Words from Toni Morrison on finding resilience in tough times……..

I am staring out of the window in an extremely dark mood, feeling helpless. Then a friend, a fellow artist, calls to wish me happy holidays. He asks, “How are you?” And instead of “Oh, fine — and you?”, I blurt out the truth: “Not well. Not only am I depressed, I can’t seem to work, to write; it’s as though I am paralyzed, unable to write anything more in the novel I’ve begun. I’ve never felt this way before, but the election…” I am about to explain with further detail when he interrupts, shouting: “No! No, no, no! This is precisely the time when artists go to work — not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job!”

I felt foolish the rest of the morning, especially when I recalled the artists who had done their work in gulags, prison cells, hospital beds; who did their work while hounded, exiled, reviled, pilloried. And those who were executed.

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

By Toni Morrison

“How to Be Peace” by the Dalai Lama

“Whenever I meet even a ‘foreigner’,
I have always the same feeling:
‘I am meeting another member of the human family.
This attitude has deepened
My affection and respect for all beings.
May this natural wish be
My small contribution to world peace.
I pray for a more friendly,
More caring, and more understanding
Human family on this planet.
To all who dislike suffering,
Who cherish lasting happiness–
This is my heartfelt appeal.”

by The Dalai Lama

A New Way to Talk to Each Other by Adyashanti

Via Omega Institute…….

Spiritual teacher Adyashanti offers us a way to be in conversation with each other that connects rather than divides. You can start practicing in the very next conversation you have.

Omega: How can we learn to communicate better with each other in these polarized times?

Adyashanti: Lots of people are saying what we need is to have a deeper, richer cultural conversation about the issues facing the country. It’s easy to say that, but what does that mean?

I think it means that we start by admitting that we may not have all of the answers. Right now, especially in politics, everyone is fairly certain that their way of looking at things is the right way. Even with these big political and cultural issues, we have to become honest and say, “Maybe I don’t know.”

For example, if we ask the question, “What do we do about the racial strife in this country,” immediately, if you’re sensitive, you know that you don’t have the whole answer. You don’t really know. If you stop there for a moment, you can sometimes feel the mind opening to possibilities. To me this is what the practice of inquiry is for. It is to open the door for possibilities, not for our mind to jump in and immediately tell us the answers.

Omega: How do we know what to say to someone if we’re in that “I don’t know” place?

Adyashanti: Dialogue happens in a creative space. Instead of arguing, instead of one side trying to convince the other side that it’s right, we need to be willing to enter into a creative dialogue together. We need to do this even with people we disagree with quite strongly, otherwise, we’re not going to get anywhere.

Even if your viewpoint wins the day and becomes part of the policy or the right person is elected, or whatever, that doesn’t mean the underlying tensions that are creating all of this have been changed in any way. This is what’s been disappointing about politics right now—and why people are reacting the way they’re reacting. Because election after election, leader after leader, there is hope followed by disappointment.

But we blame our disappointment on stuff out there. It’s the politicians, it’s their fault. But it’s all of us who are now pointing fingers just as much as the politicians. We are just as divided as they are, and we have to admit that.

We need to enter into a much more open creative space, otherwise, I think what we’re seeing now is just the beginning. It can get way worse than this, and sometimes reflecting on that can make us either afraid or it can motivate us to take a new approach.

Omega: What does it mean to be in creative dialogue with each other?

Adyashanti: This type of dialogue allows for something to arise out of the conversation that perhaps nobody brought to the table. Real relationship can be magical and creative like that. In the Bible, Jesus says, “Where two or three gather in my name, there I am.” This is a way of saying that something dynamic can happen that’s bigger than both of you.

When you truly connect with someone else, even somebody who doesn’t share your viewpoint, there’s a third thing that starts to spin between you. This third thing starts to emerge, and when people notice it, they start to think, “We might really have a chance.” But we’ve got to let go of our judgment and our certainty to get there.

Even when we’re connected, that doesn’t mean we’re going to have the same ideas. Bad ideas flow out of a lack of connection. If there isn’t consensus, it’s a sign we’re not connecting. When we’re connected, I’ve found that there is, at the end of the day, usually consensus.

I’ve seen this happen over and over in my own life when I’m willing to enter into that creative dialogue. Often when I walk away, the resolution is not identical to what I came with to the dialogue. It’s something different that showed up through the dynamic interaction.

