What value can a hot meal and an evening of dignity have for a person struggling to survive?
Watch this video.
Each of us has the opportunity to change the world—one act of kindness at a time.
It maybe something small, like a kind word; it may be a grand gesture like redesigning the dining hall in a homeless shelter. It doesn’t matter. What matters is our intention to spread kindness (not hate) and treat our fellow humans with dignity.
We do this in our thoughts and our self-talk. We do this in our communication and actions. With every breath we choose—and in this way we create the world.
Narcissism is a challenge in our society, as many as 6.2% of Americans are said to meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. We have become so obsessed with ourselves we are loosing our ability to empathize with the experiences of others. We focus on ourselves almost exclusively and then wonder why the world is so fucked up. We pass judgment and issue blame, we rage and wage war.
International Peace Day is September 21, 2014, founded by The United Nations as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire. The theme this year is “Right of Peoples to Peace.” We have the right to be treated with dignity.
Selfless service is an excellent practice for healing the spirit of the planet—and for healing ourselves.
Act kind intentionally.
Expect nothing in return.
Celebrate Peace Day every day with every breath. Start now.
Thank you MJ for sharing this video and inspiring me with your constant warmth and kindness. We are all students. We are all teachers.
School started this week and I am working on reviving my daily routine.
I was onto something by the end of last spring; I had found my rhythm. The three months of summer were full and productive but I lost a bit of my personal practice and never really fell into a routine.
The last few days I paid attention to what I found myself doing throughout the day. I chose those words intentionally—found myself doing. Without starting the day with a centering practice, I often drift in and out of activities without ever completing anything.
This floating can be good on a nature walk but it is not very productive in the office. And if you work from home like me, entire days can pass as we stand before a table of undone projects wearing only underwear and yesterday’s dirty shirt.
Start each day with an activity that centers us.
Yoga, meditation, a walk outside—any activity that leads to a clearer mind. When we get clear, we experience time in a new way. There is enough time to take care of ourselves. Some days that’s all we really need to do.
Thanks to the generous feeding schedule of a few local humans, we now have a resident gang of wild turkeys in our small town. And their numbers (and bodies) keep growing.
I am taking daily walks outside. This requires me to wear pants (a motivational bonus). On my walks I watch for the wild turkey gang. We can learn a bit from these birds; they have mastered the art of single-pointed focus. Spring is for sex and fall is for feeding.
I may not be ready to get that simple with my life, but I am open to see where their influence leads me.
This is Munchism #1: Dreams Become Goals Become Reality.
The Munch is my father (short for Munchkin, a nickname he has both embraced and exploited). He looks a bit like Einstein, only Irish. I am a proud spawn of the Munch.
My father is my first and greatest teacher. Words shared when I was a young child continue to resurface in my mind; their inherent wisdom unfolding with my years.
A thought arises that resonates deep within us as something to be created. We imagine what the world would be like—what we would be like—if this dream became reality. These thoughts bring us feelings of lightness and joy.
We set an intention to make our dream real. We take mindful action. We are determined and we never give up. We work hard—and smart.
When we stop running around long enough we observe that the dream is now what is real. It happens while we are so busy creating and working that we sometimes fail to see that it has taken on a life of its own. Then we pause…
Two years ago I sat on the beach at PIER 290 and dreamed up a yoga program. I yearned for a community to practice with and an opportunity to make a difference in my community. Last Saturday after our class on the beach, my students and teachers gave me an unexpected gift—a beautiful dress I had playfully tried on in the PIER 290 Boutique earlier in the summer.
I remember feeling light and playful in that dress; I made a comment about feeling childlike again. The gift I received is not simply a dress—I got my fearlessness back. I believe again.
Planning is underway for Yoga on the Beach Lake Geneva 2015.
Imagine what the world would be like it we all switched off autopilot and started believing in dreams again—fearlessly.
And it helps if we don’t take ourselves (and our thoughts) too seriously.
If we do we suffer.
If we take others too seriously we suffer. We also suffer if we take everything personally. Yet we have created a culture where we celebrate taking ourselves and each other very seriously, and everything is personal. Just look at all the expressions on our selfies. I would like to see more selfies that show how we really feel when we are not trying to act cool, sexy or aloof. What if we share what we look like when we are sad and confused, or perplexed by how complicated we have made our otherwise very simple life?
If we are able to share the real without taking ourselves too seriously, we may find the comedy in our collective narrative.
Comedy illuminates the universal. Comedians hold a mirror up to society so that we may see ourselves clearly, be entertained and maybe even healed. But for some, it is a heavy mirror to bear especially in quiet moments of solitude when the audience has gone home.
