Quite some time ago, when I subscribed to Horse illustrated, I read a letter to the editor that brought home the lesson of how much children have to teach us about competition.
It never fails to bring a tear to my eye; I hope you enjoy it, too.
Here it is, in its entirety, as written by Rhonda Goddard of Louisville, CO:
“Competition is essential. We learn from it, our characters are shaped by it, and we crave the rivalry. This competitive spirit is quite evident in the horse show world; few participants are unaffected by its influence.
“I am one of many who experience the thrills, woes and obsessions that accompany showing. Like my competitors, I coordinate my season zealously, selecting the right judges, attending the correct shows, and accumulating the most points in order to achieve my self-imposed goals – high point awards, year end placings, regional and national show qualifications.
“I am driven to attain these accomplishments by nothing more than my own desire to ‘succeed’. It took a child to remind me, however, that participation, good sportsmanship, and just plain enjoyment must always be my highest priorities.
“For several years I have judged the annual show for the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center in Lafayette, CO. The show hosts a variety of events, including English and Western Equitation, Trail, and Dressage, as well as fun classes such as Egg in Spoon.
“Each time I judge this show I am reminded that I do not have problems, but rather minor inconveniences, in comparison with the difficulties these students must overcome.
“If we could see inside other people’s hearts” is a moving 4-minute video from the Cleveland Clinic, one of the most renowned medical centers in the United States.
I see it as a visual version of the Native American saying, “Don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins.”
Enough said. Have a hankie ready.
Whenever I mention the 7th Generation principle to most people, they think I’m talking about laundry detergent. I’m always surprised that more people don’t know the origin of the term, so I felt it deserved a post.
The “7th generation” principle taught by Native Americans says that in every decision, be it personal, governmental or corporate, we must consider how it will affect our descendents seven generations into the future. So that the pristine sky, field and mountains in this photo will still be here for them to enjoy.
A generation is generally considered to be 25 years, so that’s 175 years.
It is clearly not embraced by most governments and corporations in the world today. I mean, when was the last time any of us thought about who’s coming along seven generations from now?
The 7th generation principal was so important to Native American cultures that it was codified in the Iroquois Great Law of Peace. To my knowledge, all Native American and indigenous tribes throughout the world embrace this teaching.
Do you know what you have in common with astronauts? You both need to be in touch with the energy of Mother Earth in order to be healthy. And “Earthing” [also known as “grounding”] is an easy way to do it.
KEEPING ASTRONAUTS IN TOUCH WITH THE EARTH
We are so dependent on the earth’s energy, also known as her electromagnetic fields [EMF], that when we leave the planet for prolonged periods, we suffer.
The first Astronauts in space for long periods experienced what was called “space sickness” – nausea and disorientation.
The cause was a mystery until one scientist, Prof. Winfried Schumann, theorized it was because the astronauts, upon leaving the earth’s atmosphere, were deprived of the earth’s “song” or electromagnetic resonance.
In the Celtic calendar, May 1 is Beltaine, the first day of summer: the time to celebrate life, growth and love. The word “Beltaine” derives from the ancient Celtic words for “brilliant fire.”
Our Gregorian calendar says its still spring. But who cares? It’s what’s going on outside our window that’s important. Mother Nature doesn’t follow calendars, as we well know.
And again, this is not the post I had planned for this week. But as I sat in meditation this morning, listening to the birds, frogs and crickets sing their songs, I suddenly realized it was May 1 and the perfect day to write about what’s going on in the natural world.
There’s a saying that everyone knows they’re going to die, but no one believes it. The same is true of natural disasters – everyone knows it could happen in their town, but no one believes it will.
And then it does. And the big question will be: were you prepared?
This is not the post I had planned for this week. I was going to write about “Earthing” – the healing benefits of standing barefoot on Mother Earth.
But this week, my life got interrupted by a natural disaster, and I felt there would be more benefit in a post on the unexpected lessons that occur when Mother Earth seems [emphasis on the word “seems”] to turn against us.
