We Need To Connect

Our world is suffering. Natural disasters are everywhere and still there is war as well.

Human beings are demonstrating the extremes of human connection. On one end of these extremes, people stretch their hearts and financial and physical abilities to help victims of hurricanes and earthquakes. At the other extreme, world leaders rip into one another and threaten to drag us all into nuclear war.

What? Really?! We need to connect, to find safety and comfort in one another. Now more than ever. The definition and value of intimacy have been studied from many viewpoints. The common conclusion is that intimacy is an important part of our jphysical, emotional, mental happiness and well-being.

The key to intimacy, of course, is understanding what it really is and nurturing it in your own life. This topic is beautifully explored in the book The Art Of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. Chapter 5  is titled A New Model For Intimacy.  In the last few pages of this chapter the author’s right the following:

Clearly, the notions we take for granted about intimacy are not universal. They change over time and are often shaped by economic, social, and cultural conditions.

… at this very moment we have a vast resources of intimacy available to us. Intimacy is all around us.

Today, so many of us are oppressed by a feeling of something missing in our lives, intensely suffering from a lack of intimacy. This is particularly true when we go through the inevitable periods in our life when we are not involved in a romantic relationship or when the passion wanes from a relationship. There’s a widespread notion in our culture that deep intimacy is best achieved within the context of a passionate romantic relationship–that Special Someone who we set apart from all others. This can be a profoundly limiting viewpoint, cutting us off from other potential sources of intimacy, and the cause of much misery and unhappiness when that Special Someone  isn’t there.

If what we seek in life is happiness, and intimacy is an important ingredient of a happier life, then it clearly makes sense to conduct our lives on the basis of a model of intimacy that includes as many forms of connection with others as possible. The Dalai Lama’s model of intimacy is based on a willingness to open ourselves to many others, to family, friends, and even strangers, forming genuine  and deep bond is based on our common humanity.

In  about seven months, I will have been single for the same number of years that I was married…25.  I didn’t plan to remain single but this is how my life has unfolded and I am  grateful for my family and friends, students past and present, and others that I made along the way like the woman who checked me out at the grocery store. I have never lacked for intimacy and I experience it on many different levels. I also am aware of a whole other kind of intimacy that comes when I am out in nature.  Even watching the birds and squirrels my tiny backyard brings me a sense of connectedness and oneness. I never feel alone when I’m in nature.

My invitation to each of you today is to think about these things and be lovingly and compassionately honest with yourself. Seek the connectedness that you need and wonderful, healthy ways. Be aware and appreciate the people in your life.  If you’re an animal lover, you already know about that level of intimacy!  Take that wonderful admonition from the 60’s to heart and “hug a tree!”

True those things in your life that nurture you in return.

You are not alone.

You are all-one… just spell it differently 😉

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Coming Together

Politically,  we have been a divided country for quite some time. The desire of my heart and the focus of my meditations and prayers has often been that we would find a way to come together while still acknowledging our differences. We don’t have to agree on everything and yet we must find a way to communicate and cooperate for the greater good.

After Hurricane Katrina, I spent a week in New Orleans working in the recovery. I joined a group of teenagers and their adult coordinators to  empty houses of molding, waterlogged furniture, clothing and other personal items. We wept over family photographs that could not be salvaged. We stripped the interior of a number of homes down to the studs hoping that they would dry out enough for rebuilding.  We embraced grateful survivors wondering if their lives could ever be the same.

It is difficult for me because of the memories that arise but I watched some of the coverage after hurricane Harvey. I saw people in private boats pulling strangers out of the water. No one cared what political party the other person belonged to or who they had voted for or what they believed.  They just wanted them to be OK.

People all over our country are praying, holding their breath, hoping that everyone will survive hurricane Irma. This was not how I envisioned our coming together. Perhaps, however, we needed to be given no other choice but the path of love and compassion for ourselves and others.

May these present experiences bring each of us to a place of introspection. May we let life teach us what is truly important. May Divine Love and Compassion motivate our desires and our choices – not just during crises but in all things. Peace 🕊

Grief Is A Journey

Many have just lost their homes, jobs, even loved ones due to this monster storm. Many are suffering. Perhaps you suffer with them watching the media coverage. Perhaps you suffer and grieve for others reasons.

If you are grieving/suffering, please be gentle with yourself. It is a journey and there is no definitive way to define how long this journey may take. Seek comfort even as you offer comfort to others. Rest. This journey is at times difficult and exhausting.

