As the world continues to collapse before our eyes, with its trauma and discord, how do we prevent darkness from pervading all we see? How do we assimilate these new realities, without sinking into despair? I offer the following with my well wishes, to help you navigate this disabling new terrain.
1. Go within. Whatever is happening in the world outside of you, do find ways to rest within your own heart. Here’s one way: Breathe in and out deeply, imagining that you are breathing light through your heart itself. Visualize a pure white light resting there, then see it expand in six directions: above and below your heart, in front of you and behind you, and from side to side. Let it expand as far as your imagination will take you — there are no boundaries. Then, bring your awareness to three things that make you feel safe, protected, and loved. Feel gratitude for them, letting thankfulness fill your deep heart space. Other calming heart practices include coming into heart-rhythm sync with a pet, seeing a loved one’s face virtually if not in person, and feeling the generative energy of plants surrounding you. I have a white poinsettia that greets me every day with vibrancy, comforted that it appears to be unaffected by the current tenor and tone of the world.
2. Be mindful. Mindfulness is being consciously aware of the present moment, paying attention to details of the experience, without judgment of what you see. If, for example, you observe the breakfast dishes in your sink, don’t think of them in terms of the “stories” around the dishes, or even the breakfast you had 15 minutes prior. Simply see the shapes and colors, textures, and sensations of them as a new experience, viewing them anew, much like a baby does with his/her attention moment by moment. Feel the water on your hands as you wash them. You’ll find these moments, accessed mindfully, are full of possibility. Beyond mere habit, they can become small openings, filled with grace. In these moments we can access our hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a better world, then consciously advance toward what we see with renewed energy.
3. Remain gentle. If you find yourself a bit jumpy and distracted, or very anxious among others, it’s understandable. I myself put an electric kettle on the stove the other day, instead of in its holder. After all, it’s a brave almost-new world, and we’re still adjusting. Simply make a commitment to take an extra breath, and a little extra time, gently, to do your daily tasks. Now is certainly the time for self-compassion, and to be a little nicer to ourselves and others. I was touched by a small boy in my neighborhood who, seeing I kept my distance from him while I took out the garbage, decided to be brave and take a moment to hold the container open for me, returning my smile. For a flash, we were about 4.5 feet apart, just briefly, instead of 6. This little hero made my day.
4. See the transitory nature of things. Yes, “this too shall pass.” I try to remember that each moment is a gift, with all its inherent hardships. Even this one. One day we will look back with richer understandings, as a result of what’s going on now, as will our children and grandchildren. We have choices to make. Like all dark storms, I choose to see the waves of this crisis as providing direction for what’s next. What can we learn to cultivate within ourselves and our own natures now, that, in the seasons to come, will bear fruit? Even the smallest seed planted today, though it may not seem like much, can cause a ripple effect. I choose to see that, and trust that “nature will out.” It will. It always has. Perhaps we’ll still be here when it does.
5. See beauty. Beyond the shock of what is transpiring, take moments to appreciate. I see the golden sun today, and it’s hard to believe that anything is wrong when I look out my window. For moments, I listen to Bach, and the discord of the moment gets lifted to another plane, and dissipates a bit. When I meditate, I still feel joy in my heart, knowing that all is well within and upon the “groundless ground.” Access higher states of pleasure now, whenever you can. It will fill you up.
6. Welcome evolution. Like birth that begins with painful labor, like inventions that were years in the making, suddenly out of the blue, something wondrous happens. Sometimes, on its own, in spite of our bumbling efforts to get it right. The wind nudges us in the right direction, inspiration comes, and if we get out of our own way, right action comes to us. Each moment we move through our day, we can either dwell in despair, or shine up our world with as much love we can muster.
7. Shine your light. If you don’t know where to find it, the first action is to look. You’re home more now, at peace with your surroundings, so naval gaze a bit. In your heart, in your gut, with conscious awareness, what is this moment calling you to do? What do you want to say? If you’re ill, rest deeply and simply find your light there. It’s still within you. The angels of our better natures are coming to the fore now, in answer to the darkness we see. So shine. Live this day fully. Tomorrow will rise to meet us in our collective light. I will be there, standing beside you, with no distance between us necessary.