Rock + Leaves Altar

Like many folks I am in a place of stunned heartache over the world events of the past few weeks.

It has made it seem almost impossible to find the words to even begin to speak to the confusion and fear and sorrow that seems to permeate so much of our collective experience right now.

And I know we all have our ways of dealing with what is happening. All of them valid. All of them necessary.

One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Steven Levine, who did so much beautiful work around death and dying, talked about the challenge of this life as the practice of “keeping your heart open in hell.”

And that is a question we are all being asked to engage with at this pivotal point in our journey to becoming more fully human.

How do we keep our hearts open in the face of violence and shootings and ages old oppression and injustice? How do we keep our hearts open in the face of so much grief and horror and pain? How do we keep our hearts open in the face of denial and unreasoning prejudice and calcified beliefs? How do we keep our hearts open to people who look different from us, who think differently from us, who believe differently from us, who make choices we could never even consider?

How do we keep our hearts open to ourselves when we see how we have been complicit in unconsciously creating pain?

How do we keep our hearts open to our own rawness and confusion and discomfort?

I am a child of the 60’s and grew up in the throes of the cultural revolution that centered around issues of civil rights and women’s liberation, peppered with slogans like ban the bomb and make love not war, while experimenting with sexual freedom backed by a running soundtrack of rousing and riotous rock and roll.

We also saw ourselves as being part of a consciousness revolution.

There were consciousness raising gatherings around the unfair treatment of women, the injustices perpetrated on black people and the horrors of war. We were determined to wake up and see things as they really were. To take the blinders of conventional reality off and find freedom in the truth.

We are here again at another level of collectively waking up to some hard and challenging truths around how we treat each other.

And waking up is hard to do.

Waking up is hard because it brings with it tremendous uncertainty and chaos. Our view of how we thought the world worked gets turned upside down and with that comes a sense of disturbing destabilization both outer and inner.

Waking up means being vulnerable and seeing and feeling things that we would rather not see and feel.

Waking up… like any healing process…. SUCKS in the beginning. But gets better as the toxins get released.

But it’s important to remember that we ARE waking up.

We are being asked to look at some deep shadows and beliefs and patterns in our collective psyche that have been wreaking havoc for way too long. And to remember that everything that is happening in the world right now is part of a process of becoming conscious of systems of oppression and injustice that can no longer be tolerated if we are going to evolve spiritually and emotionally to a more joyful, equitable and enlightened way of being human on this earth.

Waking up means growing up.

And that means claiming our capacity to tolerate challenges to our existing beliefs and the internal dissonance that creates. It means recognizing our power as adults to effect actual change in our environments. It means developing enough ego strength to contain and channel our rage and fear and overwhelm in constructive and meaningful ways. It means deeply listening and being open to learning.

It also means allowing our hearts to break open again and again and again until we are nothing but conduits of love and compassion for ourselves and our brothers and sisters on this planet.

So during these wildly turbulent times of massive awakening and change I want to encourage you to be profoundly kind to yourself. Kinder than you ever thought possible And to extend that radical kindness to everyone you meet.

Make space for all of your emotions and anxieties, holding yourself with heartfelt compassion and meeting those hard places with tremendous tenderness. Reach out to those who love and care for you to gain comfort and solace for any distress you might be experiencing.

Find as many ways as possible to share your inherent and abundant gifts and wisdom. Now, more than ever, is NOT the time to be hiding your light. We need everything you have to offer to create the world we all want to be living in.

And make time for a daily practice of being with yourself in a way that allows you to connect to spirit and soul and the core of your being. More than anything we need to keep our seat as this bucking bronco of change has its way with us.

Know that you are loved. Always. That you ARE the embodiment love. And that love is what will prevail in the end. Always.