Category: Kindness & Compassion

This Matters

This Matters

Last week, someone commented at the end of one of my Zoom mindfulness programs that whereas having a meditation practice seemed optional in the past, it has become essential. I agreed wholeheartedly and added that we need all hands on deck at this time, being our best, most resourced selves.

After the session ended, I had a little cry. 

There were multiple feelings present at the same time, but the dominant one was gratitude. I silently thanked all of the people and circumstances that helped me to become who I am on this endless journey of awakening. And I felt deep gratitude for being able to serve humanity as a meditation and spiritual teacher/practitioner in these chaotic times and feeling that I’m truly living my purpose. Since the first day of the Covid shutdown, I’ve felt that all my years of spiritual practice and self-development were preparation for these current times we’re living in. There were so many years of preparing and waiting – and doing now feels amazing and empowering, except that I have to acknowledge that the reason behind all of this doing is the magnitude of suffering in the world.

I listened recently to a podcast episode in which the suggestion was made to not be so grandiose in your idea of what your life‘s purpose is. It might be doing one thing, or something that helps even just one person. Hearing this made an impression on me because I’m often so focused on my Big Purpose that I find myself rushing through the mundane tasks of daily life and feeling tense. Especially when life gets busier, which it has been lately. Often, I’m so eager to jump into my work after getting out of bed that things like brushing my teeth and taking a shower – and yes, sometimes even meditating – just seem to be in the way. Because I’ve generated an overly ambitious to-do list, and there are only so many hours in the day.

However, even an activity like preparing a meal and chopping vegetables can be an expression of your life‘s purpose that benefits other human beings.

One afternoon while chopping some greens, I noticed myself wanting the task to be over so I could move on to the next thing I was eager to move on to. Then an idea popped into my head, and I gave it a try. It was a very simple experiment. I simply said to myself: This matters.

With those two words, my body relaxed, my mind came back to the present moment, and my whole being let out a sigh of relief. It felt so much better than rushing!

So I adopted it as an ongoing practice. Every time I catch myself rushing through a task, I remind myself: This matters. It changes everything.

Making food for myself and my family matters.

This footstep on the way to and from the mailbox matters.

Scrubbing this potato matters.

Washing this pot matters.

Emptying the dishwasher and putting dishes away matters.

(There are a lot of kitchen examples here!)

This breath matters.

With this practice, every task that feels mundane becomes a path back home, a mindfulness practice, a crack through which the light of gratefulness enters in. 

Self-nourishing activities matter, too:

Appreciating the fragrance of your body wash, shampoo, lotion, etc. 

Feeling the sensations of lathering or applying them on your skin.

Feeling the pleasant warmth of the shower water.

Being grateful for having warm, flowing water.

Next time you find yourself rushing, give it a try. Notice the difference between mind full and mindful. Acknowledging that whatever we’re doing right now matters is a portal out of the busy, future-focused mind and back into the here and now, where our true power resides. It’s like applying the brakes. We slow down and can enjoy the experience, the sensations, and the gift of this moment in this precious human life. And then we’re more centered and present in our next activity or interaction, which enhances everything we do and benefits everyone we come in contact with.

This matters:

This step

This scoop

This snip

This chop

This stroke

This breath.

It matters because it’s what is happening right now. Allowing it to matter is a game-changer! It is empowering.

So many feel grief-stricken, fearful, and angry in response to the situations of tremendous suffering in other parts of the world. Our hearts want to answer the call to do something to help ease suffering that can feel like too much to bear when we witness it on our screens. Whereas we may feel powerless, truly there is so much we can do, especially when we’re not so grandiose or specific about what matters.

For example, we can become aware of the seeds of war within us and not water them. We can give ourselves the care needed to be properly rested, more centered, and less grouchy and volatile so we can shine our light more fully in this world. We can make peace with someone with whom we have disharmony, even if it’s only in our own mind and heart and the way we see them. We can open our hearts to the suffering on all sides of heated conflicts.

All of this matters.

