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While making dinner for my children and husband, there was much going on in my mind.
America feels like a boyfriend or a partner who we should leave behind, but we can’t seem to do it. You know, the kind that all our projections, fears, and wounds are staring right at us.
But ultimately, at the core, this partner is good. If only, I fantasize, this partner remembers who they really are. What matters most and is worth holding on to is also present. Unlike any of us, this partner thrives on compassion and not hate like they’ve been used to—they need our love and support.
Everyone is struggling. Everyone wants to be heard. It’s never been more important to own who we are, turn anger into courage, and be compassionate in our ever-changing lives.
But how do we do this? Perhaps it’s easier said than done. Some of our most admired people in the world have had to endure tremendous hardships.
Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years. Doesn’t 27 years feel like a lifetime to you? I am an immigrant and have lived all of my adult life in the United States and still, it is not up to how many years Nelson survived in jail. That just brings me some perspective.
Imagine the mental battle of all of these years, the way in which he must have learned to live in order to persevere inside his heart and mind. I read somewhere that Nelson was asked how he got through this time without despairing, he replied, “I wasn’t despairing, I was preparing.” He was using his time to develop who he was and to stay strong inside an unthinkable sentence.
One of his famous quotes has helped me to forgive in times of hardship. Nelson said, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
If it is true that we learn a lot about who we are from the relationship we have with ourselves and others. I wonder, what are we learning from our relationship with the United States? Blaming it and the others around us doesn’t seem to be working. I think we have already spent generations holding others responsible for our feelings and emotional experience.
To see the changes and live them in the world, we should start by gently integrating them into our own hearts and homes.
Our reaction to others around us can offer some clues as to where we might get stuck. Sometimes in anger, disappointment, or envy, I am able to witness where these emotions might be coming from by giving myself some time to get quiet.
As I sit with these feelings and thoughts, I see that it is nice to be privileged and not be directly affected by political oppression. But if my black or brown friends and family, my LGBTQ friends, Jewish friends and family, and all of the people who live in this nation and world don’t feel heard, safe, and free, then I struggle to understand how any of us could say that we are.
To understand this integration of inner and outer, we can look at the life of another person who had to endure tremendous hardships, such as Mahatma Gandhi. Even during the most turbulent years, when he was dismantling the British Empire’s control of India, Gandhi spent one day a week in silence. He meditated so that he could act from the principles of interdependence, not bringing harm to himself nor another.
No matter how pressing and urgent the political situation, the day he spent in silence allowed him to quiet his mind and listen to the purest intentions of his heart.
One of our most beloved meditation teachers of today, Jack Kornfield, says, “If you want to live a life of balance, start now. Turn off the news for a while, meditate, turn on Mozart, walk through the forest or the mountains and begin to make yourself a zone of peace. Let go of the latest story. Listen more deeply. When we react to insecurity with fear we worsen the problem—we create a frightened society. Instead, we can use courage and compassion to respond calmly, with both prudent action and a fearless heart.”
Growing up in Australia, my mom and I relied on government assistance. I’m not sure that Australia necessarily has it all worked out, but, fortunately, I was never homeless, was never hungry, and I always knew I could rely on the government. Having universal medical care was one less thing my single-parent mother didn’t need to be worried about.
I feel we are experiencing a metamorphosis, and the ugly parts are staring at us.
And while we sit with these wounds, my hope is that by tracing them back to the original wound, the momentum begins to slow down.
In this moment, perhaps inquire inside and ask yourself:
What does my emotional environment look like and am I open to receiving today?
It’s important that we take responsibility for the peace (or nonpeace) in our lives. What part of it can we say is our contribution? Energy doesn’t just happen.
It’s certainly not easy to break through some mental barriers during this time of COVID-19, but we’re worth it, based on the fact that we were born and are living on this earth today. It’s quite simply that simple.
Ask yourself, “Do I need to get outside and go for a walk, or do I need to go in the shower to cleanse and meditate?”
Affirmations are also a wonderful tool during this time of unease.
Here are seven that you may want to recite to yourself with feeling, emphasis, and unwavering faith:
I am a vessel of hope.
I am open to receiving assistance and guidance.
I am peace.
I feel embodied.
I feel connected to all beings.
Being present is my place of power.
I am love.
Being vulnerable is one of the most courageous acts we can do to invite more love into our life. Going inside to see things as they are, with deep compassion, can be felt everywhere.
Being in nature—the sounds, the smells, the feeling of crisp air and bare feet stepping onto the earth—is one way to enter inner space. While in this space, I sometimes offer an intention of opening to receive and give love. Sometimes, I offer this intention just for me, while other times, I offer it out to another, or in this case, the United States.
As a collective, we don’t always agree with one another, yet perhaps desiring a safe and peaceful world is not far-reaching after all. It’s today that we can choose to leave behind fear by consciously creating harmony in the minds, hearts, and homes where we reside.
In trusting ourselves, we are able to be in any situation that presents. Perhaps, let’s stop asking for others to be trustworthy for if we truly trust in ourselves, we understand that solutions will be there.
What we bring attention to grows. Today, let’s hold space for greater love, growth, and expansion.
If it is peace that you would like, then stop scrolling and sit for a bit with your breath.
Be a good friend to you because you matter.
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