One Apple a Day #639 – the power within

Some people I love, they find peace and relief in visiting holy places. Others experience unity with humanity and nature only when they step into a sacred space of like-hearted people. Some have experienced the absolute freedom of their mind inherent nature, thanks to substances. Others feel powerful only when they are within a relationship.

It looks like we need some external help to step into our full potential.
I understand that. I am no different.
To unlock my potential, I need enough trust to tear down the walls I built to protect it. And that means to become vulnerable.

It is often easier to trust an external entity, being it a place, a person, a substance or a symbol, than ourselves.
But we should never forget that the real power, the energy is already there. It is within us.
Whatever external help we needed to overcome our limitations, we must always remember that it is not the source of our energy. It is just an instrument, a door opener.

You already have all the power within you.

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 #628 – being wise

Every day I learn new things. Information that I acquire, process, evaluate, connect to previous ones and store in my mind. Some of them stick over time, and some got lost or forgotten. 

If and when I need the ones I retain, I dig them out from my memory.

I have the feeling that my memory is not infinite, so over the years, many things got lost, and I can’t retrieve them anymore. Anyway, this is another story.

Have you ever the feeling that you know something even if you can’t find that thing among the things you know?

It is a powerful feeling when you realise that you know something in your bones, not in your mind. As if the knowledge has slowly become part of who you are. 

From something you know to something you are.

From knowing to being.

That is my idea of wisdom. 

When something you know becomes part of who you are.

The tricky thing, in my experience, is that sometimes what you know in your mind can get in the way of what you know in your cells. Your knowledge creates resistance to your wisdom.

“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” ― Lao Tzu

P.S. I just realised that yesterday post was titled “Being Silly”. In my knowledge, they seem so different, yet in my body, they are fully interwoven.

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 #588 – just listen

Earlier this morning, I was sitting with my eyes closed.
I was trying to slow down my heartbeat after the morning exercises.
There was a lot of noise at the beginning, but not outside. It was inside my head.
Thoughts and images spinning around chasing each other.
And my heart pumping in my ears.

So, I shift my attention outwards.
The familiar sound of my dog barking to someone or something. The engine of a car, slowing pulling away taking someone to work. The birds singing, a choir of different voices that I can’t recognize but I felt some were saying hello to the new day and others were saying goodbye to the finishing night. A kid’s voice asking for something, maybe breakfast. The cat drinking from its bowl.

Then, all of a sudden, the silence.
Complete silence.
As if the world pauses for a moment.
I couldn’t even hear my own breath.
My body felt light as if it was made of air.

I opened my eyes, and the world burst to life with all it sounds, voices, colours, light, and smells.
It felt so alive.
I felt so alive.

I want to do it more often.
Pause and listen.
Not to achieve something, not even peace.
Just to be.

One Apple A Day #566 – spirituality

“The most spiritual thing now is action.”

I keep thinking about this powerful statement since I saw the video posted by my dear friend Vanessa.

What can you do?

People all over the world look at the state of the world and ask, "What can I do to help?" Indigenous ceremonial leader Arkan Lushwala answers this question from an earth-based perspective.Learn more from Arkan Lushwala in this free e-guide download: https://hubs.ly/H0gtm7w0

Posted by Pachamama Alliance on Tuesday, 4 June 2019

It’s mid-morning, I’m sitting in a noisy café inside Genova train station. Not the usual time and place for my daily practice.
I tried to write earlier. I woke up at 6 am, walked to the deck of the boat. The sun was already out, a sign that we definitely sailed east and Italy is close.
I did some stretching, and then a sat there a few minutes in silence. Just the morning breeze guiding my meditation. That statement appeared in my mind.

“The most spiritual thing now is action.”

When I opened my eyes, ready to immerse into my writing practice, I found out I was alone — nobody on sight in the whole deck.
Then a voice came out from the speakers, I understood. It was almost time to leave the ferry. I had to rush to the cabin and pack up everything.
My writing had to wait.

It took a good deal of time to get off the ferry and commute to the train station. Plus, hunger came.
So, here I am.
Writing in an unusual time and space. With Lorena and Felix protecting my space, and some music to bring me back into my intuition.

And that statement came out again.
Even stronger.

“The most spiritual thing now is action.”

Surveys show that in this harsh, divisive, conflictual and challenging world, more and more people embrace spirituality. They are seeking the answers that logic struggles to provide. But the risk is to mistake spirituality as a way out from a reality we don’t like. Instead, it should be a journey into the world. And into ourselves.
I remember talking with a farmer a while ago during a workshop. We were going to lunch. He’s there taking care of his plants. We talked, he shared with us a few of his story and his love for nature. His hands, the way they touch the leaves, the way they dig into the soil, that was spiritual.

“The most spiritual thing now is action.”

One Apple A Day #555 – eternity

“Within you is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” – Hermann Hesse

When I breathe into stillness.
When I’m carried away by a song.
When I’m staring at something beautiful.
When I’m walking in silence along a river.
When I’m completely immersed in a conversation.

In all those moments, time dissolves.
There is no before and after.
Just me being me in the present moment.
That is the experience of eternity.

There are concepts for which we don’t have words.
Concepts like eternity or infinity.
Words are a product of our mind, and our mind thinks in forms and shapes.
Eternity can’t be explained.
It can only be experienced.
Directly, or through art.

MINUTE ETERNITY

I remember
needing nothing

but what I could smell and touch
and hear in the minute

eternity between sounds or the long
shimmer of the barley’s

green-gold dance on the wind,
my life a spreading ring

of quiet, like the trout’s brief
in-breath

at the surface of a river,
like the slow

outward movement of a raindrop
spreading on a still lake…

By David Whyte – From ‘Death Waits’: in ‘River Flow:
New and Selected Poems’

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 #547 – sensing and making-sense

During a conversation with one of my mentors, I became aware of the essential difference and the vital connection between sensing and sense-making.

Sensing is the ability to perceive something even if often we can’t describe it. It’s an innate capacity of our intuitive intelligence that allows us to sense the energy and vibrations of the universe, the one within and the one around us. It is at the base of empathy and compassion.

Sense-making is the ability to find or give meaning to something, to create a logical frame to explain what we experience. It is mostly a cognitive ability.

Our material society favours sense-making. We spend most of our time in school learning how to make sense of everything. Mainly because “making sense of things” is what is supposed to help you move forward in life and have success.
Though, a lot of studies proved that very successful people also have a high ability to sense. Emotional Intelligence is now widely considered essential for a successful life.

Sensing and sense-making are activities of different “muscles”, but only when they work together, we can express our full potential. A high ability to sense that is not matched by a developed capacity of sense-making can easily lead to a sense of overwhelming. Sense-making without the ability to sense is like an empty shell, dry and non-generative.

How can we develop our ability to make sense of the world without losing our capacity to sense it? And how can we awaken our dormant innate ability to sense?

I have the feeling that “art” is an excellent answer to both questions.

“While a toddler’s world might be geographically tiny, it is mentally limitless; conversely, when we grow up, we have the potential freedom to explore everything around us, but will often limit ourselves to the same narrow range of places, people and experiences.” — Little Wins: The Huge Power of Thinking Like a Toddler by Paul Lindley

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