Remember These Points, And You Can Keep Anger and Despair from Dragging Your Activism Down Into Undertow

One of the challenges we can all face in our work to support a peaceful, healthy world is the potential to feel anything but peaceful when we meet obstacles, opposition, or just the latest alarming news about our current global emergency. You are not alone if you struggle at times with rage or despair. Some may seek to channel this energy to fuel their action. Yet to do so cannot really bring the change our world needs, as it is like adding fuel to a raging fire that is burning our world. There is a heavy feeling in the world today, like an undertow, which we feed with our angry, despairing or disconnected states. This week, let’s explore how we can defuse the anger and soften the despair, so that we can keep showing up with our full selves, free from undertow.

The comforting truth is that the undertow we feel only has as much power as we give it. That is because it is fed and sustained by our ego, which continually seeks to separate and divide us from life. When we feel against – be it towards ourself, another, or our environment – we are in disconnected state, therefore, in our ego. Over the past few weeks, we have been looking closer at how the ego is a self-imposed illusion. As we learn to see beyond its mirage, we connect to a much greater energy source than our individual self. In doing so, we tap into profound vitality and ease, and we naturally release from the pull of undertow.

A commitment to peace is about moving beyond the sense of againstness, because any divisiveness perpetuates not only personal undertow but conflict in the world. This means learning to see the police officer who gives us a speeding ticket not as an imposition but as a blessing. It means not perceiving the barista at Starbucks who is taking what feels like “forever” as a nuisance, but as our teacher. It means that everything that happens is grace in some form – is in support of us, our growth, our evolution – even if we don’t like it. All provides an opportunity for our consciousness to expand so that we may learn to live from a place of peacefulness, and act from a place of compassion.

Understanding Anger

I love the quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

Have you ever noticed how self-righteous anger can feel satisfying, at least for a moment? Its adrenaline rush gives us an ego boost and a temporary feeling of control over our environment. The problem is, the rush does not last. Ultimately it leaves us feeling alone, afraid and sinking in undertow. Our anger has only disconnected us from ourselves, others and the world.

We find inner and outer peace when we open our hearts in compassionate understanding for our own and others’ folly. If ever I am feeling triggered with anger, judgment or blame, I come back to a simple exercise that, like many people, I was taught in junior school: “putting the shoe on the other foot.” If people were angry with me, I would wish to be handled with understanding, care and compassion. So, I strive to treat others that way.

Being Present for Despair

If you have ever felt like there’s no hope and no point, you know the gravitational pull of despair. Despair is like kryptonite on our quest for inner peace. It is an implosion into self-pity. It courts undertow, hinders our evolution and draws us into a black hole of nothingness that envelops the force of life.

When we feel despair, life has shrunk down to the size of our own self-importance, which at this time is convinced we suck and are worthless. We have lost the big picture.

Yet when despair knocks at our door, we can welcome it, just like any other emotion, without attachment, without judgment. With quiet wisdom and self-compassion, we will find a sense of internal space.
Beating yourself up only deepens your despair and strengthens the undertow. Instead, give yourself the gentleness, the love and the understanding you need, and the despair will shift like dark clouds parting to reveal the sun that was there all along.

Pay no mind to anything that feeds undertow, for the cost is too high. It is all about choice. In the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at painful feelings like anger or despair. For now, I invite you to be diligent in noticing the potential to go in those directions, and consciously choosing to redirect your awareness to interconnection. Everything we think, feel and do affects the whole. We are never alone.

Coming Back to Peace

The next time you feel self-righteous anger or despair, pause. Take three deep breaths and see if you can start to feel some space around these intense emotions.

You may notice a temptation to judge yourself or beat yourself up for having these feelings. Let that go. It is just your ego doubling down and co-creating with undertow, trying to ensure you feel either too proud and self-important, or too lousy to choose peace. You do not have to listen to that voice. You are perfectly loved and worthy, just as you are, right now.

Take a few more deep breaths, and try extending compassionate understanding to yourself. That is the foundation of all true compassion expressed to others. Bringing peace into the world means finding peace within.

I completely believe in you and am cheering you on.
From my heart to yours,
Parvati

This common trap in your search for inner peace could have you looking for it in all the wrong places.

