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Archive for September, 2016

The Man Who Transformed a Wasteland

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September 30, 2016

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The Man Who Transformed a Wasteland

A wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it.

– Chinese Proverb –

The Man Who Transformed a Wasteland

For years, Jonathan Bergman was bothered by the sight of a neglected piece of property across the street from his office. It was a wasteland — overgrown, ugly, trash-strewn, unloved. In the middle of it was a huge slab of cement covered in graffiti. He wondered to himself why no one had done anything about it. One day, he approached a man he saw looking at the land; they were both bothered by the sight. Then the man said, “How about getting it for the community?” And so the acquisition and transformation efforts began. But the path to what ended up as the “World Peace Garden” was far from straight. This is the story of Jonathan Bergman, who found for every setback an unexpected solution, who discovered peace while gardening, who created a space for his community with his neighbors, who became the change he wished to see, who brought to light that we all have wastelands we can transform. { read more }

Be The Change

Consider nurturing something that you or society has neglected, whether it be a piece of land, a cause, or a relationship. Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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The Mosque Across the Street

This week’s inspiring video: The Mosque Across the Street
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Video of the Week

Sep 29, 2016
The Mosque Across the Street

The Mosque Across the Street

Leaders of a growing Muslim community in Memphis, Tennessee, wanted to build an Islamic center where they could gather not just to worship, but to host weddings and other parties; gather on weekends and holidays; house a day care for children; and have activities for the elderly. When they finally succeeded in purchasing a plot of land opposite a church, Dr. Bashir Shala, head of the board of trustees for the Memphis Islamic Center, expected hostility. "Memphis is the buckle of the Bible Belt," Shala says. Pastor Steve Stone of Heartsong Church, had something else in mind.
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A Bible Belt Church’s Response to a Mosque

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DailyGood News That Inspires

September 29, 2016

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A Bible Belt Church's Response to a Mosque

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

– Martin Luther King Jr. –

A Bible Belt Church’s Response to a Mosque

Leaders of a growing Muslim community in Memphis, Tennessee, wanted to build an Islamic center where they could gather not just to worship, but to host weddings and other parties; gather on weekends and holidays; house a day care for children; and have activities for the elderly. When they finally succeeded in purchasing a plot of land opposite a church, Dr. Bashir Shala, head of the board of trustees for the Memphis Islamic Center, expected hostility. “Memphis is the buckle of the Bible Belt,” Shala says. Pastor Steve Stone of Heartsong Church, had something else in mind. { read more }

Be The Change

The next time you see an incident of discrimination or bullying, be an ally. Read more about The Mosque Across the Street here. { more }

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Gifts for Gifted Children

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DailyGood News That Inspires

September 28, 2016

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Gifts for Gifted Children

Children are not things to be molded, but people to be unfolded.

– Jess Lair –

Gifts for Gifted Children

“What gifts can we offer gifted children? How can we who are their guardians do justice by them? The first gift is not to praise them for their talents alone. Just as a beautiful child is often praised only for their beauty, and grows simultaneously vain and insecure, an intelligent child can easily learn that their mind is what makes them lovable…Instead, give these children the gift of praise for attributes that have nothing to do with intelligence. Praise their kindness, their empathy, their bravery and strength. Praise their hearts and souls… This is the balm for a lonely child’s heart.” Here Betsy Cornwell outlines other gifts we can offer gifted children: ordinariness, time, courage to leap, and community. { read more }

Be The Change

Give children “time to breathe, time without the burden of expectation; and then, perhaps, give yourself that gift, too.”

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From Royalty to Relics: India’s Dinosaur Princess

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September 27, 2016

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From Royalty to Relics: India's Dinosaur Princess

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.

– Albert Einstein –

From Royalty to Relics: India’s Dinosaur Princess

Known as India’s very own “Jurassic Park,” the Balasinor Fossil Park lies nestled in the tiny Raiyoli village of Gujarat’s Khera district. And guarding the Park’s 65-million-year-old eggs is a fiercely passionate, dinosaur-loving former princess, Aaliya Sultana Babi. Aaliya fell in love with the fossil beds when she was a teenager and is now an enthusiastic promoter and protector of the precious and awe-inspiring site. { read more }

Be The Change

What fills you with awe? Take some time to reflect on it today and do something to help preserve or amplify it in some way.

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Awakin Weekly: What is Meditation?

