Curiously, as we began, a furious rainstorm poured down all over the roof, the windows, the outside of the apartment. As we ended our meditation with a loving kindness practice, extending compassion to all beings, slowly the rain stopped, the clouds cleared away, and the sun emerged radiant.
It was a beautiful metaphor and perfect for the teachings we were considering today.
But we can learn not to get sucked into the storm, not to get sucked into the vortex of suffering.
We can recognize the storm by its very nature as impermanent.
While at the same time, being generous with ourselves, and compassionate. Every great faith tradition knows this. Sometimes it’s time to cry or laugh or any of the other the vast array of human emotions. And then, it will be time to let those emotions go, gently, and as we are ready to do so.
Through formal practice we can learn to observe the emotional weather, the mental weather, notice how it comes it goes with greater and greater ease over time.
Through formal practice we can open our hearts and be compassionate for ourselves. If we cannot be compassionate to ourselves how can we possibly be compassionate towards others?
So what to do when we are feeling distressed or pressed in the moment?
We can take three full deep breaths.
We can use the physical sensation of our breathing to reconnect for our own self, cultivating stability of heart and mind, in the present moment and connection to all living beings also breathing with us.
Let’s try this now, why don’t we?
Sit or stand wherever you are.
Take three slow deliberate breaths, allowing each one to be slightly longer and deeper than the previous one.
Let your exhalation be slower and longer and more luxurious than each inhalation before it. Feel the stretch of the lungs, the muscles of the ribs, the expansion of the belly.
And on the third, last breath, as the lungs fill completely, hold the breath for just a few moments, as long as it’s comfortable. And then slowly, slowly let the breath exit the body.
This practice allows the prefrontal cortex to be activated and it allows the amygdala, the ancient part of the brain, which only knows only two things; how to panic about not enough or feel under attack, to chill out and calm down.
Going through our day this way as well as we can, remembering to practice with the breath, can help reduce our stress by keeping us present.
Of course that practice is even further supported with a regular meditation practice which is more formal in nature.
And, going through the day this way each of us is able to leave the world a little bit better than the way we found it, a little bit more peaceful, a little bit happier. And that my friends, is no small thing.
Thank you for stopping by. Namaste.