In order to serve others, establish world peace and protect the environment, we need to act from a place of inner peace. Yet even when we realize we need it, we may struggle to find it. There is a common trap we fall into, that makes us look for inner peace in the wrong places. It is called wanting. It is the illusion that we can get the fulfilment we crave, while being disconnected from ourselves, the world and the moment.

I saw this quote today and it touched my heart. I thought it was perfect to share with you:

“Peace is not something that is gained when all desires are fulfilled or when all problems are settled. As long as the mind is there, desires will come up and problems will exist. Peace is something that arises when all the thoughts settle and you transcend the mind.”

It is by Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi), the Hugging Saint, who lives in a state of permanent, peaceful bliss. In these words, she shows us where we can find inner peace – beyond the wanting mind.

For the most part, we try to solve problems with the same thinking that created them. We feel unhappy, so we want things to change. But wanting is actually the source of our unhappiness. When we want what is in the now to be different than it is, we are conflict with the moment. Stress comes when we want what is “here” to be “there”, or the other way around. In so doing, we rob ourselves of peace. When we want, we suffer because we are attached to a sense of lack.

Lack Is An Illusion

Have you ever felt like you’re chasing the proverbial dangling carrot, as though the things you want are just always out of reach, no matter how hard you work, no matter how determined you may be? That is because wanting comes from a place within you that feels broken and separate from the universe.

To reconnect with peace, the first step is to understand that your feeling of brokenness or lack is an illusion. In truth, you are always connected to and a part of a loving universe. You are always loved and never alone.

Feeling Loved

If we are always loved, why don’t we feel that way? Because we are habituated into projecting ideas onto what is happening in our lives, trying to create how we want life to be. Remember how last week we looked at the ego as the creator of drama in our lives? We are all attached to some degree or another to trying to manipulate the moment to suit our ego’s needs. When we do this, we feel unhappy, because we are not in harmony with the now. The problem is not ourselves or life, but our illusory perspective fuelled by wanting.

Peace and happiness cannot be built upon mirages, no matter how hard we try. We can never succeed for long at imposing our limited ego or will upon life. A true and lasting resolve for peace comes from clarity, free from wanting, and rooted in the knowing that the universe has our back.

Let Go of Wanting and Reconnect with Peace

Maybe you feel an inner voice protesting now, saying that if you stop wanting, you will be stuck forever in an unhappy place. But actually, the opposite is true. As you let go of wanting, you step into your sense of being interconnected with the whole. From this place, you contact your deepest joy and your true power, that is connected with divine will. From here, peace flows.

Try This

Try a little experiment: see if you can notice wanting in your life. In which ways are you perceiving life as perpetual lack? In which ways do you feel you are constantly chasing that carrot?

When you notice you are in wanting, gently remind yourself that those thoughts will not lead to peace. Through they may appear real and tempting, think of them as white sugar – sweet for a moment, but made of empty calories with no lasting nourishment.

By truly understanding how wanting leads to suffering, you begin to let go of being attached to it. As you comprehend how wanting is a mirage, you will no longer give it power. It is then that you set the foundation for lasting change and deep inner peace.

Between now and next week, please spend some time with the following questions:

  • In which ways is wanting present in my life?
  • What are some of the people, places and things I tend to think will bring me peace?
  • Is it true that I need them in order to be at peace?
  • In which ways do I feel broken, lacking or not enough?
  • In which ways does this feeling only bring me more pain?
  • Am I willing to stop giving power to these illusions?
  • Am I willing to open to the truth that I am loved?

From my heart to yours,
Parvati

When You Break Through These Common Misunderstandings You Can Discover the True Power of Inner Peace.

Most would agree that peace is a good thing, both personally in our lives and collectively in our world. Yet, in many cases, even when we hear a loud wake-up call, we seem to choose otherwise. Why? Perhaps we suffer from a misperception about peace and how we can choose it.

Some may confuse peacefulness with generic zombie-like indifference. Some believe peace is about being a passive pushover. Others may try to mask pessimism and despair with a veneer of chipper peacefulness. None of these perspectives sees peace in its full beauty.

Peace Is Not Turning Away

Peace is not about being indiscriminately okay with whatever is, as expressed in the common phrase “it’s all good”. When we encounter suffering, we cannot simply turn away as though it is not a problem. The humanitarian and spiritual leader Amma says that when we are aware of our interconnectedness, just as our right hand immediately extends to our left when we feel pain there, so too we extend our love to the world when we see suffering. We are one.