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What is Meditation?
by Vimala Thakar

[Listen to Audio!]

2093.jpg"This awareness of the so called outward and the inward movements of life, is meditation. The simultaneous awareness of the total movement is meditation. If I am aware of the nature of my reactions, and movement of my reactions, naturally that awareness will result in freedom from the reaction. I cannot stop the reaction, because the reactions have been rooted in the subconscious, in the unconscious. I cannot prevent, I cannot renounce, I cannot check them. But if I am aware, simultaneously of the objective challenge, the subjective reactions and the causes of these reactions, then it results in freedom. Then the momentum of reaction will not carry me over with it, but I will be ahead of my reactions. I will not be a victim of my reactions, but I will see them as I see the objective challenge. That for me is meditation. All inclusive attention while moving in life. Meditation does not involve any mental activity at all."

"Minimizing in daily life the frequency, the duration and the field of mental activity and living in silence, acting out of that silence is meditation. This meditation, this silence, has got a tremendous momentum of its own…You do not have to do a thing. You are not there: the ego, the mind, is not there. What happens in that silence? How does that silence move? It is something to be experimented with."

"Meditation is watching the movement of mind in relationship. If you try to force the mind into silence by withdrawing from activity, you will never understand what silence is…There is a great beauty when one discovers what silence in action is. Meditation is a new approach to total life, it does not demand of you any isolation."

"Meditation is a state of total freedom from movement, to be there, and then to move into time and space, words and speech, feelings and emotions, to move into them out of the totality, out of the wholeness."

"Freedom or liberation is not something to be cultivated. It is not different. It is not different from the bondage. One has to look at it, understand it and that very understanding explodes into freedom. They are not two different events, and we have to look at these not in isolation, not sitting somewhere in the corner of a room, but from morning till night to be in the state of watchfulness, in the state of observation, without condemning what is coming up or without accepting what is coming up. Just observing it, seeing the speed, the momentum, the electronic speed with which thoughts come, watching the intervals between the two thoughts."

"Meditation is something pertaining to the whole being and the whole life. Either you live in it or you do not live in it. In other words, it is related to everything physical and psychological… Thus, from the small area of mental activity, we have brought meditation to a vast field of consciousness, where it gets related to the way you sit or stand, the way you gesticulate or articulate throughout the day. Whether you want it or not, the inner state of your being gets expressed in your behaviour. This co-relation of meditation to the total way of living is the first requirement on the path of total transformation."

About the Author: Excerpted from "Mutation of Mind" by Vimala Thakar.

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What is Meditation?
How do you relate to the author’s observation that awareness of the objective challenge and the subjective reactions and the causes of these reactions results in freedom, even if we are unable to renounce or prevent the reactions? Can you share a personal story of a time you experienced silence in action? What practice helps you bring meditation to a vast fiend of consciousness?
david doane wrote: The awareness of which the author writes I think of as mindfulness. For me, mindfulness is a detached observance of feelings and actions as they are occurring while I am involved in a situation…
Abhishek wrote: I love the link between meditation and freedom – indeed, ever-present watchful awareness seems to be a pathway to having atleast some degree of choice in our reactions and responses. For me, me…
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Back in 1997, one person started sending this simple “meditation reminder” to a few friends. Soon after, “Wednesdays” started, ServiceSpace blossomed, and the humble experiments of service took a life of its own. If you’d like to start an Awakin gathering in your area, we’d be happy to help you get started.

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Newsletter: From Russia with Love

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Conversations.org Monthly Conversations

Interviews with Social Artists, Uncommon Heroes

September 26, 2016

From the Editor

richard.jpgRichard Whittaker

Our features in #38 go their own ways. Last October I got an invitation: “After many years in a private collection in Germany, eighteen historic paintings and drawings by Tatyana Apraksina were recently returned as a gift.” The paintings were done in Russia. The exotic note drew me in and I went to [more]

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A Face that Held No Riddles – Tatyana Apraksina

A Face that Held No Riddles - Tatyana ApraksinaApraksina writes, “I rarely paint portraits.” Not that she is averse, but as she clarifies, “my art gains its drive from subjects” and it’s the ones she is drawn to whose mature life philosophy and moral ideals hold some special appeal. Here she shares the story of painting the portrait of Russian composer A.L. Lokshin. The experience remains, as she writes, “like nothing else I’ve ever encountered.”

