Tag Archives: Connection


What is privilege after all?
Is it something you own
or does it in fact own you?

Actually the privilege you have
exists only by comparison to someone else.
It is not otherwise a thing
in itself.

Yet we have somehow come
to consider it an important and
valuable aspect of who we are.

You may not brag about it
or consciously think you are
better because of it.

But stop for a moment.

Consider all the people and places
NOT on your wish list for trading
what you think you have.

Perhaps you aspire in some way
to "trade up" as it were - might
be difficult to find someone
interested in considering your offer.

So what to do with it?
If you are curious, I would offer that
you might learn to see through
whatever way in which you find yourself
privileged compared to others.

See through to where
you can acknowledge and appreciate
all the myriad ways in which you
and these others are the same

Perhaps slowly, carefully, not all at once,
allow some degree, of reveling
in the extraordinary sameness
you share with them.

This is called connection,
and connection trumps privilege
any day.

photo: linen bobbin lace figure
by Luba Krejči 1966


Filed under Prose and Poetry

These Are My People

The phrase These are my people has become a mantra of sorts for me. I suppose that it might sound odd, but I find it helps keep my heart open. I first found myself repeating these words during my work with seriously mentally ill individuals. I saw over and over again how the public showed disdain and disrespect for them. Comments and exaggerated looks to convey distance from them – to show that they are different and less than. In many cases this attitude extended to the professionals charged with their care. Somehow the power differential inherent in the treatment relationship can make it easy for some to slip into mocking and belittling behavior.

At some point I found myself saying These are my people – meaning that I felt a connection to them that extended beyond their symptoms and behaviors, relating to the shared humanity between us. I experience this as a form of metta (lovingkindness) practice, maybe a combination of metta and karuna (compassion) – both of which sustain my sense of being grounded in the real world. Without it, I may lean into the judgmental arena where I focus on the differences among us.

We are swimming in a challenging political atmosphere where the door is open to acting out one’s deepest fear and hatred of anyone deemed as “other” and where these actions are encouraged by the leader we would normally look to as an exemplar of moral decency. I’m suggesting that we take a step back to consider the bigger picture of who we are and what connects us. I’m sorry, but the thought of wanting a world where we are all the same color and think the same narrow thoughts is repulsive – not to mention boring. And from what I’ve seen in my life, preserving this sameness and exclusivity doesn’t mean that we live peacefully either. Actually it’s a position that inclines individuals to violence and countries to war, reinforcing a paranoid posture that is constantly fearful of what is designated as “other.”

These are my people is a reminder that what connects us is stronger than what separates us – while respecting and appreciating our different experiences, thoughts and emotions.

These are my people is a reminder to ground yourself not in your thinking mind or reptilian brain but in your open heart.

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Filed under Mindfulness

Stumbling in the Dark

IMG_1729The idea that our civilization follows a path of reason or logic or unfolding wisdom seems not unlike the trust we might have had as children in the adult world. That is, until we began to see and understand the consequences of adult actions. Yet even then, as adults ourselves, we so easily fall into the practice of imagining that there are intelligent, wise beings guiding us.  Or, one great and all powerful, wise and intelligent being…

I understand that it might be in some sense comforting to feel that way. But doesn’t that relieve us of some responsibility to dig deep and get a grip on what’s really happening? I appreciate that holding such a trust in the all-knowing or those who appear more powerful, stronger or smarter than ourselves may help prevent us from sinking into despair. And maybe that is the door you choose as you move through life.

I wonder sometimes whether such beliefs let us off the hook, not just individually but as a species as well. If I trust in a plan that is inevitably controlled by forces beyond me, then I am helpless to change what happens. My influence is limited, and whatever choices I make will ultimately have no effect.

There are times when I am able to take a huge step back and see the BIGGER picture of how we are living on this planet. That’s when I wonder how there could possibly be a PLAN for the way we have developed. Seriously! What kind of plan is it that we perpetually treat each other as trash? Is the plan that we war with each other until there is only a handful of us left, and then how will they live? What part of this plan dictates that we use up all the resources on this planet while expecting that we won’t suffer while waiting for someone/something to bail us out of the predicament that results?

I ask you, “What the f**k kind of PLAN is this?” Wouldn’t it make more sense to take a look around and find some common ground with the other beings on this planet? Seems to me we have a great deal in common.  We are more alike than not.  We breathe the same air. We all require sustenance in the form of food/water. We all want to be healthy and safe from harm. We all want to live peacefully. We all want to know that we are worth something. We all want to love and/or be loved.

So, listen up! As we stumble around in the dark on this earth, see if you can find a hand to hold and then offer your other hand to someone else. That’s when you may actually feel that we are all connected, that in order to make our way forward, we must depend on each other. We have connection to all livings beings and the earth, but as human beings, we alone are capable of the conscious awareness needed to change direction. We have a responsibility to do this or else we must take responsibility for failing, and that would be a tragic ending to this human story.

Don’t you agree?





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Filed under Evolutionary Activism

Independence Day



Here we are today, celebrating our becoming Independent,

A country standing on its own two feet.

Not being ruled by another or told what to do, able to sort it out for ourselves.

Great! Wonderful!

Are we ready now to move on beyond adolescence to adulthood?

Or are we still so taken with this newfound freedom

(How old are we really?)

that we cannot recognize/appreciate the strength of connection?

We are a country made up of differences

Or so we think.

It’s the sameness actually

And our ability to see that in each other

That makes us truly independent!


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Filed under Prose and Poetry

The New Reality of Now

Amazing how what is real for you in the day-to-day of your life can shift over the course of one single day to become a very different reality.  The ground of what has been real can be wiped away and turned upside down.  And when it is more than your private experience, when it happens to your whole community, it’s not simply your inner ground that is affected – it’s the entire landscape of your life.

Hurricane Sandy has recently presented us with just such a new reality.  What is generally an isolative experience – that of a major life crisis or tragedy – is, for us, a shared new way of living.  Both the inner and outer landscape has shifted dramatically.  Familiar structures are gone – ripped apart and broken pieces strewn about the neighborhood.  Sections of boardwalk in the front yard of a house down the block, mud and muck rising six feet in so many houses, blocks of burnt remnants of what was recently home to friends and neighbors.

You’ve seen the look on peoples’ faces – you know it from photos or the news footage showing people in locations following a disaster (natural or otherwise).  It’s the vacant stare, the paralysis of movement, the bare initiation of taking a step towards something or someone and then the loss of direction.  It’s shock – we all know what that is, or do we?  From the inside it feels like an overload of information that cannot be processed, because it doesn’t quite fit the reality we have known up until that point.  There is no way to create an opening to let it in, to understand what it means, since the meaning carries with it a felt sense of being too much, too different, too upsetting, too disturbing a reality to accept.  This is the sense before emotions even surface or become clear.  This is the preverbal experience of one’s whole body having lost the sense of ground beneath one’s feet.

What happens next is a check in – verifying the inner reality of who and what you are.  Reverting to survival mode is a way to find the new ground, establish new parameters of this new reality.  Breathing?  Body intact?  Family alive?  The level of awareness contracts around the immediate reality and then moves outward.  From that changed perspective, it is easier to take a look around and begin to bring forth words like “devastation” and “catastrophe” to describe the scene before you.

Then the questions emerge, because there is, after all, a sense of forward momentum stirring even in the midst of not knowing where to begin.  How do you start when you are still processing what it is that’s finished, ended and no longer present.  But it does begin, the next step taken because you experience a shared feeling, connection to a community of people that moves you forward – that doesn’t allow for stasis.

Maybe that’s the moment of remembering that nothing is permanent, that you’ve been fooled again into expecting that it would be.  The moment of knowing once more that this is the way things are – shifting, changing, never staying the same.  Perhaps it means it’s time to take in a deeper breath and appreciate that we are in it – not apart – from the momentum of being alive.  We have what we have right now and that “now” has already become a new reality, and sometimes that change shows up in a bigger way, on a much bigger screen, louder and more intense than what we’ve experienced before.  Comforting then to realize that we have the shared connection of community to support our own ground of being in taking whatever next step we need to take.

This post is dedicated to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy and offered in gratitude for the many who have shown up to provide real, hands-on assistance.  Blessings on all of you.

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Filed under Meditation, Mindfulness

The Ground of Being

The Ground of Being is more than a working concept for those of us who have incorporated the practices of meditation, mindfulness and yoga into our lives.   When one has had an experience of this ground of being, it becomes an actual felt sense in one’s body and, thereafter, each visit is like returning home.  So, what is it?  How does one describe what shows up in this felt sense?  Why is it even important to consider?

I imagine the answers to these questions require an appreciation of what motivates us to do meditation and yoga.  Perhaps what draws us to these practices is an inner knowing that there is a connection to something larger than our smaller selves.  Or perhaps it’s simply that we want to explore whatever connection we have to who we really are.  That would mean setting aside the daily chronicle of words that speaks to us from inside – you know, the words that accompany every action and intention that we have throughout the day.  Because, after all, we are really much more (or less) than the thoughts and emotions that are attached to us as we take our next breath or next step.

Doesn’t it sometimes feel as if  what’s inside us is always moving, shifting from one thought or feeling to the next with almost no space in between?  What of silence?  Is there really nothing there when we are silent – or is that when the door opens even wider to let in more words, opinions, judgments and the like?  So, maybe the task before us is not so much to explore silence as to create space, take a step back so that our perspective is from a larger viewpoint.  With that action of stepping back, however subtle, a shift happens and space opens.  It may not be a lot, but just enough for us to see that our thoughts and emotions arise out of somewhere.  They are not present all the time.  There is much movement in them, even though at times the movement may seem quite circular as we are drawn back to the same issue over and over again.

So, where do they arise from?  Certainly not from nothing!  There is some ground, some sense of spacious awareness, from which all these thoughts and feelings come, take up space and then recede again.  That is the Ground of Being, the larger awareness that we all have, more or less masked by the constant filling up with words, judgments and opinions.  And while these may serve us in our day to day functioning, what might it be like to return home as it were, to the spacious awareness that is in us, that connects us with the Ground of Being in everything.  This may seem like a difficult task if looked at as a goal to get to and then reside in.  The easier path would be to carry the intention of touching it briefly, over and over again.

Remember that it’s always there, never lost.  It’s simply a matter of noticing, observing while stepping back, shifting perspective.  How amazing to realize that in the midst of all that changes, there is a connection to this larger spacious awareness!  Doesn’t that just make you want to smile…

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Filed under Meditation, Mindfulness, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, Yoga