Archive for the ‘managing change’ Category

As Trump Reduces Wilderness, I Dare to Dream…

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Canyonlands, Utah

Behind the smoke screen of daily drama in the media, you may have noticed that our President is busy dismantling protection for our wild lands. He has approved a recommendation to reduce protection for Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah—part of the vast land that became protected by the stroke of Clinton’s pen.

It just so happens that this very week, I’ve been reading Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, by Terry Tempest Williams    Her poetic eloquence, intellectual rigor and passionate defense of the land clearly represents a different world than the one inhabited by our current leadership.

How then, I ask myself, can we bridge these two worlds? How can we—even with less poetic voices—be convincing advocates for the wild, untouched, precious areas in our country and in our lives?

Way back in 1995, Tempest Williams testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Forest & Public Lands Management, objecting to a wilderness bill:

“Mr. Chairman, if you know wilderness in the way you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate. We must ask ourselves as Americans, ‘Can we really survive the worship of our own destructiveness?’”

These issues are, of course, not new. Most wilderness has been created by visionary Presidents. amidst the protest of those whose pocketbooks are lined by extracting resources or developing wild land. Now the vision must come from the people.

Is it any coincidence that this is going on amidst sexual scandals and women speaking out in behalf of their own bodies, as never before? I think not. Women have had good reason to fear speaking about the abuse and disrespect the feminine has been suffering for millennia.

Mother Earth has a body too, and cannot speak for herself except through storms, earthquakes and other responses to the changes she is experiencing. Remember the film Koyaanisqatsi–Life Out of Balance?

“We have forgotten the option of restraint.”

This is not about politics; it is about what we want our legacy to be as human beings.

“It is no longer the survival of the fittest but the survival of compassion.”

When I consulted for organizations who were experiencing internal dysfunction or financial problems, I always returned them to the foundational level of values. Why were they in existence besides making money? What contribution did they want to make? I must ask myself these questions as I go about my own business.

“A nation’s appetite for beauty transcends a state’s hunger for greed.”

I have a voracious appetite for beauty. How about you? I understand greed and the necessity to make a living. And, I stand with communities like the Pachamama Alliance , Bioneers and many conservation organizations, whose voices echo warnings from indigenous elders and the spirits of the the Grandmothers, Grandfathers and ancient ones.

We can find ways to speak in behalf of restraint, of compassion, of love for beauty, of hunger for the wild in the land and in ourselves.

“Who has the strength to see this wave of destruction as a wave of renewal?” Something quickens in me; I think it is hope. I remember:

“We can give birth to deep change, creating a commitment of compassion toward all living things. Our human-centered point of view can evolve into an Earth-centered one….Is this too much to dream? Who imposes restraint on our imagination?”

 

All quotes are from Red, by Terry Tempest Williams

This piece also appears on Huffington Post here.

 

5 Lessons for Surfing the Waves of Change

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

When my breasts were just buds, my Dad taught me how to be a surfer girl. I grew up in Southern California, and we spent our family vacations at San Clemente, camping every day by the Trestle, still a well-known surfing spot. We’d set up an umbrella, get out the Coppertone oil (yep, I had the darkest tan in town) and buy the best cheeseburgers in the universe at the stand on the beach. Every year I’d push the envelope a bit more.

At first I was only allowed to wade into chest-high surf. I could enjoy that, because the angle of the ocean floor is very shallow there, making series of waves. I would ride the little waves on my canvas mat (pre-boogie boards), while my Dad would venture out to the men-only spot way out where the big waves break.

Already, you can see there are metaphors coming (and you may know, I love ‘em.) My Dad was teaching me how to venture into men-only territory in the world of my future. What he didn’t know is that he was also a spiritual teacher. Today I’m in my 70’s, and I’m more amazed than ever at how big the surf is, even in Arizona. The world seems almost consumed by huge waves of change, and I feel more out of control than ever. Maybe I can’t make waves the way I once thought I could. These days it’s enough to just surf them.

So here are some surfing principles my Dad taught me that you could adopt for navigating turbulent times:

1. Dive under oncoming waves. To get out into the action, you have to go against the incoming waves. The trick: Don’t let them blast you in the face and knock you over. Go deeper than the incoming and surface on the back side of them.

