30 Minutes with Michael Levitt

michaellevitt

Dr Michael Levitt was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work he did when he was 20. He is now 67. What caught my attention was his profile on a poster I chanced upon at the library. It said he was a “free spirit”, preferred to be called “Michael” with no titles, and that he had visited Burning Man. Fascinated, I emailed him and asked if I could interview him when he came to Singapore. He agreed. It was real fun spending time with him last week. I laughed often during our time together. He is not only brilliant but really down-to-earth and funny. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

When he got news of his Nobel Prize, Michael was quoted as saying “Now I just hope to get through the day and make sure that, in the end, my life doesn’t change very much. Because I really have a wonderful life.” Wow. How many people can say that, I wondered. I asked him about this “wonderful life”. He said he really liked what he did, and had married someone who had been very different from him and really good for him. (They have been married for 45 years.) He did fun things with his family. But it was not just these external things. He had an amazing strength in gratitude…

He said: I feel I have been very lucky. I don’t think “I didn’t win this…I didn’t get this.” I think of all the bad things that haven’t happened to me. ..I didn’t slip on the floor…I didn’t drown in the pool. .. I didn’t fall in the shower. It is the same for each one of us. So many things that could have happened – and these are not unusual things – and didn’t happen. So I am grateful everyday of life.

(I was reminded of what positive psychology researcher Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky has said about gratitude being kind of a “meta-strategy” for achieving happiness.)

As Michael was co-awarded the Nobel Prize with two others, I was very interested in the relationship they had shared that had birthed such a major discovery. He said:What is so nice is I can do one thing and the other is good at something else and neither of us is actually aware of the other‘s area. Oftentimes there’s something really interesting in between. And together we can make a lot of progress with very little investment. There’s a lot of work… some is hard work. But it’s always nice sometimes to do something that is easy, that is on the edge of the two disciplines…

I thought this was such a beautiful way to describe synergy and the beauty of using one’s strengths in synch with others. As a strengths practitioner, it is a joy for me to witness clients describe this very ease that Michael alludes to, when they use their strengths.

Michael said, of one of the co-awardeees: One person was a PhD student when I came there… I came along to be his assistant. And we developed a very strong relationship. Then I came back to work with him for years later. So it was a very close relationship.

This really reminded me of the importance of building close relationships in the workplace if we want powerful synergistic collaborations. To me, the word “teamwork” doesn’t describe it enough. It is some stronger and deeper.

Michael showed a strong appreciation of people and life. He found them interesting and had a strong sense of optimism. He said: People are pretty amazing. Often we set our own limits. Limits will be set for you whether you like it or not. Also this question of being an optimist or pessimist… I think you have no idea what’s going to happen. I keep on thinking of some person whose whole life where he has lived as a pessimist. Ad then nothing happens to him. And on his deathbed, he says “What a waste.. I was pessimistic and nothing happened to me.” It just seems to be that there’s nothing to be gained from it.

I was curious about Burning Man and Michael described his experience in detail. What really struck me was this: People bring stuff to give other people. It’s not barter. They just give it to you. And what’s nice is that …they’re really open. Faces are open….

I could sense the generosity, authentic connection and openness in how fondly he spoke about it. Burning Man is an annual festival and an experiment in community, art, radical self expression and self-reliance. Here are the ten inspiring principles of Burning Man. Sounds pretty amazing!

Every year for the last few years, I have done an experiment to live as if it is my last year to live. Living with awareness of mortality has been transformational for me. And I have to admit that if I didn’t reflect mortality I wouldn’t have asked Michael for this interview. When I know I have limited time, I dare more, I want to serve more impactfully and grow more deeply. :) If you had a year to live, what would you feel drawn to do?

Healing Presence – Dr Dennis Choi

Dr Dennis Choi heals with his Presence. (Photo copyright: Mt Pleasant Vet Centre)

 

“We heal with our presence. In order to help others to heal, we need to bring our wholeness into the examination room with us: our strengths, our courage, and even our anger and fears and doubts…

Yes, we cure with our expertise, but we heal with our life experience and our attention. We heal most often with our presence, and perhaps the most common tool of healing is just listening…We listen just to know what is true for this person at this moment in time – to witness it and validate it – and accept it.”

