Archive for the ‘opening the heart’ Category

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/

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.