It's been quite an emotional week given what's been happening in the world. Not having a TV allows me a bit of a shield in terms of being bombarded with news. I've always felt there's a difference between being informed and inundated in terms of news and current events so I tend to keep an overall understanding of current events without a detailed view. Last Sunday I found myself resisting knowing too much about Orlando. Frankly, I didn't know numbers or exactly what had happened. I only knew there was a shooting. I avoided learning more. I often question the line between avoiding what's happening in the world and not giving my attention to certain things so as not to fuel negativity. Of course choosing not to give attention to something doesn't mean that it didn't happen. It's back to the old philosophical question -- if a tree falls in the forrest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? So if I resist giving my attention to a tragedy, does that take away from its gravity or fail to honor those involved?
The Quality of Attention Matters
This time an interesting thing happened. Even though I stayed away from the news, I noticed a sadness hanging out in the background by Monday morning. Even though I avoided more details, the weight of it was with me. That evening I participated in a phone conference with a group of folks I've been meeting with regularly for months now and the whole thrust of our 90-minute call was the shooting in Orlando. Wow -- talk about getting tossed out of my resistance to focusing on what happened. There was no dwelling in negativity or hatred or judgment. Instead, we just gave attention to what was going on in a more curious way. My sadness abated and I was certainly feeling lighter by the end of the phone call. It certainly was a learning point for me. It's not so much about attention but the kind of attention. I have often avoided giving attention to things that didn't feel good or were upsetting. Attention in these cases would have meant brooding, judgment, worry, anger, frustration, sadness, an increase of upset. Monday showed me how attention doesn't have to mean those things. When done with allowance and curiosity, it can mean expansion and opening. Lesson learned.
Releasing the Stress Stored in Your Body
Where are you holding onto resistance? I always like to notice where it's coming up in my body during my yoga practice, for that's often a clue that I'm holding it somewhere else in my life. This excellent article -- How to Release the Stress Stored in Our Bodies -- focuses on the psoas muscle and offers up a quick yoga practice to release the stress you're storing in your body. Try it and notice how you feel afterwards. This week my practice has focused quite a bit on the psoas area and I noticed a big difference in my emotional state this week. I've been experiencing some stress in my life, so giving extra attention to my psoas muscle really helped. I challenge you to do the short practice everyday for a week and see if it makes a difference.
Buddhists Respond to Orlando
I know that news channels tend to slice and dice an event in many ways, from many angles to extend coverage and provide what they would call a comprehensive view (I would call it overkill and unnecessary). Rather than read yet another news story about Orlando, here's the Buddhist response. I don't have anything to add. I still find myself baffled that something like this could happen and fail to understand why peoples' sexual preferences matter. That's always been a mystery to me. I, too, am shocked and saddened and wish compassion for all.
The Yoga Day Summit
In serendipitous timing, Yoga Day is coming up on June 21. What better way to heal from hatred and violence than mindfulness and engagement? This year, the Shift Network and UPLIFT have joined forces to offer a special online event -- The Yoga Day Summit. You can register for free and registration includes over 12 hours of global video broadcast with 50+ world-renowned speakers. It's like your very own at-home personal yoga retreat! You can learn more and register here.
Peace, healing, love, and compassion -- I wish it all for you and for the world.