It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Three Wishes For The World

“We all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing." -Louisa May Alcott

I've Been Thinking...

The other day, I went on one of my “walk and talks.” These are socially distant walks that I take in the late afternoon, either alone or with friends who also like to walk, talk, dream, ponder, and wonder about life. 

I often walk with my friend Simon, an optimist and an astute student of leadership. 

The other day, we were walking and talking about Simon’s online courses (you can learn more here and follow him on Instagram, too) and his upcoming podcast, when we came upon two other guys we both know. We stopped to chit chat, and just as we were about to leave, one of the guys said: “I’d like to ask you both a question. What are your three wishes for our country and the world right now? They don’t have to be achievable, but what are they?” 

“Wow!” I thought to myself. I figured he was just going to ask which restaurants had good takeout service or something, but hey, okay. I knew I’d need a few minutes to think about how to answer. 

Simon’s three wishes popped out immediately.

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Shaking is Meant for Shifting

For me and many of the people I’ve spoken to who are part of the stay-at-home population, it feels like one day is rolling right into the next with not that much changing in any given 24-hour period.

Of course, if we’re working from home or home-schooling our children or are caregivers for our loved ones, the details of each day are numerous and ever-changing.

But it’s the general tone of the day that I’m speaking about... 

I’m wondering about that question mark that’s hanging over the planet.

What is this shaking up of the world as we know it ushering in? 

What will our personal and collective lives look like in a few months…

And in a few years?

Though there have been a few other pandemics over the last hundred years or so, never before have we experienced the repercussions of a pandemic like the one enfolding the whole of the planet today. 

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The Miracle Of The Coronavirus – Part 1

Creating authentic power requires distinguishing love from fear in yourself and choosing love no matter what is happening inside you or what is happening outside. Our evolution now requires us to create authentic power. The coronavirus is teaching us how to do that. The reality of the coronavirus is often lost in the fear of it (including denial). The reality of the coronavirus is that no one is immune to it, and it is extremely contagious. The mortality rate of the coronavirus is much lower than small pox or bubonic plague, yet it is a deadly threat. That reality demands that we bring our fears into our awareness so that we can choose responsibly between our fears on the one hand and love on the other. This is important because not only your health depends upon your choices, but also the health of others.

In other words, the coronavirus is the perfect teacher of responsibility. The coronavirus is contagious days before its symptoms appear in you. You do not know when you become infected! During that time you can infect others without knowing it and without them knowing it (because they do not know when they become infected, either), and they can (will) very quickly infect others and on and on and on and on. These are the things that make the coronavirus very dangerous. It is extremely contagious, everyone can unknowingly infect anyone else, and it can kill you. In other words, if you mindlessly endanger yourself, you mindlessly endanger others. If others recklessly endanger themselves, they recklessly endanger you. To echo Lakota wisdom, the health of one is the health of all, and the illness of one is the illness of all.

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How To Love Your Body

The healthier and more vibrant your body is, the more you can express yourself through it and live your dream.”

We often live with the pressure of having a ‘perfect’ body according to the standard created by the media and society as a whole. As a result, this can often lead to shame, self-rejection and even hatred of our body. Listen to this important episode to learn how to love your body and honor this amazing vehicle of your soul.

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Coronavirus – The Heart of the Matter

All my life I have gone to the heart of the matter. When I graduated from college, I volunteered to fly fighters because I felt that was the heart of the Air Force. My eye sight prevented me, so I joined the Infantry because I felt that was the heart of the Army. Then I became a Green Beret officer because I felt that was the heart of the heart of the Army. When I wrote about quantum physics, I reached for the heart of this new discipline so I could write a book about it without scientific jargon and give non-scientists like me a clear and understandable explanation of it. That book won The American Book Award for Science, I believe, because it did exactly that.

I have come to see the heart of everything that we do and experience, individually and as a species, as consciousness. Our consciousness. My consciousness. Changing anything in the world, including myself, requires changing consciousness. The only place I can change consciousness is in myself.