These are just a few examples, and it’s very deep work. It might feel so small and as if it doesn’t help to ease suffering in areas of the world embroiled in war and conflict. But that’s no excuse for throwing in the towel and getting stuck in a trance of powerlessness, futility, and despair. There are many situations closer to home that would benefit from our caring hearts and deepening wisdom. Perhaps even in our own home. There are also actions you can take politically if you’re inclined, but hopefully from a more centered state of being that draws upon greater wisdom and compassion, which meditation helps us to access. 

Sometimes it’s the little things we do or say – the presence we give – that remain with someone for years and water seeds of goodness, kindness, hope, and resilience within them. Every small action that brings more love, light, and consciousness into this world matters. So let’s be here where we are, doing what we can, trusting that it matters and is part of our life purpose…and that our small actions ripple farther than we can see. Please don’t discount them.


© 2023 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Welcoming Imperfection

Welcoming Imperfection

I’m fond of saying that October is my favorite color. Usually it is. But this year? Not so much. This year, the colors have been muted for the most part. And not a lot of sunshine, either. Or visible sunrises. I’m glad I embarked on my yearlong sunrise photography project last year instead of this year!

This morning, looking out the window at the same overcast landscape, it occurred to me that this season’s foliage fits the general theme I’ve experienced this year: things not turning out as planned. Surely, there are plenty of exceptions and wonderful surprises – but the things I most looked forward to this year followed this theme.

Being really sick the only time I’ve visited Arizona

Summer vacation plans that fell through – all of them!

My grandson spending the first days of his life in NICU and not knowing yet how much of an impact it will have on his functioning

Not finishing the book I’m writing – over the winter…or the summer

You get the idea.

The reason I’m noticing this theme is because instead of driving around leaf-peeping, I’ve been going through my journal, daily planner, and photography libraries to review each month and harvest its gifts and lessons. This is something I normally do at the end of each month, but this year it didn’t happen because each month seemed to move at warp speed, and there was a lot going on. 

Playing catch-up like this, one thing I’ve noticed is that when I reflect back several months, I have tremendous compassion for the slightly younger version of myself and what she was going through. When events are still fresh or even in-process, reflecting on them can lack the distance that offers this wider perspective. 

Recently, I presented a Gratefulness Gathering on the topic of “Welcoming Imperfection”. I mentioned that sometimes I’ll fast-forward to the end of this life to get perspective on what really matters – and so much that doesn’t. What would future me want most from present-day me as she looks back on her life, knowing how it all turned out? How would she look at the challenges I currently face and where I put my energy? How do I look at Susan from years past, during the duller, more muted times?

When my husband and I were hiking back up from the bottom of Kaaterskill Falls a few weeks ago, we encountered two men we’d talked with earlier. One was struggling and going at a much slower pace than the other, who was up ahead and at one point called back to his companion, “Regretting your life choices?” We found that line pretty funny and agreed we needed to remember it.

Because it rang true. I certainly have regretted some of my life choices! But something that has become very clear to me this year is that getting down on ourselves for choices we made that we wouldn’t make if we had the chance to do it all over again with the benefit of hindsight – is counterproductive. It drains our energy in this present moment, which is where our true power lies.

Our self-punishment doesn’t serve anyone. What if this, too, is “God’s will” – or “part of the path” (however you want to phrase it)? What if our human journey is like a labyrinth rather than a maze, with no wrong turn, and every step we take brings us closer to the center?

Looking back through my planner and journals helps me to remember what was going on that got in the way – of not finishing the book, for example. Things I might forget – the same way you forget how intense childbirth was (at least the way I chose to do it!).

One of the most empowering ways to reflect on our lives is to acknowledge that the choices we made were affected by so many factors, both within and beyond ourselves. And to have compassion for our younger selves, who were doing their best, given what they knew and what was going on at the time. If we can’t remember what was going on, perhaps we can give ourselves the benefit of the doubt that there were reasons why we didn’t do what, in retrospect, we think we should have done – or we didn’t live up to our potential.

What if we needed all of our experiences to learn and grow and awaken in ways that will make our future self at the end of this life grateful for the journey? 

