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Posts Tagged ‘presence’

Halloween is right around the corner, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the masks: specifically, the masks we all wear to protect ourselves. I’ve been wondering… How far am I willing to go to release my resentments that mask my life experience and keep distance between myself and others? What does wearing this mask cost me? And what value does it hold for me?

This is coming up because my Chinese medicine doctor told me that the lower part of the belly — where I have a painful condition (shingles) — is known as the basin. “It’s where all the junk is collected and held,” he said.

Junk like old and unhealed resentments. Darn it. Darn it. Darn it.


Years ago, I read a story about Jiddu Krishnamurti, and this is how I remember it.

He was sitting on a hill overlooking a crowd of thousands of people, and someone asked him something like, “How do you stay so calm and happy all of the time?” Krishnamurti got very quiet and leaned forward, and then he laughed a big laugh. The crowd was silent waiting for his words of wisdom, and he said:

“I don’t mind what’s happening.” And then he laughed and laughed.

“I don’t mind what’s happening.” Deep breath.

I’ve been in bed with shingles for two and a half weeks. The pain has been stunning and humbling. I don’t recall ever being this debilitated.

“I don’t mind what’s happening.”

I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer these past few weeks, mostly reciting “I don’t mind what’s happening,” sometimes rocking from pain, and doing my very best to be open to what I was being asked to know. Many, many times I noticed that when I didn’t resist the pain, it became more bearable.

But even in the worst of it, I could honestly say that in this moment I don’t mind what’s happening. I don’t like it maybe, but I don’t have to resist it, argue with it, blame it or blame myself. Each time I could rest in acceptance, the pain and my inner state of being calmed.

I don’t mind what’s happening.

This is how I want to be in my relationships and with myself. I want to live in acceptance first, and work through our differences second. I want to soften my judgments and see the deeper meaning people are trying to express.

I want to leave room for healing: theirs and mine.

And so I invite you to join me in this practice of living in acceptance first.


I confess I spent the first week after Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States in mourning, deep despair, and bewilderment. I felt as if someone I loved had punched me in the chest. Many people I love, in fact, voted for him. They too were feeling despair: despair that I didn’t vote for him, and confusion about why I felt so devastated.

During that first week, I led several meditations on peace in different national and international venues. I offered formal and informal empathy sessions to many people, and listened to many more: hundreds of stories about enormous pain from families, spouses, and loved ones who had suddenly found themselves deeply divided.

It was exhausting — until I said “STOP,” and allowed myself the space to receive empathy, to offer it to myself, and to grieve and grieve and grieve my own grief.

And then I got clear (really clear!) that I wanted to focus on healing the gap between those of us who didn’t vote for Donald Trump, and those who did – and all our life experiences that led us to this point.

Thich Nhat Hahn says, We need someone to be able to listen to us and to understand us.  Then, we will suffer less. But everyone is suffering, and no one wants to listen.”

I am listening.


Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

I first heard this quote many years ago and it took a little longer for the deeper meaning of it to sink in. At the time, I was working for a small organization. Each week we’d hold our staff meetings and I’d leave discouraged and disappointed because I didn’t think we were hearing each other or connecting at the depth I’d hoped for. My judgment was that the others didn’t want to connect.

I chewed on my judgment for several months, became more disgruntled and judgmental.

Then, one morning as I was waking up, I started grumbling about how we’d have another staff meeting that wouldn’t be connecting or enjoyable, and a voice rang through my head: “Mary, if you want to connect, connect.”


mary-mackenzie-150The other day, I was running late and I rushed across town to get to my personal trainer for one of my weekly workouts.  I got into the parking lot, burst into her workout space spewing apologies like a machine gun, and then realized that I’d forgotten my water bottle so I raced outside again, literally jogging across the parking lot, when suddenly I stopped cold.

Walking down the middle of the parking lot, as if they had taken a measuring stick to determine where the absolute middle was, walked a mama duck, trailed by 8 teenage-size ducklings, with papa duck taking the rear.  They walked straight towards me, and then when they were within a few feet from me, they turned right down a different part of the parking lot.  Each of them followed every move mama duck made.  Even their feet moved in unison – all twenty feet rising and falling in rhythm.


mary-mackenzie-150Everything someone does or says is an attempt to meet a need …. Really?

The other day, I was in a gathering and I ran into a woman two times.  What I mean is, I looked up and she was right there and we were standing so close that I was startled.  After an hour at this event, I was pulling out of my parking place.  I looked both ways and waited for a car to go by and then pulled out of my parking space and I nearly side-swiped the lady’s car.  The very same lady!

In each case, I apologized and blamed myself.  Then, on my way home, I started to blame her.  Do you ever find yourself ruminating on your judgments and trying to place blame?  Has this behavior ever relieved your anxiety or angst over the situation?  It hasn’t succeeded for me even once, yet I’ve tried it countless times throughout my life and one more time with this lady.

If it’s true that ‘everything someone does or says is an attempt to meet a need,’ what needs would judgment and blame serve?


mary-mackenzie-150Happy Holidays!  This song / message from John Lennon and Yoko Ono was inspiring and lovely for me to receive.  I hope you enjoy it as well.  It reminds me that peace starts with me and it’s possible if I am committed to it in my life.  It takes true commitment, even a kind of fierceness, to live nonviolently and in such a way that values all needs.

On this day, I say I am committed for one more day to live my value of nonviolence.  I hope you’ll join me.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cJOm72QDDA&feature=related

Warmest Holiday wishes to you,

Mary


mary-mackenzie-150I have been feeling very sad about the killing of Osama Bin Laden – how it was handled and the joy with which people are responding to it.  I have been doing some personal work of late on forgiveness and atonement and so my way of dealing with the situation is to be honest with myself about what my part is, to take responsibility for my part, to forgive myself, to atone (I don’t have an idea for how to do this yet with regard to this specific situation but I’m praying about it), and especially to not add hatred or judgment to the situation.

It is challenging to understand in an intellectual way that I have a part in something happening thousands of miles away.  And yet, I know that we are all one and interconnected; every action I take has an affect on others.