During a recent vacation, I spent quite a bit of time snorkeling with local fish. People staying at the resort jumped as enthusiastically as I did into the custom of feeding the fish with leftover bread from meals. I enjoyed that process, along with simply floating amongst them, allowing the sea to rock me and offer a way of relaxing not readily available in my busy, urban life.
One day, a small boy apparently held his piece of bread too long and a fish jumped up and bit his finger. My first surprise…Continue Reading
Sitting in Central Park one weekend morning, a morning that was cloudy and quiet in the park, I felt a deep sense of peace radiating from all the trees around me. The quality of the trees and the environment they evoked reminded me of the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”, where people go amongst trees to soak in the healing that naturally emerges.
Attuning to the peaceful quality of the trees is, for me, similar to tuning in to a particular radio station, television channel, or on-line program…Continue Reading
Walking through Central Park one morning, my usual, meditative state of mind—which emerges naturally when I walk through areas of trees—focused on a small act of kindness that someone had recently done for me. I touched back into the quality of friendliness the person seemed to radiate and I realized that the actual act of kindness offered was only part of what made the interaction meaningful. The other part was the quality of who this person is in the world, and that felt like the most important aspect of the experience.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with an acquaintance one afternoon in Starbuck’s, where she began to speak apologetically about how she didn’t feel like she ever did anything really important or meaningful in her life…Continue Reading
Sitting in Central Park the other morning, I did my usual thing of being there from the perspective of my heart intelligence and perception. I find that whenever I shift into my heart space as the center from which I perceive and interpret my world, I inevitably experience a deeper sense of connection, relatedness, oneness, and care for whatever I may encounter along the way. I have written many times about the importance of cultivating heart awareness, and of the benefits of doing practices such as HeartMath’s Inner Balance and the Buddhist heart-centered practice of Tonglen. The older I get, and the more involved I become with these kinds of practices, the more I value the benefits of shifting from head to heart perception.Continue Reading
Walking across Central Park one morning, the air was filled with a fragrance that I meet during the early days of summer each year. A group of trees, Silver Lindens, have blossoms, clusters of small flowers, that release a powerful, heady and, to me, enchanting fragrance that captivates me each morning as I pass them on my way to the office. The blossoms don’t last very long, which makes them even more special, and I—along with many other people—inevitably stop for a moment, bury my nose in them deeply breathing in the sweet fragrance.
One morning as I walked on, I began to think about the powerful effect scents have on our internal experience…Continue Reading
In my years of teaching about trauma resolution, I’ve drawn on something one of my dear friends and teachers, Diane Heller, taught me many years ago. It was the distinction between a power model that encompasses only two options—power over or overpowered—and a mutual empowerment model that says one person’s power in no way diminishes the power of anyone else. Since learning about this, I have done my best to interact with others from a mutual empowerment model.
I’ve also spent many years helping psychotherapy clients notice how comparing themselves to others almost always leads to suffering, as does the habit of taking things personally. Continue Reading
Walking through Central Park one morning, as I do every morning on my way to work, I went in amongst the trees – something I also do every day. I’m often in the same areas where off-leash dogs run and play, so I’m used to having dogs appear seemingly out of nowhere as they explore their very large playground.
When I first began to commute across the park, some 20 years ago now, my body had to unlearn some early programing that constantly caused me to experience a startle response when a dog would either come toward me or suddenly show up behind or near me. This response came from grammar school experiences of being chased by a neighborhood dog where I was not at all amused, as were the boys who encouraged the dog to chase me.
On this particular morning, my attention was with the trees, as it usually is when I walk in certain areas of the park, and I suddenly felt something nip at the heel of my shoe…Continue Reading
In a recent conversation with a colleague, she mentioned reading an article that focused on the fact that what we perceive, where we focus our “seeing”, has a concrete effect in our world. The specific statement made in the article was “be diligent in seeing good” and this felt like an invitation to a powerful practice.
The process of “seeing the good” reminded me of the quantum physics findings around the “observer effect”…Continue Reading
Brain research offers many new insights into the impact of our everyday attitudes and ways of being affect us as we move through our daily lives. Recently, I heard an interview on NPR where a neuroscientist talked about recent research in gratitude and its effects on neurotransmitters. The upshot of the interview was that focusing on gratitude automatically generates increased dopamine and serotonin. Both of these neurotransmitters are part of our “feel good” chemistry.
What was both intriguing and encouraging about the information offered in the interview was that it didn’t take an enormous amount of effort to elicit this neurochemical change in the brain. It got me to thinking about…Continue Reading