~ Medical reformer, Dr Rachel Naomi Remen writing on how doctors can heal with their presence

Presence is hard to describe. I don’t mean loud presence. I mean a quieter, soulful and heartful Presence. You know it when it’s there. You know when you are transformed or healed by it. It is subtle yet profound. And it lingers with you long after the person left.

Before I share about this Presence that Dr Remen talks about, I want to share about its absence. I felt its absence when I went to the first vet on the day my late dog, Max suddenly lost use of his hind legs. I left feeling confused, distraught and afraid that the vet simply did not know what she was dealing with. She also didn’t seem connected to me and my emotions. That night was one of the worst nights of my and Max’s life. We were both in pain and helpless. And so when I brought Max to see another vet, I could appreciate him more.

Dr Dennis Choi of Mt Pleasant Vet Centre has the kind of Presence Dr Remen shares about.

He practices generous listening.  He allowed me to finish sentences. Sometimes there were no more words and he allowed a silence to emerge in the room. In a society where we try to fill up every gap in space and conversations because many find silence to be awkward, this stands out.

He answered questions patiently. When I asked him to check if the supplements I wanted to give Max were ok, he did, via email, even if that was not part of a billed consultation.

He handled Max with gentleness that made up for what cancer did to Max.  Once when Max lost control of his bowels and soiled Dr Choi’s hands, he didn’t flinch, and didn’t make us feel bad. You may say this is part of the work for people in his profession.  I don’t remember his words, I remember his tone.  He embraced the sh*tty moment in the most elegant, graceful and kind way possible.

Max with his wheelchair

Presence shows up in the eyes since the eyes are the windows to our soul. Dr Choi has kind eyes.

It’s hard to teach someone to look with kind eyes. It’s something that emerges from the person from the inside. There are all kinds of courses that teach helping professionals to communicate better. These are important. But we need more support for the inner life of the healing professional. It is more difficult work but it is more important work.

Some time after Max died, I left Dr Choi a note in his hospital. About a week later, I received a call. It was him. He spent about 15 minutes with me. Unhurried. He didn’t have to have this conversation. Max was gone.

One of the things I had shared with him in the note was that there were not many resources for people grieving over the death of their animals in Singapore. And he agreed, adding that not much is covered about this in vet studies as well.  He said that even if we are professionally trained (he was a vet and I was trained as a social worker), we are not immune from emotions such as grief. This was a moment of real connection and authenticity. It is the connection that comes from shared vulnerability that Dr Remen speaks of:

“I like the archetype of the Wounded Healer which symbolizes that two people in a healing relationship are peers, both wounded, and both with healing capacity. Just by being here, in these bodies, we are wounded, we are incomplete, if you will. But we also have the capacity for wholeness as part of our birthright. It comes out of our human nature. If you and I are participating in the healing process together, it is my woundedness that allows me to connect to you in your woundedness. I know what suffering is. I also know that you may feel separated from other other people by your suffering. You may feel lost, frightened, trapped. My woundedness allows me to find you and be with you in a way that is nonjudgemental. You are not the sick one or the weak one. We are here together, both capable of suffering, both capable of healing”. (Source: Healers on Healing which I highly recommend for those in healing profession.)

I have now learned why I value people like Dr Choi.  He values relationships in a society that seems to have less and less time for it. And he extends that to not just his animal patients but their caregivers too.

Dr Remen distinguishes healing from curing. Max couldn’t be cured but he was healed by his family and his vet. And I was healed by various things, include Dr Choi’s kindness.

Max had soulful and powerful Presence in my life. He gifted us with quiet grace, sensitivity and consideration.  His last vet gave Max and us the same gifts.

 

 

(This is simply a personal account of my experience. Please choose your veterinary professional based on what is important to you. Thank you.)

Dr Rachel Remen’s is a healer of the healthcare system. For articles by her, visit her website. 

On Leadership by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

I have looked up to Aung San Suu Kyi for her nonviolent approach to change for many years. In her speech at Singapore Management University, she shares the mindset of a leader. Although she doesn’t use the term “servant leadership”, what she says is very much the essence of servant leadership to me. I have, made in  bold, specific lines that capture servant leadership.

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Here are excerpts of her speech, which can be watched on youtube.

Leadership must begin with commitment; with conviction.

This, in the end, is what I think leadership is about. You should be able to fulfil the need of the people who are willing to be led by you. They are willing to be led by you because you fulfil their need for hope, their need to believe in themselves. If you cannot make those people you are trying to lead believe in themselves, you cannot really be a leader. So to make people believe in themselves, you’ve got to respect them. You’ve got to truly value them.

