I must admit that sometimes when I experience emotional pain, I find myself wanting to move towards the quick fix. How can I quickly dismiss the heavy emotions I feel watching world news? How can I let go of my own anger when it arises?
I’ve experienced that pain persists when I ignore it, or when I attempt a “spiritual bypass” by easily proclaiming that there is a (hidden) blessing within my experiences. What do I miss when I simply say, “Well, it is what it is,” or “It all happens for some reason.”
You see, there’s wisdom in giving room to the feelings of pain, sorrow and anger, and to bring compassion and an ever-widening heart space for whatever bubbles up.
Claudia Horwitz, a spiritual activist, has some wise words to this point: “The problem comes when we react out of our emotional response and rush toward the quick fix when we might be greatly aided by resting in our discomfort and unknowing. Our spiritual challenge is to make space for this confusion and to have faith in whatever clarity will follow” (Horwitz, 80).
Here is where I find meditation so helpful. When I quiet my mind, I create the breathing space to notice the thoughts that move through my mind. I cultivate my own awareness of what thoughts choose to linger, and others that simply move away. I contemplate a greater observation of my reality and those around me.
For Alice Walker, author and activist, “this involved, during meditation, learning to breathe in the pain I was feeling, not to attempt to avoid or flee it. It involved making my heart bigger and bigger just to be able to hold it all” (Walker, 194).
In the state of being still, I gain a greater awareness, understanding and knowledge of life as I see it. In the stillness, I have a greater ability to intentionally expand my heart-space for compassion for all the troubles in the world that I experience and that I witness. And in the stillness, I can hear more clearly the call in my heart that guides me to move in compassionate action and service to others.
If you found this post helpful or if it brings up more questions, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear what you think.
Horwitz, Claudia. Fall 2003. Spiritual Activism: From Confusion to Liberation. The Reconstructionist 68: no 1, 77-81.
Walker, Alice. “This Was Not an Area of Large Plantations: Suffering Too Insignifcant for the Majority to See.” In Dharma, Color, and Culture: New Voices in Western Buddhism, edited by Hilda Gutierrez Baldoquin. 189-200. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2004.
This post is excerpted from my homework assignment for my class “Mysticism and Social Change” offered at Starr King School for the Ministry, part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
Joselito is a spiritual life coach helping people create a purposeful, spiritual path to career and financial freedom.
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