Archive for the ‘heart-centered leadership’ Category

Seeing Our Way Through the Pachakutiq

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

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The latest earthquake in Japan is said to be an aftershock from the one in 2011, and that means among other things that Mother Earth set a big change in motion back then, and the effects are still going on. Perhaps our electoral, political and psychic earthquake in the U.S. is an aftershock too, a manifestation of unseen forces of change that were already at work long ago.

The ancient Inka people of Peru and their current descendants refer to the pachakutiq, the force that turns the world upside down. The force was named after Pachakutiq Inka Yupanki, 1438-1471, the ruler who transformed the Kingdom of Cusco into the Inca Empire.

Pachakutiq was a conqueror, an empire builder, whose name meant “he who overturns space and time.” But even Pachakutiq had to ultimately bow to death and to Mother Earth, whose power reminds us that we actually are not in charge here.

We live a multi-dimensional life, whether we are conscious of it or not. In our personal world, the pachakutiq occurs when we’re faced with a personal earthquake like a divorce or death of a loved one, or loss of a job. In the collective world, a pachakutiq has occurred with the recent US election, and the aftershocks continue. And in the cosmic dimension, the force you might call God or the Great Mystery is at work too, in ways that are unseen.

What do we do in times of the pachakutiq?

My brother-in-law taught me a lesson about this years ago, when he was suddenly stricken with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, he was unable to dress himself and bound to a wheelchair. By the time I saw him in a rehab facility, he was paralyzed neck down.

“How are you doing emotionally, Bob?” I asked timidly, knowing this was a pathetic, inadequate question.

“Oh, I’m actually fine, now that I made the psychological adjustment,” he answered quickly, as if he had been expecting the question.

“Come on, Bob,” I countered. “How can you make a psychological adjustment to being paralyzed?”

“Oh, but that’s the point. You must.” He had worked this through. “And now that I’ve made it, see those toes on my left foot? You come back next week and I’ll be moving them.”

Clearly he wasn’t paralyzed psychologically, and that’s because he had moved to acceptance. I’m sure he didn’t like being paralyzed, so acceptance didn’t mean approval. It meant he had ceased to allow shock to numb him into a state of denial where action is impossible.

I’m only now moving into a state of acceptance about the election. It does appear that it actually happened, and it also appears that it’s as bad as we originally thought. Given the severity of the aftershocks and the probability of many more, what do we do?

Bob pointed out back then that when we’re dealt a bad hand, we naturally want to give it back. Acceptance means we give up that fantasy. Now we can play our hand, even if it’s not the one we wanted.

Elizabeth Gilbert posed the question, “Who do I want to be in this situation?” Thank you, Elizabeth.

I want to look at the world through two lenses simultaneously, and to have the near view and the big picture work together, even though they seem opposed.

The big picture is that I’m a little creature in a magnificent creation, making me both tiny and grand, a formless bit of the Life force swimming in the great cosmic soup. So out of the big picture lens, I want to see everything as part of the One Being, part of Love. Despite appearances and conditions.

Out of the other lens I see smelly garbage I need to take out, and our latest empire builder making horrifying appointments that seem to overturn time and space. In this dimension, I will not be paralyzed or silent, but will stand for the truth I see with all my heart, wearing as much beauty as I can muster, and perhaps some combat boots hiding under the silk.

We must hold both truths to be self evident: that this is a sacred time when it is foolish to meet the beast with his own energy of fear; and that real Love can be fierce, shaking us all into a place of humility. If we can put these two views together, perhaps that will give us depth perception.

I do not forget that Bob did get up out of that bed and walk again, and even play his own version of tennis. He did not do this out of a desire to conquer, but out of a love for life. And, I know he prayed. I will do the same.

This piece also appeared in Huffington Post, and can be seen at:  Link to article.

Responding to Chaos with Compassion

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

cosmic heart

I love teacher, Lynne Twist’s observation that in these times, it is the role of those on a spiritual path to “do hospice for the old order, while serving as midwives for the new.”  (Lynne Twist) If you are one who believes that the earth and our species are in the midst of a great shift, then this observation can help us digest all that is going on.

