Tag Archives: Peace

AWAKENING TO SHARE

“Democracy must be built through open societies that share information.  When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.” Atifete Jahjaga

A few days ago, I had a remarkable dream.  Several women were on a panel to give a young girl an award.  The prize was three dolls.  Three girls had been selected for the first, second, and third places, but only the girl who was in first place would receive the three dolls.  One woman in the group suggested that instead of giving only one girl a prize, they should give each of the three girls a doll.

The other women weren’t so sure that was a good idea. Some were afraid that the first prize girl would be disappointed.  They discussed the issue back and forth without really agreeing, so the person who had suggested it said, “Let’s try it and see what happens.” The rest reluctantly agreed.

They brought the first prize winner in and handing her the doll, the woman said, “We’ve decided to give the second doll to Mary. We hope you don’t mind.”  The girl’s face brightened with a huge smile.  “That’s wonderful,” she said, “then Mary and I can be friends and play with our dolls together!”

DREAMS CARRY SIGNIFICANT MESSAGES

I was rather dumbfounded as I quickly recorded the dream, especially since I rarely remember anything of my dreams these days, much less, the whole thing.  But I was also amazed by how timely the message was.  Isn’t this what so much of the political debate is about these days?  Just how much are we going to share and help everyone, particularly those in the most need?

Habitat For Humanity

As a former teacher who retired several years ago, I made a very small salary compared to what men made; therefore, my social security and retirement are very small.  And they have grown so little over the years compared to the growth of basic expenses like utilities that if I were not married, I could not even survive on my income.  Many woman and some men are in a similar situation and share that same fear.

INEQUITY DOESN’T SUPPORT DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES

The inequity in all areas that has existed for many years has increased because of the continued movement in this country to support the top 1% at the expense of everyone else.  Now we are dealing with Congress, many of whom depend on the wealthiest to run their campaigns, and a president who is worth billions (if what he says is true) who wants to cut any programs that help the middle and lower classes survive, much less flourish.

There is nothing wrong with making large amounts of money if it is not made at another’s expense, and people like Melinda and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett give generously to those in need. They believe in sharing their good fortune. But with the system the way it currently is set up, those making the most money don’t pay their fair share of taxes. I always thought that democracy was about sharing and being sure everyone has an equal chance to succeed.

Now we are faced with a president who has lied repeatedly, ran a university that was a scam, and failed to pay people who worked for him what he had promised to pay them.  Now he is planning to destroy many programs that help the very people he swore to help.  His often outrageous comments are meant to deflect attention away from unpleasant truths about himself and lead his followers down a false path.  He is a master manipulator.

Our president is not a role model any of us need.  We have to be our own role models and to share in every way that we can in our own lives.  We also need to observe what our representatives and senators support.  Are they supporting the middle and lower classes which are the bedrock of a democracy?  Are they standing up for truth? Do they believe our democracy should be based on sharing? Many clearly are not.

SHARING MEANS HELPING

Not everyone has an equal chance in life, but many of the programs Trump wants to cut are there to help those who are not born into privilege.  They help provide education for those whose jobs have been eliminated by the move from industry to technology.  They provide food for children that come from homes where the parents do not have the means to feed them properly.  They provide school systems with the teachers who can meet the needs of those with various disabilities.  They provide arts programs that help develop young brains in beneficial ways.

These needs are not theoretical to me.  They are very real.  I have taught in private schools and some of the poorest areas in this country, including inner city New Orleans, where 99% of my students were African-American, and a school serving Hispanic and Native-American students in New Mexico.  I have had students who did not get enough to eat, who were afraid of being killed by gangs, who had parents who were addicts or who worked two jobs and were rarely at home except to sleep. I always believed they deserved the guidance to create a better life for themselves.

When I was very young, we only had the necessities, no frills, but I was loved.  Growing up, I was taught to share what I had even when it wasn’t very much because there was always someone who had less.  But we now live in a society where we base our worth on the things we have and enact laws that support only those who are making millions.

What I love most about my dream is the delight the prize winner feels when she can share her good fortune. She doesn’t need three dolls.  She’d rather have a friend.  I believe that is what democracy is about—connecting with others, sharing what we have so we all have enough.

What can you share today?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  Awakening to Effect Change, Where Kindness Has Gone, Awakening to Accept Reality

 

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.