We’re losing what it means to be in creative, dynamic interaction, and I think we’re losing it because we’re afraid. Until we can start to admit that, it’s going to be hard to have that dialogue.

Omega: How can we begin to practice being in conversation this way?

Adyashanti: I often like to suggest that we practice with a small conversation. Even in conversations that are completely without consequence at all, if we really pay attention, sometimes it can be eye-opening when we see that we are trying to skew the conversation. We’re not listening, we’re just waiting for our turn to speak. Even in the most casual conversation, when we start to become aware of that, we can change it and make different decisions. That begins the process.

If we think that it’s just the politicians who have to do this, we’re probably going to be disappointed. It begins in very simple human ways, and then we can start to up-level it. But that means that we have to stop blaming the politicians. There’s only one way they got there—you and I put them there. So we have to take responsibility for that. Why did we do that? Why do we keep putting people in who don’t want to have the conversation? I think all of that is important to ask, too.

Omega: Would you be willing to teach a communication workshop?

Adyashanti: The part I play in this is helping people find the level of intimate connection where conversation needs to arise from. To change conversation into something more creative, we have to be able to stay with ourself, to stay open and available. I work with getting people to stay in the present moment, in a field of intimate connection, where how you communicate will naturally be transformed.

Omega: How do we know if we’re communicating from a place of presence?

Adyashanti: When we are open, we become sensitive, and we can actually feel when a word comes out of our mouth that’s not connected. If you’re paying attention, you can tell the specific word where you left being connected with someone.

When I see that happen, I stop right in the middle of a sentence. I’ll sometimes do it when I’m teaching. I’ll be in front of a group of hundreds of people, and I’ll stop and I’ll just say, “I want to restate that,” because I can feel it’s not as connected as it could be. That’s groundwork stuff. That’s reorienting toward a felt sense of connectedness. And then the conversation can occur.

Is it always easy? No. Especially when you feel triggered and you’re upset. To stop and feel connected takes some intention. It takes caring. It takes some acknowledgment that this is not always easy, but it is absolutely necessary.

© 2018 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

 

Meghan Markle posted this on her old blog….Written by Jose Micard Teixeira

I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

-José Micard Teixeira

“Did I Love Well?” by Jack Kornfield

Even the most exalted states and the most exceptional spiritual accomplishments are unimportant if we cannot be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways, if we cannot touch one another and the life we have been given with our hearts.

In undertaking a spiritual life, what matters is simple: We must make certain that our path is connected with our heart. In the end, spiritual life is not a process of seeking or gaining some extraordinary condition or special powers. In fact, such seeking can take us away from
ourselves. If we are not careful, we can easily find the great failures of our modern society—its ambition, materialism, and individual isolation—repeated in our spiritual life. In beginning a genuine spiritual journey, we have to stay much closer to home, to focus directly on what is right here in front of us, to make sure that our path is connected with our deepest love.

When we ask, “Am I following a path with heart?” we discover that no one can define for us exactly what our path should be. We must look at the values we have chosen to live by. Where do we put our time, our strength, our creativity, our love? We must look at our life without sentimentality, exaggeration, or idealism. Does what we are choosing reflect what we most deeply value? If we are still and listen deeply, even for a moment, we will know if we are following a path with heart.

The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are the moments when we touch one another, when we are there in the most attentive or caring way. This simple and profound intimacy is the love that we all long for. These moments of touching and being touched can become a foundation for a path with heart, and they take place in the most immediate and direct way. Mother Teresa put it like this: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

In the stress and complexity of our lives, we may forget our deepest intentions. But when people come to the end of their lives and look back, the questions that they most often ask are not usually, “How much is in my bank account?” or “How many books did I write?” or “What did I build?” or the like. If you have the privilege of being with a person who is conscious at the time of his or her death, you find the  questions such a person asks are very simple, “Did I love well?” “Did I live fully?” “Did I learn to let go?”

These simple questions go to the very center of spiritual life. When we consider loving well and living fully, we can see the ways our attachments and fears have limited us, and we can see the many opportunities for our hearts to open. Have we let ourselves love the people around us, our family, our community, the earth upon which we live? And, did we also learn to let go? Did we learn to live through the changes of life with grace, wisdom, and compassion? Have we learned to shift from the clinging mind to the joy of freedom?

