One Apple A Day #672 – I need to love more

Power + love.

Again.

Since I wrote about it last week, this Be The Change card has been coming back almost every morning. This morning again, I shuffled the cards, closed my eyes and picked one. 

Power + love.

The card comes with this inspiring quote by Martin Luther King Jr.

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

For a while now, there have been tensions in my neighbourhood. Someone has stepped over the collective interests to pursue their own benefit. As with many things, they used a legal loophole to achieve their desired outcome. But with that, also came more conflict and tensions.

Looking at the whole situation with the lens that this card, “Power + Love” gives me, I can see that in this situation, the balance is fully tilted towards power.

I have the power to do it, then I do it. If you have the power to stop me, then do it. And so on.

And power, without love, is reckless and abusive.

Love is the missing factor in this equation. But how do I bring love back into the picture?

What does it mean to love more in these circumstances?

These are the questions I’m going to carry with me today.

Power + Love.

One Apple A Day #668 – love, power, change, time

I woke up with the words from an article I read yesterday still whispering in my mind. I thought those would be a perfect input for my daily apple. I was already savouring the idea of pondering on and playing around those words.

Before beginning my writing practice, I did some stretching, I drank some water, and I sat to meditate. Following my morning ritual, I picked a BeTheChange card to ease my way into a deeper level of reflection.

It was the card saying “Power + Love”. 

Again.

For the third morning in a row, the same card came up.

What does this card keep telling me that I am not seeing?

So, I was there, still on the outside but with quite a chaos on the inside. 

I tried to focus on what I wanted to write about but those two words, power and love, kept coming back.

Then I had a flash. A memory from my school years. Power is also a word used in physics. It has something to do with change and time. Immediately after, other words from a book I read last summer surfaced in my mind.

I didn’t know what to do with those flashes when I opened my eyes. So, I rushed to my laptop and did a quick search.

“In physics, power is the rate of doing work or of transferring heat, i.e. the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. As a physical concept, power requires both a change in the physical system and a specified time in which the change occurs.” – from Wikipedia

So, the way I’ve decided to read it, my power is my ability to infuse energy into a system to change it within a specified time. 

What about love? Using Rupert Spira words, “Love is the experience of that oneness of being.

So, if we are one, to change someone or something, it means to change me.

The words I wanted to write about at the beginning were about leadership. The words in the card I picked reminded me that leadership begins with my ability to love and infuse energy in my own change.

One Apple A Day #662 – love and protection

To protect something or someone we love is noble.
However, when this word came out in a recent conversation, the first emotion that I felt was fear, not love.
To protect means to keep safe from harm, something or someone.

So, it is an act motivated by fear. But fear is the opposite of love.

So now I’m torn.

Can we love and protect at the same time?

If we spend our energy to protect something, we won’t have much left to infuse into that same thing and make it grow and thrive.

If we go all in, infusing all the love we can to make it grow and thrive, we may become blind to the risks around us.

I know, probably I’m just overthinking as I often do. But these thoughts have been spinning in my head since yesterday, and I need to let them out, so I can clear up my mind and move ahead with my day.
That’s one of the purposes of this writing practice.

Plus, I pick my Be The Change card, and it says “Standing in the intersection, leading from the space in-between“.

So, I’ll stay in the intersection between love and protection, and lead my day from there.

One Apple a Day #638 – love more

This morning I wanted to write about sacrality.

But then, I lowered the shield I use to protect my morning space, and the pain of the world flew in. All over the world, human beings are oppressed, killed, abused by other human beings. It is daunting.

And from my safe and comfortable place, the same questions keep coming back: “Why? What can I do?“.

To the first question, I don’t have the answer. And maybe there are no answers. But I keep going back to something I read in Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frank.

“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Maybe these words can help me find the answers to both questions.

If there is something I can learn from all this suffering, is that love is the only way forward. 

I know, it may sound cheesy, but that’s my personal learning.

I need, and I want to love more.

And because our answer must consist in “right action and in right conduct”, to me it means to be kind to everyone. 

