Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Dalai Lama: This Is My Simple Religion

 This is my simple religion. 
There is no need for temples; 
no need for complicated philosophy. 
Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; 
the philosophy is kindness.

Lao Tzu: Kindness

Photo by Molly

Kindness in words creates confidence. 
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. 
Kindness in giving creates love.

 Lao Tzu

To Grow As a Lotus

Photo by Molly

The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud --- the obstacles of life and its suffering. ... The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. ... Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

John & Julie Gottman: How To Keep Love Going Strong

7 principles on the road to happily ever after.
Married Really Really Long Time Graphic
Why is marriage so tough at times? Why do some lifelong relationships click, while others just tick away like a time bomb? And how can you prevent a marriage from going bad—or rescue one that already has?
After years of research, we can answer these questions. In fact, we are now able to predict whether a couple will stay happily together after listening for as little as three hours to a conflict conversation and other interactions in our Love Lab. Our accuracy rate averages 91 percent. Gay and lesbian relationships operate on essentially the same principles as heterosexual relationships, according to our research.
But the most rewarding findings are the seven principles that prevent a marriage from breaking up, even for those couples we tested in the lab who seemed headed for divorce.

Enhance Your Love MapEmotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world. They have a richly detailed love map—they know the major events in each other’s history, and they keep updating their information as their spouse’s world changes. He could tell you how she’s feeling about her boss. She knows that he fears being too much like his father and considers himself a “free spirit.” They know each other’s goals, worries, and hopes.

Nurture Fondness and AdmirationFondness and admiration are two of the most crucial elements in a long-lasting romance. Without the belief that your spouse is worthy of honor and respect, where is the basis for a rewarding relationship? By reminding yourself of your spouse’s positive qualities­—even as you grapple with each other’s flaws—and expressing out loud your fondness and admiration, you can prevent a happy marriage from deteriorating.

Turn Toward Each OtherIn marriage people periodically make “bids” for their partner’s attention, affection, humor, or support. People either turn toward one another after these bids or they turn away. Turning toward is the basis of emotional connection, romance, passion, and a good sex life.

Let Your Partner Influence YouThe happiest, most stable marriages are those in which the husband treats his wife with respect and does not resist power sharing and decision making with her. When the couple disagrees, these husbands actively search for common ground rather than insisting on getting their way. It’s just as important for wives to treat their husbands with honor and respect. But our data indicate that the vast majority of wives—even in unstable marriages—already do that. Too often men do not return the favor.

Solve Your Solvable ProblemsStart with good manners when tackling your solvable problems:
  • Step 1. Use a softened startup: Complain but don’t criticize or attack your spouse. State your feelings without blame, and express a positive need (what you want, not what you don’t want). Make statements that start with “I” instead of “you.” Describe what is happening; don’t evaluate or judge. Be clear. Be polite. Be appreciative. Don’t store things up.
  • Step 2. Learn to make and receive repair attempts: De-escalate the tension and pull out of a downward cycle of negativity by asking for a break, sharing what you are feeling, apologizing, or expressing appreciation.
  • Step 3. Soothe yourself and each other: Conflict discussions can lead to “flooding.” When this occurs, you feel overwhelmed both emotionally and physically, and you are too agitated to really hear what your spouse is saying. Take a break to soothe and distract yourself, and learn techniques to soothe your spouse.
  • Step 4. Compromise: Here’s an exercise to try. Decide together on a solvable problem to tackle. Then separately draw two circles—a smaller one inside a larger one. In the inner circle list aspects of the problem you can’t give in on. In the outer circle, list the aspects you can compromise about. Try to make the outer circle as large as possible and your inner circle as small as possible. Then come back and look for common bases for agreement.

Overcome GridlockMany perpetual conflicts that are gridlocked have an existential base of unexpressed dreams behind each person’s stubborn position. In happy marriages, partners incorporate each other’s goals into their concept of what their marriage is about. These goals can be as concrete as wanting to live in a certain kind of house or intangible, such as wanting to view life as a grand adventure. The bottom line in getting past gridlock is not necessarily to become a part of each other’s dreams but to honor these dreams.

Create Shared MeaningMarriage can have an intentional sense of shared purpose, meaning, family values, and cultural legacy that forms a shared inner life. Each couple and each family creates its own microculture with customs (like Sunday dinner out), rituals (like a champagne toast after the birth of a baby), and myths—the stories the couple tells themselves that explain their marriage. This culture incorporates both of their dreams, and it is flexible enough to change as husband and wife grow and develop. When a marriage has this shared sense of meaning, conflict is less intense and perpetual problems are unlikely to lead to gridlock.

Please go here for the original article:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vandana Shiva: Declaration on Seed Freedom

Photo from Seed Freedom
Declaration on Seed Freedom
by Dr. Vandana Shiva

Seed is the source of life, it is the self urge of life to express itself, to renew itself, to multiply, to evolve in perpetuity in freedom.
Seed is the embodiment of bio cultural diversity. It contains millions of years of biological and cultural evolution of the past, and the potential of millennia of a future unfolding.
Seed Freedom is the birth right of every form of life and is the basis for the protection of biodiversity.
Seed Freedom is the birth right of every farmer and food producer. Farmers rights to save, exchange, evolve, breed, sell seed is at the heart of Seed Freedom. When this freedom is taken away farmers get trapped in debt and in extreme cases commit suicide.
Seed Freedom is the basis of Food Freedom, since seed is the first link in the food chain.

