Category: Mindfulness

Seeing Daffodils in a New Way

Seeing Daffodils in a New Way

I love to walk the labyrinth at the park when the daffodils are in bloom all around it. I’ve been photographing them for so many years, and I especially enjoy photographing them backlit, like stained glass. However, it wasn’t the right time of day for that yesterday morning, and rain was in the forecast for the rest of the day.

I brought my camera to the labyrinth, wondering how I might see the daffodils a little differently than I have in the past. Was it possible?

It always is.

I was impressed by how the yellow tips transform into fully bloomed flowers. The tips grow and swell and become a slender, papery package containing all the parts. Eventually the petals open like fingers releasing from a fist (except there are six instead of five), exposing the ruffled corona and stigma at the center. All parts are yellow – though I am especially fond of the visual contrast of white-petaled variety.

Looking deeply at this daffodil two days after experiencing the solar eclipse, the corona draws my attention. The sun in a daffodil, with the petals as rays extending outward!

I also marvel at how life packages the flower so compactly before it blooms. You look at the papery package and wouldn’t imagine such a large, ruffled flower emerging from it. Astounding!

Tax time this year seemed to deliver some undesired news that had me wondering how I’d be able to make things work. But it was more of a fleeting thought, and then I reminded myself of the experiment I’m doing this year: Treat everything as good news.

How am I going to make it work? That’s not the question – it’s just a distraction. The real question is: How can I allow myself to harmonize with the flow of life and trust it? Resist nothing. Trust that just as this daffodil grows and transforms so intelligently into full bloom, so am I. (And so are you.)

It turned out that the undesired outcome did not come to fruition. But it was good practice. 

Too much thinking and worrying only gets in the way. Notice thinking is happening, and let the thought-clouds go. The energetic awareness beneath thought holds every answer we seek, everything we want to know. Just as the moon blocked the light of the sun during this week’s eclipse, too much thinking gets in the way of us accessing our deeper knowing.

It’s all there within us, like the parts of flowers before they bloom. And then one day, there’s this perfect flower…attracting pollinators and being part of this wondrous, interconnected dance of life.

That’s the consciousness I want to live in alignment with. Surrender the fear, the self-doubt, the busy mind – for there is an intelligence far greater than thought available to us.


© 2024 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. 

The Solar Eclipse: Experiencing Totally vs. Totality

The Solar Eclipse: Experiencing Totally vs. Totality

If nature is a mirror or teacher, what is tomorrow’s solar eclipse showing or teaching us?

That is the question I built a recent Solar Eclipse Meditation program around. 

Perhaps you already have a sense. Perhaps you haven’t given it a thought. Perhaps you’ll understand when it’s happening. Or perhaps sometime afterwards.

Maybe the eclipse will help you to tap into a sense of awe and wonder.

Or connection with everyone else experiencing the celestial phenomenon at the same time and throughout human history.  

Or the contrast between darkness and light, and the value of both.

Or hope and resilience because the light always returns, even in times of darkness and uncertainty.

Perhaps you’ll gain awareness of what blocks the light – what gets in the way of you receiving the light that is available to you or blocks your access. It might be fear, habits, energy patterns, beliefs, routines/schedule, relationships, codependent patterns, substances, some kind of self-abandonment, etc. 

What blocks you from manifesting what you deeply yearn for? What do you deeply yearn for? How do you want to feel? What does the sun represent, and what blocks its expression or manifestation in your life? 

During a solar eclipse, we wear special glasses that allow us to see what we’re not normally able to see. Perhaps you’ll get some kind of clarity about a situation, person, or topic you’re not seeing clearly, that will propel you to let go or relate to it/them differently. 

There’s also the idea of being in alignment – with your source, what matters most, your deepest wisdom, highest self, etc. You might notice how it feels when where you are standing on planet Earth is in alignment with the moon and sun. Really take in how it feels in those fleeting moments so you can access it again and practice the feeling of alignment. You could even visualize it happening if you aren’t able to experience the actual eclipse visually like that, and feel the sensation of inner alignment.

Eclipse energy can be very intense and chaotic. You may feel extra sensitive to the emotions arising in and/or around you. Perhaps you will resonate with certain practices and/or meditations that ground and calm your own energy despite whatever kind of energy is activated in the environment. 

