“Today I notice the pauses between the noises of everyday life—conversations, the buzz of the city,…”
“Today I notice the pauses between the noises of everyday life—conversations, the buzz of the city, and the sounds of nature. Every lull is an opportunity to explore Divine Mind. I pay attention to pauses and make space for insights. Instead of nervously filling the silence, I luxuriate in the connection with Spirit. The choice is continually mine.
Today I speak less and notice more. The Divine is continually seeking to communicate through us and as us. By allowing the Silence to be, I open to what it tells me. In this spaciousness, my awareness naturally becomes richer and deeper. As I stop and truly listen, Spirit speaks beyond words.”
– Daily Word
What Is Love
What is love, a timely question for this time of year. Most everyone wants to experience love. Yet do most of us really know what is true love? If someone wants to have a better understanding of how to love in order to fully experience love, they need to get a grip on the concept of “unconditional love.” We all experience love in some form and in some way, but do we really contemplate what it is? It is important to understand that love is experienced by the lover. When you love someone, that is your very personal experience of love. The person you are loving may experience the love they feel from you. However, the love that they experience toward you maybe be different than your experience of love toward them. These differences may be profound or subtle but it is likely that these differences do indeed exist. For example, one party may be in touch with their love with another while the other party may not be feeling it on that moment, that day or that week etc. The experience of love is typically filtered through the mind and its minefield of possible thoughts to the heart. The less the mind is at play and the more the heart is at play the deeper we feel love. We can categorically claim that love is a unique experience of feeling love for another.
There is a paradoxical element about love. As stated, the experience of love can be unique to each person. However, love is also a union between two parties. The experience of this merging is central to experiencing love. It is this profound bonding where a person loses their sense of individuality for finite moments in time that draws us most to love.
A telling behavior of love is self-sacrifice. Therefore, love can also be an act of self-sacrifice. Some acts of selflessness may look like love. However, if an act is primarily motivated by the ego, than this is not love. Ego is about experiencing separation. The ego wants to make you feel better than everyone else or smaller than everyone else. Either way the ego wins and love loses. The place, the experience where there is no beginning or end, this is love.
Love is unconditional. We enter this world with many needs, the need for unconditional love is the most profound. If a parent or parent figure does not consistently deliver unconditional love to a child, the child will have doubts about how lovable they are. Young minds are extremely impressionable. They absorb lots of information quickly but often misinterpret it. If a child does not get enough unconditional love growing up, he or she primarily feels lovable based on conditions. As an adult this can be overcome but quite often takes great effort. The idea that love conquers all does not really apply to someone who has severe problems and constrictions with feeling lovable. Romantic love will not solve this problem. The surest way to remove the learned behavior of only feeling lovable based on conditions is for someone to experience unconditional love coming from a parent figure. Here is an illustration of how unconditional love is delivered. A devoted mother knows the needs of her child both big and small. She knows what will make her child safe and happy. This type of mother gives much effort to anticipating these needs and fulfilling as many of them as she possibly can. Of course a child also need structure and discipline. These elements round out a person so they can respect themselves as well as others. Good parents know that and put it all together. No one ever said being a good parent was at all easy. Being a parent is in fact a true a labor of love.
On your path to find love, the question will no doubt arise, do I love this person. There is a simple way to to clear up any possible confusion. First mentally ask the question on one side then internally weigh the feeling. Then ask the question on the other side and weigh the feeling. Whichever feeling weighs even slightly more that is how you truly feel. This method works for any doubts you may have about how you feel about virtually anything.
Conditional love includes unnecessarily harsh conditions and other inappropriate strings attached to a relationship. Given that we live in the world of duality all relationships to one degree or another have legitimate expectations. Parent to child, child to parent, spouse to spouse, family member to family member all have very specific appropriate expectations. Friend to friend is the relationship with the least amount of societal obligations. In friend to friend love, the only bond is really the relationship itself. As human being to human being there are levels of respect and propriety that inherently exist.
