Being kind in unkind times.

I am currently feeling the contradiction of intense, difficult and uncomfortable feelings of hurt and betrayal of my trust and paradoxically the sense of immense gratitude, love and peace with my own ability to remain open in a world filled with people that do mean things or operate from a place of greed and selfishness.
If the human heart is inherently gentle and kind,then how do we cope with a world that seems so harsh and mean?
How does one remain open, warm and gentle as we move through a world that is hard, cold and sometimes very difficult. How do we move through this difficulty without ourselves becoming difficult and hard? Where do you find the strength to remain open and vulnerable so it sets the stage for the people in your life to feel comfortable to do the same?
The answer to these questions and all questions involving personal struggle, is “Intention.” Your heart is called to, and invited to begin each day with the intention to be kind, to be open, to give and receive  love, to be gentle and caring to yourself and others.
We will fail, we will slip up and fall down, that is inevitable!  But if we do not initially intend for kindness in our lives, we will never fully give or receive kindness.
It may, at times feel impossible not to match the reckless and selfish behaviors of the world with the same, or greater level of selfishness. But ‘an eye for an eye will leave everyone blind’.
The practice of Intention invites you to pose the question: Am I able to create harmlessness, even when my life is painful or someone has harmed me?
There is only one way out of a destructive cycle of harm causing harm, and that is with the intention to be kind, to forgive yourself for your decisions and to consider forgiving others in the role they played in hurting you.
We, of course need to follow our highest intentions with our highest actions. Intention is not a passive practice, but instead we must consciously choose to align our behavior and our words with our intentions.

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My journey to stillness.

In all my years of practice, I have found meditation to be the most challenging and frustrating.

 

I would find my mind wandering and then get angry with myself for letting it wander and that would then spiral into a conversation of ‘don’t be angry, just let it pass through like clouds in the sky’.  That would then turn into ‘I wonder what shape that cloud would be, maybe a dinosaur, I love dinosaurs, brontosaurus, stegosaurus, triceratops, tyrannosaurus…… Oh shit, I’m really bad at meditation, clouds, clouds….pterodactyl, how could I forget about the pterodactyl?”
Anyway. About a year ago, I gave up on my meditation practice and started a gratitude practice. For 10 minutes just after I wake up, I close my eyes and think of the things that I am grateful for. Starting with my body and health. I say a thank you to my heart for beating and my lungs for breathing. This goes on to all my organs, my blood, my bones and muscles. Then the gratitude goes out to people and animals in my life. Finally the situations, obstacles or challenges that I am currently dealing with.
Eventually…. Eventually, for a few seconds, the stillness embraces me like a warm and familiar cloak or like a big hug from behind. Then come the waves of emotion so overwhelming it makes me a little nauseous, but if I breath and let those waves keep coming, the stillness comes back and lingers for a while.
This, for me, is my meditation practice. This is my hallelujah point of knowing that a lot of my personal growth has happened in my dark times. And in knowing and experiencing the lessons learned from my most challenging times, I now welcome them in for they are valid and beautiful and complex.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
― Mary Oliver
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