These were some of the themes I offered. However, another theme arose during the course of the program that wasn’t in my notes: the fear of missing out (FOMO).

I live just outside of the path of totality. So close, and yet so far, given the warnings we’ve heard about traffic gridlocks and such. I’ve heard there’s a big difference between 99% and 100% totality and that many who’ve experienced 100% totality describe it as life-changing. Part of me yearns to experience that “once in a lifetime” event and has been brainstorming ways to get into that narrow path.

However, through mindful awareness, we can recognize that we are caught up in hype and FOMO. And then we can tune in and sense energetically, in our body and being, what feels right regardless of what others are doing or encouraging us to do. We can allow the hype to be just another cloud drifting through the mind that we can let go of.

What if we simply stay where we are? Perhaps we will be more fully present and relaxed, rather than stressed out from dealing with traffic congestion and anxiety about crazy drivers or where to park or pull over, or not arriving at our intended destination in time. Perhaps we can attune more to the energy and subtle changes and experience all of that totally instead of experiencing totality.

What if that is enough?

One participant in the program described experiencing the partial eclipse of 2017 at Cape Cod on a family vacation. The eclipse happened to take place during their vacation. It wasn’t the main event of the day. They didn’t schedule their vacation around it. It was simply part of a wonderful day at the beach. And whatever portion of the sun was blocked that day by the moon was enough. It was exciting – something memorable that you don’t see often. After it was done, her family continued to enjoy their beach day.

I recall working at the Saratoga Springs Public Library that summer day in 2017. We all took turns going up to the roof of the building and looking at the changing shadows on a piece of paper and taking turns looking through the one pair of glasses we passed around. It was really cool to be up on the roof and to experience the changing light and shadows, but what I remember most is the eerie light and the connection I felt with my fellow employees. 

After the solar eclipse program the other day, I stopped brainstorming and decided once and for all that 98-99% totality is good enough. We have a spot close to home in mind in case of clear sky, and an even closer spot if there are clouds, or if we encounter heavy traffic.

An alternative to FOMO – whether related to viewing a rare eclipse or anything else – is JOMO – joy of missing out. If we surrender to conditions being as they are, and to being where we are and as we are, we can discover there is much to notice and appreciate without complicating our lives. We can open ourselves to the path of least resistance instead of the path of totality.

We might take in how the unusual, changing light touches our familiar landscape, or the behavior of animals around us. Or do a guided or unguided meditation to connect with the energy, or enjoy the company of those with whom we’re experiencing the eclipse.

So another eclipse-inspired reflection is: How am I making things more complicated than they need to be? How can I ease into a sense of enoughness and find the path of least resistance? This can be an inquiry you carry with you long after the actual eclipse is over – as any of the inquiries I’ve offered can be.

As a photographer, there’s also the lure to photograph the event, instead of experiencing it fully. This, too, can be a conscious choice. Instead of being on photographer autopilot, we can sense into what feels most right in the moment regarding where and how to put our attention. I’ll be prepared with my gear and research but will sense into what feels most right in the moment and be open to the possibility of not taking any pictures at all. This is another opportunity for FOMO to be a mindfulness bell! Also, the sun isn’t the only subject to focus on. We might take in the unusual light falling on the landscape or the faces of those around us – with or without a camera.

Even the best eclipse plans can be foiled by cloud cover. For the past few days, it was looking like clear, blue sky for Monday afternoon. However, now my weather apps show clouds in the forecast. The weather is out of our control. But however it pans out, we can tune into the potent energy of the celestial alignment and the strange darkness during the day, and reflect on what the eclipse signifies for us. 

Surely, experiencing a total solar eclipse would be magnificent if weather conditions and geography permit. However, there are so many other powerful ways to view it, outside of the path of totality and visual impressions.


© 2024 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. 

Apricity

Apricity

One of the benefits of mindfulness practice is that we can become aware of how we relate to whatever experiences or emotions arise and interact with them in a way that offers greater freedom and clear-seeing. This applies to the full spectrum of what we experience and feel as human beings.

