I felt a heart break today

Knowing the Chauvin verdict might come in, I checked the news off and on so I heard the verdict was coming down in plenty of time to tune in. As the judge pronounced each guilty verdict my arms shot in the air and I whooped. And then I zeroed in on watching Derek Chauvin’s reaction, noting he was doing his best not to show one.

As I watched, arms still in the air, I suddenly realized my heart was feeling pulled, sad, broken. My ability to tap into others’ feelings has always existed but been pretty random and rare though it’s been growing more common recently. After a minute I understood I was literally feeling his heart break at the future he faces as if my own were breaking.

While still feeling jubilant at the outcome, a feeling of a larger picture swept over. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel he deserved a guilty verdict. But I also felt a profound sadness for how hatred and anger, left unexamined and festering, destroyed so many lives. And then for how the pandemic of hatefulness in our country (and in right wing movements worldwide) is destroying lives.

Feeling his heartbreak at the loss of life as he knew it, I understood how thoroughly hatefulness ultimately destroys the hater too, one way or another. Heartache for everyone who loved George Floyd and then for the one who caused it.

Which led to examining the enormous anger that’s been growing over the last 5 years in me. Anger that leads to lack of empathy for the percent of GQP who don’t want vaccines — I shrug and think, “self-inflicted voter suppression” without an ounce of care for those who will die or live with dire health issues. Anger that leads me to wish Repugs who’ve been spouting racist crap and cops who show no care for human life, etc. could all be lined up and shot.

I know better and I fight it and bring myself back to reminders of the fear that fuels such hatefulness and search for compassion in my heart. Again and again returning to lovingkindness and then being snared by the anger again. The part of me that can tap into a connection with someone else’s feeling can also be ensnared by collective anger. And there’s no distinguishing between righteous leftist anger vs right wing anger. In the web of all life, it’s just anger. And it impacts all of us.

I’m also frightened by the many Democrats I encounter in social media who are snotty, hateful, ready to pounce on any nuance of disagreement with exactly their point of view. I’ve made a few Twitter comments that have led to literally hundreds of people — all allegedly Democrats — spewing at me. Fortunately I don’t particularly care personally about what a lot of strangers with anger issues think about me, but I do care that these are the people who like to claim they care about humanity.

So much anger spewing everywhere. So many people on both sides who think there’s something righteous or right about unloading on people who disagree. So many people who may destroy themselves or people near them with their unresolved anger and hate issues. So many who don’t understand that vitriol and compassion really cannot coexist.

When are we going be ready to make the transformations necessary to stop having so many broken hearts?

Teetering: “Righteous Anger” and Compassion

As mentioned off and on for a while, I’m struggling with anger over so man things that are going on. Periodically I realize I’m back screaming at certain “leaders” every time their faces appear, grinding my teeth as I scan social media and follow links to read more, and, a couple of weeks ago when a station I was watching moved from old shows to airing some kind of evangelical church service, I found myself angrily making up words to the hymn they started with and singing: “My Jesus hates you, and we kill, kill, kill…”

Being self-aware enough to see this is DEFINITELY in conflict with my beliefs about holding a space of love, peace and compassion, I keep circling back to questioning the source of the anger and how to shift it. And one puzzle I constantly come back to, is how to be “righteously” angry and yet hold that space.

Many spiritual leaders and writers feel there is such a thing as righteous anger and that, when great wrongs are being committed, we must all feel that anger and do something toward righting the wrong. None seem to address how such anger impacts the energy of the web nor do they seem to offer much advice about how to feel that angry and still find the love and compassion with which to “do something” but do it with nonviolence.

I have long been unconvinced that “righteous” anger is any different, energetically speaking, than any other. It worries me when I react with anger because I can feel how it takes hold and shoves the loving, peaceful aspect of me out of function. And since I believe the energy space each of us holds adds up to the totality of energy that is All That Is, every time one of us is angry instead of loving, our energetic contribution to the web is the energy of anger.

Most of the spiritual leaders who say it’s fine to be outraged over injustice, etc. but to be nonviolent in what you do about it, seem remarkably silent on the question of how to move from the angry place of the one to the compassionate place of the other. I’d guess the majority of people aren’t well equipped to transition on a dime from place to the other.

