AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR

“To let go implies to let GO of something.  The something we are holding to may simply be a creation of our mind, an illusory perception of something, and not the reality of the thing itself.”  Thich Nhat Hanh, Silence

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More than any time in my life I feel surrounded by negative energy.  It is autumn, my favorite time of year.  As the leaves turn and fall, blanketing the yard that was once green, I feel my country is also in an autumn, a time when we are losing our ability to grow and work together to improve our society.

Many will agree with me that things are bad, but many will not agree with what I feel is the worst thing that is happening.  We have not just lost our ability to work together, we have lost our ability to think so that what we are feeling may have little to do with the reality of the situation.

Hysteria Is Affecting Many People

Hysteria seems to have taken over many of our citizens.  Hysteria is a psychological disorder that includes selective amnesia, shallow volatile emotions, or overly dramatic attention-seeking behavior.  Unfortunately, when we look at Donald Trump’s behavior, we see that he has all three of these behaviors, and he encourages them in his supporters.

Paulo Coelho has said, “How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.”  When Trump makes fun of a disabled man or the appearance of a woman, this reflects his fear that he is not attractive enough, not comfortable with his natural self.  When he calls people “stupid or crooked,” he sounds like the child bully who feels inadequate and finds harming others empowering.

Why do so many people accept this behavior in a presidential candidate?  What are they holding on to that convinces them Trump’s behavior is acceptable?  I find it difficult to believe that everyone who plans to vote for Trump is racist and misogynistic.  So what illusions are they holding onto that allow them to accept this behavior?

What Are the Illusions About Trump?

There is little evidence that Trump has done anything in the past to help people in general, and he has even used money meant for charity to buy personal items.  To hope that he will make policies that help people in need has no credible basis in reality.  He insists that he is a successful business man, but he often doesn’t pay the people who work for him and has had numerous law suits filed against him. If he can’t run his own business honestly, it doesn’t make sense he could financially run the country for the benefit of all. He’s a reality television star who is an expert at creating illusion.  That is his forte.

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At the Base of Hysteria Is Fear

So what is really at the bottom of all this?  Why does he angrily lash out at anyone who opposes him and ridicule those who are different, including the opposite sex.  It is because of his fear—the fear of not winning, the fear of appearing weak, the fear of not getting what he wants or needs, the fear of a system he doesn’t understand, the fear of being different from his community, the fear of making a mistake.

We all share many of these fears, fears created from our life experiences.  But what we fear may not be a reality.  The “illusory perception of something” to which Thich Nhat Hanh refers is based on the explanation we have created in our minds to deal with our fear.

How Fears Create Illusions

There are two kinds of fears: the physical and the psychological. Physical fears alert us to physical danger.  They remind us not to step out into the middle of traffic or urge us to find a safe place if someone starts following us as we walk down a dark street.  They can save our lives.

Psychological fears are a distortion of our mind power, and all fears are based on the fear of inadequacy or the fear of rejection.  When our fear is stimulated, the mind power begins to search for information that is stored in our memory related to that fear, and then we begin to react by coping, compromising, or defending.  At this point, we have moved into our survival pattern.

Our survival pattern consists of the behavior we have learned to cope with difficulties or threats.  Some people withdraw, some become angry and physically threatening, some argue or ridicule another person.  Fear is at the base of all negative emotion and unless we release it, it blocks our ability to think clearly.

Releasing Our Fears Helps Us See Clearly

However, when we become so dominated by our fear, it is essential that we release it so that we can view the situation clearly and make good choices.  Releasing our fear is a simple process.  We take a deep breath and remain still and quiet.  When we feel quiet, we direct our mind to release the fear, naming the fear if we can identify it.  If we can’t, we simply ask the mind to release the fear.  We relax and feel the fearful energy leave the body.

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It is not easy to release fears that are deeply imbedded, so it may take several attempts before it works.  We need to be in the moment and that may be difficult for those who do not meditate and spend quiet time in prayer, but taking a few deep breaths and letting go of any thoughts may help.  After the release, it will feel like there is space in the mind.  At that point, we ask our mind for a solution to the problem that initiated the fear.