As I watch the chaos and comedy of our political scene and the potential disintegration of the Republican party, it helps to think that we are watching the painful death of the old order. After all, who said it would go out without a whimper?

While it appears that things are worse than ever, and that the brash, juvenile, heartless approach of The Donald is evidence, perhaps the opposite is true. What if these are death throes? After all, even those who were “on his side” are finding him intolerable.

Even though on the world scene there is unthinkable violence, perhaps even the incidents of suffering refugees, terrorists crucifying their critics and Chinese mega companies raping the Amazon rainforest are last, frantic gasps of the old order.

The old order is the one where winning is everything, where money rules, where the end justifies the means, where power and force are synonymous. This is not the order that visionaries are dreaming into being. It’s an order that is dying—but not without an enormous, probably prolonged fight.

How do we do hospice for this old, dying order? It’s hard, but spiritual leaders tell us we must have compassion. These are people who are afraid, grasping for control, telling themselves a false story about how right they are. They are in the grasp of the ego.

And the truth is, every one of us struggles to avoid the grasp of the ego. Every one of us experiences being afraid, grasping for control and telling ourselves a false story about how right we are. So even though we are tempted to be morally superior, we are actually connected to the humans whose behaviors we deplore.

Sufi teacher Jamal Rahman points out the important difference between behavior and essence. We can absolutely reject reprehensible, abusive behaviors while remembering that people we think we hate were born children of God. We can draw a line in the sand while not exiling any soul from our hearts. This is like rubbing our heads while patting our stomachs, but it is possible.

And, I think it is what is required now. If we truly believe that love is the answer, that real power comes from the heart and not the fist, then we must stop the hate. Every time we vilify an enemy, we perpetuate hate and fear. What if we kept drawing lines in the sand while sending every supposed enemy love and peace?

This is what heart-centered leadership must look like. And it is how we act as midwives for the new order. I have to believe in the dream of a day ( one I may never see) when force will seem outmoded and weak compared to love, which will be the new currency, the new form of abundance.

We have it in us. This is the time to dig deep for it. We need to persistently seek for love in everything, especially in our own hearts. We are indeed the ones.

Note: This post is on Huffington Post and can be viewed at the author’s archive, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pamela-hale/

Trump as the Shakespearean Fool

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Shakespeare loved inserting the character of a fool into his theatre, as a way of being entertaining and pointing out bluntly certain truths that other characters of higher standing wouldn’t reveal. His fool was usually a clever peasant who used his wits and spoke outside the codes of morality. Not believers in the supernatural, Shakespearean fools had no idealogy or regard for appearances, or for law, order or justice.

Doesn’t it sound like Donald Trump?

Since the function of the Shakespearean fool was to wake people up, I keep hoping that Trump is among us simply for that. The way that he presents himself and the things he says are so utterly grotesque that one advantage is he makes it clear what we don’t want.

Contrast seems to be a necessary force on this human plane. We seem to need to know what we do not want in order to know what we really desire. And so maybe Trump plays an important role, in that he reminds us how much we do not want a country ruled by prejudice, mysogeny, brute force and disregard for the tenderness of the human heart.

If the great playwright in the sky placed him here for the sake of contrast, then time is growing short for us to stop snoring in our theatre seats. We need to wake up to the real dangers this particular jester poses.

First, the Shakespearean fool does not see how ridiculous he is. Unlike a comic who is doing a routine, he is serious. In this case, that is scary.

Secondly, people are falling for this stuff. Everyone loves to watch a clown, but who wants one for President of the United States? I hope both Republicans and Democrats think about this.

Thirdly, the man is using his wits. So far, he is able to live up to his name. He has trumped the pundits and kept on gathering steam, even while chalking up more and more hideous statements. In our culture, we may have reached a new low where entertainment actually trumps the dreams of our forefathers. Where is liberty, freedom and justice? “Winning” seems to trump these.