 

That is what leadership is about…making it possible for people to work together…

 

…What we are talking about are leaders, not commanders. Leaders lead. Commanders command. And they expect their commands to be obeyed, whether or not they are reasonable. Now leadership means convincing those whom you aspire to lead that the way you have chosen is the right one. It has to be a choice. They have to choose to follow you. That is what leadership is about. With a commander, there’s no choice. You either follow or else.

…Leadership entails vision. Otherwise where are you leading people to? If you don’t know where you want to go to, you have no right to ask people to go along with you. So that is what vision is; knowing where it is you want to go and and to be able to explain this to those whom you aspire to lead. Why you want to go where you want to get to in a particular way. It’s not just getting to a goal but how you get to a goal that is decisive; that is important. And you got to decide: Are you going to take more time to make sure that the way is smoother or do you want to put an emphasis on speedy achievement?  And why? You have to balance…

…Stewardship is a kind of leadership we should aspire to in a democracy; not commanders but stewards who know that they have given the responsibility for a particular society; for a particular people; for a particular nation for a set period of time…It’s stewardship to guide this people, society, the nation during the time you have been given in the best possible way; in the most civilised way possible in the broad sense of the word, “civilisation”; to make that society more civilised; more human; to retain the values that are best for human society.

…Everywhere I go nowadays, people talk about economics all the time and this is important of course because we are physical beings and we need to be physically well-off. So our material situation is very important. But I would like to say, also, that we have to think of our spiritual situation. Now of course people think talk of EQ (emotional quotient) as well as IQ but I think we also have to think about the spiritual (SQ), which is not quite the same as emotional. I think the spiritual is reaching out to somewhere higher than you’ve been. And I think this is what leadership is about; reaching out to somewhere higher…reaching out together and reaching out as a responsibility; as a steward and not as somebody who will decide what the destiny of people who follow them are going to be.

We all decide our destiny together. We decide, as a nation; as a society where we wish to go to. But sometimes because there are so many of us, we can’t come to a single decision. And then it is up to those who aspire to be leaders to unite all the diversity that exists in any healthy, normal society into a unity of purpose; a unit of purpose that will get us to a place that is better and higher than where we have been before.

So that, simply, to me, is the mindset of leadership; the determination to serve, not to lead. And it’s a determination and commitment to serve that decides who is a real leader, not the desire to be a leader itself.                  

———–

I deeply appreciate that she speaks of the spiritual. It is the piece we need to connect to more, and urgently.

If you’re interested to bring servant leadership to your institution, please contact me at vadivu[at]joyworks.sg.

 

Goodbye, Friend

I highly recommend “Goodbye, Friend” by Gary Kowalski if you’re dealing with the loss of a companion animal.  He is both poetic and practical. Reading his book was one of the steps I took to heal after my dog, Max had to be put down.

Here are some things I learned from him:

– Allow yourself to Grieve. There’s no set time to stop grieving.

– “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes.

Yes, our animals were with us for a season, for a reason. Their role is over in our lives and hopefully we understand what that was.

– Death makes us ask questions such as “Are we getting the most out of life? What more do we need to do or be or accomplish for our own lifetimes to feel complete?” (Please see my post on a Peaceful Death).

– “Any loss can open old wounds”, says Kowalski. If this happens, then I believe, we can heal and transform deeply if we know how to deal with it. Perhaps professional support can be useful. But it needs to be from people who can appreciate the grief we feel for animals. Not all professionals may understand the depth of our feelings for animals. Choose wisely.

– Kowalski says, “Take care of yourself”. He reminds us to eat well and rest well and if possible, not work for a while. I would add that we can allow others to take care of us too. The day after Max died, I visited a friend. She made vegan bread pudding for me, gave me herbal tea and was very gentle in how she was. I felt safe and taken care of.

– Sometimes our animals may suffer from some difficult fate. Kowalski speaks of the anger we may feel and encourages us to find healthy outlets for it, such as writing. Max had cancer and became disabled. I never felt anger but I did feel grief. But I understood that I could learn from what had happened. I was being asked to play new roles in his life. Having this learning approach helped me not feel angry.

