Practice gratitude. Practice compassion. It's simple

As we are moving into another Fall, in very uncertain times, I've had a couple of reflections that I wanted to share. As the seasons change, it is always good to step back and get a bigger perspective.

The importance of being present:

We desperately need to learn to simply stay in the present. We often see two camps that beckon us to join them. One camp consists of activists and also nay-sayers. They see what is clearly not working in society and tend to relentlessly point out the shadow.

In the other camp are the folks who encourage us to think positive, mostly spiritual teachers and New Agers. To see that which is good can be a good thing - unless it is used to cover up what is actually happening.

The shadow looms quite large these days - in part perhaps because most of us have been looking only at the positive for too long.

The truth is that we need to look very closely at exactly what is in front of us. If it sucks, we need to have the courage to say so, to acknowledge the bad, and the negative.

And yes, it is uncomfortable to do that, but it may be the most necessary action we can do. If we look at the bad situation for a while, without creating a story line (meaning no endless inquiry into who is to blame), then we may have an actual insight, or an idea of what could be done about it.

This staying in the present moment is the true antidote to the quandary of which camp to belong to. We will all encounter both positive and negative moments all day long and if the circumstances present themselves as positive, we can practice gratitude, and even joy that they are so. And if something is negative, instead of reacting to it and pushing it away, we can sit in the discomfort for a while and wait for that insight. It takes a lot of energy to avoid looking at the negative and we can use that energy, to practice compassion for all suffering, including our own.

I've been on a road trip across the country for the last month and had to practice that myself. Every time I saw a road kill in which another innocent little deer became the victim of a careless driver, I practiced not to look away.

Instead I did the Hawaiian prayer: I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive us.

Then I would imagine that this little soul would be guided by some good spirits back to the Creator, who would receive it in love and with open arms.

I found that when I did that, I could both face the discomfort of what is happening, as well as letting it go and find balance again.

Just dealing what is right in front of us. Practice gratitude. Practice compassion. It's simple.

Just this.