All too human
How can we bring out the best in ourselves
To choose love
To share love
We live in challenging times.
Who would argue? Who doesn’t know someone struggling to manage the details? Maybe you are that someone.
Take heart: challenging times are ripe for practice.
The support created by spiritual practice is never more palpable than in challenging times.
Whatever your chosen practice — meditation, yoga, Reiki, prayer, awareness of the breath, etc. — hold to it now. Be consistent in your effort, even when your effort seems absurdly unequal to the challenges at hand.
If you are steadfast in your practice, it will keep your heart tender, steady, and clear.
Steady practice gives perspective, revealing details and context together in a balanced whole.
Steady practice enables you to sense the timeliness of your participation. It opens the ease to wait when it’s time to wait, and act when it’s time to act, without conflict.
When there is conflict, steady practice helps you recognize that conflict is within the person feeling it, and enables you to explore your inner battlefield, transform your understanding, and heal even festering wounds.
The healing and steadiness you create in your own life is your much needed offering to the world.
In challenging times, the foolish forsake practice, dooming themselves to foolishness without end, while the wise cling to practice.
My dad was a man with purpose, so it was surprising when he occasionally paced aimlessly about the house, invariably opening and shutting the refrigerator several times before finally saying, “I have a yen for something, but I don’t know what it is.”
It took me a while to recognize what he was feeling. Children tend to know what they want. As we age, desire becomes more complicated.
And maybe simpler.
Eventually I too tasted the restlessness of desire without direction. If you are older than thirteen, you know the feeling. A yen for something, anything. Except, of course, anything you have.
It’s easy to feel the discomfort of this restless desire, but what if you paused to look again? Why not sit and explore desire? If you have a spiritual practice, use it. If you don’t, simply breathe and observe.
Stay open and aware, and you’ll be surprised by what you discover.
At the core of desire lies a sweet longing, your heart aching to be, to simply be. Since you already are being — you already are what you desire — you can rest in this longing and let it enliven your experience of yourself.
All of you.
Everything you are.
No longer restless. Now scintillating.
At this time of year, instead of getting carried away by desire, letting it whip you into expectation and disappointment until you are exhausted and brittle, why not unmask and enjoy longing for what it really is, an expression of your joy of being?
Joy, the gift that truly keeps on giving.
A client came for her second healing session yesterday. She enthused about having had the best sleep of her life the night after her first session.
Which was 20 years ago.
She looks much the same as she did then; I would easily recognize her on the street. She’s a smart, sensible, accomplished professional woman, a wife and the mother of two adult children in a close knit family. She’s involved in her community. She’s engaging company, and a good person. The family seems financially secure.
Clearly she’s made a lot of good choices in her life.
And then there’s the sleep thing.
If something gave you the best sleep of your life, and it was legal, and you could afford it, would you wait 20 years to repeat?
It’s easy to say, “Of course not.” But I wonder.
I wonder how many good things I haven’t followed up on for who knows why.
What about you? What goodness lies waiting for you to bring it into your life? And what are you going to do about it?
As we exited a (to me delightful) dance event with Damian Woetzel and Lil Buck at the Guggenheim, a man behind us commented, “A lot of that was boring, and some I didn’t understand.”
His remark made me grin as I puzzled over how he distinguished between what was boring, and what he didn’t understand.
When we don’t understand, it’s easy to self-consciously retreat rather than risk looking stupid. (When we’re bored, we’ve already stopped looking.)
But the man behind us didn’t take the easy way out. He expressed himself.
Maybe it was too late for him to enjoy the performance; he could still intrepidly engage.
And help a stranger see that reality is a dance in which the audience moves.
End of summer slows Manhattan’s relentless pace.
Greenmarkets overflowing with produce grace the sidewalks of my neighborhood four days a week. Other days, I venture beyond walking distance just to stroll past the stalls, oogle the veggies, and hang out with the farmers.
Here in the concrete jumble, my family eats the same food the farmers’ families eat. Some of these farmers have been feeding my family for a quarter century.
I love that.
These small farms are not certified organic; that’s an expense only agribusiness can manage. These farmers are heart and soul wholesome, people who choose life close to the earth.
Market conversation adds its own pleasure. Jeff and I commiserate over lost artichokes, then he brings my attention to papalo, his words dripping with care, enthusiasm and humor.
A mom notices my voice in the crowd and grabs my arm from behind. We hug and fill in the years. Our kids have grown but somehow we look the same.
Food, hugs and conversation intertwine in a nourishing trifecta.
For a few days, I too slow down to enjoy life’s harvest, pondering nothing more momentous than whether the Yankees can slide into another post season.
A popular query asks: If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound?
Here’s the chronic dieter’s version: If no one sees me eat it, have I really eaten it?
The temptation is not so much in the food we eat, but in the tendency to look away. Even when no one else is looking, we see ourselves eat, and we are who matters most.
Ayurveda, the ancient system of health and healing indigenous to India, poses a relevant question: If you don’t pay attention to what you eat, why would your body?
According to Ayurveda, since illness starts with indigestion, it makes sense to do what we can to optimize our digestion.
Digestion starts with awareness. If you don’t pay attention, your body doesn’t pay attention, and if your body doesn’t pay attention, it doesn’t digest food effectively.
You know what happens to food you forget to store properly; it rots. The same thing happens to food your body doesn’t digest. Undigested food lingers as toxic waste in your system, impeding the natural functions of the body, waiting for the perfect opportunity to get in the way of your health and happiness.
You could easily change that.
Next time you are about to put something in your mouth, pause a moment to notice your state, what you’re thinking and how you feel. Pause a moment longer to notice the food. Start enjoying it — and digesting it — with your eyes and your nose, before it enters your mouth.
Once you’ve engaged your attention, you’ll likely savor your food, and actually chew it, making it easier to digest, and more satisfying.
We are nourished not only by what we eat, but by our own attention.
Mindfulness. Awareness. Be. Here. Nowness.