When I teach mindfulness meditation, it seems like I emphasize applying the skills and tools to the more challenging stuff – unpleasant emotions – in the interest of easing suffering. In last week’s sessions, for example, I focused on mindfulness of shame and humility and how mindfulness offers immunity against what Eckhart Tolle calls the “mental viruses” of our times. Awareness is the first step of freedom.  

However, the unpleasant end of the spectrum is only part of the picture. We can strengthen our capacity to be with what is pleasant, too. To slow down and become still enough to really take in a pleasurable moment. Doing this helps our brain build new neural pathways and balance its hardwired, inherited negativity bias that scans for and overfocuses on danger – whether actual or perceived.

I recently learned of an obsolete, Old English word, apricity, defined as: the warmth of the sun in winter. It instantly became my new favorite word, right up there with neuroplasticity and inspiration.

I’m a great fan of apricity. In fact, I’m enjoying it even as I write this. My standing desk on wheels is positioned right in front of a sunny window, and the sunlight coming through the window is bathing me in warmth. It feels amazing!

Whenever there is sunlight (which hasn’t been often lately), I roll my desk to a sunny window and follow the sun from window to window throughout the day. This is one of my favorite winter delights, and how lovely to finally have a word for it! Why that wonderful word became obsolete is beyond me.

I have a health condition for which I’ve been instructed to apply a warm compress to my eyelids daily. When I let that treatment regimen lapse, I inevitably become aware of its value – when my eyelid becomes inflamed again. It’s just like when your meditation, yoga, exercise, etc. practice lapses, and the absence and contrast make you aware of its benefits. You realize that you feel better when it’s part of your life than when it’s not.

The warm compress treatment is simple enough but feels tedious. The most challenging part is making time for it. The other day, I heated the water and prepared the compress. When I was all set, I saw that my son was on the couch, where I had intended to lie down and do the treatment. So I went on the sunporch and noticed how wonderfully warm the sun felt coming in through the windows. Seemed like a perfect spot to plop down.

I had intended to make time to meditate before doing a live Zoom mindfulness session that day, but the warm compress therapy would cut into that time. And then it occurred to me that I could fit in meditation by incorporating it into the eye treatment and focusing on apricity and warmth in general. Warmth of the compress on my face and apricity on my skin as I lay on my meditation cushion – just like a cat, as my son pointed out.

The practice was simple: When the mind wanders off to thoughts of past or future, or even to thoughts about present conditions, acknowledge the wandering, and guide awareness back to the sensations of warmth. In other words, warmth was my meditation anchor, my home base.

It transformed a somewhat tedious health routine into a meditation practice that was a true joy.

Although the sun is shining brightly today, this rarely has been the case in recent weeks. As my recently completed yearlong river sunrise photography project confirmed, January and February are the months when we in the Northeast tend to see the least sunlight. But eventually the overcast days pass, and the sun comes back out – like today. After a long string of dreary weather days, we appreciate the sunshine and blue sky even more. 

And when the sun isn’t out? We can practice generating our own sunshine. Perhaps go on a treasure hunt, indoors or outdoors, for what gladdens the heart. Kindle gratefulness.

For example, earlier this week when the sky was overcast, I was delighted to rest my eyes on the orchids on my meditation altar and the 11 tiny buds (yes, I counted them) that will blossom in the spring. And my beloved jade plant and the numerous smaller jades I’ve been propagating. The sound of the water fountain in the corner of the room. The plants on the window shelves I created last year that always gladden my heart.

In the absence of apricity, I made a cup of fragrant, herbal tea. I held my mandala mug (my current favorite) in my hands and felt the warmth of the tea – even held the mug to my body to warm more of me. Again, the sensations of warmth were my meditation anchor. When I drank the sun-ripened tea, I consumed sunlight and joy.

So if you need one, consider this your permission slip to switch up your meditation practice and experiment and play with an anchor that generates warmth and joy!


© 2024 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.

Finding Refuge and Power in Times of Fear

Finding Refuge and Power in Times of Fear

This article offers examples of applying mindfulness of emotions in real-life situations, beginning with a personal situation and expanding to local and world-wide situations. It offers practical tools, practices, and inquiries to help you find your center in times of fear.

