Search Results for: Ruth King

Ruth King: Mindful of Race

Ruth King is an Insight Meditation teacher, life coach, diversity consultant, and the author of Healing Rage: Women Making Inner Peace Possible. She is publishing her new book, Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out, in collaboration with Sounds True. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Ruth about the personal experiences that led to writing Mindful of Race and why the heart can be “a mass weapon of healing.” They talk about the different ways we can interpret current racial narratives and why it takes honest self-examination to discover how one has benefited from a racist system. Ruth explains how mindfulness can open us up to having difficult conversations around racism, colonialism, and other forms of systemic oppression. Finally, Tami and Ruth discuss how “life is not personal, permanent, or perfect” and the necessity of cultivating compassion in all walks of life. (74 minutes)

Ruth King: Race, Rage, and the Healing Power of Mindfu...

Ruth King is a life coach and insight meditation teacher of the dedicated practitioner program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She’s the author of the book Healing Rage: Women Making Inner Peace Possible. In this special edition of Insights at the Edge hosted by Sounds True producer Kriste Peoples, Ruth explains the difference between anger and rage, as well as how examining the patterns of our rage can help us both understand its source and channel its animating energy. They talk about how rage covers over our soft spots and how the experience of it can lead into fruitful lovingkindness practice. Finally, Kriste and Ruth speak on how a deep understanding of these concepts can help craft healing conversations around racial difference and injustice. (69 minutes)

Nature in the Wintertime: Making White Pine Tea

Nature in the Wintertime: Making White Pine TeaOur five primary senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) evolved in relationship with our environment and other life-forms to become highly sensitive instruments that help us survive and thrive as a species. Perhaps you can recall walking behind someone wearing strong cologne or perfume. Now imagine that you can smell the musk of a buck or the odor of a bear that a spring breeze carries toward you. We still have the capacity; we need only to awaken our senses again. It’s not enough simply to go outside. We also need to bring our attention and intention to the senses in order to consciously invoke, awaken, and sharpen their capabilities. 

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in simple shelters made of poles, straw mats, animal skins, and other natural objects. These human nests were often arranged in circles, following the way energy moves in nature, and they were permeable, allowing the sounds of the earth to filter in, along with drafts, which carried information. Although we’ve improved the functionality and comfort of our homes, we’ve also sealed ourselves off from the living, breathing world out there. As a result, many people who live mostly indoors suffer from sensory anesthesia, the gradual loss of sensory experience. Think about the number of plants growing in a forest or a field, the myriad decomposing life-forms washing around the ocean, the dry herbs and tree resins in a high desert plain. All these environments have their own concoction of smells, textures, sights, sounds, and flavors, richer and more varied than the average office environment.

In the woods and out on the land, the sense of smell is essential for survival. It can help us detect an incoming storm (think of the smell of the ozone before a thunderstorm) or the musk of a predator, like a skunk we want to avoid. To awaken this sense outdoors, I often invite folks to gather eastern hemlock or balsam needles, press them between their palms to release the aromatic oils, and then cup their hands and take deep inhalations. Another great stimulus for scent are the fallen leaves in autumn; crush them in your hands and take in their sweet, earthy smell.

During an outdoor mindfulness retreat I led with the Audubon Society one winter, we kept coming up on fox tracks in the snow. My co-facilitator, Dale, a naturalist, kept sniffing and asking the group if we could smell the scent of fox on the air. At first the group was oblivious to it. Then Dale knelt down and lifted a small handful of snow with a small, yellow ice crystal in it, a drop of frozen fox urine. He invited us to take a whiff, and sure enough, it had a potent, musky, almost skunk-like smell. From then on, we were on our knees sniffing every little yellow patch of snow we found near fox tracks. After a few days, the group began picking up the smell on the wind.

You can feel a sensual connection with the living earth after only a few minutes of quiet and reflective nature meditation and observation. It may give you peace and joy, but it may also stir up other emotions, including grief—grief for species loss, environmental degradation, and climate change. Awakening our senses and countering sensory anesthesia is a practice of awareness, and when awareness expands, it perceives both pleasure and pain, light and dark, joy and sadness. That is why in the contemplative traditions there is an emphasis on clear seeing and calm abiding. We might be able to see the truth, to observe what is really happening, but can we handle it? Can we hold an experience of deep, clear perception without being totally swept away by it? We need to learn how to be with the expanding boundaries of our awareness. This comes as we develop a strong witness consciousness, that part of us that soars like an eagle and can see the big picture. When we can temper feeling more with wisdom, we build our capacity of true spiritual growth.