Before she died, my mother said through her morphine fog that “It’s all a play, and we are just playing our parts.” Let’s remember what part Donald Trump is playing and take a look at what we want to happen in the last act. Please.

My friend Richard Kimball, founder of Project Vote Smart (http://www.votesmart.org) recently wrote a letter in which he cited some depressing studies showing that candidates who lie most outrageously capture headlines and get the highest poll numbers.

To make it worse, other studies showed that people rarely change their minds when confronted by facts, and that they’d rather listen to a politician who will tell them whom to hate than one who tells them the truth.

Now that is not funny.

If you were in the audience watching a play about this, what would you hope the most powerful characters would do? Will they wake up? Will they act in behalf of the greater good? Or will they be trumped by the fool, who will end up with a crown on his head?

 

This post has also been sent to Huffington Post and can be seen at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pamela-hale/.

 

Opening the Heart

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

baby

Once upon a time, I didn’t know what love was.

I knew it was a good word, a desirable feeling, but I wasn’t sure I had experienced it. How was it going to feel? I was a child, trying to team up words and concepts with real-world feelings.

In 7th grade I made friends with a girl named Missy. I went to her house a lot to spend the night on weekends, and I started to notice something. Every time I went there, I got this odd feeling. It was like a tingling in my chest, a kind of light, airy feeling, and it seemed new to me.

Now, looking back on it many years later, I know what that feeling was. It was love. It was my heart opening. It was a time when my own household did not feel predictable to me. My mother was ill, and so one minute she was lovable and the next minute, loving her felt impossible. After all, she wanted me to brush her hair, and I wanted her to brush mine.

Missy’s house felt different. Her parents seemed pretty much the same to me every time, and so I felt a trust that I’d have a good experience there. Missy felt reliable too, and so I dared to trust her. I dared even to trust myself in those situations. So my heart opened a little and felt more spacious. Lighter.

Again, looking back I can relate this feeling to other times. To times when my mother was well, and when I loved her beauty, her brightness, her laugh. When my dad was barbecuing in the back yard and I felt  happy about more than the yummy chicken I was about to enjoy. When my baby brother was born, there was a magic about his being in the house. These were heart openers.

Babies do it for us, don’t they?

When mine were born, I knew that I was discovering what real love was all about. It was as though I’d never felt it before. I barely knew who they were, and yet knew I’d give my life for them.

Now I have five grandchildren, and so I’ve been blessed with many heart openers. Many times of feeling that spaciousness, that tingling, that lightness.

And, in all these years, I’ve had heartache, tragedy, betrayal, disappointment and pain, just like you. Just like all of us. And so, I’ve had many times when I’ve closed my heart.

What to do about my heart opening like that, only to close again?

Well, for me, it’s important to do some proactive things about this very human dilemma:

1. I practice opening my heart. My meditation practice is all about this. It’s meant to “polish the lantern,” to clean off the gunk, to let the light shine. It’s about attuning to the Big Heart.

2. I try to be conscious of when I’m closing my heart. I try to notice what triggers me and how my habitual response is to close. And I try to keep aware that it’s a choice on my part. Do I really want to keep doing that?

3. I try to be grateful for all the heart-opening experiences when they come, and to be grateful to myself for noticing.

These simple steps seem to help me change my habits. They help me keep that heart open more often. More and more I notice that it’s all related to how I choose to see a given event or situation. If I choose to see it through the eyes of the heart, I may feel pain, but I can survive that. It’s better than closing my heart again and having to figure out all over again what that word “love” feels like.

The Pope: an Embodiment of the Sacred Masculine

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

PopeFrancis-8I write this fresh from watching the Pope’s address to Congress, an historic moment that fills my eyes with tears and my heart with hope. As a non-Catholic who has left organized religion, I am deeply moved by the transparent heart he presents to the world, and by the heart-centered leadership he models for us.

