Jump to content
Gillian Sanger

How are you feeling?

Recommended Posts

  • Administrators

Hello @rainbow. It is nice to hear from you again!

I agree that death does not have to be an 'ending' but an invitation into something new. I listened to something a while ago about grieving and how when we lose someone we love, the love doesn't go anywhere. It is always within our hearts. So I resonate with your thinking on this.

And I absolutely understand your feelings about how we are no longer collectively connecting with those we love in a deep way. I have a strong conviction that in order to find a healthy and nourishing route through this pandemic, we need to bring all of this to the discussion - to have a more nuanced conversation about life and how we want to live it. What values do we want to uphold as we navigate through this transition? The ripple effect of this pandemic has consequences in addition to death that I'm personally not seeing discussed with much depth in mainstream channels, so I am glad you have brought it up here. Thank you!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, my feelings fall somewhere in what is discussed in this interview of Sharon Salzberg by David Treleaven. They run the gamut, wildly oscillating between hopelessness, particularly amidst the election uncertainty, and joyful presence. I recommend the interview, which might have been posted previously. https://davidtreleaven.com/tsm-podcast-episode-16-sharon-salzberg/ 

Anything else I might want to say might simply be construed as my being judgmental. But I will risk saying the following. I have had the sense that there has been a lot of pressure on people, consistent with American individualism and exceptionalism, to get out there and "do something"--become an activist engaged in constructive social change, actually help people where help is needed, or what have you. Well, there are a lot of traumatized people out here who, on top of everything else, have been continually triggered by 4 years of the most despicable display of bullying, lying, and polarizing. They neither deserve nor need to be made to feel shame that they are not doing enough. If everyone simply would be responsible for behaving  compassionately and somewhat decently, toward themselves and others, the world would be a very different place. My deepest bows to anyone and everyone starting there.🙏

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi David,

“my deepest bows to anyone and everyone starting there.”

Thanks for bringing this up. I’d like to add that a lot of us started “there” a long time ago and have a different perspective about social activism. A lot of people who are socially-engaged activists are motivated by compassion to act against social factors that are traumatizing and harming people and non-human beings.

I was taught as a child, and by my dharma teachers, that these acts are human duty, a reflection of psychological maturity, a necessity, and of what you describe as:

If everyone simply would be responsible for behaving  compassionately and somewhat decently, toward themselves and others, the world would be a very different place.”

Alice Walker describes active social engagement as “paying the rent” for living in Earth and in society. I describe:  

“to get out there and "do something"--become an activist engaged in constructive social change, actually help people where help is needed” as:

...  “behaving compassionately”, as a human duty, as morality and as essential medicine for ourselves and others, because we are responsible for those people who are suffering / traumatized and we are also responsible for ending or minimizing the factors that are creating their suffering and trauma.

Compassion is engaged action. It is social activism. Our wellbeing is dependent on the welfare of other living beings, so it follows that their trauma is our own trauma.

If we see and don’t act, then we are complicit and our “compassion” is just another pacifying lollipop ... another story in the head. Turning away / not acting to relieve the suffering of others is an egoic mechanism that degrades compassion into “self” serving succor and, IMO, results in a pathological alienation that significantly contributes to and perpetuates our own and others’ trauma / suffering.

- - - 

Re: the OP question. I’m good. This isn’t my first pandemic circus. I was living in S.F. when the AIDS pandemic washed over that small city like a fast moving tsunami. People were dropping dead like flies. I witnessed young men drop dead on the street trying to go get food. Friends and neighbors would abruptly disappear. Hospitals were overwhelmed and those of us who were healthy became caregivers and assisted people as they died, one after another, and we became grief counselors for the families of the dying and dead. Daily, during the first year, I used a red pen to draw a line through what added up to more than 100 people in my address book. For a couple years there was literally no time for self-obsession. The living lived every day for the dying and grieving, and to our great surprise we discovered that “in a dark time, the eye begins to see”. Many of the living found something very valuable in this dark time when we were forced by circumstances to get over ourselves, be compassionately active and necessarily socially activated (activism).