Can we accept and find something to appreciate or even love about the years when the fall foliage isn’t so vibrant and brilliant – when the colors are muted? And the seasons of our own life when we didn’t shine so brightly? When what we looked forward to just didn’t pan out, for whatever reason (including factors beyond our control)?

Can we find something beautiful or worthwhile in what is/was, exactly as it is/was? Instead of feeling we need to Photoshop reality, so to speak. 

If we can bring compassion to ourselves, we’re more able to give real compassion, kindness, and caring to others. And isn’t that what this world needs right now?


© 2023 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Hard Questions

Hard Questions

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
-Jalal al-Din Rumi

In recent weeks, news events and personal matters have been bumping up against my spiritual aspirations and inviting me to live them more fully. When I’ve noticed myself getting reactive or judgmental, I’ve been practicing the “sacred pause” to look more deeply and keep my beliefs and emotions in check. I believe it’s good practice in this age of social media, artificial intelligence, outrage culture, and deep divides to do so.

As the saying goes: The mind is a wonderful servant and a terrible master. Bringing awareness to when the mind has been seduced by thought or, in Eckhart Tolle’s words, “infected by a thought virus” is the first step in freeing ourselves from it. Some red flags are when we find ourselves overly identified with a certain view or person and/or emphasizing the otherness of others. 

Living from the aspirations to see clearly and to not throw anyone out of my heart has generated a lot of questions around the overarching themes of:

  • Is what I’m believing true?
  • Can I know for certain that it’s true?
  • How might it look from other perspectives?
  • How am I being called to widen my circle of compassion?

One inquiry led to another. The questions felt important, so I gathered them, below. (The spaces between lines are invitations to take a deep breath in and a long breath out.)

May the impact of these words match the heartfelt intentions with which they were written.

Hard Questions

Can you hold in your heart anguish for the young murder victims
And at the same time appreciate the abundance of beauty in the world?

Can you care deeply for those in mourning
And not throw out of your heart the defense lawyers
And even the men who pulled the triggers?

Can you have compassion for yourself
If you’re not able to open your heart so wide
Or don’t even want to?

Can you trust your heart if you do?

Can you have faith that boundless empathy
Need not impede firm, ethical action?

Do you dismiss possible positive qualities of those you dislike
And possible negative qualities of those you adore?

Can you be receptive to information that doesn’t align with your opinion
Of someone you either idealize or demonize?

If not, are you aware of your automatic shut-off response,
And are you okay with it?

Can you feel the sensations of cognitive dissonance—
The mind trying frantically to make sense of the world
With stories of victims and villains, Us and Them?

Do you want to be right or to embrace greater truth?

Can you realize when you are relating to an idea of a person
Instead of the actual person?

Can you allow someone to dislike you
Without disliking them in return or needing to change their mind?

Can you see how lashing out at someone else
Allows you to discharge the anger and powerlessness you carry within?

Do you have the courage to face and transform
Your inner material instead of projectile-vomiting it onto others?

Can you resist taking the bait
And instead of attacking someone who has a different perspective
Consider what kind of suffering or deep caring compels their opposition?

Can you become curious about how they came to hold their beliefs
And allow the possibility of learning from collective wisdom?

Do you think you know better
Or that there is so much more to understand?

Can you attune to your body’s guidance system
And discern what is true for you
Without needing validation from others?

Can you have compassion for yourself without coddling yourself
To remain in your comfort zone?

Can you acknowledge that the same event viewed through different lenses
Might appear wildly disparate due to different histories and conditioning?

Are you aware of the contrast that can exist
Between someone’s good intentions
And the impact their words and actions have on others?

Are you quick to react with outrage
Instead of seeking truth?

Do you realize there are sophisticated algorithms
Attempting to lure you into thinking and believing certain things?

Can you shift out of thought-habits and into the present moment
And breathe yourself free?


© 2023 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Ways to Support Your Favorite Small Businesses

Ways to Support Your Favorite Small Businesses

There are so many ways you can support your favorite small businesses, and many of them don’t cost anything at all! 