Space with No Name 004

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 THE SPRING OF LIFE

“We cannot stop the winter or summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or stop them from being other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.” Gary Zukav

Iris at Beaver Lake

What does spring mean to you? How do you change your life in the spring? How do you enliven your life or your community at this time of year?

Spring is about new life. Each year it awakens in many ways, distracting us from the winter blahs with flowers we haven’t seen for a year springing to life. Yesterday as I walked through the botanical gardens with a friend, trillium, buttercups, trout lily and a dozen colorful flowers peeked through the brown leaves that had blanketed the ground all winter. Continue reading

AWAKENING TO UNDERSTAND

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie

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Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

When you fear something, do you try to understand it? If you understand it, are you able to release the fear?

I’m not sure I agree with Marie Curie that there is “nothing in life to be feared,” but I often find that my fear goes away when I am able to understand a person or situation. Feeling fearful is often our first response when something new confronts us, especially if it appears to be negative.

Years ago when I first discovered I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I had many tests run to determine exactly what the problem was. It was a tense moment when I picked up the phone and heard my doctor’s voice. What was he going to tell me? Was this curable?

Understanding May Guide Us To New Solutions

“Well, Georganne, the bad news is that you have nine things wrong with you, but the good news is that we can cure them all.” I was surprised and relieved at the same time. There were chemical imbalances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and absorption problems, but this doctor knew how to heal it all naturally.

By lavender3457

By lavender3457

As I learned more about what I needed to do, I understood it was within my ability to get well. My fear diminished, and the process of healing taught me how I needed to live in order to stay healthy when I was healed. It was a wonderful gift in disguise.

Awakening to Understand

Understanding may be the solution to releasing our fear, but how do we find that understanding? When we have a conflict with another person, we can resolve it only if we are willing to consider the other’s point of view and treat it with respect. We don’t have to agree with it or decide to do things another way, but sometimes we can release the fear in the conflict simply by knowing the other side of the issue. Usually, the unknown is what we fear most, but as long as we are afraid of an honest conversation, we will never discover the truth.

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Fear Blocks Understanding

The reality is that the natural fear that protects us from physical harm is the only kind of fear that is positive and helps us. The psychological fears that underlie so much of our behavior often need to be released before we can understand. When we release our fear first, before trying to understand a different point of view, we release the block that impairs our vision of the other’s way of looking at the situation. To learn more about the technique I teach to release fear, see this link.

At the moment, I’m very concerned about the state of Congress because I know that the amount of anger that seems to control decisions there is fear-based. All anger is. I often wonder if any time is spent in bi-partisan groups trying to understand what all the options and consequences are when a decision needs to be made. They seem so caught up in trying to prove they are right that they forget to focus on want is most needed by the people they serve.

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Awakening To Understand Leads To Solutions

When we find ourselves feeling fearful, it is perhaps wise to ask, “What don’t I understand here? What is the whole picture?” Going beyond our feelings and perceptions and trying to imagine what the other related ideas are may help us expand our understanding and adjust our own point of view when necessary, offering us new and better solutions.

Each time we have a new understanding, we widen our ability to perceive. We increase our experiences so that the next time a similar situation arises, we are better able to cope with it. That’s how we grow in life. If we are unwilling to do this, our ability to understand others will simply shrink and diminish our relationships. Growth is always preferable.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: 8 Things You Must Give Up to Find Peace

Wayne Dyer – the Ego Illusion

AWAKENING TO THE POWER OF PEACE

“Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Is there peace within you and in your life? How do you create it? If it is not there, what are you willing to do to have it?

The recent violent events in France have been horrifying, especially now that we know some attacks were connected but planned to appear random. This kind of violence and death always create fear around the world as we wonder when this will happen near us.

Peaceful Protest Is Powerful

But what is astounding is the way the French and many others have reacted with peaceful protests supporting the freedom of speech that was vilified by the attackers. To see millions of people willing to expose themselves to possible violence in order to stand up peacefully for those who were killed brought me to tears. I suddenly realized this is how we defeat those who use violence in an attempt to destroy anyone who disagrees with them.

Peace Creates Peace

Martin Luther King, Jr. was right. Peace is the means by which we create peace. In the 60s he demonstrated the power of this. In our own lives, we may have done the same by remaining peaceful when others rail against us. Being peaceful in contentious situations creates a situation where the other person’s anger is dissipated by our unwillingness to participate.

