Suzanne Norman

Enlightened Living Articles

The Power Of Ritual

Thursday, January 24, 2019

part 2

Rituals for living. This is where you get to make life more special for yourself.  You can create a ritual around many things, including: Any practice that you want to become more of a fixture in your life, such as meditating or cooking; any everyday act that you want to enhance the specialness of, such as mealtimes or bathing; any act that you want to transform into a grounding or tuning-in point in your life; to create a mindful or meaningful space in your day.

A ritual doesn't need to be ceremonious, but consider this: the more special you make your rituals, the more specialness there will be in your life.  It's almost too simplistic to take it seriously, but it's true in so many areas of life, so I encourage you to let that sink in for a moment.

The most fundamental requirement of a ritual is that you're deliberate about it. This might mean that you tune in, take a single breath, and express to yourself what you intend to do.  Then when you're done, you tune in, take a breath, and express that you have gratefully concluded the ritual.  This could take literally only ten seconds.

But adding additional elements that you're consistent about can make your rituals something you look forward to, it can help cement your rituals more firmly into your life, and it can make it easier to quickly 'drop in' to a lucid, or inspired state.

Consider the following elements for ideas. Think of them as ways to "bookend" your ritual, to set it apart from the everyday, and to lend greater potency to what you set out to do.  These elements have set the stage for some of my most powerful reflective and ideation sessions, my most efficient work, and my deepest meditations

Elements of Ritual

Fire:  A candle, a fireplace, an oil lamp, or the sun.  Fire is a symbol of illumination, warmth, and connection.

Words: Set an intention, say a blessing or mantra, invoke a guide.  Writing can make words even more "real".

Food or drink: Consuming food/drink is special as it involves bringing something from the outside world into your body. In addition, it incorporates the senses of taste and smell, and may produce a biological response.

Beauty: Adorning and beautifying your space, your things, and your life is a way of elevating them beyond the mundane, and of demonstrating gratitude and reverence.

Sound:  Trickling water, bells, chimes, chants, a favorite song, can all help tune our attention.

Garments:  Putting on a special necklace, shawl, or other adornment may help you get into the right space.

Water:  Water symbolized purity, cleansing, and flow.  Bathe, slip your hands in it, splash some on your face

Scents:  Flowers, incense, and essential oils have long been used to uplift consciousness and shift the space around us to designate a special purpose

Gatherings: Strength in numbers. Whether its co-working or co-ritualizing, tuning in together can be stronger.

Location:  The woods, the beach, or your altar in the bedroom.  A consistent space can help focus your ritual.

Objects of significance:  A cup, a crystal, a feather, a stone...these can help anchor you in your ritual.

Timing:  Synchronizing a ritual with a particular season, the birthday of someone important, a historic event, a moon phase, time of day, the solstice, equinox, etc., may contribute to a sense of extra power and alignment.

I have a number of rituals that I've begun to incorporate into my day/life. For instance, two of my girlfriends and I have decided to come together at the new moon. We intend to draw new moon mandalas and to set seeds of intention for the month.  Another small group of women and I intend to gather on every fifth Friday (happens 4 or 5 times per year) and share stories or sources of inspiration.  Can you think of a group ritual that you can create to bring the power of community and connection?

Answer these questions to reveal factors that will be most natural for you to integrate into your rituals:

1) When and where do you feel you're most inspired and focused?

2) What clothing makes you feel most in your element?

3) What's your favorite food or drink to consume while pondering your future and accessing your inner strength?

4) Do you have any treasured objects that make you feel inspired or uplifted? Photo? Eagle feather?

5) What helps you feel centered and grounded? Turning off your phone? Taking a bath? Running a mile?

6) Are there any sounds or scents that help you relax or put you in a transcendent space?

7) Which of the elements in the list above do you feel a natural attraction to?

Feel free to share any rituals you have or what the above questions revealed to you.

 

 

 

Off The Radar

Thursday, December 13, 2018

 

 

Do you ever feel like you could disappear? How easy it would be to just fall off the radar. In this age of virtual reality, where we're moving farther away from real contact with real people, and rely more on email, text, social media, and other electronic forms of connection, it's easy to slip out of the awareness of others.

Without the energetic and physical link to another human being, with its very real entanglements, we don't get a true bond and remembering and it's so much easier to forget another. There is a terrible isolation with the disconnected world we are living in, and I for one don't care for it.

I prefer real live interactions, with friends, clients, and students. I feel more alive in the presence of others and it lifts me when I'm down.

The irony is, my only means of connecting with some of you is via this newsletter, a social media post or a podcast episode. And while I'd much prefer to see you in person, I do appreciate the opportunity to give you whatever I can, in whatever way I can, so I continue to communicate in as many ways as possible.

Recently I went off radar! I had two big moves back to back that found me consumed by boxes, packing tape, and moving trucks. I assumed I could continue to allocate a few hours a day to podcasting, blogging, and meeting with my friends, etc., but I was over confident in my ability to multi task. Alas, I neglected my work and my tribe. I went dark.

After a few weeks of my isolationism, I wondered at what point someone would notice my absence. How long would it be before someone said, "Hey, where'd that girl Suzanne go?" That's the problem with a virtual relationship, there is no real energetic connection so it's so much easier to forget how long it's been since you've talked to or seen another person because those texts, and emails which are the primary form of connection these days aren't real enough.

 

If we take the teachings of quantum physics seriously we know that once we come into contact with another in a meaningful interaction, we are forever 'entangled'. We will be affected by the other, we will affect another. This doesn't happen with a virtual relationship. I wonder if that's the reason we are seeing so much depression these days? Could our energy be starving for the connection with another?

The isolation, illusion, and confusion that are caused by living behind a screen are a very real problem and we can see the impact it's having, especially on younger people.

I will attempt to add more "live and in person" types of opportunities, both with my work and my personal life this next year. I want to feel the energy of another, enjoy the handshake or hug, and know that I will forever be a part of their life...even if it's only on a molecular level.

It's important to stay physically connected to others, please enjoy real conversations and experiences, get out from behind the screen and go see the things you're "liking" for yourself. At the very least, pick up the phone and have a conversation that takes time and effort. That way, when you fall off the radar, someone may notice and decide to come looking for you.

I have a series of LIVE workshops scheduled these next few months; I do hope you'll join us in person.

I hope to see and feel you again soon!


 

 

Winter Solstice

Thursday, November 29, 2018

We Are Approching The Threshold Of Winter

Life is being drawn into the earth, effortlessly descending down into the very soul of herself.  And we, as human animals, are being called to do the same, the pull to descend into our bodies, into sleep and to the depths of our own inner cave. Do you feel it? 

Many find the decent into their own bodies a challenging, and perhaps, frightening thing. Fearing the unmet emotions and unspoken past events that have been stored in the dark cave inside themselves, not wanting to face what they have carefully avoided.

The winter solstice time in no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understnading that this period of descent into our own darkness was, and is, necessary so that we may, once again, find our light.

And yet, true freedom comes only from accepting and forgiving what we have been through and choosing to release the hold it has on us, bringing the golden treasure brack from the deep inner depths.

This is a time of rest and deep reflection, a time to wipe the slate clean and clear out the old so we're ready for rebirth without the weeds of resentment blocking the light.

This is a time for reconnecting, relearning, and reclaiming. It is a time of kindness, peace, and love, not a time of dread, depression and avoidance as so many choose to experience.

Embrace natures call to go inward - as all creatures are doing.  Let her wrap her soft arms around you and point you toward your inner self, to the darkness and quiet, and yes, to the death of what you were, so that you may become what you are.  This is a powerful medicine. Hold yourself with the awareness of forgiveness and allow yourself to go deep, grieve, rage, rest, and heal.  

Winter takes away the distraction and noise of the outer world and presents us with the opportunity to rest and withdraw into the womb of love.

Breathe Deeply

Thursday, September 07, 2017

 

According to Chinese Medicine, Autumn is associated with the lungs. One of the best ways to strengthen the lungs is to breathe deeply. It sounds so simple, but most of us don't breath deeply, or efficiently. And this can affect important things like our emotional states, energy level and immune system.

When we breathe deeply and with intention, we are flooding our cells, muscles, and brains with much needed oxygen that is vital to all the body's processes. It also distributes the vital Prana (life energy) throughout the bodily systems.

One of the best things we can do is go for a walk in the crisp, clean autumn air and fill your lungs with that fresh air.

Another powerful practice is deep breathing exercises.  Relax your body and take a gentle but deep breath in through your nose, filling your belly as if you're inflating a balloon...rest in the inhale for a moment, release the breath as if you are blowing out candles on a birthday cake...nice and gentle but full, all the way to the bottom of your lungs until they are completely empty.  Do this 5 to 6 times a few times each day.

The breathing practices we learn in Yoga are very powerful and designed to support the life force energy within the body.  The practices are powerful immune system strengtheners as well important tools in the control of consciousness.  Learning how to breath properly can help you heal both body and mind.   Pranayama practice is always a good idea, but particularly in autumn, when lung energy is at its peak.  As we turn toward more introspective practices, autumn is the perfect time to work on releasing negativity in our life.    

We can often feel like many of the negative things in our lives are beyond our control, but if we become aware of negative things, we can make small changes to avoid them as much as possible.  Negativity can be as extremely destructive force both physically and psychologically, so working towards keeping as much of it as possible out of our lives is a good goal.  Sometimes, it's just the awareness that can really help make the changes necessary to keep as much positivity and light in our lives.  We can also use our breathing to keep the prana (life energy) strong in our bodies and minds to keep that positivity and light strong as we transition into darker seasons.

Taking time for a focus on the life force (breath) that moves through you and noticing when it is lacking or in excess and then using deep controlled deep breathing practices to balance your breathing can have a powerful and calming effect on your mind.  Relax and practice conscious breathing, get out in the crisp clean autumn air and fill your lungs with life energy.. you'll soon feel your lungs strengthening and your health improving.

 

 

Freedom Bundle

Friday, July 07, 2017

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Surrender

Monday, July 18, 2016

Drowning

Each of us will face challenges in life.  Some of us will experience long periods of challenge that will have us questioning our faith and testing our courage.

A few years ago the ground crumbled beneath me.

This time for me can be described in only one word…loss.  I was losing everything. 

My mother was dying, my marriage was ending, my only child was leaving the nest,  I had to sell my business and leave my home.  I was losing friends, loved ones, income, security, comfort, and all that was familiar. 

All of this all took place in less than one year.

When you experience an implosion there is very little left of you. The emotional and physical toll is great and recovery is lengthy.

A Buoy

When I found yoga twenty years ago, it came at another very challenging time in my life. That time however, was not a time of loss. The emergence into adulthood with all of its growing pains – new job, marriage, big responsibilities – can be just as ambiguous.    I was living a confused tumult, in a whirlpool.  And I found myself very unsteady on many levels.   Yoga found me and I was able to re-ground again. Psycho-emotionally, the practice of yoga balanced me, it calmed the angry seas.

Living in a vortex of energy, it takes almost superhuman powers to step onto the mat, or to sit on the meditation cushion. It’s not easy to find stillness when you are riding turbulent waves.  But each time I mindfully moved my body or slipped into the tranquility of my breathing, I emerged more centered and grounded.  My mindfulness practice was a lifeboat in the storm.  To this day I will say that yoga saved my life. 

Finding Ground

The last few years have been an emotional drubbing.

If you’ve ever been through any form of de-construction or demolition, you know that it is messy, dirty, noisy and sometimes painful.

I have spent the last year slowly healing, licking my wounds and re-gaining strength.

But the past several months have found me feeling restless, confused, unhappy, and more than a little fearful.  Reflecting recently on this, it has occurred to me that what I am experiencing is the inevitable and necessary phase following destruction. Re-building.  I am re-building everything I can, relationships, family, business, security…my future.

And if you’ve ever been through any form of construction or remolding, you know that it too is messy, dirty, noisy and sometimes painful.  It also takes much longer than you expect and always cost more than you imagined

This tumultuous period of my life finds me, once again, adrift in the turbulent waters reaching for yoga to buoy me.

Surrender

When I was in college I took an advanced life saving class thinking it was going to be an easy A.  (To this day, the hardest class I have taken.)  This class was training in life saving skills in the most challenging of conditions.   When someone is drowning they will fight for their lives without any awareness of the attempts being made to save them.  When a rescuer approaches a drowning victim, the victim will do whatever they can to survive, including grasping the rescuer as a means to stay afloat. This can have dire results for both rescuer and victim.  The struggle to save someone is more often about subduing the victim, controlling their attempts to kill you in an effort to save themselves, it a battle and it’s exhausting. 

If you ever find yourself drowning (literally and figuratively), and salvation is reaching out to you, you must surrender. You must become still and quiet.

It will take great strength and trust to do so, but surrender is grace.  It’s not about giving up or giving in, it’s about letting go. 

It may well save you.

So as I slowly compose a new foundation and forge a new life, I will continue to step to my mat, no doubt many days with tear stained cheeks and trembling muscles. But each time I step off the mat I am a little stronger, a bit braver and slightly more stable.

My house will be re-built on peaceful ground.

How has your practice supported you in times of uncertainty?

The Top 5 Things I Learned From My Yoga Practice

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The top five things I learned from my yoga practice

 

The practice of yoga has many benefits.  Most people will tell you that they felt different after their very first class. If you practice yoga regularly, you can’t help but change.

 

There is a reason this practice has stood the test of time – some five thousand years!  The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda.   And while it’s integration into the western culture has diluted its essence somewhat, even a halfhearted practice will give you a taste of the profound potential to radically transform your life.

I practice the science of yoga, I am not merely an asana practitioner, I try and live the yamas and niyamas, I have a disciplined pranayama practice, I work to cultivate inner awareness, and I meditate on the Divine, all with the hopes of attaining absorption - Samadhi.

The practice of yoga completely balanced me phsycho-emotionally and as I enter the second half of this life, it has kept my body supple, healthy and balanced.  I am not the same person I was before I began walking this path, and everyday I am honored and humbled to be helping others explore the potential of yoga as well.

Anyone who practices experiences the increase in body awareness.  Being able to feel parts of the body again, to really connect with the smallest of sensations. Not long after we are born, we are taught to ignore the innate intelligence of our bodies.  We are told when to sleep rather than listen to the body and sleep when we need it, we are told to eat, even if our bodies don’t hunger.  We are told not to eat when our bodies do hunger.  We are directed to keep our emotions in check, ignored or buried and we are taught to numb our aches, pains, and sensations.  By the time we are adults, we have lost touch with our bodies. Yoga brings the awareness back.

As you practice yoga you learn acceptance.  To accept your body without judgment, and to work with its limitations rather than against them.

And we feel a greater depth of gratitude…. gratitude that we have a body, a form in which to experience the sensate world around us.

But there are five things in particular that I believe are the most profound gifts from this practice.

1)    Mindfulness.

We live in a culture that no longer values being. We are so busy doing, that we have lost connection with ourselves, with others, and with everything around us.  Yoga teaches us presence.  To truly be in the moment, each and every moment.  In a pose, we are asked to focus on just the sensations and energy.  We are asked to absorb all of our senses in the breath as we sit on our cushions or lie back on our mats.  We are taught to get out of our heads and get back into our hearts.  And the mindfulness we learn on our mats translates to mindfulness in everything we do.  Listening to a friend, being with a lover, negotiating a contract or settling a dispute.  We are completely present in that moment and giving someone our complete attention is an act of love, there is no greater gift

2)    Patience

When we first encounter our body in a pose, we are met with resistance, rigidity, tension, and years of neglect.  It is a body that has forgotten how to relax, a body taught bad postural habits.  As we attempt to stretch away these things, our bodies will grip with a protective reflex in an attempt to maintain the status quo.  And it will stay where it knows if we rush through the process, if we give in to the resistance.  But we are taught to breathe with a neutral mind and wait.  We ask, will, invite the body to let go of what no longer serves us.  And eventually it does, and our bodies become graceful and flexible.  And then we find that (w) holistically we become more graceful and flexible. We become more patient with the world around us.

3)    Strength

For me, as a former athlete, the physical practice didn’t challenge me as much as the mental practice, but I was amazed by the integrated strength I developed.   Yoga makes bodies overall more balanced in its expression of power, there is a stability that develops that can only be described as grounded.  I often remind my students that if there is hardness in the body, there is hardness in the mind; if there is weakness in the body, there is weakness in the mind.   As our bodies become stronger, so too does our concentration and focus.  Our minds become stronger, our emotions become more stable. We become more grounded

4)    Surrender

Our culture teaches us to strive, dominate, and acquire.  We are conditioned to believe force is a sign of power and to meet resistance with even stronger resistance.  That lifetime of struggle is creating a society of aggression and stress.  Yoga teaches us to release our holding patterns and our forceful nature so that in a pose we can relax the muscles and go deeper or so in meditation our minds can soften.  Surrender isn’t about giving up or giving in, it’s about letting go.   There is inherent peace in the act of surrender.  And if we are a microcosm in the macrocosm, our act of surrender can affect the greater whole.

