just for today…focus on nonaggression

When we hold on to our opinion with aggression, no matter how valid our cause, we are simply adding more aggression to the planet, and violence and pain increase. Cultivating nonaggression is cultivating peace. — Pema Chodron

Did you ever consider, for one moment, that your strongly held opinion, may be a form of aggression? Especially when you feel you are so right about your opinion? Dr. Wayne Dyer said many times, that if we have the choice to be right or kind, choose to be kind. Want peace? Offer it.

Today…notice your opinions before you express them. Perhaps after you pause and consider its origin, that opinion may be best unexpressed in the moment.

Just for today, let’s commit to notice our opinions.

Then let’s reflect.

What is the origin of this opinion or that one?

What is the feeling within when I felt the need, in the moment, to express my opinion?

Would it have made a difference if I had expressed it?

How might others have reacted if I had expressed it?

Of course, these questions are good for reflecting upon, when we DO express an opinion.

“Let’s use the example of the ozone layer. We can rightly say that the thinning of the ozone layer is a scientific fact; it’s not simply an opinion. But if the way we work with trying not to harm the ozone layer is to solidify our opinion against those we feel are at fault, then nothing ever changes; negativity begets negativity. In other words, no matter how well documented or noble our cause is, it won’t be helped by our feeling aggression toward the oppressors or those who are promoting the danger. Nothing will ever change through aggression.” – Pema Chodron from her book, “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times” (1997, 2016)

Notice your opinions.

Focus on nonaggression.

Just for today…and then tomorrow and then it becomes a habit. We change ourselves and our world, one moment, one choice, one practice at a time.

Cultivate peace.

Comet Lovejoy by Lori Coleman
Comet Lovejoy
by Lori Coleman

lessons from…cats

I live with cats. Yes…more than one. I have learned a lot about myself as I have watched and cared for them over the years. Lately, a couple of them have been trying to show me a BIG lesson that seems apropos of our time.

One of the two is a female; a lovely gray tabby who is 14 years old. Piper is very happy to just be alone and prefers to not be bothered by any person or any other cat. I suppose at her age, she deserves to have what she wants! img_0666

The other is a male; a tuxedo who is about 6 years old and who sees himself as the alpha in the crew. img_0981Alone, Doc is very sweet, and enjoys a light tummy rub, when he is lying down napping. Around Piper or others, he is the BIG guy – the one in charge.

The few common denominators between them, aside from the obvious –  they like me and they like to eat and sleep. And that is about where it ends.

As I have continued to watch them, I’ve learned a few things.

One – Both are very good, sweet-natured cats. They are healthy and are otherwise well-behaved.

Two – They want the same things and have VERY different ways of seeking to get those things.

Three – one is not superior to the other – even though one may act as if he is.

Four – They both seem to want peace and cannot find it with each other.

Five – When one growls (Piper), the other gets excited (Doc) and the conflict escalates. With the possible exception of a tiny scratch on Doc’s nose some time ago, no one has been hurt.

What can I take from this? Well, look around. Look at our country (the US) and the world. Everyone wants what they want and no one is listening. Some believe that we are at a critical juncture in our history as a country and a planet and others don’t know what the big deal is. Some are seeking equality and equanimity while others are afraid, angry and reactive. There is also no doubt that in the melee, some see themselves as “alpha” or all-knowing.

What else is there for me to see? Shaming or blaming one for acting from his or her nature doesn’t make them or anything or anyone else better. I’ve seen shaming and blaming in use by others with their animals, children, partners or others and know that it doesn’t help. It inflicts more wounds and serves to fuel the division that is already in place.

In the case of Piper and Doc, they are finding their way ever so slowly. With the possible exception of the full moon, they work at tolerating each other. I’m not sure they will ever be as comfortable with each other as the others are, and I have come to accept that with the full knowledge that they are both doing the very best that they can from who and where they are. Safety is important as they continue to work out this delicate relationship dance.

Safety is what I hope will be our guiding principle as we move forward, TOGETHER, on the planet that we inhabit. I pray that we will slow down and learn to listen. Listening to another – truly listening – means that we suspend our judgments, our need to defend our beliefs, positions or thoughts, so that we really hear – with our hearts – what the other is saying.

Words matter.

Behavior is an announcement to others.

Be the change you wish to see.

 

 

 

 

 

just for today

Let us remember who we are. Let us open our hearts as we take steps forward to begin again.

“Stop. Close your eyes and send love from your heart to everyone in the world. It will change everything.”

 – Marianne Williamson

Enjoy these images of various landscapes. Allow them to take you back to the higher part of yourself. Remember that the higher self is in every being. Know that we come from love and will return to love. Let us listen to the wisdom of our hearts – today and always.

When we feel consumed by events; day-to-day routines; challenging decisions to make, let us lift our eyes. Look up; look out and beyond where you stand; see the picture beyond your circumstances and remember who you are. The wisdom inherent in your very being will guide you…if you slow down and listen to your heart.

