How to Cope With Suffering & Find Your Peace
There sure is a lot of anger and fear flying around at the moment, almost literally with airplanes being shot down and missiles shooting through the sky. It may seem like it’s all happening a long way away but anger and fear are insidious: they creep into our unconscious and begin eating away at our sensibility, sanity, love and compassion, making us all victims no matter where the cause may lie.
So how do we stay balanced in the face of destruction, hatred and even war? Violence invariably arises due to repressed anger and fear, and we all have some measure of both these within us. Unacknowledged, they can wreck havoc in our own lives and in the world around us, as we see in gang fighting, rape, or forceful and abusive behavior.
We don’t have to have bitter battles in our own life; rather, we can make communication, respect and peaceful means our modus operandi. But to do this we first have to recognize and take responsibility for the violence within ourselves.
We will always blame and condemn those we feel are responsible for wars and social injustice, without recognizing the degree of violence in ourselves. We must work on ourselves as well as with those we condemn if we wish to move towards peace. — Thich Nhat Hanh, nominated for the Noble Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr.
As long as we repress, deny, or ignore fear and anger then we will be held captive and emotionally frozen, unable to move forward. In that place we become untrusting of love or spontaneity. So those people we have a difficult time with are really our teachers because without an adversary — or those who trigger strong reactions such as fear and anger — we aren’t motivated to develop loving kindness and compassion.
Making love our priority doesn’t mean we’re always in spaced-out hippie bliss while ignoring the conflicts around us, but it does mean we have shifted our focus. Love is the main emotional job of the heart and it rarely flows smoothly. We all experience difficulties, such as childhood conflicts, abuse, hurt or loss, and if the pain is too big to deal with we close our hearts and throw away the key. By remaining locked out of our feeling center we become mistrustful, defensive, fearful, and even paranoid.
Learning to open our hearts, to listen to, respect and trust what we feel, is one of life’s most powerful teachings. For the heart is more than just the center of love, it’s also the core of our being, the place we point to when we refer to ourselves. When we say, “you have touched my heart” we are really saying “you have touched the deepest part of my being.”
We don’t have to go in search of love, or fear giving away so much that we have none left. We can never lose love; we can only lose sight of it. Love could not happen if it was not already an integral part of who we are. How can we lose what is our nature? How can we be left with nothing when love is the source?
So staying balanced in the midst of fear and anger is about staying mindful of what we are feeling while keeping our heart open and loving. To help, practice the meditation below.
Meditation: The Way It Is
Sit comfortably with an upright spine, take a deep breath and let it go.
Focus your attention on your breathing, just watching the natural flow of your breath.
Staying aware and open, allow whatever feelings are present to arise.
Have no judgment, rejection or aversion. Accept whatever you are experiencing as simply a part of what is.
You do not need to change anything.
Just be with whatever the feeling may bring up in you.
Be kind and caring to yourself.
Keep breathing and accepting, breathing and being with what is.
And lastly, in the words of Reba McEntire’s latest song: Pray for Peace.
Award-Winning Authors Ed and Deb of Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World, are mindfulness, meditation and yoga experts. Deb’s new novel is: Merging: Women in Love — what happens when you fall in love with the least likely person of the least likely gender? – and she’s the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have three meditation CDs. See more at EdandDebShapiro.com