When the mind is clear of fear, it will search our memories for helpful information and guide us toward better choices.  We all need to become more conscious of what we are feeling and what has initiated the feeling, so we have to take the time to question why the fear was initiated.  Did the person we feel anger toward remind us of the father who often screamed at us?  The mother who pushed us away when we needed love? The bully who pulled a knife on us behind the gym in high school?

What Behavior Do We Need In A President?

The ability to control one’s fear and how one reacts in volatile situations is particularly important for the president of this county.  That person will constantly be confronted with difficult choices and opposition.  How he/she handles it will determine the future of this country, and if they react from fear and with disrespect to the challenges that appear, it will damage our relationships with other countries.  If this person cannot research, analyze, and think clearly instead of always reacting, he/she will not be able to solve complex problems.

Throughout this campaign, I have watched Hillary Clinton carefully.  I do not expect her to be entertaining.  I don’t want a star in the White House; I want a leader.  I expect her to be thoughtful and informed and she has been.  She is always prepared to discuss issues, rather than comment on how someone looks.  She doesn’t give demeaning names to her opponent; she presents her specific solutions to the country’s problems and she identifies the flaws in her opponent’s thinking.

When I think about Hillary winning, I feel calm. There is a long list of things she has already accomplished to help especially women and children, but their welfare contributes to all of society.  She has specific ideas about creating jobs through improving infra structure as well as developing more small business.  Yes, she has been part of the system for her adult life and that’s a good thing because she knows how to use the democratic process to help us all.  She focuses on the real challenges that confront the country.

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We Need A Strong Leader

Most of all, Hillary is strong.  Despite the lies told about her, the abusive language directed at her, the threats leveled at her, the ongoing investigations that never find her guilty of anything, she is still with us.  She has staying power and resilience.  That’s what we need in a leader.  She may have fears, but it’s clear she has released many of them or she would not have gotten this far.

Let’s move away from the hysteria conjured up by Trump and the media, release our fears, examine each candidate carefully, let go of our illusions, and make a rational choice.  Only one person is qualified for the position.  We broke the glass ceiling last time when we elected the first black president.  Let’s take the rest of that ceiling down and elect the first woman president.  It’s about time!

©2016 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: Awakening to Live Without Fear,  Awakening to Peace and Wholeness Beyond Fear, Awakening to Release Illusions

AWAKENING TO LIVE WITH CHAOS

“We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos, negativity, and bullying in the world.  And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy.”  Ellen DeGeneres

Snow Bird Lodge 063What do you do when confronted with an angry person?  How do you find peace when confronted with chaos?  How do you find happiness when there is too much negativity in your life?

CHAOS SEEMS TO SURROUND US

It is a time when keeping chaos at a distance is more difficult than usual.  The news is filled with natural disasters like the fires in California or the floods in Louisiana, with the insults Trump and Clinton hurl at one another, and with the wars in the Middle East that are making normal lives impossible for millions of people.  In addition, racism and misogyny have raised their ugly heads in a way that makes them impossible to ignore.

How do we find happiness in the midst of this without totally withdrawing from society?  The secret lies in how we experience our minds and emotions because the thoughts and comments we hear lodge in our mental spaces and become part of memory.  The more negative ones feed the ego that is always ready for more drama.

Because this is a presidential election year, we have a particular challenge.  We want to learn about the candidates so that we can make good choices about whom we vote for, but the particularly negative nature of the race this year makes that a challenge.  Whether or not we believe what the candidates say, their words and emotions, especially Donald Trump’s, affect our “pain body,” an aspect of the ego.

LEARN TO CALM THE “PAIN BODY”

Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose defines the “pain body” in this way: “The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.” (p. 142) He also points out that people who have active pain bodies tend to attract hostility and conflict. Others can feel the negative energy that is so strong in them and will react to it by lashing out or avoiding that person.