Now I come to the coronavirus. Like everything I see around me, I see the coronavirus as symbolic. It has a lesson to teach me, and in my opinion, it has a lesson to teach us. The coronavirus is real in that it kills, the world economy is crippled, hundreds of millions have no work or shelter or comforting hand to hold theirs when they are ill. The most difficult is yet to come in economically undeveloped countries and collectives.

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Love the World

Are we really so separate?

The Practice:
Love the world.

Why?

To simplify and summarize, our brain has three primary motivational systems – Avoiding harms, Approaching rewards, and Attaching to “us” – that draw on many neural networks to accomplish their goals. 

Lately, I’ve started to realize that a fourth fundamental human motivational system could be emerging as well.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors depended upon their habitats for food and shelter. Today, over 7 billion of us are pressing hard up against the limits of Lifeboat Earth. To survive and to flourish, cultural and perhaps biological evolution are calling us to love the world.

The world is near to hand in the food you eat, the air you breathe, and the weather and climate in which you spend your days. And then in widening circles, the world extends out to include complex webs of life and the physical characteristics of the land, the sea, and the sky.

When you love the world, you both appreciate it and care for it. Each of these actions makes you feel good, plus they help you preserve and improve everything you depend on for your health, livelihood, security, pleasure, and community.

During most of the last several million years, our human and hominid ancestors did not have much capacity for harming the world. Nor did they have much understanding of their effects on the whole planet.

But now, humanity has great power for good and ill. And we have inescapable knowledge (no matter how much some try to deny it) of what we are doing to our own home. As the earth heats up, as many species go extinct, and as resources such as fresh water decline, it is critically important that a fourth major motivation guide our thoughts, words, and above all, deeds:

Love the world.

What's Really Essential?

"The measure of a country's greatness is its ability to retain compassion in a time of crisis." -Thurgood Marshall


I've Been Thinking...

The other day, I found myself thinking and reflecting on life as I took an evening walk through my neighborhood.

“When this is all over, what will I remember?” I pondered to myself. “What thoughts and images will be seared into my brain? Who will I be when I am no longer told to stay at home?”

Will I go back to the same schedule I had before? Will my work and voice in The Sunday Paper be needed now more than ever, or not at all? Will my work at NBC News be the same, or will it change now that every show has been cut back? Will I go back to being on a plane all the time, rushing from coast to coast?

 

Will my work at The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement survive in a post-pandemic world? Will people still want to fund research into women’s brains when millions of Americans are struggling to eat and pay their rents or mortgages? Will people want to be educated about brain health and Alzheimer’s prevention when one of their most pressing concerns is protecting themselves from the coronavirus? I wonder. 

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I Need You And You Need Me

"Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things. Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things." -Lao Tzu

I've Been Thinking...

I was catching up with a friend by phone the other day when she said to me: “I need you more than ever right now.”

“Same here!” I replied, without skipping a beat.
 
The truth is, we all need each other more than ever right now. We need each other in so many ways, both big and small. We need to rely on one another. Lean on one another. Trust one another. Be compassionate, understanding, and patient with one another. We need to basically focus on being there for one another the best we can.
 
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about just how tied we are to one another. This historic moment is showing us how interconnected we are. It is showing us how we all have similar needs. And yet, as we live through this big, collective moment together, we are also going through it in very individual ways.

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What Does “You Are Enough” Mean?

“You are enough.”

That short phrase is one of the most powerful I can think of. So powerful that I used it as the title of my new book. Yet, I wonder if you’ve ever really thought about what it means to simply…be enough. 

Society places a great deal of importance on outward success – success in the form of possessions, a big bank balance, perfect relationships, glowing, radiant health, and a secure, high-paying job. Yet, even those that have outwardly achieved immense levels of success still feel as if there is something missing from their lives. They feel as if they ARE their possessions. Their profession is their identity. They depend on their bank balance for validation. 

These feelings of emptiness, dissatisfaction, and sadness occur because those external things can never take the place of your authentic self. In fact, all of the external trappings of success are actually examples of what “you are enough” does NOT mean.