The following list is the product of my greatest wishes and frustrations – and a little research, commiserating, and brainstorming, too. As a solopreneur, I’m so busy creating content, programs, and products that I don’t have much time for social media and working with the ever-changing algorithms. (In fact, I stopped posting to my photography Facebook page altogether because the algorithm killed it.) There are all kinds of large and small headaches behind the scenes of your favorite small businesses, which in some cases is simply one person trying to make a living doing what they do best that adds positive value to the world while trying to get enough sleep to be able to continue doing it.

I hope you will find this list useful in helping you to support favorite small business owners and shopping small and local, in general. (I’ve taken the liberty to include some specific wish-list items and links of my own).

Ways to Support Your Favorite Small Businesses

Write a Positive Review/Testimonial

  • For any products or services purchased or classes you’ve taken
  • You need not write a book: A few heartfelt sentences will suffice.
  • Post online and tag them.
  • Email them directly with a testimonial they can use on their website, social media, etc.
  • Indicate how to display your name (full name, name and initial, first name only, geographical area).
  • Bonus: Give permission to include a small picture of you (boosts credibility of the testimonial).

Subscribe, Follow, and Engage with Their Posts on Social Media

  • Commentlike, and share posts to amplify their online presence. (The algorithms can be brutal for solopreneurs who don’t have time to post much, and “organic reach” tends not to go very far.)
  • A positive comment (words of encouragement, a nice hello, emoji, reply to product) goes a long way and tells the algorithm to keep showing you their posts.
  • Share/repost their posts and tag a friend.
  • Share both current and older blog posts on social media.
  • Subscribe to their YouTube/Vimeo channel.

Sign Up for Their Newsletters/Mailing List

  • You can sign up for mine on almost every page of my website.
  • Forward newsletters to friends/family/colleagues who may resonate.

Buy and Gift Local Artwork and Products

  • Order a print from a local photographer. (I offer my photography in a wide range of price points, from small, laminated images and greeting cards to poster prints and canvases.)

Post or Send a Picture and Give a Shout Out

  • Take a picture of their product/art in your home .
  • Photograph their shop/products at craft shows.
  • Tag on social media or email directly.

Help Connect the Networking Dots

  • Tag them in opportunities.
  • Do you have a connection that could be a good fit?

Word-of-Mouth Recommendations to Family, Friends, Colleagues

  • It goes a long way!

Cheer Them On

  • Send a positive, appreciative, encouraging message.

Offer to Trade Services

  • Not every small biz owner is open to trades, but it can’t hurt to inquire!

Buy Gift Cards/Subscriptions

Purchase Services & Products

  • Pay with cash if possible.
  • Don’t ask for discounts or freebies.
  • Tip well, if you’re able.

Donate Items They Could Use

  • For art works, product development, displays, packaging
  • For photographers: picture frames (I currently am in need of frames for matted artwork 18″x24″ or thereabouts.)

For Portrait Photography Clients

  • Share portraits with the photographer’s watermark/logo and tag them.
  • If an image doesn’t have a watermark, be sure to tag them!
  • Give permission to share a few of your images (on their website, social media, newsletter).
  • Don’t edit professional images on your own, apply filters, etc. It compromises brand integrity/consistency.

Be Patient and Understanding

  • Small business owners don’t have the resources of larger companies.
  • Who and what do we serve by opting for fastest, cheapest, and more?
  • Remember that small business owners work really hard and are only human.

Reach Out and Ask

  • If you have some spare time, ask if there’s something you can do to help.

I hope these suggestions are helpful and will make a small business owner’s day!

Here Are a Few of My Featured Products

Browse through the complete collection in my shop


© 2022-2023 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Different Views

Different Views

A few evenings ago, there was a spectacular sunset on the river. From our east-facing side of the river, we tend to experience glorious sunrises and occasionally stunning sunsets, as well.

That evening was one such occasion. Puffy, white clouds reflected clearly by the calm water lured me into my kayak.