– Kowalski mentions how important it can be to be with our animals if they are to be euthanised, and how we can communicate with them before. He says, “We can let our animals know that they are going on a trip, to a place with no strife and no suffering.” He says that we can give them permission to die by expressing our love rather than our need for them.  I watched Max die and it was difficult but I am very grateful I did. I was there to comfort him with our family. It was peaceful and prayerful.

– I love the chapter on “Healing Words” where Kowalski shares about how healing eulogies can be. He says, “When uttered with sincerity, our words may bring us closer to a place of wholeness and peace.”

– What happens after death? I’m glad he mentions varied experiences people have had – of sensing their animal again, of dreams in which their animal was healed (I had these) etc.

– Kowalski reminds us to “take care of ourselves… embrace our feelings… accept our own unique unrepeatable lifespan… pay attention to nature…. cultivate inwardness ….invoke the presence of the sacred.” For me, the paragraphs on these were some of the most healing words in the book. But there are many more…

I’m so grateful to Gary Kowalski for writing this healing gem of a book. You can purchase it from Books Depository. Perhaps you can consider getting it for your local libraries or animal shelters if they don’t have a copy. You can also recommend it to your vet and counsellors you may know of who are open to working with people who have lost their animals.

Related: Healing from the Loss of a Companion Animal 

 

Healing from Loss of a Companion Animal

My beloved Max died on 11th July. Having to put him down was the most difficult thing I have done in my life.  But he was suffering and I remembered: “If you love someone, let them go”. I write this for those of you who have lost a companion animal.

About a year before Max became sick, I asked myself: “If I were to die soon, what would my biggest regret be with regards to Max?” The answer that emerged was that I didn’t bring him to the beach enough. From then onwards, I brought him to the beach regularly – more in that one year than in ten years! He even overcame his fear of swimming. We had wonderful, wonderful days at the beach. And I am thankful I asked myself that question. It transformed our time together.

Before he died, I gave thanks to him for being my teacher, my healer, my catalyst and child.  He changed me in many ways, teaching me unconditional love and patience. He opened many hearts while on his wheelchair. I wrote down the lessons he had taught me.

I apologised to him for not having done enough for him during his younger days.

I used “Rescue Remedy for Pets” in his last days.

I brought him to the beach often.

On the day we put him down, we all gathered around him, and prayed, and said goodbye.  There was quiet in the room.

The grief was tremendous after he left us. Like a big gaping hole in my heart. And a sense of disbelief. I cried alot.

In the days that followed, many interesting things happened to reassure me that he was in a better place, and also, in a way, still around. Those are very personal but I just want to share that if you lose an animal, stay open to signs and messages you may receive…yet do no expect them. Just stay present. (You may also like to watch the movie, “What dreams may come”. I recalled the scene with the dog with a sense of peace.)

A few days after he died, I felt Called to start a page for those serving animals. It keeps Max “alive” for me. How can his memory benefit others? That’s the question I have asked myself.

I read “Goodbye Friend” by Gary Kowalski. I felt understood, connected to many who have lost their animals and to all of humanity for we all suffer all kinds of losses.   It is beautifully and soulfully written. Here’s an excerpt:
“But if the things that we can do are limited, the things that we can be are manifold: patient, accepting, and compassionate with ourselves, sensitive to the currents of sympathy that surround is, and hopeful that even in the midst of sorrow the future will open new possibilities for life. Inside each one of us is a center that is affirming rather than negating, expansive rather than constricting. Finding that center and holding to it can help us live creatively even when the world round about seems chaotic and confused.”

Here’s an interview with the author, Gary Kowalski.
http://www.newworldlibrary.com/ArticleDetails/tabid/230/ArticleID/246/Default.aspx#.UeuyJo1mhXE

There are other books on loss of companion animals. Perhaps you may find one that speaks to you in the way you need.

A few days ago, I laid out Max’s things. And just bore witness to them quietly. Each item reminded me of a role I had played in his life, or a role I hadn’t played – perhaps an opportunity lost even. But even with the regrets, I reminded myself that i could learn my lessons and apply them to my loved ones who are still around.

I then threw away most things; decided to donate some and kept a few. The few I kept are now sacred objects to me of a very important relationship in my life. I kept his bowl because he LOVED to eat, even till the end. I kept his dog toy because it reminds me of the spirit of play which he brought into my life. I kept the pair of scissors which I used to groom him with. Grooming him allowed me to practise physical caring for another being. It was a time of quiet connection, of trust on his part that I wouldn’t hurt him and trust in myself that I would be mindful and not hurt him. (Over ten years, I nicked him once!)