You are far more than your external accomplishments, my dear friends. But from the moment you were born, you have been conditioned to be a unit of production. You’ve been separated from your emotions, been told that you’re too sensitive, that you shouldn’t become angry, that you have no reason to be sad. Your humanity has been denied and you learned that your worth is based on what you can provide. “Work hard!” they said and all will be well. In following that advice, your emotions were disregarded, and you were, essentially, mechanized.

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Follow Your Heart

"The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are." -Rumi

I've Been Thinking...

The other morning, I was sitting on my porch drinking a cup of coffee when all of a sudden, a feeling swept over me. It was one that took me by surprise. I closed my eyes so I could sit with it for a while and really feel it. Then I decided to describe the feeling out loud so I would always remember it.

“I’m doing great,” I said to myself looking around to no one in particular. “I’m actually happy. I’m content. Life is peaceful, life is good.”
 

“Holy moly!” I thought as I sat there smiling. “I’m happy, I’m good.” I could feel myself smile.



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A Theory of Love

A few years ago I came upon the letter below that was supposedly authored by Albert Einstein written to his daughter Liesel about love. I have since discovered that Einstein did not write this and the original author is still unknown. That said, when I re-read it again, I was still moved by the wisdom, poetry, and truth it contains and thought you might enjoy it as well.

“When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world.

I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below.

There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us.

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Just Because

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." -Lao Tzu

I've Been Thinking...

I was sitting in my office the other day when my daughter Christina walked in and asked me what I was up to.


I told her I was thinking about everything that had happened this week and how I felt about it all. I sat there thinking about how I felt attending Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial service with my son Christopher on Monday. I thought about how I felt on Tuesday as I watched another round of the Democratic debates. (I ended up watching alone because everyone else got up and left, saying “I’ve had it!”) I thought about how I felt about Ash Wednesday, the concept of Lent, and Pope Francis’ challenge for us all to give up “trolling,” or insulting others on social media. I thought about the Coronavirus and the fear, panic, and suffering it's wreaking around the world.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Easy as Gravity

While every love we know is unique
and has its own history, every chance
to care traces back to the same
enduring love that lives below
all names.


The way the branches on this
towering oak trace back to its
enduring trunk.
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Beloved

I write from observation, not imagination. Most of my writing is one page at a time, with only one to five words per line. The structure can look like poetry but has more to do with the physical limitations of a handwritten page and my desire to emphasize multiple meanings.

You can click here to read about my writing process.

How does it feel to be with a precious Beloved companion? No matter how far away, how close can you feel to someone near to your heart?

My words are only a reflection of the song my heart sings.
I delight in the beauty of love recognized.

One line is often all I need to capture an idea.

“THAT WHICH YOU ADORE, DOES NOT NEED TO BE CHANGED.” Will Hale 5-24-14

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We Are Loving Awareness

“Now just imagine that you, as spirit or awareness, have contained yourself in an incarnation, or contained it in a conceptual model of who you are and in a storyline. And then at some point, you dissolve out of that, you break out of that, and there is this incredible release quality.” – Ram Dass 


There is joyousness. Our beloved Baba has left his body, and he is no longer in pain. He has been released from this storyline.  

There is sadness. We no longer get the warm embrace of his loving awareness in the human form. The feeling I got when our eyes locked was that of pure liquid love. It was too much for me most of the time, I almost always wound up looking away before he did. But I will miss it dearly. I will miss him dearly.

When I heard the news last night, I immediately had to sit and meditate. As I settled into my first round of “Ram, Ram, Ram,” I felt tears streaking down my face. A thought popped right up into my head, “Well, I didn’t think I’d be this sad.” I thought I was ready for this; I’m sure many of us thought we were. 

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The Perfect Gift You Can Bring Is Your Heart

"At this table, everyone is welcome. At this table, everyone is seen. At this table, everybody matters. No one falls between." -Idina Menzel


I've Been Thinking...

Everyone I’ve spoken to this week has told me how overwhelmed they feel. They are, of course, talking about the holiday season and not the impeachment hearings (which would overwhelm even a constitutional scholar).

To each of them, I said: “Believe me, I get it.”

