Have you noticed the power and magical quality we give to worry? For many people, not worrying is equated being uncaring or naïve. Michael, my partner, has told me on many occasions, “Don’t worry; it will all work out.” I would always reply, “Yes, but how?” He would say, “I don’t know, but I know it will.”
Worry has been the bane of my existence. During a spiritual practice that I recently engaged in with two friends, I realized that worry disconnects me from the happiness and serenity that are in my heart.
I spent the first half of my life as a strident hater of liberals. Then, upon losing a risky bid for Congress, my marriage, business and political reputation disintegrated. After struggling with and for political power for almost a decade, fueled by an undercurrent of anger and righteousness, I left Republican politics. Exhausted and disillusioned, I retreated to a mountain cabin in rural Virginia.
No longer feeling so sure of myself or my world view, and having been humbled to the point of living well below the poverty line, life delivered an unlikely set of teachers. The small town I had chosen was a haven for 1960’s and 70’s back-to-the-landers. For someone whose nickname in the military had been “starch,” this community of hippies was not my first choice for neighbors.
Slowly, I began to understand that the underlying values motivating their behavior – sharing, interdependence, equality, compassion for the weak, a strong sense of justice, freedom, creative self-expression, and a reverence for nature – were the heart that had been missing from my politics.
Does your sex life fulfill your need to feel loved? Are you able to have satisfying conversations with your sexual partner about your sexual likes, dislikes, fears, shame and need for both freedom and emotional connection? Are you able to listen compassionately and understand more when your partner talks about his/her sexual feelings, needs, desires and difficulties? If the answer to all of the above questions is “Yes” then don’t bother reading any further.
To those of you still here, join the crowd. Conventional thinking reduces sex to a performance designed to produce better sexual gymnasts. With all the advertisements proclaiming the wonders of pills that produce erection, aids to stimulate orgasm and enhancement surgeries, it’s no wonder that most sexual discussions focus on sex as merely a physical act.
“Don’t therapize me!,” “I hate it when you psychoanalyze me!”, or “Cut out that psychobabble!” Phrases like these epitomize commonly thought of adverse reactions to psychotherapy. What does your picture of psychotherapy look like?
The face of psychotherapy whether practiced in an office, from a book, or in the media typically looks like a guru giving advice, analyzing and directing people in how they should feel, behave and think.
Community is typically thought of as a group of people living in the same locality or regularly gathering together such as in a work, social or on-line community. But, for many of us, just being in the same neighborhood, home or in cyberspace is not satisfying. My hunger for community is not met just by being together.
The heart of a community is meaningful connections. That’s what feeds my intellect, emotions, physical body, spirituality and creativity and nourishes my soul. Heart talk involves being emotionally touched with important personal learning, and feeling seen, heard and appreciated. With an intention to make heart connections an important and integral part of the community, any activity is an opportunity to be meaningfully together.
Have you ever worked for companies with Mission Statements or written your own? You don’t have to raise your hands but, how many of you have found them filled with wonderfully sounding ideas that were rarely practiced? In many of the companies that I served as a business consultant, the mission statement had become the symbol of the hypocrisy in the organization.
The heart of mission statements is respect. Most mission statements include this most essential element for a nurturing and peaceful environment. Unfortunately, our yearning to live in a safe and supportive sanctuary becomes dashed by the reality that when push comes to shove “Power Over” is used to get things done or to get one’s way. Disrespectful behavior then results in eroding the second essential element for peace, trust. (Click Respectful and Disrespectful Behaviors for a more detailed comparison.)
As far back as I can remember play was for kids. Games were serious and competitive contests. Winners were better and more masculine than losers. Parents bragged about winners and avoided talking about losers. Rules were written and unbreakable. Mature people didn’t play, they put their noses to the grindstone and were productive. I had lost my playfulness until the day that I met Fred.
I felt really odd and nervous entering a room full of strangers who were going to learn about play. But Fred immediately put us at ease. On his T-shirt were the words, “You don’t quit playing because you get old. You get old because you stop playing.” With his soft manner and entertaining stories, he masterfully created a safe environment.
“Imagine” is one of the most popular songs of all time because it speaks to the heart of one of our most basic desires. When you allow John Lennon’s words and music to fill your heart, what does your heart tell you about your desire for peace? Not just living in a peaceful world but peace in all your communities, including your home, workplace and/or school?
Real peace is not what masquerades between nations or in families as a time between wars. It is living with a perpetual sense of serenity and security. Conventional thinking will never bring about that kind of peace. For real peace to become a possible dream a radical paradigm shift is required.
"I highly recommend this illuminating and touching book."
--Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love.
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