Hope is my watchword for December 2021.
As I did my research and meditations on Hope, a common theme stood out: our source of Hope lies within us and in our connectedness with others and in our connectedness with something bigger than ourselves.
This is a simple yet complex, and profound message, nicely summed up by one of my favorite meditation teachers on Insight Timer, Sarah Blondin. In her beautiful, mellifluous voice guiding us in the meditation, "Message of Hope," she says:
"I see you, I feel you, I love you, and I am here for you."
Say this out loud -- addressing yourself. Say this with the intention and Knowing that accessing Hope takes some work on your inner empire -- your thoughts and your emotions. This requires both awareness and acceptance of who we are and where we are, right now. Hope is always there inside of each one of us -- just like the sun is always shining, whether we can see it or not.
Now, say this out loud again -- speaking to your family -- your partner, your children, your extended family -- to all your friends, near and far, to all your neighbors and their families and friends, and to your community. If you are feeling hopeless or overwhelmed -- reach out and connect with others. If you are hope-full, reach out and connect with others who may need to draw on your Hope. Just say -- "You are okay." This is a simple and powerful message.
Now, say this out loud for a third time -- praying and listening to your God, the Universe, or however you imagine a Force bigger than your self. You are both giving and receiving Hope by connecting with your Higher Power. "I am okay." Thank you. We are always loved and accepted, just as we are, unconditionally loved, without judgment.
Chan Hellman, PhD, Professor in the Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work and Founding Director of the Hope Research Center, says it even more simply:
"Hope is a social gift."
Viktor Frankl, the author of a masterpiece, "Man's Search for Meaning," says the same thing yet another way:
"Your attitude towards what has happened to us in life is the most important thing to recognize. Once hopeless, my life is now hope-full, but it did not happen overnight. The last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, is to choose one's own way."
I love how Frankl writes "hope-full" rather than "hopeful." BIG difference!
With my research and curator hats on, let us review the following five resources, which help us access the Hope within us and give us tools to nurture Hope in ourselves and others.
I provide my key takeaways from these resources and invite you to listen, read, and experience the lessons on Hope:
Please start with the medium or the messenger that speaks most clearly to you. Is it the science of hope as discussed by Dr. Hellman and Dr. Gordon? Is it the life story experiences, the humor, irreverence and humor of Anne Lamott? Is it the meditation and powerful insights on Hope from Sarah Blondin? Is it the metaphor and the timeless poetry of Emily Dickenson?
Start wherever you choose. This Bog could have been 5 different Blogs. However, I am hoping to reach and touch as as many people as possible. I Hope and trust you will be inspired and motivated to learn from at least one of these great teachers.
Chad Hellman, "The Science and Power of Hope"
Chan Hellman, PhD, a Professor in the Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work and Founding Director of the Hope Research Center, gave a 20-minute TEDxOklahomaCity talk on The Science and Power of Hope. I found this to be a great discovery: a teacher with a passion for Hope, who experienced homelessness as a child, who has a low-key sense of humor to touch peoples' hearts, the science to back-up his opinions, and who has made spreading Hope and treating trauma his life's mission.
My key takeaways:
I Hope and trust you will listen and be inspired by his talk -- and share his teachings, backed by science, with family and friends and associates.
James S. Gordon, MD., "Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing"
Dr. James S. Gordon, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. In this book, Dr. Gordon opens the Preface, "On the first page of this book, which was published several months before COVID-19 rose out of Wuhan, China, and circled the planet, I wrote that trauma -- injury to our mind, body, and spirit -- comes sooner of later to everyone." A prescient opening.
Sooner or later, trauma touches us all. I humbly say, I believe this to be true -- for myself, for family members and for friends... and for clients.
I love the Drawing Exercise which Dr. Gordon shares and has used over the years in his practice. [Chapter 4 "Embracing Hope"]
Dr. Gordon writes, "I am going to invite you to use Drawings to discover the truth for yourself, to see that your imagination may be able to help you make Hope's promise a reality." Dr. Gordon asks people to do three Drawings:
On pages 60- 65, Dr. Gordon guides us through how to relax, how to set aside judgment and use our imagination to … just draw pictures of ourselves. The exercise is simple and profound -- and his guidance is essential in making this exercise truly powerful.
