"For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction." --Cynthia Occelli If there was a microphone in my head you would've heard some rants over the past few days. Didn't we all agree that 2021 would turn the page to something, well, better? It feels like anger and fear continue to grip much of the country as we experience violence and hostility around the political landscape and simultaneously await liberation from COVID lockdown. My insides feel like they are coming out and since change can only come from within I guess I'm in the right profession. I am constantly reminding myself that my own anger and fear has less to do with what's out there and more to do with what's inside me. Rewiring the mind toward equanimity or non-duality takes practice since it is counterintuitive to feel bad feelings and willingly lean into discomfort with curiousity. Unconditional love for ourselves can take some practice but I believe it is the first step to activating change in the outer world. It may be helpful to take a look at this moment from a non-dual perspective. Without assigning a story about what's happening, I notice that polarization and separation is still very much alive in political institutions and the collective. I also see that there's a great outpouring of kindness and love on the front lines of the pandemic and in the hearts of many families and communities. I see that our institutions are not functioning well anymore and need to change. Change makes people fearful and fear can turn to anger and anger can lead to violence. When people act from anger and reactivity, polarization arises and it deepens the feeling of separation; us and them, right or wrong. When love and compassion are present, people come together and trust more. Things flow better. When anger and fear are repressed, they build in the body and can come out in destructive ways, preventing authentic communication and problem solving. Perspective shrinks to I, me, mine and holistic action goes out the window. If the country was seen as one body, rioting and violence in the heart means it's time for us to pay attention to the heart not seek to eliminate it or make it worse. It's not our fault. We can't know what we don't know or refuse to look at. We have not been raised holistically in this country. We are proud of our rugged individualism. Science seems to have replaced God and we place a higher value on how things look rather than how they really are; on intellectual intelligence over emotional or spiritual intelligence.
The confusion in the collective is not a bad thing, it is a sign that we need new tools in our toolbox. If all we have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail and we stay small and limited in our solutions. We stop our own growth.
What new tools do we need? I suggest they involve learning how to integrate our collective darkness. Healing core wounds of our country means healing individual wounds. Not with money, political leaders or spiritual gurus, but with self-leadership and the cultivation of wisdom and agency. Learning to bring compassion to the the denial, bigotry and hatred in our own hearts and minds so we can bring coherence to the collective, one person at a time.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr. While stillness, kindness and self-compassion are all part of the practice, feeling good is not the goal of meditation. Becoming aware of and accepting our darkness as well as our light invites coherence back into the system. We become whole by facing and forgiving what we have exiled in ourselves. We release the barrier to our deeper nature and open flow.
"Love is the vital core of the soul. And of all you see, only love is infinite." Rumi How do I know what I've exiled? I can begin to really look at what triggers me. What I dislike in others, I also disown in myself. For example, I find myself shutting down when people act out of anger and contempt. It takes practice for me to stay open and curious. It takes practice to notice my own anger (or fear which is always under anger) and accept that it is a normal human emotion that can be felt without condemnation. Bringing compassion to my own anger and fear helps me have compassion for the anger and fear in others, then I can take calm action and turn off the TV, stay off social media, reschedule a conversation that is too heated or write an article. I can stay present and hold onto myself. In his article Facing Our Dark Side, Richard Schwartz, PhD, Harvard Medical School professor and director of the Center for Self Leadership writes, "getting to know, understand, and forgive these dark selves can have deeply transformative healing powers for the whole person, making us better, kinder, more compassionate to others than before." Tomorrow we will meet online at 6:30pm. The focus will be on working with fear and anger. Meeting strong emotion with self-compassion and learning to take the u-turn when triggered. Looking forward to seeing you! Warmly, Kim
"Most of us scramble to avoid our inner lives and keep our attention fixed on external solutions that include finding or changing a designated redeemer. I try to get people to do a U-turn in their focus, moving them toward, rather than away from, the inner worlds in which they fear to tread." --Richard Schwartz, PhD, Author of You Are the One You've Been Waiting For Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/117191836 (or call in only: 1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 117 191 836)
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