Wednesday, August 10, 2011


How we are ripples out from us. I know this, but sometimes it’s hard to remember just how profoundly our state of being affects those around us.

When I sit with my father (who has advanced Alzheimer’s) & talk quietly, stroking his hand, singing or praying quietly, the primary effect of my action may be to calm me. He’s not hearing much & understanding less but he is picking up body language, watching for tone of voice, tuned into the state of being of those near him. Doing what I need to be calm, centred & relaxed seems to reduce his agitation & help him be more at peace.

Consciously cultivating our own calm clear centre has a profound effect on those we live with, work with or strangers with whom we briefly share space in the grocery store or on the subway. In any situation we can ask ourselves- What is rippling out from me? What am I adding to the collective tone of this time & place? If we do this without judgement (not panicking if we are upset for fear of what we are spreading- denying or repressing aggravation will not help) & bring ourselves back to our breath & our hearts perhaps we can find & spread a little peace.

May we cultivate a clear calm presence

In the interests of cultivating my inner calm I will be away August 16 to September 1 - spending some solo time at a little cabin in the woods on a river. I will not have phone or internet access. Will be enjoying some ceremonial time with three dear friends for a couple of day but most of the time I will be there alone writing, reading, sleeping, eating, walkiing and just watching the water tumbling over the rocks in the river. I will resume weekly posts September 7. Blessings on your summer, Oriah

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Learning To Love

One of the many spiritual “truths” folks like to throw around is: “You can’t love others any more than you love yourself.” While there is usually some truth in these kinds of statements I like to hold them up against real life experience and ask: Is that true? Is that always true?

I have seen myself and others extend love- compassion, understanding, non-judgemental assistance- to others, even when we are harsh and judgemental with ourselves. In fact, sometimes, we can learn how to love ourselves by considering or watching what we offer to others who are in need. If I am frightened or in pain I can sometimes move to a place of gentle mercy with myself by considering how I would respond to one of my sons if he were feeling as I am or facing the particular challenge I am at the moment. Feeling my love for another I can bring this tenderness to myself.

So, sometimes, we learn how to love ourselves by seeing how we love others. And this wisdom in turn is honed by our experience of what is needed and helpful when we are in pain, which allows us to love others more fully. It’s not as linear as the platitude above suggests. It’s not like we go off and learn how to love ourselves completely so we can come back and do it “perfectly” with others. It’s more of a spiralling process, circular and ever-deepening, this learning to love, this opening of our hearts. It’s not a project. It’s a process. It’s life.