by Jan Kortie
Before singing was part of any human culture, it was part of nature. Nature never tries hard; it just is. It grows and blossoms and flows. So does heartfelt singing—as a joyful expression of soul, of one’s essential being. It is giving and sharing. Most of all, it is alive.
Singing like this doesn’t ask for effort. But it does ask for courage. In expressing our longings, hopes and love, we may encounter fear, shame or sorrow. That’s part of the beauty and surprising simplicity of liberating ourselves through song, which can be equally cheerful, lighthearted and humorous, or insightfully confronting the challenging issues in our lives.
by Dr. Judith Orloff
Listening to our instincts can help us stay safe and deal better with life-or-death decisions. Making the most of the wisdom of this inner voice also enables us to live a more satisfying life in the moment. How do we choose which gut feelings to trust? Here are five messages we’ll be glad we paid attention to.
“Something feels wrong in my body.” Listening to our body’s subtle signals is a critical part of exercising an intuitive sense. The body is a powerful intuitive communicator, delivering early warning signs when anything feels off, weak or just not right, so that we can address it sooner, rather than later.
One day I disappeared into Silence…
It was more than grace, an epiphany or a mystical union; it was my soul’s homecoming, my heart’s overflowing love, my mind’s eternal peace. In Silence, I experienced freedom, clarity and joy as my true self, felt my core identity and essential nature as a unity-in-love with all creation, and realized it is within this essence that we learn to embody healing in our world.
This Silence belongs to us all—it is who and what we are. Selfless silence knows only the present moment, this incredible instant of pure life when time stops and we breathe the high-altitude air we call love. Let us explore Silence as a way of knowing and being, which we know, which we are.
When someone is suffering, it can be agonizing just to listen—we feel compelled to jump in with advice or stories of our own trials, filling any awkward space or moments of silent air with word upon word. The first rule of empathy, however, is listening in silence.
Miki Kashtan, writing for the Tikkun Daily interfaith blog, points out that giving our full presence is the most important step in practicing true empathy, and it doesn’t require us to utter a thing: “There is a high correlation between one person’s listening presence and the other person’s sense of not being alone, and this is communicated without words. We can be present with someone whose language we don’t understand, who speaks about circumstances we have never experienced or whose reactions are baffling to us. It’s a soul orientation and intentionality to simply be with another.”
What I see is an infinite web of relationship, flung across the vastness of space like a luminous net. It is made of energy, not thread. As I look, I can see light moving through it as a pulse moves through veins. What I see “out there” is no different from what I feel inside. There is a living hum that might be coming from my neurons, but might just as well be coming from the furnace of the stars. When I look up at them, there is a small commotion in my bones as the ashes of dead stars that house my marrow rise up like metal filings toward the magnet of their living kin.
What qualities should citizens look for in the next leader of the free world? What core criteria might voters consistently use to evaluate any legislative or other candidate running for political office?
Professor J. Rufus Fears, Ph.D., sets a high standard in articulating the yardstick by which we should measure leaders of either gender. As a noted scholar specializing in the history of freedom (Tinyurl.com/TrueStatesman), he emphasizes that the role of a politician and a statesman are not the same. A statesman, Fears attests, is a free leader of a free people and must possess four essential qualities.
It has been said that, “Transformation begins from within,” and the saying couldn’t be more accurate. Where most people get stuck is how to make it happen. Questions such as, “How do I even begin making the transformations?” and “What area of my life should I start with?” are common. For those asking these questions and that have felt stuck in their personal growth journey, there are four core areas to concentrate on and jumpstart the transformation.
Children know that the wonders of creation may be comprehended through the five senses; for what are the senses, really, but five portals, or ways, of knowing? Watching any group of children for a time brings a distinct sense that they are closer to understanding all that the senses have to teach us.
Challenge Success (ChallengeSuccess.org), a project of Stanford University’s School of Education, works with schools, parents and youths to develop and institute customized action plans to improve student well-being and engagement. According to the nonprofit organization’s co-founder, Denise Pope, Ph.D., “We recognize the great pressure being put on today’s kids in regard to performance, tests and grades. Unfortunately, this is keeping many of them from becoming resilient, motivated, active contributors in society. Our initiative provides a voice of reason, translating research into actions that allow students to thrive.”