Comment: If this metaphor works, it means trying to “Go deeper” instead of “Rise above it.”

2. Wait for the right wave for you to ride. Don’t start with a giant one, or even assume those are the best. Don’t crowd in front of someone already riding the wave. Pick the one that just beckons.

Comment: Guess this falls under the category of picking your battles–and your thrills!

3.  If you get caught in a riptide, don’t fight it. Be observant and try swimming parallel to the beach until you can catch a wave that will take you to shore.

Comment: Of course you’ll run into unseen forces that are big and dangerous, so be alert and stay calm and humble.

4. When you want to catch a wave, paddle like hell. You have to work for your thrill. Now let the ave carry you. See how you can work with it. What can you do to increase your still and your fun?

Comment: What if life is all about putting everything into the present moment?

5. Respect the ocean. It’s much larger than you are. It can be loads of fun and beautiful, and it can also kill you.

Comment: Like life.

How these principles worked was: Dad would take me out to the zone of big waves where I couldn’t touch. When the right wave came, he would give me a big push on my canvas mat, and off I’d go, paddling like hell until the wave took me. It was a great ride all the way in to the beach. In later years, I’d use fins to catch my own wave and then get up on my knees on the mat once the wave broke, tall and strong in my pink-striped one piece. Not hot, not cool, just me.

Thanks, Dad, for the mentoring. Even though I never made it onto a surfboard, all these years later I can still taste the salt air.

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.

Pele Speaks

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Pele speaks

I’ve decided to renew my relationship with my art, and so I’m sharing this first piece in a new series called Messages from the Mother.

At various times I become aware that my photographs are pretty, but don’t speak to the whole of my awareness–especially in areas that don’t look as pretty! This has happened lately with my aerial photos. I love flying over the earth and always celebrate the beauty that is revealed from above, especially in areas otherwise inaccessible. It feels like such a privilege to be able to fly over uninhabited land, and to study Mother Earth’s contours and colors and patterns.

And…there is more to discuss.

We are all painfully aware of the mess we have found ourselves in regarding our relationship with the Mother. I heard the other day that some experts are saying we have already crossed that tipping point where we could have reversed the damage. Certain species, phenomena and levels of comfort may already be out of our reach. And we have no one else to blame.

And so lately when I fly with my husband over the body of the Mother, I wonder what messages she is sending. What do my own pretty photos of her suggest to me? If she were to speak, what would she say?

Wondering this, I wandered to the desk where I occasionally do art, and opened the drawer. There was a postcard I bought in Hawaii, with a picture of Pele. She is a force in the islands, particularly on the Big Island, where she resides in volcanic splendor, occasionally erupting in seeming fury, destroying everything within her reach.

Amazed at the serendipity, I took the postcard over to my framed photo of the Painted Desert in Arizona. The colors matched perfectly, and so did streaks of light on the postcard and the photo. Meant to be, I figured. I unframed the photo and began my new series.

The large white piece of paper with the black curved form is a scan I saved from my breast cancer treatment. Pele might be saying she needs treatment from the cancer she is suffering from–due to our incessant, unstoppable consumption of her resources.

The two orange circles are photographic records of the emissions of stars. Pele might be reminding me that we are part of a large system–a universe that is interdependent, and still largely mysterious to us. When we remember this, our hubris softens.

The graphs below the star images are records of temperatures in different areas of our country. We know weather is wild now, and we know as the climate changes, so must we.

Below Pele’s face are a weather map from the newspaper, a New York Times photo of the California drought and a report of storms that soaked the plains in a surprise flooding spring rain. “What do you expect?” I hear Pele wondering.

Now, with the re-framed piece on my wall, the beauty of the Painted Desert is more poignant, more bittersweet. Pele is reminding me to change my ways. To learn to live with less water, less possessions, less meat, less waste, less entitlement.

How do I feel about her messages? Of course they are sobering, but they are not new information. So I am grateful that she is working her way into me, into my heart, my thoughts, my body and my actions. I am only one person, but so are you. And how we respond to this gorgeous earth and her needs will determine everything about our future.

 

Which Road Will You Take?