Peace Is Not Giving Up

In the same way, peace is not about throwing our hands in the air and saying “I give up” in the face of adversity. How can we abandon the world to which we owe our very life? Though it may seem easier to divorce ourselves from the pain we see and experience, it is ultimately the harder choice. Disconnection keeps us stuck and out of touch with the love and healing we seek. Peace flowers in our hearts when we allow ourselves to rest in our inherent interconnection with all that is.

Peace Is A Cool Mind and Open Heart

Living in peace is not passive. We may experience horror and atrocities. If we are passive in the face of such, we immobilize ourselves and thwart the possibility of change. This does not mean that the opposite is true. Peaceful living invites us into neither avoidance nor combat but profound presence. If we are aggressive in the face of atrocities, we implicate ourselves into the whirlwind of the horror. In reaction to our global challenges today, some people invoke anger, hate, and fear. But these only add fuel to the burning we so dearly wish to quell. The healing balm our world needs is the combination of a cool mind and an open heart.

Peace Is Present

As we open to this moment, we learn to see it as it is. This non-resistance disarms our ego’s tendency to create drama. The ego is hungry. Just as our minds tend to be busy, our ego is constantly seeking a way to sustain itself. The ego is a master at seeing a coiled rope as a snake, and creating drama accordingly. When we find presence, and open to the fullness of what is, we see the rope as simply that – a rope. Our egos distort what is into temporal illusions because it feeds our sense of self-importance. When we become fixated on reality appearing one way, “we are right” and “they are wrong”, we have become attached to a passing perception.

Peace Is Full of Possibility

In the depths of our breath and in the power of our hearts, we can become a witness to the world and open to its range of colours. This is called presence. Presence is the gateway to peace.

Peace is alive, awake, aware, active, and full of possibility. Our ego, that wants to keep the war alive, will misperceive it any way it can. But we do not have to listen to the ego’s divisive voice. We can choose the beauty of peace in every moment.

Until next week, please consider the following:

  • In which ways do I resist peace by misperceiving it?
  • In which ways do I resist peace by misperceiving the moment? In which way am I adding drama to the world?
  • Am I willing to perceive differently?
  • What would my life look like if I did?
  • How would that affect those around me, even the world?

The Wake-Up Call to Inner Peace

Wake-up calls can take many forms in our lives. At first they may be subtle, but if we disregard them they become louder, like an alarm clock that only gets louder every time we hit the snooze button and roll back over to sleep. All we need to do is look at Nature for proof. Our air pollution falls back down to Earth as acid rain. If the pollution continues, people become ill with respiratory diseases. If we still don’t change our ways, our skies become so choked with smog that the sun is no longer visible, children are kept home from school and people wear masks to go out in the street. The effects of exploitation of the melting Arctic Ocean are like this as well. As the weather-regulating ice melts and as it is damaged by ships, rainfall patterns around the world are affected, leading to droughts, floods and crop failures. The seas warm up, which fuels disastrous storms like Hurricane Dorian earlier this month. The alarms are ringing loud and clear.

The Status Quo Isn’t Working

The increased agitation and the acts of violence towards humans and Nature that continue to happen around the world are a sign of illness. They call each of us to awaken into a new way of being. The status quo is no longer working. Many of us seem to be at a breaking point—whether we are experiencing health issues, relationship crises or job problems. What if we could see all of this as grace?

Hunger for Peace and Clarity

I believe the gift of our breaking points is that they inspire our hunger for clarity and an end to suffering. This hunger is not warful or wrathful. That would only contribute to the heated mess we find ourselves in. The breaking point teaches us profound willingness to know no-thing, so that we become profoundly receptive to the grace that already is.

The issue is, in our personal defensiveness and attachments to suffering, we can be a bit like deflecting shields, even to grace.

What if, when you came to a breaking point, you allowed yourself to break open? Instead of trying to toughen up, what if you found the courage and serenity to know that you are already within grace, and let go of your ever-so-fixed sense of “me”? What might that feel like? What would you discover?

