A Warm Winter’s Meditation on Gratitude

For many of us, the world moves along so quickly, and the endless stream of appointments, phone calls, emails, and other Things That Need To Be Done Next continually distracts us from the all important step of positive feedback. The nature of our world is such that many decisions need to be made by the unconscious levels of the mind.

Unless we create a clear, compelling image of the way we want to be and the life we want to create, that part of us may head in the wrong direction. And with so many negative messages (eg, economic woes, climate change, illness, pollution, politics), it is easy to lose our way and succumb to the toxicity of stress and depression.

Actually, there are many more positives within than negatives, and here is a way to make these known to your faithful unconscious mind – to really assume leadership in your life – by touching the positive experiences of the recent past and connecting them to the deepest level of your being. In this way you are setting your compass – and empowering the behaviors and experiences you want more of in your life.

So find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for ten minutes and recharge!

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(click “Play” button to listen . . . enjoy)

Healing Times Radio Archives: What is Verbal First Aid?

Verbal First Aid – The Power of Words, Images, and Stories to Help and Heal

Airdate: July 1, 2010 11am-12pm (PST) at OpenMindRadio.com

You will be fascinated and entertained as Dr. Prager and I explore the power of words to impact beliefs and engender healing. Learn about the power we all have within to transform not only our own lives but the lives of others. Everyone has the opportunity to create miracles by choosing carefully the words they use and how they speak to others (and especially themselves) in calm times as well as in high-stress situations.

We will examine some of the ideas presented in her very popular book, Verbal First Aid Helping your Kids Heal from Fear and Pain – and Come Out Strong , as well as in her newly released book, . Then we will learn some simple ways to turn a scare into a comfort, a hurt into a healing, and a potential trauma into a memory of courage. You will hear some valuable perspectives on major life challenges and learn how to transform crisis situations into positive, empowering experiences (by adjusting your attitude through your self-talk, changing the images you hold in your mind, and the stories you tell yourself).

You will be especially charmed by the beauty and wisdom of her approach to communicating to children, especially in emergency situations. Make sure all the parents you know get to hear this one.

Dr. Prager will share her observation that far too many of today’s hospital-born babies are quickly taken into sterile nurseries and hooked up to beeping machines. Her suspicion is that, instead of bonding with the mother, this generation of newborns is bonding with machines.

And, most of all, you will get to meet a woman who is truly a healing spirit, her mission – to help create a better future where we are all aware of the energy field around each of us, and between all of us.   This energy field is so easily enlightened or shattered. Just to experience her positive energy makes this interview worthwhile.

You don’t want to miss this one!

Listen to us Thursday, July 1st, 2010

11am-12pm PST at OpenMindRadio.com

•   •   • •   •   • •   •   • •   •   •

Subscribe to Healing Times Radio Podcasts (with iTunes or with web-based podcatchers ) at Healing Times Radio Archives

Make sure you don’t miss another show!

This is an excerpt from Dr. Millers Workshop/Lecture Series, Healing Yourself Is Healing the Planet, Seven Steps to Personal and Community Transformation.

To find out more and to REGISTER for the event visit

Historians are fond of naming periods of time according to the most important inventions and tools of that era. So, we have the Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment, the Industrial Age and we’re now in the Information Age.

When historian John Galbraith was asked how our era would be known in the future, he said that it would be known as the time “when the Buddha came to the West.”

If he is correct, then perhaps the ever-expanding interest in Buddhism and Buddhist thinking, highlighted by the current popularity of the Dalai Lama, is a sign of this.

This movement is, I believe, a part of a much larger movement that is flooding our Western culture with notions of empathy, forgiveness, compassion, egalitarianism, and love. They are burgeoning forth, spawning books, workshops, movies, TV shows, and websites.

Information on the healing power of these forms of Love has never been so available: personal, relational, and communal lives can be transformed. Even laboratory evidence shows we are happier, more productive, and can more easily ward off infectious disease.

We Are the Leaders We’ve Been Waiting For

In spite of this, however, we are engaged in an epic struggle – personally and collectively. Our planet is poised on the edge of an abyss. False leaders everywhere unwittingly conspire with a machine-dominated, information-processing environment to lead us headlong over the cliff, into a vast abyss of disintegration.

