Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On The Hedgerows of the Mind

Several years ago during a trip to England, I noticed an interesting phenomenon in the English countryside. In the United States, when properties were divided by some sort of boundary, this was usually a fence of some kind. In England these boundary markers were hedgerows, which were broad, fat hedges made of thickly-bunched bushes. They were obviously meant to keep tractors or vehicles from crossing into a neighbor’s property, and they were highly effective. It would have taken a tank to crash through the accumulation of brush!

Wonderful metaphors...

The memory has stayed with me all these twenty-five years because of the wonderful metaphors that hedgerows present. Obviously they were meant to keep things and people from invading a protected area, but they could keep other things trapped within the hedgerow from getting out as well, and it is but one step from watching the outdoor hedgerow become an imaginary boundary which encloses the mind. Let’s consider: If there are certain things we do not want to hear or think about, we set up a “hedgerow” around the mind, something that keeps us from examining new ideas or concepts, and, in contract, such mental boundaries can prevent us from bringing some of our most important ways and means out into the world due to fear of making a disturbance.

Valuable awarenesses...

Hedgerows around the mind do prevent an important, healthy flow of mental activity within the mind. There may be valuable awarenesses that could develop within us if we weren’t so cut off from the circulation of ideas. There also may be needed thoughts that we could bring to life if we weren’t so choked by fears and misgivings. Is it going to take a “tank” of some kind to break down the unseen barriers…or could we, with borrowed wisdom, begin to dismantle the mental hedgerows bit by bit through curiosity and the willingness to know more than we know now?

What we're missing...

Wouldn’t it be worth a try to see what we’re missing?

More Essays About Everything is now available on Amazon
 You may also enjoy "On Telling Our Stories."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On Giving Care and Being Cared for

At different times in our lives we will have been at both ends of the caring continuum. We will either have been cared for or care giving, which are some of the most natural elements of being alive. As infants and small children we either had parents or parent surrogates who protected and looked after us. If we were blessed, we passed through the vagaries of childhood and made it to the possibilities inherent in adulthood. If not, we may have been thrust into responsibilities way before we should have. How many children in poor circumstances must work to help secure a family!

To raise a child...

Then, of course, we may be the ones giving care. Perhaps it is our joy to help raise a child or maybe on the long road of relationships we will find ourselves caring for a loved one, once strong and capable, but now diminished because of a body’s inability to function. These are the circumstances that tend to draw from us strengths we did not know we had and, at times, rank frustrations. Role reversals take place. Once the strong adult who protected us now needs protection, or the loving partner needs assistance. All the while we knew these shifts were possible, but we did not expect them.

The person we are becoming...

This all leads us to the role we may now play and the person we are becoming…with our concurrence or not. How much love do we have in the bank that we are now withdrawing? Trust me…we shall find out. We could call it our turn at the wheel, our place in the furtherance of life. One thing is certain. We will discover more about ourselves than we may ever have wanted to know…and there will be hidden blessings that sneak in around the edges and inner lights that get turned on. It has been said by many that we are spiritual beings. We will discover more about what this means.
Love fills in the gaps...

We’ll come up short at times…almost can’t help it, but love fills in the gaps, and we’ll find the ways, the means and perhaps the doggedness to begin again. Sometimes this is how the road turns, and it is ours to follow.

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You may also enjoy "On Growing Up."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On Doing and Being


I think most of us, in the Western cultures at least, have a sense of ourselves according to what we do. We are workers; we are artists; we are athletes, husbands, partners, parents and on and on. At the same time there are many of us who do not do, perhaps because of disability or advancing age which has taken from us some of our physical powers. What then? Who are we if we can no longer do but must view ourselves in different ways? And what of those of us who never thought of ourselves in terms of doing but more in terms of being, which has many indefinable elements to it and often seems like an ephemeral part of us that comes and goes like a firefly in the night. Can we be still and curious long enough to search out being as well as doing.

To simply be......

Sooner or later I daresay there will be times when even the most physically vigorous of us cannot enter into old, familiar ways of doing things, where we are smack in the center of figuring out what it is to simply be. We cannot push, pull, force or make things happen for whatever reason, so the alternatives involve getting angry, raging, freaking out or…investigating the being part of ourselves.

Pure gold....

There is a being place in us that is pure gold and holds more gifts than we had ever imagined, but we will need to stand in the quiet place between doing and being so that we are able to receive. If this is not how we normally operate, we will need to discover slowing and quieting, for senses of being come softly and often silently. This is our opening out into the Universe which withholds nothing from us and holds inspiration in its wings. Wisdom, then, would have us become aware of when it is time to use our energies in the vitality of doing and when to settle back into the healing, inspiring folds of being.

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You might also enjoy "On Doing More Than You Think You Can"

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

On Thinking Positively

All students of spiritual living know the rewards of clear, affirmative thinking, which has been in the mind of the general public since Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” was published in 1952. Students know how the mind responds to uplifting ideas and what the healthy practices of mental nourishment can provide. But as I was recently listening to health providers on PBS radio, I was reminded of something I had been neglecting. Affirmative thinking is more than simply a good, spiritual practice; our bodies also respond to a good dose of joyous thoughts and a funny story or two. The major subject of the radio conversation involved stress reduction, wherever and however it is found, and all the contributors agreed that even a little lightness of thoughts helps to reduce overheated blood pressures and churning stomachs.

Mind/Body beings...

We need to remember that we are mind/body beings and what affects one part of us affects the whole. An unhealthy body gives the mind great concern, and, on the other hand, an enlightened mind can give the body great ease. It makes perfectly good sense to engage in spiritually-enriching mental practices…using meditation and contemplation, for example, to quiet the mind so that it is open to Infinite Wisdoms. It is also sensible to remember that the body, our nearest “neighbor,” so to speak, is the thing that receives the first “hit” when we are either mentally upset or mentally in good harmony.

Cannot be at war...

Without a doubt, if we are to live really effective lives, every part of us needs to work in unity with every other part. We cannot be at war with ourselves and expect to think clearly and have the use of good, physical responses. And, of course, no one can fix this for us. No one can calm the fires of mental/physical agitation but ourselves. Can we think enough of ourselves to ask: Is what I am doing and thinking really honoring the mental/spiritual/physical being that I am? If we are willing to listen, our inner natures will give us the answer.

More Essays About Everything is now available on Amazon

You might also enjoy "On Right Mindfulness and Right Effort."