Hug a Tree, Hug a Friend, Hug a Stranger, Hug Yourself

This isn’t the post I was planning on writing today. But these are the words that are flowing out of me,  so I am honoring that.

This is a world in trouble; the physical world, the animal world, the plant world and the human world. I’m not here to re-hash recent events, talk politics or special interest groups. There are plenty of places and sites you can find for that.

I’m here, in the spirit of this blog, to encourage us to pay attention to how we impact
and influence the world every day with even our smallest actions. Each day the actions we choose spread either positive and peaceful energy, or negative and dark waves, into the world. It can be almost paralyzing if we think of all the changes we would like to see in the world and ourselves. But break that down into smaller units and amounts of time and see if that creates space and possibility in your mind. Look at yourself, or anyone who is competent and successful in the field they work in. It mostly likely didn’t happen overnight. Sometimes when we see an established and successful business or volunteer organization it is easy to forget the hard work and dedication that went into its creation.

So just how can we all be more productive, positive and help change the world and ourselves
at the same time.

When it comes to something you can do to help the world in a hands on way, learn to choose your battles. What upsets you most about the world. Homelessness, hunger, violence, animal abuse, inadequate education. Pick one. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about them all. But you will be more effective if you start with one. Volunteer a couple of hours a week. Can you teach something to abused women learning to be on their own? Do you have a way with animals that have been abused? Volunteer organizations often need people who can write, photograph, or are effective fundraisers. There are numerous organizations that can help us help the world. This is something you can do in order to feel like you are making a difference and will help you feel like you are part of something bigger than just yourself. You will be rewarded with smiles and wagging tails and I guarantee that will make your day.  Along with helping people or animals, you will also meet some great like-minded people. Volunteer vacations are also becoming quite popular.  I think that would be a fantastic way to spend a week.  You could see a different country or state, meet local folks and be of service also.

So how does the way we go through our days have an impact on the world?  I believe that the anger and violence in the world affects us by creating negativity and a non peaceful state in our minds. Our minds become closed and ideas and possibilities that pop into our heads are greeted with negativity and squashed before they have a chance to grow.  We are wrapped in defeat and feeling ineffective before the first step is taken.

Here are a few ideas to help you get into a more peaceful place. Once there it is easier to start helping ourselves and our world.

I am a big proponent of meditation. There is a big block for most of us because we are so concerned if we are meditating correctly or fear we can’t sit long enough. So my suggestion is try this: Set your timer for 5 minutes, get comfortable, close your eyes and silently repeat a word or phrase that speaks of loving kindness and compassion. There, you have just done a short meditation and put some positive energy out into the world and also your own mind.
There are many different types of meditation if you are interested in creating your own practice. One book I like a lot and is a good place to start is “Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. It is a light and non-esoteric and leads the reader gently through all the parts and tools of meditation. I also like the Insight Meditation Center in California which you can find at http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org. You can stream many, many talks about meditation here. I find that talks by Gil Fronsdale resonate with me, but there are several speakers to choose from. You can find everything from 5 minute practice notes to longer guides to meditation.

Writing often helps me settle my mind. Getting thoughts down on paper gets them out of endless circling in my mind. I keep a couple of notebooks close by, using one just  for rambling and the other for any and all ideas. Writing doesn’t have to be for any special purpose other than your own enjoyment. One book I really enjoy and use all the time for writing is “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the writer within” by Natalie Goldberg. A long time Zen practitioner, Ms. Goldberg will help you get the block out of your mind that prevent you from putting pen to paper in her unique way.  Writing can help you find clarity in your mind, creating space that allows growth and change which is a benefit to you and the world around you.

I hope these suggestion may inspire you to try them or lead you to something that helps you stay peaceful in the world and believe that  it is a good world that we need to help heal.

In finishing I go back to the title of this post.

Hug a tree….make better friends with the earth. Touch a tree, a plant, a rock. Say thank you for their beauty and soundness.  I have many beautiful huge trees in my yard, but there is one I feel  most connected to. Sometime I  just sit under if for a while, my back leaning against it.  It lends its strength to me and I am thankful.

Hug a friend…our friends and family are so necessary in so many ways. Let them know how much them mean to you.  If they live far away, write them a letter.  We don’t do that often enough any more.  But there is something special in todays electronic world about getting a card or hand written letter in the mail.  Be creative and make a card!

Hug a stranger…or at least smile and say hi and make some small talk. You may give them a reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  We have been taught not to trust anyone anymore and that is so distressing to me.  Offer to help someone load up their car or carry something into the post office if they  are struggling.  We all need each other.

Hug yourself…take good care of yourself. You need you and the world needs you. Be kind to yourself.  “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light”! Yogi Bhajan

Thank you all for being a part of my life.

Namaste

2 thoughts on “Hug a Tree, Hug a Friend, Hug a Stranger, Hug Yourself

  1. Pat

    I totally agree that meditation gives a much more calming view of life. When i lived in CA I was very involved with Self-Realization Fellowship, founded by Paramahansa Yogananda. I was sharing a house with Lucile at the time and we lived at the foothills of the Angelese National Forest. Unfortunately since my move back to Atlanta I’ve never been able to really get back into meditating every day (twice a day) as I used to. I’ve been making changes – decluttered, shredded and organized way too many boxes of paper, articles, magazines and books. It’s all done finally. As most of my out-of-state friends can testify to, my emails are novellas ’cause I do love to write. I have many poems and short stories I’ve written for my own enjoyment. My volunteer efforts have always involved animals and nature. My part-time job involves customer service and I’ve learned to be nice to someone who isn’t (a real challenge for me). What I now need to focus on is daily meditation. I really appreciate your blogs, which are hitting all of the notes in my life that I’ve been changing or need to still change. Hugs,

    Reply
    1. yogapaula Post author

      Thanks for your comments Pat, and I’m glad my blog is resonating with you! I’m glad you are working towards getting back into daily meditation. I find even short meditations are helpful to me. The fact that you have a history of meditation twice a day is very inspiring to me! Thanks for sharing that.

      Reply

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