If God created the universe in six days, and on the seventh day he rested, can God also fix the universe in a week, or less? Rhetorical questions and doomsday predictions aside, the 7 billion people occupying earth are all sinners and saints in global sustainability. As much as we don’t like to admit it, humans are an imperfect species, particularly in our relationship with the natural world. However, it is understood that the fate of the natural world and of our own are one in the same. The fundamental element of the universe (as “we” know it) is “people” and our ability to work together, or at odds with each other, toward a purpose-driven life and global society.
Being able to think beyond ourselves requires patience, humility, a strong capacity for listening and learning, and an ability to separate ego from our true “self.” Sustainability, then, is very much tied to spirituality, and how we choose to embrace, or not, our journey of self-discovery, enlightenment, and living life with sense of purpose. Understanding that spirituality goes beyond the practice of religion, and that we all are part of a generation living within a context of time and fate which is requiring more accountability from each of us, is a perspective toward how people can begin to embrace sustainability from personal point of view.
I have been a sinner, and I remain far from being a saint. However, I feel an obligation to live a life with a strong sense of purpose, passion, and balance. In doing so, I hope that my life will show more good deeds than bad in its final ledger. My personal passion is to help others find their role, as citizens and consumers, in creating a more sustainable world. While I may be passionate about sustainability, I am not naïve. For example I don’t believe that “sustainability” can ever be fully reached, in part because there is not one singular definition to what it is, and because our the needs of our generation are always in flux, changing as we age and mature throughout life.
Further, there are as many definitions of “sustainability” as there are people, 7 billion and counting! And for each of us, sustainability means something different, and manifests itself in our daily lives in unique ways. For example, who says and controls what sustainability is, or isn’t? For some people the gift of living another day is “sustainability.” For others, sustainability is a desired utopian state yet to be achieved. Whether it is a state of mind, an oasis in the sand, or a physical realization of perfection, sustainability can seem to be a far away land from where society now resides. The “Arab Spring,” “Occupy Movement,” and “London Riots” represent recent reflections within society of our distance from each other, and sustainability.
But, amid all of the chaos the “24-7” news cycle would like us to absorb, we should not be discouraged from trying to get there. As much as it may seem ludicrous to have God “clean up our messes,” it should be equally as absurd for our generation to push social, economic, and environmental challenges onto our children and future generations. Kicking the proverbial “can down the road” will only perpetuate the sinners in each of us. And, to succeed as a societal “norm,” sustainability cannot be dictated, mandated, or regulated.
Our generation should be grateful for the world we occupy and in its current state, with all its distorted warts, bumps, and bruises. Gratefulness is a lost virtue, and one that challenges our capacity to flourish in life. In gratefulness toward the world, we need to rediscover what it means to be selfless stewards of the earth, and friends to each other. At its core, sustainability is about how humans interface with each other and the natural world, and in a manner that has us consider not only our needs today, but it also challenges us think beyond ourselves toward the needs of future generations. That requires selflessness, gratefulness, and mindfulness. The act of working toward “sustainability” will require that each of us choose to be personally accountable to our individual lifestyles, and that we collaborate as conscious citizens and consumers, on achieving more of those “good deeds.”
In the past year there has been a great deal of focus in the U.S. and in Europe on the financial crisis, and the “fiscal cliff.” There is no doubt that the state of the global economy is in turmoil and our financial futures very uncertain. The financial markets have seen sinners and saints in the past decade. Sinners have laundered billions, ruined lives of many, and negatively impacted global economies. Saints have begun to redefine the object of money and wealth, and are creatively working on business models that can be a win-win for people’s pocketbooks and for the planet. But finance is but one aspect of the challenges before the world’s sinners and saints. If a fiscal crisis does not crush this generation’s sense of entitlement, a sustainability crisis will. For far too long, the consumption-driven model of developed nations has lived with a sense of entitlement over natural resources and the natural world. Given this one must ask, in doing so, we have created too much distance between what God created 4.6 billion years ago and what we consume during our “24-7” hectic lifestyles to fully appreciate the true value of life?