Violence Does Not Solve Problems

The most obvious reason why violence does not solve problems is to look at the multiple wars taking place in our world now. Are they solving the problems that exist in these regions? Clearly not. The fighting continues because all sides want power over the other, and that desire will perpetuate the conflict. The only real solution is to learn to respect the ways we are different and work peacefully together.

We Must learn to See How We Are All One

In 1994 I traveled to West Africa on a Fulbright-Hays Grant for teachers. After a long, sleepless night on an airplane, we landed at 7:00 am in Dakar, Senegal. As I stepped from the plane, I expected to feel the uniqueness of being in a foreign country. What I felt was the opposite. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of Oneness—that we were all part of the same world, regardless of our ethnicity, religion, or language.

That was the gift I received from living in New Orleans, a unique culture very different from the one where I was reared or I had lived. I was not Catholic. I didn’t drink much alcohol or like to party. Most people I met had not gone to college and had never lived anywhere else. Worst of all, I couldn’t eat most of the popular food because of dietary intolerances. I just didn’t fit in.

Even in my work, I was different. I taught in a girls’ Catholic high school for five years and then in the New Orleans public schools for another five years where all my students, except for one, were African-American. I traveled to two or three schools a day teaching gifted students who lived in the inner city, some of the worst poverty-stricken parts of the city.

During those years, I was constantly challenged to expand my thinking and to have my opinions challenged. I had to get along daily with people who were very different from me and who saw life in a totally different way. Ironically, those differences were what enriched my life and made me a more tolerant and accepting person.

We All Need To Feel Powerful

We all want to have a certain amount of power in our lives. We need to have more than the necessities of life to enjoy life, but when peace is at the center of our lives, we don’t need to control others. We don’t need them to be like us in every way. It is this peace that the people who do violence lack. Ironically, it is the feeling of powerlessness that motivates their actions, for if our sense of personal power is strong, we don’t need to harm or control others.

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Inner peace is tremendously powerful, for it allows us to accept what is and not react in ways that would create a negative situation. This is the peace that will change the world, for it allows us to accept the way in which others are different from us without judging or feeling the need to change them.

When I was in Africa, for example, the importance of family was paramount, and it reminded me of the closeness I experienced growing up with many members of the family living in the neighborhood. I was also very touched by religious practices that were intertwined with nature, for my closeness to nature has always been at the core of my spirituality. I was surprised by all the ways I felt connected to this culture which on the surface seemed so different.

Controlling Others Is an Illusion Of Power

This is why it is so important that we be willing to learn what is true about other cultures. It is also why we need to look more closely at our own culture and repair what is damaged. There is a reason why some young people are drawn to violence in the inner city or choose to join radical groups in the Middle East. They feel powerless, and by destroying others, they feel they are winners.

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But they have won nothing worth having, for that power is an illusion. Lack of a loving family or mental illness is usually what creates this need for power, yet our government wants to cut the funds that support those with the greatest need. If we want to stop violence, we have to give people the support they need to create meaningful lives. No one in this country should have to go hungry.

As this year begins, let us each in our own community find a way to empower those in need and practice peace in our own lives. Each life matters. We don’t want any more of our children growing up to become terrorists. We need to love them and teach them to find peace within.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                           ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Environments of Love – Wayne Dyer, Creating A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle

AWAKENING TO JOY

“Find the place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” Joseph Campbell

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

The excitement and celebration of the holidays often creates a crescendo of energy only to be followed by a period when our lives suddenly feel empty, especially if we depend on external events to make us happy. But the quiet and silence that follows in the midst of this winter may be the richest time of year. With cold weather keeping us inside and perhaps reducing our social activities, we may turn within more often than usual.

If we use this time to make New Year’s resolutions and take stock of what we accomplished during the past year, this time may be very beneficial. If we have accomplished what we hoped to accomplish, we have reason to celebrate and feel joyous. If we have failed to live up to our expectations, we may feel we are failures in some way and become depressed.

The Greatest Treasure is Within, Not Outside Us

But if we can look beyond the external and tangible and return to our core, we may find that what lies there is a treasure much greater than anything we have created in the world. If we meditate, pray, or do any spiritual work, we have probably already learned that the true joy that enlightens and uplifts us comes from within and it has nothing to do with what we achieve in the external world.