I almost didn’t bring my camera. Leaving the house, I assured myself the phone camera would suffice. I wanted to travel lightly and focus on paddling, not photography.

But in a moment of stopping and waiting for traffic to pass before crossing the road, I experienced an intuitive nudge to go back inside and get my camera. And it’s a good thing I followed that voice because 45 minutes later, I floated on a river of awe.

Once again, I realized what a difference a “sacred pause” can make in receiving intuition, inspiration, and wisdom that goes unnoticed when we’re immersed in a cloud of thought. 

When I paddled to the other side of the river, the puffy clouds that lured me onto the river were not visible. Unless they left their houses, people living on the east side of the river wouldn’t have known they were there! From that side of the river, I could see a large cloud over our house. (Actually, it was over the hill behind our house.) The clouds to the west were illuminated differently than the clouds to the east. This particular cloud was backlit and outlined with the most beautiful light. The idiom, “Every cloud has a silver lining” came to mind.

From inside our house in the river valley at the bottom of a hill, we wouldn’t have any awareness of it. Similarly, we usually only get a very faint indication of breathtaking sunsets happening at the top of the hill that are visible from the west-facing side of the river.

While floating in my kayak, I thought about how our view of the world is largely determined by where we “live” – literally and figuratively. Which way we face and what portion of the sky we’re exposed to. Residents of one side of the river might have a very different perception of the landscape and the cycle of day and night than those on the other side or up on a hill in either direction. Some might look forward to sunsets instead of sunrises and full moonrises or experience longer periods of sunlight than we do in the valley.

And it’s not just the sky canvas. Property on one side of the river might be more prone to flooding than on the other side, or perhaps certain properties on either side. Flood insurance might cost more, and not having flood insurance might make one more anxious during weather events. There are so many, differing factors at play that we might not consider because they’re not our own, personal issues.

We might be totally unaware of what is clearly visible on the other side of the river, and vice versa. The only way to have a wider perspective is to travel to someone else’s yard – perhaps on the other side of the river or up on a hill – and see from their point of view. Then you might understand what it looks like from where they are and how their ideas developed.

I loved living on one side of the river and seeing the sunrise and working up the hill on the other side of the river and catching the sunset…although that usually meant I was working later than I should have been!

River Neighbors

Seeing the clouds on the river that evening also brought to mind an experience I had last year when a person of interest enrolled in one of my photography courses. Realizing people in general were more sensitive and angry in the wake of all we’ve been through, I was concerned this person’s presence could be distracting or even triggering for some.

The situation the universe pitched my way was an invitation to grow and ended up being deeply transformative for me. Whereas I had time to prepare, the other participants didn’t. I wanted to be able to manage skillfully whatever dynamics might arise and relate to all participants as human beings, not roles.

During our first session, after talking about some technical stuff, I turned to more inner aspects of photography, which is where the juice is for me. I talked about how nature photography can serve to connect us both with nature and with other people. I explained that I know most of our river neighbors on both sides of the river between the two locks. We river neighbors don’t necessarily share the same views of the world. However, our shared love of the river unites us. We talk affectionately about bald eagles, herons, egrets, loons, swans – and commiserate about the bridge noise. Sometimes a neighbor will even notify me when they see something interesting on the river that could be a photo op.

I feel a deep sense of connection with all of our river neighbors because of this shared experience of living on the river. And the connection even goes beyond the Hudson River. When I talk about living on the Hudson, there’s an instant connection with anyone who’s ever lived on a river.

I love that my river neighbors help me to become aware of what I didn’t see because I was focused on something else. I love seeing what the sky or fog (for example) look like from their perspective when they share pictures. And sensing their appreciation for the river helps me to see their goodness – their inner light – even if we hold different views. Our views are just a small part of who we are as human beings, and it’s important to remember that. Our views and opinions, no matter how strongly held, are not our essence.

