A Twelve Billion Year Legacy
Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Allow Beauty
In his book, Hardwiring Happiness, neuropsychologist and New York Times bestselling author, Rick Hanson, notes that a restful focus on something positive can help our brains ease into more calm and better function, even if we hold that focus for as little as 20 - 30 seconds. That could include focusing on something we consider beautiful--a painting, nature, a happy memory. If negative thoughts intrude (as they likely will) simply acknowledge them, without judging yourself, and return to your focus on beauty.
This tool was first offered here on June 9, 2021. Here's a link to the Index of all anti-anxiety toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.
A Twelve Billion Year Legacy
I get Hanson's weekly email newsletter, "Just One Thing: Simple Practices for Resilient Happiness." Sometimes I even read it.
In a recent issue he included an article called "Lived By Love: What's Carrying You?" in which, among other things, he notes that there is very basic, and amazing, evidence of love in the simple fact of existence, of what he calls materiality. He talks about how we can allow that love to live in and through us--being lived by love, as he puts it. But what truly caught my attention was the following statement:
"Consider the unfailing generosity of the material realm,
blossoming for over 12 billion years from a seed of light."
We have a 12 billion year legacy of existence, of physicality, in an unbroken line, beginning with that initial, remarkably expansive "seed of light" right into the present moment. This includes everything, from a quark to a minuscule bug to the ground beneath my feet to black holes and supernovas. And all the space in between. And me. That is an utterly astounding concept to me. I am part of this 12 billion years. Even when my life ends, I am still part of it, this massively ongoing, outrageous, incredibly beautiful existence. It is simply the nature of things. If I let myself, I can rest back into that. For me this is all about God. But I promise I won't say anything more about that here, for those of you who are sensitive about the topic.
Hanson's concept reminds me of a poem by the 14th century Persian poet and mystic, Hafiz.
all this time
the Sun never says to the Earth,
"You owe me."
with a love like that,
it lights up the whole sky.
Unfailing generosity. If I really get this, if, as Hanson says, I can rest back into it, it might change the way I live my daily life, the way I relate to myself and to others. The universe may be a very scary place in many ways, but it is also profoundly and ongoingly generous
Hanson's concept also calls to mind an Ojibwe saying, which I first fell in love with when I saw it taped to my brother's closet door. (Thank you, dear brother--it has been a gift.) Strangely, this saying is probably best known in the present through its inclusion in an episode of The Sopranos, of all things:
Sometimes I go about pitying myself, and all the while I am being carried on great winds across the sky.
It's too true. Sometimes I go about pitying myself, and all the while I am part of this miraculously expanding 12 billion year old seed of light.
The awareness of this generosity puts me in my place, so to speak, but in a positive way. It gives me a sense of how vast I am in some ways, as part of this ongoing giving and receiving. And also how minuscule I am, a ridiculously tiny pinpoint in an infinite universe. Yet baptized, constantly, into generosity.
If I can only remember this as I go about my life. What a difference that could make.
Here's a link to Hanson's article.
Until next time,
Photo credits (all from unSplash)
Rose, Azmarina Tanzir
Man and stars, Josh Hild
Sunflowers and sun,Timothy Eberly
Sky and water and child, Ana Maria Alvarado Porras