I Hope and trust you will get the book from your local Library or buy it on Amazon, as I did. Transforming Trauma
Anne Lamott, "Almost Everything: Notes on Hope"
Anne Lamott is one of those rare writers that makes me laugh out loud and cry as she writes powerful and profound stories and life experiences. I find her writing to be real, raw, irreverent, hysterical, poignant, profound in an earthy way, and powerful. There are pearls of wisdom in each of the chapters that explore life's essential truths and paradoxes and which somehow leave us feeling hope-full.
Here is one pearl of wisdom:
"Make me an instrument of Thy peace, that where there is hatred, let me sow love, or at least not fertilize the hate with my dainty bullshit."
I am compelled to let Anne Lamott speak in her own words. There is no way I can summarize her message. She opens the last chapter of the book, "Hope," with this passage.
"Some days there seems to be little reason for hope, in our families, cities, and world. Well, except for almost everything. The seasons change, a bone mends, Santa Clara rebuilds after the fire. …. Still, we hold our breath. In times of rational and primitive fear, hope has to do push-ups out in the parking lot to stay pumped -- and it does."
Hope has to do push-ups. Wow, I am in awe of Anne's gift to make the message real.
As she is wrapping up the chapter, Anne writes:
"Life is way wilder than I am comfortable with, way farther out, as we used to say, more magnificent, more deserving of awe and, I would add, more benevolent -- well-meaning, kindly."
We have all we need to come through. Against all odds, no matter what we have lost, no matter what messes we have made over time, no matter how dark the night, we offer and are offered kindness, soul, light, and food, which create breath and spaciousness, which create hope, sufficient unto the day."
There is the message again. Hope is always there inside of us -- no matter what. We are okay.
I Hope and trust you will consider reading, Almost Everything.
Sarah Blondin, "A Message of Hope"
Another beautiful way to explore Hope is a meditation by one of my favorite teachers on Insight Timer, Sarah Blondin. Sarah Blondin has 454 thousand followers globally on Insight Timer. I am one of her fans. This 18-minute meditation, "A Message of Hope," has 213 thousand plays since March 2020.
Her key message is that now is the time we need to show up for each other in a place that says:
"I see you, I feel you, I love you, and I'm here for you."
The meditation starts with a touching story of Sarah holding her 3-year old boy who was crying in shame, fear, and judgment of something which just happened. And when she holds him and shares these words, she sees that her son starts to wake up to the feeling of hope and realizes, within himself, he is okay. "I didn't make him ok, he found within himself, the truth within himself, he was okay."
You can access this meditation on your mobile phone for free, using the Insight Timer app: https://insig.ht/diGx5XWt5lb. This is the full link, rather than the short cut -- it will take you to the app and by clicking on open-- it will take you to this meditation.
Some of my key take-aways from this meditation are:
I Hope and trust you will choose to experience the grace and peace of this meditation.
Emily Dickenson, "HOPE"
I am fascinated with the life and the poignant poetry of Emily Dickinson. She wrote "Hope" in 1862, over 150 years ago. At that time, age 32 years old, she lived in virtual seclusion.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
My interest in nature and in birding, specifically, draws me to the metaphor "Hope is the thing with feathers." The words that jump out at me are: sing; never stops; sweetest; storm; warm; extremity; I've heard it in the chillest land.
WOW. I have heard the song of Hope. I am inspired. Hope wells up in my heart.
I am hope-full.
I would love to know how this poem makes you feel.
In closing, let us come back to the wisdom of Viktor Frankl who observes his "life is now hope-full, but it did not come easily." I honor the struggle. It is hard to deal with past traumas, to overcome fears and hopelessness. It is hard work on many levels. It does not come easily. It is important to have support --- from family, friends, coaches, therapists, ministers and spiritual guides.
Hope is a verb. Hope is my watchword, right now. I am Hope-full.
Finally, I want to share that I recently created an original meditation, "Divine Hope," using the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina. After 2 years of a continuing global pandemic and stress epidemic, my heart called me to share a prayer of communion, a prayer of Divine Hope, based on Romans 15:13:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I respect every one's persona spiritual practices -- and non-practices. That is exactly why I have not included my meditation, "Divine Hope," in this Blog. However, if you would like a copy of "Divine Hope", please text me at 419-323-2717 or email me at [email protected]. I will gladly email you a copy -- my pleasure, my gift.
Till next time, with hope and love,
May you be happy now and always
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