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)

They say there are just two kinds of people in the world, those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.

As a case in point, the world can be divided into two groups of people: those who see the world as divided neatly into Us vs. Them (Either/Or) – and those who do not.

Those in the camp who do not see the world as Us vs. Them instead see a whole spectrum of information, wisdom, knowledge, and power that comes from the perspective of Both/And.

More specifically, international crises caused by Greece, the banking industry, and BP Oil (to name just a few) have shown us two elemental forces are at work, each represented by its own camp of “true believers.”

Each of these two camps is fueled by a deeper guide/pilot. In Our Culture On the Couch: Seven Steps to Global Healing , I have referred to the side that sees only differentiation, opposites, fragmentation, prejudice, conflict and dis-integration as Violence (with a capital V), and the other side, the one that sees and favors unification, similarities, wholeness, tolerance, cooperation and integration as Love (with a capital L).

The epic struggle between these two elemental forces can be seen everywhere, from the Monsanto brouhaha and the oil spill tragedy in the Gulf ( see the spill superimposed on your city , to that between Israel and the Arab world, to that between the Far Left and the Far Right in our country.

The Far Right tells us this is a world of great danger, that we need to be stern, and to use deadly force and extreme rendition in order to get what we, the “In Crowd,” want, no matter how extravagant, how wasteful, how unfair and unequal. The Far Left often threatens to be foolishly naïve, economically irrespsonsible, tolerant of civil chaos, and would politically empower people in the underclasses, minorities, and welfare queens.

Each has its power base and wages war on the other. The confrontations are often violent, even at the highest levels of government, religion, business and media. (here RFK Jr. speaks to the death of democracy at the hands of media)

This Struggle Is Within Each of Us As Well

We can easily see these forces at war on the global stage, but if we look within, we discover the same conflict within each of us.

This then, is a philosophical struggle, a war of basic beliefs as to the nature of the world. Most of us fail to see the struggle within ourselves, because we have been hypnotized by the media to think that someone else is to blame – that the problem is out there. We have been trained to believe we are helpless as individuals. We have been so brainwashed that we do not even see that we have the ability to change the belief that we are helpless.

Our beliefs are behaviors, just like our thoughts and our emotions. And the truth is if we want to, we can change our beliefs. We don’t have to continue to believe and act according to some outside authority that is telling us to believe and do things that go against the common good. We don’t have to believe that it is OK to be a racist, sexist, and/or a religious bigot. We don’t have to suppress, torture, or even kill those who  have been labeled “Other.”

We can – if we want to – approach others with respect, acknowledgement and willingness to look for mutual values. Moreover, we can work together toward common goals and visions.

In one side of our hearts, we find a distinct set of emotions that are arousing, negative and intense in valence – anxiety, fear, greed, anger – in short, Violence. In this worldview, we see the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual violence that fills our news reports from locally and around the world. This serves to reinforce the Either/Or core belief.

On the other side of our hearts, if we look within, we see the world through the Both/And perspective that always seeks to open the door to the possibility of tolerance, acceptance and respect. This door leads to the ability to create peace, balance, a profound sense of oneness, and even Love.

The only kind of peace present in the Either/Or paradigm is the temporary calm between wars, arguments and conflicts.  True peace is only achievable when we embrace the Both/And paradigm (which, somewhat paradoxically includes Either/Or). Peace will only happen when we, in my nomenclature, embrace Love (as I have defined it in my book).

Models

Interestingly, those individuals who model this attitude and perspective of Love are those individuals who have devoted some part of their time to meditation, contemplation and more enlightened thought.

They include current-day teachers and masters as well as those we know through the sacred teachings of the major religions – Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna and others. (Of course, I am careful to point out the dramatic difference between their lifestyles and their words – and reject the distortions promulgated by so many of the religious cults that have disgraced and betrayed their prophets).

It’s the System, Stupid

Unfortunately, it appears that most of the world is choosing to ignore or misinterpret these teachings. Everywhere we see lies and polarization, abuse and Violence. We keep looking for that person or group to blame, but we always fail. This is because the illness we want to cure is systemic – the bad guy is not a person, but the System as a whole – the Matrix.

The shenanigans that took place when we tried to find the cause of the BP oil spill provided a demonstration that would have been laughable, if it were not being played out in terms of the human and environmental suffering the spill is creating in towns along the Gulf Coast. First we are told that 5,000 gallons per day are leaking out. Then a week later that it is actually 10, 000 gallons, then 20,000, and now 60,000 per day!