To smile to the cashier at the supermarket who’s having a tough day, to greet the neighbours who never say hello, to wait patiently for the old man to cross the road. There is so much I can do every day.

I’m aware that it won’t ease the pain or relieve the suffering of all these human beings around the world. 

But that’s not a reason to not start being a better human, here, today

From agreement to tuning

My experience with any human transformation process is that it all starts with the creation of a safe space for everyone. There are plenty of studies proving that “Psychological safety” is one of the most critical conditions for people to fully express their potential. It’s only when we feel safe that we show up authentically, we speak our own truth, and we take risks. This is why the initial agreement is vital in any coaching process, both in a one-to-one relationship or in a group setting.

Thou, the English word “agreement” has always felt a bit cold or impersonal to me. As if the focus is more about setting boundaries than finding a connection. 

Inspired by the Italian translation of agreement, I prefer to use the synonym “accord“.

The word “accord” used with the meaning “come into agreement, agree, be in harmony” originates from the Vulgar Latin word “accordare” that literally means “be of one heart, bring heart to heart“.

When we build an accord, we are doing more than setting some shared rules or standards. We are bringing our hearts together. And that takes courage, another word connected to the heart (Coeur in French). The courage to open up our heart and hold space in it for someone else. 

Can you think of a safer space to be than the heart of someone else? 

What I find fascinating is that in Italian, the word “accordo” also means chord; “a group of notes sounded together, as a basis of harmony“.

So, to find an accord is like tuning our hearts together, so they vibrate in harmony. Anytime we do that, with another person or within a group of people, something magical happens. 

That is why I’m never worried about investing plenty of quality time in the tuning phase of a workshop. When we are all, facilitators and participants, in tune, things just flow. 

People open up, and the light they hold inside their hearts infuses the space.

 

Photo by Larisa Birta on Unsplash

One Apple A Day #619 – The Golden Rule

Do you know about the “golden rule“? 

I didn’t. Or better, I’ve been taught this rule since I was a kid, but I didn’t know it has a name.

Using Wikipedia words, “the Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated“.

It’s a rule taught in many religions and cultures. You surely have heard it in one of its many forms:

  • Treat others as you would like others to treat you
  • Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated 
  • What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself

Being raised a Catholic, I’ve learned it as a Jesus teaching; “Love your neighbour as yourself“. And when Jesus was asked “who is my neighbour?”, he said that “your neighbour is anyone in need“. 

I’ll be back to this in a second. Before, let me jump to an ancient Mesoamerican civilisation.

“In Lak’ ech Ala K’in” is a famous phrase in the Mayan tradition. In the traditional Mayan interpretation it means “I am you, and you are me“. A modern-day version is “I am another yourself“.

Whatever the meaning you prefer, it is a statement that recognises the oneness in human beings. It is a way of greeting someone else honouring the oneness and connection. 

It’s the recognition that we are one.

Funny enough, I found this word in the comment to a song on youtube. And searching for info about it, I discover that what I’ve been told as a kid is a “Golden Rule”.

Back to my upbringing. I grew up thinking that this rule was all about reciprocity. If I behave well with others, then others will do the same with me. But there is a profound difference between setting rules for our behaviours and expanding our consciousness, so no rules are needed.

Rules, like the golden one, are useful as long as they help us raise in consciousness. Extending the concept, forms are effective when they help to grow and expand our energy. If we put all our focus on the form, the energy dries out, and we will be left with an empty shell. Maybe a golden one, but still empty.

Loving others as yourself, it’s a not a rule, not even a golden one. It is an exercise to train your humanity and expand your consciousness.

One Apple A Day #614 – love the world

“We live in this world when we love it.” – Rabindranath Tagore

I read this quote a few days ago. 

I read many quotes every day. Our digital spaces are flooded by aphorisms and quotes. Unfortunately too often they are wrongly attributed when not fabricated. 

But this one got my attention because lately, I’ve been often engaged in conversation about “how things are in the world, how they should be and what can we do to change it“.

I’ll be honest, it’s a conversation that makes me a bit uncomfortable. 