So the pain body is that part of the ego where we store the emotional pain we have suffered throughout life.  It is always hungry and feeds on drama, so negative feelings and ideas activate it easily.  We start to feel angry, hurt, or offended in some way.  We want to react quickly without thinking, and so we easily find ourselves embroiled in conflict or self-pity and at odds with the person offending us.

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DO WE ALWAYS CHOOSE UNHAPPY STORIES?

What is at the core of these unhappy feelings?  Tolle says, “Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness.”  For example, why are so many people attracted to Trump’s negative remarks?  Because he activates and supports their unhappy stories.  He feeds the pain body.  So instead of speaking to what is good in us and our society, he convinces us that our lives are awful (and some truly are) and only he can fix that.  Like many politicians, he speaks to people’s emotions and ignores any contradictory facts.

ONLY WE CAN FIX OURSELVES

The reality is that no candidates can fix us.  We can only fix ourselves by not attaching to the negative stories they perpetuate.  We must find peace in the midst of chaos by going within and centering ourselves.  Then we are able to see healthy solutions to the problems that haunt us and are able to differentiate between the candidate who has real solutions to the country’s problems and the one whose ego promises whatever will make him look powerful.

Becoming aware of the pain body, releasing our unhappy stories, and learning to be present and accept what we are feeling will allow us to be happier because we can then feel who we truly are.

By observing our own reactions, we can become aware of the kinds of events or comments that set us off.  When we are more conscious, we can choose a different path of behavior.

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BE CENTERED IN THE MOMENT

In those moments when the pain body is activated, we need to be in the moment, feel what we are feeling, and release our need to react.  Having practiced meditation, I know how peace feels and I try to release any need to react.  I want to simply be in the moment and observe the story that is emerging.  If I can choose not to attach to the negative emotions and ideas being expressed, I can choose not to experience the unhappiness inherent in the reaction of the pain body.

Every time I feel my pain body activate, I ask, “Do I really think this?  Do I really feel this?  Do I really need to respond to this?  Should I just let it go?  Then I affirm only what I believe is true. Each time I learn more about who I am.  Whether we like it or not, working with the pain body and letting go of our unhappy stories, can change our lives—and maybe our country.

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As Ellen DeGeneres said, “We all want to be happy.”  So, in addition to learning to live in a healthy way with our pain body and not letting it run our lives, we need to focus on what is good in our lives.  What do we have to be grateful for?

GRATITUDE ALSO LEADS TO HAPPINESS

Personally, in this divisive time in our country, I am grateful that Hillary, a well-qualified woman, is running for president and has a good chance of winning.  I wasn’t sure I would ever see that in my lifetime.  Despite all the negative things that are said about her, the fact is that she has worked to help others, especially women and children, all her life.  She has demonstrated she knows how to get things done that help people, and she doesn’t segregate people by race or gender.

When we focus on gratitude, we support what is good in our lives, what we have together and in community as well as in our individual lives.  That is our greatest source of happiness.

©2016 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  AWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSIONAWAKENING TO WHERE KINDNESS HAS GONE

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSION

“Passion is a positive obsession.  Obsession is a negative passion.”  Paul Carvel

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How good are you at compromise?  If you can’t get exactly what you want, do you refuse to act at all?  What are the consequences of your choices?

I may be crossing the line today, but I need to.  I always want what I write to be inspirational and uplifting, but with the current political situation, I can’t ignore what I’m feeling, and I am concerned about the passion I see in both candidates and voters.

I think passion is a good thing, and I am a very passionate person.  I always have been, and I followed my passion to become a dancer years ago against my family’s wishes.  Despite the physical and economic challenges, I made my dream become a reality and I have never regretted it.

Two Kinds of Passion

Currently, I see two kinds of passion expressed in the current presidential race.  On one hand, there is the nasty, dark passion or obsession of Donald Trump.  His passion takes the form of misogynistic, discriminatory, and violent comments against the people he wants to hurt, ostensibly in order to make America great. This is misdirected in a democratic country where we are a vastly diverse group.

