It can be difficult to be involved in knowing about and staying up to date with the news of the world day after day. Our heart mind might feel overwhelmed, angry, triggered, some of us might even be feeling hopeless with lack of personal absolve.
How can we tend and attend to others and ourselves? How can we maintain a heart of openness in difficult times whether difficulties come from the news outside, or the often-ongoing newsreel from within us? Here are some suggestions that have worked for me.
Simple Practices for Not so Simple Times:
Place a hand on the area of your body that contracts when you are feeling any strong uncomfortable emotion.
By placing a hand on the area of your body that contracts or tightens as a response to what you are thinking and feeling, when you are thinking and feeling something strong and or uncomfortable, you will get into the habit of acknowledging the body and its response. Additionally, you’ll take yourself out of the discursive thinking mind, giving the mind a much needed break from ruminating and looping by softening, breathing into or simply being with your body right there in that particular area.
Breathe with kindness into whatever you are feeling in the moment.
Breathing with kindness can actually deliver some tenderness and kindness from your conscious heart mind to its body. The body feels befriended and the body needs a friend, which can be found in kind awareness. Imagine breathing very softly, like your breathing in a gentle breeze, to the area of your body that is resisting, tightening, hurting or numb. Imagine the breeze, wind or breath airing out that area. Let go of any expectations; just feel what occurs because something surely will.
I am teaching about Inner Awareness a lot recently partially in response to what is going on in our world, and the demands we place on ourselves to be there for others, our work, family, political system and the planet. This is a lot to carry as we are all very aware of, so simple practices can begin to re-establish softness in heart mind and in our bodies. This doesn’t mean that we can’t or won’t get angry and fueled into positive, compassionate action, but it means that once the fuel is there we can choose when to let it go and return to a sanity that clears the mind for thoughtful and wise responses to whatever we deem important.
Getting together with each other and within our communities, is also of great import. So, I hope that you’ll join me in Berkeley on Wednesday nights, in New York where I’ll be teaching on Inner Awareness, or in Burlington Vermont where I’ll lead a weekend of Inner Awareness and Self Compassion.
You might also find this message from Jack Kornfield helpful. And, as always, I love hearing from you, so please do send your tips and comments. I’ll post some of them in my blog.
Thank you for this and the end of the year email! I miss your Sangha and indeed much of my formal practice. Life is good here in Mexico but there are l loose ends, especially in the bay area that pray on my mind.
Wishing you and yours all the best my most excellent teacher.