 

The healing journey continues. Today I donated his wheelchair to Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital in case another dog needs it. And I collected his ashes. These are triggers for tears. And I accept them. Crying heals.

Somedays I want to write this to him:

Sometimes I forget

that you’re not here anymore

And I expect to find you when I come home…

When food falls on the floor

I half expect you to come for it

But sometimes I remember too clearly

that you’re not basking in the sunlight anymore

and it is now just a square patch of empty light

And that I cannot see your beautiful face 

Or touch you 

and your heavenly paw

But sometimes I forget….

 

I have not found many places to go to for support for the loss of a companion animal in Singapore. So this is a small offering from my heart to yours if you have lost a loved animal.

When he died, I really did not know how my heart would heal. He’s irreplaceable. But the heart does heal; not in a linear way, but in its own way at its own pace and guided by things I do to help facilitate that.

I wish you healing.

Love,

Vadivu

Related: Goodbye, Friend

Interview: Toh Yeng Yen, Waldorf educator

As I have shared before, I had to unlearn many things I was taught in school. And learn many things that were not taught in school.

So when I learned about the Waldorf education model years ago, I was interested. Then when I met Chrys Soenaris, a parent who was well-versed in it, I was amazed. And when I met her daughter, Gabby, I was completely won over. Gabby was sagely, inquisitive, deep compassionate, energetic, artistic, JOYful and so many other beautiful things. I recently got to meet other parents and teachers who use the waldorf method and am deeply inspired.

So what is the Waldorf way? If you’re curious, please watch this short intro and share with parents, educators and leaders in education.

Toh Yeng Yen is one of the Waldorf educators I met recently.  She was brimming with passion for her work! Below is my short interview with her. What she says about teachers is especially important.

Q:You’re incredibly passionate about Steiner’s work! Please share more about your personal journey and connection with it.
A: Thank you for your comment! I got to know about Steiner’s philosophy when I was attending a ‘Creative Discipline’ workshop by Linda Hall in the year 2007. That opened me up to an education that allows me, as a teacher, to work on myself while nurturing our children. I find myself loving myself more over the years. And I find this crucial for all human beings.

Q: You mentioned that who the teacher is matters alot in Steiner’s work. Please share more.
A: Yes. I have learned from my training and conferences that it is the teacher that matters, not the subject that the teacher is teaching. If the teacher cares and builds relationships with the children, he/she would be able to attend to the needs of the children. When the children love their teachers, you will be amaze how much they could learn.
Q: Who are you as a Waldorf educator?
A: An educator who learns, unlearns and relearns. Every child is unique. What do I learn from this child and what are the things I can do for her/him to support their grow to become a balanced, warm and loving human being? “Education is not filling a vessel, but lighting a fire.” Carl Jung.

Q: What is it like to learn to be a Waldorf educator?
It is the beginning! I have colleagues from overseas who learn on-the-job to become a Waldorf teacher. We are simply one step faster by learning the essences through courses. It’s how we live what we have learned that matters, not the number of courses that we have attended.

Please click Waldorfcourse for more information on an upcoming course for 6 to 8 year olds by Yeng Yen.

This is another wonderful video on the inner life of the teacher by the Center for Courage and Renewal.

Related: Resources on Education

 

Interview: Rob Laidlaw

Rob Laidlaw and I used to be colleagues in the animal protection field a long time ago. We lost contact for many years and I’m so happy that we have recently resumed contact. He’s now an award-winning author. And I just read one of his books, “Saving Lives & Changing Hearts”, a book on animal sanctuaries and rescue centres.

Those of us in animal protection sometimes are surrounded by news and images of immense cruelty. This book helps us take a different perspective – a hopeful one. It is healing and restores our faith in people. It is also a great book to teach compassion to children.  It is full colour and full of endearing photos of the animals.

Rob shares many stories of how animals who were in danger or suffering were rescued and now live a much better life. I love the story of Little Pig who fell off a truck on its way to a slaughterhouse and is now in Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. And the story of Maggie, the elephant, whose family was killed and who was then sent to a zoo. After another elephant died, Maggie was alone. Rob shares how in 2007, Maggie was lying on one side and couldn’t get up.  She was finally sent to Performing Animal Welfare Society in 2008, where she is with other elephants.

