Tag: peace

Respecting Differences

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Presidential Election and how to respectfully handle the opinions of people in our world. The American Psychological Association’s study shows that a little more than half of people surveyed say that the election “is a very or somewhat significant” source of stress for them. From New York to California, fearful, frustrated and anxious clients are expressing their concerns about the campaign and the candidates to their therapists. The prospect of either Trump or Clinton winning the election has spurred contentious debate. By Wednesday morning, we will know who our President-Elect is; and while many will be rejoicing, others will be quite upset. It has been an election unlike any other – filled with tension and anger.

This is a really big deal to most of us, so, no matter what the outcome, avoid inflammatory statements and behaviors. Respect those around you who may not feel the same way that you feel, and in fact, will likely be very disappointed. Remember a recent post about there being more than one “right”? We all feel that we are “right”. The person that you are sitting next to at work or at the dinner table would appreciate the same level of respect that you would like if you were in their shoes.

We can show who we are as individuals when we disagree. Author Bryant McGill wrote, “grace in conflict is a study in love.” We have the ability to be that person – to be graceful, to be who we are and not let anything get the best of us. We can’t expect any one else to change, but we can. By our changing, we will change the environment. I often say, “Our actions are the way we define ourselves to others.” How do we want to affect the environment?

“Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.”  ~ Paulo Coelho


How We Can Support Gender Equality

butterflyWe’ve learned gender stereotypes from a young age—how females and males are supposed to behave and look; what societal roles and jobs they take; even how they think and feel. When we view someone not as an individual but as a member of their particular gender, and judge them on their ability to live up to those standards, it’s a form of prejudice and discrimination.

Although modern society has become more cognizant and open regarding diversity and individuality, there may be subtle things we do, say, and accept as fact that seem harmless, but are actually damaging to self-esteem and worth. It happens when someone assumes a woman has children or plans to. When it’s assumed a father is the one who works instead of choosing to stay home with the kids. It happens when a woman is expected to be a good consultant for matters of the heart or a man for practical issues. When a woman is expected to help in the kitchen or clean up while a man is expected to be on point with his sports knowledge. It’s most damaging when we stop ourselves from doing something because it goes against our perception of gender expectations.

We might be contributing to gender bias without even realizing it. So what can we do to support gender equality? Awareness is the first step. In your interactions with others, be on the lookout for:

  • Jumping to conclusions about someone based on gender
  • Expecting someone to behave or perform certain tasks because of their gender
  • Shaming or criticizing someone because they didn’t live up to a gender stereotype
  • Rewarding someone because they exemplify their gender stereotype

When someone does or says these things to you, keep in mind that the person may not be aware of their message, or that it is offensive or demeaning. Resist letting their ignorance become a part of you. Know your worth and value as a unique individual. You don’t have to ignore it, laugh it off, or keep it inside. You can say something if you choose. What you say and how you say it is a personal choice. Perhaps you can think of a way ahead of time to respond in such circumstances.

Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer.”

~ Emma Watson in a 2014 speech at the United Nations Headquarters

Keep in mind that the macroclimate of our society trickles down into our personal relationships. If your view of gender roles is rigid, it will restrict your ability to be fluid and grow in your relationships.

Let’s be aware of our words and actions. Let’s be kind and respectful to ourselves and others. We are all human beings, and we all matter…equally.


Meditation: A Tool for Total Wellness

I ablesContemplate on this: Quieting your mind on a regular basis can result in both mental and physical well-being! How wonderful is that?

Meditation may, on a physical level:

  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce body pain caused by tension
  • Improve sleep, mood, behavior, and energy level

On an emotional/mental level, meditation may:

  • Promote feelings of calm and peace
  • Support clearer and more positive thinking
  • Expand awareness and perspective, which can lead to self-revelations and transformation
  • Encourage sharper thinking: New, creative, and productive ideas have the opportunity to arise in a quieted, focused mind

There are many kinds of meditations and ways to meditate. The best type and method of meditation is what appeals to and works for you…after all, if it doesn’t do those two things, you most likely won’t do it! The effects of meditation can be achieved in a few minutes a day, although many people find themselves engaging in longer sessions because of the positive results they experience. Also, keep in mind that the kind of meditation you are drawn to may change over time, as well as the effects you experience. Think of meditation as a personal trainer for your inner “fitness” program. As your inner fitness grows and changes, so will your “workout.”

Here are a few ways to meditate:

Focus your attention on a single thing. It can be a visualized object, a word, a mantra, or just the rhythm of your breath. When you notice your mind has wandered (which our minds are prone to do), gently bring it back to the original focus. Over time, you will experience less distractions and greater singular focus. Some examples of this type of meditation: Buddhist meditation, Loving Kindness Meditation, Chakra Meditation, Kundalini Meditation, Sound Meditation, Mantra Meditation.

Allow your mind to go as it may, without judgment or attachment. Tune in to all of your senses; be aware of sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Acknowledge them and then let them go. Your thoughts and awareness will flow freely in and out, like the waves of the ocean. Some examples of this type of meditation: Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana.