Change your perspective, change your life…in the moment.

These images were captured via my iPhone camera or one of two Nikon cameras that I use from time to time.

img_0983

img_0988

img_0142

img_0793

img_0728

img_0835

“Awake with a winged heart, and give thanks for another day of loving.”

 – Kahlil Gibran

perspective

Perspective is what makes a difference in what we see, how we feel and how we respond.

Far too often, we do not step back or widen the lens through which we are viewing some aspect of our lives. We all have filters which have been installed or otherwise picked up as a result of our many life experiences. Our laser focus can blind us.

Is one perspective right and the other wrong? No. There are no rights or wrongs. There is only your perspective. The real question becomes, “is my perspective limiting my view, or ability to see something differently?” This is a valid question regardless of the vantage point that you think you have of anything.

Consider these:

13174041063_3949731055_z

What a lovely kitty is this! (I’m partial to felines.) It appears to be black, and there aren’t more markings for us to see, and we cannot discern its color. And those are just basic attributes that are apparent to us. The photo doesn’t offer us any more information from which to make an assumption about this lovely kitty. Do we have enough information to have a perspective on the cat or the photo? Yes. Yours and mine will be different.

 

13851792355_de8e6b92e5_z

Now this. Is this the same kitty that is in the above picture, from farther away? It is sitting in a window and looking quite content. Yet, absent a color photograph, I’m not sure what color it is. I am making an assumption that it is content. It may well be about to jump out of the window to get on to something else which has captured its attention. My perspective and yours are different on this one as well.

The multiple layers of perspective in these two pictures, how any of us interpret them, and the stories we can create about that lovely cat are varied and many.

This is true for ANYTHING.

Perspective is everything.

 

A brief postscript:The photographer has commented below and added her perspective on the photographs from behind the lens, including the lovely subject herself.  See how this information adds to YOUR perspective on the photographs.

choice

Love is both who and what we are and is the greatest power that we have. Love is in our makeup – in the DNA of our souls. Choosing how to be, how to see and how to love is a mighty power; and yet, we often give our power to the smallest and most mundane of things.

Choosing to be an objective observer is very different from getting lost in an e-motion. (e-motion = energy in motion) Choosing to objectively observe allows us to detach from, rather than being swept up in and lost to, the emotions of the moment. As we practice objectivity, we detach. We begin to break the chains of co-dependence.

I have come to see and believe that co-dependence doesn’t only exist between people. Indeed, it can be an unhealthy attachment to the beliefs that we are still holding which cause us to be and feel constricted. We believe what we do and wonder why we are so unhappy at times. We make choices and don’t like the outcome and feel that we “have no choice”. In itself, that belief is a choice.

Realizing the power in choice-making is truly the key to freedom from attachment to self-judgment and therefore the real or perceived judgments of others.

Question your beliefs. Where do they come from? How do those beliefs support me – the real me? How do those beliefs keep me from stepping fully into the life of my dreams?

Fear – and all of its expressions are human creations – all designed to control and separate. Fear keeps us in our “boxes” along with the beliefs that we can not, are not and will not ever be, have or do what we are able to be, have or do. After all, what man would place himself above God by designing systems of beliefs, underpinned by fear? Those systems are hierarchical, uneven, greater than/lesser than, lacking love, compassion acceptance and oneness.

Love – and all of its expressions are creations of the Divine. We are THAT. We are love; we are a part of that unconditional love that is; the energy of the Universe. And, how would we give up our love – our very being – to beliefs which keep us separate from ourselves and the loving entity which created us, that is ever-changing (evolving) and always loving? We are a part of that entity, for we are not apart from it.

Everything else is contained in the mundane.

There is so much beauty in the power of the ocean. Consider this:

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
– Jalaluddin Rumi

And so it is with the All That Is and us.

We truly know this at the core of our being; in that timeless wisdom within us.  We are love. We always have choices. We have simply forgotten.

Milky Way over Virginia
Milky Way over Virginia

upon reflection

A look in the mirror reveals so very much. We choose to look or not. If our choice is to not look, gazing into our own eyes may reveal our perspective on a deeper darkness that we prefer not to see. Often, we have a look and begin to judge what we see – eyes, wrinkles, imperfect skin, graying hair; all of the things society tells us that isn’t right about us. There is great power in looking – deeply looking –  at who we are, beyond the surface which reflects back our self-judgments (grounded in our beliefs). Rather, gazing with gratitude for the beauty of the soul within can bring an appreciation for Life and the miracle of our presence here, now.

15185979253_97e9a23fe9_z

As we are nearing the end of another calendar year, many turn to this time as a period of reflection to begin to discern the blessings and lessons of the previous year.

24011088191_180d13f28e_z

There are many “out there” who are reporting on all of the “good and bad” of the year’s events. And yes, many of those world and national events are definitely worth considering in our reflective moments. Our challenge, and the greatest gift to be realized, is contained in reflecting upon our individual experiences – which may include our perceptions of those events.