Hitting Bottom in Our Global Addiction

Feeling disconnected from love, we want. This wanting becomes a frenzy, that creates pain, then more pain. Making choices from disconnection, we end up perpetuating it. Disconnection is our collective global addiction. We all suffer from it.

Those who have worked an addiction recovery program speak of the need to “hit bottom”. Bottom is where the pain of our repeated behaviour becomes so great that it outweighs whatever benefit our ego gets from it. When this happens, the desire for another way awakens within and we become open, ready and willing to live differently. In this way, hitting bottom is grace.

If you would like to experience peace, try allowing yourself to hit the bottom of your disconnected behaviour. Let it be a breakthough, as you break open to the love the universe is already giving you – even in the love that is coming from my heart to you right now. By opening up, you might just find that there is a lot more love, light than you had previously noticed. The compassionate presence and grace that Nature showers upon us will never give up on you. It continues to call you home to the truth of our inherent interconnection.

Practice Inner Peace Now

Between now and next week, please ask yourself the following:
• Are there areas in my life that feel at a breaking point?
• What are they asking me to change?
• What are they asking me to open to?
• What might life look like if I allowed myself to open to them?
• What is the cost of not opening?
• What is the benefit of opening?
• Am I willing to open?

From my heart to yours,
Parvati

Our Superpower To Personal And Global Health, Wealth And Creativity

Our Superpower To Personal And Global Health, Wealth And Creativity

What if you could work with an immensely powerful and skilled partner, one who could help you ensure that all you do supports not just your health, wealth and creativity, but the wellbeing of the entire world?

For Parvati, the founder and CEO of the all-volunteer international non-profit Parvati.org, who spearheads the establishment of the largest ocean preserve ever, this is a daily reality. Her upcoming book, dedicated to MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, shares how you can access this same power. In the leadup to the book’s release, the ongoing video series “Our Superpower” introduces how listening to Nature has inspired Parvati’s unprecedented creative and executive approach.

“Our Superpower” encourages people everywhere to reflect on their own relationship with Nature. Once we remember we are a part of Nature, we awaken our “superpower” to listening to and act in harmony with Nature’s wisdom. “Our Superpower” shows just how potent that listening can be, both for personal and global change.

James Gustave Speth, co-founder of the National Resources Defense Council, has said, “I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change…But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy….and to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation.”

“Our Superpower” is part of Parvati.org’s Global Education for MAPS (GEM), which addresses the problems Gustave Speth raises. GEM harnesses the exponential power of modern media to cool minds, lighten footprints, and awaken an inevitable call for MAPS. Everyone has the right to know that a healthy world is possible.

Parvati is an award-winning musician, author, yoga teacher and activist who gave the northernmost musical performance ever to raise awareness of the melting Arctic sea ice.

For millions of years, long before humans ever walked on Earth, the ice of the Arctic Ocean has protected our world, balancing the weather patterns that give us the food and resources we all need to survive. But today, it’s vanishing fast, putting all life at risk. MAPS is the only global initiative that addresses the urgent need to protect this vitally important ecosystem for our healthy future.

“Nature’s compassionate voice is continually calling us to remember that we are inherently interconnected with it and each other,” says Parvati. “When we do so, the choice to take action that benefits all life becomes effortless. Nature is available to co-create with us for the good of all. We simply need to listen.”

Find out more about Our Superpower at Parvati.org.

You Don’t Have to Travel The World In Search of Inner Peace. Start to Find it Right Here and Now

T. S. Eliot’s beautiful poem series “Four Quartets” explores the nature of our relationship with time, nature and the divine. I have often been particularly struck by these lines from the final poem, Little Gidding:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

His words are a poetic reminder of how and where we find inner peace. We may often travel far in search of it, before realizing that it has been here all along. The places within ourselves that avoid peace are with us wherever we go. When we humbly learn to witness and release them, we may choose inner peace and support peace in the world.

The Value of Groundedness

Before I traveled to the North Pole and just after I finished my university degree, I had the great privilege of living for a year in India. In the online video series “Our Superpower”, I have been sharing teasers for my upcoming book about how you can co-create with nature for an amazing life. One of my recent posts was about how I traveled to India to deepen my understanding of nature. I was looking to find greater connection with myself, others and the world through yoga and meditation.