Our notion of success and what it means to be responsible stewards of the planet might not truly align with the “developed world” that has been created. We are no longer dreamers, doers, or creators. We are consumers first, and “fixers” of the holes we created from our consumptive lifestyle second. In this self-defeating model of evolution the holes we dig are only get wider and deeper, and our ability to “patch and fix” our troubles less plausible. This gets back to the fundamental element which driver our capacity to be sustainable: people. The common denominator to a more or less sustainable world is “you, me, and we.” We must relearn what it means to be grateful for a world of bounty and beauty. We must also recognize that there is richness to life, beyond what we consume, that can bring meaning and pleasure to us as individuals, and as an entire generation.
As individuals, we are the stewards of our own lifestyles. We have the power to make decisions that impact our health, spirituality, and sense of self. The equation for a more sustainable world is complex, and there is a certain amount of sinners and saints in each of us. The challenges impacting our generation mount as competition for the world’s energy, water, food, and other natural resources intensifies. Global competition is causing disruption and challenge in our economy, environment, and throughout society. As much as we should be grateful for the bounty and beauty of the world, we should equally be grateful for the life and wisdom of each other.
As individuals, and as a generation, we do not have to fall victim to negative behaviors and influences within society, or events which impact the world. “You, me, and we” are the “Sustainability Generation” living in the here and now, and that can take action toward a more civil, balanced, and accountable world. By discovering who we are as individuals, and being accountable in roles as parents, citizens, friends, neighbors, teachers, and leaders we can lead a purpose-driven, productive, and sustainable life. And, by better understanding our sense of self, and our views on spirituality, we can collectively become better stewards of our individual behaviors, our interactions with each other, and our generational impact on the earth. Let’s begin by being grateful that as individuals, and as an entire generation, we are lucky enough to continue to have the ability to have choices for our future. We should also recognize that we can deliberately choose the path of a sinner, or that of a saint, in our gift of life.
(Mark Coleman is the author of the book “The Sustainability Generation: The Politics of Change and Why Personal Accountability is Essential NOW!” Visit his website here: www.thesustainabilitygeneration.com. Throughout his career Mark Coleman has developed a strong focus on the critical areas of energy, environment, and sustainability. His career has spanned strategic and leadership positions in government, applied research, technology development, and management consulting organizations. This rich and diverse experience has enabled Mr. Coleman to have access to, engage, and work with a broad range of regional, national, and international leaders on the subject of sustainability. Mr. Coleman resides in Auburn, NY with his wife Aileen and two sons Owen and Neal.)
(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)
LET’S DISCUSS IT:
What is the reason, do you think, that mandatory minimum sentencing for marijuana possession came into being in the first place? What, if anything, do you think might cause America’s strongly conservative voters to reverse their positions on same gender marriage, marijuana use sentencing, gun ownership laws, abortion in the case of rape, working immigrants gaining citizenship, and other social issues?
The tide is turning in American politics. Those who say nothing will ever change in our world, that things only keep going from bad to worse, will no doubt be shocked to notice that people in power are starting to listen to the folks who put them there.
The latest news on this front:
(1) Ultra conservative Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has just said that he thinks putting people in jail for marijuana use is a big mistake.
(2) Another member of the U.S. Senate, Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri, has just said she thinks that government making same sex marriage illegal is a mistake.
Polls show that a healthy majority of the American people agree with both of them. The mistake has been putting these laws into place to begin with. And so this week we have seen even more high profile politicians — having failed to “lead” in the past — now at least following the lead of their constituency, which is far ahead of them on these issues.
It is a shame that citizens of arguably the world’s most powerful democracy have to lead the so-called “leaders” they have elected to lead them — but on the other hand there is something to be said for “better late than never” as far as the politicians are concerned. And it does offer hope that a better, more enlightened tomorrow may yet be on the horizon.
And now that we have big turnarounds by major political figures on marijuana jailings and same gender marriage — two huge social issues of the day — the next big question is going to be: When do you think America’s most powerful figures in Washington are going to follow American voters on the gun control issue?
Apparently the first step in changing the minds of political “leaders” is to change the words that are used to describe the social issues of the day. By altering the language surrounding these issues, supporters of social reforms can provide elected officials with sufficient “cover” to allow them to do what is clearly and obviously right.
In the gay marriage debate, supporters of same sex marriage have taken to using the term “marriage equality” to label their position. The phrase appears to have gained greater resonance with the American people — and so, their elected “leaders” can now more comfortably follow them under the tent.
