The news is not good. The national discourse is primitive and insane. People are speaking to me about feeling weary in their souls from the hatred, lies, and violence finding voice in our culture. And yet, it can be hard to look away from the awful spectacle.
I want to urge you to take time away from watching or talking or obsessing about the news every day. I'm finding it to be a powerful time for meditation, as so many of us need to touch into the strength and comfort of true nature. Try taking 30 minutes, or even 10, to just sit, breathe, and be with things as they are with an attitude of kindness and curiosity. No electronic devices, unless you have a timer app.
If your thoughts feel crazy and you want to settle your mind, try stabilizing your attention by counting your exhales from one to ten, then starting again. This is a simple practice to cultivate settling and focusing the mind.
If you feel enraged, heartbroken, terrified, or any other strong emotion, meet it in a big, generous field of compassion for yourself. And, know that many, many people are feeling it too. We can press our broken hearts together, and that will help.
If you'd like to take up a point of koan introspection, here's one to try on.
Master Ma advised, “Benefit what cannot be benefited; do what cannot be done."
Here's what to do with it. Start by settling your mind by counting your breath for a few rounds. Then drop the koan in, and allow yourself to develop a relationship to it. Let it bring any feeling, image, memory, sensory quality, emotion, or expansion. There's no right answer, just let it in.
Right now, our practice of sanity and compassion are essential. We can't lose contact with them. Your personal practice, your nourishment with experiences of connection and sorrow and joy, gives you the strength to keep on doing your bodhisattva work.
Let's hold our practice, whatever it is, toward the center of things for the next few weeks. Spend time every day meditating, doing yoga or dance, being in nature, being creative, and cultivating compassion for this awful mess.
In doing this, we water the seeds of wisdom and compassionate action, and we need as much of that as we can get.
Megan Rundel is the resident teacher at the Crimson Gate Meditation Community in Oakland, CA..