7 pm in New York City: As I throw the window open, amidst the cheering and applause, I notice many sounds: the plaintive “whomp whomp” of what sounds like a tuba, the vibrant “wah wah” from a trumpet, the sharp pure “click” of claves, the raucous blasts of air horns. Identifying these sounds brought to mind the whowonkas, jingtinglers, trumtookas and other make-believe instruments of the beloved Dr. Seuss holiday classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And it occurred to me that the circumstances, in which we find ourselves, as we cheer first responders in gratitude, is similar to that of the Whos in Whoville in the cartoon classic. When the Grinch made off with the Whos’ Christmas, they had lost so very much. But, in spite of the loss, and much to the Grinch’s surprise, the Whos came together singing in gratitude for the sacred gift of Life itself. Like the Grinch, my heart expands when I join this now daily ritual by ringing a Tibetan bell as a symbol of gratitude and my contribution to the irrepressibly creative song of the indestructible Human Spirit. With a smile from my heart, I hope this bright image brings a smile to your heart, too!
A friend recently emailed me to say: “Reading the news really raises my blood pressure.” Another shared that she can’t watch without yelling back at the television. Several others have shared that they have been feeling down and unable to sleep at night.
Are you stirred up when you listen to the news and read posts on social media?
“Stir” is such a wonderfully descriptive word; definitions include: to disturb the quiet of; to bring into notice; to raise; to rouse to activity; to arouse; to awaken; and to motivate.
In 2016, a lot of darkness and division came to light, much of which had been lurking, largely unacknowledged, in the shadows of our collective consciousness. Because we are all inextricably connected, the darkness and division are not just “out there.” These shadowy energies reside within each of us, too. What has come up for you?
I’ve gotten pretty friendly with some previously unconscious fear, aversion and resentment to name a few shadow buddies. So, as the New Year approaches and I reflect on the year past, I’ve been working with a wonderful healing practice, that I use from time to time, to clean up my act. I also recommend it to you.
Concern about the presidential election is running very high. With serious issues —such as climate change, terrorism, poverty, unemployment, war, racism, and violence against women—having been brought to light during the campaign season, it’s hard not to be moved by them. The New York Times reports widespread “election anxiety.” According to a Harris Poll, “Facing one of the most adversarial contests in recent history and daily coverage of the presidential election that dominates every form of mass media, 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.”
Don’t allow your self to become distracted by the media circus or your own fearful projections of a negative future. Remember, the only power that such fearful thoughts have is the power that you give them. Don’t feed the fears. Ground and center yourself in the heart whenever you feel off balance.
Are YOU feeling down on yourself?
Recently, I’ve heard from several people who feel badly about themselves because they have fallen short of their own expectations, or because life hasn’t turned out as they wanted. I can relate having felt that way myself at times.
If this is you, please give yourself a break.
From a spiritual perspective, your worth is inherent. All are One in Spirit. So, there is no need to prove your value. God, and people who see you through the eyes of love, don’t care what you do for a day job, how much you earn, that you don’t look like Beyoncé, and that you haven’t won a Nobel Prize.
In summer, I have a greater sense of my own inner aliveness and connection to the flow of the spiritual energy that animates all of life, which itself seems to run freer, burn hotter and grow wilder than at other times of year. Do you feel that way, too?
“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive in the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.” (Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart)
I love how this literary quote captures, perhaps by resurrecting childhood memories of school being out, the summer feeling
Events playing out on the world stage, e.g., widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo exposed by the presidential primary season, are a wakeup call to see how what is mirrored in the collective lives within us. Where in your life may you have gone along with things for too long and have had enough? Or maybe you’ve been putting off your own needs and desires and are feeling a growing sense of frustration or escalating desire?
It’s crucial to pay special attention to where repressed energies may be playing out in your experience. You don’t want to resist these energies, because they are coming up to your awareness to be cleared. Like volatile chemicals under pressure, energies that are pushed down may emerge in unexpected and unwanted ways or explode.
“Compassion is the wish-fulfilling gem
whose light of healing spreads in all directions.” (Sogyal Rinpoche)
One evening, I was walking home when I heard a child crying loudly from somewhere behind me. As the anguished cries continued unabated, I heard the hurried footsteps of someone fast approaching me with a “harrumph” and turned my head to see an irritated woman. She explained without prompting, “I have to walk fast because it’s breaking my heart.” With more than a hint of annoyance, she quickly added: “Just pick him up and comfort him!”
Wow! What a concise teaching on compassion. Acknowledge the pain of another, let it touch your heart, put yourself aside to be there for them, and offer caring or comfort, without judgment, to alleviate their suffering. That is compassion. When someone is suffering: “Just pick him up and comfort him!”
The call of compassion is urgent. It’s wired in our brains thanks to mirror neurons that allow us to know what others are feeling.
All of us want to be seen and loved for who we are. To open our hearts and reveal our true selves—vulnerabilities and all, we need to feel safe with another person. It can be scary stuff, baring your soul; almost impossible in a cold, harshly judgmental or hostile environment.
“Real intimacy is a sacred experience. It never exposes its secret trust and belonging to the voyeuristic eye of neon culture. Real intimacy is of the soul, and the soul is reserved.” (John O’Donohue)
So, how can you create a safe container for love to grow in your relationships? Here are five keys, which, if you put into practice, will help you cultivate love in your life.