healing hatred…begin within

I was perusing a book, looking for a meaningful quote for a card for a wedding. On my way to a specific chapter, I found this:

“The source of violence is in our heads. as it would not be appropriate to ignore “just a little” cancer in the body, so it is not appropriate for us to ignore “just a little” violent thinking. A little cancer, unchecked, turns into a monstrous killer. So do small, insidious, seemingly harmless judgmental thought forms become the pervasive cancers that threaten to destroy a society.”

“As the body’s defenses against cancer center around a healthy immune system, our chief defense against violence in America is our own individual efforts to cleanse our minds of violent thinking. Each and everyone one of us tends to be angrier and less tolerant of others than we know in our hearts that we should be. A healthy, civilized society can absorb some anger and dysfunction, as a healthy immune system can absorb some disease. But a massive buildup of anger and mean-spiritedness bombarding our social system day in and day out in millions and millions of individual doses overwhelms our societal defenses.”

“Violence is routed out of the world by being routed out of our minds. Hatred is diseased thinking. Just as a cancer cell was a healthy cell that then transformed, so is hatred, love gone wrong.”  

“Each of us is a cell in the social body.” Whether we are a malignant or a healing force is up to us on a moment by moments basis. With every thought, we decide whether to be a cancer cell or a healthy immune cell, whether to give in to the tendency to place blame on others or to be a vehicle for God’s love and forgiveness. Either we clean up the anger, or the anger will overwhelm us.”

These are excerpts from a book, published in 1994. The author, Marianne Williamson. The title of the book, Illuminata: Thoughts, Prayers and Rites of Passage.

As I continued to read, I couldn’t help but think it had to have been written far more recently. And yet, here we are. The condition addressed here is not limited to the United States.

We are each responsible for our thoughts. We may be outwardly kind, and inwardly angry – judging other and self – and that is where it begins. The metaphor of hatred and cancer is one that makes sense. Cancer is a disease that we are generally familiar with. If you or someone you know and love has or has had cancer, what Marianne says here is relatable and compelling.

Let us all search deeply – our hearts and minds – to find those places of anger, or hurt, so we can begin to find the light within that can indeed transform the hatred into love; can add healing light to the cancer to transform the love gone wrong. The pace at which we seem to move each day, leaves many feeling there is no time for such things. I submit that to not make time to look within – to realize (real-eyes) where we harbor pain, anger, unacknowledged grief –  is to continue to add to the hatred that is boiling over in our country and on the planet. We can participate in our healing – individually and contribute to the collective – or continue live in an unsettled space within while projecting that discomfort and pain onto others. I’m reminded, yet again, of a question posed by an author I was in retreat with years ago (paraphrased); “What hurts you so much that you feel you have to hurt me in order to heal it?”

Make time…to listen; to plumb the depths; to be still, reflect, and feel. This is a journey that must begin in solitude and can continue with assistance from a compassionate listener or health professional. The most important step is the first one.

“Every step taken in mindfulness brings us one step closer to healing ourselves and the planet.”

 – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

To circle back to where I started this post, I did find a quote for the card. I returned to the place I had begun – to love.

Marianne Williamson’s book, Illuminata: Thoughts, Prayers and Rites of Passage is as beautiful a text today as it was when it was published. I refer to it often, and even found a passage I was honored to read at my son’s wedding last year.

cause and effect…and then reaction

Awareness is the greatest agent for change

 – Eckhart Tolle

Another Sunday morning…and more avoidable effects, followed by multiple reactions. Where one sits determines what one sees and no doubt, has impact on what they say, and how they react. The sadness of such senseless loss of life to such senseless violence is hard to take. If you have never lost a loved one to violence, perhaps you observe these events differently. Losing a loved one to violence – gun violence – brings up familiar feelings of loss; questions of what, why, how and when. If you have lost someone to gun violence, your what’s, why’s, how’s and when’s may be similar or different than mine. However, as I see the pain and anguish on the faces adults, themselves parents, siblings, or children and imagine the younger children whose parents are gone, the result of an unexpected and violent end to a necessary shopping trip or a fun night out, I imagine our questions are very much the same.