Environmental pollution, global warming, economic globalization, war, terrorism – Violence of all kinds create widespread despair, helplessness, and hopelessness.

Our Grand Narrative seems to have reached a critical chapter.  Soon we all will be able to see whether those forces of domination, greed, and insensitivity will push us over the edge into a global collapse – or if a critical mass of us will adopt the New Paradigm. If we do, we may be in time to strike a balance between creativity and destruction, between separation and unification.

The denouement of our story is not yet clear, but we are very near the tipping point. The potential to go either way is there.

The the good news is that we – the people of the earth – have the unprecedented access to the enlightenment of Love and new tools of global communication, (ranging from cell phones to the Internet and social networking,) to actually take part in writing our own script.

More and more of us are realizing that the change that needs to take place in the world around us, from our personal relationships to the actions of our nation, is exactly reflected by the change that needs to take place within ourselves.

Can you imagine that the peace, wellness and vitality we want to see in the world will emerge as we create it within? If enough of us can imagine that – and act on that – and develop the integrity to actually commit ourselves to the change we all say we want, we can definitely do it.

I can imagine it. People everywhere are feeling called to come into the present moment, release those aspects of the past that no longer serve, nurture inner wisdom and love, and awaken “the leader within.”

We are transforming our own lives and opening to the experience of shared values and meaning. Each of us is a neuron in the emerging global brain, and our networked communities form a basis from which collective intelligence and collective wisdom emerge to create a transformed world of peace, freedom and Love.

Now is the time each of us must choose. My vision is that we choose wisely. What can love lead you to imagine?

When the hand of utter stillness opens the heart, time ceases.

Then, love is possible.

At the physical level, light;

At the mental level, consciousness

At the emotional level, love;

At the spiritual level God.

What is love? Hard to say. Plato believed that Love is the pursuit of the whole. In Our Culture on the Couch , I stated: Although ‘love’ is an excruciatingly overused and abused word, there is a common factor involved whenever it is used. In every case, the active principle has something to do with togetherness, attraction, unity and unification, a joining together in some way – be it physical, emotional, philosophical, esthetic or otherwise.

This unification is obvious in the example of sexual loving, or in the case of the love between the mother and the infant, or the love of a worshipper for a Higher Power.

And in sports, (or war), we see the same phenomenon of unity that permits one team to win against all odds –athletes will often speak of the love they feel for their teammates. Whenever a certain quality of wholeness is maintained – whether it’s of a body, a relationship, or a racecar – it tends to give rise to enormous power, performance and survival potential.”

Love Is a Way of Being

You cannot “do” love. There is nothing that you can do that constitutes loving someone. There is no action that is of itself loving. Love is a way of being.

Indeed, it is simply being — being with another person, however they may be – with no judgments, prejudices, or agendas. Nothing to demonstrate, no one to impress. You love when there is total acceptance of another’s being – born of your acceptance of your own.

Love (capital “L”) refers to the attractive force in our universe. It is the inner power and knowing that guides the carbon atom to share electrons with its neighbors, rather than steal from them.  It is the attractive energy that sustains the integrity of the membrane of the lowly paramecium and thus, preserves the life within.

Love binds together the cells and organs, and enables them to harmonize their functioning to produce health of the whole. Love makes birds of a feather flock together, and it inspires wildebeests to travel hundreds of miles in the spring. Love is the magic bond between lovers, between brothers and sisters, between dear friends – it is the key to empathy, compassion, and community.

The Love/Violence Continuum

Love is one of a contrasting pair of forces that lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, the Love (capital L) – Violence (capital V) continuum. If perfect Love is at one end of this continuum, then pure Violence is at the other end.

In truth, few of us will ever get to know perfect Love, (though sometimes the love of a mother for her infant comes pretty darned close), and fortunately, we will probably never know pure Violence.

But who of us have failed to experience people at different positions on that spectrum?

It is crucial to understand that the qualities of Love and Violence are not to be seen as “opposites” – that is, they do not “oppose” each other. They are simply extremes of a continuum that every one of us is on right now.

To the degree that we see the world through eyes that look for wholes, harmony, balance, peace and connection, we are using the both-and paradigm/worldview. This paradigm seeks to find the “we” in every situation.