I’m glad Rob warms us to not be taken in by entities which claim to be sanctuaries but which aren’t. And also points us to the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

Here’s a short interview I did with Rob.

 

Q: Among your various books, you say you like the sanctuary book best? Tell me more. 

A: My sanctuary book was a bit of a departure from my other books in that it focused less on the problems of wildlife in captivity and more on some of the solutions. I think it’s a positive book that demonstrates that it’s possible to have a more humane and equitable relationship with animals, even animals in captivity, in a way that doesn’t exploit or diminish them and that puts their interests as the highest priority. I think it’s important to remember that and to try to learn lessons from good sanctuaries and apply what we’ve learned to animals in all kinds of other situations.

Q: You documented animal suffering for decades. What made you turn your attention to those doing good for animals?

A: I’ve seen many people in the animal protection movement lose sight of the fact that you can’t always be negative. With the sheer scale of animal suffering I think it’s easy to fall into that way of thinking, but sometimes you also need to think about the good that has happened, even if only at the level of individual animals. We all have to realize that sometimes if we think more positively about how to approach the problems that animals face and offer some solutions then we can push forward faster with an animal protection agenda. I think the best sanctuaries do that and that’s why I wanted to highlight them.

Q: How did research for the sanctuary book impact you?

A: Even though I don’t usually show it, I’m always affected by animals. While I was visiting sanctuaries prior to writing this book I was more amazed than ever how forgiving the animals were. Some of them had come from the most horrendous backgrounds imaginable, yet they were curious, friendly, playful and engaging. Seeing them that way after all they’ve been through motivated me to work harder to try to help animals.

Q: When you recall your time in the sanctuaries, which animal do you remember the most? What was its story?

A: I remember many of the animals. I find all of them memorable in their own way. One group of animals that I clearly recall are a group horses at a California sanctuary. They came from a variety of different backgrounds. Some were seized by the authorities because they were being badly abused, while others had been abandoned. Those horses had formed bonds and friendships with each other and it was a delight to watch them and see how much they relied on each other for comfort and security.

 

The bears at an Indian bear sanctuary also stick out in my memory. After horrendous lives on the street, some of them existing in dire circumstances for decades, they were enjoying life in large forested enclosures and were doing all kinds of bear things. It was amazing to see them foraging, digging and even climbing trees, just like their wild counterparts would. For some of those bears, I wouldn’t have thought they could recover to that extent. It goes to show we should never give up on any captive animal. If we have a chance to give them a better life, we should make every attempt to do just that. I have many similar kinds of memories.

Photo credit: Rob Laidlaw.

Thank you, Rob, for sharing!

—————-

~ This book was a shift for Rob. He used a different lens to look at animals and contribute to their welfare. Could your own work do with a new approach? An approach that may be more appreciative or healing?

~ Teachers, parents, travelers – why not visit an animal sanctuary and learn of the stories of healing and transformation that have happened? It will help the animals and yourselves more than visiting entities that profit from animal suffering. Visit the GFAS site. Not all sanctuaries are open to visitors. Please check directly with the sanctuaries.

If you’re in Asia, visit Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.  I’ve met Lek and she’s a very courageous woman dedicated to elephants.

~ You can buy “Saving Lives & Changing Hearts” at Books Depository which has free shipping. Please recommend that your local and school libraries get a copy. 

 – Check out Zoocheck Canada, an organisation that Rob co-founded. 

– This interview was done for my new page, For Those Serving Animals. If you like it, press the “like” button and we can stay connected there. Please share with fellow animal advocates and other supporters of animals. Thank you.

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

“An education that enables and enhances personal introspection and contemplation leads to the realization of our inextricable connection to each other, opening the heart and mind to true community, deeper insight, sustainable living, and a more just society.” – The Centre for Contemplative Mind in Society

This tree from The Centre illustrates beautifully the many contemplative practices available. Fo explanations of each, go to their site.

 

Love is….

I wrote this in preparation for an activity run by PIES cafe at Greenleaf Centre (Asia). We were asked to reflect on what Love is.

Love is a verb.

Love is Presence.
Love is most precious when it is most tested.
Love Heals.
Love Transforms.
Love Liberates.
Love is Forgiveness, Gratitude, Apology, Growth.
Love needs Wisdom.
Love is needed where it is most forgotten. At the workplace. On the roads. To ourselves. To those who hurt us. To those we never meet.
Love is the journey. And the destination.
Love is why we’re here.