May we all be bodhisattva-warriors

When we sit in meditation is it for our own benefit? Yes. Does this seem selfish? On the surface, it may seem so.  However, when we sit in loving kindness for our own self we practice self-love.  When we start to care for our own self and acknowledge that we as individuals deserve kindness and respect, we create an outward ripple effect; a positive ripple effect.  We are all connected. An injustice to one person also has a ripple effect; a negative ripple effect.  Social media and news serve to connect us and let us know when one person is hurting.  It also serves to fuel anger, resentment, and hate.

When I woke up this morning I felt anger and sadness – residual effects from yesterday’s abysmal news of yet another death at the hands of law enforcement.  Other news stories and the current state of our divided communities here in the United States also affected my mood.  This country is a place I currently do not recognize.  I feel anger, fear, sadness, and a little hopeless that we are sinking into chaos and disunity.

I’m a new meditation practicer and with my Calm app, I usually do the daily meditation in the morning upon waking up and then another one before I go to bed in the evening.  I did not feel in the mood for it at all this morning.  And honestly, I wrestled with my mind for most of it.  Why am I sitting here trying to do this when there is so much unrest and suffering?  I learned a new term – Bodhisattva.

The bodhisattva is someone who vows to share the benefits of their meditation practice with all living beings.  The suffering of others is not really separate from our own.  We all know how one person’s rude remark can impact us – perhaps for a day – perhaps it triggers a deep-seated hurt.  In turn, this can make us cranky towards others and so on it goes – a ripple effect of negativity.  So when we choose to sit in meditation and get quiet – take a beat and sit with our emotions we may not feel the peace we desire immediately but it starts to move us there. There is an intention set in us to perhaps go out into the world again and to try and be kinder to those we come into contact with; to try and practice more patience and respect with each other.  If we can help make someone else’s day less painful then they, in turn, will not be as likely to snap at the next person.

The term bodhisattva is rooted in Buddhism and describes an individual who has reached enlightenment and serves to help others also reach enlightenment. An individual who cultivates empathy, awareness, and compassion for all living beings.

An invitation to go with the flow

Going with the flow during stressful times may help us more in the end than standing rigidly in resistance.  Often the path of least resistance gets us where we want or often need to go.

In our Type A dominant society, we hear a lot of advice on how to achieve success.  But what is success really?  To some it means having a lot of money, others it means being famous, yet some of us might say it’s living with health, meanings as individual as each and every one of us.

However, to achieve success the advice is to work hard, not give up, keep at it – never quit.  Yet this is a rather rigid ideal.  We need to also pause, step back, and look at the big picture and make sure that all this striving is still serving our personal definition of success.  Is our own life purpose being cultivated or are we living and working around someone else’s ideas?

When we are living to someone else’s ideals our body will let us know – it will rebel in some way.  We will feel it as anxiety, depression, headaches, digestive disorders, and a whole myriad of physical or mental maladies.

Becoming less rigid and allowing some time for exploration down other paths helps us to find out more about who we are.  My successful life doesn’t have to look like your successful life.  Alternatively what we each perceive and failing and quitting in others is possibly an entirely false rigid stance.

So while the storms of our life rage – even beyond our current storm, we must learn to adapt, be flexible, and look to the possibility of life beyond the storm because we are able to go with the flow and not fight it.

selective photography of bamboo trees
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