As a wellness and meditation teacher, I want to share with you what calming practice has taught me. It has shifted my perspective on most everything. I feel like I live in a very different place than I did 20, 10 and even 5 years ago. This new place lets me watch what goes on around me and “most of the time” I don’t have to get pulled into the fray. There’s a peace where I live, a sort of knowing that everything is going to be all right. I wish I could share it with you. I suppose this long, long blog is an effort to try to do that… or perhaps to begin a process of letting you know that there is a really different world available, one where you don’t have to stay glued to the media to survive, one where you don’t have to be filled with fear about your future.
I don’t know exactly how to get you from where you are to a new place, to find more joy and peace and purpose in your life. I have helped many people find their way to a higher level of living but honestly, everyone is so delightfully different. So, in essence, you will find your way. I am here to point you to doors, to cheer you on when you’re weary, to give a gentle push when you feel lost.
I don’t know what you should do, what needs to change in you to awaken to the beauty of life. No one knows but you. But here I stand before you, in a sense, and it looks like I might be trying to lead you. Not really. But I am offering my hand. I’m hoping we can all join hands. Together, experiencing a connection we will begin thinking a bit more like one, rather than me me me me me.
The world is full of people ready to tell you what you do with your life. I know. One of my pet peeves is hearing the phrase, “Well, here’s what you should do.” Yeah, no one knows what I should do. Often, I’m not positive what I should do. So, I surely don’t know what you should do. But I have seen a place you might want to go, a more peaceful way to live in this world. I’m going to try to explain what that place is and if it’s sounds like a pleasant change, maybe you’ll want to go exploring with me.
We are living in trying times. That phrase worries a lot of people. These changing times leave many feeling fearful. We have 24/7 media that seems to be reinforcing the idea that we should be afraid. I don’t agree. I have carefully trained myself to say that we are living in transformative times. Change is always unsettling, but change is not a bad thing.
Our world has been built on a foundation of money, power, and celebrity- all things that are honored. That’s upside down! Perhaps unless you are someone with a lot of money, power and celebrity? What we should be valuing is love. And while that may sound like a Valentine’s Day card from a third grader, what else is there but love?
Many meditation teachers have taught me how to watch and even embrace my thoughts. Even our dark thoughts are part of us and we must learn to accept them. As we learn to be aware of our thoughts, as we learn to watch our thinking, the practice of meditation calls us to realize that we can watch our mind. You’ve likely done it… caught yourself day dreaming when you were supposed to be doing something else. You caught yourself with a wandering mind. Perhaps you’ve sat thru a long and somewhat boring business meeting as you continually had to pull your attention back to what was being spoken about and not let your mind wander everywhere else. If we can watch our minds, what is doing the watching?
In our western world, we have been so ingrained to the fact that what our mind thinks is who we are. Our brain Is an amazing tool that helps us keep our schedule organized, helps us not forget our mother’s birthday, reminds us to dress appropriately for work and how to not get lost finding our way back home. The mind’s realm is facts and figures. It also stores our beliefs and our memories. But too many people believe that what happens in their head is who they are. “I’m just so crazy” Is a statement from the person who believes that because they have crazy thoughts that they are those thoughts. That is so not true. In meditation we learn to watch our thoughts. In time, as we get used to watching our thoughts and where they wander off to, we find that we can observe our thoughts without throwing ourselves in with the thoughts. What I mean is I can watch my mind wander off towards worry, but not throw myself in the pit of worry. If I can watch my mind do that, what is doing the watching?
Which word I choose to explain this watcher is not important. I think of it as my soul or my spirit doing the watching. You may have a different term for that part of you. Perhaps the subconscious feels more applicable to you, or the higher self. Whatever the terminology, let’s first get comfortable with the idea that you are not your brain. You are something different. And if your brain lives in your head where might this other part of you live?
