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The On Being Project

The Power of Listening and the Beauty of Encounter

Taking care of our own inner lives is the best way to nurture children’s inner selves, says Sylvia Boorstein. I’ve got to believe that we adults don’t take this advice to heart often enough. So, in honor of Mother’s Day, we offer you a guided meditation, words on mourning our childless selves, poetry on blooming anew, and counsel on embodying gratitude each day.

From the On Being Archives

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Sylvia Boorstein A Lovingkindness Meditation

“May you feel safe.
May you feel content.
May you feel strong.
May you live with ease.”

Somewhat unexpectedly, Sylvia Boorstein offered to lead a metta meditation in front of a crowd of 350 in suburban Detroit. What resulted was a magical experience in which the audience fully participated in this impromptu moment of reflection. Three minutes with Sylvia will do you some good!

A Word from Our Columnists

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Courtney Martin The Things I Miss Most From My Life Before Kids
I’ve heard from a good number of women, including my wife and Courtney, that it’s tremendously difficult for mothers to express ambivalence about parenting while still holding a deep and abiding love for their children. Courtney unapologetically acknowledges the hard parts of being a mother and the aspects of being her childless self that she misses:

“I never wish I were one person again. The gifts of being three are so vast. But I do miss the unbearable lightness of just being me sometimes.”

Omid Safi Softening Our Hearts from Stone to Soil

Rumi once wrote:

“Don’t claim in spring on stone some verdure grows / Be soft like soil to raise a lovely rose— / For years you’ve been a stony-hearted man / Try being like the soil now if you can!”

Omid riffs lyrical on this passage — on nature’s resilience and how we might soften our own hardened hearts in order to bloom anew.

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Parker PalmerLoving the World Means Paying Attention to Its Simple Gifts
To open the month of May, Parker reflects on Mary Oliver’s ode to spring and a black bear:

“For me, the poem opens into mystery. How could it not, since it’s about the ‘dazzling darkness’ that’s forever coming down the mountain toward us?”

A Few Things We’re Listening To and Reading
Transom Walking Across America: Advice for a Young Man
After a 4,000-mile walking trek, Andrew Forsthoefel whittled down 85 hours of conversations into a single hour of radio. It’s a lovely testament to the power of listening and the beauty of encounter.

Heleo A Violin Prodigy’s Journey of Love, Loss, and Self-Discovery
There’s story in middle of this conversation with Min Kym about the devastating loss of her 300-year-old Stradivarius — a story in and of itself — and how that theft led her back to her true self. I preferred reading the transcript rather than watching the interview, but I’m glad for the option!

Guest Contributor of the Week

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Andrew ImbrieWhy I Study the Humanities

“To study the humanities is to see how the Greeks and Romans formed part of an educational and cultural tradition that enriches our lives, deepens our commitment to nature and community, and enables us to sit with tragedy, wonder, and paradox.”

A reader of our blog submitted this smart commentary on looking to the ancient wisdom of Petrarch and Cicero and the counsel they provide in these uncertain times. And we’re honored to publish it.

I welcome your feedback, constructive or otherwise. Please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

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