Roar

About two weeks ago, I roared at my husband in a way I’d never roared before. We had just gotten off the phone with a life insurance agent. He could tell I was upset, and I told him I’m digesting the new information and feeling really emotional – and need to take a walk and take care of my feelings.

That would have been a good time to put the conversation on pause, but the next word that came out of his mouth elicited the roar. I actually surprised myself. It wasn’t a high-pitched expression of anger or frustration. It was lower-pitched and came from my center. I felt like a mountain – a solid, grounded mountain – rather than as if I were losing my footing (and mind) in tumultuous waves of emotion. It wasn’t time to engage or problem-solve. It was time to get some space, to absorb the new information and relate to my feelings in a way that would allow me to reengage in a more productive way. 

We went to our separate corners for a time-out, and I took that walk and looked deeply into what was going on inside me. I reflected on why I reacted as I did to the phone conversation, through walking meditation and the RAIN practice I mention frequently in my mindfulness meditation classes. I felt grateful for those tools.

Refuge

The previous day, our area made international headlines again for the wrong reason. About ten miles away, a young girl went missing from a state park campground. She could have been anybody’s daughter, granddaughter, sister, or cousin.

People in my area were not okay. This was way too close to home. It didn’t feel safe to walk alone in nature. Parents were tightening the safety reins. There were lots of prayers and people showing up to help and support the family however they could. You could feel the tension in the air. 

I retreated to a nearby park, to walk the labyrinth and tend to my feelings following the failed life insurance conversation. 

There was a brand new harvest goddess overlooking the labyrinth, that a group of volunteers had created over the weekend. I got up close and gazed at her in awe. The local garden club tended beautiful flower gardens all around the labyrinth, to delight both people and pollinators. The garden club worked hard to care for the earth and create a place of beauty. Even the labyrinth itself was a product of great caring, kindness, and generosity. Within sight of the labyrinth was a wonderful fairy garden provocation and some incredible fairy houses to inspire creativity. A little free library. A new reading area in which chairs were fashioned from logs.

The whole park was created through many years of caring, kindness, generosity, and community. As I walked the labyrinth, I took in all of this goodness.

Words from (Mister) Fred Rogers came to mind: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Evidence of helpers was all around me. The labyrinth was a place of refuge.

Being grounded in gratitude resourced me and put more space around the feelings. It allowed me to take a closer look at what was bothering me, without becoming identified with the feelings. I knew they were visitors that would come and go. 

RAIN begins with Recognizing what emotional visitor is present. Although the roar might have sounded angry, it wasn’t Anger that was present. It was Fear. So I walked with fear, Allowing it to be there. Then I Investigated its nature. I became curious about what Fear wanted me to know and asked questions, such as: Is what I’m believing really true? Am I sure? Are there any other possibilities? (How often do we confuse partial truths with the whole truth, and create a lot of problems for ourselves and others?) Then I gave the hurting part the Nurturing it needed: kind words, reassurance, and loving touch (hand on the heart).

I went back home feeling a lot better, able to re-engage with my husband.

Relief

Fortunately, the missing girl was found alive the following evening, and we breathed a huge, collective sigh of relief.

That evening, I talked with a close friend living out-of-state and told her about how the life insurance conversation went south. After we were done talking about that, she asked about the missing girl and what it’s been like around here.

That’s when I realized the common thread of the two incidents was fear. If the life insurance conversation had taken place at another time, I probably wouldn’t have felt so emotional. But I was already on-edge from the local event, which compounded any other fears that arose and awakened what Eckhart Tolle calls the pain-body, that feeds on conflict and emotionality.

Fear can be a highly contagious virus that gets in the way of clear-seeing and blocks us from our natural wisdom, intuition, and guidance. I did not want it to be in the driver’s seat.

Release

The next day, I felt drawn to return to a place I’d explored recently for the first time: the Adirondack Labyrinth. The labyrinth itself was awe-inspiring, and the energy there was very high-vibe. After walking the labyrinth the first time, I took a deep dive into the website and learned about how it came to be – and was truly inspired and even more in awe.

This time, my husband came with me. It was a perfect autumn day, and the late afternoon sun was low in the sky, illuminating the colorful, autumn foliage surrounding the labyrinth. We had the labyrinth to ourselves. I didn’t know if my husband would be interested in walking it, but I wanted to make it a meditation. Before walking, I sent my intention and a prayer for guidance and insight into the center.