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Feeling We Have Failed Is A Choice

For the last few days, there have been things in my life that were upsetting and I became depressed. I became focused on what was wrong, worrying that these difficulties might never be resolved. Despite my tendency to expect the best in life, I began to let fear settle in and create anxiety and a feeling that I have failed.

I kept thinking, “How can I fix this?” It soon became clear that I couldn’t. So what were my choices? I needed some guidance and turned to Oneness by Rasha. I began to reread Chapter 8 because it focuses on how negative events in our lives may actually be opportunities to raise our awareness and shift into a more loving place. And even the most difficult advice is given with great love.

Experiencing Negative Events Is Not A Sign of Failure

What I’ve experienced recently is a negative, recurring theme. I was deeply touched by the words of Oneness on this subject. It said, “Do not feel, as these powerful episodes present themselves, that the experience is evidence of spiritual backsliding on your part. Quite the contrary. By virtue of the fact that you have manifested extremes of experience, despite being in a space of heart-centered clarity with the issue in question, you can feel confident that you are at a completion with it. You will wish to respond in ways that will not re-escalate the energy charge that is being released in the process of drawing certain chapters to a close.” (p. 72)

What is Good For All Is Good For Us

As Oneness continued on the subject two things stood out for me. First it was the question we need to ask in these circumstances: “What is it that one wants to experience as one’s reality?” (p. 73) What I wanted was peace, understanding, and love. So what did I need to do? The answer was to look beyond myself and see what was best for everyone in this situation. “When one expects and anticipates the optimum outcome for all concerned, that outcome cannot help but be manifested as reality.” (p.73)

“Of course!” I thought. I needed to let go of my fear or as Oneness suggests, surrender to it. When I did, the sadness left, and I knew that I must also surrender to the situation, knowing that surrendering to my inner journey, accepting what is, and getting in touch with the joy within would lead me where I needed to go.

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Joy Is Healing

As I began to meditate and welcome the silence, the fear and depression dropped away. I felt the very joy of being flood over and fill me. The external events in my life did not matter. I knew, as I have known many times before that the answers to problems will come when I go deeply within and find that joy, for it changes everything.

It is not some new age adage that all answers lie within—it is truth. When we ask the Universe for guidance and have the patience to listen for its reply, we will receive what we need. And that joy Joseph Campbell writes about will overcome and heal the pain we feel. Joy is the greatest healing power we can experience.

As I sat quietly and allowed the joy and peace to fill me, those dark and negative conclusions I had reached disappeared. The joy healed my emotional pain, cleaned out the mental rubbish, and even nourished my body. I don’t know what the final answer is; I only know that by living in the joy, I am most likely to find positive solutions to any problem that arises.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                             ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May this year bring all you desire and especially peace, love, and joy!

St Francis under a blanket of snow. Photo:Georganne Spruce

St Francis under a blanket of snow.
Photo:Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO ACCEPTANCE

“Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world.  That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.”  Eckhart Tolle

Photo:  Charles Davidson

Photo: Charles Davidson

Are you able to accept circumstances that displease you and move on, or do you stay stuck wishing the thing had never happened?  Do you resist accepting and letting go because you believe that validates what happened?  Are you able to accept what you can’t change?

Forgiveness Releases Negative Emotions

One of the most profound shifts in my thinking came years ago when I was taking a class in the fundamentals of Religious Science philosophy.  We were discussing forgiveness, and the minister pointed out that forgiveness releases you from your attachment to a hurtful situation and frees you to move on.  It doesn’t mean that you think what was done to you was acceptable; it means you aren’t going to hang on to your anger or hurt anymore.

Explore the Themes in Each Conflict

Often, we feel hurt in situations because we don’t understand why the other person has done the thing that hurts us.  At the time I heard these wise words, a friend of mine had dropped out of my life and just wasn’t available after she started living with a man.  I understood her life had changed, but I felt she had handled some things related to me in a very insensitive way. In our interactions with others, there are themes that run throughout our lives, often based on childhood experiences.  An abandoned child or one whose parent was not emotionally there much of the time may feel abandoned when a friend moves away.  Because this is a major theme, this event may be experienced in an intense way.  What is merely a sad event to one may be devastating to another.

