Art of Peace

Wisdom traditions encourage working from within for positive change. Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido (a martial art intended to eliminate strife), is one of many who understood that fighting- with our surroundings, others, and ourselves- is the root destructive force in life. Instead, effective paths encourage us to first work on harmonizing ourselves through a peaceful practice, working with principles like forgiveness, cooperation, compassion, and flow. 

In "The Art of Peace," Ueshiba says,"The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow...Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter..."

Imagine what would happen if the wisest taught, "The Art of Peace begins with forcing others to change." (Hmmm, how has that tendency been working throughout history?)
True wisdom paths will never lead us to seek positive change in something or someone outside or smaller than ourselves, by fighting, or by running off to somewhere else.
Instead, the wise find that right here, right now, is the best place to start. With honest contemplation and acceptance, we can come to let go of our own thoughts, emotions, people, and things we've previously hung on to that are no longer helping us. As we patiently, thoughtfully, and courageously draw upon and develop our inner strength in sync with the energy of the universe, we can grow stronger and aligned in heart, mind, body, and spirit. In harmony with ourselves, we can then effortlessly blend with the world, letting our openness and care attract goodness, beauty, real friends, and whatever else we'd like to be surrounded with.  

To create peace, instead of asking, "How can I change him?" and "Can't she see she's wrong?" try asking, "Why does this bother me?" and "How can I strengthen and create greater peace within myself?"


Big Firsts

We tend to remember the big firsts in our lives, regardless of the outcome- the first day of school, our first date, the first kiss, weddings, childbirth, each new job and boss, and other initiations that create our lives and bring us deeper into exploring our world, relationships, and selves.

There are many firsts that stand out for me, but I'll fast forward to a Saturday morning about ten years ago, when I spontaneously took an alternate route home. Passing by, I noticed the yoga studio was open, and on a whim decided to pop in to find out more and pick up a schedule. Instead, I was persuaded to join the class and give it a try. I had no idea what a journey I was undertaking, or what an internal practice yoga becomes, but had curiosity and a beginner's mind, so watched and surprised myself as I inhaled and exhaled on command and copied the physical postures, bending myself in half, around, and upside down. At the end of class, laying on a quarter inch thin mat on a hard floor, I came to relax more deeply than I knew was possible, feeling life energy coursing through me. Leaving the studio, I knew I'd be back to yoga, and have been, almost daily, since.  
This morning while in final relaxation after yoga, a vivid memory of that first experience wandered into my mind and I let it pass. I replaced it with a profound sense of gratitude for the creative and healing openings and insights this practice continues to lead towards.

What big first was so powerful for you that it stands out and continues to transform your life? Can you still harness the beginner's mind energy that you first brought to it? Where can you stray from your normal path and what might be found there?


Technology in our Lives

Lately the news is filled about technology and its impact on our lives and world. We can speculate as to how we humans will grow from our interconnectivity, wonder 'What will be next?,"or worry that our reliance on smart devices will keep us blogged down and interfere with our abilities to think and communicate as humans. 

Emily Listfield, in Parade magazine's Generation Wired, discusses some of the challenges of raising children in this time of "nonstop connectivity." "The latest research suggests it may even be rewiring their brains." Instead of contemplating and forming pathways to remember, our brains are often busy gathering, skimming, copying, and sorting endless information. Brzezinski and Scarborough opine that "unfortunately, technology is short-circuiting our children's imagination." Kids are showing short attention spans, are rarely alone or disconnected, and often addicted to their smart phones, even sleeping with them under their pillows. 

Interestingly, in Martin Lindstrom's recent New York Times article entitled, You Love your iPhone, Literally. he describes what brain studies are revealing about this apparent addiction to iPhones. As expected, subjects using the iPhone show increased audio and visual stimulation, but even stronger activation of the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with love and compassion. When torn away from their iPhone, many exhibit stress, in a way most similar to separation anxiety from loved ones.  
Hopefully the feelings of compassion that rise from our iPhones will help us become more loving to our fellow humans rather than toward our smart devices. In his commencement address to Stanford's Class of 2005, Steve Jobs spoke of love, loss, finding what you believe is great and work that you love. He noted that we only can connect the dots of where we're going when we look backwards from the future. Jobs also talked about death as the best invention of life because it clears out the old and makes way for the new. He encouraged living one's own life and following the heart and intuition, because they always "know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary."
The technological legacy left behind from Steve Jobs, who passed on last week, is inspirational, admirable, and impactful. He was an innovative, passionate, and creative genius, with an invisible crystal ball to see into new product future that changed the world. I find it fascinating, too, that Jobs was adopted, dropped out of college, and had sought enlightenment in India prior to his career. He preferred alternative medicine, was a pescetarian and Buddhist. Though early on described as "temperamental," he grew to mellow and share a wisdom in how to live well. 

If we do what we love, have faith in where we're going, remember our time is limited, and always listen to our heart and intuition, we can each come to live our own highest life. We can apply these messages from Jobs to use technology to lead us forward, unite, and create more of what we want, rather than letting our tech gizmos distract us away from presence and trap us in time and energy wasting ways. Also, we can encourage our children towards more real time interactions, tech-free alone time, non-virtual creative activities, and nature romps. We can re-instill ethics education from early childhood to enable growing hearts and minds to make good choices so they, too, can use technology to create a better world. 

Where can you make more time for your passion in life by unplugging yourself from smart devices? Where do you find technology serves to bring you further in your path?


A Song in the Forest

Every day someone somewhere comes up with something so novel 
that it's hard not to wonder, where do ideas really come from
Here is a commercial for a phone that you may find inspiring 
and surprising. I hope you enjoy it.