The friend to friend love has from society’s perspective limited expectations. Somewhat surprisingly, it is the form of love that mirrors unconditional love more than any other relationship. The obligations we feel for a friend come from the pure place of the heart. Of course unconditional love can and should be part of all relationships. Ironically, the course we navigate for relationships that come with an assortment of expectations but also are typically our closest relationships has narrower lane for unconditional love than the open ended friend to friend love. The path of unconditional love maybe wider yet the connection of love may not be experienced as deeply.
Love is a selfless experience. In spiritual circles there is a line drawn between what is love versus what is attachment. Attachment feels like love, looks like love, has an element of love in it, but is not really love. Attachment is much more about ego and selfish desires than it is about the selfless merging experience of love. One cannot really experience the profoundness of love if their ego and its selfish desires are too prominent in a relationship. One cannot have a selfless experience if they are primarily experiencing their ego in what they believe is a feeling of love or an act of love.
The issue of duality vs. non-duality is a hidden element of love. The experience of duality, is about a singular being feeling separate from other humans and the physical world. From a spiritual perspective this is simply a starting point and not indicative of the whole picture of who we are and what we are. An example of an experience beyond duality is when we close our eyes, let our thoughts truly vanish and are only aware of the experience of love as a merging with one person, our loved ones, all of humanity, nature, etc.
There is not one kind of love that is better than another because it all comes from the same source. Romantic love is not a higher form of love than friend to friend love. The intensity of love based on the dynamics of the relationship could make the romantic love a person feels more important to that person. However, from an overall standpoint it is all love and it is all very vital.
In summarizing what is love, the best place to start is with the purest love which is unconditional love. Love is respect for yourself and others. An act of self-sacrifice is often love in action. The experience of love is a unique experience, a merging of mind and heart, and a selfless experience.
Please check out http://www.karmapoliticspop.com where this article among others was first published.
8 Ways To Be Intentional In Your Parenting
8 Ways To Be Intentional In Your Parenting
Some people call parenting a job, but when I think about it, that doesn’t seem like an accurate description of what this beautiful and messy thing really is. This is a relationship — a relationship that takes thought, self sacrifice, love, compassion and intentionality. This is not a relationship you can be stagnant in and expect to go well. So don’t be stagnant! Your child needs more out of you than that. Be intentional in your choices and in how you raise your child. Here are eight steps to get started.
1. Think about how you were raised. And no, I’m not talking about reflecting on the best points of your childhood, like that time your parents took you to Disneyland and got you that awesome Mickey hat. I’m talking about the day in, day out parenting that you received. Look at your childhood through the lens of the parent that you are, not the lens of the child that you were. How did your parents or role models teach you? How did they interact with you? How did they shape your decisions?
2. Look to someone you admire. Whether it was when you were a child or someone you know now, look to the parents you admire. Nobody is perfect, but there are positive bits and pieces we can pull from those around us. If there’s someone you admire as a parent, talk to them. Ask them questions. Figure out what works for them and how they feel they can grow.
3. Communicate with your partner. This is a team effort. Being intentional in how you raise your child is all about knowing what matters to you and making sure that you and your partner are on the same page moving forward. Men are not always known for our open and skillful communication, so ladies, drag it out of us if you have to.
4. Think about the character you want your child to have. Who do you want your child to be? How do you want them to treat others? How do you want them to act? Think about these things. Personally, I want my daughter to be responsible, to be kind, to be loving, to treat everyone — from the CEO to the janitor — with the same level of respect and compassion. Those traits aren’t just going to happen by themselves, they have to be learned, and if they have to be learned, then my wife and I need to teach her.
5. Create a routine to help your child succeed. Routines are important. As your child learns and grows, having a routine that they know is in place will help them be prepared for the day. Just like you have a routine every morning on your way out the door to work, your child needs a routine as well.
6. Be consistent. Was there anything more confusing as a child than being told “yes” by Dad and “no” by Mom? When you and your partner decide how things are going to run, stick to it! Do not compromise what you believe to be the right and good thing for your child for what can sometimes be the easier route. When you set a standard, stick to it.