The point I was making in the photography course is that the participants were drawn to learning about nature photography because of some kind of caring, longing, or appreciation. We had something in common beneath the surface that brought us together. And months after the course was done, I learned what drew the person of interest to my course and that we had something else in common, on a heart level. No matter how differently my river neighbors or participants in my classes might relate to current events, I’ve learned to look deeper, for our common humanity. Usually, there’s some kind of caring or wounding if you dive down deeper.  

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow asserted: 

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each [person’s] life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

It doesn’t mean you do anything different on the outside. You don’t need to move to the other side of the river, so to speak. It’s an inner shift that allows you to perceive someone as a whole person, not an ideology, viewpoint, or role. You won’t lose yourself by adopting a greater perspective unless the ideology or viewpoint forms your identity. If you identify with it, it might feel threatening to see the goodness and integrity of someone on “the other side” of an issue. But we are so much more than our beliefs and conditioning. Who we are at our core has nothing at all to do with that.

The problem isn’t that we hold different views. It’s when an ideology of any sort becomes our identity. Because at that point, we stop perceiving ourselves and others as the complex human beings that we are. Instead, we relate as one ideology to another, which is diminishing and potentially dangerous.

Opening your heart to the goodness of someone who seems different from you also doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to the effects of the personality. As I’m sure we’ve all learned from experience, some personalities can be very destructive and damaging. They’ll drain your energy if you let them.

Focusing on the goodness and losing sight of the harsh realities of certain personalities can make us vulnerable to being mistreated by them…unless we also see and value and want to protect our own goodness and integrity. My recovery from an abusive situation focused not on demonizing the other person but on acknowledging my own worth, looking deeply into why I became so invested in caring about them, and practicing better self-care. Whenever they come to mind now, I wish them well and carry on. Or as the Jimmy Buffet song goes: Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Listening to the Voice

An experience I had yesterday morning seems somehow related to all of this.

There’s a deck of inspirational cards displayed in our kitchen. There are hundreds of cards in the collection, and every month, I count out enough for each day of that month. So every day, there’s a different card displayed.

Before going to bed the other night, I looked at that day’s card. A Rumi quote was printed on it:

There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.

When I woke up in the morning, I opened up the Insight Timer app to do a guided meditation. Every day, a new quote appears when you open up that app, and what quote do you think came up that morning? That same Rumi quote! So I paid attention and took it to heart.

A little later that morning while editing photos, I found myself singing Olivia Newton-John’s song, Have You Never Been Mellow. I hadn’t heard that song in – well, I can’t even remember the last time! My association with the song was from my childhood, when it was released on vinyl. My dad was a fan and had the album. I loved listening to my parents’ records when I was in elementary school. That album was one I played and danced around to. 

So there I was editing photos and singing the refrain, over and over. And then I felt a presence behind me, wrapping around me. It felt like my dad.

The Rumi quote came to mind, and I stopped editing photos and became present to the energy. Then I heard my dad’s voice inside me, offering loving advice. He wanted me to set myself free from the way I was thinking about money – his way. And he gave me permission to do so. Then he said: You’ve been walking around with my voice in your head for too long. Let it go. I couldn’t see the whole picture when I had a body that got in the way. You focus on what really matters. Let go of the rest. It’s your life, not anybody else’s. 

I was in tears because it was very powerful to hear this message coming from my father’s energy. I’m in the process of decluttering my parents’ belongings from my storage unit. But I was torn between having a yard sale and donating the stuff. I imagined my dad would have tried to sell it first rather than give it away. Obviously, my parents had no use for it anymore. However, I felt I should honor the value they placed on their possessions. And that was holding me back. So the message was deeply meaningful and liberating.

What really stood out was the part about having a body that gets in the way of seeing the whole picture. It’s like not being able to see the whole sky from where we are in the river valley. We can only see a portion of it, and it might look very different from what our neighbors across the river or anywhere else in the world can see. We might have hills or mountains obstructing our view. Or the limitations of our physical senses. Or the beliefs we’ve had conditioned into us or otherwise adopted as truth.