In the gun control debate the words “gun safety legislation” are increasingly used to describe the new laws that gun control advocates have been trying to put into place for decades in gun-totin’ America. They seem, at last, to be gaining at least a little traction. The proposed ban on assault weapons seems doomed to defeat, but it appears that other measures, such as more stringent background checks on prospective gun buyers, have at least a slim chance of actually passing this year.
In the case of marijuana offenses, the now more-often-used wording is “non-violent crimes.” These softer, gentler verbiages allows many people to see things slightly differently. In the case of “marriage equality,” for instance, the newer phraseology has allowed Sen. McCaskill, representing a state that traditionally thinks of itself as rooted in more conservative American values (“I’m from Missouri, show me.”) to use the following line effectively: “Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.” She knows very well that this idea appeals to her constituency…even if the idea of gay marriage does not.
In the marijuana debate, the super-conservative darling of the American Tea Party befuddled liberal Democrats and left them flabbergasted over the last weekend by staking out a position that should obviously have been theirs — had they had the courage to take that position in the first place, long before he did.
Now — and forevermore during the next presidential election cycle — Sen. Rand, who is virtually certain to be vying for the Republican nomination for president in the U.S., will be able to say that he took the popular stance first, and mock any Democratic candidate who follows him as a Johnny-come-lately. And he’ll be right.
Sen. Rand said on a Fox News television interview show last Sunday that he doesn’t think people should be sent to prison for non-violent crimes. He does not, the senator was careful to make clear, support legalizing drugs. But he does highly recommend that judges be given greater leeway when it comes to sentencing convicted drug law offenders.
Currently, judges must adhere to mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases that come before them — the result of a conservative backlash several years ago and what the government then called its “war on drugs.” Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and Mr. Rand are now jointly sponsoring legislation that would give judges more room to maneuver at sentencing time — effectively completely reversing our government’s earlier (and obviously ill-advised) stance.
In the interview, on Fox News Sunday, Rand was reported to have made his case this way: “Look, the last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use.” He invited the network’s viewers to consider “what would have happened. It would have ruined their lives. They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys. They go to jail for these things. And I think it’s a big mistake.”
The statement, reported by writer Jordy Jager for The Hill, an online news service, raised eyebrows across the country — partly because it is so obviously right and people are not used to their leaders making observations that are obviously right, and partly because of the staunchly conservative credentials of the man making the statement.
“There are people in jail for 37, 50, 45 years for non-violent crimes, and that’s a huge mistake,” Sen. Rand said. A video of his remarks on Fox News Sunday may be seen by pasting this link into your browser:
On the gay marriage question, Sen. McCaskill joins a growing list of U.S. politicians to come out in support of legalizing marriage for same gender couples. Writing in an entry she made on the internet site Tumblr the senator acknowledged on Sunday: “Good people disagree with me.”
Then she added, “On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.”
And so it seems that in politics, as in everything else, our children shall lead us.
The body of Yvette Vickers lay unnoticed and unmissed in her California home for what some have speculated to be several months beyond the moment of her passing. The B-movie actress and former Playboy Playmate, perhaps best known for her role in the cult classic film “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman,” not only died alone, but her physical presence was not missed by even one of the over 7 billion people that currently occupy our planet for an unimaginable amount of time. In spite of the fact that people at one point actually paid money to view her naked body in Playboy magazine and people paid money to be entertained by her roles in a few low-budget films, not one single person checked on her, asked about her, looked for her; and most disappointing of all, not one person expressed love to her.
How can something like this happen? How is it even possible for someone’s life to end virtually unseen, unheard, and unloved? And perhaps the bigger question is: What can we do to change that?
As disturbing as this particular story may be, the fact that millions of human beings on our planet today live in isolation and loneliness is perhaps even more disturbing. The statistics surrounding an ever-increasing population contrasted against the staggering numbers of people moving through their days alone seems absurd and completely implausible. A logical mind would struggle to understand such a contradiction in facts, let alone understand how an entire population of people could continue to do very little, if anything, about it.
What piece of the puzzle are we missing?
At what turn did Humanity get so horribly off course?