7. Take time to unplug. Think about it like a date — when you’re out on a date, it’s incredibly rude to spend the entire evening with your nose in your phone. Do the same favor for your child. Take that time to mute the TV, put the phone down, put away the tablet and simply exist in space with your child. Show them that they matter enough to have your undivided attention.
8. Spend time with your child. When life gets busy — and trust me, it does for everyone — make sure you are still taking the time to connect with and develop the relationship with your child. You aren’t just an authority figure in the life of your kids, you are someone they admire and look up to. So take the time to enjoy them, participating in what they like, showing them how to act, teaching them to be gracious and kind and setting the standards for their life. Be present.
Intentional parenting is a wonderful — albeit challenging — decision to make. But for the benefit of your precious little nugget, take the time to be present and intentional. They will appreciate it later.
You can find more from Jon Helmkamp at Finding Fatherhood, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Your Son Doesn’t Need to ‘Just Suck It Up’
Your Son Doesn’t Need to ‘Just Suck It Up’
Baseball was always my first love. I’d fall asleep at night listening to a scratchy broadcast of my beloved Kansas City Royals.
I modeled my left-handed swing after George Brett. Every summer was filled with as many baseball games as my parents would let me play.
Eventually, I became pretty good. Not MLB draft-worthy good, but a solid player. All state in high school. A couple scholarship offers from smaller colleges. That sort of thing.
Fast-forward several years, and I have a son of my own now (he’s one of five children we have — the other four are girls).
He’s almost 5 and has one season of t-ball under his belt. I helped a bit as a coach.
The selfish part of me wants Silas to be the best player on the team. To crush every ball like Bo Jackson. To field grounders like Frank White. To run like Willie Wilson.
He may very well turn out to be a stud. But there’s a strong likelihood he won’t.
During one of his first games last season, one of our players hit a ground ball back to the pitcher. The bases were loaded, so the little boy appropriately threw the ball home to try and force an out and prevent a run.
The throw came in pretty fast. And pretty low. It hit the catcher in the shin, and he immediately began to cry. Not a crazy, over-the-top cry, but a cry nonetheless.
It hurt him.
Before our next batter even had time to get to the plate, the little boy’s dad came storming up to the catcher (he is also a coach and was near second base helping the infielders). In front of both teams and the parents in attendance, he was pointing directly at his son.
Clearly embarrassed that his boy was crying (keep in mind, the boy was 4 years old), he told his son to “suck it up.”
Quit crying. Rub some dirt on it. You’re being a wuss. That was basically his advice.
His hurt shin wasn’t addressed and neither was his hurt pride.
It’s easy for me to point fingers right back at this dad, but in my ugly moments, I’m not any better. I want my son to be tough, to be awesome at sports, to have a bunch of friends, to not make me look bad. The list could go on forever.
But I’m learning that my son needs a guide, a role model, a leader. And I don’t believe leading my son should lead me to yell at him for being hurt.
My emotions look different than that 4-year-old boy’s, but as a 34-year-old boy, life isn’t always picture-perfect. It is hard, confusing, disappointing at times.
When it knocks me down, I don’t need someone to tell me to simply suck it up. I need someone to come alongside me, brush me off and tell me “nice try, let’s get em next time.”
How amazing would this have been?
If instead of pointing a finger at his boy, that dad got down, looked in his eyes and said, “Son, I know that hurts like crazy. I’m sorry. Cry for a minute into my shoulder if you need to. But I’m proud of you for standing in there and taking that ball on your shin. I love watching you play, son. Get back in there and go get em.”
Dads, your words are strong. Powerful. And lasting. It’s fine to want your son to be strong, tough and really good at baseball.
But not at the price of cutting him down and breaking his spirit.
Give your son a hug instead of an earful today. I’d love to hear how it goes.
This piece originally appeared on Justin’s blog.