The permission to be how we are

Our hearts at Karuna join with all those holding the hearts of those directly impacted by the recent violence in Buffalo – and all those attempting to process the collective suffering that continues to ripple from these repeated acts of hate and aggression.

We are all being asked to carry a lot in and on our hearts right now; so much grief and loss, so much change, so much uncertainty. In the wake of yet another senseless, hateful and horrific act of violence this past weekend in Buffalo, we may feel an even more acute sense of sadness and even hopelessness. It is in these moments that our resilience becomes most tested and our access to tools and practices to work with our pain the most necessary.

Eastern spiritual traditions teach a base reality of the impermanence of all things – both tangible and also of our mental and emotional states. It is vital for our well-being that we allow our pain to arise when it does. And to honor and feel it. It is also critical that we recognize and allow for the natural ebb and flow of our experience; to neither avoid nor grasp and cling. Neither our joy nor our pain is forever, and surrendering to this reality removes a layer of unnecessary suffering we can often create that we heap atop whatever challenging circumstance we may find ourselves in. And we can let ourselves be with what is in the current moment.

An exercise you can experiment with

I’ve found the following simple breath awareness meditation to be a helpful practice for cultivating a less controlling relationship with ourselves: Find a comfortable seat, whatever that means for your body. If it feels okay for you to do so, you might allow your eyes to rest closed, but there is no need to force this if it does not feel safe for you to do so. Then simply allow your awareness to find your breath. Connect with sensation of the inhale and the exhale, again, however feels accessible to you. Once you notice a cue of your inhale, say silently to yourself “inhaling”. And then, once you notice a cue  of your exhale, say silently to yourself, “exhale”. The key is to let the natural action of your breathing be the guide, as opposed to your words or thoughts controlling/causing the breath. This may seem like such a basic practice, but it can be a powerful teacher and reminder of the essential non-static (impermanent) nature of our human experience – as well as our ability to trust in and follow it. 

From this place, we can develop greater trust in our ability to allow our emotions to arise, allow ourselves to acknowledge and be with them, and allow them to recede as they naturally will.

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