There is a Choice in Front of All of Us

Planet earth with sunrise in space. Earth Day. Vector illustration

I have written about how a new world can emerge from this global crisis–how more kindness, compassion, awareness, consciousness, and love can be expressed in the world. And our country and our world is also seeing the opposite of that. Systemic racism with its violence and marginalization has always been sadly clear to BIPOC. During this time of great change, it is becoming more visible. Angela Davis has called this a time of “collective epiphany” in working to dismantle systemic racism.

The new normal has required new ways of doing things. For me, in currently being off the hamster wheel, it is a time, as a person with white skin, to self-educate about implicit bias, equity, equality and antiracism.

It is also a time of simplifying–looking at the things that I thought I needed and doing without (easier than I thought). I’m finding a new normal with more time to be a support (even if it is just to make a phone call to check in on someone, letting them know I’m thinking of them), or discover creative ways to listen, express support, solidarity, and love–online or through writing. There is time to cook food at home, look at inventive ways to use resources, conserve, read, write, pray, meditate, examine what is really important in my life, say, “I love you,” and do self-care to keep myself healthy. Within the new normal is an emerging of awareness of what needs to change for a new love-based world.

When things eventually (and, hopefully, safely) start opening up again in the world, I don’t want to go back to the old normal. During this time there is a huge opportunity to work on creating a new world. The old normal was a world where people were so focused on the hamster wheel that there wasn’t the time being allowed for really listening, caring, loving, and expressing gratitude. In examining the old world, for the most part, the dominant white culture was/is focused on individualism, performance, and on consuming and consumerism. What was the newest thing to buy, to have, to experience? The old “business as usual” was and is broken. The gap is wider than it has ever been between the “haves” and those who are marginalized, the “have nots.” Too many times love took a backseat to the bottom line.

When things gradually and safely start opening up, let’s create a new normal–awareness of what equity and equality really is, in caring, in learning, in listening, in serving, in sharing, and in giving. Together we can get through this pandemic and create a new world, a better humanity. There is a choice in front of each of us. I’m choosing creating a new normal, a new world in which love, equality, compassion, kindness, and generosity flow freely . What about you?

© Copyright 2020, Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World 

Expanded Green Edition and unabridged audio book, riverbirchpublishing.com

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Overcoming Over-thinking

Have you ever thought about something TOO much?166262764_8

Have you ever not been able to sleep because thoughts keep running through your head?

While thinking through things is really helpful and important (some people could even do more of that!), sometimes we can detour our lives and get off track by thinking or analyzing too much. This over-thinking can turn into a negative direction and create a state of doubt, stress, anxiety or worry (or even cognitively convince oneself of a hypothetical situation that doesn’t even exist).  Have you ever encountered a difficulty with someone, thinking that their intent was negative and found out later that you were very wrong about that?  You discovered later that they did not have a negative intention at all?

From the perspective of Quantum Physics, simply put, thoughts are things. Thoughts have an effect on us, the world, and matter. When we allow ourselves to go down a path of negatively over-thinking something, we are having more of an effect, many times, than we realize.

Our minds work through association (association with past experiences) or perceptual connections, so given free rein, the mind can divert us from being in the moment with what is really needed. We are so much more than our thoughts. We are deeper than thought. We all have a core of strength, wisdom, joy, and, yes, love that is much truer than thought. And ideally, thought can be influenced by and arise out of that inner core of what we really are.

In many traditions throughout the ages, the area of the heart is associated with this part of us that is more than our minds, more than thought, even more than matter (or the physical aspects of life).  For thousands of years, it has been associated with the seat of the soul, with universal love, with wisdom.

Here is an activity to try:89796678_8

  • Sit quietly and focus on your breath (just pay attention to breathing in and exhaling).
  • Quiet yourself and focus on the area of your heart.
  • Visualize a beautiful white light with sparkles of gold in that area.
  • Allow the light to expand into your whole body (including your head), filling your cells with that light, like a honeycomb lighting up.
  • Let yourself feel the love coming from your heart or soul, that inner core of wisdom.
  • Send this light of love from your heart to bathe the difficulty or person with that light. Send positive thoughts for that situation or person.

You may find that this easy and simple activity not only helps bring you back to a more balanced place, it also helps with your perspective in a situation.  You might even find that things improve and the truer aspects “come to light.”  This is also a good activity (in addition to other obvious ways) when observing a situation or area of the world that needs help—pouring into that country or situation the love from your heart.