Once again, scientists are proving what indigenous people and nature lovers have always known: being outdoors is healthy! Specifically, new research shows that being surrounded by a forest environment, or “forest therapy” can improve your health. And may even help fight cancer.
In Japan, forest therapy, or shinrin-yoku, is standard preventative medicine. It’s not about being alone in the wilderness or extreme outdoor sports, it’s about allowing your body and psyche to hang out in the peace of the woods.
The term shinrin-yoku was coined by the Japanese government in 1982, but is based on ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices. [There’s that ancient wisdom again!] It’s also known as “forest bathing.”
It was just a few decades ago when people made fun of “tree huggers” — as a former “tree hugger” myself, I now feel thoroughly vindicated!
THE RESEARCH ON “FOREST THERAPY”
Over 8.6 trillion text messages are sent across the world each day. And not one of them is from me.
I don’t text. And it’s not because I’m a technophobe.
As a writer, I spend most of the day on the computer and thank God regularly for the convenience it brings me.
And even though I love my iPhone, I have had texting disabled on it. Here are my reasons:
ONE: When one of my favorite T.V. character was asked why he doesn’t text, he replied “It’s for teenage girls.” I’m inclined to agree.
The average teen sends over 3000 texts per month. But the average teenage girl sends 4000. And these texts have a 100% open rate. How does that leave time for anything else?
TWO: People don’t talk to one another enough. Pick up the friggin’ phone and tell me what you want me to know.
THREE: Receiving texts interrupts you and keeps you from being in the moment. We live in a world full of distractions and it’s harder and harder to focus.
FOUR: In my opinion, texting is no easier than phoning now that smart phones can understand voice commands and make phone calls for us: “Siri, please call Jane” and, voila, I am connected to Jane.
Last week’s post was on the power of prayer. And one of my readers raised the excellent point that “sometimes it’s hard for me to feel fulfilled when I pray. I don’t know how to fix that.”
And she is in very good company. Mother Theresa, of all people, also felt unfulfilled when she prayed!
In September 1979, she wrote a letter to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, saying: “Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.”
The book “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta” (Doubleday, 2007) consists primarily of correspondence between Mother Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years.
The letters reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever. And yet her works with the poor are so famous she has been beatified on the road to sainthood.
The power of prayer can take many forms. Bear Heart said, “Let your every step be as a prayer.”
What does that mean to you?
To me it means walking the earth each day with respect. And it means being ready to offer a prayer at a moment’s notice.
And prayer can take the form of acts of kindness, because that carries the same energy as prayer.
LEARNING HOW TO PRAY
I was raised a Catholic and prayer was something one memorized: the Our Father or the Hail Mary were the two most popular prayers I learned.
When I started attending Native American ceremonies, I was in awe of how people prayed from their heart, in their own words. It took a year or so of being in that environment before I felt comfortable praying out loud in ceremony. Now it’s second nature.
What does the first day of spring mean for us?
This year the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is Wednesday, March 20, 7:02 a.m. Eastern Time: a day of equal balance of the hours of light and dark before the sun continues its journey towards longer daylight hours and warming temperatures.
The equinox energy is strong for four days before and after March 20th, giving us time to bask in the opportunities and lessons it brings.
In my work as healing practitioner, there is a consistent pattern I’ve discovered when people don’t get well, or don’t achieve a goal: They have low self-esteem and don’t believe they are worthy of health, wealth or success.
And I’m here to encourage you to get over that right now. You absolutely do deserve everything wonderful in life. You are indeed worthy of all good things.
I can think of a few reasons why low self-esteem is so pervasive in our culture:
First, we are surrounded with advertising that inundates us with the message that we have to be slimmer, taller, blonder or better dressed in order to have value.
We’re constantly being compared to supermodels. It’s humiliating. And it’s just plain wrong.
How does one start a good habit? Particularly the habit of having a perfect day?
