#43 – Compassion

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
http://www.lynnungar.com/poems/pandemic/


close up photo of pink and green caladium plants

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

#8 – Take a break

This is #8 in the series, “50 Ideas Worth Fighting For.”


“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes,
including you.”

– Anne Lamott


If you are reading this on Sunday afternoon, I hope it’s from an easy chair or the sofa. I hope you’ve just returned from a hike, or even a walk around the neighborhood with your pup. Or maybe you just popped in from the garden for a glass of water (a cold beer?!) and took a quick peek at your phone.

I hope you are taking some time today to reconnect to activities you love and to recharge by taking some time to read for pleasure, to call a friend, to watch a great movie. You need that time. We all do.

If you struggle to slow down, you’re not alone. Dividing up a two-day weekend between activities, commitments and relaxation can be tough. The truth is that we are pretty lousy at giving ourselves permission to step away from the grind of our responsibilities.  A quick search reveals that in 2018, the US workforce allowed 768 million vacation days to go unused. Approximately 70% of employees did not use all of the time they had coming to them.

That’s both a waste and a shame especially when it’s a safe bet that you aren’t going to be sitting around in 10 years telling stories about how great it was to do more work when you could have used that time to do anything but.

For our sanity, for our health, for our families, and just for fun, we have to do better. You can start this weekend. There’s just enough time.


woman lying on blanket under man on her legs holding hands during golden hour

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

#7 – Get Moving

This is #7 in the series, “50 Ideas Worth Fighting For.”


I feel an energized anticipation when I am getting ready to move.

I feel engaged – challenged, curious, motivated – when I am in motion.

I feel rejuvenated, refreshed, stimulated, creative, purposeful, accomplished, and unstoppable when I return and come to rest again.

Some version of this is true whether it’s a sniff walk with the dog, an aggressive uphill run or a long meander on a forest trail.

I am not made for sitting at a desk for long stretches, though moments of insight, inspiration and even revelation do occur there.

I have determined, however, that those moments occur at a frequency proportionate to the quality of movement that I practice when I am not there.

There is no doubt at all that how well I work, and how affirmatively I live my life, depends on my resolve to get and to keep moving.


gXZDyR6DTkatTgA9OBkyjQ

Meditation: Week Three (Belated)

I completed Deepak Chopra‘s 21-day meditation challenge about a month ago. As I chronicled in two earlier posts, it was an affirming, useful, challenging and compelling exercise. I debunked my personal myth about meditation, proving to myself that I could do it and, more than that, experiencing the benefits of holding a guiding thought with me throughout a given day. If you start your day, for example, with the suggestion to “offer a gift to everyone you meet” it changes your interactions in a fundamental way.

Having said that, I’m sitting here a month later wondering why I didn’t make it to day 22. As I suggested might happen, once I “met the challenge” my commitment to the practice dropped off immediately. I had nothing left to prove. I simply stopped.

So, in the spirit of honest reflection bordering on self-criticism I have a few questions:

1. If it takes 21 days to form a new habit why didn’t that happen here? (Come to think of it I’ve also heard that it takes 28 days to form a new habit so maybe my experiment is useful in resolving that question)

2. Did my need for variety overwhelm my need for contemplative practice? My intention for day 22 was to go back to the beginning of the series and just start over again. It made sense as an idea because clearly I wasn’t going to soak up every nuance and every word of every session the first time around. In practice however it was a useful reason to avoid continuation. I could have rented, borrowed or purchased another series but that didn’t dawn on me at the time. Curious.

3. Did I just need the structure during a very unstructured time? Deepak was a sure companion through most of the first month of my transition to a new professional life. Now that this new life is starting to take some shape has he become one of those situational rather than life-long friends?

4. Is there something I don’t want to sit with? Maybe I didn’t like being responsible to “bring a gift to every one I meet” especially considering that I’m not very gracious with myself when I fail to do things that I’m “supposed to do.” Why keep doing something that makes you feel bad, especially when the “bad” thing is supposed to make you feel good?

5. Do I just not want to? Maybe, just maybe, I’m so conditioned to be a “doer” – to be in motion; to be in action; to trust the tangible results of measurable activities (like exercise) – that I need more than 21 days to believe there are other ways (sitting quietly, being present and breathing? Really?) to achieve health and well-being.

What I know for sure is this: my patterns are consistent regardless of the circumstances. And, they were years (YEARS) in the making. Since I’ve been learning about, managing and adjusting those patterns for most of my life, I know well enough that three weeks of a basic meditation practice isn’t going to make much of a dent.

Anybody have a three-year meditation series I can borrow?

