By Brandon Nappi
Weekend Wisdom is a weekly sharing from Copper Beech Institute’s founder, Dr. Brandon Nappi. The following are Brandon’s recent reflections, originally posted on social media each Sunday. We hope these simply lessons inspire, rejuvenate, and support you on your inward and outward journey.
Your fear will not leave until you’ve learned the lesson it has come to teach.
We avoid the things we are afraid of. This is the body’s natural response honed over millions of years of evolution. We flee. We fight. We freeze. These responses can be helpful, even life-saving. Yet the primitive fear response developed to save our lives can actually deplete us of life when over-activated. We fear our shame, our not-enoughness, what people think about us, being rejected, disappointment, failure—the list is both universal and completely unique to each of us.
Often, the same biological response designed to keep us alive in the wild is being triggered throughout the day repeatedly by our fears. The result is a nervous system that is over-activated—forever stuck on high alert and constantly scanning for danger. Can we begin to lean into our fear and learn the lesson it has come to teach us? What if the growth we have been waiting for, praying for, yearning for has arrived in the form of your fear? Can we breathe into our fear response and welcome the wisdom that each moment holds no matter how scary? This is the practice of mindfulness. It is not easy, but thankfully we do it together and support each other in our practice.
Listen more than you speak, and speak only to the degree that you act with compassion.
May you be known for the depth of your attention and the quality of your presence. Remember that light and dark are constant companions, and so the potential for love and hatred are both alive within you. Occasionally, you will forget the values that you most treasure. I hope you won’t be overwhelmed by disappointment in yourself, for most of us need to lose ourselves before finding ourselves. In these moments, let humor heal your heart. Life is serious business, but never so serious that laughter is not possible. Silliness is a sign of sacredness. And as Thomas Merton said, “Either everything is sacred or nothing is.” There are easier and less lonely roads to travel, so each day you must choose what you give your heart to. These choices will determine the person you become. Even in the loneliness, you are not alone.
We are honored to walk this journey with you.
Jump and the net will appear.
Can you trust the infinite reservoir of courage within you—to go out on a date, try something new, ask for forgiveness, face your shame, do something uncomfortable, share your story, offer gratitude, say no, use your voice? Vulnerability is food for the soul, yet we crave certainty, hoping it will nourish us. We look for guarantees that if we invest the effort, time, and energy, it will be worth it in the end.
Our addiction to our expectations limits our ability to meet the present moment with grace and flexibility. Our idea of happiness obstructs our ability to be happy. Yet what the soul craves is borne of raw vulnerability and courage. Most of us want to see the net first. In fact, we prefer if other people tested the net to ensure its reliability. Ultimately, the path to deeper love and sturdy peace is the path into the unknown. The only promise is that conditions will change. The question is: will we be courageous enough to change with them? Our only hope in this world of impermanence is our willingness to change too.
‘Follow your bliss” is only half the truth.
I sometimes wonder about the dark side of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practice. Without balance and awareness, can it descend into narcissism without us noticing? When I scroll through my social media feed, I wonder if spiritual practice is a convenient façade behind which hides a myopic obsession with the self. So many images posted by even the most seemingly spiritual practitioners seem to be more click bait than authentic photography. I believe it’s critically important that we be careful not to privatize our spiritual practice or use it to feed our own egos in search of likes and a large following. Unrolling the yoga mat is a political act. Sitting on a meditation cushion can be a powerful form of activism. Self-care that leads to carelessness of others and private gain is not true self-care.
All truth is paradoxical. Truths become distorted when they are not in balance. The truth is that “my bliss” and “your bliss” are interconnected. I cannot fully flourish without you fully flourishing. We are not separate. “Bliss” is always in service to others, especially those who have historically been marginalized. Spiritual practice provides us the new eyes to see oppression and injustice that systematically limits the bliss of others. So let’s follow “our bliss” as we seek to create families, communities, and a world that supports the thriving of all people.
Listening is the silent language of love
Listen deeply enough to hear the heartbeat of your beloved. Listening deeply is a lost and sacred art. So often, we listen to defend ourselves or to persuade someone that our opinion is right. Being right is incredibly intoxicating, though like any drug used to excess, it clouds our ability to see the truth clearly. We can give an incredible gift when we listen to another person, not to fix, but simply to understand their experience. Listening is the silent language of love.