I admit that a checklist for anything, particularly a perfect day, might sound too unspontaneous to be a spiritual undertaking.
But to accomplish anything, we have to be intentional, and really work at it. And work takes time without interruptions, which means being organized. And checklists help with that!
This is my checklist for a perfect day [work day; days off are not so scheduled]. I am a person who finds routine productive and comforting. If you are, too, you may find this checklist helpful. By doing them in order, it guarantees they get done.
Change it to accommodate your lifestyle.
If you have a commute to work, put commute time on your schedule. And I highly recommend doing something peaceful or productive during that commute. Listen to a motivating CD, do breathing exercises, or, if you’re a passenger, meditate. Commute time doesn’t have to be wasted time.
THE PERFECT DAY CHECKLIST
I have always believed that commitment to a goal or cause is essential to its success. One can’t be lackadaisical about the intended result.
For 30 years I have carried around in my personal organizer a statement on Commitment written by W.H. Murray in “The Scottish Himalayan Expedition” in 1951.
It seemed about time to share it. Because every word is true:
Why listen to a guided meditation?
Meditation is one of the most beneficial methods of reducing stress and improving health. It has been proven to:
bring deep relaxation
lower blood pressure
strengthen the immune system
If you do not have a regular meditation practice, guided meditations are an excellent place to start. Best of all, it’s effortless.
Let this seven minute guided meditation bring you peace of mind today.Continue reading
My father taught me many wonderful things, mostly by example, which is the best way to learn. One of the things I most admire about him was that he had a very open mind and respected differing viewpoints.
That is refreshing in this day and age when people are quick to “unfriend” people who don’t see things the way they do.
I recall the time my father was at a football game sitting in front of someone rooting for the opposing team. His friend asked why he wasn’t upset about it and my father’s response was simply, “Well, that’s what makes a horse race.”
When I joined a cult in the 1970s, my father maintained a very open, wait and see attitude before judging me and my guru. In fact, he and my mother came to hear my teacher speak and to learn more about what I was involved in. I really didn’t know many parents who were doing that at that time.
In fact, my father told me about a conversation he had with someone critical of my guru:
Dad: Have you gone to hear him speak?
Dad: Have you spoken with members of his group?
Dad: Oh, so you’re an expert!
My father never hesitated to call it like he saw it.
What were you doing while the world was falling apart?
Imagine your great-grandchildren asking you that question. Can you be proud of your answer?
The “seventh generation” principle taught by Native Americans says that in every decision, we must consider how it will affect our descendents seven generations into the future. It is clearly not embraced by most governments and corporations in the world today.
It is also at the heart of the Idle No More movement of the Canadian First Nation People.
The Idle No More movement started in Canada in December 2012 as a response to Canadian Bill C-45 which lowers environmental protection standards for Canadian waterways, much of which passes through the land of indigenous [First Nations] people.
Please remember that before our ancestors came to North America several centuries ago, this entire continent was indigenous land.
What’s the opposite of cyber bullying? Cyber compliments!
After reading about the plague of cyber bullying on social media, Jeremiah Anthony of West High School in Iowa City, Iowa decided to do something about it. He started using social media to compliment fellow students instead of bully them. It spread like wildfire.
Jeremiah started tweeting daily compliments to his friends in October 2011. Soon a few of them started a twitter account called @WestHighBros. to send compliments to fellow students. Now the entire school is sending and receiving positive tweets — over 3000 so far!
[quote]”Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” Fitzhugh Dodson[/quote] The concept of making “new year’s resolutions” has been a bit of a joke in our society for about as long as I can remember — the joke being that “resolution” has become synonymous […]Continue reading
How we say goodbye is important. Including how we say goodbye to 2012.
We’ve all heard that one door never closes without another door opening. But how we close the first door will have an impact on the new door that opens.
Why? Because good transitions are essential to a balanced life. They set the stage for, and welcome, what’s to come.
FIVE-POINT PLAN FOR SAYING A HEALTHY GOODBYE TO 2012: