875th Week: Finding Steadiness While Honoring Painful Feelings

875th Week: Finding Steadiness While Honoring Painful Feelings

For those of us in the United States, it’s been a challenging time, as it has also been in Ukraine and many other parts of the world. There is abundant human suffering and for many of us it is a challenge to know how to keep our hearts open when there are so many heartbreaking events unfolding. There are also events that generate outrage and/or despair, and these feelings demand our attention and awareness, as well.

I have a deep respect for our wholeness, where nothing can be left out of the complexity of our experiences, feelings, responses, and reactions to our world and what is happening in it. For this week’s practice, I’d like to offer a brief guided meditation to support being present to everything that you feel about what is going on in your world.

  • To begin, take a moment to settle in where you can sit comfortably and remain alert and aware with your eyes closed.
  • Notice the supportive presence of your body and also the presence of the support under you right now. Notice how your body receives this support and recognize that, for right now, there’s nothing you have to do or change. There’s just an invitation to be present to this meditation experience.
  • Next, notice the place in you where you automatically settle when you follow the next out-breath down to the bottom of the breath. Most often, this place of arriving is where you also find your core presence.
  • Here, in this place of core presence, there is a steadiness that is always present. It is an aspect of your wholeness that is never disturbed. It is always just what it is—steady.
  • Take a few moments to become aware of this fundamental steadiness and allow yourself to resonate with it. Notice how the effect on your body and psyche when you take time to experience this steadiness—a place in you that is never disturbed. Let yourself fill up with the quality of steadiness.
  • Whether you experience the steadiness as a sensation, a color, a sound—however it represents itself, fill yourself up with this quality. Imagine that you fill every particle of your body-mind being with it.
  • Next, bring your awareness to your heart space. Place a hand on your heart to offer support and notice how you feel as you bring your awareness to your heart. Whatever is there, offer the support of your hand and just be with the feelings that may arise.
  • A key here is to also bring along your awareness of the underlying steadiness of your core presence, the steadiness that is always there, that is never disturbed.
  • Make room for both—whatever it is your heart feels and also the steadiness that fills your body-mind being.
  • If you feel grief, anger, fear, despair—whatever arises, give it some time to move through you as you recognize that countless other people in the world right now feel exactly the same way. Honor and acknowledge the feeling as it moves through and notice what it’s like not to add anything else to it. It may come with its own words or sounds. Let it be what it is without ramping it up with added thoughts or words.
  • Take some time now just to be present to your wholeness, to the truth of all that you feel, keeping in your awareness that the steadiness that is never disturbed is like a container for your wholeness right now. Also notice your hand as it supports your heart and recognize that you offer yourself the gift of your presence, of an acceptance of all that you feel, an acceptance of your wholeness.
  • End this meditation orienting to the steadiness, allowing it to come into the foreground. Lean into it and feel its support in whatever ways make sense to you. It is always there in the background of your awareness. You can return to it, drawing it into the foreground in any moment you choose to do so.
  • When you’re ready to come back, open your eyes if you haven’t already, wiggle your fingers and toes, and take a moment to allow your eyes to land on something that your eyes really enjoy seeing.

As with all these practices, please remember 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 with or about them. 

These are times when our practices are very important companions along the way, as we are challenged in countless ways. Remember that in our wholeness we have everything we need to remain steady. It’s a matter of noticing what is in the foreground of awareness in any moment and that if we feel overwhelmed we have the ever-present steadiness to turn to, to draw on, as needed. It’s a powerful and useful resource to cultivate, so I recommend that you practice orienting to your underlying steadiness so it will be there when you need to bring it into the foreground of your awareness.

874th Week:  The Space That Connects

874th Week:  The Space That Connects

One of the practices I’ve followed for many years is to take time to notice that the space that we think separates us actually is what connects us to absolutely everything else. Notice what happens when you think of space as that which connects—everything to everything else. It can help to break the habit, the illusion, of separateness, the habit of thinking that we are disconnected from the complexity of relationships all around us.

Here’s a meditation practice to explore:

  • To begin, find a place where you can sit up, supported and alert and yet also relaxed.
  • Bring your awareness to the place in you that you recognize as your internal home base. Many people find this when they follow the next out-breath all the way down to the bottom of the breath and notice where they naturally settle.
  • In your internal home base you also find your radiating core presence, the unique energy signature that arises from your core. 
  • Take a few moments, now, to become even more aware of the quality and tone you radiate throughout your body-mind being and then out into the environment around you. We touch everything with our presence.
  • Now, notice your body, this amazing, complex organism that allows you to be here in this world. Notice how your body supports your consciousness, your presence.
  • Next, notice the surface under you and the way in which your body receives that support. Remember, support is a reciprocal process—it is offered and then it is received.
  • Bring your awareness, now, to the environment around you and notice the quality and tone of that environment. It is comprised of the presence of everything in it coming together to create a particular quality.
  • Next, open your eyes if they aren’t already open and look around your environment. Notice the space between you and something else. Notice what you experience when you remember that the space between you is actually what connects you.
  • Take some time to experience the space that connects you to everything in your environment.
  • Then, if this appeals to you, extend your awareness to the space outside your immediate environment and continue to expand your awareness, recognizing that there is nothing you are not connected with through the space around you.
  • Spend some time, now, simply being present to this inescapable fact of being connected to everything because of the space that connects. That space is everywhere and connects you to everything.
  • Notice what happens in your body, in your emotions, and in your thoughts as you take in this experience of connection. Be sure to allow any mixed feelings to arise to have a place in your awareness. Because of our wholeness, it’s normal, if not inevitable, to have mixed feelings from time to time and it’s a gift to make room for whatever arises. Your awareness can make room for it all, so you don’t have to leave anything out.
  • Take a few moments to imagine how you might move through your daily activities if you were able to maintain an awareness of the underlying connection between you and everything else.
  • When you’re ready, bring your awareness back to your core, to the radiating note of your unique energy presence. Feel the support of your body, of the surface under you. Then, wiggle your fingers and toes to bring yourself all the way back.

As with all these practices, please remember 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 with or about them. And, as always, explore this practice in whatever ways work best for you and be sure to change whatever doesn’t work for you in the way I’ve offered it.

873rd Week: An “As-If” Experiment in Conscious Living:  Living in A World of Reciprocal Relationships

873rd Week: An “As-If” Experiment in Conscious Living: Living in A World of Reciprocal Relationships

This week’s practice invites you to consider something that may be second nature to you, or it may be a new idea that seems way out there. One of the ways I move through the world is with the assumption that everything I encounter is conscious—not in the way I am conscious as a human but in the way that is unique and appropriate for whatever it is that I encounter along the way. I guess that’s another way of saying I believe we live in a conscious universe and that it’s impossible for anything that exists to be outside that consciousness.

I also believe that I am in ongoing and inherent reciprocal relationship with all the life around me, and I wonder if you would be willing to bring that hypothesis into this as-if experiment, as well. My belief is that I affect everything I encounter and that everything I encounter affects me, that it’s impossible not to be in relationship with the consciousness of my world.

At the very least, at the most basic level of biology, everything I encounter is comprised of the same kinds of molecules as those that comprise my body. We share an ecology that arises from the same carbon-based life and, even in that most basic way, we are part of each other.

I am also a believer in collective consciousness so, for me, we share not only our common biology but also our consciousness. (You will know from this that I do not believe that the brain generates consciousness…)

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872nd Week: Noticing Mutual-Empowerment and Power-Over Dynamics 

872nd Week: Noticing Mutual-Empowerment and Power-Over Dynamics 

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.

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871st Week: Honoring and Invoking Emergence

871st Week: Honoring and Invoking Emergence

Sitting in Central Park one morning, I thought about an On Being interview I heard about the importance of hope when looking toward what needs to change in our collective world of human presence and activity. As I listened, I thought about the war in Ukraine and about the powerful polarization that exists in my country, the U.S., and also in other countries around the world.

From a spiritual perspective, I interpret this polarization to involve those who, perhaps because of fear, orient to a stance of individual rights, discomfort with “difference”, and what I would call an orientation to separation. And, on the other hand, there are those who orient to collective well-being, interdependence, and an underlying sense of oneness within our human family and with nature. I’m sure there are many people in the middle, but in our seats of power it seems that the polarization expresses itself in fairly distinct ways.

I’ve written before about a dynamic in Nature, emergence, that has given me hope over the years, even in times like these where our human family seems to orient to short-term goals and tribal kinds of interests. What emergence refers to is the tendency of Nature to generate unexpected and unanticipated solutions, creating new options to meet and shift existing conditions. The example I usually offer is how Nature somehow brought together molecules of air that, when combined, created liquid—when oxygen and hydrogen came together to create water. I don’t think anyone could have imagined that air could create liquid and yet our lives depend on this moment of emergence from so long ago.

I think of emergence, in a sense, as Nature’s creative intelligence grappling with and solving challenging problems and issues that arise in the course of life’s unfolding itself. When I look around the world at this time, I find myself thinking a lot about emergence and wondering how to “call on it” to help us resolve all the various ways in which our human family is harming ourselves and the planet.

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2022 May Meditation

2022 May Meditation

This year, we focus on the theme of frequencies, of the qualities of energy with which we resonate, what we express, and how we perceive and interact with ourselves and our environment. The theme for May is the frequency of Love, one of the most powerful energies we can access, experience, and express.

If you’d rather experience this meditation with images of nature, here’s the YouTube version…