Understanding Emotional Themes Helps Us Release the Drama

The intensity of what we feel may also motivate us to create drama around the situation or we may simply shut down emotionally, refusing to deal with it at all.  But unless we are willing to look closely at the underlying theme in these situations, we will repeat them again.  When we look at them closely and are able to understand what the situation is about at a deeper level, we release some of our attachment to the drama.  Then, we can more easily detach from it and accept the situation for what it is. According to Oneness, “Acceptance, unconditionally, of whatever has been presented, without the need to try to change, and without the need to fit it into the context of one’s own system of values, constitutes the recipe for release from whatever contractual arrangement may have been in place with certain beings.” (pp. 166-167) As Oneness points out, the intensity of our feelings may also be related to karmic connections with other people or karmic themes.  When we are able to release ourselves from these and even lesser drama, we are able to accept what is and release the other person with love.  As long as we hang on to the anger or hurt, the drama thickens within us even if we have no physical contact with the other person.

Frederick Leighton - Solitude

Frederick Leighton – Solitude

Release Fears and Allow Solitude to Heal

But how can we let go of those negative feelings?  Choosing solitude offers us the opportunity to go within.  Meditation may be very helpful in detaching from emotional turmoil, and along with that, I use the releasing fear practice that I teach because at the root of all negative emotions is fear.  I explore the fear beneath the anger and hurt.  What am I afraid of?  In the case of my friend, was I afraid I wouldn’t find another friend?  Was I afraid I’d never find a man who would love me? Then I direct my mind to release the fear, naming it specifically if I can identify it.  I breathe deeply and as I exhale, I feel the fear leave my body.   If negative emotions keep coming up, I continue the practice for each one, allowing quiet space to settle over me between each release. Another helpful technique based on acupressure points is the Emotional Freedom Technique of tapping.  I find it particularly helpful for the deeper issues that are more difficult to release with the release the fear technique.  After all, our emotions are energy, and this healing requires that we learn to release what is not healthy for us.

EFT

Tapping Points for Emotional Freedom Technique

Acceptance Includes Loving Detachment

When we have released our fears, we will be able to accept what is and move on even when acceptance may mean leaving those we love.  Oneness says, “Walking away with loving detachment is the lesson here to be mastered.”  Eventually, I was able to see my friend with more objectivity, understanding that the man with whom she lived gave her so much she had never had.  I could also see that I had always invested more in our relationship than she had—an indication that it had never meant as much to her as it did to me. Being able to see the themes in our relationship eventually allowed me to accept its end.  I was also moving into a new phase of my life that eventually would have separated us when I moved to North Carolina.  The end had just come sooner than I expected.  Accepting that as Divine Order was the key and I was grateful for the peace that followed. © 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5 Related Articles:  Basic Steps to Your Emotional Freedom, Acceptance is Vital – Eckhart Tolle (video), Acceptance and Surrender – Eckhart Tolle (video)

AWAKENING TO KINDNESS

“This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”  Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dala...

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama, is the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you consider yourself a kind person?  Are you surrounded by kind people?  What has created your ideas about what kindness is?

Qualities of Kind People

I am always deeply touched by kind people, and there are several things that I notice about them.  They are people who are at peace with themselves.  They look for what is positive in others and in situations.  They are empathetic and compassionate.

These are the kind of people I want in my life, the people I can trust who, when there is conflict, will talk respectfully about our differences and work things out.  I can look back on my life and see the many times when I tolerated behavior in relationships and friendships that was less than respectful of who I was and my needs.  Now I find that I am less willing to ignore such disrespect and that more of the people I draw into my life are kind.

What has changed and why is kindness so important to me now?  Peace, love, and joy are now my priorities.

Kindness Is Based On Loving Ourselves

I recently read an article “The Magic of Unconditional Love:  An Interview with Don Miguel Ruiz” by Diane Marie Bishop in Science of Mind Magazine.  In the article, Ruiz talks about how we cannot love others unconditionally unless we unconditionally love ourselves.  Over the years, my ability to love myself has grown.  I have let go of my need to be perfect or to fit someone else’s standard.  This acceptance has given me more peace, and I have learned to be kinder to myself and others.