In part, because it can quickly become judgmental. 

“Society is broken, but the majority can’t see it.”

In part, because it can easily trigger anger and bitterness.

But mainly because I struggle to have clarity about how to improve myself, imagine the world.

So, when that quote captured my attention, I asked myself some new questions: what would I do with someone I love? Would I try to change them? Or would I try to love them as they are? And what about someone who loves me, what would I desire for them to do?

I’m still reflecting upon those questions. My heart says that I would do my best to love them as they are, and show up every day living in my full potential. So I can hold a safe and sacred space for them to shine. And change, if that’s what they need to do.

My mind, as usual, is a bit more confused.

By the way, when I found that quote for the first time, it was misattributed to Gibran. In my search to find the real author who channelled those words into the world, I also found another quote that will contribute to my reflections.

“Love the whole world as if it were your self; then you will truly care for all things.” – Lao Tzu

P.S. The opening image is a photo of the Earth from the space taken during the Apollo 15 mission. I find it irresistible. How can you not love it?

One Apple A Day #609 – love and presence

“I’ll protect you from the hooded claw

Keep the vampires from your door.” 

— The Power of Love, Frankie Goes to Hollywood

When we love someone, we want them to be happy. We want to protect them from any possible harm. We want to know and to let them feel that they are safe.

We create fences, made of love and affection, to keep all the evil of the world away.

Unfortunately, fences work in both directions. And sooner or later they become cages. Maybe large ones, perhaps beautifully decorated but still, cages. 

So, here’s another tension for me to reflect upon. The tension between the need to protect and make someone happy and the need to see them expressing all their extraordinary potential.

And then, while I’m writing these words, I realise that it’s my ego who’s talking. My ego with its needs and fears. 

The fear of my own pain if someone I love gets hurt. The fear of my own ego if someone I love is not happy. 

While I’m here, pondering on all these thoughts, my eyes go back to the card I picked this morning.

“Showing up for others.”

And that tension, all of a sudden, sublimes into something else. 

It’s not about protecting. It’s not about supporting or helping.

The best I can do is to show up for the one I love.

To be fully present.

One Apple A Day #549 – Make it personal

Don’t take anything personally” is the second of the four agreements shared by Don Miguel Ruiz in his most famous book, The Four Agreements.

Ruiz reminds us that nothing other people do is because of us, but it is because of themselves. Using his words: “Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds.

This is a powerful reminder that would remove a lot of tension and stress from our life. We spend so much time worrying about the opinions of others. In doing so, we let those opinions shape our behaviours and, in the end, our lives.

As Ruiz wrote: “You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped in the dream of hell. What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about me.

What happens around me is not about me. It may impact my life, indeed, but it is not about me.

Though, in my experience, I’ve learned that only when I make something personal, I really give everything I got to make things happen.

So, my agreement becomes “Don’t take anything personally, but make everything personal.

Whatever happens around me, it is not about me, but it is part of me as much as I am part of it. So, I won’t take it personally, but I’ll make it personal infusing my whole being into my doing.

“If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong. That is the experience of love.” — Rupert Spira

One Apple A Day 524 – courage and love

Courage: c. 1300, corage, “heart (as the seat of emotions),” hence “spirit, temperament, state or frame of mind,”from Old French corage “heart, innermost feelings; temper” (12c., Modern French courage), from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor “heart” [source]

If I ask you to place courage or love somewhere in the body, I believe that most of you would associate both of them with the heart. An organ that we don’t control and that relentlessly pumps life in our body.

There is a powerful connection between courage and love. They are both about surrendering to something bigger than ourselves.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this morning reflections. It all started with my morning Be The Change card that has the word “Courageousness” on it. The drawing that accompanies the word is a human being with a stream of energy flowing through his core.
And I thought that love is the same; a stream of energy flowing through all of us, connecting people.

So, maybe to be courageous is just to open up my heart so love can freely flow through.

“The opposite of love is not, as we many times or almost always think, hatred, but the fear to love, and fear to love is the fear of being free.” — Paulo Freire