While a percentage of our population is benefiting from living in a world pulsing with the frenetic energy of fast-paced technology and more advanced ways of communication, we may want to pause and take notice of the large percentage of our population that is being, quite frankly, forgotten and left behind. And even among those who have immersed themselves in the fast lane of the “information super highway,” it is becoming more and more evident that we, as a society, seem to be aloofly drifting away from the true intention of our relationships: to touch, to gaze, to smell, to hear, and to BE with each other in such a way that we may know experientially Who We Really Are.
But the fact that so many people live day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year clouded in loneliness and feelings of insignificance cannot be entirely and solely attributed to modern-day advances in communication. Somewhere along the line, we have simply forgotten what matters. We have forgotten that our neighbors matter. We have forgotten that the elderly lady pushing her shopping cart in the grocery store matters. We have forgotten that the children who are ignored on the playground matter. We have forgotten that the man sleeping on the park bench, without a home to go to, matters. We have forgotten that every single solitary expression of life which lives and breathes on this planet matters.
Of course, on a spiritual metaphysical level, no one is ever truly alone. But there is certainly a huge disconnect somewhere between the knowing of that and the experiencing of that as millions of people are struggling right now, in this very moment, to feel some semblance of meaning and purpose in their lives.
But how does somebody make a difference in the life of another if they don’t feel their own worthiness or experience their own significance? How can anyone possibly give something they simply don’t have in the first place?
Conversations with God offered to us the powerful message of: “Whatever it is that you wish to experience more of in your life, be the source of it in a life of another. There is a universal law that plays its effect here. When you give what you want to another, you cause yourself to notice that you have it. And since reality is a matter of perception, it is your perception that has caused you to imagine that you do not have it. When you give it to another and cause them to have it, you suddenly come to the realization that I could not give it to them if I did not have it to give. Suddenly you become aware that you had it all along.”
And when we live our lives within this framework of understanding, what then have we allowed ourselves to discover about ourselves? About life? About God? About Who We Are and Why We Are Here?
Could we all commit to stepping outside of our comfort zone to present someone who feels unseen the opportunity to be seen? Or to hear someone who feels unheard? Or to love someone who feels unloved? Even if the person who feels unseen, unheard, or unloved happens to be you?
People seem confused by the term “holistic health.” Maybe it’s because businesses are using the catch-phrase inappropriately. Holistic practices aren’t presented thoroughly or followed by some “holistic practitioners” as they prescribe the same old pharmaceuticals without another natural approach first. So what do I mean when I say holistic health? I’ll tell you!
Holistic health includes all aspects of the person – psychological, physical, social, and spiritual otherwise known as mind, body, and spirit. Whatever words you want to use to describe holistic health, it includes all aspects of well-being in you. To be holistically healthy, you must care for your body, your relationships, work and purpose in life, and your spirituality. You care for yourself, your friends, and your community. In order to do that, you avoid toxins in your food, environment, emotions, and life. You nurture your body with nutrient dense foods, relaxation, sleep, and exercise. You attempt to keep yourself healthy proactively through foods and natural healing, and you incorporate the same practices when dealing with an illness or disease. Don’t get me wrong, we need our medical doctors – our trauma care and advanced medical practices are necessary when other things don’t work or aren’t appropriate!
But let’s try to allow our body to heal itself when we can!
Holistic Health is nothing new. Ayurvedic medicine has taught us for thousands of years that we must treat the whole person to avoid illness, cure disease, and have a happy life without suffering. Through Ayurveda you learn to balance your biological tendencies, metabolic activities, and body functions using diet, sleep, activity, and sex. For instance, using Ayurveda you choose your food based on your imbalance, the taste, preparation, combination, quantity, and time to rebalance your body based on your constitution or symptoms. Here in the USA we eat at fast food restaurants, eat processed foods without paying attention. We eat fast food, junk food, and nutrition-less food and then take expensive vitamins and supplements.We eat fiber-less white bread and white flour in everything, but we take expensive fiber supplements.
So, in Holistic Health we look at the Whole…… the whole person.
In order to be whole and healthy we need to change old attitudes and pay attention to the following aspects:
• Remove from and avoid toxicity in the body, food, relationships, daily life, and thoughts
• Increase nutrition and positivity in food, emotions, priorities, exercise, positive mental energy, relationships, spirituality, and purpose in life or job
• The result of the above will be a less stressful, more comfortable happy life full of meaning, health, and happiness
With all of this being said, I also believe that no one has all of the answers. Therefore we are open to and experiment with all kinds of healing through
• Tasty, fun, and healthy food
• Healing foods
• Spices, herbs, natural remedies
• Physical activity
• Natural healers and practitioners
• Energy work
• Emotional Health
• Drugless practitioners
• Alternative healing methods
• Alternative Medicine
The list goes on.