All other spiritual teachings are in vain if we cannot love. Even the most exalted states and the most exceptional spiritual accomplishments are unimportant if we cannot be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways, if, with our hearts, we cannot touch one another and the life we have been given. What matters is how we live. This is why it is so difficult and so important to ask this question of ourselves: “Am I living my path fully, do I live without regret?” so that we can say on whatever day is the end of our life, “Yes, I have lived my path with heart   

“Bitter or Sweet?” by Jose Stevens

A new José Stevens Article

BITTER OR SWEET?

We all live in a dualistic virtual reality environment taking place on this home planet we call Earth. From the time we are born to the day we die we deal with experiences that range from bitter to sweet and there is no escape from this phenomena except in our minds. No matter how hard we try there is no way to avoid the fact that people and pets that we love die, become ill, or leave us in various ways. Sometimes when we take a bite of something we think will be good we discover that it is spoiled, under, or overcooked. Sometimes people treat us poorly for no reason we can understand or perhaps because they are so unhappy or have a need to project something on us. Sometimes we are punished for something we did not do or are rejected because we are not what someone is looking for in an employee, in a friend, or in a lover. These are what we could call bitter events because they feel loveless or are painful emotionally.

Likewise there are the experiences that we could call sweet like listening to some great music, seeing some fabulous art, listening to a stimulating and interesting talk, or having a tasty meal or dessert. There is nothing quite like a tall glass of springwater after a hot, sweaty, dusty hike or great sex with someone you are really attracted to and who reciprocates the feeling. Perhaps for you, petting your favorite cat or dog is a sweet event and causes you to smile and chuckle in the pure pleasure of their purrs and groans.

We go from one to another experience, bitter then sweet, sweet then bitter and this characterizes our lives. Some people have lives that are almost all bitter. They may live in poverty and violence from the day they are born and for them the sweet moments are fleeting and brief. There are others amongst us who experience life as mostly sweet, in the rose garden with golden goblets to drink out of, with the bitter moments few and far between. On average over the lifetimes our lives are a good balance of the two. That is what it is to be human, and yet, bitterness and sweetness is also largely self-defined. For one person petting a dog is a bitter experience because it only reminds them of the loss of their own dog that was hit by a car. For another person eating a tasty meal only upsets them as they think about so many poor people with nothing to eat. I remember being this person at times in my younger days. On the other hand there are those who experience hardship but somehow manage to feel cheerful or inspired no matter what. The bitterness of the experience barely touches them because the sweetness is in their attitude or perception. I recall being this person at times as well.

Because of the law of attraction the bitterness tends to attract more bitterness and sweetness tends to attract more sweetness. This has way more to do with what you are feeling than how someone else would define the event. It is not a bitter event if you experience it from a sweet place and it is not a sweet event if you experience it in a bitter way. An ability to experience sweetness is not denial or an example of insane idealism when faced with real danger. That may be dysfunctional and is often just a temporary coping mechanism or a cover up job. It does not work the same way as a real ability to reframe something. I have also seen examples of cynics who appeared to downgrade everything but underneath had a real ability to experience the sweetness of life. All is not as it seems and sometimes we have to look a little deeper and see the bigger picture of someone’s experience.

In general bitterness is an experience of the false personality and leads us to an experience or sense of separation. Bitterness is an energy leak of major proportions because rather than energize us it depresses us or leads us to resentment, anger, vengeance and ultimately misery. Sweetness is an experience of essence because it unites, makes us one with, connects us, and opens our hearts to love. Does this make bitterness bad and sweetness good? Not necessarily because one of the purposes of the physical plane is to experience dichotomy, a dualistic experience. By knowing the bitterness of something we can even more appreciate the sweetness of something. By knowing cold we can appreciate hot even more and vice versa. By knowing the illusion of separation we can even more appreciate the experience of love and connection. By letting go of something we can often have it even more like letting go of attachment to a person resulting in more connection with them in the long run.

