(NEVER MIND ALL THE SENSELESS HUMAN VIOLENCE BASED ON VILE BIASES THAT IT DOES SEEM WE MIGHT HAVE EVOLVED BEYOND BY NOW?)
LET'S MEET IT TOGETHER.
I made one of those wee-hours decisions early this morning, launched by mama grief.
Right before bed, I talked to my 20-something kid who lives in NYC. He was recounting a harrowing adventure in rally and rioting in Brooklyn the night before. He told me he couldn't stand being a white person not taking part in the protest launched by George Floyd's death. (You've surely heard about the senseless murder by a police officer of this man who deserved no violence directed his way, except the cop was white and the dude was black—and wow, whoa, mystifying though it is, though we've gotten all the way to 2020, that can still be all it takes.)
So during a pandemic, my kid was out there holding space with and for other protesters, chanting, looking out for vulnerable people, running for cover sometimes, taking part in protectively surrounding someone spray-painting a message sometimes, dodging rubber bullets and getting pepper-sprayed—and continuing to breathe the stuff because he didn't want to remove his face mask (both for virus and identity protection)—witnessing aggression between police and people, watching NYPD officers do things like drag protesters over the don't-cross line to throw them on the ground, beat them, arrest them, and more. He watched a scene in which he saw police ask a bus driver to surrender the bus so they could use it to transport those arrested (already there were vans standing by, my son reports, to throw people into like cattle), but the bus driver refused. You can see a brief video of that very scene right here.
So forgive me for the flaky, bad-business aspect of this, but I've changed the topic for my first Monday night zoom program in the current series (June 2020).
This Monday, instead, I want to sit with you, whoever wants to come or request the audio replay to go into later, and be with this pain. I've been carrying it around as you have, in my case ever since my other son called to unload his distress because he had watched the video of the murder and needed to recount every detail. I would not have chosen to watch that. I did solidly choose to hear about it for 2 reasons: 1) I don't want to look away from this reality; 2) I wanted to hold my son's heart with him (as I wish to do with you on Monday night). For him, this was a sort of next death of innocence. He's had a dream of being a good cop since he was small, and had held out believing he could be a force for good with others who actually care. In a flash, he sees it differently: not even possible.
I've got mama grief for George Floyd too, because what happened to him might have been his mother's worst fear, certainly not what she ever wanted for her boy. He grew up to be a man people spoke well of, a big-hearted human being who cared about those coming behind him enough to make a video with a plea for an end to gun violence. (Scroll down on linked page for that video. Go ahead. Hear his voice. Look at his face.)
What I'll be doing with anyone who comes (or asks for replay) this Monday night (June 1, 2020, 6:30 pm ET to 8 pm ET):
much love & many blessings in these tender times, Jaya
Oh, dear ones, how normal is it for big feelings to sometimes hit hard as we navigate Corona times? Stomach-dropping fear anyone? Roiling, buzzing anxiety? Chest-gripping grief? I invite you to judge nothing—by which I always mean NOTICE that you're judging it and seek to release judgment: welcome yourself to the human race; meet whatever you're experiencing now knowing you can be feeling it only if millions of others feel it too.
I offer you 2 resources here:
1. The HEART MEDITATION is deeply calming and connecting. You can do it either in the actual moment of meeting a strong emotion or when you simply choose to settle into the heart realm and find what's there. The meditation invites you to keep dropping in where perhaps you haven't yet—or never as you are right now in this fresh, all-things-new-all-things-possible moment.
2. The written part follows.
STEP-BY-STEP TACTICS TO GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY when strong emotions hit and you feel disconnected from love.
1. NOTICE AND MEET RESISTANCE.
This really means notice it and let it be there. You will resist. So get okay with that. But know that if you run with the resistance (otherwise stated, ignore it and let it dictate what you do or don't give attention to), you can't sort of reach around it to stroke and soothe what you're feeling. Resistance will take many forms, and may look like:
2. LOCATE YOUR WILLINGNESS TO MEET WHAT YOU'RE FEELING.
You don't have to make resistance go away! Once you notice it, accept that it's here; accept that we all resist. Then you can pause with it, breathe into it, and find your willingness to meet the strong emotion itself. Beyond your resistance is the thing that will set you free. Here, that means that beyond resistance is the emotion for you to meet directly by dropping in with it and feeling it fully.