Are you healthy as a whole? Think about the areas you need to change based on what I have shared with you. Any positive change you make in any area of your life will surely improve your overall holistic health.
(Beth Anderson is a certified Holistic Health Coach and founder of the Holistic Health Hotspot in Evansville, Indiana. She is also the author of “The Holistic Diet: Achieve Your Ideal Weight, Be Happy and Healthy for Life.” Beth received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Beth is helping people improve their lives through nutrition and lifestyle education, health coaching, and by helping others to learn to make informed choices. Beth continues to spread understanding of the connection between body, mind, and spirit and encourages all to discern the truth about food, consumer products, environment, and life choices. You can find Beth on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HolisticHealthHotspot or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org)
There I was, walking away from my family and towards the detox ward of the hospital. Overwhelming fear, coupled with a hangover and sense of humiliation, weighing on my thoughts and my body. So many questions running through my head: What is this going to be like? What are they going to do to me? How can I get out of this? Where would I go? What have I gotten myself into? I was walking into the complete unknown, and I was afraid.
I remember very clearly the first thing that took place. I was greeted by the doctor who ran the detox. His name was Dr. D’ Amico. He explained that I would be wearing the typical hospital gown; you know the one that is open in the back and ties around your waste. He gave his reason for this: “You are sick. You are suffering from a disease; therefore, you will be treated as any other person who is sick.” This was my first real introduction to addiction as a disease.
After changing into the hospital gown, the nurse took all of my possessions, shoes and socks, clothing, and cigarettes. There was no smoking in the hospital detox. I was led to my room, basically an open area where there were two beds sectioned off from the rest of the hospital by only a curtain. The curtain remained open all the time.
I was tired and worn down. Looking back, I felt relief to be out of the cycle of addiction and the pace of the life I had created. A nurse came to my bed, bringing medication. And I was told that because alcohol was one of the drugs I was withdrawing from, I had to take anti-seizure medicine. Alcohol withdrawal is the most dangerous drug to withdraw from.
My second day in detox was more challenging. I was already feeling much better after a good night’s sleep and nutritious meals. Feeling better sounds like a good thing, but for a person who is addicted, feeling good and healthy typically means that it is okay to start using again. And that is exactly what I was thinking: “I don’t need this. I can do it myself.” I don’t remember saying that, but I would not be surprised if I did, as I know I was thinking it!
My addictive behavior did not end in the detox. After the second day, when the nurse would deliver the anti-seizure medicine, I would store it under my tongue until she left the room. I would quickly remove it and hide it under my pillow for future use. I was saving it up so I could take more than one and hopefully get high. Looking back on this behavior reminds me that I was not just a “normal” kid who liked to party a little too much.
It was pre-arranged that I would go directly from detox to a 28-day inpatient treatment facility. This is a very common procedure, because by the seventh day of detox, I was feeling on top of the world physically and mentally. I was very resistant to going to a rehabilitation center. (Most of the people who do not go directly to rehab relapse and begin using again shortly after their release from the hospital.) After a brief intervention with my parents and the doctor, I agreed to proceed as planned.
It is my hope that in the telling of my personal story here someone reading this will have a greater understanding of how to navigate early recovery either for them or for a loved one. Alcoholics and drug addicts will convince themselves and everyone else that they just need to break the cycle of using and they will be fine. I am here to tell you it just isn’t so. Abstinence is not recovery! And except for extremely rare cases, abstinence does not maintain. For those who do simply abstain from using their drugs of choice without employing some form of self-improvement program, long-term recovery is much less likely to happen. It is the addictive behavior that must be addressed. The drugs are simply the symptom of a far greater issue. I was not plotting my next binge when I was saving up the medication for “one last high”; I was exhibiting the behavior of an addict.
Addictive personalities do not simply go away with time. It is debatable whether or not they ever go away. From my personal experience in recovery, irrational thinking, obsessions, desire for instant gratification do not disappear from the recovering addict’s life. What does go away is the obsession to use drugs and alcohol. It does dissolve immediately. For some, it can take years. But the transformation does take place.