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

roads

As I weep over the multi-layered tragedy in France, I am also aware of pain in other areas, both personal and institutional, all around us. The pain raises that age-old question once again, a question that is more dramatic than ever in this age where we are exposed to global events in the media in a very tangible way. What is our role when we see suffering, and how do we handle our feelings about it?

When I move away from the huge issues surrounding terrorism, religious intolerance and violent fundamentalism and concentrate on my own life, certain themes become clear. Some examples…

Clients always come to me with a story, and I come to myself with my own stories. All of us want these stories solved, and we usually approach them by trying to figure them out. When we get engaged on that level, we usually get caught in a loop, going round and round. I tell my clients and myself, “The answer does not lie within the story.”

My shamanic training taught me to be an ally for clients by looking at their story “through a different lens.” Instead of engaging with the drama, my job is to hold space for a larger possibility.

The story has brought the client to a crossroads, where there is a decision to be made. Do I take the same road I’ve always taken when issues like this come up, or do I take a road I’ve never taken?

I ask them to choose the road not taken, which is to engage not from the “smaller” self that becomes victim to every drama, but from the larger self which knows better. This self can look at things from a larger consciousness, from the soul level. From that level, there is a big, long journey visible.

And so the larger self can say about the current tragedy, “Of course you have these emotions about it.” And then that soul-self can add, “And what could be good about all this?

On a personal level, what could be good about a tragedy is that someone might respond to it by deciding to go down the road of truly seizing their life and going after their heart’s desire. Now there’s an exciting opportunity!

On an institutional level, when things fall apart, the good thing could be that the leadership sees old patterns that are not sustainable and embraces a larger vision that really serves their dream and also serves the planet. Hooray!

And on a global level, the good thing about a terrible tragedy is that it brings things to light that have not been recognized by the general populace, and they have the chance when they see what’s wrong, to stand for a new and brighter road to a different future.

The crossroads in all three situations present the choice between submitting to something that may feel like fate, or seizing our soul’s true destiny. I would like to hold the vision of that destiny, and to take a stand for that.

I do that through spiritual practice that reminds me of who I truly am and of my unity with unseen spiritual support. And I hold energetic space for change to flow through me and through others, who will make their own choices.

This is a tough discipline for sure. But that is what we are being asked to do, and why we may be on the planet at this time. So join me in responding to it all with–along with our natural grief and compassion–a larger and more powerful force that holds it all.

 

 

 

 

Gross National Happiness

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Bhutan

I had the privilege of traveling to the little kingdom of Bhutan recently, and one of the many gifts I received from that visit was the inspiration to spread the word about GNH. For Bhutan’s policy-making is guided not by the GNP (Gross National Product) but by GNH–Gross National Happiness.

It’s more than just a cute-sounding idea. There are documents outlining the four pillars, nine domains, and metrics for weighing and measuring progress. (http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/) This little country of only 750,000 people is a model for a self-chosen set of values based on something we all chase: no, it’s not money; it’s happiness!

Thanks to our trip organizer, Narayan Shrestha (founder of the non-profit, Helping Hands), we were privileged to have a private dinner with the mayor of Thimpu, the national capital. Kinlay Dorjee seems humble, sincere, and clearly devoted to increasing the GNH in the capital and throughout the country. He spent some time introducing us to the four pillars, which are:

1.  Good governance

2.  Equitable and sustainable socio-economic development

3. Preservation and promotion of cultural heritage

4. Preservation and promotion of the environment

Pretty wonderful measures for policy-making, right? Let me backtrack to the inspiring back story.

In the 1970’s His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck observed that economic growth had become the measure of growth and success across the world and at both collective and personal levels. Given the costs we are paying for this ideology, this enlightened king decided he would focus on a different set of values.

He came up with GNH, based on the belief that collective happiness of a society is the ultimate goal of governance. His legacy to his son, the current fifth King Jigme Kheser Namgyel Wangchuck, was the job of creating an operational framework for the growth of GNH in his country.

