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.

Meditation and the cultivation of Equanimity can help with anxiety

I have been struggling intensely during this pandemic.  My GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) has been off the charts awful.  I’ve been experiencing panic attacks every other week.  The more I  resist the anxiety, the worse it gets.    Again I started searching for ways to care for myself or I would never make it.

I had heard of the Calm app but I figured I had used other meditation apps and they hadn’t really helped me.  After yet another recommendation for the app, I looked at it again.  There is a fee to use it but compared to the downward spiral I was in and the thoughts I was having, this seemed like a small price to pay for help.

There is a 30-day course on How To Meditate.  The lessons are only 10 minutes long and you sit in meditation as you do them. Doable right?!

I discovered the concept of Equanimity and am in love with this idea.  Equanimity is the ability to neither push away or grab onto any sensation or experience; having an inner smoothness.  It is not bracing against things or becoming startled or afraid. It is a 3rd option.  An option of being both open and present where sounds, thoughts, or events just pass through us.  And we just watch or feel them go by.  How awesome is that?  Developing this skill or muscle is both possible and essential to living in this noisy world.

My struggles with anxiety get harder the more I resist against those anxious feelings.  My mind wants to deny the physical reactions to anxiety because I don’t want to struggle again or anymore.  But things actually get worse the more I try to do that.  Loud noises also trigger my anxiety.  I would love to just let the noises happen and just observe them as they go by and not jump or react with irritability.  Gritting my teeth and denying that noises are triggering does not work.  Observing the noise, that it might have triggered my anxiety, and letting it all just pass through is a skill I would like to develop.