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What Does Love Ask Of Me Today? Be Moved, Be Motivated From Love

As I finished meditating this morning and was about to jump up and start moving compulsively into activity, I felt this imperative, this need, to be still, to be quiet, to listen . . . I felt both stirred and peaceful.

A queer, strange, peaceful, disquieting grace.
Don’t move yet, please don’t move.
So I didn’t move for many minutes . . .

hands and heartAt last, I asked myself what does love ask of me today?

To be moved, to be motivated from love, rather than fear or obligation or the past or the opinion of others.

I needed to sit still a little more.

To respond from love.
To move from love.
To act from love
.

I write this in love, from love of You and all of you this morning.
You shall love Me with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole strength, with your whole soul and others as your Self.
Love your Self and love others as your Self. All others every where. No exceptions. Peace.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Spiritual Eldering: A Deep Commitment to be of Service to the Youngers

Perhaps as never before, it is essential that those of us who are Elders, and not just Olders, be present to this world.

If we have done our work up until now, if we have eaten heartily (yes, take ye and eat) and drunk deeply of the “wisdom wells” available to us, we are more awake and more truly adult than ever before in our lives. Now we must be willing to show up.

At RRC, we are Elders who have a deep commitment to be of service to the Youngers of this world. We realize we must serve this world in whatever ways that we can. We realize that we are food for the future, hopefully a better future for ALL that we will not live to see. We are laying down structures of this future that cries out longingly for the very best that we can offer. We must be nurturing, enlivening food and not junk food.

couple and daughterIntegral Spiritual Eldering is one way to describe our evolution. Integral because this is an emerging stage of human development that includes, and is friendly to, all of the earlier stages.

Spiritual, rather than religious, transcending the older structures and deeply grounded in many. Eldering, because I choose to live mainly to serve the Youngers of this world and to learn whatever I can with them. Elders are needed as never before; sadly, at a time when older people are often shunted aside, or worse, see themselves as irrelevant and having nothing to contribute.

By the way, it’s not that we Elders are God’s gift to humanity (actually, we are, just not exclusively). It’s that we are willing to work together with younger people to bring about a better world, a better future.

No one and no group has a monopoly on compassion and wisdom.

Some important changes may only come about when some older people who hold onto power over other people die. We are all going to pass out of this world, Elders probably sooner than others. I, for one, choose to bless, to nurture this future that I will not be around to see. I choose to trust this incredible, awesome Universe Story that includes and has given birth to all of humanity and to all sentient life.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Some Things You Only Need To Think About

Sometimes I think I ought to be more concerned about talking people out of stuff, but since I have never seen that work, and I have never had to talk someone out of jumping off a roof or a bridge, I think that ship has probably sailed.

As far as I  can tell, trying to talk people out of their feelings or behaviors usually just makes them dig their heels in harder.

thinking and understandingA number of years ago, when my son was still a teen and  had recently engaged in some risky behavior, I did give him a piece of unsolicited advice. I said, ‘”I know at your age you think you need to try everything, but there are some things you only need to think about.”

I remember he looked like he was taken aback about what I just said, and he kind of nodded and smiled.

Maybe he was thinking his old man did know some thing after all, or maybe he was thinking a little harder about his next adventure. Whatever. I was more than a little pleased with myself.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Desperate or Needy: OK for Many Men to be Needy?

Sadly, too many men define themselves as desperate rather than needy when the going gets tough.

man - desperate or needyIn this culture, it is not OK for many men to be needy. Too often they see themselves as desperate and sometimes justifying desperate behavior, often with terrible consequences for themselves and others. I was recently talking to a young man who laughed and said that he wasn’t sure that he wanted to see himself as having needs that weren’t being met. He was more comfortable seeing himself as desperate!

Here’s the deal:
I said to him, “It’s human to have needs and be needy at times in our lives. To have needs is part of what it means to be human, to be part of the human race. To define oneself as desperate in effect is to see oneself as apart from humanity, and to set up the justification of inhuman and entitled behavior towards oneself or others.”

He said he had never believed that it might be OK for him to be needy, but he was willing to think about it and to think about what he might be needing.

It might beat feeling desperate after all.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Self-Esteem: A Frequently Misunderstood Concept

I am deeply grateful to Pia Melody and Terry Real for their work on self-esteem, and their clarification of an extremely important and frequently misunderstood concept.

In contemporary society, it is all too common to base our self-esteem on WHAT WE HAVE (e.g., how much money do we have or not have), WHAT WE DO (a doctor is more important than a janitor), or THE OPINION OF OTHERS (if others have a good opinion of me, I’m OK, and if they don’t, then I’m not OK). While these are indeed powerful influences in our lives, we cannot let them be the basis of our self-esteem or self-worth, in part because they are all three subject to change, often in very short order!

The solid basis of self-esteem is what is intrinsic to myself and all human beings.

believe in yourselfI’M ENOUGH AND I MATTER IN SPITE OF MY IMPERFECTIONS AND LIMITATIONS (AND SO ARE YOU)!