On the other hand, those who see the world completely from a black-white, me-you, us-them paradigm overwhelmingly  tend to see a winner and a loser, a right and a wrong in nearly every situation.

B ringing Love into Our World

How can I become an instrument of Love? Cultivate it within until you are overflowing – then let it flow into the lives of those who are open to receive it. Remember, as Ann Morrow Lindbergh told us:

never think of love as something you can give like an armload of flowers. Some people give love like that – they dump it down on top of you, a useless strong-scented burden.

You can’t give love; love is actually that force within that enables you to give other things.  “It is the motivating power.  It enables you to give strength and power and freedom and peace to another person.  It is not a result; it is a cause.  It is not a product; it produces.  It is a power, like money, or steam or electricity.” Love has value when you can give something else by means of it.”

The highest forms of inspiration come from people who are experiencing Love in some form. The inspiration of top music, writing, dance, art – you name it –involves the metaphoric breathing in of the spirit, the arising of the quality of wholeness and relatedness. In other words, Love.

Love is the essence of what I use in healing, and is what I teach in class, in therapy, in World Café meetings. I strive to make it the guiding light in my dealings with my colleagues and coworkers. Everything I teach is, in its purest form, simply another symbolic representation of love, a vehicle designed to awaken the power of love in others.

A Compassion Meditation – Rebooting Compassion Podcast

Pema Chodrun pointed out the paradoxical truth that “Being able to tolerate a broken heart is the medicine for the pain of existence.” Yet, with all the images that will be flooding our tv and internet screens, it is wise to strike a balance. We will almost certainly be treated to 24 hours of a long string of secondary disasters ranging from starvation and water-borne epidemics to violence and even deeper poverty. So it is wise to make sure you don’t overdo it.

I have offered some suggestions in the Rebooting Compassion audio clip.  The key is to stay in touch with your heart, and your potential for the acceptance of the truth . . . as the Buddha pointed out, the cause of all suffering is wanting things to be different than they are, right now! This acceptance provides the inner peace that can allow us to see deeper, through the pain to the potential.

One sign that you may have the right balance when, in spite of the pain you feel by empathizing, there will arise a deep sense of connection to these people, an awareness of what you can do to help, and a greater understanding of what needs to be done in the world to prevent even more of these “Katrina-like” disasters.

“The evil in this world is not done only by those who commit it, but by those who stand back and watch it happening.”
–Albert Einstein

•   •   •   •

Further explorations of the Principle of Compassion can be found in the following two articles by Dr. Miller:

•Why Bother Feeling Compassion? Compassion is Hard.

• Is God Punishing Haitians for the Sins of Their Ancestors?

Why Bother Feeling Compassion? Compassion Is Not Easy!

As we read of the tens of thousands who have died and the many more who are suffering at this moment, is natural to ask, “How can there be a positive side to a catastrophe such as this?”

Well, there is the cheap thrill of feeling generous by choosing to forgo a few lattes and squeeze 10 dollars through our cell phones by texting the word Haiti to 90999 to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

Beyond this, it offers us an opportunity to confront to grow as human beings. Our predilection for denial has led to one disaster after another, and an opportunity to learn how to face the challenges in our lives in a different way, in a way that gives us the courage to confront and change what we can change, while accepting what cannot be changed. And, especially, it is only by seeing the truth of what is that we can find the wisdom to know the difference.

We might also take this as an opportunity to grow spiritually. If we look deeply enough to see that, although no one could have prevented the earthquake, the poverty that has rendered the inhabitants totally helpless may be something that we could have helped prevent. Without much difficulty we can then begin to see the imbalances in our lives and in our world that are simply catastrophes waiting to happen, and begin to participate in a proactive way to start to transform this little planet while we still can.

So Why Bother to Feel Compassion

Why should we bother to feel compassion anyway? After all, as Pema Chodrun points out: true compassion is not very much fun, “It is very, very painful.  Compassion isn’t about seeing cute, dirty children in Latin America on a television commercial and then sending a check to a rip-off pseudo-charity.  It’s about actually imagining what the experience of a suffering person is like.  So to learn compassion one visualizes the American Indian dying of small pox, the Jew in the crematorium shower full of gas, the Tibetan Buddhist nun as she is being raped.”