Our personal grief transformed into activism organically and this transformation when we rose above the needy scared “self” made us sane and effective.

When I get my mindfulness teaching site launched, in addition to courses, I’ll be offering a one year online retreat. One of the requirements to participate will be a commitment to some form of social / community activism or volunteerism for the duration of the retreat. This is to prevent participants from spiraling deep  into all-about-me-ism as we descend deep into a naked direct experience of what we are, where we are, and how where we are and what we are actually operate here in a fragile body, with a mind that tends toward wild, in a sick and collapsing society and in Earth, which has never been a safe place to live and never will be.

Edited by Jeff Miller
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Thanks for bringing this up. I’d like to point out that a lot of us started “there” a long time ago and have a different perspective about social activism. 

I'm not sure you are offering a different perspective. I am not talking about people who started "there" a long time ago and sine have experienced significant growth. I don't think a one-size-fits-all approach is either effective or trauma-sensitive. Actually, I think a lot of the glorification of activism oftentimes IS a projection of conceit (The greater universe of conditionality doesn't give a #%&! what one thinks anyone ought to do and how accomplished one displays his or herself to be at it). I think a lot more people are basically operating from places of trauma and great pain and fearfulness than we realize. I think they try to put on a bold face and make a good go at it, but it's taking a huge toll they cannot bear to acknowledge. You don't have to accuse me of projecting, I'll own to that being so in my case, except I have come to know it intimately. I really like one activist's take on finding a balance of kindness toward oneself and toward others that bears in mind the dangers of burnout, greed, or fanaticism. http://www.mushimikeda.com/blog/2017/11/15/one-activists-oath-first-vow-not-to-burn-out She is a dedicated practitioner, trainer, and activist who has seen a lot of burnout! I am not discouraging people from becoming involved in community activism or service until they are fully actualized, I'm just not saying it is a human duty for everyone regardless of their circumstances. I'm saying simply being kind toward oneself and others with whom one necessarily comes into contact is of great benefit itself. For some people that is challenge enough.

Part of being available to others is being able to bear grief, loss, and suffering with compassion, dignity, and resiliency. I don't think mandated service projects and demands of social activism necessarily promote that, although they might in some cases. In others, they might seem overwhelming and trigger much more stress and woundedness. People are vulnerable and some not only have scars, they have deep, open wounds, but we live in a society where needing help, let alone admitting our vulnerability, is greatly discouraged. Given the crazy orientation and values of society, even getting good help, should one seek it, can be difficult. I don't think you can make people have the kind of transformations certain hospice workers and caregivers have had, many of whom received skilled guidance and support along the way. Additionally, I think there is a risk that people will displace into trying to "fix" in others what they have not faced and healed in themselves. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Administrators

Thanks to you both for sharing your thoughts on this topic as well as overall present moment feelings. David, I agree with much of what you've said, which I guess can be summarized in this:

5 hours ago, David Weiskopf said:

I am not discouraging people from becoming involved in community activism or service until they are fully actualized, I'm just not saying it is a human duty for everyone regardless of their circumstances. I'm saying simply being kind toward oneself and others with whom one necessarily comes into contact is of great benefit itself. For some people that is challenge enough.

I think this statement really acknowledges the growth process we all go through and the fact that at different times we might need different things and give in different ways and to different degrees. I also am starting to really see and believe in the power of the compassionate acts that go unseen - the nurse who might not be engaged in social activism but brings love and kindness to all those he or she tends to... the parent who is teaching their child to take care of the earth... the elderly person who bestows wisdom, love, and acceptance upon all those they interact with. These are just examples and they are not to suggest that they are better or less-than the acts of compassion you could easily categorize as 'social activism', but they are additional loving acts that bring much peace and warmth to this world.