On the other hand, Bernie Sanders expresses his passion primarily by talking positively about what he wants to do to help those who feel the government has neglected their needs.  Until lately, he avoided even criticizing his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and merely pointed out their differences. However, as the campaign has become more competitive, he has focused more on what is wrong with his opponent.

Passion Expressed Through Action

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Hillary, on the other hand, has been criticized because some feel she doesn’t show enough passion, yet she has worked passionately to help women and children all her life.  Her actions more than words express her passion.  But Hillary’s passion or expressed lack of it doesn’t concern me.

Dangers of Misdirected Passion

What concerns me is the dark offensive passion of Trump and the uncompromising passion of those Sanders’ followers who say they will not vote for Hillary if she is the Democratic candidate.

Now that Cruz has left the race, it is pretty clear that Trump will be the Republican nominee unless something radical occurs at the convention.  Trump talks about making America great, but there is nothing great about what he plans to do because it involves, among other things, discriminating against Latinos, Muslims, and women.

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Despite his lack of integrity and apparently shady business dealings, there is still a huge number of people who support him passionately, who do not seem to be bothered by his negativity.  It is frightening to think that many people support his dark and overly simplistic approach to problem-solving and the dangers it could create in the whole world.

So what do you do if you are a devoted Republican, appalled by Trump, and he becomes the Republican candidate?  Can you cross party lines?  Can you compromise and vote for a Democrat?  Or do you sit out the election?

That’s what many of Bernie’s supporters say they will do if he isn’t the Democratic candidate.  They feel so passionate about Bernie that they are unwilling to compromise, regardless of the consequences.

I appreciate their being passionate about wanting to change the system, and Bernie does focus on what he would do to help the people whose needs have been neglected.  He does not exclude anyone.  He wants to meet the needs of all who feel abandoned, and he has years of experience within the system to convince us that he is capable of implementing his ideas.

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As the contest has become more tenuous for him, his passion now includes a negativity that I hoped he would avoid.  He is even talking about a “contested” convention.

If enough Democrats stay home, could that help Trump win the election?  And if they are convinced they could never vote for Hillary, is it because they have researched what she has done in politics or are they simply believing anything negative that they hear?

There Are Serious Consequences to Our Choices

With any candidate, it is important to get the facts.  Unfortunately, the mainstream media is not helpful, for they offer us one-minute sound bites on any topic without substantial information.  That’s why I watch PBS News.  At least I get more information there.

And are we so influenced by the entertainment quality of a candidate that we can’t see beyond that to the facts and issues that really matter?  Or are we only concerned with how they appear?

Passion is entertaining so, of course, we are drawn to the more dynamic characters in the story.  But passionate characters do not necessarily make the best choices.

The consequences of our choices as voters in this next election are monumental.  We need to think very carefully about the consequences of our action or lack of action and consider if our passion is leading us in the best direction for the nation.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO NEW THOUGHTS

“Change your thoughts and change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

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How do your thoughts affect how you feel? Do you feel threatened when you are exposed to new ideas? How do you deal with that?

One of the most startling moments of my life was when I attended a Unity church many years ago. Amid other points a workshop speaker was making, he emphasized the point that our thoughts create our emotions, not the other way around.

Our Thoughts Create Emotions

Having always been a rather emotional person, I thought, “Wait a minute. That can’t be right.” But over the next few days as I contemplated this idea, I realized that behind every fear or angry feeling I had there was a thought related to it. What I had heard at the workshop began to make sense.

After choosing to practice this idea that changing my thinking could change my emotions, I discovered that I could let go of many fears. Instead of focusing on all the things that could go wrong in a situation, I could focus on what I wanted to happen. I learned to expect the best. As a result, my life seemed to go better.

That doesn’t mean that what we envision will always happen, it just means it’s more likely to manifest. Expecting the worst in life doesn’t help or move us ahead. If we expect things to go badly, we probably won’t make as much effort to create what we really want.