I tend to feel overwhelmed at this time of year, too, which is why I’m going to share a personal story this morning that I hope might ease what you’re feeling and carrying with you right now. It might just reveal that the perfect holiday gift is closer than we realize…

So, there I was early Monday morning in the TODAY show makeup room, chatting away with Laura and Mary (two talented hair and makeup magicians), when a text popped up on my phone.

It was short. Three words to be precise. “This is you!” it said. It was accompanied by something to download, but no surprise, I couldn’t figure out how to download it, so I just went on gabbing.

Then Hoda burst into the room.

“Did you hear the song I sent you?!” she squealed with delight.

After I explained that I couldn’t download It, she insisted that I stop everything and listen right then and there. “It is you!” she repeated.

Hoda pulled up Idina Menzel’s new Christmas song, "At This Table,” and as it played, my eyes welled with tears, and goosebumps formed on my arms.

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How To Love Your Body [Special Video]

Your body is beautiful just because you have a body.

No other reason needed.

It is a living work of art. A masterpiece and magical expression of the Divine.

But how often do we really appreciate and love our bodies?

We have been conditioned and brainwashed by the media to believe that “You are not enough as you are”.

This is a lie.

This creates so much shame, judgment, non-acceptance of our naturalness. We end up hating our bodies, disconnecting from it’s innate intelligence, and comparing ourselves to others.

We base our self-worth on being the perfect shape, weight, or size.

You are worthy and lovable just because you ARE.

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It’s a Beautiful Day to Help Each Other Heal

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

I've Been Thinking...

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that if you remain open and awake to what’s happening around you, then life will offer you an endless parade of lessons.

Lessons can come in the form of experiences. They can come in the form of encounters and individuals. And, they can come in the form of something we see up close, or witness at a distance. (They certainly come when you watch something historic happen, like the impeachment hearings.)

Not all lessons are pleasant, but they all can serve you in some way. That’s why it’s up to you to make sense of them, find meaning in them, and ultimately grow from them.

Life is our greatest teacher, but every once in a while, a really great person comes along that imparts lessons on our collective humanity. Mr. Rogers was one such teacher.

I find it amazing that he is still “alive,” even so many years after his death. I also find it important to reflect on the fact that so many of us are longing for his guidance, wisdom, and gentle tone to help us navigate the here and now.

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Belonging to Each Other

Mother Teresa writes that if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. These three talks explore the causes for severed belonging, and pathways to deepening the felt sense of belonging to our own body, heart and spirit, and to all beings. Together the talks offer a natural and powerful progression of loving kindness or metta reflections, that when practiced regularly can open us to the peace, joy and freedom of trusting our mutual belonging.

Vitally, the human race is dying. It is like a great uprooted tree, with its roots in the air. We must plant ourselves again in the universe.” ― D.H. Lawrence
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The essence of loving kindness is this openhearted quality of friendliness. It’s sacred. It’s precious. As Mother Teresa described it, when we sense that belonging that comes with friendship, we really touch peace.

We close in that spirit to sense in your own heart the intention to befriend the life that’s within you. And take a moment to hold the life within you with the quality of care. Feel in your own words your prayer to befriend this life – to love yourself into healing.

Widening our attention to sense those in our lives – those close in, those that we don’t know, all beings – to sense that intention to discover our belonging to all of life everywhere. And in that discovery to know the joy and peace and freedom of being awake and alive. ~ Tara

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What Happens When You Protect Your Values

“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.”  — Thurgood Marshall

After my daughter watched the documentary Finding Neverland the other night, she wrote me a note that landed deep in my soul.

She said, “Thank you for such a wonderful childhood. Thank you for loving me. And, perhaps most importantly, thank you for always protecting me.”

I sat and stared at those last two words.

Protecting my children has always been a huge deal to me. I know it is for most parents. It’s our job to keep our children safe. It’s our job to be on guard against people or situations that might seem appealing, but are actually dangerous. It’s our job to build resilient children who can pave their own way and stand on their own two feet.

Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about the role of “the protector.” I’ve thought about how, when I was young and naive, I thought it was a man’s job to protect. Now as a seasoned protector myself, I no longer hold onto that childish view.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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