Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
Here in the U.S., we’re feeling the reverberations of yet another mass shooting. Some call it the deadliest in our nation’s history. Even as I unplug from the news cycle, I’m energetically affected by the pain and anguish, the anger and fear.
Sadness is mostly what I feel when I think of the shooting. When I remember to, I turn toward the sadness, feel it in my body, notice the wish to numb it, alongside the urge to amass information in support of my personal philosophy about these types of tragedies.
I “embrace, allow, include,” as I’ve been coached in mindfulness training. I open up room for all my responses and attend to them with kindness. In that space I can consider right action.
All of which gives me more compassion for others on their own path.
I like to believe that humanity is evolving in a positive direction, appearances (seemingly) to the contrary. The horrible things that happen always grab our focus, fuel our outrage. It’s the same with the inflammatory things said by some pundits and politicians: Our attention gets hooked by ugly things that seem to confirm the awfulness of everything. And the ugliness magnifies.
A wise yoga/meditation instructor recently reminded me that our brains are wired to notice the snake amidst the flowers. Danger! Alert! We fixate on the negative. It’s biological.
Mindfulness meditation creates an opening for a new practice to emerge. It offers a brief space—the length of a breath—in which we can begin to choose.
I wonder: what if we train our attention on something other than the horror? Not to look away blithely denying injustice, but turning toward the little acts of love and solidarity, small exchanges of soul happening every day. Is it a copout, born of privilege, to even suggest such a thing? Or is it an opening?
Some schools of Buddhism teach that the material world is nothing other than a construct of mind. What mind do I wish to inhabit?
What do I choose to magnify with my attention?