All year-round, but especially during the winter, we can often easily find natural areas where the wonderful smell of pine fills the atmosphere—freshening the senses and stimulating the mind. I do a lot of mindful breathing and tend to pause often to take deep breaths within pine forests, which has a calming effect on the mind and body. This practice is enhanced by the concentration of essential oils in the air. In ancient times, pine boughs were believed to ward off evil spirits and disease. Today, research into the power of phytoncides bears out this ancient belief in pine’s medicinal attributes. Essential oil, tea made from the needles, and ointment made from the pine resin have all been shown to have healing properties. 

Eastern White Pine Natue in the Wintertime: Making White Pine Tea

Below, I share my recipe for an eastern white pine tea:

In the depths of winter, the eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), like other evergreens, holds on to its green needles. Rich in vitamin C, the needles can be used to make a comforting tea. The eastern white pine is a prosperous and beautiful member of the forest community in New England. Its needles grow in packets of five, which is an easy way to identify it since white has five letters.

To make a bright, citrus-pine-flavored tea from white pine needles, you will want to gather at least 20 packets of white pine needles.

  1. Rub a couple of the packets between your hands to release the pine resin, as you offer a gesture of thanks to the trees for this provision. 
  2. Drop the crushed needles into a pot of freshly boiled water and allow them to steep for 5 to 15 minutes (although I like to cut them up into smaller pieces to help release the oils before steeping them). 
  3. Strain the needles from the boiled water and pour the tea into a mug. 
  4. Before sipping, hold the cup up near your nose and take a few deep inhalations. Drink as is or sweeten with maple syrup or honey. Enjoy!

Safety Note: Be sure to always properly identify the tree using a field guide or the internet before consuming any part of it. Avoid pines that aren’t really pines such as yew (Podocarpus macrophylla), Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla), as well as lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), because they are poisonous.

This is an excerpt from Rewilding: Meditations, Practices, and Skills for Awakening in Nature by Micah Mortali.

Micah Mortali HeadshotRewilding Book CoverMicah Mortali is director of the Kripalu Schools, one of the largest and most established centers for yoga-based education in the world. An avid outdoorsman, mindful wilderness guide, 500-hour Kripalu yoga teacher, and popular meditation teacher, Mortali has been leading groups in wilderness and retreat settings for 20 years. In 2018, he founded the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership. Mortali has a passion for helping people come home to themselves and the earth, and he is finishing his master’s at Goddard College on nature awareness and mindfulness practices. He lives with his wife and children in the Berkshires. For more, visit micahmortali.com.

Read Rewilding today!

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RITUAL: Tracking Memory

Ritual: Tracking Memory Header Image

Consider your own experience of the acts and beings involved in memory and imagination—before science enters the picture. Consider what memory and imagination are like from your inner experience—not from the perspective or the studies of cognitive neuroscience or psychology. Science seeks truth and finds it, but the search here is for what supports that truth from within.

Say, for example, that a person weighs 170 pounds, measurable by a standard scale. She may find it difficult or even impossible to pick up 170 pounds of deadweight, if she is not a weightlifter. But how does it actually feel to be 170 pounds? It doesn’t feel at all like lifting deadweight. From the inside of her own experience of that 170 pounds, moving about in full health, she feels relatively light—maybe even light as a feather. This is the inner perspective of memory and imagination that we’re looking for. Our inner perspective does not cancel out the scientific perspective; they are complementary.

Memory is fascinating. I encourage you to get interested in the ways of your own memory. It has a unity, like our physical bodies or a landscape have a unity, and this unity can be touched or awakened at almost every part of point.

RITUAL—TRACKING MEMORY

This small, simple, but very potent daily mental cultivation ritual has its roots in the practices of ancient Greek philosophers and mystics, as well as in the mindfulness practices of Buddhist lineages. Variations of it are used in therapeutic contexts to support survivors of abuse, war, and trauma of all kinds.

This ritual serves two purposes. First, it heightens your awareness of your relationship to memory and to your experience of the present moments that are distinguishable from and underlie memory. Second, it attunes you to your everyday experiences.