The motto of the recovery community is “One day at a time.” Indeed, this is the basis for most programs that deal with addictions. And what a wonderful way to live life it is. When we seek to keep things simple and we stop projecting our thoughts into the future or wishing the past was different, we remember that all we have is the breath we are taking this very moment of now. We have the power to change who we are right now, but not by fretting over the past or fearing what may come next. When we live one moment at a time in the awareness that the past is the past and the future is unwritten, we find our peace. This is recovery.
(Kevin McCormack C.A.d Is a certified addictions professional, as well as a Conversations with God Life Coach. Kevin is a practicing Auriculotherapist, and a Spiritual helper on www.changingchange.net. Kevin will be presenting at the CwG Recovery Retreat in Medford Oregon June 23rd – June 26th. You can visit his website at www.Kevin-Spiritualmentor.com To connect with Kevin, please email him at Kevin@theglobalconversation.com)
Teacher: I am looking for an exceptional student.
Prospective Student: What are the requirements for the position?
Teacher: Failures! The student needs to have come through many failures.
Prospective Student: You’ve found the right person!
People are not necessarily forthcoming when it comes to discussing their failures, but there is so much to be learned if we properly analyze them. Some of the most important lessons you will ever learn will come from the analysis of the failures you have had and the application of the lessons you have learned from them.
Everyone will have an opportunity to fail at some point in life. It is unpleasant, and for good reason. Failures are the one of the Uni-verse’s main methods of education. When we fail, it is our time to re-assess our actions, our information and our desires. We are being asked to learn something. Every failure gives us an opportunity to learn humility, which is one of the greatest and perhaps most overlooked assets. In today’s world, who wants to be humble? It’s like a 4-letter word. And yet, humility simply means the ability to see clearly what we are and what we are not, where we begin and where we end. It is a great thing to work on.
The ego dislikes failing. The very idea of being humble makes the ego cringe. Notice your ego when it flares up, thank it for sharing, and re-commit yourself to learning what you need to learn so you do not have to revisit the same failure more than once.
How can we best learn from our failures? Let’s look at the “3 Ds” – Desire, Direction and Discipline. These are what I call “the three necessities.” These are the required ingredients for success in any venture.
The first ingredient we must have to succeed is desire. Desire fuels our day-to-day journey and makes our work enjoyable even through the challenges. If we lack the desire to do something, if it is not in alignment with our ultimate goals, we will most certainly fail. Even if we get the thing we are working towards, it will be a vacuous attainment at best. We will have been pursuing something for the wrong reasons.
I have an amazing friend who pursued a financial career, and had great “success” with it until he was so miserable inside that he woke up to the reality that what he had pursued was out of alignment with his heart. Due to his ability to analyze and correct his alignment, my friend was able to take this failure and turn it into many future successes.
Now, if we have the desire, we will then need direction. How do we get it done? What do we need to know? Who can help us?
Perhaps you have set out down a path toward a goal that you did not know how to reach. You make mistakes. Occasionally you get lucky. You get knocked down and you get back up. With persistence, you may eventually reach your goal, but it is always best to seek direction from people who have been where you are trying to go. These are teachers, guides, mentors. They light the way.
With desire and proper direction, you are well on your way to success. Yet, without the ability to apply desire and direction in a strategic way, you may find your goals remain just out of reach. This brings us to the third necessity, another four-letter word in our society known as discipline.
Ironically, discipline is the precursor to joy. When you sit down to learn the piano, you start by learning scales. It can be tedious, boring and frustrating. You apply discipline, you keep showing up, and you develop skill. Eventually, you sit down at the piano and your teacher says, “Now, just play.” You experience a profound joy and liberation in playing piano, but it required discipline first.
Coming off a failure, we can feel a sense of desperation to jump right back in and make something work. We must be careful not to rush into the next thing until we have completed a period of assessment, adjustment, and sometimes grief-work if necessary. In time, we will become naturally ready to receive the teaching that Universe has for us. With patience, we will be able to do the necessary work so that our failures will become catalysts for many future successes. Put another way, when you lose, don’t lose the lesson!
I wish this for you.