I also agree with the fact that some might be called to social activism but are not ready or capable just yet (for one reason or another) to jump in. Perhaps they have health challenges, mental or physical, or perhaps as David has pointed out they are traumatized. I think there are many reasons that aren't always (or often) obvious.

But, returning to the original question for my own present moment feelings:

This week has seen a lot of ups and downs in terms of attention and emotions. Though I am not in the US, I am continually checking the news, which is causing my mind to run a bit rampant. However, amidst it all, I have felt a call to come back to silent practice. Recently I've been practicing mantra meditation, yoga, and listening to other guided meditations, but the other morning something just called out for silence. So I am back to silent morning practices, even if the mind is more active during these sits this week.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I was really stressed and depressed Wed. morning as i feared the same outcome as last time even though I know the final count would not be in. I did feel better after going out for my walk.  I am an online activist so I get  a lot pf mail too much of it political since that man took the WH and I deleted ever one, every bit of news, did not turn on the radio and when in the car I put in CD's. It lessened my stress considerably. I got a few snatches but i do not pay attention i might see although i was boosted by some that I saw. the tension is there but i try to keep it in the back of my mind. Meditation was very hard on Wed. AM. Yesterday was good. I figure at some point I will cry from relief or from anguish and at this point i will not predict either. If the latter happens I will be in trouble though.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Faune! Nice to hear from you. I hear you about being stressed and I can say that this week has been tense for me as well. 

Thank you, Gillian, for acknowledging the tension here in the US, and I, too, have found solace in yoga, meditation, and silent group meditations. Writing has also helped me. I struggle to understand how so many individuals can vote for a leader who is openly racist and misogynistic. 

David, I hear what you're saying about social activism being a burden or maybe an escape for those who have yet to process their own trauma adequately. I think it's important, however, to acknowledge, like you have, that kindness toward oneself and others is itself a form of "activism" and is just as valid and worthy as working for a non-profit organization, volunteering, completing social projects,  donating time and money, etc.  As you so eloquently said, Gillian, there is "the power of the compassionate acts that go unseen."  

One of the most powerful, compassionate acts a person can take is getting help for themselves. This takes an incredible amount of courage and strength, and needs to be recognized as an act of compassion.  In a sense, self-help is social activism, since a person who has healed their own trauma has a wealth of knowledge and experience from which to draw upon to heal others and the world. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I am noticing my own resistance to the way things are, and releasing the resistance.  I am settling into the earth and breath and open heart.  I am walking and connecting to what is most important to me.  I know what I pay attention to grows.  Then I am allowing some short period to see the election results.  I am listening to my friends who have opposing views with more depth and understanding, because I am so confused by how people can listen to lack of integrity. The sun is shining this morning and the temperature in Vermont is beautiful today. Peace Peace Peace

xoxo

Jen

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate your awareness and attitude Jen. I, too, am going to practice connecting to what's important. And we are actually having sunny and warm weather way up here in MN so I am enjoying that by going on long walks. It helps distract me and ground me back into my body and calm mind. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Good morning to all. I confess I forget to come on here. I get so caught up in my online petition and news that I spend a fair amount of time on my laptop and then forget to do other things. I am glad to "see" you though.

It is indeed a stressful time here and not listening to the news has helped a lot as does nature which almost  always helps. As an online activist for many causes-mostly animals but for many it can be hard so I know what you mean, David. If there is something in person i can do I will do that too. I have said before though that blissful ignorance was a nice place to be but I would not go back. Better to do something to help fix the ills of the world than do nothing. and then find ways to care for yourself. Granted it is not easy or at least for me it is not always. Re the election all we can do is hope for the best. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good morning, ME Community Friends-

I recently had a Black friend share with me that when people check in with her and ask, "How are you feeling/doing?" (especially in the wake of the ongoing harms upon Black bodies), it doesn't quite invite real dialogue.  Instead she suggested asking this, "How is your heart feeling today?"  It resonated.  I have found this is a much deeper, connected way to offer care and compassion, to others as well as myself.

