* List who has joined your inner circle of supportive friends in the last ten years. Give thanks, or grieve and get busy making new friends!
4. Break out of the trance! Conscious living means becoming aware of all the choices we have and acting on them. It involves a realization that we don't have to run our lives on automatic pilot. We can turn off the television (remember TV stands for "time vacuum"), read labels, turn off the lawn sprinklers when we have enough rain, notice how our food tastes, notice how tense and contracted we are when we drive fifteen mph over the speed limit, etc. It means consciously working on our relationships, life goals, and maximizing our potential.
* For three work-days in a row minimize your attachment to the world of the media. No radio, television, internet, newspaper, or magazines. See what you become aware of about yourself and the world around you.
5. A sense of connectedness to other people, other species, the earth and the "something greater", grounds us in our lives. We are all of one heart. Much of this sense can come out of the land we live on. By identifying with where we live and getting to know the plants, animals, weather patterns, water sources and the landscape itself, we develop not only a love for it, but feel that love returned. Through our commitment to our place on earth we value and protect our environment by the way we live our lives, and by how we speak at the ballot box. Through our contact with the natural world we experience a solid sense of belonging, peace and harmony.
Theologian Matthew Fox likes to say that we can relate to the earth in any of three ways. We can exploit it, recreate on it, or we can be in awe of it. I believe it is within a sense of awe that our potential for growth and healing is multiplied. From such a state of wonder it is easy to see all other species as relatives. The Lakota like to close every prayer with "Mitakaue Oyasin" - "For all my relations."
* Spend twenty minutes in a "natural" area just listening to every sound you hear. Locate it's origin. Identify patterns. Try it with your eyes closed part of the time. Cup your hands behind your ears and try it. Note your awarenesses.
6. We are primarily responsible for our health. There are the risk factors of genetics, toxic environments and the like, but our emotional and lifestyle choices determine our health and well-being more than anything else. As much as we'd like to cling to blame and copouts, we do have to be honest with ourselves. The flip side is the empowerment that this realization gives us.
One path out of passivity and illness is to realize what you can do to boost your immune system. Stress and fatigue and poor diet have a tremendous influence on our body's ability to resist illness and disease. Most people report excessive stress and chronic sleep deprivation.
*To take charge of your own health and boost your immune system, follow the usual wellness advice and live a well-balanced healthy lifestyle but, more specifically, experiment with getting more rest, and practicing some established form of relaxation training.
7. From increased self-sufficiency comes the confidence and power that overshadows fear. The Australian aboriginal people say that when a person cannot walk out onto the land and feed, clothe and shelter themselves adequately, a deep, primal fear grips their soul. Recognizing our interconnectedness, we grow tremendously when we can care for ourselves on many different levels. Skills, information and tools that enable us to: choose our food wisely (or even grow it ourselves); become more competent at our career; adjust the shifter on our bicycle; take a hike into a wilderness area; bake bread from scratch; etc., all increase our self-respect and self-confidence. We need to learn these skills and teach them to others, especially our children.