Why bother? It is easier to identify with the aggressor, with the detatched privileged group who are free to pretend that “it’s not my problem.”

Or perhaps to retreat into the “victim” stance. “Gosh, I don’t have much power, what can I do. I’ve felt compassion before, and it hurt – real bad. Why would I want to touch a hot stove again?”

I Can Think Of Three Reasons Offhand:

1. Because to not do so would be to fail in our duty to the deepest part of ourselves (dharma)

The hardening of our hearts towards others must inevitably close even further the door of our heart that leads to our deeper spiritual selves. To the degree that we see ourselves as separate from those who have not been so gifted by fortune as ourselves takes us further from the deeper truth that we are all connected, and that what goes around comes around.

“In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . .
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

- Pastor about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power


2. Because this would be to trade short term gain (denial) for long term pain.

As I have explored at length in Our Culture on the Couch , it is the Old Paradigm habit of dividing the world into the fiction of “Us” and “Them” that lies close to the central etiology of most if not all of our suffering – as individuals as well as as a global community. The healing we all need must come from a shift to the New Paradigm kind of thought, the integrative, “Both/And” approach instead of the “Either/Or” that is leading our planet to the brink of destruction.

In America we hardly noticed the near-genocide against the natives living on this continent. We were too busy to pay attention as the fruit of the African continent was rounded up and shipped off to the New World, where they would be kept as slaves, and denied the ability to better themselves or to be treated as equals. We managed to sustain an enormous amount of denial as the Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals were shipped off to the Nazi death camps. It all seemed so far away.

Now however the world has grown a lot smaller. Sept 11, 2001 has begun to awaken us. Then there was Katrina, then the Economic Meltdown. It’s a lot easier to ignore the homeless when they are black, and hundreds and thousands of miles away than when we have to step over them to get into the grocery store. Or when we are one of them.

All these issues stem from our inability to see the deeper connection we all have, and the responsibility to step beyond the superficial differences and acknowledge the Oneness that lies beneath.

3. Because it creates personal health at the mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional level.

Recent studies have shown that your compassion is not only good for the person(s) to whom it is directed, it also improves your health as well. Those who are high in measures of compassion show an increased antibody response when exposed to the flu, for example.

Stay Tuned

The story of Haiti is just unfolding. Stay awake and aware, and remember that we created all this, and we can change it. What will the outcome be? Are we willing to see and respond (response-ability) to the truth of the situation, or will we find a way to turn away and disengage? Stay tuned!

•   •   •   •

Further explorations of the Principle of Compassion can be found in the following two articles by Dr. Miller:

• A Compassion Meditation

• Is God Punishing Haitians for the Sins of Their Ancestors?

Gratitude, the Gift that Keeps on Giving (text and video)

“If the only prayer you say in your life is, `Thank you,’ that would suffice.”

– Meister Eckhart

`Tis the season to be grateful. … It may be difficult to remember to be grateful, and that it is not just a seasonal thing, heavily corrupted by merchandising. At least, it does provide us with a teachable moment.

In these tough times, it may be difficult to remember to be grateful for what we have instead of anguishing over what we don’t have.

Try this reality check: Do you have a roof over your head? A bed to sleep in? Food in a refrigerator? Indoor plumbing? Electricity? Clean water to drink? A car? An education?
Compared to the rest of the world, you are fabulously wealthy – and lucky. See how many things you can find to be thankful for during this brief song:

Why us? Why are we so privileged to live in the most prosperous country in the world? Life’s a lot tougher in Bangladesh or Somalia.

And why we are blessed with freedom? Long before we were born, patriots fought and died for the fundamental freedoms we enjoy today. It’s not like we did anything. We just inherited the benefit of their sacrifice.

We should rejoice in gratitude for our lucky circumstances.

So why are we so busy complaining about what we don’t have, and not appreciating what we do have (unless you count jealously hoarding what you’ve got with no willingness to share as “appreciation”).

Acquiring an Attitude of Gratitude

Many of us operate on an obsessive consumerism with the philosophy that, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” What kind of game are we playing. “Greed is Good,” goes the philosophy that has infected the world since time immemorial, even before it became the motto of American business in the middle of the last century. And if you find that you seldom take the time to feel appreciation and gratefulness for things in your life, perhaps you have contracted a case of this affluenza yourself! If so you may find yourself complaining about what you don’t have, feeling envy of others who appear to have more, or jealously guarding what you have instead of sharing it.

