We all face times beyond our control when life doesn’t follow our designs and we’re asked to work with life and not fight, curse or hide from it. When insisting on our way, we can get so tangled in our will that we can’t find or feel the wind of Spirit. During these times—when we fear there is no meaning and it seems there’s nothing holding us up—our will can puff, snap and flap about in a desperate attempt to fill what looms as an empty life.
Nonviolent self-defense is akin to the dynamics of bullfighting. “The matador never matches his strength with the enormous animal; rather, he redirects the energy of the bull with simple and precise movements—counterbalancing—and letting the bull’s energy move past him,” explains Rose. He’s trained everyday people of all ages and walks of life in this approach, in the U.S., UK, Puerto Rico and Jamaica.
“As they train, students begin to feel more secure wherever they go, because they are learning how to be safe even in the midst of physical confrontation,” says Rose. “They wind up feeling more empowered as they learn how to neutralize aggression simply and effectively.”
In a recent Yes! magazine article, Rucha Chitnis reports that women are rising up to push back against growing corporate power, land grabs, economic injustice, climate change and more. Women’s groups and networks offer a paradigm shift, she concludes, exposing links between unbridled capitalism, violence, the erosion of human rights and destruction of the Earth.
Creating a personal myth is a fundamental way we find meaning. We are always the protagonist, with supporting characters providing love and assistance and antagonists posing challenges that push us beyond our comfort zones. Rather than narcissism or navel-gazing, the more intimate we become with our own story, the more we realize that everyone has an equally valid and vital narrative in which they are the central character. Understanding that everyone is on their own story journey can help us establish connection and empathy.
“Research with older people at both rehabilitation and nursing centers tells us that the human body wasn’t designed to begin a major decline in function until age 70, barring major illness or accidents along the way. Most of individual decline is due to lifestyle choices, not nature’s plan.”
Like birth, death is a transition we can wisely prepare for. In recent years, compassionate individuals and grassroots movements have emerged to help us conduct ourselves, heal and grow from losing a loved one or face our own passing. An increasing number of initiatives support a new model in palliative care that treats death not as a failure, but an expected aspect of the human experience. Each in its own way advocates for a grace-filled passage supported by dignified, caring and compassionate practices.
True love is not something reserved exclusively for soulmates, couples, children, friends or family. Observations by sages for millennia and by enlightened scientists more recently are increasingly aligned with the point of view articulated by renowned meditation teacher Jack Kornfield that true love and awareness—a sense of universal connectivity and the idea that divinity, or the sacred, is found in all things—are indistinguishable.
Influential spiritual leader Ram Dass has described Krishna Das (Jeffrey Kagel) as an example of someone whose “heartsongs” open channels to God. The Grammy-nominated kirtan artist, long considered yoga’s rock star, consistently plays to sold-out crowds worldwide. The Long Island native’s journey has gone from being a member of a popular rock band to going to India, where as a student of spiritual leader Neem Karoli Baba, the trajectory of his life and music shifted and expanded.
Filmmaker Barnet Bain’s credits include writer/director of Milton’s Secret, due out this fall, starring Donald Sutherland and Michelle Rodriguez and based on Eckhart Tolle’s book, producer of the Oscar-winning What Dreams May Come, executive producer of the Emmy-award nominee Homeless to Harvard and writer/producer of The Celestine Prophecy movie. Now, as author of The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love, and Work, he offers tools that everyone can use to develop a creativity practice designed to move us beyond our unconscious hand-me-down worldview, escape mental and emotional straightjackets and unlock great reservoirs of imagination. In so doing, we discover we can create anything we like; from a work of art to a fulfilling relationship.