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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

The Beginning of a New Year

It’s the closest thing we have in our culture to acknowledging and celebrating our capacity for awakening and transforming. Yet there is much cynicism as well— what resolution will you break this year, and how soon? One study showed that only 8 percent of resolutions are realized.

An obvious reason for this is that change is hard, and permanent change of deeply held beliefs, attitudes and actions is exceptionally hard. It is said that most of what we do is a function not of conscious thought but of our subconscious minds. And if one’s belief system is similar to mine, one must add the ingrained behavior of thinking, feeling and acting in certain ways over countless previous lives. This year I add one resolution to my perpetual resolution of losing weight: to increase my capacity for love and compassion. Indeed, I would say this is the meaning of life: It’s why we are here; it calls to the essence of our divine human nature.

My starting point is to diminish this hair-trigger anger I have at injustice. This anger has been with me since my late teens, but for many years it was not obvious, as it wasn’t being triggered. But it re-emerged, like an alien bursting from my chest, in all its frightening vitriol and violence, during this last presidential election cycle.

“There is no version of this where I’m anything but the villain.” When Theresa Ward uttered these words back in June (see her story on pages 14-15), a lump formed in my throat. I knew these same words could be applied to me when it comes to my anger. The ferocity with which it erupts is poisonous to me, to my relationships, to the energetic environment in which I dwell. There is no version of this story in which I am not the villain.

As much as I love to write, I never believed that I had anything to add to the world’s store of wisdom. I still believe that, but I do know that we all benefit in knowing we are not alone. I know that I am not alone in, one, having significant, if not extreme anger around what is happening in our country, and two, feeling that having this anger is neither healthy nor helpful. I can’t be alone in trying to find answers.

Which brings me to a brief introduction of our feature articles this month. The theme is reconciliation, first with ourselves and then with others. We open with Theresa’s story, a story of a woman of faith who lost her way, and had to start again. That she does this in the most public of ways is a gift to us all.

We then explore my particular issue by way of a discussion among concerned citizens and spiritual leaders. The questions addressed: How can we overcome our anger against “them?” How do we cultivate love and compassion for “them?” And how do our actions, and the effects of those actions differ when operating from a place of anger vs. a place of love and compassion?

Finally, from Natural Awakenings corporate, a survey of conflict resolution efforts.

It is difficult not to see our situation as perilous. The veteran reporter Carl Bernstein has characterized this American moment as “a cold civil war.” Many of us cannot remember a time when the division between us has been greater, when animosity and hatred seem ready to spill into the streets. Apprehension and fear appear to be logical responses.

And yet, there is love. Weeks ago, within the span of a few days, three people mentioned A Course In Miracles (ACIM) to me. I took it as a sign and bought Marianne Williamson’s A Return To Love, her commentary on ACIM. One of the people who mentioned ACIM to me offers this saying: “Love Is All.” It’s meaning is literal: Love is the only thing that is real. Everything else is illusion.

Neither my head nor heart fully understands that statement. And I’ve been taught that knowing something in your head is where it starts, but nothing happens until you know it in your heart. In other words, until our hearts are moved, we do not act.

But what I do know is that I will not escape my own prison, our communities, cities and country will not escape our self-inflicted conflicts and all of humanity will not be free from our collective limitations without more love.

It is with this certain knowledge that we greet you in this new year, embrace you in love and appreciation, and wish upon you new awakenings to the joy and bliss of who we really are.

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