Are you constantly on the lookout for how to get more? When will we ever learn that more is never enough?

Was it a surprise to you when, after receiving a huge helping of corporate welfare in the form of bailout funds, the robber barons whose policies had led us to the brink of disaster voted themselves million dollar bonuses? Check your DQ – your Denial Quotient.

And isn’t the health care debate that has gridlocked Congress really about power and money? Recently, Lily Tomlin reprised her Earnestine role as a heartless “service” representative on the phone. This time she blows off a patient: “We’re an insurance company. Your health care is our business, not our concern.” Watch the video here: Ernestine for CaliforniaOneCare.org

And during recent climate change summit in Copenhagen, representatives of developing countries protested that First World nations – rather than reducing their carbon footprints – seem comfortable with allowing a 2-degree rise in global temperature. Are we really that greedy that we would allow the disappearance of some island states and “certain death” for much of Africa?

Despite overwhelming evidence that we are blessed with so much, too many of us feel strangely entitled to what we have – and are markedly lacking in compassion for those who are less lucky.

Though you will not hear them from some of today’s most visible and influential Christians, the Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God’s deep concern for both. Consider:

Deut. 15:7. If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers . . . you shall not harden your heart . . . but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

Luke 3:11. And [John the Baptist] would answer and say to them, “Let the man with two tunics share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise.”

How can I be grateful when I have lost so much?

A man’s home was burgled. “Are you not sad?” he was asked. “No,” he replied, “I am feeling grateful – for three reasons. The first is that, although they took a great deal, they did not take everything. Secondly, though they took my possessions, I was not harmed. Thirdly, I am most grateful that it was they who stole, and not I.” (I try to emulate the fellow in this story, and though I have not equaled his equanimity, I am getting better.)

Corporate robber barons have run amok, often legally. People have lost their life savings, their homes, their cars, their jobs – and more. We have all been the victims to one degree or another, and it may seem difficult to be grateful in the face of such personal disasters – but strangely enough, that’s when we need gratitude the most. This is when we most need the willingness to open ourselves fully to the knowledge that there are things that are more important than our own emotional reactions and collection of possessions.

In fact, many times, it takes the shock of losing what we think is important to realize what is actually important. But we will never discover that which is of greater value if we are immersed in feeling sorry for ourselves.

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. –Eric Hoffer

All Pervasive Gratitude

To get the most out of life, perhaps, it might be a wise move to endeavor to develop a kind of all-pervasive gratitude – a New Paradigm kind of gratefulness – one that sees an opportunity for gratitude everywhere, in every flower, in every movement, and every sound, in everything. Grateful to be. Grateful to experience love. To appreciate the incredible richness of the world with deep respect – indeed, with awe – and in appreciation of something greater than self, a sense of reverence for humanity.

And if you are fortunate enough to have people in your life that love you, then gratitude is clearly in order. As Albert Schweitzer reminded us, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

There is always something to be thankful for, if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt!

How can I begin?

Simply start with the intention to feel gratitude. Don’t stand around waiting for it to happen, intend it! Remember, your feelings are behaviors, they belong to you, and you can choose, intentionally to guide your thoughts to focus upon those things that awaken your ability to feel grateful for your gifts.

Right now, allow yourself to be willing to actually give yourself the time to feel how wonderfully good it feels, taking a deep breath . . . Now . . . breathing in a full, rich inspiration . . . letting that breath inspire every cell of your brain . . . and every organ of your body . . . and realize that feeling gratitude is feeling love . . . and is a blessing of infinite magnitude.

Here is a brief video clip to help awaken appreciation and gratitude: From service dog to SURFice dog

Maybe at the end of our lives we can leave behind a message similar to that of Charlie Mechem, former head of Taft Broadcasting. Charlie wished that this might be put on his tombstone: “Dear God, Thanks for letting me visit. I had a wonderful time.”

So be well, enjoy this holiday season and remember that one of the very best ways to express gratitude is to give. O. Henry’s classic short story “The Gift of the Magi” reminds us this in a most profound way.  Here it is retold again in an animated short: The Gift of the Magi

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