Nurture the relationships that nurture you. You do not have the energy to give others in need when the waves flatten you yet again. Be with people who love and appreciate you and find ways to laugh out loud once in a while.

And when you need to be alone, when solitude brings peace, turn off your devices. You can return texts, emails, calls later. Speak your truth so others know why they aren’t hearing from you. Keep it simple. “I need a lot of rest right now. I trust you will understand.”

Take care dear hearts. I know this path and my thoughts are with you. I am grieving, and have been for most of this year. I am inviting you to give to yourself what I am giving myself – the time and energy to be in my moments so that, when the grief has fulfilled its purpose, it will gently leave…and I will be wiser, more loving, more compassionate because I was present with myself.

I love you.

Developing Peace of Mind

Lines from Chapter 1, The Quest for Inner Development, from the book Essence of the Heart Sutra by Tenzin Gyatso, The Fourteenth Dalai Lama:

Our intelligence can help us overcome suffering and find happiness, but our intelligence can also cause problems.

…unhappiness created by human intelligence can only be alleviated by intelligence itself.

To do this, we must come join our intelligence to a warm, open heart. We must bring to our rationality a sense of compassion, of caring for one another, of sharing.

So when positive emotions guide intelligence, it becomes constructive. The warm, compassionate heart is the basis for peace of mind, without which the mind will always be uncomfortable and disturbed.

Only through strengthening these inner good qualities can genuine, lasting peace develop. This is what I mean by spiritual development. I sometimes also describe this as inner disarmament.

In fact, in all levels of our existence…inner disarmament is, above all, what humanity needs.

Therefore, made it begin with me. Namaste

The Art Of Happiness

The title of this blog is also the title of a book by his Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, MD.  This book was published in 1998 and I recently returned to read it again. The following paragraph is in the introduction and I am drawn to sharing it with you.

I think that this is the first time I am meeting most of you. But to me, whether it is an old friend or new friend, there’s not much difference anyway, because I always believe we are the same; we are all human beings. Of course, there may be differences in cultural background or way of life, there may be  differences in our faith, or we may be of a different color, but we are human beings, consisting of the human body and the human mind. Our physical structure is the same, and our mind and our emotional nature are also the same. Wherever I meet people, I always have the feeling that I am encountering another human being,  just like myself. I find it is much easier to communicate with others on that level. If we emphasize specific characteristics, like I am Tibetan or I am Buddhist, then there are differences. But those are secondary. If we can leave the differences aside, I think we can easily communicate, exchange  ideas, and share experiences.

These comments were made by the Dalai Lama  as he opened a week-long series in Arizona in 1993.

Here we are, as human beings, 24 years later still not embracing the reality of what he presented to the world in 1993.

My response to what I have just written is to ask myself if I am doing my part. Namaste.

Radiating Love

Love is a powerful energy, a force that creates, renews and restores.

The more you allow Love to rise within you, the more it permeates your being – body, mind, heart.

I believe Love emanates from our very Souls (or Spirits if you prefer). The Divine Spark of Life within is Love Itself in its purest most powerful form.

This Love transcends ego and personal opinion or desire. This Love makes no demands and has no agendas. This Love wants only the highest good for oneself and others.

I recognize this Love’s presence in me when a loved one is suffering and I realize that I do not know what is needed and that I cannot fix the pain & suffering my precious one is experiencing.

What I can do is let the Love that emanates from my Soul rise within me on behalf of those I love. I can send it to them in many ways. I often visualize the person bathed in Love, held in the arms of Love. Sometimes I see them showered in rays of gold & white light. Other times I see them wrapped in an amethyst or rose-colored cloud.

Divine Love knows the way my loved ones must travel to find their peace, to discover True Self and know they are loved. Divine Love has their answers and desires their wholeness. Divine Love is not hindered by wishing things were different or easier.

For my own peace, so that I can radiate this Love to them, I trust the very Source of my own life, peace, and love.

How do I radiate or send this Love? I sit quietly and feel the person I am thinking of in that moment. I am aware my loved one is suffering and the Love within begins to rise. I immerse myself in the love for that person that emanates from my Soul. I am very visual so I rather quickly begin to see them being bathed in the light of Love. I hold that image and breathe softly and deeply for a few minutes.

Simple, yes? Powerful, definitely!

This is your invitation to practice and play with the idea of radiating the Love that flows in and through you to others. 💫💖