Seed Freedom is threatened by patents on seed, which create seed monopolies and make it illegal for farmers to save and exchange seed. Patents on seed are ethically and ecologically unjustified because patents are exclusive rights granted for an invention. Seed is not an invention. Life is not an invention.
Seed Freedom of diverse cultures is threatened by Biopiracy and the patenting of indigenous knowledge and biodiversity. Biopiracy is not innovation – it is theft.
Seed Freedom is threatened by genetically engineered seeds, which are contaminating our farms, thus closing
the option for GMO-free food for all. Seed Freedom of farmers is threatened when after contaminating our crops, corporations sue farmer for “stealing their property”.
Seed Freedom is threatened by the deliberate transformation of the seed from a renewable self generative resource to a non renewable patented commodity. The most extreme case of non renewable seed is the “Terminator Technology” developed with aim to create sterile seed. We commit ourselves to defending seed freedom as the freedom of diverse species to evolve; as the freedom of human communities to reclaim open source seed as a commons.

To this end, we will save seed, we will create community seed banks and seed libraries, we will not recognize any law that illegitimately makes seed the private property of corporations. and we will stop the patents on seed.

Photo by Molly

Vandana Shiva: Price Is Not Value

Photo by Molly

The art of money making is not the art of living. 
At one time we didn’t measure the value of nature in monetary 
terms but now people are putting a price on nature. 
Price is not value.

- Dr. Vandana Shiva 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Path of Consciousness and Choice

Photo by Molly
The Wholehearted journey is not the path of least resistance. It's a path of consciousness and choice. And, to be honest, it's a little counter-culture. The willingness to tell our stories, feel the pain of others, and stay genuinely connected in this disconnected world is not something we can do halfheartedly.

To practice courage, compassion, and connection is to look at life and the people around us, and say, "I'm all in."

- Brené Brown, 
from The Gifts of Imperfection

Brené Brown & Pema Chödrön: Compassion

Photo by Molly
To prepare for writing my book on shame, I read everything I could find on compassion. I ultimately found a powerful fit between the stories I heard in the interviews and the work of American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön. In her book The Places that Scare You, Chödrön writes, "When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience the fear of our pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us."

What I love about Chödrön's definition is her honesty about the vulnerability of practicing compassion. If we take a closer look at the origin of the word compassion, much like we did with courage, we see why compassion is not typically our first response to suffering. The word compassion is derived from the Latin word pati and cum, meaning "to suffer with." I don't believe that compassion is our default response. I think our first response to pain - ours and everyone else's - is to self-protect. We protect ourselves by looking for someone or something to blame. Or sometimes we shield ourselves by turning to judgment or by immediately going into fix-it mode.

Chödrön addresses our tendency to self-protect by teaching that we must be honest and forgiving about when and how we shut down: "In cultivating compassion we draw from the wholeness of our experience - our suffering, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror. It has to be this way. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity."

- Excerpted from The Gifts of Imperfection
by Brené Brown

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Praying For All the Children

They are the light of the future, divine light that has just come into this world.

PRAYING for all the CHILDREN in the world.... 
who at many places, in severe conflicts are suffering so much - injured, killed, orphaned, distressed, traumatized and displaced.

We pray from the place in our hearts where we feel the heartbreaking pain that tears our heart apart when we allow to really feel what is happening on this planet. We pray from the place in our hearts where there is love, just love, that takes no sides but embraces the wholeness of life.

May the seeds of divine love, also and particularly manifested in the children, be held in our hearts. And may Grace flow into the world!

 The photo of this happy child embraced by love 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Brené Brown: Love and Belonging

Defining Love and Belonging

A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick. There are certainly other causes of illness, numbing, and hurt, but the absence of love and belonging will always lead to suffering.
It took me three years to whittle these definitions and concepts from a decade of interviews. Let's take a look.

We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them - we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare.

Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

... If you look at the definition of love and think about what it means in terms of self-love, it's very specific. Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and affectionate toward ourselves. This is a tall order given how hard most of us are on ourselves...
It's worth noticing that I use the words innate and primal in the definition of belonging. I'm convinced that belonging is in our DNA, most likely connected to our most primitive survival instinct. Given how difficult it is to cultivate self-acceptance in our perfectionist society and how our need for belonging is hardwired, it's no wonder that we spend our lives trying to fit in and gain approval.

It's so much easier to say, "I'll be whoever or whatever you need me to be, as long as I feel like I'm part of this." From gangs to gossiping, we'll do wheat it takes to fit in if we believe it will meet our need for belonging. But it doesn't. We can only belong when we offer our most authentic selves and when we're embraced for who we are.

Practicing Love and Belonging

To begin by always  thinking of love as an action rather than a 
feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner
automatically assumes accountability and responsibility.

- Bell Hooks

... When we don't practice love with the people we claim to love, it takes a lot out of us. Incongruent living is exhausting.

... In addition to helping me understand what love looks like between people, these definitions also forced me to acknowledge that cultivating self-love and self-acceptance is not optional. They aren't endeavors that I can look into if and when I have some spare time. They are priorities.

... Loving and accepting ourselves are the ultimate acts of courage. In a society that says, "Put yourself last," self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary. 

~ Brené Brown, excerpted from The Gifts of Imperfection:
Let Go Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are 

Hafiz: Love Sometimes Wants to Do Us a Great Favor

Love sometimes wants to do us a great favor:
hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.

- Hafiz

The Way of the Bodhisattva

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.
~ the way of the bodhisattva - shantideva - 8th century
from Tara Brach

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Brené Brown: The Infinite Power of Our Light

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

 Brené Brown 

Hafiz: Happy Virus

I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.

- Hafiz

Rumi: Where the Light Enters

The wound is the place where 
the Light enters you.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

C. JoyBell C.: The Miracle Is In the Unfolding

I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you're going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.