Truth is relative, as we each perceive our own truth through the filters of both our beliefs and our many life experiences. Realizing that such filters exist is the beginning step in realizing that others may see the same event very differently. Perhaps more importantly, no one is seeing it rightly or wrongly.

The beautiful images continued in this post show us very different reflections of what is above the water. Some are clear, others somewhat distorted. All have natural light – some brighter, some darker. Isn’t this also true about the many ways in which we and others perceive our life experiences, the many events – beautiful and tragic – that occur in our world every day?

27561814804_52306e696a_z

Upon reflection, we see. Upon reflection, we hear. Upon reflection, we discern the lessons and blessings of a day, a week, a month, a year…or a lifetime. Upon reflection, we come to know that truth as discerned by humans is relative. We know from nature that what is real is visible there.

You know all of this. It is intrinsic. You need only find your way back to the truth of who you are as a spiritual being…in this human experience.

How will you choose to create time and space for reflection? Today, tomorrow, every day?

 

 

resistance

Resistance is futile. It has been said that what we resist, persists. Various consequences have been attributed to the outcome of resistance.

For example:

“what you resist, persists and gets bigger.”

“what you resist, persists; what you look at disappears.”

At its core resistance is fighting. We fight what we don’t like. We fight a dis-ease. We don’t consider anything – ideas, thoughts, stories – that does not, in some way, comport with our beliefs.  And there it is. those pesky beliefs which become the filters through which we see, feel and experience our world.

How do you know if your beliefs are contributing to resistance? How do you know exactly how your beliefs are informing your desire to fight anything?

Consider the first thing that comes to mind that you are willing to “fight for”. Ask yourself why you might be willing to “fight” for that. Then ask yourself what is at the core of this answer. How did you come to have a belief that causes you to think you must fight for…anything.

Consider war. There is some reason that countries engage in battles. Often we don’t really know what the true reason is. What happens in some nations is an overpowering belief in a nationalism that causes many to enlist and go into a war whose true cause may be unknown or is masked as something else like “protecting our freedom”. Those who enlist may not believe they are resisting, when in fact, they are signing up for the resistance. Meanwhile, others engage in resistance to “fight against the war.”

Then what do we have? Resistance, resistance, resistance. Fight, fight, fight.

How does resistance occur within? When we know, at the core of who we are, that something we are doing, have done or are considering just doesn’t feel right or in some way is really NOT who we are, and yet we do it anyway, we are resisting our very soul, and to a large degree, our purpose for being.

Resistance on any level – within, between or among – keeps us from moving forward toward the creation of a more peaceful way of being – within, between and among.

Question everything. What you hear, what you see, and what you are told. YOU know deep within you what is true for you.  Know that when you feel resistance – to resist the desire to fight or feel – something deep within is calling you to YOUR truth, to the most peaceful loving part of who you really are.

Be the change you wish to see. Question your resistance. Question your beliefs. Know that you come from a place that is larger and more expansive than you can imagine.

Consider that your purpose is greater than your resistance.

 

 

slow down

“…you move too fast. You’ve got to make the morning last.”

At this time of year, many are moving too fast. Rushing around shopping, wrapping gifts, shipping gifts, getting ready for the next party (perhaps while recovering from the previous one) are just a few of the many activities that seem to control us.

“…looking for fun and feeling groovy.”

And then there are some who seem to move at a different pace. They enjoy the interactions with everyone in nearly every situation, even the ones that might frustrate or overwhelm others.

“I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep.”

Couldn’t we all benefit from slowing down a bit? Breathing, observing, engaging consciously requires a very different pace than the one that many move by. We THINK we have promises to keep. We THINK we have deeds to do. And indeed you may well have all of these. Honoring our commitments to self and others are the greatest gifts of a life. Genuine, authentic kindness and compassion offered from a quiet, calm and accepting heart can create powerful ripples across time and space in ways that benefit ALL of us.

“Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.”

It is the WAY in which we engage our promises and deeds. Are we making commitments which become one more thing to cross off of the list? Or, are we consciously agreeing or not, by offering a thoughtful “yes” or “no” so that our promises and commitments are engaged with our hearts; with love and the joy that comes from offering the best of what we have to give?

“Life I love you, all is groovy.”

Maybe it’s time to slow down, to listen to that still small voice within which has some important messages for us. This voice of wisdom, our intuition, is a voice from the great Creator (whatever you may call him or her), and seeks to support us in living a meaningful life. All other outer noise is simply a distraction – designed to keep us from what it REAL. For what is real is within. What is real is co-created by God and our souls. What is made by others to distract us is outside of us…in the noisy news (fake or true), the loud music (with angry lyrics), the crises (real or imagined).

“Slow down, you move too fast.”

This holiday season, find the quiet. Go for a walk in nature. The crisp cold air will wake you up. The warm ocean breezes will call you back to yourself.

You are wise. You always know what is right for YOU. Slow down. Listen. Wake up.

 

 

Excerpted lyrics from “The 59th Street Bridge Song” by Paul Simon