My husband is a legal mediator, and so I hear many stories of people who come armed with their stories and their positions, angry and righteous, feeling predatory about getting rewarded for being right. Jon has to try to lift them to a little higher place, where they can look through the lens of their  real interests. Then they may be able to see what those interests have in common with their adversaries’.

The Pope is a mediator for the world right now, reminding us of principles that are in all our interests, regardless of political positions, religious affiliation, class, race, sex or nationality.

All life is sacred. We can all agree on this, and ought to give each other credit for believing this, no matter what we think about abortion.

All people want and deserve the same compassion we want for ourselves. We can all agree on this, no matter how we would vote on social justice issues.

All people want the same possibilities we want for ourselves. We could all agree on this and then move forward with our dialogue about how to provide those possibilities.

We need to protect the earth. This seems like a basic, a principle that would be hard to argue.

Even though these principles could be considered a lecture to Congress, it was delivered in a way that satisfies our human hunger. The Pope, arriving in his little grey Fiat, is humble and real. He comes from poverty. He speaks in a gentle tone, and uses flowing gestures and a soft voice. I would say that the Divine Feminine within his own heart is palpable in his presence.

And, as Holy Father, his role is to embody the spirit of the Christ, updated for this moment. If he is doing this, then that spirit is tender, protective. Who wouldn’t want a figure like the Pope as a kind uncle or grandfather?

The thousands who greet him are clearly hungry and thirsty. Maybe not all of them for religion. But we are hungry for a leadership that “mothers” and “fathers” us in the best sense. A kind of leadership that marries the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine that lies (sometimes hidden) within our own hearts, waiting to be awakened.

The magic alchemy of this awakening is, in this case, a gentle kind of alchemy. Something is touched, and so people appear. Hope is kindled, once again. Maybe we have another chance to save the earth. Maybe we can rise above our silly political positioning. Maybe we can stop demeaning ourselves and others. Maybe we have another chance to be human.

Who is the Divine Feminine?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

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Have you heard a lot about the Divine Feminine re-emerging? What does this mean? Who or what is the Divine Feminine and how can we benefit from Her?

When I traveled in Nepal, the Divine Feminine was everywhere. In the middle of the market were shrines to Kali, or Durga, or other Hindu figures. People and filth abounded and it was hard to tell sometimes if the goddess smelled of incense, urine, food, sweat, or all of the above. She might be covered with filth and/or flowers, but she was accessible, part of life. Sometimes she was portrayed ripping apart an icon of evil or falseness.

Not exactly the image we have of the Divine Feminine as the Virgin Mary, for example. Shouldn’t the Divine Feminine be pure? Beautiful? Enshrined and protected? Full of peace and tenderness?

Of course in many traditions, she is. But as the force in charge of births, she knows about pain and blood and suffering as a way to usher in new life. And as the force in charge of death, she knows about destroying the false that has to die for the true to gain ascendance.

In America, the Divine Feminine is harder to find. In the southwest, we have the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is much more prominent these days. In Latin America, the Virgin is a mainstay, especially for women. In Europe, one can find the Black Madonna.

So, the Divine Feminine is complicated and multi-faceted. Not to be explained by logic, or tamed by too many rules. She is, in fact, wild. And that is why she has been oppressed in so many cultures for so many years. Along with her human feminine counterparts!

These days a lot of spiritual teachers are writing and teaching about the re-emergence of the Divine Feminine. She seems to be showing up everywhere. As Mother Earth, she has been turbulent, unpredictable and changing. As Venus, she has been hidden from us, traveling the underworld, to reappear as a sign of love. As the Virgin, she shows up on screen doors and tree trunks. As Mary Magdalene, she tends those who suffer, and as Kwan Yin, she is the heart of compassion. As the goddess, she has been honored in a variety of renewed ceremonies and myths. And in the form of certain women, we see her incarnate.

These are times of planetary crisis, and so if we ever needed a dose of compassion, tenderness, unbridled fierce protectiveness and signs of death and rebirth, I’d say this is the time.

So, if the Divine Feminine is calling us to awaken, how can we respond? We might begin by looking for her presence, veiled by tradition or culture, at the essence of things. Even, and especially within our own hearts.