Finding that the four pillars were not complete enough, the Royal Government of Bhutan initiated the Good Government Plus (GG+) in 2005. Then the Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research worked on indicators that now classify the values into nine domains. They are:

  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Health
  • Education
  • Time use
  • Cultural diversity and resilience
  • Community vitality
  • Good governance
  • Ecology
  • Living standards

Can you imagine a day when your government might ask if these nine domains are being addressed before deciding on a policy? For example, what if deciding on a policy for immigration involved asking, “What policy will increase cultural diversity and resilience?”

Can you imagine a day when corporate boards and executives might ask themselves how happy they and their employees and customers are, using these nine domains? How are corporate policies affecting the health domain, for instance?

And can you imagine a day when you might ask yourself if the decisions you’re making in your own life are taking these nine domains into consideration? Is that decision you’re considering going to affect the ecology of the planet? Your relationship to ecology will actually affect your happiness.

Some evidence I saw that these measures are working in Bhutan: the clean, sparkling rivers, which were like something out of a dream. Plastic bags are illegal; stores give out fiber bags. Tobacco is illegal and you cannot bring it into the country. People wear traditional dress–the men wear elegant robes over dark or argyle socks and dark shoes. The women wear lovely long skirts topped by jackets with a shawl collar often in a contrasting color. There is only a small military presence. Buddhist temples and other historical and cultural sites are beautifully preserved, and prayer flags fly everywhere there is a holy site or particularly stunning view.

Of course the country still faces challenges. But I was struck by the spiritual underpinning or energy, if you will, that was palpable everywhere. I felt an air of kindness, an atmosphere of reflection, an attitude of appreciation. This doesn’t stem from isolation; even monks were talking on cell phones. But it felt as if people had it straight that technology was not the end point. What they’re after is working with nature and with our own gifts, promoting what every human longs for: happiness.

 

 

 

Lesson #2 from Lobo

Monday, June 30th, 2014

lobo w: siLobo at 1 in 2005, with our grandson Simon

Amnesia works in strange ways. In the same way a mother forgets the agony of childbirth and signs up to do the same thing again, dog lovers forget what it’s really like to have a puppy.

“He’s going to be big,” our vet friend Sonny said, looking at the giant paddy paws. “He looks about six months now, so there’s a lot of growing ahead. I think he has some mastiff or hound in him.”

But we do not listen to the voice of a good advisor. Not when we are blinded by passion.

I was still having radiation treatments, so we thought the timing would be good. Lobo (we had immediately re-named him) would be company. As in companionship, encouragement, affection, loyalty.

I took him down with me to feed our two horses. Down the path, across the wash and over to the little barn and corral. His excitement grew. In the wash, I threw him a stick. Not only did he fetch it, he must have pegged me for a worthy playmate. From 100 feet away, he charged at me full speed and then took off a few feet in front of me, flying at my chest with those huge paws extended. I went down like a bowling pin.

“This is not good,” I tearfully explained to Jon. “I can’t have him knocking me down right now.”

“Or any time,” Jon agreed.

We started trying to train him. He was into the treats for sure, but rewards didn’t seem to have any effect on either long-term or short-term behavior. A leash was unthinkable. He lunged ahead, pulling the weak two-legged behind him, flailing about like a fish on a line.

We live in the country, on the border of a state and national park with hundreds of miles of trails. We wanted to be able to walk him off a leash. Without him running out in front of cars, which he must have thought were animals big enough to be worthy playmates. We didn’t want him to keep chasing the cattle who roamed the range we lived in. The littlest ones were about his size. We didn’t want him on our furniture. (Well, I didn’t—that’s another story….) We didn’t want him jumping up to get the food on our plates. (Well, I didn’t. Yet another story.)

After bingeing on episodes of the Dog Whisperer, it was clear to me that Lobo knew he was the alpha. Maybe he was here to give me an assertiveness training course. “I am alpha,” I would explain to him. And he would smile that silly dog smile they do with their long tongue hanging out and that panting that sounds like laughter.

Maybe he was just too much. Too big, too powerful, and already too accustomed to being in charge. Even though I can’t stand Chihuahuas, now I felt sorry for the one he had terrorized. Maybe, I said to Jon (tearfully, again) we would have to give him up.

