listening

antidote – antidote |ˈantiˌdōt|
noun: a medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison.

“Love and listening are the antidotes to fear.” Michael Stone

How deeply do you listen…to your body, to your heart, to your mind and spirit?  In this age of extremes, within our industrial consumer culture, we function on a spectrum between hyperactivity and apathy – so how, when, where…did you learn to listen…to yourself?  Honestly. Listen.

Listening takes time, energy, discipline – it takes practice.  Often when we think of listening, we think of hearing someone or something else, an external sound, but how do you listen to yourself?  How do you speak to and engage with the internal being?  What can you observe?

I wonder about listening because while moving through a yoga practice or engaging with my breath…I am listening (between the moments of distraction!).  When I sit and settle into honesty, truly listen, I have witnessed a deeper understanding of fears evolve…and many of the fears come from stories I have created (untruths based in non-realities!).  Has this made me a better listener in my external interactions?  I am not certain, but I think there is a connection between our strength as a society to listen and the conflict experienced.  The ability for individuals or communities truly hear one another needs some practice and work.  I wonder what may occur if people in conflict were supported to truly listen to themselves…to engage with their body, mind and spirit and then invited to participate in dialog about the conflict.  Would they hear one another differently?  Within each conflict and tension, there is reason on both sides – perhaps both parties are yearning for peace, however approaching the situation with different contexts, needs and history – if this was heard and understood, what creative possibility may evolve?

Michael Stone says, “we need to leave behind the place where our ideas get in the way of seeing the complexity and interdependence of a given situation”.  At a time when we are so disconnected from our nature, humans need to rest into the discomfort of uncertainty and not oversimplify peace.   We must practice, embody, integrate and then walk our way of being into this reality.

How do you listen to yourself?

How do you listen to your loved ones?

How can your listening be expansive instead of contracting and limiting?

Create new possibilities.

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Compassion; com pati: to suffer with

If I am to speak of mindfulness, a commonly used term these days in the western world, it’s important to have an idea of how it is defined.  With mindfulness applied to many diverse disciplines, different definitions continue to arise, yet they seem to maintain a common thread – awareness of the present moment with acceptance.  From a classical Buddhist tradition, sati (mindfulness) is cultivated as a tool for observing the mind and how it can create suffering moment to moment…mindfulness is a practice that develops insight and wisdom to support the alleviation of suffering.  So how is this relevant to yoga and/or community development, since most often it is a practice used in a clinical setting?  I’m in the beginning stages of make the links – so bare with me through these blogs!

I believe human beings are vast and expansive by nature, existing within a realm of consciousness, often limited by the mind that can create a sense of separate self.  If we look at the dominant global economic and political systems, their existence is based upon the pillar of separateness, as compared to relational systems of collaboration. For example, we are functioning within our economic sphere due to our dominant relationship with the Earth, one of polarity that values profit over a sustainable existence in life for all creatures.  For many years, it seems the human race has been working towards a model of isolation.

So what if we were to consider this – what if we were to engage with our vastness, our true nature – one that is in synchronicity with the Earth system, a conscious, sustainable, symbiotic system – is it possible to no longer be disturbed by our opposites?

If I think of challenges within collectives of people, groups or community, root causes are often due to a perspective of separateness – oppression, power relations, domination, conflict etc.   Is the universal model of separateness not being defined and lived out by individuals in relationship to community?  Therefore, is it not each person’s responsibility (participant or facilitator, political decision maker or family member) to begin to identify with one another from human to human experience?  How can people be supported to engage with that vulnerable place of being human – a dynamic system of intimate and subtle interactions between mind, body, and spirit?

This is where mindfulness and yoga comes into being!  How do you think these two practices could play a role in community development and social change? Would be really curious to hear any thoughts…

re ~ imagine

This blog has been quiet for a long time and many tides have come and gone shape shifting the sandbanks of my life.  Choosing to move across our vast country invited a lot of movement onto the pathway and brought many changes!

The process of starting and attending graduate school in social work~international and community development – has led to many unexpected explorations, questions, friendships and adventures!  The present spring 2012 adventure involves blogging about an independent study course I have designed called: The relationship between Yoga, Mindfulness, and Community Development.

I am feeling excited about this course, filled with uncertainty about what may be discover or created and what the connections to social work may be revealed.  As always, I will explore the edges!

As I delve into different literature about mindfulness, community development, social justice, yoga therapy and philosophy, I intend to post my explorations, queries, questions and ideas – and I would LOVE any comments, discussion, questions or concerns from folks.  While reading and writing, I will be engaged in a parallel process of practice – deepening and learning from yoga and meditation – reflecting on the process.  I also hope to interview different practitioners of yoga, mindfulness and endogenous community development with the intention of posting the interviews on this blog – people such as Sri O.P. Tiwari, a Master of Hatha Yoga or Michael Bopp, Principal at the Four World’s Center for Development Learning.  An intended outcome of this independent study course is to create a program or workshop that could support those engaged in a community change process.  The hope is to engage people in an exercise of inquiry that not only engages people in a self reflective process, but in a journey of service within community, a process of reciprocity to strengthen and foster community participation!

Namaste