The fear in our collective is everywhere and is palpable. So much so, that even those who hold elective office or are seeking such a thing find it impossible to speak about what we all know deep inside is painful, horrific and somewhat preventable. Words have power. Surely we know that. There is cause; there is effect. There is reaction…and there is response.

The above quote by Eckhart Tolle was in my email inbox Sunday morning. Reading it and reflecting deeply on awareness in our collective helped me gain perspective on what I am observing rather than getting lost in the overwhelming sadness at the senseless loss of life. I am reminded that our unconscious reactions to events like these follows the effect of the cause. We often do not stop to consider the cause. Are we so busy that we cannot consider that the cause(s) which are the root of these devastating effects are where the true solutions lie; awaiting our opening to a deeper awareness?  Indeed the response we await is there…deep in the wound(s).

Chiron comes to mind to me today as well. “Chiron embodies the spirit of compassion and selfless service that all good physicians must have to master and practice the medical art. Through his supreme sacrifice, willingly given, Chiron gave mankind the art of healing. Chiron’s agonizing wound symbolizes the transformative power of illness and affliction. Through pain and suffering, our personal wounds, both psychic and physical, can transform themselves into sources of great moral and spiritual strength.” (From the website, greekmedicine.net; Greek Mythology: CHIRON: Father of Medical Art.)

So today, I wonder. Do we have the courage to look deeply at the causes, all of them over a long period of time, to heal these wounds? Can we step fully into the process of looking deeply at our own individual wounds, with the intention of healing them? Until and unless we take that first and most important step, we will not be effective at offering healing to the larger collective which has so many simmering wounds that burst forth in so many different ways.

Cause and effect are two sides of one fact.

 – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cause and effect; reaction rather than response; these are related. If we keep moving, allowing our pain to fester, it will grow. How it will manifest is unknown even to us – within us or in those we observe. Is this the cause of so many violent events, our unhealed pain? Is the manifestation – the violent acts –  the effect? Do we then react in a variety of ways without knowing or considering the true cause in the first place? I believe the answers to all of these questions is a resounding “YES”.  When feelings are ignored, or we talk ourselves out of what we feel, we contribute to the wound(s). When we embrace our feelings, especially the difficult ones, we begin the important process of healing.

I made multiple investments in my healing when I lost a loved one to gun violence. I joined a grief support group; I continued psychotherapy and over the years I deepened my studies of universal truths. I sought various modalities for healing the mind/body and two years later, wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper in the locality where the loss occurred with some of my what’s, why’s, how’s and when’s related to the lack of action following the violent end of this loved one’s life.

Today, I ask that we all pause to consider the wounds we have which are awaiting our awareness. What are you feeling today? Why are you feeling this way? How can you take a first step to dive into the feelings to discover the root cause(s)? When will you give yourself the gift of peace within?

The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.
 – Brene Brown
I wish you peace.
I wish reconciliation for all peoples.
I wish you love.

the power of the spoken word

“Spoken words have power beyond measure.”

 – Debasish Mridha

I have written here, in the past, about the power of words. What returns me to this truth today is the theme which continues to dominate the collective psyche related to the words used by those who hold extremely visible positions of responsibility.

“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

I believe that Niestzsche (1844-1900) was definitely on to something when these words were spoken or written by him many years ago. The process of writing is necessarily slow, provided it is literally pen or pencil to paper. However, today we have all manner of media and methods to express our latest joys or our latest frustrations; and these are the least of what generally occurs on the various platforms referred to as social media, oxymoronic as the term for that phenomenon is. Being engaged in that arena keeps many people off balance, constantly triggered and more often reacting – either outwardly or inwardly stuffing responses lest they get drawn into the fray. In either case, it is simply not healthy. The impact of these feelings, reactions and responses on our physical bodies is not positive and cannot be minimized.

Nietstzsche’s “paper and something to write with” of yesterday is the social media phenomenon of today. The fingers race across the keyboards of smartphones, notebooks, and computers without passing through any other part of our being.  Our hearts are completely left out of this fast-paced, reactive process when words have been published which diminish or otherwise denigrate another individual or group.