However, I soon discovered that no physical distance could remove me from my self. I had brought all the intensity of my stressed-out-college-student, new-to-the-workplace attitude with me. Inescapably, I approached my yoga and meditation practice with the same driven determination to reach excellence as I had brought to everything else in my life. This misguided zeal unfortunately brought with it severe health problems, culminating in a life-changing near death experience. The universe was showing me in no uncertain terms that I needed to learn to live with earnest humility and practical groundedness in order to evolve and truly serve. After all, self-love and self-respect are the foundations to inner peace, so that I may love and respect the world.

Change Your Thinking

I realized during that year that it is impossible to cultivate inner peace with an attitude of stress, willfulness, or drivenness. Those only block the possibilities available to us in each moment. Einstein said it perfectly: “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” We experience a lack of inner peace because we feel disconnected, which causes us stress. Trying to connect from a place of feeling disconnected, then stressing about it, will not bring us any closer to peace. Like being stuck in an eddy on the edges of a great body of water, repeated thoughts whirl around our minds as we worry that we cannot flow with life. Caught up in our internal chatter, we have lost sight of how we are already within the majestic oceans of being that we seek.

“Wherever you go, there you are,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, the American professor of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine. We may run from situations we find challenging. We may try to avoid them. But, as I learned in India, no matter where we are physically, we bring our total selves with us.

You don’t need to go off and become a hermit, take an extended holiday or be without action, in order to experience a peaceful life. Those may help you bring awareness to the painful habits that pull you away from inner peace. But ultimately, peacefulness is a reflection of what you choose in every moment, whether you live in an apartment in a busy city or in a monastery on a distant mountain top. It is through meeting what is with openness, alertness and ease, that you find your inner peace sanctuary.

Peace Practice

As you move through the week ahead, see if you can meet the moment by tuning into its underlying stillness and quiet. No matter how busy, even hectic your life may be, that peaceful place is there. Open to it. By engaging with noise, you end up feeling agitated. But by choosing to focus on the quiet underneath it all, you become still. In that stillness, you will discover greater possibilities, and feel refreshed and energized. Peace within is your home. Go there.

From my heart to yours,
Parvati

PS: Inner peace is the foundation of a peaceful world. Please sign and share the MAPS petition today.

Can You “Build” the Inner Peace That Transforms the World?

When the idea came to me for this series, I considered the title “Building Your Inner Peace Sanctuary”. But as we cultivate inner peace, we are not really building anything. We are discovering what is already within us. When we get out of our own way, we find that peace is our true nature. As we come into harmony with our self and our environment, the perfection of the moment and the compassion of the universe is revealed to us.

When people wish to connect with each other and reduce conflict, we often use the term “peace building”. I wonder if that is accurate. Would not “reconnecting with love” be more honest? We feel uneasy, even attacked, when we do not feel loved. We feel unloved when we are disconnected from source, from the universe, from the divine. To discover peace, we need to connect with loving presence. When we turn towards the reality of love and interconnection, we are shown how to live in peace.

The Wild Flowers and You

Each spiritual tradition around the world has a name for this compassionate energy. There is a biblical passage that has remained dear to me since I was a child attending Sunday school. It comes just after Jesus teaches the famous Lord’s Prayer, which in itself reminds us that we are always loved. The verses warm my heart, especially as they refer to nature. They are from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6:

25 That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing! 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them…27 Can any of you, however much you worry, add one single cubit to your span of life? 28 And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; 29 yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of these. 30 Now if that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you who have so little faith?

Focus on What is Real

To build inner peace suggests that peace is within our control. How could something as radiantly expansive as inner peace be controlled by our limited self? Trying to build inner peace is like trying to straighten out a cloud. It is an impossible task. We need to instead turn our attention to the light that is through and behind any clouds we perceive. Any pushing at or pulling from life is rooted in feeling against. We cannot find peace in againstness.

Let Go and Remember You Are Loved

We feel loved and confident when we tap into our inherent interconnection. We are never alone. Nor are we separate from each other, including those we may have been taught to think of as our enemies. This kind of love and confidence is not a mustering of our ego, which believes we are divided. It is a letting go of our ego, so that we may rest in our true, infinitely connected and compassionate nature.