You might simply tell yourself: Something feels awful here. Because something that feels awful is here, I'm willing to meet it. I'm willing to feel it. I can't just will it away, so I'll drop in to see what it has for me. I'm willing to feel bad, for now. I'm willing to feel whatever any human being might feel. I'm willing not to abandon myself here and now.
3. FEEL WHAT YOU'RE FEELING AS YOU INTEND CONNECTING TO LOVE.
Every emotion carries with it a call to love. Wow.
No matter how painful a feeling, no matter how close to the fear or hate end of the spectrum it may register, it only wants to call you back to yourself, back to self-acceptance, back to love.
It's actually amazingly easy to feel what you're feeling—as opposed to analyzing it, thinking about or mulling over the related story and all its gory details, or letting it engulf you in a toxic way.
You know what I mean by that toxic engulfment? You're there if you feel wretched with it; if you're despairing (even to the point of questioning your life's worth or declaring yourself hopeless for living it well); if you're steeping in your worst beliefs about yourself, others, your prospects, life itself. You're there if you feel all alone.
So how do you feel a feeling? This post will take you there (This is what X feels like), even as it connects you to all the other beings who feel it too, so you don't get lost in being alone or in feeling singular in or singled out by what you're feeling. Chapter 3 of Scooch! offers a lot on that topic in the Mind the Pain Body section (ch. 3 covers Mind the Pain Body, Tend the Mind).
More than anything, you drop in. You give yourself to locating IN THE BODY the specifics of what you feel:
Be a scientist collecting data on the body. See if you can do that without a lot of words or naming (or work up to that as you experiment with this method). Ultimately, all you're trying to do is FULLY feel whatever you're feeling, and feel it where it is—in the body.
Call on the breath as you do this. FEEL the movement of the breath as it already registers in your body. Then gently direct your breath to the place of pain.
That's all the pain body wants: awareness and breath. So drop in. Fully. Drop into the pain as you would something that feels great, relaxed, letting it have you: think of easing down into a jacuzzi and letting go, releasing all resistance.
4. SEEK TO LOVE WHAT YOU'RE FEELING—AND LOVE YOURSELF FEELING IT (HINT: neutrality is a great support).
This heart meditation (mentioned & linked above) will walk you through. Read on for some words to explain it.
Start with simply intending love. Remember that love doesn't need ANYTHING put on or forced. It doesn't need you to try to locate some approximation of feeling love. Love doesn't necessarily come with any particular feeling attached. You don't need to rev up inner flavors of sweet or kind or whatever loving means to you—or rather, to your disconnected self. Just let love be a powerful, neutral force that doesn't need you to cough up anything in order to show up and make itself known. It's already who you are in your essence. It already drenches the entire Universe. So simply intend connecting to that.
Since you're already dropping into the feeling and breathing it (if you've followed instructions in #3), now bring your awareness to your heart center and invite love. Relax muscles you don't need on the out-breath so you stay out of effort, and simply breathe in the intention, the invitation, the truth of love's inherent location everywhere—accessible from this specific area of the body (aka, the heart chakra).
You've JUST been exploring a feeling. See if you can head from that feeling/sensation to some neutral acceptance, even expectation, of love. Love as ever-present, inherently yours, beyond any need to earn it. Scooch that way and don't worry about getting there.
But let me stress the idea of NEUTRAL. It's powerful to just let love be, call it in, let it come as it will as you sit here as you are: you need ask nothing specific of love; it asks nothing of you except the letting go, the allowing.
You'll love yourself better if you cultivate some connection to neutrality inside yourself, especially in painful or self-disapproving moments. It's neutral, in fact—because these are normal human things—to feel strong emotions, to feel out of control, to be confused and in the dark, to have a bad taste in your mouth, to have a wildly beating heart, to fear you won't be okay, to disconnect from your best self, to lose track of all hope, to not know what to do next. It gets easier to drop self-judgment if you can hold a neutrality toward anything you've habitually disapproved of (in yourself or others).
So I'll leave you there. This is a practice. Make it an experiment (perhaps a grand experiment while you're at it). Let it take you wherever it will. Come back and seek to meet yourself, your emotions, the heart space again and again and again. Especially during intense, hard times of collective fear, grief, and letting go, as we find ourselves living in now in the time of Corona.
Love & blessings, Jaya