And who is at fault? BP said it was not their fault, because they had hired the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and crew, and it was they who screwed up. Deepwater in turn said it was Halliburton that was last working on sealing the well when it blew.

The Republicans say it was Obama’s fault for not being “on the job.” The Democrats say it was the result of Bush Cheney & Co. and their cozy relationship with the oil companies. And defying all logic, Rush Limbaugh blames the environmentalists . Meanwhile, the environmentalists blame us all for the expensive, energy intensive lifestyle we are living.

While finger-pointing and blaming are the staple of the Either/Or Us. vs. Them faction, the reality is that we are all to blame because we are all part of the System.

Partisan Wrangling

Do people really think they are helping anyone but themselves and their special interest group by perpetuating partisan wrangling?

We see the truth. All that saber rattling and foot dragging is just the floor show designed to keep us hypnotized and distracted while the treasury is looted and the middle class is liquidated to the profit of the few and the misery of the many.

Do they think we are blind to the Violence induced by the behaviors of our supposed leaders? How much clearer an example do we need?

One of the clearest examples is the series of events that have culminated in death threats and bricks being thrown through the windows of Congressional Representatives and Senators. Politicians, talk show hosts and insurance company executives may not personally chuck the bricks and make the threatening phone calls, but they are a vital part of the system that is responsible. Yet we seem incapable of seeing this or doing anything about this systemic problem.

History provides an excellent teaching moment. In 1170, Thomas Beckett, archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by four of King Henry’s knights. Beckett had been in ideological conflict with Henry II, whose frustration reached a climax when he yelled out in fury, “Who will free me from this turbulent priest?”

The knights answered him by their action. Clearly, Henry II never struck a blow or thrust a knife, yet it is clear that he was directly responsible.

How then can we conceptualize, and assign blame, when the bricks and death threats follow closely on the heels of a major politician publishing a map on her website with the hometowns of these members of Congress branded with rifle crosshairs, accompanied by a speech exhorting, “Don’t retreat, reload”? Immediately following her implicit call to Violence, there appeared another webpage urging people to toss bricks through their living room windows. ( click here to learn more )

This is a classic example of the systemic problem that arises strictly from the Us vs. Them paradigm we are using – it is systemic, and it seems no one is willing to take responsibility for it. The politician did not throw bricks. The fellow who put up the Facebook page never, himself, threw any bricks. Those individuals who threw the bricks are unknown. A perfect storm. Terrorism without a perpetrator.

These false prophets and false leaders can remain in power only as long as we are willing to let them. We need to find – and become – leaders who can see and seek wholeness and healing. And we must always be wary of those whose primary agenda is based on making us afraid and polarized. We are all in this boat together – and poking holes in our adversaries’ end of the boat will sink us too.

Change Begins Within

As usual, the changes start within. How well are you doing with avoiding unnecessary judgment, criticism, blame and anger – both toward yourself and toward others?

How can you express more Love in how you treat yourself, your environment, and those in your family, community and workplace? What candidates will you support or vote for? Which corporations will you buy products from?

What you learn from your own personal shift to Love will enable you to better recognize those candidates for leadership who are able to step back from the fray and see the system as a whole.

Only when we elect and become those leaders can we bring forth the creativity – and courage – we need to truly solve our national and global problems. We must not only do this for ourselves, but for the generations to follow.


We have been misled, and now it is time to look within, as presented in Awakening the Leader Within . Helpful in this process is the CD program, Abolish Anxiety Now! , because it is through anxiety and the temporary solutions we are offered that we are controlled by the System. we need to let go the anxiety so we can find the courage to face our problems, not deny them. The skills offered on The Serenity Prayer are useful in learning the balance we need to choose well.

The Dark Force and New Leadership (video excerpt)

This video is an excerpt from Dr. Miller’s Workshop/Lecture Series, Healing Yourself Is Healing the Planet, Seven Steps to Personal and Community Transformation.  To find out more and to register for Sessions 2 & 3 visit DrMillerEvents.com .

Ask Dr. Miller: How Important is Relaxation to the Healing Process?

March 22, 2010 by EMiller
Filed under Our Culture on the Couch

I was deeply touched when this power point presentation came through my inbox and I wanted to share it in honor of Women’s Month.

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.

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