Expressing Negativity Puts Negative Energy Into the World

The U.S. election his year is a perfect example of how powerful our thoughts can be. The negative thoughts flying through the air from candidate to candidate are increasingly creating fear and more anger. That kind of negativity damages those who speak it and those who receive it. Can you imagine how much damage will be done if those with the most violent and disrespectful attitudes win?

Respect Creates Positive Energy

How can we use our thoughts to benefit and change our world for the better? Shall we start with simple respect? There are so many opportunities to practice respect every day even when we come into contact with ideas and people we don’t like. Being respectful doesn’t mean we have to agree or accept situations we don’t like; it simply means we treat each other like worthwhile human beings.

Our actions, as well as our thoughts, create energy in our lives. We can choose the quality of that by taking control of what we think, by not acting only out of emotion, but by examining the situation and deciding what we think first. What are the pros and cons of making a certain decision? Is there fear involved? Why?

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Fearing Those Who Are Different Doesn’t Help Us

A member of my family once told me that he feared Muslims; however, he had never known one. In contrast, another family member had the opportunity to get to know a young Muslim woman, became friends with her, and learned a great deal about her that she respected. So often, it is what we don’t know that frightens us, and the only way to change that is to educate ourselves and be willing to open our minds to visit with people who are different.

When I began teaching high school in the New Orleans Public Schools in the 1990’s, my greatest fear was that I would say or do something that would offend someone. Most of the teachers and all but one of my students were African-American.

That fear came from an experience I had had in college. Eating dinner one night with an African-American friend, I had made a “stupid” comment as I tried to empathize with her. I was not a prejudiced person, but I had rarely had an opportunity to know an African-American person, and I focused on our similarities, not our differences.

As a result of my misstep, when I went to teach in NOPS, I was afraid that I might say something insensitive without really knowing it. Fortunately, I seemed to get along with everyone and I was never accused of being insensitive. The longer I worked in that situation and got to know individuals, the more I learned about the culture, and the less fear I felt.

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Changing Our Thoughts May Create Peace

Learning to change our thoughts and choose what we think is a powerful lesson. Experience with what we fear may help us, but ultimately we need to find ways to let go of the psychological fears that keep us living in narrow spaces. Diversity is a reality in the modern world and it’s not going to change. If we are to live happily and at peace, we have to learn to respect our differences.

The current election is just one opportunity we have to change our thoughts and our world. We need to educate ourselves about the candidates, observe their behavior, and know that if they do not treat each other respectfully, they certainly are not going to treat us with respect. In a democracy, our right to vote is a powerful tool we all need to use.

Change Our Thoughts To Help Others

But our respect also includes being aware of those in need in our society and caring what happens to them. Most people in need are not in that situation because they have been irresponsible, but because they haven’t had the opportunity to do better. In fact, many may have been taught that they can’t succeed, and they believe what they have been told. How we treat others can help change their thinking too.

How we think is our choice. Let us begin to choose compassion, love, and respect for one another, sending positive energy out into the world. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

What thoughts do you need to change to make your life better?

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Posts:  Awakening to the World, Part 2, Diversity, Awakening to Live without Fear, Transforming the Fear of Change

AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

“For we have not come here to take prisoners or to confine our wondrous spirits, but to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom and light!” Hafiz

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

What choices have you made recently that have lifted your spirits? Do you create unnecessary limitations in your life? How can you release those and free your spirit?

In winter the light in our lives falters, especially in the mountains where fog may surround us or the evening sun may disappear quickly behind even the lowest peaks. It seems like the gray days with rain and clouds are endless alternating with only a few days of bright sunlight.

But this winter, the lack of light is about more than the weather. Around the world, violence and the deep need of people cry out haunting the days of our lives. In our own country, the negative and destructive promises of some of the presidential candidates go beyond anything we have ever seen, and the way some congressional leaders refuse to do what the people elected them to do is barbarous.

