniffing the ground, moving around with relative ease. His situation looked so different from the many three-legged dogs I see in the park, and I enjoyed watching him move around, nose to the ground, doing regular “dog things”.
As I watched him, I thought about the power inherent in being adaptive and flexible in the presence of life’s challenges, changing circumstances, and unexpected developments. For many of us, the immediate response to change or an unexpected challenge is to pull in and constrict. When we do this, our brain’s natural ability to generate and notice options often goes off-line, leaving us with little to no flexibility.Read More “750th Week: Generating Flexibility”
For this week’s experiment in conscious living, I draw from my book, Sacred Practices for Conscious Living, 2nd Edition, from the chapter on “Compassion and Lovingkindness: Living with An Open Heart”. Here’s a quotation from that chapter:
“For many people, the process of awakening to a greater sense of compassion initially feels overwhelming. A question many ask is, “What can I, one person, do in the face of so much suffering?” The answer is, perhaps surprisingly, quite a lot… Read More “672nd Week: Nurturing Compassion”
An area of interest I’ve had for more than 40 years is the creative possibility inherent in what quantum physics has to say about the world. Thirty-eight years ago, I began to work actively with what I called the optimal future self, for want of a more precise term. This work had to do with inviting people to access the part of themselves that had already resolved whatever they sought to achieve, heal, or develop and depended, as it does to this day, on accessing the body state, the lived-in felt-sense, of the optimal future self.
At that time, I used the word “future” to imply something that wasn’t yet on board, even though in quantum terms past, present, and future come together in an ever-present now. It’s as though we can reach into a timeless realm of possibility and extract something that has an impact on our present-day lives. Over all these years, I have been personally affected by this practice in powerful ways and have watched countless others have beneficial outcomes as a result of reaching into “as-yet-to-be-realized” possibilities.
Because of these experiences, I find myself orienting to optimal futures during this time of deep and necessary demands for change in how we humans live with each other and with our planet. The results of the current pandemic, the devastating impact of the history of white supremacy in the United States, and the crisis we humans have created with our planetary environment all speak to me about an urgent need to orient to optimal possibilities for our future on the planet.Read More “789th Week: Accessing Optimal Futures”
Listening to an episode of On Being on NPR, Krista Tippett interviewed a journalist on the subject of how corporations and people who do good work for the world need to ask not only, what can I give, but also, how can I stop taking so much? He mentioned that, as individuals, we need not only to want the best for our own children but also for everyone else’s children. He went on to say that this doesn’t seem to be the value system he sees in the United States at this time and his comments got me to thinking about recent studies around empathy. These studies have revealed that there appears to be a correlation between increasing wealth and lessening empathy. When I listen to the news and look at the world around me, I see rather stark expressions of this correlation. That doesn’t mean there aren’t well-off people who express empathy in powerful, positive, and important ways. Instead, it points to an invitation to all of us who live in a materially privileged society such as the U.S. to pay attention to the world around us and to find ways to support and increase our empathic awareness and choices. Read More “733rd Week: Supporting Empathy”
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”