To be completely forthcoming, I offer this. I lived in the district of the representative currently targeted by the President of the US. I spent a lot of time in the City of Baltimore, which I came to love and appreciate for its diversity, culture and location. To see the negative words, which have been spewed numbers of times and directed primarily to minorities, continue unabated, is deeply sad and disturbing. I now live in a city where those divisions spilled into the streets two years ago and were deemed by this President to have “…had some very fine people on both sides.”

I am not going to use this space as a place to jump into the war of words currently ongoing in our national political discourse.

I AM encouraging us all to become mindful of what we say, to whom we say it and how we offer our perspectives or beliefs. We are human. We have feelings. Some of us feel more anger than love. We get to feel our feelings. It is how we express those feelings – especially the painful, angry, fearful ones – that can make a difference in the quality of our lives and most certainly in the lives of those who may be the recipients of our projections. Whether we project our anger (fear) onto those closest to us or to many who are nameless and faceless to us, we are having an impact that will be lasting. Is this how we wish to be remembered – individually or collectively?  Or do we wish to be remembered for loving; offering healing, and supporting those who are most in need?

Although my children are grown and have families of their own, I am mindful of the eyes and hearts of the children watching all of the behavior of the adults who are behaving as they do. Our anger teaches them how to be and what is acceptable behavior. Our loving approach to extremely difficult events and experiences also teaches them what is acceptable…and what feels better.

I am reminded of a post that I read recently that amplifies the point: Sacred Flower . What if we all regarded our relationships this way?

Today, tomorrow and into the week, we will have opportunities to speak. Whether we speak kindly or we choose to use harsh words, we will feel the effects. If not right away, we will feel them.

Pause before you speak. If what is arising within is anger, pause to ask what is hurting within before you hurl those angry words. As we learn to slow down and listen, and to write with pen or pencil rather than surfing the wave of keys with our fingers, we allow ourselves the necessary time to pause and reflect, and most importantly to discern whether speaking is necessary and if so, how might we speak with less vitriol. Remember, what we do to others (that includes angry words) we also do to ourselves.

I leave you with this quote from Henri Nouwen, as a gentle reminder to carry with you as you begin this new week.

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.

Love and peace to you all.

this earth day

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

 – unknown

On this Earth Day, it seems appropriate to observe the condition of the planet as a metaphor for our human condition. Or is it the human condition, played out every day in myriad ways, that is the metaphor for the condition of the planet? As I step back and observe these, it appears to be a both/and situation.

The alarm is being sounded, over and over, to warn us that we must make immediate changes to the way we live on this planet if there is to be one at all for our children’s children…or their children. Our lives of excess are catching up rapidly. Whether we consume large amounts of fossil fuels for various reasons, don’t bother to recycle appropriate waste in our communities, or we eat too much, or keep using plastic bags when we shop, or…there are many more; we are taking from rather than seeking ways to give to our planet to keep it healthy.

I wonder how our individual choices mirror, in some way, those we are making in the ways we choose to live on this planet? I feel it is worth a few moments for each of us to pause to consider our own individual health and how it, too, may mirror the condition of our planet. Our choices have consequences. Every choice…every one.

I love trees. They have been an object of my love and respect for many years. Over the weekend I read a message from Tami Simon of Sounds True that mentioned trees and Adyashanti’s perspective on them in his most recent book.

“In his new book, The Most Important Thing, spiritual teacher Adyashanti writes about “enlightened relativity” by exploring the nature of a living tree. He writes about how it is impossible to say that such a tree exists separately from the soil that feeds its roots, or from the sunshine, air, and rain that allow the tree to grow and thrive. It is actually pretty obvious: there is no such thing as a tree apart from the total environment in which it is embedded.”

And so it is with each of us.

We are fragile. The earth is fragile. May we see our own fragility, so that we see how fragile the earth we inhabit truly is.

May we all learn to love, honor and respect the gift of our lives here and now. As we heal ourselves, we contribute to the healing of the planet. May we offer love, honor and respect to the earth by making choices, however small, that contribute to the healing of our environment.

Think globally. Act locally.

It will make a difference.

With gratitude to all of those who work tirelessly every day to care for and nurture back to health, our earthly home.