I believe this other part of you lives in the heart. Research has shown that the heart has a sort of brain too. The electrical field of the heart is 60 times that of the brain and its magnetic field is 100 times more powerful than the brain and is measurable 3 feet away from the body. HeartMath, a research organization that studies the power of the heart, tells us that the heart sends many more messages via the nervous system to the brain and body than the brain sends to the heart and body. (visit HeartMath.org to learn more)
So in meditation, I encourage people to slide their attention down from their brain. Down to the heart, down to a place where we might see the world from the perspective of love and compassion rather than the brain’s perspective of facts and figures, black and white, money, power and fears. And as we settle our attention to seeing from the heart point of view, teacher Ram Dass reminded me as I will remind you that “the soul loves everything.” Here are the lyrics from a song called “Dark Thoughts” from Ram Dass and musician East Forest.
when you witness a dark thought
a dark thought that isn’t going to get you anywhere
you witness it
and love it
you love your dark thoughts
remember the witness is part of the soul
and the soul loves everything
not every being, but every thing
loves the clouds
and the trees
and the fish
and the animals
and that love coalesces the universe
the oneness of the universe is love
Ram Dass is reminding us that the soul or the spirit or the higher self loves everything. Loving everything… is a phrase that sprained my brain the first time I heard it. Loving everything- not just my friends and the people who love me back. Loving everything- not just those who agree with us or look like us or have the same aspirations as us. Loving every thing- not just loving other people. Loving the clouds, the trees, the fish, the animals. Loving the earth and the ocean and the water and the air. Loving the planet and embracing the fact that we each are part all of that!
So when I talk about these being transformative times, I believe that we are transforming the world from one that believes what the brain wants to believe. That world says that it’s OK to abuse people and the planet if it’s profitable, that it’s OK to ignore those who are different than us even when they’re in need. I’m done being part of that world! I believe these transformative times are ushering in a new world, one where we all know that we are connected. We as human beings know that it is our job to love, to love one another, to love the animals and plants, to love them and care for the planet… and as Ram Dass says, “love every thing.”
So if I’m called to love every thing , EVERYTHING , can I love this pandemic? Yes, ! I believe it’s my job to embrace this pandemic as a vehicle to bring change. It is not my job to cower in fear and spend my days in worry over this pandemic. Yes, it is a pandemic and it is life threatening, but it is also a bringer of change. So while I am careful, wash my hands, wear a mask, stay out of large groups for the safety and health of myself and others, I do not live in fear
If I’m called to love every thing , EVERY THING, can I love this time of new awareness of racial inequities ? Oh yes, I do love this time of learning and growing out of racism because this too is all about love. And while some will protest and some will riot and there may even be some property damaged, it is all part of bringing needed change. And while I personally won’t riot or damage property, I understand that hundreds and hundreds of years of mistreatment, of being ignored, devalued, and enslaved results in some people lashing out. I understand that if I were in their shoes I would likely do the same.
The call to love every thing is, to me, a basic callback to mindfulness.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness calls our attention into this very moment as this is the only moment we have. In this moment, we can laugh, love, cry, teach, embrace, choose, learn. This is the moment we have to live. If we choose to miss this moment because we are fearful of the future, we have not seen what is beautiful in this moment.
Can we call our attention to this moment, to this very moment we’re living in right now, and see what is beautiful? Can we practice setting aside our worries of what will come in the future? Can we explore seeing what might be challenging with this moment and still allow ourselves to see what is also beautiful in this moment? Can we learn to celebrate what is right in this moment, even in trying, transformative times?
Can we? I say, “Yes we can!” As we practice reaching down into our heart center, as we begin to learn to live from there and not from our busy, worried brain, we will begin to find a way, as Ram Dass calls us, to love every thing. Everything that you face every day has a purpose. These transformative times hope teach you new things, to give you an experience you haven’t had before, to help you dig deep and find your strength to face what is going on in this moment, and to learn to release that which you have no control over.
Today I encourage you to practice loving every thing.
I know it’s a tall order.
I’ll give you more than one day.
Put your energy into envisioning that we, together, will build a new world. Visualize the best in trying times… and don’t forget
Love EVERY THING!
The album, “Ram Dass” from East Forest and Ram Dass has been very deeply inspirational to me. Maybe you’ll connect with it too? You can check it out at https://eastforest.bandcamp.com/album/ram-dass-2019-full-album
or wherever you find your music.