So here is how my heart is/has been feeling in the past few days:

I can feel the ways that my practice is holding me in a much clearer, calmer place than I would have been able to reside in in the past.  For this I am grateful.  Like many on here, I have minimized my news and social media consumption, almost to zero.  This has also helped in keeping my mind and heart more still.  With those things said, my heart feels sad, disheartened, and in places , alternately frightened and disgusted.  I am no political scholar, but to my mind, the entirety of the government is not functioning to reflect the will of the people, and the whole system needs a reboot, as has happened in all of the empires over time.  Empires fall and are built again in the image of something 'better'.  We have a gigantic space where things can be 'better' for those who have repeatedly and intentionally been harmed by the systems.  If the systems are improved, perhaps there would be a wider lens for folks to examine the parts they have played in said broken systems.  To touch their own broken parts.  To begin to heal.

Given that is unlikely to be the case- I have no illusions that the outcome of the election changes what has been shown by the votes cast by the people in this country.  There are so many who walk amongst us fueled by hatred, greed, power, and self interest, and who want to have a leader who allows and empowers them to express such things freely and without consequence.  They want to 'other'; to not see our common humanity.  And that fills me with great sadness.

On the other hand, it fills me also with great resolve- to do what I can, where I stand, beginning with my own heart.  If I tend to my own wounds, and I heal, even just a little, there are energetic ripples out from my heart into the world.  If I talk to and learn with my own children, there too lies an opportunity for change.  I recognize my heart and small world as a microcosm of the whole; and I will continue to wish for peace, ease, and freedom from suffering for all beings, in my home, my community, my country, and indeed, the world over.

Wishing all of you well.  

Rachel

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the thoughtful responses to my comment. I’ll write up some thoughts about them this weekend. For now I’ll drop these articles and a quote for everyone’s consideration:

***

“They saw this work as part of their meditation and mindfulness practice, not apart from it.[1] Thich Nhat Hanh outlined fourteen precepts of engaged Buddhism, which explained his philosophy.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engaged_Buddhism

***

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lionsroar.com/the-fourteen-precepts-of-engaged-buddhism/amp/

“ ... prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.”

***

“We may be tempted to see compassion as a feeling, an emotional response we occasionally experience when we are touched by an encounter with acute pain. In these moments of openness, the layers of our defenses crumble; intuitively we feel an immediacy of response and we glimpse the power of nonseparation. Milarepa, a great Tibetan sage, expressed this when he said, “Just as I instinctively reach out to touch and heal a wound in my leg as part of my own body, so too I reach out to touch and heal the pain in another as part of this body.” 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lionsroar.com/she-who-hears-the-cries-of-the-world/amp/

***

“According to Buddhism, the root cause of suffering is ego, our mistaken belief in a solid, separate, and continuous self, and the three poisons we use to protect it—aggression, attachment, and ignorance. We act selfishly in service to a non-existent self.

Buddhism traditionally said that the cause of suffering was personal and individual. Now to the personal causes of suffering we have added the psychological and the political.

We understand how suffering and trauma are passed down within families, generation to generation. We work to break the cycle.

We see how ego and the three poisons operate on a vast scale in our political, social, and economic systems. We take action against injustice and work for a more caring society to fulfil our basic vow as Buddhists—to reduce suffering. 

Buddhists are political because suffering is political.”

- Melvin McLeod

Edited by Jeff Miller
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Administrators

A warm hello to everyone in this thread,

Thank you for sharing what has been present for you these days. I had a quiet weekend and tried to really minimize my online connection these past couple of days, but it is nice to come back and to read your comments. 

I really resonate with much of what has been said here - offering love and compassion to myself and to others, listening with greater depth and a willingness to understand, feelings of stress and unease, minimizing news exposure, and so forth. I think there are many lessons, insights, and reminders to come out of these times we find ourselves in.

Wishing you all well today and this week ahead ❤️

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Announcements


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.