Our world is in need of peaceful action. We are wounded and scared. Whether you have watched 1 hour or 20 hours of news in the last few weeks does not matter. The heaviness is pervasive. Like sponges, we absorb the fear and anxiety of so many. It can be hard to know how to respond. Some of us will pull away – burying those emotions of fear, confusion, anger, sadness. Others will feel compelled to act, respond in some way. What is important is that we bring mindfulness to how we choose to participate in what is happening to the collective – it is not about “them” or “us.” Rather it is about you and I and all those who make up humankind.
Mindfulness provides some guidance for how we can actively practice peace during these times. Whether you are marching, advocating or witnessing; mindfulness provides direction in practicing peace. Mindfulness practices encourage us to stay in the present moment without drudging up old wounds (personal or cultural) or making assumptions about the future (positive or negative). To be mindful is to practice discernment; using each breath to take those precious seconds to speak with intention and listen with attention. These few moments and letting go of judgement and attachment to ego or wished for outcomes can be the difference between wounding and healing. This week, I encourage you to actively practice peace with each interaction, each step and each breath you take.
- Before you speak, particularly in politically charged or emotional situations, take 1-3 breaths.
- Notice your emotional reaction, your physical reaction and then what it feels like to let those dissolve. If you get hooked and the reaction does not dissolve; use it as an opportunity to take a step back.
- Allow yourself to be curious. Could there be a story other than the one you typically think. What would be a kind and generous assumption? For example, instead of assuming someone is trying to cause you or someone else harm; could they be scared or lonely and reacting from their own place of scarcity?
- Smile at your loved ones; your neighbors; the person who cuts you off in traffic; the stranger in line with you; your co-worker; the person you have difficulty with. When we allow the corners of our mouth to turn up slightly and breathe we soften our approach.
- Work with spaciousness. Fear and hate are small, limited views. Open up, broaden the horizon. This involves being curious, listening and not reacting.
- Pray, meditate, hold a space for peaceful action. Wherever you are, you can take a few moments with breath or prayer to hold the thoughts of peace and love for yourself, your loved ones, ones you are in conflict with and those you have not met.
Today, may you be at peace so that we all may be at peace.