Practice Inner Peace Now

This week, consider how you are cared for, loved and supported like the birds in the sky and the lilies in the field. Ask yourself, like a spot check through each day, “In this moment, am I willing to feel loved?” If you find yourself tense, take a few moments to pause and breathe and reconnect with the lilies in the field. Then allow peace to flower from within. Let me know how it goes.

Inner peace is the foundation to lasting peace in our beautiful world. Please don’t forget to sign and share the MAPS petition.

From my heart to yours,
Parvati

Parvati.org Leads “Why MAPS” Campaign For The Sake of Our World

Parvati.org Leads “Why MAPS” Campaign For The Sake of Our World

The all-volunteer international non-profit organization Parvati.org has launched its most recent online viral campaign in support of MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. MAPS is a critical global initiative to protect the key Arctic Ocean ecosystem that keeps our planet cool. “Why MAPS” is a series of thought-provoking graphics with impactful messaging that explains in no uncertain terms why MAPS must be realized now for our very survival.

The Arctic Ocean is our planetary life support system. The rapid disappearance of sea ice that has served as the Earth’s air conditioner for millions of years has profound and far-reaching consequences. As the ice melts, the entire global climate system destabilizes, leading to extreme weather patterns that compromise the food and water supplies upon which lives everywhere depend.

MAPS establishes the Arctic Ocean north of the Arctic Circle as a permanent international marine protected area free from all activities harmful to the life-giving sea ice, including commercial fishing, natural resource exploitation, seismic testing, military activity and through shipping traffic. At the same time, MAPS catalyzes an immediate global pivot to renewable energies, and a paradigm shift from short-term greed to long-term good. This profoundly practical yet effective response to so many problems facing our world today must be implemented now, before time and ice run out.

To support the swift realization of MAPS, Parvati.org took the unprecedented step of creating the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary Treaty as an addendum to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Treaty has been translated into all six official languages of the UN, distributed to all 193 member states, and brought every year since 2015 to UN Climate Conferences by volunteers at their own expense. It enters into force with the signatures of 99 states members of the UN or any of the specialized agencies, and has already been endorsed by two world leaders.

Why MAPS helps set the stage for Parvati.org’s upcoming innovative Global Education for MAPS (GEM) strategy that harnesses the exponential power of modern media to cool minds, lighten footprints, and awaken an unstoppable call for MAPS worldwide. The Arctic Ocean sustains us all, but it can only protect us if we protect it. Although exploitation poses a tremendous threat, most people still do not yet realize the melting Arctic ice is a global emergency. For MAPS to be established, the world needs to understand why the emergency is so dire for each one of us, and that MAPS will safeguard this endangered ecosystem while catalyzing the needed global shift to sustainability.

“We are all interconnected. The health of the Arctic sea ice affects us all,” says Parvati.org founder, CEO and visionary for MAPS, Parvati. “The Why MAPS campaign explains why, for the sake of everyone and every living thing on the planet, MAPS must be realized immediately.”

What a Busy NYC Morning Can Teach You About A-Ha Moments and Inner Peace

Parvati.org founder Parvati shares an experience on a busy New York City sidewalk that taught her about finding inner peace:

I had traveled to the city center to go to—of all things—a meditation retreat. After a beautiful few days of practicing inner stillness and presence, I vividly remember the midday in July that I stepped out of the cocoon-like intimacy I had just experienced, back into the bustling city. Rather than concrete and steel, the cityscape looked luminous, as though everything was made of light. As I looked up at Manhattan’s textured skyline, it seemed to shimmer. The world looked vibrant and alive, and at the same time, not at all real. As I paused to breathe it all in, I sensed I might be glimpsing through what the ancient yogic sages referred to as maya, the veil-like illusion of life from which we must all awaken to fully realize our divine Self. It was not that it looked two-dimensional. Instead, it seemed to be a fully formed space in which we live, through which our lives unfold–but that is temporary and without lasting substance.

The A-Ha Moment

As I walked into this effervescent field of light, I could feel that though I am living in my body, I am not of the body. I understood that even as life takes place in the temporary field of aliveness I was seeing, I am not of it. Resting into this new reality, I became even more fully present. I felt profoundly alive and connected.

Maybe you can relate to what happened next. I think we all have times when moments of openness are soon followed by an inner voice saying, “Wait! Can this be true?”