Follow a guided meditation. Normally, you listen to a recording of a meditation that has a specific purpose, such as increasing energy, reducing anxiety, letting go of fear or anger, promoting restful sleep, raising levels of gratitude, etc. There are many different guided meditations available, which you can access online. I particularly enjoy Louise Hay.

Try making meditation a part of your daily ritual, and see what good can result!


Finding Contentment


Look at each day with gratitude; it’s a new opportunity to grow into the best person that you can possibly be. Your only competition is yourself. When you allow yourself to be content with what is, and identify your personal goals to strive for, it’s a sure path to long-term success, and most importantly, happiness.  

Day by day, be content with whatever you have and satisfied with whatever happens. Everything else will fall naturally into place.” -Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (Tibetan Lama 1910-1991)

How often do you wish that your life went according to a different plan? Do you find yourself disappointed when things don’t quite go your way? We’ve all been there— no matter how wonderful a situation may be, it can be easy to find a way to make ourselves dissatisfied, overlooking the positives that undoubtedly exists.

When we allow ourselves to be caught up in outside influences, we may begin to judge ourselves based upon the way that we perceive another’s life to be. When we take these situations out of context, we begin to develop negative thoughts like envy or self-doubt, which rob us of happiness and joy.

With our new reliance on technology, we’re also afforded the opportunity to keep up with our friends through social media, but it also creates an increased desire to keep up with the Joneses in many facets of life. We find ourselves without the appreciation for what we do have and more focused on the things that we don’t.

As Dilgo Rinpoche so astutely points out, the universe has a way of falling into place organically. We don’t ask the world to spin, or flowers to bloom; they just happen, and it’s glorious, because it’s exactly the way it is intended. In our human lives, there is an incredible opportunity to do the same, the action of letting things happen at will, is a gift to us.

Contentment begins when we gives ourselves permission to not be perfect, when we let go of our assumptions about others and when we begin to see the nuances that make life wonderful. It’s what we’re not planning; expecting or anticipating that makes life interesting and worthwhile.

There is great freedom that comes with us letting life unfold as it will, by experiencing it naturally instead of through a manufactured process; we find beauty in the details we may have otherwise overlooked. Personal satisfaction can be found in being true to who we are; not by keeping up with others.


Peace, Happiness, You, I, Us…

The elusive desire for happiness often leads to consuming as much as possible. To have the biggest house, not just one but as many as we can afford to buy and furnish. To have the most expensive cars, clothing jewelry. We often think that the more we own, the bigger it is, the more expensive it is, the happier we will be. So why then are so many people, who have all that they thought they wanted unhappy? We thought if only we had one more room on our house or just one more bathroom, everything would be great. If only I earned a little more money? Perhaps if I lived in another city or country?

The void that we as humans feel cannot be filled by ‘things’. As corny as it sounds and it does to some degree sound corny to me, John Lennon, Rumi and many others may have been correct in that love is the answer.

We strive to be the best at everything and pass this down to our children. While pregnant, before our potential children have taken their 1st breath, we are competing for them to be in the best pre-schools. To be the best, to own the most, and still those that do, are not happy. So what are we doing wrong?

Rumi the 13th century poet said: “There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?”

The void is part of who we as humans are. What I come across over and over again are people who are in search of meaning. Wishing to understand one’s purpose on earth; to achieve something that will make us think we have fulfilled a purpose. To fill the emptiness of not knowing, not understanding so much about how we came to be here and why, we turn to religions, consuming, gambling, drugs, over-eating; all in an attempt to fill the void of our not ‘knowing’ how to just be. To breathe in and smile with the exhale, to live in a house that serves our needs rather than our ego’s, with an Eco-friendly car.

Allowing ourselves to stop feeling and acting greedy, to live with what we actually need rather than feeding our ego’s and the illusion that we can fill the void by consuming. The void can only be filled with love. By letting go of greed we will and can develop compassion and empathy for others. That homeless person on the street, whom we just drove or walked by; perhaps we can share with him/her a bit of our abundance. To share, to think in terms of the ‘us’ rather than the ‘I’. Carl Jung, speaks of the collective unconscious and many people believe this happens after one dies. I think it can happen while we are alive…it is about the ‘us’. Peace within and without is possible when we fill the void with love.


From the Buddha’s Dhammapada

(Freely translated by Stephen Mitchell.)

Mind creates the world;
what you see arises with your thoughts.
If you speak and act with a confused mind,
trouble will follow you as certainly
as a cart follows the ox that pulls it.

Mind creates the world;
what you see arises with your thoughts.
If you speak and act with a clear mind,
happiness will follow you as certainly
as your own shadow in sunlight.

“It’s his fault.” “She shouldn’t have done that.”
Believe such thoughts, and you live in resentment.

“It’s his fault.” “She shouldn’t have done that.”
Question such thoughts, and you live in freedom.

Anger teaches anger.
Fear results in more fear.
Only understanding can lead to peace.
This is the ancient law.


Spiritual Leader

A friend shared this with me this week and I thought, as it is Easter and Passover, it was appropriate to share this with you.

Anne Frank: “ It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever=approaching thunder, which will destroy us too: I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.”