Love, Peace and Light.
(Tommy Rosen is a yoga teacher and addiction recovery expert who has spent the last two decades immersed in recovery, yoga and wellness. Tommy is certified in both Hatha and Kundalini Yoga and Meditation. He is one of the pioneers in the burgeoning field of Yoga and Recovery, which utilizes yoga and meditation to help people overcome addictions and build fulfilling lives.
Tommy is the Co-Producer and Host of The Recovery 2.0: Beyond Addiction Online Conference, which features 35 talks with globally recognized experts offering diverse perspectives on addiction and is attended by tens of thousands of people from over 70 countries: Recovery2Point0.com. Tommy is also co-founder and producer of Tadasana: The International Festival of Yoga & Music, an annual multi-day festival in Southern California.
As a respected expert, Rosen teaches and speaks regularly at yoga conferences and festivals, including Wanderlust, Hanuman, Tadasana and many others. He also teaches annually at Esalen, Omega and Kripalu and runs yoga/recovery workshops and retreats internationally. Tommy’s blogs and articles have appeared in The Daily Love, LA Yoga, Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, MindBodyGreen.com and Intent.com to name but a few. He is also a featured GAIAM TV yoga teacher.
Tommy’s first book, “Recovery 2.0: Beyond Addiction,” will be out from Hay House in the Spring of 2014. The Recovery 2.0 DVD series is launching in the spring of 2013. Tommy and his wife, noted yoga instructor Kia Miller, live in Venice, California where they teach yoga, and grow organic vegetables in their backyard.)
(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)
The parents of two California grade school students have sued to block the teaching of yoga classes in their children’s physical education class, complaining it promotes eastern religions. The action was filed by The National Center for Law & Policy, an Escondido, California-based nonprofit “legal defense organization” focusing on “protection and promotion of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, parental rights and other civil liberties.”
NCLP attorney Dean R. Broyles filed the lawsuit against the Encinitas Union School District in San Diego County on behalf of plaintiffs Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, claiming “The program is extremely divisive and has unfortunately led to the harassment, discrimination, bullying and segregation of children who, for good reasons, opt out of the program.”
The integration of yoga into the physical education program has been highly effective in reducing hyperactivity and stress. In schools around the nation who are implementing yoga into their health and wellness programs, they are seeing a marked decrease in the number of students who harm others and/or themselves and a reduction in aggressive behaviors which are commonly associated with violence and drug use. The yoga classes, which incorporate breathing techniques to alleviate stress, promote relaxation, and increase body circulation, have been proven to increase students’ confidence and overall well-being.
So with all these demonstrated obvious benefits, why would anyone resist such an advantageous program, one that has a proven track record in schools and communities around the world of noticeably enhancing lives in both a physical and emotional way?
The complaint in this case is citing that the introduction of yoga in the school unlawfully promotes religious beliefs. The lawsuit objects to eight-limbed tree posters they say are derived from Hindu beliefs, the “Namaste” greeting, and several of the yoga poses that they say represent the worship of Hindu deities. The plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages; they are asking for the removal of the program in its entirety from the school’s physical education program.
In this particular situation, once again, deeply rooted fear-based religious beliefs (ironically, the very thing being protested against) are attempting to crowd out change, an example of inflexible belief systems clinging desperately and fearfully to an Old Cultural Story which embraces an idea that “THEIR way is THE way.” Or it could be entirely possible that they have NO idea what “their” way even is and just simply believe that “another” way is arbitrarily wrong.
But why do stories like this continue to exist where the fear that holds this Old Story together is so enmeshed in its antiquated concepts that it prevents those who hold it as true from being able to welcome change, even when such a change has been demonstrated to be beneficial and life-enhancing for so many people?
Could it be possible that Old Cultural Stories continue to exist because the concepts held within them actually are best?
If that is so, perhaps there is no place in schools for yoga, and our children should only move their bodies in largely approved and unmistakably pragmatic ways, such as doing jumping jacks or kicking a ball on the playground or, better yet, throwing balls at each other. Perhaps unruly children who have not learned how to quiet their minds enough to sit in class and pay attention for any length of time should continue to be medicated with mind-numbing drugs and/or sent to the principal’s office repeatedly to be punished for “acting out” in class. Perhaps children would be better off not knowing how to control their breathing and utilize it as a holistic tool with which to calm themselves in moments of anxiety or pressure. Maybe, if we wait long enough, the dysfunctional system that we have in place will one day eventually demonstrate itself to be beneficial. And in the meantime, we should just shelf all these crazy new alternatives that are currently available — and working — for our children.