From NASA.GOV

acceptance is a process

“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”

 – Eckhart Tolle

Actually my experience these last few weeks has shown me that acceptance is not only a process, it is often multi-layered. What does that mean, you ask?

Let me start with a major life transition. I am home – or what has felt like home for a few years; and from which I have lived away for the last three years. The details of this transition are interesting at most and boring for some, at worst. So, I will not entertain or bore you with any details. However, in this process, I have cultivated deep listening, objective observation and in the absence of quiet time, enjoyed more than a few podcasts with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah as they replayed the webinar from 2008 on his groundbreaking book, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”.

My experiences these last weeks have shown me that the idea of acceptance can be overwhelming at times, regardless of how much practice I have had in the past. I am still human and living a human life at this time on this planet. That alone presents challenges that we may not realize – again –  until we do.

What I accepted yesterday seems, at times to show me another layer of the same thing the very next day. I cannot conjure one example to share with you at this moment. I can only tell you that in this transition, with all of the details, challenges and blessings, I’ve had opportunities to witness my acceptance of self, others and in multiple situations.

What have I realized from all of this?

Acceptance can be a layered process.

Gratitude is the very best way of being. Gratitude for what is (acceptance) can unfold blessings in ways unimagined.

Kindness always rises above being right. Kindness is what we all have the capacity to be.

We attract what we are (i.e. like attracts like).

Nothing happens for nothing. There are blessings, lessons and reminders all around us in each and every day that we wake up and step into life.

Each day its new – if we can open our hearts and minds to greeting each one that way. We have what we need for whatever we may see, face or experience in any moment, any day. Each moment is new; if we can slow down, breathe and allow it to be.

“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.”

 – Maya Angelou

My hope for all of you is for the renewal that is available in each moment. May the impending Spring unfold new beginnings for us all.

“…old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

 – 2 Corinthians 5:17

elevating the conversation

I’ve been listening to a few podcasts this week. I’ve enjoyed listening again to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah discussing Tolle’s book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. These podcasts are taken from their 2008 series of webinars in which they discussed each of the ten chapters in the book. The podcasts have served as a powerful review of this profound, timeless material.

I also listened to a podcast conversation between Oprah and Charles Eisenstein which I believe was originally recorded in late 2016 from a Super Soul Sunday show. Eisenstein is the author of several books, including The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. As I returned to his website after not having perused it in a while, I came across a stunning video, A New Story of the People. I encourage you to consider taking seven minutes of your day to view it.

Finally, I saw that Marianne Williamson declared her candidacy for President earlier this week. She is a non-traditional candidate…and we’ve been there before, yes? By all that I have observed thus far, particularly the comments on some websites which are quite nasty, I am reminded that we are not yet at the tipping point in our awakening as a nation or as citizens of this planet. Many agree that we are nearly at a point of “breaking open”. We are not there yet, apparently.

I am not advocating for or supporting a party or a candidate. I AM calling us to consider elevating the conversation about our collective human condition at the causal level. We have many symptoms. We are not having a broader discussion of the causes. To solve the many symptoms which have the capacity to undo democracies, or destroy life altogether, we need to step back and become observers rather than “reactors”. Becoming more objective will allow us to enter into service to the whole from a very different place. More conscious, we can take small steps toward healing and righting our collective ship of dreams of “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”

May we seek to listen to each other without judgment so that we thoughtfully engage from our hearts.

 

Desiderata

This is a favorite. It has been for a very long time. It fell to the back of my memory for a very long time and I was absolutely delighted when it reappeared, triggered by the simple memory of one phrase  – “you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”

My framed print of this has been in storage for nearly three years, and again, I remembered it when considering a verse to write in a book, a gift for a baby, yet to be born.

As I reread it this morning, I was reminded of the beauty and the simple, inherent inspiration of its universal truths. I offer it here as a reminder for us all in this new year of possibility. May we all be grateful.

Namaste

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1952

let go or…

We are in the midst of many special days. Hanukkah is behind us; the Winter Solstice is in front of us, as is Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year. Many of us are reflecting on the past year and thinking about our word or phrase for the new year.