Many of us are suffering silently and we just don’t talk about it. We keep the ache and the hurt hidden and instead post pictures of ourselves appearing to have it all together. We are our own loyal audience, after all. And when we see these images over and over we create a disconnect between how we feel and how we think we should appear to feel. We look around (virtually) and see that everyone else is looking like they have it together too and we buy into the fiction.
Social media and selfies are not the stage for us to come together, be real and heal. We need to do this in the flesh. We have work to do. The only life we can ever save is our own.
I have moments when I am perplexed and I look like this:
This is not a new face for me; this first picture of me is from over 30 years ago—same face. I have many faces; you might even say I wear my heart on my face. I believe in honesty so deeply I cannot lie, even on my face.
I believe in living our truth and sharing what is real. I believe in keeping it positive.
Sometimes these beliefs conflict.
I am a warrior for peace. I choose to be with every breath. I am not a victim. I choose not to be with every breath. It is a practice. I used to practice seeing what was wrong in every situation, what needed to be fixed or changed, and I got very good at this. I also became very depressed.
I have changed my practice. Now I focus on seeing all that is right, all that is as it should be. I practice seeing what is—with gratitude. I practice even when I am sad or overwhelmed. This is not an easy practice, but neither is the alternative.
I don’t try anymore to bury these negative feelings, I feel them and then I let them go. I pay attention to the way the feelings shift and change in me. Just as physical sensations shift and change, our emotions are constantly changing—and so are our thoughts.
We are not our thoughts, our emotions or our masks. We are something magical and awesome. Somehow our trillions of cells come together to animate us. I don’t pretend to understand it. I don’t need to. I get to ride the wave of each breath.
I am grateful.
Breathe it all in.
Breathe it all out.
“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”
~ William Saroyan
RIP Robin Williams. Thank you for holding our mirror for so long.
Even my 6-year old son Atticus, or so he told all the people me met on our trip to Montana.
Even the unnamed stranger who shows up only on the odd mid-week day in summer, silently picks up a bag of ice at the gas station and slips into a cottage with the shades drawn tight. Everything and everyone gets noticed—for better or for worse.
Growing up in Williams Bay was like attending summer camp all year round at Camp Everyone Knows Me. We couldn’t cross the street without looking both ways for fear someone would call our parents to let them know of our reckless behavior downtown. But with all these eyes on us we were safe—and wild.
We stayed out all day, riding bikes and swimming in the lake. We raced home when the streetlights began to pop on, determined to make it before we could no longer see our long shadows in front on us on the hill that dumped into our driveway.
The streets are quiet these days, the evenings too. I don’t see many wild-eyed children flying East down Geneva Street on their bikes, testing to see how close to the beach they can get without pedaling. Where did our wildness go?
I am inside much of the time too; a summer storm has broken the sky wide open above my house. I am grateful for the perfect reason to be inside and in front of my computer—summer rain. But every clear morning, I make a determined commitment to spend time outdoors. I leave some of the work for the winter months, when the days are short and the long, dark nights turn our focus inward.
One month remains of this summer; 31 days to embrace our wildness.
Start each day with a few quiet breaths of gratitude for this opportunity to practice being human.
Participate in activities that bring us joy.
Find pleasure in every simple task.
Spend time with people that inspire us.
Inspire others with unexpected kindness.
Get outside and play.
The flower is simply an object modified by our perception.
Atticus chose this image for our post today. It was taken on the side of the dirt road at the entrance to the ranch. It is wild like us. I asked him what he thinks when he looks at the image,
“The sun is just this wide, enormous flower that loves me.”
I am working to cultivate such a positive, life affirming attitude toward the objects I see; as young children it came to us effortlessly. We saw the world through a clearer lens, felt safe and believed in magic.
Find a solid walking stick.
Let each object reaffirm that the sun loves us.
Unconditional love is not only possible, it is necessary.
As our children grow we practice letting go over and over…of first looks, tiny fingers grasping on, breast feeding and butt wiping.
“Who do you love most?” is the question of the month asked daily by my growing son. I know the answer he desires, “I love you most, of course.”
But love is not limited; it is not rated most important to least. Love is an attitude of kindness and acceptance and it cannot be conditional. We act without attachment to the results of our actions. We give to give, not because we desire to receive.
Love is a moment to moment commitment to engage and be in relationship—honestly and completely. It is a promise to show up.
As parents we learn modeling; we recognize that our children learn through our behavior, not our words. Love is the same. It is a way of behaving. We can say “I love you” again and again but if we are acting from a place of judgement or fear it is not love.
Don’t just talk love.
We have only this moment and this breath.
And like everything else, the more we practice the better we become at love.