TIME: About 15 minutes

MATERIALS:

PROCESS:

Breathe in a blessing on your physical body. Exhale in gratitude.

Set your timer for fifteen minutes and record the events of the previous day, without comment or judgment. Start anywhere—with what happened in the morning, afternoon, or evening. There is no need to try to pick an interesting experience or “problem area” to focus on. Making breakfast, walking down the street, working in the office—all the little, seemingly unremarkable things that happened during the previous day are what you’re recording here.

Simply describe what happened or what you were doing in as much detail as possible, including the sights, sounds, and any other details that seem relevant. Don’t get into the mental or emotional details of these happenings, such as whether you were worried while you were walking down the street, or whether you were thinking or feeling something profound. Resist the temptation to comment on what happened.

Take your time. When the timer rings, put your writing implement down, even if you are not finished.

Breathe in a blessing on your physical body once more and on your willingness to show up for this work.

Exhale in gratitude.

Move forward with your day.

This is an excerpt from Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary by Briana Henderson Saussy.

Download a free Making Magic Journal here.

Briana Saussy HeadshotMaking Magic BookBriana Saussy is a teacher, spiritual counselor, and founder of the Sacred Arts Academy, where she teaches tarot, ceremony, alchemy, and other sacred arts for everyday life. She lives in San Antonio, Texas. For more, visit brianasaussy.com.

Buy your copy of Making Magic at your favorite bookseller!

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Zainab Salbi: Wielding Our Sword of Truth

Zainab Salbi is an author, humanitarian, and media commentator who founded the nonprofit organization Women for Women International when she was only 23 years old. With Sounds True, she has published the book Freedom Is an Inside Job: Owning Our Darkness and Our Light to Heal Ourselves and the World. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon and Zainab discuss what it means to be an agent of social change while also navigating the everyday journey of being human. They talk about why it’s necessary to let go of what no longer works in our lives in order to embrace our most deeply held truths. As an Iraqi-American, Zainab speaks on engaging with people whose values oppose ours—especially those who currently oppose Muslim immigration to the United States. Finally, Zainab and Tami talk about the healing power of making amends and what “freedom” really means. (83 minutes)

Tami’s Takeaway
Zainab teaches how we can befriend people who hold opposing views not through debate, but through embrace and a strong, open stance that is curious about the other person’s underlying needs and emotions. I believe this skill—truly understanding people who disagree with us and feel “other”—is one of the most important skills we need to be peacemakers and bringers of love in all of our interactions.

Making the darkness conscious

Much is being said these days about spiritual awakening, and the causeless joy, clarity, and peace that are inevitable milestones of the inner journey. Not all that much is mentioned, however, about the disappointment of awakening, or of the ways it can break our hearts, cracking us open to the reality of the crucifixion, the resurrection, *and* the transfiguration we are likely to encounter along the way. In the full embrace of life—right inside the yucky, messy, shadowy nether regions of the heart—we are invited to meet the wholeness of what we are, which includes the dark *and* the light, the movement of separation *and* union, and the entirety of what it means to be an embodied human being.

As Carl Jung so poignantly reminds us, we do not become enlightened by “imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” He went on to say that the integral journey of the dark *and* the light is one that is often “disagreeable” and thus would never be popular. I believe Jung is offering very important guidance for us and the voyage of the heart in contemporary times.

The ancient path of love may never conform to our hopes, fears, dreams, and fantasies, for it is emerging in the here and now as an emissary of the unknown itself. Let us rest in the aching truth that one of the primary roles of the beloved is to seed deflation in the field of separation. Yes, awakening may always be a disappointment, from the perspective of egoic organization. In this sense, the journey is eternally hopeless, but it is in the creation of a home for our hopelessness—and allowing it to be illuminated within us—that we are finally able to step into a world beyond our wildest imagination.

As we journey together as fellow travelers, let us find a way to embrace both the joy *and* the heartbreak of spiritual awakening, and bear witness to the wisdom shining out of our immediate experience, whether it appears as sadness, bliss, despair, or great joy. It is true that grace will appear in both sweet *and* fierce forms, but regardless of its particular manifestation, it is still grace, sent from beyond to open us to the radiant fullness of being.

– Matt Licata, from the Preface to the forthcoming, It’s Okay to Be Broken: Embracing the Joy and Heartbreak of Spiritual Awakening.

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