For 2018, the theme for me was informed by a Zen proverb:

Seems easy enough, right?

On December 31, 2017, I wrote about the challenges of letting go  as I embarked on holding this phrase as a reminder of my often unconscious holding on to thoughts, ideas and perspectives that I am often unaware are quite literally blocks to what may be attempting to come into my life and experience. Did you see what I did there? Holding onto the phrase as a reminder. It was easier to hold a phrase that was positively supportive so I could let go and allow.

As a recovering over thinker, over planner; having needed to be in control in the earlier years of my life as a manager, leader, executive and parent, this has been an important year in lessons about getting out of my way. In addition, I feel that I can more easily see, in reflection, the gifts inherent in the challenges that I have faced…this year and in years past.

As I continue to reflect on the many events of this past year, I’m seeing more and more just how each one served to lead me to the next, to the next and the next event, idea or change. As a result, I’m delighted to say that I will be returning to my beloved mountains in the first quarter of 2019. Who knew that the stressful evacuation from a hurricane, would reveal my next home? It was an important step in a year of healing many aspects of my life, past and present.

I offer all of this to remind us all that there is great power in letting go and allowing life to lead. We are better leaders of our lives, when we get out of our own way. Our thoughts are probably the biggest derail-ers of our happiness and joy.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.

 – Havelock Ellis

 

I wish you all a quiet period for reflecting as you navigate and enjoy these holidays.

 

 

 

questioning how we “see”

A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.

 – Johann Wolfgang Goethe

We often wonder how people make the choices they make, see what they see in certain circumstances, or behave and feel they way they do. Each of us is a complex symphony of many experiences, beliefs, and feelings contained in bodies with minds that are prone to over thinking, at times. Is it any wonder then, we find ourselves often scratching our heads when someone we think we know well, who seems to be so very kind, caring, loving and compassionate, makes choices that are so very different from our own?

Being human means there’s a wall-builder in each of us. Our minds naturally divide the world into me and not-me, us and them. For thousands of years, our sages have taught that we’re all one, yet we still divide wherever we look.

 – Robert J. Waldinger

Many of us seek change as a result of the recent elections in the US. Many others do not want the changes, and in fact are quite satisfied with the state of things as they are, or preferred the state of things prior to this past Tuesday. Truly, the news for all of us is that we are presently on an unsustainable path, regardless of where we “stand”, what we believe or how we see what we see

If we love with our open hearts enough, we will see how fear, anger and deep grief, are keeping us from seeing each other, the peril of our planet (which includes ALL inhabitants), or anything else that might be considered as a place of commonality…from which to begin.

We are human.We have hearts. We have pain. Many suffer in that pain.We do not always listen to something or someone whose words do not align with ours, or our way of communicating. Many are so afraid and looking for a savior – and I’m not talking about a religious savior.

We’ve been told that we must “see it to believe it.” Dr. Wayne Dyer offered many ways in his comments over the years, for us to trust (that is to have faith in the transcendent energy or “Godhead” as he referred to it) and that when we “believe it we will see it.” These phrases are a bit oversimplified in concept and words, and when we slow down to contemplate their intention, we begin to “see” differently just how much our individual beliefs impact our experience.

A favorite quote reminds me that even the simplest thought, word or gesture can, indeed, impact the whole.

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.

 – Rumi

See yourself as the ocean in a drop and see if you begin to question what you believe; how you make choices; what you think when you see someone whose words and actions do not align with yours. We can make a difference. In every moment, every thought, every word, every action.

Namaste.

silence and stillness

In silence, I hear. 

 

With gratitude to those whose words have inspired me to find my way into the silence that is always there awaiting my listening…with heart. Finding this silence in meditation, in nature or in some of the otherwise mundane tasks of the day, I hear…deeply…what is for me to know and feel in my heart.

 

In stillness, I find, remember and further develop my strength.

 

With gratitude to the yoga instructors, many of whom are spiritual teachers; for their guidance, tuition and wisdom. Developing greater strength within my body, I find strength of heart, mind and connection to Spirit. Pranayama serves to deepen as well as facilitate stillness in the integration of body, mind, spirit.