My mother recently made her first trip to visit my family in Portugal. As an adjunct to her visit, she graciously invited me to accompany her on a six day river cruise. So, together we explored the lush river banks of the Rhine and the Moselle River in Germany. Now in her early 80’s, I am continuously inspired by her strength and sense of adventure, and I am so grateful for the time spent with her.
What struck me upon my return is the interconnection of the waterways as a metaphor for our interconnection with each other. The Rhine flows into the North Sea in the Netherlands, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean, which connects to the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar between the southern coast of Spain and the northern coast of Morocco.
What really struck me was this: while I was luxuriously cruising this body of water, an average of 6,000 refugees per day were (and still are) just downstream from me, attempting to cross the Mediterranean to escape the incomprehensible suffering and bloodshed in their homelands.
The contrast, the disparity of this is too staggering to fathom. When I returned to the news and to the refugee photo of Aylan, the toddler lying dead on the beach, I felt the shock resonate through my entire being, as I think so many of us did. How can these two realities exist simultaneously?
I hate to admit that in the past, I have felt too overwhelmed with the constant onslaught of negative news. I would feel my system crash, unable to reconcile such great suffering. So my course of action has been to serve my corner of the world in ways that I can through daily small acts of kindness.
Perhaps it’s because I’m now physically closer to where the refugee boats are arriving, but something in me is shifting. (I moved to Portugal almost two years ago). My corner of the world is growing. We are all swimming in the same waters that bring life and bring death. We are walking on the same ground that grows flowers and absorbs the blood of our sisters and brothers. No matter where we live, I believe the feeling of interconnection is growing so strong, that it is fueling us to a new level of action. Perhaps this was Aylan’s gift to us.
Like me, you may be asking, “What can I do?” I’d like to introduce you to some inspiring people that have recently crossed my path.
The day after I got back from my trip, I got together with a good friend. As I approached her in the cafe, she was just finishing up a phone conversation. She hung up and a huge smile spread across her face, “My sister just arrived in Serbia.” The story she then shared with me brought us to tears of both heart ache and hope.
Over a cup of tea with a friend, Maria Miguel (the sister of my friend), asked what they could do to help the refugees. Within just a few days, their social media outreach ignited a spontaneous movement of citizens who set up donation collection points in different cities all over Portugal. People self-organized, making sure the contributions were delivered to Lisbon on time. Then, over 200 people arrived in Lisbon to help sort and pack the 50 tons of donations into three trucks that had been donated by local companies. In addition, 12,000 euros were raised to cover transportation costs and water supplies for the refugees. Miraculously, within a week’s time of the day they asked, “What can we do?” Maria and two others drove with the trucks heading to Serbia and Croatia. With a letter from the UN High Commission for Refugees in hand, they personally made sure that the trucks could pass any possible blocks along the way, and that the goods were properly distributed by the Croatian Red Cross. They named the campaign the “Aylan Kurdi Caravan.”
That same week, I opened an email about a fundraiser led by Rob Nelson, one of my colleagues in the US. Rob is always looking for opportunities to help his fellow human beings, and has volunteered in Thailand and the Philippines, teaching Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to local communities. (EFT is a leading edge Energy Psychology tool where meridian points are “tapped” on while focusing on a specific challenge or stress response). Rob has also raised thousands of dollars for an organization called the Peaceful Heart Network. PHN provides emotional first aid for victims of war, genocide, violence and exile. The challenge with traumatic stress symptoms is that traditional medication and psychotherapy require time and economical resources, which make them hard to apply in larger disaster zones and areas with a high number of people in need of de-traumatization.
With statistically proven results, PHN has helped over 100,000 people by training local communities in a technique called Trauma Tapping Technique. TTT is a simplified version of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which eliminates the “flight, fight or freeze response” conditioned to a disturbing thought, feeling or memory. It is highly effective in circumstances where language, money and time are part of the challenges and it can be easily learned and self-administered, and passed on to others in the community.
Have you ever met someone who makes the world a better place, simply by existing? Someone whose intention every day is to bring more light into the world by doing the inner work required to clear the limiting thoughts and beliefs that inhibit potential? Someone who walks the talk of service to others as she moves through her daily life, whether it be posting inspiring words or driving her daughter do dance class? My friend Geneviève is such a person. I’d like to share with you a prayer she wrote:
May each word I speak or write be healing.
May each breath I take bring peace to us all.
May each beat of my heart send love to the whole planet and myself.
May each time I feel like snacking when I shouldn’t, nourishment is given to anyone lacking food.
May each time I drink, the thirst of those who feel unfulfilled be quenched.
May each time I feel worried, hope, strength and clarity be given to those who feel hopeless.
May each time I bite my nails, those feeling really nervous be appeased.
May each time I blink, the lightness of feeling good and the joy of being alive fly like a butterfly to everyone feeling doomed and depressed.
May each time I clean my house clear and raise the vibration of my energy field and humanity’s too.
May I feel today more loving, radiating, forgiving, compassionate, balanced and empowered for the well-being of all. And so it is!
I’ll leave you with this:
As you move through your day, allow every challenge to be an inner catalyst that ripples out into the field that connects us all.
Allow every good thing in your life to be an offering for those who have yet to experience goodness.
Allow your existence itself to be a gift. You are here at this time for a reason. Your every thought and action matters, no matter how big or small.
Thanks for being with me on the journey.
Want to donate? Learn more about Peaceful Heart Network