Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2010-09 - Eagles in a Storm…

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks?
The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, the eagle sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it.
The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm. When the storms of life come upon us - and all of us will experience them - we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow the storm’s power to lift us above them.
~ Author Unknown
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2010-08 - Just Listen…

I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it's given from the heart. When people are talking, there's no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they're saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it. Most of us don't value ourselves or our love enough to know this. It has taken me a long time to believe in the power of simple saying, "I'm so sorry," when someone is in pain. And meaning it.
One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story to people often interrupted to tell her that they once had something just like that happen to them. Subtly her pain became a story about themselves. Eventually she stopped talking to most people. It was just too lonely. We connect through listening. When we interrupt what someone is saying to let them know that we understand, we move the focus of attention to ourselves. When we listen, they know we care. Many people with cancer can talk about the relief of having someone just listen.
I have even learned to respond to someone crying by just listening. In the old days I used to reach for the tissues, until I realized that passing a person a tissue may be just another way to shut them down, to take them out of their experience of sadness and grief. Now I just listen. When they have cried all they need to cry, they find me there with them.
This simple thing has not been that easy to learn. It certainly went against everything I had been taught since I was very young. I thought people listened only because they were too timid to speak or did not know the answer. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well intentioned words.
~ Rachel Naomi Remen
“No one is as deaf as the man who will not listen.”
~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2010-07 - Peace of mind…

Once when Buddha was walking from one town to another with a few of his followers, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and Buddha said to one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Go and get me some water from that lake there.”
The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed that some people were washing clothes in the water, and right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake.
As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!” So he came back and said to Buddha, “The water in the lake is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”
After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake.
This time he found that the lake had absolutely clear water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.
Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be, and the mud settled down on its own and then you got clear water.
Your mind is also like that! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own.
You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”
~ Author Unknown
“I tell you one thing, if you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others. Rather learn to see your own faults. Learn to make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger; this whole world is your own.”
~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2010-06 - A Violin With Three Strings…

If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches. To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is an awesome sight.
He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.
By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play.
But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap - it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.
We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage - to either find another violin or else find another string for this one. But he didn't. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signalled the conductor to begin again.
The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before.
Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that.
You could see him modulating, changing, re-composing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.
When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering; doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done.
He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said - not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone - "You know, sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left."
~ Author Unknown
“To achieve great things, you must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
~ Author Unknown