Instead, we researched dog training techniques and local experts. Jon’s sister swore by a trainer who used an electric collar, which fell under the Torture category as far as I was concerned. But never say you’ll never do something until you’ve been truly desperate. After yet another flying lunge at my radiated chest, Lobo was loaded into the truck and taken to Torture dog training.

It’s painful for me to remember. Really. I mean, when I got teary watching die Fuhrer reduce Lobo from Alpha to Zeta, cringing as he yelled, “Place” and pointing to a tiny pad, the little smart guy explained to me that dogs don’t have emotions. That’s funny, because I could swear that Lobo now was feeling a love for us that was every bit as passionate as the kind of love a child feels when they see that someone else’s parent is worse than their own.

But, mercifully, Torture training did not take long. Just a few zaps were all Lobo needed to be convinced that the Collar was the source of all evil. Now, all we had to do was put it on him, push a button that produced a beep, and yell, “Place,” and point to a dog bed or an imagined tiny pad in front of the TV, and he would cringe and crawl into position. He would also resist chasing cows, which was the ultimate test. He would reluctantly heel, even in the presence of a tempting car. And lie down while we were eating. At least until Jon finished. (another one of those “other stories.”)

And so, he avoided the first and only threat to his new Good Life. Not only did he not have to go back to the Humane Society, he came out as one of the biggest winners in the doggie world. What other dog from the humane society lived on the edge of the wild high desert? Here in his own back yard, there were squirrels and rabbits and roadrunners to chase. Deer even came occasionally to seek water. A javelina or two ventured into the yard before the word got out. Lobo could live up to his name here. He would be allowed, despite the little Fuhrer’s efforts, to be a wolfy, wild dog.

How wild, we had only begun to discover.

Lessons from Lobo #1

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

lobo by Tomar                                                Portrait of the young Lobo by Tomar Levine            (http://www.newyorkpetportraits.com/memorial-portraits.html)

Lesson #1

Lobo first came to me in a wild and mysterious dream. A dream unlike any I’ve ever had. It was 2004, I believe. The year I had my second bout of breast cancer. So perhaps I thought it was effects from the radiation. Or simple madness.

I saw the face of a German shepherd-like dog, presented up close as if in a picture frame. Which seemed odd (not the picture frame, but the breed.) I had been terrified as a child of the German shepherd down the street, who would throw himself against the chain link that gated his driveway, barking and baring his teeth. He was convincing, and I never would have walked that way again, were it not the only route to Joyce’s house. She was my best friend, and so I was stuck with the terrifying dog, who only lived a couple of houses short of hers.

So the face appears in the dream, but is not scaring me, possibly because of some wonderfully golden eyes that look kind and deep. The face is accompanied by a booming, low male voice. The voice of God, or at least a very good radio announcer. “My name is Lobo, and I will be your dog. And, your teacher.”

That’s it. Over and out. I wake up wondering: Is this a good dream, or not? But as a mystic, I am impressed. It’s memorable, at the very least.

At the time of the dream, we were dogless. We had lost Missy, and were still in mourning. I had almost become convinced that life without dog hair all over everything and everybody could have its advantages. We could observe how much we traveled, and wondered if it wouldn’t be kinder to the canine world to do without.

Then Vicky called. Their bartender at Joe and Vicky’s was at her wits’ end. The dog she had brought home from the humane society was terrorizing her Chihuahua. He had been living at the bar, but got too big for that, so Vicky had him at their house along with their two huge hounds. It was a three-ring circus. Could she bring the dog over so I could at least have a look?

I was reluctant on most counts, especially when she told me the dog was a shepherd mix. But then there was that dream…

It was a bit hard to contain him, even on our front porch. He looked to be a large version of a six-month-old lanky puppy, who came up about knee high. That wasn’t high enough for him, so he kept jumping. My gentle “no” and “down” had no effect at all. But he had kind eyes. Amazing eyes of gold, actually, that look like they go on forever. And he looked right at me for what seemed like a long second, right before jumping on me again.

The name on his tag said “Kenai,” but I knew better. Despite inner warning signals, I told Vicky that even though I had to talk to Jon, I thought we would be taking him.

There was no choice.