Linda Connor – Outside of Time

Linda Connor - Outside of TimeAbout the beginnings of her long career in photography Linda Connor says, “When you find something you’re good at, you latch on.” Happy to admit the technical side didn’t come easily she says her photography teacher at RISD, Harry Callahan, “used to shake his head.” But eventually, as she says in an understatement, “I got relatively good.” Not a fan of talking about herself, this iconic artist and longtime teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute shares freely in this thoughtful interview.

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Fierce Contemplation: The Nature Loving Nuns Who Stopped a Pipel

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September 26, 2016

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Fierce Contemplation: The Nature Loving Nuns Who Stopped a Pipel

We see what we are doing with the pipeline as another way to be teachers.

– Sister Antoinette Doyle –

Fierce Contemplation: The Nature Loving Nuns Who Stopped a Pipel

On August 8, 2013, Ceciliana Skees and other sisters from Loretto and several other convents attended an informational meeting held by representatives of the Bluegrass Pipeline. A joint venture between Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, the project would have transported natural gas liquids from fracking fields in Pennsylvania and Ohio southwest across Kentucky to connect with an existing pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico, with Loretto’s land directly in its path. Frustrated with what they saw as a lack of helpful information, several of the sisters, including Skees, gathered in the center of the room and broke into song. A video of the sisters singing “Amazing Grace” was picked up by media outlets, and reached hundreds of thousands of people. Read on to learn more about these active nuns, and how they stopped the pipeline in its tracks. { read more }

Be The Change

Ask yourself what you most value in the natural world, then find out how you can do something to help support it. You can watch the video of the sisters’ rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ here. { more }

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Small is Better

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September 25, 2016

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Small is Better

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle –

Small is Better

“As a horsewoman, I’ve come to see that so many theories that work with eliciting real learning and collaboration for horses, work magically with their human counterparts. The brilliant horseman and trainer (as well as second degree aikido black belt), Mark Rashid, teaches how to reward the try, which rewards a horse in response to any of his micro-tries towards the desired action. “Because we are constantly looking for the big thing (the flawless lead change, the effortless transition, the sliding stop), we often look right past the most important part–the try that tells us our horse is understanding our request,” he writes. The more sensitive one becomes to the smallest of tries towards the right thing, and the quicker one rewards those tries, the quicker and more solidly the horse learns and grows. It’s the same for us. The more respect we can give ourselves or each other for the ‘micro tries’, the quicker and more solidly we can grow.” Kelly Wendorf shares more about the power of small in this insightful piece. { read more }

Be The Change

This week experiment with micro-tries towards one of your deep aspirations.

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Kindness Weekly: Kindness to Self

KindSpring.org: Small Acts That Change the World

About KindSpring

For over a decade the KindSpring community has focused on inner transformation, while collectively changing the world with generosity, gratitude, and trust. We are 100% volunteer-run and totally non-commercial. KindSpring is a labor of love.

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Loving yourself is healing the world –Jaymie Gerard

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25.jpgPAINIACS! Thank you for all you do for your community. Care bags for the homeless, clothes for foster babies, charity quilts and more. Send PAINIACS some KarmaBucks and say hello.

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September 24, 2016

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space EditorEditor’s note: We have talked about regenerative kindness before but one of the keys to avoiding kindness fatigue is to be as kind and compassionate to yourself as to others. This can involve a variety of self care practices including quiet time, meditation, walks in nature, self-affirmation and making time for the warmth of close and nourishing friendships. How do you make sure you are being kind to yourself? –Ameeta space
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Small Acts of Kindness

space rlmc0216 wrote: “A few weeks back a friend posted a picture of herself with her mother before she passed away when she was a child. They were holding Farber Bros glassware, which I collect. Today I wrapped one from my collection and mailed it to her. Hoping it brings her “
space DANCE wrote: “Have just left a bag full of great books for the local cafe library swap corner :-))”
space sandyremillar wrote: “I started as a volunteer in the Mentor Me program at the nearby high school. Every Tuesday for an hour helping kids with their homework and activities. Very satisfying! “
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Featured Kindness Stories

Story1 Throwing a party for herself brought her unexpected pain and joy.
Story2 Four siblings knocked at his door and said that they wanted to attend school.
Story3 She gave herself the space to be kind to herself and deal with emotions her way.
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Idea of the Week

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