Spring Renewal by Seeing the Goodness

All beings are flowers

blossoming

In a blossoming universe.

—Soen Nakagawa

Spring time is upon us and the season of spring often refers to a time of hope, youth and growth.  Flowers start to bloom symbolizing new life and growth and there can be a sense of hope that the drudgery and difficulties of winter are behind us.   Spring is often seen as a time of renewal, a time to rebloom into our full potential.  I have been thinking about this reblooming and returning to a space of hope, youth, and growth.  For me, it comes from a conscious choice to start to shed an energy that was the opposite of hope, youth, and growth.  I was feeling trapped, defeated, and stuck and found myself attending way to often to those things that fueled those feelings resulting in discontent and unhappiness.  I started my shift out of this by asking myself the question that I often ask my clients.  What do you want to experience more of in your life and how can you create and invite that?

I want, like most of us, to experience more kindness and goodness.  I want to see the goodness in myself and others and the world.  I was in a phase or slump of feeling trapped in seeing the cruelness and injustices.  Consequently my emotions, behaviors, and interactions with myself and others was impacted.  I was cutting off and feeling critical vs. connecting and feeling compassion.  I was falling into the pattern of blaming others for my irritated or agitated mood and interpreting their behavior in a critical “What’s wrong with them?”  lens vs. a “Gosh, they must be having a tough day, what’s going on and how can I help?”  My motivation to get this in check was not just for myself, but also for my son.  I want my son to see the goodness in the world and feel a sense of connectedness from carrying this mindset.  And I of course want him to act out of kindness vs. criticalness or cruelness.  I do not want him to be naive and out of touch with the difficulties in our world, I want him to know how to experience discomfort and pain in a healthy, effective way.  I like any parent want him to find a balance.  And as parents we all know role modeling is the best teaching tool.  So, I began my spring renewal to practice what I desire for him and ultimately myself.  I set an intention to be kind and work to see the secret goodness in this world.  Jack Kornfield introduced me to the practice of seeing the goodness, the beauty of the heart in his book The Wise Heart.  I share the practice he recommends below:

1)       Wait for a day when you awaken in a fine mood, when your heart is open to the world. If such days are rare, choose the best you have. Before you start for work, set the clear intention that during the morning you will look for the inner nobility of three people. Carry that intention in your heart as you speak or work with them. Notice how this perception affects your interaction with them, how it affects your own heart, how it affects your work. Then choose five more days of your best moods, and do this practice again five more times.

2)       After starting a day in this way five times, set the clear intention to practice seeing the secret goodness for a whole day with as many people as you can. Of course, you will find certain difficult people. Save them for later, and practice first with those whose nobility and beauty is seen most easily. When you have done this as best you can for a day, choose one day a week to continue this practice for a month or two.

3)       Finally, as you become more naturally able to see the secret goodness, expand your practice. Add more days. Try practicing on days that are more stressful. Gradually include difficult people, include strangers, until your heart learns to silently acknowledge and bless all whom you meet. Aim to see as many beings as you can with a silent, loving respect.

The practice of seeing the goodness in others is to me fuel for the heart and mind to stay grounded and rooted in what is most important to us.  And for me this practice allows me to repair and renew my heart and mind to face the cruelty and injustice that very much does exist, but not get stuck in it.  Furthermore, it creates and invites more hope, growth and goodness and less fear, stagnation and cruelness.  Thomas Merton profoundly says “Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the divine.  If only they could all see themselves as they really are.  If only we could see each other that way all the time.  There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed….I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.”

May we all pause and see the secret goodness and beauty in our hearts and those around us.  Namaste and Happy Spring.