The way I see it, if we still did things in alignment with what they thought was “best” when I went to school years ago, our administrators today would be liberally spanking our children with a wooden paddle. Fortunately, that belief system has changed. And fortunately, for the students who attend the Encinitas Union School District, they have someone like Superintendent Timothy Baird who is standing behind the yoga program and will continue to offer it to their students because of its health benefits.
What do you think?
I say: Bring on the yoga.
(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
I am getting married in June, and I am having doubts. He’s a good man, and he has a good job, but he has mood swings and sometimes I really don’t like being around him. Sometimes I think I can change him, but, should I have to? Should I leave him, or should I stay? I am so tired of trying to make things work, but I am also so tired of dating.
Janine L., Wyoming
I am not going to tell you to go or stay. Only you can make that decision.
From your brief note, I get the impression that you have fallen into the trap of modern dating. These days people are considered “loose” or “easy” if they date more than one person at a time, so they fall into what I call the “serial monogamy” treadmill. They try to make each and every date into a relationship! Wow, has that got to be emotionally devastating!
My mother gave me some very wise advice: Date, date, date, date, date. And with each of them, when it’s time to move on, take just a moment to examine just what you did and did not like about them. She told me that if I did that, I would know when the “right” one came along. And I did! We are about to celebrate our 40th anniversary this Saturday!
So how is this relevant to you? Well, looking back, I can see that I might not have had the words to articulate these things like I do now, but I realize I had examined what “relationship” meant to me. I knew that if there was no joy in it from the beginning, and only work, I was not going to serve me or him. I knew that I required someone who would be on a spiritual journey with me. Even (especially!) that has evolved through the years, but the intent of my relationship was clear to me.
CWG Book 1:
Neale: Okay. So I want to find the tools for a long-term relationship—and you say entering relationships purposefully is one of them.
God: Yes. Be sure you and your mate agree on purpose. If you both agree at a conscious level that the purpose of your relationship is to create an opportunity, not an obligation—an opportunity for growth, for full Self expression, for lifting your lives to their highest potential, for healing every false thought or small idea you ever had about you, and for ultimate reunion with God through the communion of your two souls—if you take that vow instead of the vows you’ve been taking—the relationship has begun on a very good note. It’s gotten off on the right foot. That’s a very good beginning.
Neale: Still, it’s no guarantee of success.
God: If you want guarantees in life, you don’t want life. You want rehearsals for a script that’s already been written. Life by its nature cannot have guarantees, or its whole purpose is thwarted.
“…First, make sure you get into a relationship for the right reasons. (I’m using the word “right” here as a relative term. I mean “right” relative to the larger purpose you hold in your life.
As I have indicated before, most people still enter relationships for the “wrong” reasons – to end loneliness, fill a gap, bring themselves love, or someone to love – and those are some of the better reasons. Others do so to salve their ego, end their depressions, improve their sex life, recover from a previous relationship, or, believe it or not, to relieve boredom.
None of these reasons will work, and unless something dramatic changes along the way, neither will the relationship.”
Janine, in CWG, God also says:
“My most powerful messenger is experience, and even this you ignore. Especially this you ignore.”
My mother taught me to look at my own experience…what is your experience telling you?
I know, I know, a lot of Conversations With God quotes, but they happen to be spot-on when I look back at my relationship! I realized that I had to first “know myself and fill myself” so that I could move outward and fully into a relationship that was about more than just me!
It was, and is, an ongoing process.
I somehow knew many of these things, or had been exampled and taught them without knowing whence they came (mother!?), but you are lucky. If you are here, reading this, you are already choosing to consciously know how to move through life and into a full relationship…first with yourself, and then with another.
(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of the global website at www.ChangingChange.net, which offers spiritual assistance from a team of Spiritual Helpers responding to every post from readers within 24 hours or less, and offers insight, suggestions, and companionship during moments of unbidden, unexpected, unwelcome change on the journey of life. She may be contacted at Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)
(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com, where our team is waiting to hear from you.)