5)    Stillness

When we begin practicing yoga, we are focused on the movement of the body, the flow of the breath.  Eventually, we are directed to focus on the stillness between the movements or the pauses between the breaths.  As our practice deepens, and thus we mature, we connect with the stillness even within the movement and we become stillness itself.

What has been the greatest lesson or gift you’ve received from your practice?

We Are One

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

There is a South African philosophical tenet known as Ubuntu. It means, I am because we are.  The full proverb is Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu="a person is a person because of people".

The meaning is that we are interconnected with everyone and everything through an invisible field of intelligence and energy.  In quantum speak, this is known as nonlocality. Nonlocality and entanglement are signature concepts of quantum mechanics. 

In terms I better understand, nonlocality is when one object, without being anywhere near a second object, can influence the second object. Nonlocality occurs due to entanglement, whereby particles that interact once with each other become permanently connected, or dependent on each other.  Physicist have demonstrated time and time again that once an atom has been in the proximity of another atom, it will be influenced, or entangled, by that atom no matter how far away it travels.

The human body is made up of seven billion billion billion atoms.  When you meet someone, when you interact with someone, you are forever entangled.  If two test subjects, knowing each other,  were hooked up to an EEG and placed in isolated rooms, the brain-wave patterns produced by a series of strobe lights in one of the subjects eyes will appear identically on the other test subjects EEG even though he was nowhere near the same flashes.

This has profound implications.   If you think or speak negatively about or toward someone, does that mean they will feel it? Will it affect them on a cellular level?  If I watch the news with its pervasive negativity and feel a visceral reaction to it, is my partner feeling that too?  If you stay in an abusive relationship, does it mean your child feels the same pain?  On a global scale, doesn't this imply that if we are subjecting ourselves to negativity in any form, be it physical, mental or emotional, that everyone we have ever interacted with in all parts of the world would be affected by that negativity as well?   The concept of entanglement and nonlacality would have us believe that to be true.

Then it would also mean that if we were to pray for someone to heal, their cells would be affected by it, that we could help someone far away get better.  It would imply that I could send a warm embrace to my child and he would feel it.  It tells me  that if we, collectively, were to focus on and think about love, equity, harmony, brotherhood, peace, and compassion that we can create a new world.  We can, with our very thoughts heal the planet and bring peace to it's inhabitants.  

I feel a great sense of hope in this idea. 

So I will choose to turn off the negativity, both external (television) and internal (thoughts). I will care for myself knowing that what I do to me will have a far reaching affect on others.  I will be project loving and kind thoughts so that everyone I have ever met will feel them. I will forgive and I will be kind.  

 I Am Because We Are.



Heart Chakra

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In our yoga classes this month, we've been focusing on the Chakra system.  An important concept of yoga is that of the Chakras. In yogic thought, the body contains seven primary points that store energy, known as Chakras.  (There are thousands of Chakras within our bodies)



Westerners would interpret the Chakras as nerve centers, but they are much more than this.  As life energy, called prana, enters our bodies (using oxygen as its vehicle) the breath and life energy serpentines its way down and up our spinal axis.  At the meeting points of this serpentine movement, a vortex of energy is formed.  These energy vortexes are Chakras



Though not physical in nature, they can be associated with various aspects of our physiology and psychology. 

They do more than store energy, each Chakra controls a different system of our body as well as a different realm of your emotions.  When a Chakra becomes blocked, you could suffer from problems in that area.  



For example, a sore throat, or….an inability to adequately communicate your feelings could signal a blocked

vishuddha (throat) Chakra.  If you have indigestion, or…are overly competitive, you could have an imbalance in your manipura (solar plexus) Chakra.



Certain yoga poses can make releasing and opening the Chakras easier, flooding them with energy, which helps to balance your entire body/mind.  
One of the goals of a yoga practice is to free the blocked prana to ensure balance and harmony in the physical body, the mental body, and the spiritual body.  