Whatever your experience be it bitter or sweet there is always something valuable to learn and grow from.  In our foolishness we often wish that life were eternally sweet but that might just lead to taking life for granted and no longer valuing just how good we have it. Perhaps that is what is happening to the Untied States at the moment. Perhaps we have taken for granted our liberties and standard of living and many other advantages that have come with being Americans. Now many feel the bitterness of an ironically dark swamp takeover leading to a loss of environmental protections, a free web, public lands, public safety nets like pensions, access to medical care, balance of powers, a fair justice system, and a host of other support systems long considered basic rights of citizens. What better way to realize their value than to have them threatened with loss? I realize that this is not necessarily what we want but perhaps in our higher wisdom it is what we temporarily need to wake up and smell the fumes of destruction before it completely overtakes and kills us. This is a time when bitterness seems to be in takeover mode.

Will we go meekly like martyred lambs to the slaughter or will we wake up and do whatever it takes to make sure that what we value survives the tests of greed, destruction, and arrogance? Do we acquiesce to bitter or sweet?

The polarizing theme that has taken hold is not an accident but one that has been very much predicted by the Mayan prophesies and others. Not only has it taken hold but it is still building and will continue to do so for another six years or so before plateauing for another eight or so years to complete this twenty year cycle of polarization that started in 2012.  This increase in tensions could lead to violent confrontations and extreme behavior including revenge and out of proportion reactions to any resistance or different points of view. We already currently see attempts to destroy any opposition or resistance to tyranny, dictatorship, and narcissistic ego displays.

Is the best response to ignore, fiercely resist, attack, be in humor, subvert, sabotage, or what? The problem is the age-old rule that what you resist you become. That is what has derailed many a promising revolution. The correct response requires a balancing act of a number of tools in the proverbial survival toolbox. Of course it never hurts to start with a bit of humor realizing that one should never trust appearances and this is all a passion play put on by ourselves to create a very interesting set of life lessons. Access to neutrality is quite helpful in the long run. In the short run anger is not always a negative reaction and sometimes is a good motivator to move to action.  A little subversion here and a little sabotage there can be useful. Ignoring has its place when faced with a blowhard but is not a good overall strategy for the bigger picture, for example like ignoring a broken bone, a serious cut, or cancer; not a good idea.

One must choose their battles at the best time and place and sometimes this requires holding the line and resisting fiercely. At other times a temporary feint at retreating or accepting defeat can be a good maneuver because it throws the other side off guard and makes them vulnerable as is evident in martial arts.

Some battles cannot be won in the short term and should not distract from the overall cause. If anything has defeated otherwise mature people is their tendency to fragment into idealistic factions that then feed into the divide and conquer strategy of the so-called forces of corruption. Some want attention to the environment, animal rights, LGBTQ rights, attention to plight of Blacks, Native Americans, women, right to choose, immigration, Latino rights, and on and on. These are not opposing issues but when they are seen as competing they become an area of weakness for the forces of corruption to take advantage of. When one issue finds a voice and pulls in money and attention and begins to make progress some others feel passed over and want immediate gains as well. This is not practical and good results will not come about this way.  They each require all forces to pull for them when the time is right. Impatience is a losing strategy.

Overall the best strategy is slowly and inexorably building overall strength until the force of change is overwhelming. The other side may win battles but this more gradual strategy masters the outcome of the overall contest. The fuel for building this strength comes from the absolute trust, knowledge, and perception about what is aligned with Spirit and what is not. This is called keeping an eye on the ball and on the door at the other side of the temple of ten thousand demons.

In the end it helps that each person engaged in this revolution or paradigm shift realizes that what appears to be an external war of values is nothing more than a personal confrontation with ones own ego. The opposite hemispheres of the brain must be joined in marriage, the masculine with the feminine at a higher level of perception. Those abhorrent self serving ideas, prejudices, ways of being are nothing more than ourselves over the last thousands of years and we don’t like it any more.

Both the irresponsible, destructive, violent, narcissistic masculine and the manipulative, irresponsible, and equally destructive and narcissistic feminine need upgrading to a higher level of consciousness within us. We need to do it here, inside ourselves first, and then we will see the changes all around us. Bitter or sweet or both?

JOSÉ STEVENS

José Stevens PhD is an international lecturer, corporate team builder and organizational coach, consultant and trainer. A psychologist, licensed clinical social worker and author of more than twenty books and numerous articles, he is also co-editor for A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism and a board member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners. He is the founder, with his wife Lena, of the Power Path School of Shamanism and The Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth in indigenous cultures. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years.