Meditation: Week Two

Last week I wrote about my first week following a guided meditation series led by Deepak Chopra. The fact that I am writing about my experience after week two is testament to the quality of the experience and to my own resolve to complete the “21-day challenge.” It’s more than a challenge now. It’s something I am eager, if not always easily able to fit into my day. It settles me in a way I’m not practiced in and I’m grateful for it: another source of support for managing my impulsive reactions to the unpredictable world I inhabit every day.

In week two, the focus was on the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Chopra’s book of the same name. I’ve listed them briefly below in the hope of encouraging you to explore them further. They are simple, clear and compelling. I can only imagine what the pursuit of my vocation would look and feel like if I was able to live them out in a fully authentic way.  As it is, I am committed to keep striving.

Right now, it feels worth it in every possible way.

The Law of Pure Potentiality

Our possibility and creativity are assured if we will take time to be silent, to just BE. Silently witness the intelligence within every living thing. Practice non-judgment.

The Law of Giving

Today, bring whoever you encounter a gift: a compliment or a flower. Gratefully receive gifts. Keep wealth circulating by giving and receiving care, affection, appreciation and love.

The Law of Karma

Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind. Choosing actions that bring happiness and success to others ensures the flow of happiness and success to you.

The Law of Least Effort

Accept people, situations, and events as they occur. Take responsibility for your situation and for all events seen as problems. Relinquish the need to defend your point of view.

The Law of Intention and Desire

Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment. Make a list of desires. Trust that when things don’t seem to go your way, there is a reason.

The Law of Detachment

Allow yourself and others the freedom to be who they are. Do not force solutions—allow solutions to spontaneously emerge. Uncertainty is essential, and your path to freedom.

The Law of Dharma

Seek your higher Self. Discover your unique talents. Ask yourself how you are best suited to serve humanity. Using your unique talents and serving others brings unlimited bliss and abundance.

This is Wellness

I wrote this to kick off a wellness initiative in my organization. I hope you benefit from it, also.

Ours is an aspirational, achievement-driven culture. It is a culture of winning marked by a strong belief in what is possible with a community of people focused and passionate about accomplishing great things.

We want the best for our organization which is simply another way of saying that we want the best for ourselves. Our company, our teams and our colleagues need and want us to be at our best so that our organization can be at its best. This is wellness.

Both an individual and a community effort, wellness is more than “ideal” physical dimensions, rigorous exercise and Spartan diets. It is much, much more. Wellness is about being our best physical, social, emotional and professional selves so that we can live the lives we want to live. And, it is about creating and sustaining a vibrant, energizing and results-driven workplace so that all of us can benefit from our mutual success.

As we begin a new conversation about wellness, a conversation we hope you will sustain over the coming months and years, we will be using language that represents four key elements of wellness for our culture. These four elements are not exhaustive but are the ones we believe matter most to each of us, most of the time. When we Move, Play, Listen and Achieve we are pursuing wellness, we are moving towards our best self. Read on to learn what these words represent and their significance in this new conversation.

Move.

When we move we know we are alive. It is through movement that we get where we are going. Be that walking, running or jumping; dancing, golfing or cycling, moving well is both deeply gratifying and deeply connected to our well-being. In our definition of wellness Move is all about our physical being: our bodily health and our efforts, large and small, to achieve physical well-being through forms of movement, nutrition and activity that are appropriate to us and our individual situation.

Play.

We are social creatures. Introverted or extraverted, we all need and rely on others to bring greater satisfaction to our existence and to bring greater meaning to our lives. There is a deep, proven connection between healthy relationships and healthy living and it is through our social networks and activities that these relationships are formed and sustained. Play is about all of the ways we interact with others to satisfy our deep and enduring need for the enjoyment of life – the laughter, connection and energy that comes through positive interactions with others.

Listen.

We all have highs and lows. We all have strengths and challenges. And we all have the opportunity to develop ourselves for greater impact in our relationships and in our work. When we Listen to ourselves we become aware of our inner workings, the emotional drivers that can hijack us in times of stress and fulfill us in times of joy. When we listen to others we become aware of how our internal state impacts those around us, sometimes for the best and other times, well…you know how it goes. To listen well is to learn. And learning about self and others is at the heart of emotional wellness.

Achieve.

We believe that people need to find meaning in their work. We further believe that each of us wants the satisfaction that comes from professional accomplishment; that when we have the opportunity to apply our learning, talents and experience to a cause we believe in, we are more engaged and more fulfilled. The pursuit of professional wellness is the desire to Achieve in a manner consistent with our values, goals and beliefs. It is the coming together of place, position, purpose and people in a way that truly sustains us as we feed our families and fulfill our dreams.

Move. Play. Listen. Achieve. You will see, hear and experience these words in action in the coming months as the conversation about wellness takes on further definition and clarity for each of us. Until then, you are invited to consider how these words have meaning for you today and how they might inspire you to imagine a new definition of wellness – one that helps you to become your best self.