This is essentially what it means to be human. As simple and true as these words are, they are often disturbing and challenging to us. We often don’t believe that we are enough, we matter and others are enough and they matter, too. But if we are willing to let this good news begin to sink in, it might just change our lives.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Detachment Without Indifference: Two Realizations About This Important Concept

As a young man, I never had much use for or understanding of the notion of detachment.

To be detached seemed callous and uncaring to me, and disconnected from others and the world around me.

ideaTwo realizations have helped me come to a better understanding of this important concept.

The first is realizing that in embarking on any endeavor, It helps greatly if we can detach from the outcome. Like it or not, we are usually not in control of how things turn out. We are only in charge of doing the best job that we can and using the most skillful means available to us to accomplish our goals. It’s not that we don’t care about the outcome. We just need to learn to let go of attachment to the outcomes because mostly we don’t have control over them.

The second is that being detached doesn’t mean that I’m indifferent to what’s happening to others. The “serenity prayer” from AA is helpful here: Give me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference. There is a paradox here. The more securely I am attached to others, the more I can detach from outcomes. It seems that my strong loving connection with others is what allows me, helps me, to let go of fear and control.

Love is letting go of fear, and love is what lets me let go of fear.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Loving Impermanence: Witness What is Going on Both Within and Around us

The reality of the impermanence of things is challenging for most of us.

I came home from a walk the other day and found myself very happy and delighted going from room to room in our home. Truly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder because our house is aging and many parts of it are in need of repair. Come to think of it, not unlike myself.

Part of me definitely wants to keep things the way they are, even if they are in reality changing all the time.

individual observing surroundingsIn order to love impermanence and not just be freaked out by the impermanence of things, I think we need to be able to at least step back from time to time and just witness what is going on around us. Witnessing our lives, our home, our possessions and the world around us allows us to become a little more detached from that which we have no control over anyway. Being detached doesn’t mean we have to become indifferent. I was able to be detached and delighted by my surroundings at the same time.

We can practice and develop our ability to witness what is going on both within and around us and in doing so hopefully increase our peace of mind.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Shadow Realities: Wolf Men, Blood Suckers and the Walking Dead

It’s Halloween – zombies, vampires and werewolves walk the streets of our cities in frightening array. However, in the popular culture of today, especially among many teens, they have far more than a seasonal presence. The Twilight series and TV shows such as The Walking Dead and Teen Wolf immediately come to mind.

shadows

So what is this fascination all about?

In part, I think these shows highlight some of the shadow sides of our culture. Vampires invite us to look at the blood sucking greed of much of this society. Werewolves may represent the unchecked rage and violence that many people, especially women, often endure. And as for zombies, too many people are “walking dead,” living their lives without meaning or purpose.

Even if partially or mostly unconscious, our young people are often both fascinated and excited by programs that highlight shadow realities. They will probably always be popular with teens. They present a side of our world that most adults would rather not think about but which young people feel they must come to terms with in some manner as they approach adulthood. Sometimes I watch The Walking Dead or Teen Wolf with my teen aged daughter, and usually she is willing to talk with me about her thoughts and reactions afterward.

Not a bad deal for either of us.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The Soldiers of Guy School: The Effect on Relationships With Others and Self

In some of my blog posts and articles, I have been mostly critical of what I have been calling “Guy School,” i.e. the way boys are raised to be men in this culture.

Survival training is another name for this cultural upbringing of boys to men.

Guy School” in many ways is programming for endless struggle in relationships, even war. This can include war with women, war with other men, and war with oneself.

One of the positive things to come out of this struggle, however, is that many men become good soldiers. And many men, when they wake up and become aware of the importance of relational living, decide to powerfully engage and become good soldiers for their relationships.

And that is a courageous and wonderful move.

group of men and womenThese men now begin to stand up for women and other men in relational recovery as well as for the recovery of their own selves. They soldier for a better culture, and a better future for all.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Getting In Touch With Our Feelings: Men vs.Women

I have written about how men are often out of touch with their needs, wants and feelings, and how this underlies taking entitled positions as well as other problems they may experience in relationships. Initially in counseling, they may have a great deal of denial about the significance or even the existence of traumatic experiences in their life, especially when they were very young, even infants.

If a man is willing to consider even the possibility of unresolved childhood trauma but can not feel it, he may be willing to hear me when I share with him that I am feeling his pain in a conversation we are having. He may be willing for me to reflect his pain back to him, thereby validating the importance of his getting in touch with his packed away feelings as an opening into his heart.

man and woman embracingWomen often do this unconsciously for men that they love, but since they do it unconsciously, they may not insist that a man then feel his own pain, and instead take his unresolved stuff on as their responsibility to feel and to manage for him. A man may then stay unconscious and continue to act out his painful feelings and early trauma in ways that are destructive to himself and others.

The bottom line here is that we may compassionately feel another’s pain and unconscious feelings, but we can not do their work for them. Paraphrasing something Carl Jung once said: “Enlightenment is not just about basking in the light. It’s about making the dark conscious.”

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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