It is all connected.  When we love ourselves, peace and joy automatically become part of our lives and the expression of kindness becomes a natural thing.  We are less reactive and more aware of how our words and actions affect others.  We are also more flexible and able to adapt to the needs of others when it is appropriate.  But we also are at peace with who we are and can say “no” when we must and do it in a way that is kind.

Negative Thinking Blocks Kindness

It was a challenging week last week with many every day difficulties arising.  It was a week of important teachings, a reminder that, instead of getting caught up in another’s negativity, I need to tap into my inner peace and stay there.  I wasn’t always able to do that, but I will continue to pursue that path.  Experiencing peace and love is my priority and what I want to share with others.

When we love ourselves, we are more likely to see life as positive.  When we are feeling positive, we are more likely to respond to life in a positive manner and act kindly.  But seeing the same situation from a negative point of view may completely change how we experience an event.  Negative thinking can be a powerful block that supports our egos’ worst choices and keeps us from acting kindly from the heart.

Recently, I offered to loan a friend a library book I’d finished so she could also read it before it was due.  With a long waiting list, it was hard to get.  She emailed me to leave it in her mailbox, but I wasn’t comfortable with that due to the torrential rains we were having, and it belonged to the library so I didn’t want to risk its getting damaged.  Since we lived close to each other, I asked her to give me a call when she was home, and I would bring it to her or she could pick it up.  She thought my concern was foolish, and she became angry that I wouldn’t do this the way she wanted, rejected my offer, and refused to return my phone call so we could work it out.

I was rather shocked by the whole situation.  Her response to the situation seemed harsh and out of proportion to the reality although, in the past, she had been disturbed about situations she viewed as negative when I didn’t see them that way.  Still, what created this problem?  Had I been unkind without realizing it?  Was she stressed about something or angry at me for another reason?  I didn’t know.  By focusing on the negative rather than the positive aspect of the situation and refusing to communicate, my friend created a problem that didn’t need to exist and eroded the trust I felt for her.

Kindness

Kindness (Photo credit: -RejiK)

Positive Thinking Supports Kindness

An experience with a sales person last week when I had a problem with a new cell phone also illustrated the consequences of positive and negative approaches to situations.  This man made it clear that he only had time for people who were there to buy something although I had been required to trade out my phone for a new one due to network changes.

Because of his lack of customer service, I decided not to do business there again.  Instead I went to another store where a kind young man showed concern for my problems and took the time to show me how to use the new phone.  Perhaps he was just a kind person or perhaps he understood making a customer happy might mean more sales in the long run.  Either way he took the higher road.

Kindness May Be Expressed With Empathy and Compassion

Two other ways we can express kindness are through empathy and compassion.  They are beautiful expressions of our love and peace.  With empathy we are able to put ourselves in the other person’s place and feel what he is feeling.  We may make this connection because we’ve experience a similar situation or because we use our imagination to envision what he is feeling.  Compassion takes us one step further emotionally to a place where we want to help.

To share our feelings of concern through either of these expressions is an act of kindness.  We care if another person is in pain or difficulty and want life to be better for him/her.  I have another friend who frequently expresses these qualities.  The trust I feel toward him because of this is huge.  Whether he thinks my feelings are foolish or not is irrelevant.  What he offers me is concern and empathy first.  If we argue, it becomes a respectful conversation that allows us to understand each other and helps our relationship grow deeper.  As a result, I feel loved and at peace with him.   I can always trust that he cares about what is best for me.

Allowing kindness to become an important part of our lives can truly change them for the better, for kindness is part of the holy within us.  It’s just another aspect of treating others as we wish to be treated.  Perhaps it is also another way of changing our own little worlds and contributing positively to the larger one.

What kindness have you expressed or experienced lately?

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Appropriate Compassion, Soul to Soul with Don Miguel Ruiz (video interview with Oprah), Are You Empathetic – 3 Types of Empathy and What they Mean, How to Fix the Broken Record in Your Head

AWAKENING TO OUR RESPONSES

“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict – alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.”  Dorothy Thompson

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How do you respond to situations that don’t please you?  Do you usually become angry or walk away when conflict arises?  What response to conflict works best for you?

We Can Choose Our Responses To Conflict

Most of our lives are full of challenges that require or stimulate some kind of response.  How we respond to the situations that upset us often determines the outcome of these situations.  When we can respond peacefully or do not react without thinking first, we tend to have a more successful outcome without creating more conflict.  But when we immediately react to what we don’t like with anger, we are almost sure to receive the same response.