Partly Right

The late Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, offers six mantras of true love. The sixth one is: “Darling, you are only partly right.” This could be uttered in response to praise, criticism, or viewpoints from your inner voice or from someone else. It also can be applied when we glorify or devalue someone else or otherwise create an idea of them based on where they stand in relation to what we hold dear. 

Instead of relating to someone as an idea we have about them, is it possible to allow ourselves to relate to them as actual human beings inhabiting this river of life and experiencing emotions, delusions, pressures, and suffering, just as we do? Maybe a different flavor, but the same basic experience. The experience of clouds passing through the sky of awareness and obscuring the light of our true nature.

Another Rumi quote comes to mind:

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

That is the challenge and the invitation I’m weaving from all of these experiences. Can we wish for all beings to be well, happy, and free from suffering – even those on the “other side”? It doesn’t mean enabling or turning a blind eye to injustice and suffering. It means first tending to and developing our own hearts. Then bringing a wise and loving heart into our relationships with others. 

With actual people, not ideas of them. 

I never would have imagined pictures of clouds would have led to all of these words, but there you go.


© 2022 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

True Freedom

True Freedom

More evenings than not, I have lengthy video calls with my granddaughter, who will turn six later this month. The other night, she told me she wishes everyone could “just be good to each other.” My daughter told me that was her “Santa wish”, and she also expressed it again last night at bedtime.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Sometimes I tell her there are adults who maybe should go back to kindergarten and learn how to get along with others and manage their feelings better. She thinks that’s funny…but also true.

Her wish reminded me of some words I penned in the middle of the night recently, before falling back to sleep. I wrote them and then put them aside. Hearing my granddaughter’s wish prompted me to revisit and share them.

True Freedom

Whoever you are, you are
First and foremost to me
A soul being expressed
As a human being
Who loves and hurts
And hopes and grieves
Just like me.

I, too, have held some beliefs
So tightly that a position 
Became my identity 
And lifestyle choices
Became a checklist
By which I judged
And set myself apart
From others.

From that, I learned 
It doesn’t feel good to be so rigid
In my beliefs, to push away
So many “unenlightened” others.
It causes suffering.

I, too, was for a time
On more than one occasion 
Seduced by charisma and appearance.
I, too, clung to an idealized image
Of someone because it helped me
To feel better about myself.

I have both looked down on 
And elevated others
To boost my self-esteem:
Pushed them away to affirm
I was unlike them
Or pulled them close and sought
Their approval and affection 
To affirm my worthiness.

But eventually I realized
It felt better to set myself free
From all that nonsense
Than to perceive someone
As either a minor god or a monster
And sometimes both.

There have been times
When I held onto illusion 
For far too long,
And therefore I cannot condemn
Anyone else for doing so.
My experience, though humbling,
Has grown my compassion.

May I not be content to make
Anyone into a concept such as
Narcissist, corrupt politician,
Or simply other
And fail to see them
As a multifaceted being,
Just like me.

May I not hold any label
As a destination
But rather as evidence
That there is more
To learn and understand.

And at the same time, may I 
Implement healthy boundaries:
See their light and take no shit.
May I feed the Good Wolf 
In myself and others.

Hurt people hurt people.
And I, too, have hurt people.

I have betrayed myself
By using someone else
As a self-worthiness project
And know how bad it feels 
To make self-betrayal into a habit
And a prison

To which we ourselves hold the key.

What great relief it has been
To stop projecting
My stuff onto others
And to set myself free.

It wasn’t easy, but it was
Worth it every time
To step out of the story,
Let the spell wear off
And relate to actual people
Rather than ideas or ideals

Even when someone
Really hurt me.

Choosing to see more clearly 
Even when it makes our ideas wrong
Or somehow less right
Doesn’t make us weak,
Is not failure.
To stop regarding
Our beliefs as Truth
Sets us free.

True freedom is unmasking 
In a much deeper way:
Being seen and valued
Exactly as we are
And accepting ourselves
As such.

True freedom is refusing
To allow our heart
To be held hostage by ego
And not taking our differences
So damn seriously
That we depend on
A bad or unenlightened Other
To validate by contrast
Our own goodness.


© 2022 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

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