I’m sitting at a café having miso-mushroom soup, processing my meeting with an inner city high school principal about expanding the Mindfulness and Cultural Development program next year. The pilot was so successful; she would like to see it reach the entire freshman class. “I want them to have a full 4 years of support from the pressures they are under!”
“I think they are heroes for just being able to pay attention to their teachers in this academically challenging program. Some of them are dealing with such intense problems at home and in their neighborhoods.” The sole school counselor, serving 550 students with everything from college applications to behavioral interventions, nods her assent.
An image flashes across my mind from earlier this month. A lanky sweet looking girl in a yellow and orange bikini roughly kneed and handcuffed by a burly Texan policeman. The infraction? Going to a pool party.
To be a teenager in an inner-city these days is to be faced with issues far more complicated than first loves or summer jobs at the ice cream shop.
There isn’t an easy answer to the complex social, cultural, economic, environmental, and physical problems that face this next generation. But, there is a potent and profound way to empower our young adults, a way to help them cultivate inner strength for outer stability.
That’s where this innovative program Mindfulness & Cultural Development comes in. With all the benefits of classical mindfulness training, students gain objectivity on the thought process and de-stress through focus and non-judgment. Then they cultivate one more skill, which may make all the difference. They look at their experience in a vast context of cultural and evolutionary development. It’s fun. It’s powerful. And it creates space for heart and compassion in spades.
You have likely heard the old adage that holding onto anger is like holding onto hot coals with the intent of throwing them at someone else. The importance of forgiving others, while not always easy, is one we learn as a part of understanding compassion. We practice forgiveness as a component to understanding mercy, grace and kindness.
We’ve seen the effects of guilt and shame. We’ve also seen the effects of being unforgiving on a person who’s been wronged. No one wants to wake up and realize they’re the bitter, angry person who couldn’t let go and couldn’t move on from even some of the worst hurts. No one wants to know they let someone else control their decisions and freeze their lives in a terrible moment, unable to break free and move forward in freedom. But what about when we are the person at fault? What do we do when the finger of blame is point straight at ourselves? Continue reading →
At the level of consciousness or spirit, we are all inextricably connected to everyone and everything.While our body may appear to be a solid physical structure, in reality it’s an ever-flowing river of energy and information, in constant dynamic exchange with the environment around us.
Our language reflects our innate understanding of our essential energetic nature. We say things like, “His words really resonated with me,” or “I got a bad vibe from that person,” or “My friend has such aradiant heart.” These aren’t just metaphors—we really do feel each other’s energy and are affected by it at a profound level. Think of all the qualities in another person you intuitively pick up at an energetic level. Besides telling if someone is happy or sad, you can sense whether they feel peaceful or perturbed. Looking into their eyes reveals alertness or dullness, tenderness, or indifference. It’s hard to think of any human quality that doesn’t have a kind of energy “signature.”
As energetic beings, our potential to affect others with our energy or state of being is both a great gift and a great responsibility. When we walk into a room, our energy emanates from us. Without saying a word, we communicate through our energetic signature, creating a ripple that can affect everyone we meet. If our state of being is centered in love and compassion, we communicate that energy to each other. In the same way, if we’re mired in judgment, hostility, or resentment, we communicate that too.
Through our energy or consciousness, we have an unlimited capacity to send out ripples that will help the planet and its inhabitants move in the most evolutionary direction—from fear, hostility, and unrest to love, compassion, peace, and joy. Continue reading →
The idea of staring into the eyes of anyone, much less a stranger, is all but foreign to our Western society. We have learned to be wary of strangers, to avoid what is unfamiliar because the unknown can honestly be dangerous.
But is there something we’re losing as a result of our disconnect?
Do we feel like we know anyone and do we feel known? Continue reading →
Just because we are in our bodies does not mean we always know what it’s saying.
It can also be easy to push past what our bodies are telling us when we’re at a loss.
Our overwhelming exhaustion can be ignored when we have commitments to meet.
The unsettled feeling in our gut can be explained away as indigestion.
But our bodies are also highly sophisticated machines that can do so much more than we give credit for, often times. So are you listening?
In early 2009, international reporter Laura Ling found herself in China standing on the boundary of North Korea as she sought to bring attention to North Korean refugees escaping the region. This was not the first time Ling was in a high-pressure area but she was not expecting to find herself captured and indefinitely detained by North Korean military.
She was so far from her family and was unsure whether she would ever return home. She was able to receive letters from home and knew that candlelight vigils were being held in the hope of seeing her safely returned, but in the midst of a tumultuous political climate, who know if that would happen? In the space of not knowing what her future would hold, Ling began a practice that would change her life forever. She shares her moving story here: Continue reading →
I found myself sitting at a business lunch highly frustrated without knowing how I got that way. Had someone said something to make me mad? Was I mad at someone? Was I mad about the service? Or maybe something that had happened en route to lunch?
It sounds like a lot of questions about a simple feeling but recently I’ve started taking a moment to inventory a situation when I’m frustrated. Continue reading →
I’m not sure who is going to read this, but I do know one thing. It will get to the people who are meant to be called, slightly appalled and never stalled.
That’s you. And you know who you are, so I don’t need to go into great detail to describe you, to yourself, because you already have that description, prescription and inscription infused deeply in your DNA.
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
― Cynthia Occelli
Change is innately scary.
There are elements of it that involve things falling away, things passing on, things ceasing to be. If you stay focused on that side of change, you can be frozen in place. Staying the same doesn’t necessarily mean everything is good though. What living things are known for never changing? Part of life and part of health means growing and developing. The most beautiful gardens require pruning and tending not because they are falling apart but exactly for the reason that they are constantly growing. Continue reading →