Magnify Love

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

—Desmond Tutu

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.

Flower (1024x768)

No snake, just flower.

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?

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What do I choose to magnify with my attention?

Guest Post on Kindness

Today’s guest post is by my friend Heather Horst, and fits right in with a campaign by Indy Holistic Hub to spread kindness in December. #GetYourKindnessOn is the hashtag we are using to shine a light on compassionate acts we encounter. (I’ve found it quite uplifting, during these fractious days, to tune my radar to kindness. If we watch for compassion, nourish it, and spread it, we can’t help but magnify light.)

Guest post by Heather Horst

Lately I’ve been fostering a dog who is both gravely ill and incredibly sweet. Her name is Joy, and she’s pictured here.

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Joy and Heather

I’ve also been called out to do massage therapy during a friend’s labor and delivery. Between the two, there has been so much kindness. I’ve experienced so much support in caring for Joy. I’ve witnessed so much kindness and care for my brave friend as she worked hard to bring her baby into the world.

When I glance from my real life to national and world news, it’s culture shock. Because I’m not hearing about kindness. I’m hearing about brutality and a turning-away from the suffering of others, a turning-away from one’s own humanity.

I don’t accept that this is our true nature. It feels like a brokenness, a wound, an illness.

I trust that kindness is our true nature. That one day so many of us will be healed by (and healed to) kindness. So many of us will heal that when brutality or callousness appears among us, we will recognize it as an aberration.

We will surround it and heal it and not give it weapons or money or media attention.

…when brutality or callousness appears among us, we will recognize it as an aberration. We will surround it and heal it and not give it weapons or money or media attention.

I trust that kindness is our true nature. To those of you who have been carrying out these many kindnesses — THANK YOU! You heal my heart.

Heather is a nurse, a massage therapist, a spinstress of hula hoops and an amateur urban farmer. She lives, works, and plays in Goshen, Indiana.



It Can Be Shifted

I heard a Robert Bly poem on The Writer’s Almanac a few months ago that seemed to speak to our times. Called “Keeping Quiet,” it speaks of childhood “whoppings in the woodshed” living into the present. Bly declares that “every war is some violence in childhood coming closer” and that “it doesn’t change.”

What happened to us that we can never speak about, the poem says, leads us to perpetrate the same cruelty on others.

Fair point, and even more interesting in light of research on epigenetics and genetic memory. From what I understand, traumas that our ancestors experienced can actually impact our own DNA. For example, those whose ancestors lived through famine may be genetically predisposed to store more fat.

In my own work on the energetic level, I have found that we can carry inherited and ancestral emotions, beliefs, and traumas.

But I don’t agree when Bly declares that this pattern won’t change because it has been going on for thousands of years. How to change it: by loving the entire past that accompanied us in our arrival on the earth.

Lotus Flower

Photo by Yoshikazu Takada, via flickr Creative Commons

Those things we try to divorce and deny? They are exactly the things that return again and again, to snap at our heels, smack us down in the dirt, keep us unconsciously lashing out and “otherizing” those we see as different. Not a healthy pattern, but it can be shifted.

What if we strove to love those old hurts instead—and not just our own but all of our ancestors’ secret pain as well?

A tall order perhaps, but I believe that we are a tall people. Humanity at large. We have the ability to stretch and grow, to evolve.

I want to believe that we have a future here, that doesn’t give sole survivorship to the last person shouting (or shooting).