Meditation in the Cave by Ralph De La Rosa

(CNN)It’s a captivating image: a dozen pre-teen and teen boys trapped in a cave for 10 days, only to be found by rescuers mysteriously calm, composed … perhaps even meditating.

It’s uncanny to consider that their unspeakable misfortune (they would not actually get out of the cave for several more days) was accompanied by something very lucky: they were trapped with a former Buddhist monk of 10 years, their soccer coach, who was able to guide them in meditation, a time-tested technique that diminishes distress.
Leigh Weiss of Stanford University is correct when she notes that meditation was an ideal response to this situation. She told CNBC that the practice likely lowered their cortisol levels to help them stay calm, and lowered their rate of respiration in the confined environment, where air was a dear resource.
Beyond its utility in helping the boys and their coach survive, there’s a pivotal aspect of working with our emotions in meditation — one that may also help these boys navigate the complex fallout of their experience, both the media attention and the potential, personal traumatic reverberations. It’s a central aspect of meditation that has implications for us all: relating to our experience with an attitude of “caring for it.”
Trauma in Thailand 03:30
How might they have used this?
Ordinarily, we identify with our emotions, especially the strong ones, like fear and anxiety. Anger is certainly a good one to consider — many of us struggle with it. Think about the last time you got angry. Anger sort of took over, didn’t it? It may have even felt like, in a way, you were the anger. You may have even communicated the feeling in a manner reflective of this intrapsychic carjacking: “I’m angry,” as opposed to, “I feel anger.” I’m willing to bet the anger either became your boss (it dictated what you did, said, and thought next) or it became your enemy (you pushed it down or distracted yourself from it).
We might not see it, but we have a relationship to our experience, whatever it is, that is not unlike the relationships we have with other people.
So, what if you had been able to mentally take a step back from your anger, put a little bit of space between it and you so you could get some perspective? What if you were able to adopt a friendlier attitude about the presence of that anger, or were even compassionate towards the struggling part of you?
The same was possible with the fear and anxiety the Thai boys felt in the cave. It’s likely that coach Ekapol Chanthawong guided the boys to not struggle against their intense feelings and to paradoxically regulate their stress in the face of it by “holding” their experience with kindness.
After rescue, focus shifts to health 01:38
If you had done so with your anger, you would have instantly eliminated a layer of anguish for yourself. I say this often at MNDFL here in NYC, which offers meditation classes: if we’re anxious and we’re hating our anxiety, that’s two layers of suffering. If we take a step back and become friendly towards our anxiety, we’re left with one layer of suffering, and the anxiety becomes infinitely more tolerable than when we were struggling against it. This may well be what helped the boys to find ease in their entrapment and emerge relatively unscathed.
Second, this aspect of meditation empowers us to allow our emotions to run their course without being so seduced by them. Our emotions are like everything else in existence in that they have a life cycle: they’re born, they peak, and then they die. When we make bosses or enemies of our emotions — that is, when we indulge or repress them — it’s like we choke off that process. And you may have noticed, when we numb our emotions or take them out on others, it’s not as if they go away. They just go underground, where they cause more problems.
In befriending our emotional experience we can allow our emotions to run their full course, diminishing the likelihood that their biochemical residue will remain in our nervous systems and cause other stress-related problems and illnesses. In short, if we learn to take them less personally, they rule our lives to a far lesser degree.
Returning to the 12 boys and their coach, we know that they will be forced to relive their experience again and again as the onslaught of media attention continues. With the proper relationship to their experience, this activity could be healing for them as opposed to re-traumatizing.
In my own work with trauma survivors as a therapist, little by little, I invite the retelling of unspeakable events, help patients to feel every bit of the emotional activation attached to the experience, and together we hold it all in a compassionate space. My hope for these boys is that they might be able to utilize the endless interviews they’ll be having and other media attention that may be unwelcome toward similar ends by holding compassion for themselves, even if no one else is.
It’s a good bet that the boys survived their experience in the cave, both physiologically and psychologically, in part thanks to meditation. While it’s likely that you or I won’t ever find ourselves in such a situation, we all have places in our lives where we feel trapped, stuck, and uncertain about our fate. I think the triumph of these young adolescents has something to teach us all about how we face the distress of everyday life.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: