It is a new year. Although it may not feel like the fresh start that many have been hoping for as the pandemic surges on and we are still in the middle of an awkward presidential transition. I have heard many people talk about how ready they are to let 2020 go. This is often our temptation when something has been difficult, to let it go as soon as possible. However, we have the opportunity to continue to reflect on 2020. This year has shown us many things individually and collectively. I don’t even need to name them all at this point. The important truth is that we were all stretched in ways we were not anticipating and pushed to cultivate a connection to an inner wellspring of hope in order to stay anchored in the midst of the ongoing storms.
As this year ends I want to honor all of the losses I have experienced and yours as well. I want to honor the grief and pain and say ‘goodbye’ to what has been. Many of the losses have been personal and hard. Yet there have also been many old forms and ways of being here in the West that are breaking or burning down. Perhaps creating space for new forms to emerge and new life to spring forth from the charred ground.
I also want to honor all the unexpected gifts of last year that I have been given and yours too. I want to honor the moments of joy and connection and say ‘hello’ to these graces. One of those gifts has been gathering together to meditate each day. At the beginning of the pandemic I had a strong sense that we would need pockets of coherence to stabilize our nervous systems in as we continued to press forward in the surrounding chaos. This is the main reason for starting the daily collective contemplative pauses. I knew I needed the three centered practices of chanting and centering prayer/silent meditation each morning to set the trajectory of my day. It has been such a treasure and so many of you have committed yourself to this time day after day. Many of you have joined when you are able and still others I know it has not worked to be there but my hope is that the reverberations from these pauses has been an energetic support to you this year. For now, we will continue with these pauses each morning.
May your mind be open.
May your heart be wide.
May your body be at ease.
May you re-member yourself.
Onward invincible hearts.
Most of the readings from this week’s 'pauses' were from David Richo in his writings called ‘Take Heart: Practices and Meditations’.
“Some crises seem like signs of unalterable disaster but they can be preparations for major changes for the better, drivers of evolutionary change, ignitions of transformation. They can be the necessary ingredients for major shifts to happen. When all seems, or is lost, innovations can suddenly appear since necessity is the mother of invention. A breakdown can be the threshold to rebirth.
When we are in a quandary, when what we had relied on is crumbling all around us, when we are floundering, losing our bearings, awkward and unsure, we are definitely on the threshold of the heroic journey. Then our struggle is not to restore ourselves and everything to its original stable condition. It is to pause long enough to flow with the quaking. We are then most apt to find surprising alternatives.
In loss, in trauma, in helplessness, in depression an inner power may emerge. It is not arising from hope; it grants hope. It is not showing us where safety and security can be found; it is the safety and security of the heart in the midst of chaos and dismay.
We can create ourselves anew from the ashes of dissipation. This is why the neural plasticity of the brain, present through our lifespan, is so crucial to the fostering of our psychological health. It is never too late for our transition from breakdown to upgrade.
Even in our most unsettled, ungrounded state we can discover remedies in our wounds, new strengths from the rubble of our predicaments.
This is the alchemy of the human condition: in the crucible of our collapses, dislocations, injuries, and miseries there is gold to be found in the lead that weighed us down.
All it takes is our unconditional yes to ourselves as we are and to going on to what comes next."
"So, after all that has happened to us, no matter how disheartening, the full moon of love within us can still shine boldly.
Life experiences can rob us of serenity.
World events can scare and sadden us.
What people do to us can hurt our hearts.
Distresses and discouragement can pile up on us.
Griefs can weigh us down.
We can make one mistake after another, even report the same ones.
But nothing can divest us of our capacity to love.
There is love in our hearts and nothing can stop us from displaying it."
"I say Yes to everything that happens to me today as an opportunity to give and receive love without reserve. I am thankful for the enduring capacity to love that has come to me from the Sacred Heart of the universe. May everything that happens to me today open my heart more and more. May all that I think, say, feel and do express loving-kindness toward myself, those close to me, and all beings. May love be my life purpose, my bliss, my destiny, the riches grace I can receive or give. And may I always be especially compassionate toward people who are considered least or last or who feel alone or lost.”