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The Winter of My Discontent

It's February in Western New York State and the skies seem even grayer this year than in winter's past. I find myself talking with friends and colleagues that are experiencing a new type of anxiety and depression. I must admit, I'm extremely uneasy as well. Some of this can still be attributed to the weather and lack of sunshine.  However, I'm feeling that much of the distress has to do with our new president and his radical agenda. I get it, the Trump phenomenon was a rebellion. That's what got so many disenfranchised people so fired up to support and vote for him. He ran against a corrupt establishment promising to "drain the swamp" that he claimed had been running our government for too long.  As someone who typically admires rebellious men and women who act as change agents, I am deeply troubled by this so called "rebel" who is now occupying the White House. The kind of rebel I admire is highly principled, honorable and cares about a cause greater than his or herself. Trump is an unhinged con man, who cares only about himself and his "ratings". Since election day and his stunning upset victory, I have experienced a wide range of emotions. I've felt outraged and terrified for my children's future. I have conversations on a daily basis with many people that can't believe this is happening in the United States of America. In the midst of this very dark time, I see a light emerging on the horizon in the form of a rebellion I haven't seen since my youth, when I actively protested the Viet Nam War. How I plan to participate going forward is in the spirit of two of the greatest rebels of the 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverend Martin Luther King. These spiritual giants affected great change in India and the USA without any violence whatsoever, never firing a single shot! I recently had an awakening and realized I couldn't fight anger with anger . I will be actively involved in resisting the Trump agenda with civility and kindness . My commitment is to do so in the spirit of non-violent love and compassion following the examples of Gandhi and the Reverend King.

Celebrate Kindness to Rebel Against the Craziness

There’s a gif floating around social media these days that says “Sprinkle kindness like confetti.” For some reason, whenever I see that quote I picture a fairy showering kindness all over – an image that always makes me chuckle. In my next life, I want to come back as a Kindness Fairy. Who’s with me?! Until then and during these crazy times it’s more important than ever to be kind – to ourselves and to others – to be frank though sometimes it feels like kindness is really hard. One of my yogis said to me recently “I feel like I can be kind again after yoga class.” This struck me as such an awesome, rebellious and brave statement. It’s hard for many of us to even admit to being unkind, never mind proactively finding means to help us get back to being kind.

Responding with kindness takes practice and it can become a habit just like everything else we do. Like any habit though it takes mindfulness, a willingness to change, and repetition in order to get that kindness confetti to stick. I’ve been experimenting with responding with kindness and I realized that it positively impacts me as much as the people I’m sprinkling. I’m more at peace, I’m happier and I have less stress when I come from a place of kindness.

Here are some things I do to help cultivate kindness:

1. Take a deep breath and then respond rather than immediately reacting 2. Practice yoga to clear my mind and alleviate stress 3. Be mindful of the energy I bring into a space, positive energy is contagious 4. Remember that everyone is doing the best they can and we each operate from our own level of consciousness 5. Smile often, especially if the person I’m looking at is frowning

Let’s rebel, let’s celebrate and let’s sprinkle kindness like confetti! Meg Burton Tudman Health Coach | Yoga Teacher www.MegBurtonTudman.com

Why does talking about God feel rebellious?

I'm a talker. I talk with people on planes. I enjoy gatherings where conversation is at the center. I am comfortable conversing about pretty much anything including sex, money and politics. But, for most of my life, I haven't been very comfortable talking about God. Somewhere along the line I got the feeling that it's too personal and intimate a topic. And I noticed that most of the people I spend time with -- and they cross a wide range of ages and backgrounds -- are also uncomfortable with bringing God into the conversation.

Sure, it's fine when you're in church or synagogue. But in everyday life, not so much. Yes, you can talk in terms of spirituality, but actually referring to God seems somehow inappropriate.

So I have channeled my inner rebel and am now working at being comfortable about talking about God publicly. And I think it is making me a better person.

When you talk about God, you open up a part of yourself.

You invite connection, and sometimes, skepticism. You make yourself a bit vulnerable to people by making something we generally view as private, public. Essentially, in my view, you get more real. You go deeper into what makes us human.

When you talk about God, you move into a place of respect and love. For most people.

I believe talking about God has gotten very confused. Practitioners of extremist rhetoric -- no matter what the religion -- talk about God all the time. Their words and actions are grounded in the belief that there is only one way to have God in your life, and it's their way. Everyone else is wrong, and they will be punished in this life or the next.

My God doesn't see it that way. My God asks to be treated with respect and love and gives that respect and love right back to me. And my God asks me to treat others the same way.

When you talk about God, you live in your imagination and heart.

For a long time, I did not talk about God because I had too many questions that went unanswered. How could God let so many bad things happen in the world? Why was God punishing me by taking away people I love? Why was this bearded guy on a throne treating women so cruelly?

I could not get beyond my brain. I could not trust what I could not see. I could not use the power of imagination to unleash my heart and soul. I could not get answers because I was talking, not listening. It made me very sad.

So I turned to others to hear their stories. One of the people who moved me was Albert Einstein. I was so intrigued that a genius scientist could have such a clear and public relationship with God. Here is a link to some of his best quotes.

But this one is my favorite:

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

 To talk about God is to exercise our unlimited ability to imagine. To go beyond the "slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind." Just like we imagine air and gravity, we imagine God. The unseen becomes real and vital.

We call it faith.

Can you and I talk a bit about God, too? Discussion is open.

Practicing Love and Compassion is Rebellious

As I reflect on what it means to truly Live and Rebel I have come to realize that embracing Love and Compassion is the path to personal freedom as well as a means to help heal our hurting planet. In my rebellious youth, I believed my anger against the establishment would affect change in the world. I have come to learn that anger begets more anger, love and compassion beget more love and compassion. According to the Dalai Lama in his article entitled "Living the Compassionate Life": "The teachings of mindfulness and compassion typically lead to feelings of kindness and self -confidence. Positive action inevitably leads to inner strength. Greater inner strength leads to less fear and more self-confidence. With our inner strength, we have a far greater ability to extend our sense of caring across all cultural and religious barriers."  This will potentially bring much needed healing to a world  that is currently riddled with so much fear.

At every level of society, be it our families, nation or planet, the key to a happier and more successful world is growing our compassion. For me this speaks to Living as much or more than Rebelling. You may be asking how do we become more compassionate beings? For this rebel, it starts with becoming quiet, going into the silence with meditation and prayer. It’s doesn’t require that we become “religious” nor believe in any particular ideology. The development of our good human qualities, leads to the cultivation of individual happiness which can profoundly contribute to the overall improvement of the entire human family.