The Heart Chakra is called Anahatha.  This is associated with the cardiac plexus of nerves.  The heart Chakra is associated with the capacity for us to emotionally and spiritually nurture others.  On a physical level, imbalances here are associated with lung and heart diseases.  Psychological implication of a lack of energy imbalances here would lead to apathy or an inability to offer love to others.  Feelings of love and compassion are experienced at this center.  This energy center is about love, relationships, passion, joy of life.  It relates to the heart, lungs, thymus gland and emotions.


When we work with yoga asana to bring balance to this Chakra, we would look to heart openers, back bends!


One of my favorites is a simple, passive, supportive backbend.  Lie on the floor with a rolled yoga mat or blanket running perpendicular to the spin across the scapula (shoulder blades) with the arms in goal-post position above the rolled support.  Relax and breathe evenly but fully in the belly, back and chest.  Visualize your heart center, which is behind the physical heart.  imagine a radiant green aura of light coming from this place.  Each time you breathe in, allow that light to expand and as it does, expand the feelings of love, compassion, empathy, generosity, optimism, and grace.  As well, feel the muscles of the front of the chest, shoulders and mid-section releasing and relaxing.



Allow five minutes in this position.  When you are finished you will feel less tension and tightness in your shoulders and chest.  Your breathing will have deepened, and your posture improved.  More importantly, you will have a more open and compassionate heart center.

love thy enemies

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,.."  Matthew 5:44


I am not a religious person nor I don't profess to know much about the bible, but I do know that some consider this to be one of the most important verses in the entire New Testament and is what separates Christianity from all earlier religions.  I suppose most of the verses in most of the religious text are subject to personal interpretation, translated based on our own perceptions, conditionings and beliefs.   But this one is powerful and appears fairly straightforward to me.

But these modern times, especially In light of the recent events in so many parts of world, this ideology seems to be lost, forgotten, or ignored.  How does one "love thy enemy" when there is such hate, violence, and destruction imposed upon human beings by other human beings.  How can we forgive? How can we begin to heal as a species, a planet, a collective consciousness?  These questions keep many of us awake at night, worrying for our future.

I turn to the teachings of the wisdom traditions when I feel lost and disheartened.  Time and again, regardless of the problem I am seeking an answer to, I am presented with one simple idea…change your perception. Clear your lenses and try to see through new eyes.  This is empathy.

Empathy is not sympathy.  Sympathy is the outpouring of pity or feeling sorry for someone(s).  Empathy is the ability to step into the world of another person, what is it like to be in the skin of another, feeling what they feel, trying to understand.   Empathy is easier when its our neighbor. We can more easily step into the shoes of those near to us, especially if they are "like" us.  But empathy doesn't work so well at a distance.  For instance, how can you step into the shoes of an Isis operative to understand their motives?  How do you try to empathize with someone you hate in order to understand them? 

This is where Gandhi was so ahead of his time.  Gandhi, who was Hindu, said "I am also a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Jew.."  He saw the power in this, the power of empathy to bring about peace.  Gandhi dedicated his life to satya (truth) and peace. One of his more famous quotes of "an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world bind", supports his renown as  a pacifist committed to non-violence and conflict resolution.

For those not so steeped in the ideology of those like Gandhi, the militarist Robert McNamara, a former U.S. Secretary of Defense famously said that the number one rule in all foreign policy making should be to empathize with your enemy. He didn't mean to befriend or agree with them, he meant that to think smart, you had to understand what it is that drives them. Because if you don't understand them or where they are coming from, then all of your strategies to defeat them will be a failure.  While his motives were different, he understood the value of empathy.

Empathy is vital to any form of relationship, business, familial, or global.   So how does one begin to develop empathy?  There are many techniques or ideas you can consider to begin to open yourself to this ability, but one of the simplest ways is to simply be curious.

Develop and nurture your curiosity of another person, a stranger. Ask the Muslim guy that sells you your morning paper about his life, his world. Ask the Hindu in the tea shop about her family, her dreams.   Act as if that person is more interesting than your are.  Then you will begin to soften your fear and perhaps your hate,  and empathize (feel) what another person feels. You never really understand a person until you've stepped inside of their skin and walked around.

This is the only way to begin to heal, to build healthy and peaceful relationships toward a common goal. 

"A man is absolutely free only when there is no identity left.  You are neither a Christian nor a Hindu nor a Mohammedan; you are neither an Indian nor a German; you are neither a man nor a woman.  You are just a pure consciousness, and that consciousness is eternal." 

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