Whether you’re male or female, you have the Divine Feminine within your heart. You have that wild, tender, compassionate, fierce force in charge of births and deaths, all within you.

And so I invite you to begin looking everywhere to see signs that it is time to welcome the Divine Feminine back into full equality—in the outer world and in our inner ones. When she has been fully welcomed, hopefully a new balance will begin to be possible in this wild, beautiful complex Earth home.

Is the Divine Feminine Working on Wall Street?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

woman in market

Seeing the global markets tumble is as unnerving as an earthquake. Beyond questions like, “Will I be able to retire?” and other understandable, personal fears, lie other more global and cosmic ones.

We’ve long suspected that the current way of running the world is not sustainable. And we know that if something isn’t sustainable, it won’t be long before it begins to crumble. We’ve seen institutions and systems crumbling all around us. With them,  we can watch the crumbling of our illusions that the very ground beneath us and the climate around us are stable.

One way to frame this is to say that the energy responsible for the trouble we’re in is the energy of the wounded masculine. The predatory, win-at-all-costs, short-term way of “winning” through force, oppression and marginalization is the masculine in its most harmful form.

Like the masculine, the energy of the feminine has many forms. She is responsible for birth, but also death. Her realm is all matter and the passages it goes through: from seed to flowering, to dissolution, to decay, to rebirth. And so in many traditions, she has both a creative and a fierce aspect.

She is sometimes Kali, who wears the necklace of skulls. She roars onto the battlefield with a sword and cuts off heads of everything false. With the dead bodies strewn around her, she calmly sits down to nurse her baby.

In western culture, images like this one disturb most people.  When I traveled in Nepal, I saw shrines to the Divine Feminine in her fierce form everywhere. In the midst of the marketplace, many of them were covered with filth, and then strewn with flowers. They were honored just as they were, right in the center of human activity. They were not neat or pristine or protected. Many of them were destroyed in the earthquake. They are icons of the Hindu faith in the process of death and rebirth, the faith in destruction of the false as a path.

And so I look at this photo I took of a Nepalese woman in the marketplace of a little mountain village, and I wonder some things. How did she survive the earthquake? Can she still farm her vegetables and support her family? How well is the world and the marketplace supporting her? Is her faith sustaining her?

She is a reminder to me as I glance at the paper or hear the frantic debates in the media. What would be the saving grace of the Divine Feminine in this situation? What are the falsehoods the fierce feminine would destroy? What is trying to be born?

We know that our economy is largely built on a house of cards that is too false to be sustained. Our own welfare is complicated. We are in debt to the Chinese, and everyone is in debt to someone else. So the falsehood of the “dollar” will collapse at some point.

And what is trying to be born? Wall Street may be the most difficult arena for this, but the Divine Feminine in her Creative aspect is a birther, a nurturer. She is at the heart of Creation, and is the heart of Compassion.

And so as she works on Wall Street, she might be seeding a question: what would a compassionate economic system look like? What would truth look like translated into economic terms? It’s time to consider these questions.

Those men and women who are devoted to the Divine Feminine within us all can be devoted now to her re-emergence in the world. She is surely at work in the massive shift we are experiencing. Let us take a stand for her. Surely that could be the revolution that could save us all.

Who is Piloting You Now?

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

flyLast night I presented on the Flying Lessons system for navigating challenges, discussing this with a women’s consultants group in Tucson. As usual these days, we began our discussion by agreeing that these are complex and turbulent times, and that we’re piloting into uncharted territory. This makes the Flying Lessons principles all the more compelling, I think!

As serendipity would have it, I had been thumbing through one of my favorite resources, Love Poems from God, full of offerings from ancient mystics. I discovered that somehow I had forgotten about Kabir, a 15th century east Indian poet, religious reformer, artist and musician–as well as (translator/editor, Daniel Ladinsky reminded me) humorist.

