Listen to the Message of Emotions

Wisdom from Tara Brach for these difficult times. May we listen to our hearts and to our children. 🙏

“I’ve had many waves of anger, fear, and aversion in reaction to the harm being perpetrated in our society. In my own practice, it helps to keep starting right where I am, not judging my own reactions, thinking “I shouldn’t feel this.” Rather than trying to let go of these feelings, I often reflect that “this belongs,” it’s the inner weather of the moment. Then I can feel the fear or aversion with acceptance and kindness.

This also allows me to listen to the message of the emotions. Reactions of horror and outrage can be healthy and intelligent. They alert us to the very real suffering around us and they help move us toward action. When we accept and mindfully open to these emotions, they unfold to reveal the deep caring that is underneath. But this doesn’t happen if our minds fixate on stories of bad other. If we are lost in our stories, we are lost in our own egoic reactivity. To listen to the emotions and respond from our most awake heart, we need to make the U-Turn, coming out of stories and back to our vulnerability and our tender heart….

It’s essential to respond actively whenever possible and to stay in good touch with others who care. Our shared caring is what keeps hope alive in difficult times—it’s the strongest medicine. Here’s a quote from contemporary Bodhisattva, Fred Rogers:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.

We are not alone. People all over the globe share the same longing for a more loving, just, and peaceful world. People everywhere are opening to the sense of our true belonging with each other and all of life.

May the suffering of our times awaken our deepest understanding and compassion;
and may we respond in a way that serves healing and freedom…​”

~ Tara Brach

Habits and Compassion

breaking habit

“The fear habit, the anger habit, the self-pity habit—all are strengthened and empowered when we continue to buy into them. The most compassionate thing we can do is to interrupt these habits.

  • Acknowledging that we are all churned up is the first and most difficult step in any practice. Without compassionate recognition that we are stuck, it’s impossible to liberate ourselves from confusion.
  • ‘Doing something different’ is the next step that interrupts our ancient habit of indulging in our emotions. We do anything to cut the strong tendency to spin out… Anything that’s non-habitual will do—even sing and dance or run around the block. We do anything that doesn’t reinforce our crippling habits.
  • The third most difficult practice is to then remember that this is not something we do just once or twice. Interrupting our destructive habits and awakening our heart is the work of a lifetime.”

~ Pema Chodron

… Turning off Facebook and the TV is an act of compassion

 

* Love is the Bridge for Understanding – and Action

human compassionDiana over at Talk to Diana wrote a moving post today that has stayed with me. “He Deserves Better Than This” is about her father who has been in chronic back pain for years and has not received treatment to alleviate it. Diana decided that enough was enough and made several calls until she spoke to an administrator in the health service.

Diana’s intention was clear. “They know his medical history, but I wanted to tell them about the man who is my dad, who worked hard all his life, who deserves better than this; who deserves to live his last years with some enjoyment and quality of life.”
Wow.

Sometimes we let ourselves think that others have our best interests in mind… And we suffer in silence. It is up to us to ensure that they understand what our needs are and support us in getting them met. (Having a caring daughter as an advocate also helps!)

So, how do we make ourselves be seen, heard and understood?

Having a good argument doesn’t cut it. Bringing all the facts to the discussion won’t either. Getting angry could also backfire.

I believe that in Diana’s case, her  passion and love for her father touched the goodness inside a fellow human being. The administrator wanted to help and she did. He gets treatment on friday. Yeah!

Love is the bridge for understanding. It moves us from being “one of them” in the eyes of an other to become “us” in our common humanity and caring.

wheelchair

Here’s an other story that touched me deeply. Daniel Gottlieb is a family therapist, psychologist and award winning radio host. Thiry years ago he survived a traumatic car accident. He is paralyzed from the neck down and gets around in a special wheelchair.

In his book The Wisdom We’re Born With he shares a personal story. While staying at a hotel on business, the manager approached him and said “I hope you are enjoying your stay” As it turned out there had been several hurdles that he had had to overcome in order to find a room that was easily accessible and comfortable. He asked to meet with the manager the next day to go on a guided tour with him. The manager seemed sincerely interested.

Gottlieb then asked the manager “Who do you love most in the world?” The manager quickly responded “My daughter.”
Gottlieb then said “Okay, could you do this before we meet tomorrow morning? Imagine your daughter is visiting your hotel…. and she is in a wheelchair.”

They did meet the next morning but there really was no need, the manager had already seen the obstacles and hurdles. He was eager for more input from Gottlieb so that he could make it right.

When we reach out with love, we touch the innate love and compassion in others. We come together in our common humanity and caring. We hear each other and understand. We are all connected by love.

And then we know what is to be done.