 

 

Passages

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

 

In my 30’s I began to photograph in earnest. Now that was back in the ‘70’s, so picture me stepping out in a safari-like photographer’s vest and smoking brown More cigarettes. (The More bohemian and rebellious, the better.)

I set out to explore the other side of the tracks. Mind you, I was raised in San Marino, CA, bastion at that time of white privilege, the John Birch Society (sorry if some of these references are too representative of another generation) and suspicion of “others not like us.”

I feel shame as I write this, but it’s my history.

I had lived in NYC and taught public school there for three years, so I was well “over” San Marino. But now in my adult, parental state (and back in the state of CA) I had only moved four miles away, into South Pasadena. Lawns still looked green, houses gentrified, and attitudes were changing slowly. I was in the mood for a rebellion.

I went north, into the “ghetto” of Pasadena at that time, an area full of lovely old Victorians neglected because of poverty and segregation. My camera was my passport. And architecture was my proof that I was documenting unappreciated treasures. I gained entrance into a new neighborhood and a new form of education.

What was valuable about “the old architecture” in society and in my own being that had been neglected? And what needed tearing down and renovating? What was family about? What if all the races lived together and formed one? I photographed these questions.

It was a time of great opening for me. My Victorian grandmother had passed on, and so had her way of life and viewing the world, graceful as it was. My parents appeared confused: pleased to offer me two lamb chops for dinner at the mahogany dining room table, and willing to work hard for my excellent education…yet mired in the ‘50’s view of life. I was just now trying to emerge from it.

The photograph you see is just one of the many photographs I took during that period. I had a show at a hip Pasadena gallery, showcasing several years of 35mm architectural photography. I considered it a tribute to a history that was passing, evolving.

I chose to show you this photograph because I took it in a beautiful old Pasadena classic house that I admired. On the chaise, upholstered in the perfect fabric for that period, lay a book that had been seminal for me: Gail Sheehy’s Passages. After all, I was in one.

Out the window lay some other land, one that was natural and still impressionistic and undefined for me—but one that was beckoning me. So I colored it with Marshall’s Oils, to represent new life. The path ahead.

What is your ‘old world’ now that you wish to honor as it passes and evolves? What would you photograph to represent it? And how does the new one look? What will be your passageway into that new way of seeing, that new life?

Taking the Pilot’s Seat: Controlling Airspeed

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

When I walk on the beautiful land in the Sutherland Valley, beneath the Catalina Mountains, the land reminds me that Mother Earth has a heartbeat, a rhythm. Being in nature attunes my body to her rhythm and reminds me of my own natural pace. So does meditation—it is a way of stopping to check in with the Source, and with my own body/mind, and re-calibrating.

I need to change my “attitude,”—an aviation term for the angle of the airplane– to pull the nose of my airplane up a bit and slow my speed.

When I think of the idea of slowing my pace, my “small mind” immediately panics at the thought. What will I miss? What will I not accomplish?

Fortunately my “larger mind” responds by asking, “Where are you going so fast? What is your destination or goal that is so crucial? Isn’t the journey the point?”

My small mind says nothing.

I remember Thich Nhat Hahn’s cautions about our pace, his advice about mindful walking and mindful eating and avoiding multi-tasking.

My small mind points out how many things I accomplish by multi-tasking. Is that really true? Recent research points out that our brains don’t operate at maximum efficiency when we do more than one thing at a time. Maybe we are sacrificing focus, intensity and depth of thought, excellence in problem-solving.

Perhaps I suffer from the aviator’s dreaded plague, “get-there-itis,” the disease that leads to unwise decisions like flying too late, or into bad weather, or when sick, or in conditions outside our expertise. If we crash, we might ask ourselves what was so important about that destination and how much time we really saved.

If I take time to gaze out the window, perhaps I’ll really see something like the scene in the photo of the water and cloud formations along the Sea of Cortez. What’s the hurry, really?

These are thoughts each of us must bring to consciousness as we pilot our way through a year that may challenge us to drop old patterns, to take responsibility for our own energy, to ask treasured family and friends to support us as responsible pilots who have taken the left seat. We may not be able to manage the strong winds of life, but we can manage ourselves.

What are your thoughts?  Interact with us at Facebook.com/FlyingLessons!