Share Our Light

At a time like this, where can we find the light? Only within. Last night I listened to the story of a friend’s journey as she hiked the El Camino de Santiago, and what struck me most was the way her inner light shone throughout her story. She was so excited and appreciative of the way other people helped her: of finally getting a meal with lots of vegetables, of finding coffee on the trail when there had been none to start her day at the hostel, getting her cell phone fixed by a man she’d just met.

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It wasn’t that she never complained, because there were definitely challenges, but what impressed me was the way she chose to focus on every little thing that was good. That light energy radiated to everyone she met along the trail. As Maya Angelou said, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

We Must Free Ourselves From Limitations

Not only do we need to avoid taking others prisoners, as the Congress is trying to do, we need to avoid making prisoners of ourselves. When we give up, lose our courage, believe we can’t change what is, we imprison our spirit. The reality is that our spirit is always free if we are willing to go deep within and find that quiet place where loving guidance appears. By going deeper, we may find better solutions to the problems we need to solve.

We need to ask, “What can I do to enlighten my life?” Do we need to meditate more? Do we need to spend more time with friends? Do we need to develop a gratitude practice? Do we need a support group of some kind? What will bring more positive thoughts and feelings into our lives?

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Create Your Own Light

We may have a lot of excuses, but not all of them matter. Many are just excuses for taking the line of least resistance, but they confine and keep us from experiencing what may light up our lives. We have to choose to leave the darkness behind and step into the light even when we aren’t sure what will happen. We need to find the courage to create the light that we need in our lives, regardless of the season.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

How do you bring light into your life?  Please comment.

READING AT MALAPROPS IN ASHEVILLE: Sunday, February 28 at 3:00 I will be reading my poem “Soul Mate” along with several other NC women writers published in It’s All Relative: Tales From the Tree.

Related Posts:    Awaken to Love the Light, Lighting Our Darkness, Awakening to the Dance of Light

AWAKENING TO MY VALENTINE

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, Mutual confidence, sharing, and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weakness.” Ann Landers

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I haven’t always had good luck with men. The first time I was married I didn’t know until after the divorce that there had been another woman or maybe several. The second time the man was afraid of commitment, and for eight years he vacillated between commitment and non-commitment, frequently being distracted by other women. Finally, I gave him the boot.

Meeting My Soul Mate

Many years passed and I swore I’d never get involved with a man who was so attached to another woman. Then I met my soul mate. There was another woman in his life and her living with us was not negotiable, but in this case, the other woman was a dog. No, literally, she was a dog. 019 (2)Now, I’ve always been a cat person. They’re so cuddly and small like a baby,and they eat when they feel like it without overdoing it and don’t have to be taken out to do their business or to walk. If they want to exercise, they just run around the house jumping on beds and hiding under couches. They entertain themselves and are simple to care for.

Commitment Was Important

I wasn’t so sure about a dog, but my soul mate was too good to pass up. He was the most loving man, a real helper in many ways. He was brilliant and educated and a writer. And he was clearly a guy who took commitments seriously. So I married him and the dog Susie.

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I lucked out on both counts. Not only do I have a funny, bright, and loving husband, I have a dog friend that always looks out for me. In this case, the other woman is a welcome addition to my life. When I’m sad or upset, she cuddles up to me or sits on my foot to let me know she’s concerned. When I’m writing at my computer, she hangs out by the window to be sure no UPS trucks show up without my knowing about it. And when I eat, she recovers any dropped food so I don’t have to clean up after myself. She takes her responsibilities seriously.

Embracing the Love

When either my husband or I am gone, Susie sits and watches for us at the front window. I’m not surprised she does this for him, with whom she has lived for eleven years, but I am pleasantly surprised she does it for me. I guess I really am part of her family now and it concerns her when I’m gone. The cats certainly never did that. They usually took naps or scratched the corner off the couch when I was away.

Love takes many forms. Having a dog sit on my foot was never an affection I sought, but when Susie does that, I know she’s saying, “I’ve got your back.” It’s like when my husband puts his arms around me and gives me a hug. I feel his love. I know he’s there for me. I don’t ever have to worry about that again.