When you see yourself in a place of over-thinking, it helps to bring yourself back to the heart, to infuse the problem with love.  To some people using the word “love” sounds fluffy, and to that I say that love is a powerful force in this world–more powerful than fear, hate, and separation.  It is what we truly are. It is the hope for the world. What would this world look like if more and more people brought themselves to a place of love instead of fear?

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World .

© Copyright 2013, Mary Claire O’Neal

Photos: Getty Images

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Website: http://maryclaireoneal.com

Generous Hearts of India: The Joy of Giving

Photo by Campbell Wood

I’ve just returned from a trip to India, and my heart is filled with gratitude for the lovely people I met on my travels. I will cherish the memories of the kindness and generosity of spirit of the Indian people for the rest of my life.

For a year, my husband and I had planned on going to India, and just one month before we were to leave, I fractured a vertebra in my back. We were not sure if it would be possible to go, but after my neurosurgeon prescribed a brace and advised that if I was careful I could go, we started packing.  I experienced culture shock in the extreme when I arrived in Kolkata (Calcutta). From the window of the car, we saw mile upon mile of low income housing. When I say” low income,”  I’m not talking about the level of low income housing in our country. In India, “low income ” living is a very simple life, sometimes without some of the things we consider the basic necessities in the  U.S.

What I observed was that most of the people were happy–whether I saw them on the streets, bathing in the Brahamaputra River, or going about their work. When you made eye contact with someone, they really returned the connection in a kind and soulful way. In the northern corner of Assam, we visited the Mising Tribe. The people of the Mising (or Mishing) Tribe lived very simple lives. Their homes were built of bamboo and thatch and were elevated on stilts (to accommodate the monsoons every year). There was no electricity or running water in their houses. After being greeted with a beverage that they brew themselves, we were treated to a celebratory dance and welcome. We visited one of the families in their home, and they talked about their daily lives, how they grew their own vegetables, worked in the rice fields, tended their livestock and spent time with their families. The village seemed to be very tightly knit, and there were common areas for people to meet, visit and celebrate.

They had made the time to visit with us, and honored us as their guests, and they were proud to share their lives and ways of living. After visiting the family in their home, we were treated to a lovely meal in the common area. The food was served on a banana leaf, and we ate it with our hands. All the foods, rice, lentils and vegetables, were grown there and prepared from the whole foods. It was deliciously prepared and served with love.

People we met in India loved to give. They gave of themselves without expecting anything in return. If they could help, they did. If they could say a kind word, they did. If they could make something better for you, they did. At first I felt a little uncomfortable being the recipient of so much generosity. But I finally realized part of what made them happy was that they loved to give. Giving brought them joy, but this kind of giving was not a material kind of giving. This giving was in acts of kindness.

At this time of year, I am especially reflecting on giving in a non-material way. So many times in our culture, people judge giving by the stuff that is given.  From time to time, I’ve taken to giving anonymously–whether it be a card of appreciation for someone, just letting them know that someone sees how special they are, or doing something for them without identifying myself. This always took the pressure off of giving. I knew that there were no expectations or strings attached–just giving for the joy of it. I love to give, and giving of myself (without a material present to give) is something I want to do more of, without the safety of anonymity.

The people of India have taught me more than I can articulate here, but they have reminded me of the potential of life in making a difference in small ways that turn out to be very big in the lives of the people they touch. When we boarded a short flight in India, the flight attendant noticed my back brace and wanted to help my husband with the carry ons (my husband was carrying mine and his). When he saw that we did not have seats together, he negotiated with some people so that we could sit together–my husband could be close by to help me if I needed it. After about 20 minutes into the flight, the flight attendant handed me an envelope. It was a get well card with the hand-written message, “We all are thinking of you with healing thoughts that you will soon be well. Remember us as we will always remember you.”  The whole flight crew signed the card. My heart was so touched by that very sweet and simple gesture. I will always remember that. When we were disembarking in Delhi, the flight attendant told my husband that he had been carrying that card in his suitcase for several months, knowing that there would be someone he would want to to give it to. When he saw me board the plane, he knew the card would be for me.

What an amazing person, and what an amazing country.

Mary Claire O’Neal is the author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World, and is a communication consultant, coach and speaker.

© Copyright, Mary Claire O’Neal