November 24, 2013

What a Homeless Woman who Just Wanted Beer Taught me.

A woman, down on her luck, with mismatched clothes, shabby and too big for her tiny body, tried to sell me the turkey that she had just received from the local food pantry.

“Please help out this old girl, “ she said to me and the others who were near her. She swayed back and forth on her feet. “I need to buy my beer.”

So many different emotions came up for me during this 20 second exchange; it’s hard to put into words.

Distaste, pity and sadness—just to name a few. A part of me even wanted for her to become invisible.

As I felt my own discomfort wad up in the back of my throat, it hit me:

We are not so different—this turkey selling woman and I.

Under different circumstances, I could be her, or she could be me. Is there really any separation, except for the one in my mind, which tries to slice and dice everything, and assure me that she is not me?

I will never be her. Because, that would be scary and shameful. In the end, who is to say that I am more noble anyways?

Whenever we think we are better or worse than someone else, we create separation. To think that we are separate is fear-based and causes suffering.

Living from a compassionate and mindful place shows us that we are all connected.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to consider that all beings are connected.

The following meditation is one that I teach during the week of Thanksgiving. It can be done in corpse pose or in a comfortable seated pose.

“I offer this meditation to all of us who desire to honor their relationships—past, present and future. This meditation is a way to find peace with those who we love and those who we find difficult to love.

The breath connects us to all those who have come before us, all those who share this planet with us, and all those who will come after us. Use the simple act of breathing to remind yourself of this connection.

Bring to mind a person who is nearby, physically. Someone who is sharing this very room, or home with you. As you inhale, take in their physical presence. As you exhale, send them awareness and appreciation.

Bring to mind a person who is close to your heart, but far from you. As you inhale, bring them to mind. As you exhale, send them love and support.

Bring to mind a person who is suffering. As you inhale, breathe in awareness of their suffering, and as you exhale, send them compassion and understanding.

Bring to mind an ancestor, a predecessor—someone whose very life has made your present experience possible. As you inhale, take in the meaning of their life, and as you exhale, send them gratitude.

Bring to mind all those who will come after you. As you inhale, experience the beauty of your own life. As you exhale, send them the fruits of your life, and hope for the future.”

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

{Photo: alisonleighlilly}

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