Ladinisky points out that many sacred texts–including the Bible–were heavily edited. His goal in this book is to “un-edit” some poetry that is (in the case of Teresa of Avila, for example) sometimes bawdy, down to earth, and therefore practical spirituality. For then, I suspect, and certainly for now.

And wouldn’t you know that one of Kabir’s poems seemed to fit exactly the issue of piloting into uncharted territory without either crashing, falling asleep at the controls, or getting very lost.

You are sitting in a wagon being

drawn by a horse whose

reins you

hold.

Thee are two inside of you

who can steer.

Though most never hand the reins to Me

so they go from place to place the

best they can, though

rarely happy.

And rarely does their whole body laugh

feeling God’s poke

in the

ribs.

If you feel tired, dear,

my shoulder is soft.

I’d be glad to

steer a

while.

Reminds me of Flying Lesson #3, Take the Pilot’s Seat. The questions around this lesson include, “Assuming you are in the pilot’s seat, which part of you is in charge? The Big you, or the little one, the scared one?”

These are times that call for the biggest pilot we can summon, so I say we need all the help we can get. The “your pilot is God” image gets a little tricky, but it is true that our job now is to call on and embody all that is divine within us. Old strategies, old power structures, old flight plans…just aren’t working now.

So let’s take Kabir’s 600-year-old bet. What would happen if we decided to “Give Way to the Winds’ (lesson #7) and surrender the old fear-based tactics? When we hand over the reins, I’ll bet we’ll get there. Just maybe not in the way that old ego expected.

How to Make a Great Decision

Monday, February 9th, 2015

path

Sitting in sacred circle with a group of women, I listened to stories told by a group ranging from 19-90. Do you resonate with some of what they shared?

“I’m bursting with energy, but confused. How do I prioritize all I want to do?”

“I have a list of things I love, but I’m not doing that list.”

“I’m so distractible, interested in everything. I need to focus.”

“I have physical symptoms that tell me I’m not on the right path, and it’s still hard to trust doing what I love and know to be true.”

So what is the theme? It sounded to me like the question, “How do we see our path, and then how do we follow it?” This is an important and recurring theme that follows us through life.

Is the answer to discipline ourselves? To crack down and force ourselves to focus and choose? I think not! That is the old way.

This circle, facilitated by dear friend Elise Collins Shields, was an honoring of St. Brigid, descended from the Celtic goddess of the hearth. And so I asked Brigid to whisper in my ear about what we as women leaders, who are immersed in complexity, need to do. How do we discern in the new way? Here is what I “heard:”

As goddess of the hearth, I say, build a fire within to warm and bless your heart’s home–the place inside where you are who you’ve always been and always will be. This is a place outside time and space, a place only the heart knows.

Sit by the hearth, the place of warmth, comfort and safety within your heart and have a fireside chat.

Say to the Universe, “In this great journey where there are so many possibilities to manifest, I wish to liberate myself from outdated stories and beliefs and embody the IAM, The One, the Beloved, the Truth.

Now ask–no, command that the Truth within you enter this room with eyes open, head held high, and speak what is next for you. Listen and “take it in.” Embody that Truth.

Then, rooted in and embodying that Truth, you will conduct a mediation with the mind, which will be a great help to the Truth in working out the third dimension details.

This is the right order of things.

This message from Brigid has stayed with me, and it reminds me of some important things I want to remember:

  1. The heart is the first place I want to go when making any decision. That is “the right order of things.”
  1. The heart is fearless about moving forward and telling me the Truth, and that will always come in Love.
  1. My mind is useful as well, and is a wonderful implementor. I don’t have to worry that my heart will lead me down a scary or impractical path, because the mind will always help with the strategic, clever and practical ways to manifest the heart’s truth in the “real” world.
  2. We all know more than our mind admits. So another question to ask   myself is, “What if I just did what I really know is next?”

This kind of discernment and decision-making is a great gift for a heart-centered leader. It will save time in the end, and move us forward in important ways.

Will you join me in making decisions in this way? Try it and let me know how it works for you.  I look forward to your comments.