A pedestrian walked by, and I became self-conscious. I wondered if perhaps I stood out too much in flowing white clothes, carrying a rose, beaming a blissful smile from ear to ear. With this thought, the crystalline inner clarity began to dissipate, and the radiant transparency I saw before me thickened.

“Losing” the A-Ha

It may be tempting to think there is something “wrong” with you when an expansive experience seems to dissipate. But I’ve come to realize that it’s actually just the voice of ego, threatened by interconnection, taking you away from the love and peace you just touched. What if you were to choose patience and presence in those moments and not give in to self-judgment?

That is how I considered the potency of what I had just experienced—both the opening I had, and how quickly I was allowing it to close, just because of my thoughts. What occurred to me was that the light of consciousness is always present within all, if I open to it. I could remain peaceful, as long as I was willing to rest in the knowing of our inherent interconnection. With this, came tremendous power—the power to choose how I would perceive the moment before me.

Ask Yourself This

Each day brings with it a variety of stresses, challenges and joys. In the whirlwind of our lives, we may think we do not have a choice in how we experience what is right before us. But we do. We can close to it, or we can open. We may convince ourselves that peace is too hard to find because of our hectic lives. Yet, what if it was there all along, just waiting for us to tune in to it through the power of perception and our gift of choice?

Next week, as we continue to cultivate inner peace, let’s take a look at why we tend to close to the moment, and how we can welcome and be present for what is instead.

Until then, consider challenging your perceptions through the day, every day this week, by asking yourself the following questions:

• Is what I am seeing truly solid, fixed and unmoving?
• Can I see the moment differently?
• Could there be a light beyond what I see?
• Am I willing to open to it?
• Am I willing to embrace an expansive experience as it comes, without trying to cling to it or judge my state of being?

From my heart to yours,
Parvati

Why Nature Shows the Way Past Despair

With fires burning in the Arctic and Amazon, Parvati.org founder Parvati shares how we can practice presence and support peace in Nature.

As I write this post, both the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic are burning at a devastating rate. Since we were just looking last week at presence in this online workshop, these tragic events provide us an opportunity to practice it. Presence can shed compassionate light on tender, even painful questions, such as, why there is suffering in the world. It illuminates the possibility of another way. It helps us connect with the immensity of our capacity to love, serve, and feel at one with the wisdom of Nature.

In the light of presence and in the spirit of learning from Nature, we can ask ourselves, why are the Arctic and Amazon ablaze? Why are crops failing and species going extinct in such alarming numbers today? And why do so many people seem to turn an apathetic blind eye to it all?

I believe that the answer lies in understanding the power of our interconnection with the planet that gives us life. The Earth is a complex living organism with intelligence beyond what we can truly understand. Feverish today, she is like a person with a raging temperature, building internal heat to shake off an infection. It is as if the planet is trying to shake off the weight we put on her: the physical toxins we emit in the air, water and food. We could also add to this the etheric toxins we emit in our disconnected actions and distorted thoughts. We have lost touch with the impact of our choices on our environment, how what we think, feel and do affects all beings, everywhere. The responsibility that comes with our inherent interconnection may feel daunting. So, we try to manage, outsmart, even out-do Nature. When we see a chaotic world that seems to have gone mad, we may give into despair.

Yet, Nature does not despair. With fierce love, she cries louder than ever to be heard: I am here! Think of the flower that sprouts through concrete. Does it become despondent at the weight through which it must arise? Or does it simply grow in beauty? Consider the whales who, hunted to a fraction of their former population, killed by ship strikes and often in agony from a noisy ocean, still approach people to protect them from harm, or to request their help. Look at this Great Whale Conservancy video and notice how the humpback whale behaves after being freed from a fishing net. In every breathtaking arc up out of the water and every thunderous slap of her tail, she embodies joy and generosity of spirit.

We find inner and outer peace in presence, interconnection, and by following Nature’s example. Doing so shifts us from the pain of disconnect into the true magnificent possibilities of our lives.
Until next week, please consider these questions:

• Am I willing to be present, even when I feel upset at what’s happening in my life and in the world?
• Am I willing to feel interconnected, right now?
• What will I do this week to follow Nature’s example for compassionate action and inner peace?

From my heart to yours,
Parvati

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