It took a few minutes to clear my mind of thoughts such as wondering if anyone else would show up while I was walking the labyrinth and noticing how hot it was. When I noticed I was caught in a thought or story, I returned to each footstep with a simple mantra: Here.

Becoming more present, I felt guided to give my fears to Mother Earth with every footstep that touches the ground. I’ve been walking labyrinths for decades and can’t recall ever walking in this way. I’ve done plenty of “kissing the ground” with each footstep but not releasing fear deep down into the earth. Fear and lack.

It worked really well. My mind became clear and open, and I began to hear whispers from deep within:

Fear is a diminishing energy.

Don’t make decisions guided by fear.

Don’t take a single footstep forward in fear.

I realized that the actions I had been telling myself I needed to take after the life insurance conversation were completely fear-based. There is another way – a path that opens when I trust my deeper knowing and follow my inner guidance. Fear blocks that channel of wisdom and inspiration.

On the way back out of the labyrinth, I felt light and joyful. Feeling eager to move forward, I walked faster, even skipped and twirled. I felt like dancing! I knew what is not my path – whatever fear wanted me to. I also knew what felt like a full-bodied YES – do this instead.

The fruits of my meditation practice became clear: If I meditate every day, this awareness is possible every day. I could find my bearings in joy and trust my inner nature, and build immunity to the fear virus.

Release fear to Mother Earth – or sense it evaporating into the vast sky. Put it on a leaf, and give it to the river. There are many ways to release what doesn’t serve and make space for what seeks to be expressed through me.

I adopted some new mantras:

I choose actions aligned with my future, not my past.

I release and compost what doesn’t help me to evolve.

When we release fear and a sense of lack or not-enoughness (or whatever comes up for you), every footstep can bring us back home to HERE – which is true freedom. That is my intention: To be HERE and NOW, where the light of inspiration and insight can reach me without clouds of fear blocking it. HERE and NOW – or in other words, presence – is where our true power lies.

HERE is spacious and open and not complicated by past accomplishments and failures, or worries about the future. It is where there is freedom from the patterns, where we can be inspired anew. Every footstep and every breath is a portal back to the here-and-now when the mind has wandered off. Sometimes we need to focus our energies on certain tasks, projects, or whatever is going on. But we can bring the sense of presence into even that, and thereby enrich it, expand the possibilities, and not get too identified with what is not aligned with our true nature (which isn’t fear). We can shake off the dust of conditioning and fear and ego, and find freedom and freshness. 

Empower

Not long after the local news story resolved, a much more large-scale story of conflict and violence erupted in the Middle East. I get my news mostly from printed sources rather than television or video, and even just reading about the human suffering on both sides felt like too much. 

The other day, I took a walk with my nearly four-month-old grandson in the stroller. After he fell asleep, I began thinking of the suffering of parents, grandparents, babies, and children in the Middle East. Looking at my sleeping grandson’s peaceful face, their suffering again was too much to bear. They were just like me, just like him, just like us.

What to do about it? Feeling powerless to help ease suffering in the world only deepens our own suffering. What can we do instead of getting stuck in powerlessness, heartache, and fear?

On one end of the continuum, we can resist, deny, blame, and numb ourselves to “what is”. On the other end, we can indulge, sustain, and get hooked in the trance of intense feelings. But there is a middle way, of caring for and learning from our visiting emotions. As the late Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh taught, our suffering can be a mindfulness bell. We can look deeply into the nature and causes of our suffering, and find the path to freedom. Then whatever actions we take will be motivated by something much wiser and more clear-sighted than fear.

While pushing my sleeping grandson in his stroller, I created an action plan for resourcing in times of fear:

  • Take refuge in gratitude (for example, how fortunate I am to be with my grandson walking in this peaceful, safe neighborhood where everyone smiles and says hi).
  • Send lovingkindness to those who are suffering.
  • Breathe in gratitude, breathe out lovingkindness.
  • Do what we can to bring more kindness into the world. Do or say something that offers evidence to others that, despite whatever else is going on, there is a lot of goodness in the world. So many people who care and want to help.
  • Seek goodness, to counteract the brain’s negativity bias. Find examples of people doing the right thing. Pause to really take in the goodness – of other people, the natural world, or wherever you find it.
  • Meditate daily. Make time for stillness, to more clearly access our natural wisdom and compassion that gets blocked by our busy lives and too much thinking. Even a few mindful breaths counts!
  • Do what nourishes and brings us back to our center (for example, make a meal, take a walk, get a good night’s sleep, have a cup of tea, look at the sky). Give yourself permission to do what nourishes and resources you, even when others in the world are suffering. Failing to resource ourselves doesn’t ease their suffering – it only drains us, leaving us less able to show up as our best self for whatever life serves up.
  • Acknowledge that this is a world of contrast. What can we learn from the contrast and conflict in our world? What is life calling forth from us?

We might not be able to stop the violence, division, and hatred in the world. But there is much we can do to usher more kindness and compassion into the world. We must not allow our kindness, compassion, and caring to be closed down by fear or anger or whatever other intense emotional reaction is activated. We need all hands on deck at this time, being the best we can be. The world needs our goodness, is calling for it.

In his book, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life, Dacher Keltner states that the research shows the number one place where we experience awe is in “moral beauty”. Witnessing people helping others or expressing kindness, courage, generosity, and strength inclines us to do more of the same. We can set in motion a ripple of moral beauty even by doing small things.

For instance, when I was filling up my water jugs at the spring the same day I was with my grandson, one of the other people there asked a young man if he had a spigot. He said yes and then added in a dejected tone, “…barely.” I pointed to the slow spigot and asked if it was his. It was. Then I offered to switch spigots with him. He had two very large containers, and I only had a few smaller ones left to fill. His eyes lit up, and he smiled and thanked me. When I was about to fill up my last jar, he offered to let me use the faster spigot. It seemed like he wanted to do something to repay the kindness. His energy seemed different, lighter. I imagined that maybe he was saddened by current events, and even a small act of kindness could restore his faith in humanity and the existence of goodness in the world.

More than anything else, I want to be part of a wave of positive energy.

We might not be able to resolve conflicts in the world – or even in our own community or family. But we can begin within and notice how we contribute to disharmony and conflict in the world by being easily irritated or quick to anger, etc. We can make a practice of noticing and questioning the stories behind unhelpful habits, thoughts, feelings, and reactions when they arise. Looking deeply, we can set ourselves free!

Mindfulness isn’t something we just practice when we sit in meditation. We can bring it off the meditation cushion and into our lives, to wherever suffering is present and to whatever gets in the way of us being present. In this sense, the obstacles become the path! They are bells of mindfulness.

How can I express kindness, generosity, caring, love?

How can I be helpful?

These are important questions because that’s what this world needs right now – more mindful people and awake hearts. There is always something you can do. Be open to opportunities as if you’re on a treasure hunt.

Do what you can, and trust that it matters. And maybe take a moment to imagine how many unknown others around the world are doing the same and also wanting to be part of a wave of goodness. Think of when “the wave” is set in motion in a sports stadium. It’s time to do the wave and to be the wave. And keep it going.


© 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.

A New Mindful Poem

A New Mindful Poem

Hello Discouragement

Today I feel discouraged
Or you could say:
Discouragement is present.
But what’s different now
Is that I realize it’s just a feeling,
An energy moving through me.

It’s a feeling – it’s not me
And I am not it.
It’s simply a visitor who
Has been here before
And will come and go again.
No need to identify with it
Or to believe the thoughts
That fuel it.

I simply can greet it
Without feeding it
Or letting it get too comfortable.
Hello, Discouragement.
I see you. You, too, are welcome
In the vast ocean of this heart.
But please tell me, if you will
How you found your way in
This time.

Through the usual passage:
A not-so-great night’s sleep,
And Anxiety opened the door.

So tonight I will prioritize sleep
And remember that perhaps tomorrow
Or another day when I feel more rested
There will be the chance meeting,
The inspiring or hopeful conversation,
An insight that propels me out of bed
In the direction of yes!
But probably not today.

Today it is enough just to
Turn down the volume
Of the inner storytelling
And realize this mood will pass.


© 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.

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