being human in troubled times

A mentor, friend, and role model of mine wrote the article below for Acumen. I met Caroline through the Search Inside Yourself teacher training program. She’s a badass executive, a mom, and somehow finds the mental space to dive into issues like being human in the age of bots. So yes, anything she writes makes it to the top of my weekly reading list.

Read Hatching Our Phoenix | Six mindfulness powers to rise in our troubled times

Reflecting on the shooting in Parkland leaves me cycling through sadness, outrage, and exhaustion. After enough cycles, I start to disengage – trying not to think about what’s happening around me and distract myself with positive experiences. You don’t have to say it – I know that’s not helpful. I also think I’m not the only one who experiences this.

Dr. Tania Singer and Matthieu Ricard would call this empathetic distress. When you’re feeling exactly what someone else is feeling, you get all heaviness and exhaustion that comes with carrying that burden.

As Caroline points out, “Mindfulness teaches us that these are unhelpful states of mind. Positive transformation rarely happens from a place of constriction, defensiveness, or rage.” So, what’s the other option?

See Point #1: The Power of Belief.

“While we may be enraged, disheartened, or disillusioned by the current events, these times call for us to generate the power of belief. To tune inwards and reconnect the meaning of our work, with the dent we intend to make in the universe. To do the profound work of visioning. To rekindle the feelings of possibility and to paint a vibrant picture of our potential future. Not to numb, complain, argue, debate, divide or deny. But to lean into our challenges, offer leadership, real hope, real problem identification and solutions.”

To rekindle the feelings of possibility.

So that’s my practice for the week. Each day, I will make an attempt to reconnect with things that give me a sense of possibility. Here’s a short list of my ideas:

  1. Reflect on leaps of progress in human history. Right now, I’m especially inspired by medical advancements in the last 10 years.
  2. Call a family member or friend and listen (read: not talk). Everyone has a story of turning challenge into possibility, big or small.
  3. Journal on the opportunities I see in my life. Envision the most ideal, far-out, successful outcome of my goals. Ask if there’s a real first step I can take to get back on the path.
  4. Reread Hatching Our Phoenix for the 6th time. Take comfort in the fact that these conversations are happening and this work is being done by people like Caroline.