When I taught in high school, managing conflict among students or their responses to me was a daily occurrence.  If a conflict was serious enough, I could send the students to a counselor, but if the conflict was with me, I needed to solve the problem.  There were always students who refused to get quiet and go to work.  Some were disturbed about something that had happened in their lives; others were testing their boundaries with authority.  Just asking them to settle down didn’t work.

What proved to be successful in most situations was for me to ask the student to step outside the classroom door where he could not see the other students and they could not see him, but where I could see both.  Quietly, I would ask the student if he were upset about something and needed to talk about it.  The answer was usually “no.”  Then I would explain why his behavior was a problem and give him a choice.  He could return to the room, not bother other students, and do his work or I would send him to an administrator.   Ninety percent of the time, the student chose to return to the classroom and do his work.

We Can Create Peace By Listening

We always have a choice when conflict arises.  If we take the time to think creatively, we can resolve our differences peacefully.  Sometimes the person who is upset simply needs someone to listen to her and by expressing what she is feeling to a witness, she is able to release the anxiety or anger.  We can connect in a loving way by saying, “I can see you are upset.  What is really bothering you?  Do you want to talk about it?”

Letting Go May Be the Best Solution

But there are also times when we cannot resolve a conflict.  When we have tried and the other person refuses to participate in solving the problem, we may need to simply let it go.  We can only take care of ourselves; we cannot force another person to do anything.  The inability to work together to solve personal problems is a common reason for divorce.  It takes both partners to solve the conflict.

There are also times when the anger that arises in a conflict becomes abusive verbally or physically.  At this point, the best alternative is to walk away.  People who habitually respond to conflict in an abusive way need professional help.  We cannot change them – only they can choose to change.

Art Is A Peaceful Response To Conflict

In today’s world, we are all surrounded by violence, and while we can work with organizations that attempt to prevent it or become politically involved and protest what we are against, there is still another way to respond that touches me deeply.  That is the response of the artist who in his/her work reveals deep truths through non-verbal media.  Nick Cave’s exhibit at the Denver Art Museum last month was an excellent example.

English: Nick Cave

English: Nick Cave (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nick Cave, an African-American artist responded to the violent beating of Rodney King in 1992 by creating art that explored the issues faced by an African-American man.  He began to create “Soundsuits,” suits made from found objects that made sounds and could be worn by people as they moved or danced.  (Cave was an Alvin Ailey-trained dancer)(see video below)

After he created the first one, he was surprised.  “Once I stepped into it I thought about building this sort of second skin, you know, a suit of armor, something for protection purposes.  Then I started thinking about protest.  In order to be heard you’ve got to be aggressive, you’ve got to speak louder.  He then decided to call it the “Soundsuit.”

Camouflaging Our Real Identity Causes Conflict

Looking at Cave’s “Soundsuits”, I experienced a range of emotion from awe to fear. I thought of all the ways we camouflage who we are behind masks of clothing, speech, and mannerisms.  As a woman growing up in the South, I was taught not to say negative things or create conflict.  For many years, as I learned to express my true feelings in situations, I felt guilty when I did find the courage to express ideas that others might not want to hear, particularly men.  I knew what it was like to live behind a protective identity.

Processing Our Intense Emotions

Processing our thoughts through any artistic expression or journaling, as I often do, may help us to alleviate the intensity of the negative emotions we want to express but which will create conflict.  Having some way to process them allows us to take the time to understand what we do need to express and how we can do it so that it will be heard.

You don’t have to be an artist to find creative responses to conflict.  Just stopping long enough to take a deep breath does wonders. You do have to be aware that it is your ego that is so attached to the fight and always wants to be right.  When we let go of our ego attachment to the situation, we are more able to see the spiritual elements in the conflict and hopefully find spiritual solutions that will serve everyone well. As Wayne Dyer says, “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Nick Cave Brings ‘Bigger Than Life’ Soundsuits to Salem (Video), Nick Cave “Sojourn” Exhibit at Denver Art Museum Explores the Sensory with Flea Market Items, Nick Cave Soundsuits ( video PBS)Conflict Resolution Skills, 14 Ways to Resolve Conflicts and Solve Relationship Problems