This Valentine’s Day, I had two Valentines. One is tall and handsome. The other one barks. I’m lucky to have both.

What is your best Valentine memory? Please comment.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                           ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Posts:  Awakening to True Love, Awakening to Love All We Are, Awakening to All the Love

AWAKENING TO WHERE KINDNESS HAS GONE

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Theresa

4-730_Silence_hdWhen do you make a point of being kind? Do you consider yourself a kind person? What helps you the most to be kind?

Enjoying the Silence

Today is a day when I am enjoying the silence. Off and on, snow flurries distract me. My husband is away working much of the day. The multiple dogs that walk down our street are staying home so my vocal dog is bored and sleeping. At lunch I read rather than watch the news.

I’ve started reading the Science of Mind magazine’s daily readings and meditations and this month’s theme is “silence.” Perfect. These readings help me start the day with more attention to quieting my mind, and that has not been an easy thing to do lately.

In fact, in order to preserve a healthy state of mind, I may have to give up Facebook. I like what my friends say and post, but the political comments that others, some of their friends I guess, are simply tasteless and mean. When did we exchange respectful debate for vicious attacks? Where has the kindness gone?

Disagreement Can Be Civil

In high school I learned to debate. We faced each other respectfully, armed with information and specific ideas to support our point of view on the subject of the debate. We took turns presenting our viewpoint and listened as the other side spoke so that we could respond to the points they made. The language was informed and civil.

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Our Negativity Spills Out Into the World

Now, I realize not everyone has been trained in debate, and some have not been trained to use kindness when faced with different ideas. As Mother Theresa points out, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” When we express hate or anger when we are faced with differences, we infect ourselves with negative energy and it spills out into the world.

The consequences of this are not good. We now live in such a diverse world and country that it is almost impossible to avoid different ways of thinking and unique cultural attitudes. We do not need to agree with everyone, but if we want a peaceful world, we need to find a kind way to disagree. As Samuel Johnson once said, “Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.”

Turn to the Silence

It’s a choice. As a nation, we have chosen to focus on competition, always winning, always achieving. We are obsessed with football despite the mental damage the impacts do to the players. We have to be the winner. We have to have the most money, the biggest house. And we pay a huge price.

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If we want a peaceful world, we have to practice peace in our own lives and create positive energy that embraces those around us. We have to encourage cooperation and understanding and not see ourselves as the winners or losers. When a conflict arises, what do we do when confronted with another’s anger? Be still. Listen. Do not allow that anger to engulf us. I often imagine a globe of light or love surrounding me so that the negative energy will bounce off and I will feel centered.

We must also try to remember: this is not about me even when it appears to be. We resist the temptation to defend ourselves or the presidential candidate we support or the friend who is being attacked.   We try to show compassion or empathy for the other person’s distress. “I understand you’re upset with me (or Hillary or Bernie or Donald, etc.).” We might even say, “I understand your concern” or say kindly, “I’m sorry, I have to go now.” Then when the person calms down, it may be possible to have a conversation with them.

Photo: penspen

Mother Theresa & Princess Diana Photo: penspen

How Do We Live With Unkindness?

As Mother Theresa points out, we have the power to choose to respond with kindness in many situations and the choices we make echo into the future. I often think about the presidential candidates that are congress people or work with the president. When they have viciously attacked each other in a campaign, how do they go back to working with each other after that? How do they let go of the hateful things their colleagues have said and done?

Not only do we need kindness in our personal lives, we need kindness as a part of politics. We can be kind and still disagree, but what will it take to change a government that feeds on undermining the other side at the expense of the public they are supposed to serve? I have no answer. I just know that I will vote for the sanest person who represents what I believe the country needs. Hopefully, that will also be someone who knows how to create peace and has the courage to be kind.

With all the chaos in the world, I am meditating again. Each day I must have some moments of silence to remind me that I don’t have to be part of the chaos. I have to remember to be kind to others and myself.

How do you express kindness during a conflict in your life? Please comment.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                                ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, Let’s Not Fight, Six Steps for Resolving Conflicts