I see 3 main arenas we as individuals can work on to help us in recognizing the wrongs that need to be righted but stay compassionate and develop non violent solutions:

  1. Ferreting out repressed anger (or other deeply held negative emotions). I’ve noted the above video before and I really like how deeply it works on transforming anger but there are many other methods, including “process” work like Fischer-Hoffman, the Diamond Heart approach, transpersonal psychology, etc. Just find the mode that works for you.
  2. Being able to stay present in the moment is really important. If you can’t even stay conscious enough to realize anger has grabbed you and it’s time to shift away, how you can move into non violent responses? I include more than just sitting vipassana; chanting (sung or spoken), movement practices like yoga or qi gong, and some guided meditations like yoga nidra are all ways that people of different temperaments can tune into the present.
  3. Long ago I read some spiritual leader saying the key to coping with emotions and events coming at you is to allow them to pass through you without affecting.  One of many teachings that’s easier said than done. I think it takes a lot of practice and dedication to reach a place where you don’t even have to think about staying in the space of lovingkindness and compassion and calm.

There are many ways to work on holding that space.  One factor is how you “feed” yourself in your life.  Are you doing practices like metta or singing chats or meditating (whatever form) regularly? Are you reading books like Tara Brach’s 

Unconditional Compassion

Ever since the election, it’s seemed to me that the liberal left (and I’m a member) has been patting themselves on the back and feeling self-righteous because they’re the people of compassion and caring.  And the other side are evildoers and deserving of hatred.  It bothers me, because my understanding of true compassion is that it’s unconditional.

I’m a work in progress when it comes to living with compassion; not claiming to be operating from the ideal place.  But I’ve contemplated it, done practices to develop it within and read a lot of the thoughts and wisdom of people who have mastered it better than I and I think I understand the basic idea that true compassion doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t see an “other”.

Hanging around calling people idiots or stupid or worse demonstrates that you are just as hateful as they are  It sure doesn’t argue for your great sense of compassion.

When I look at some of the hatefulness and dip into my heart and sense of compassion, I see people who are totally frightened.  I don’t know why or have the answers that will end their fears, but I know that understanding the fear and figuring out how to address it is more likely to shift their terrified and hateful responses to the world than calling them stupid.

To me the biggest failure of democrats and the left has been the absence of using their hearts to explore how to address the fears of those who become self-protective and lash out at those they wrongfully blame for their troubles.

But while political types are working on their idea of change, I keep clearing every issue I find within myself.  I keep meditating and chanting and working to raise my vibration.  Because in the end the one significant contribution each of us can make to the collective energy that is All of Us as One is to raise our own energy.

Every time I shout at the television or shake my fist at one of the candidates, it means I still have anger to clear.  It means I still have more chanting to do.

Every time we lift ourselves another notch in vibration, we lift the world a little bit.  If a million of us raise our energy, we change the world.  Be the peace.  Live with compassion that knows no other nor any conditions, but is given freely to all.

Book News

Three pieces of news on books to report:  new updates on two of mine and a free e-book on compassion.

I decided a few weeks ago that a revision and update was overdue for my little relationship booklet, Relating Heart to Heart.  It has some new material, including a little suggested reading list, and a new price point of $.99!

Exciting news from Barbara Franken at Me, My Magnificent Self, where she has completed a compilation of guest posts on compassion from this year.  The free e-book is called What is Compassion.  Click on the book photo below to go to the download page.

freeebook-Compassion

 

Finally, for anyone who knows a Wizard101 player, I did a massive edit, revision and update to my guide book to Wizard101 earlier this year.   It’s the most comprehensive guide to the game for players at levels 1-50 available and at only $2.99 on Kindle, it’s a bargain.  Click on photo to be taken to the Amazon page.

 

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J2P Monday: Compassion, resistance and supporting each other

It’s been a long time since I put up a #Journey2Peace Monday post and I’ve been feeling it’s time for one lately.  Nearly seven months into the so-called Presidency of #45, I’m still struggling sometimes to find peace.  But I’m finding and holding a space of peace more and more.

Along with it I carry a sense of optimism and a growing feeling that a better world is arising from what seems like chaos now.  I’ll be doing some more blogs with ho’oponopono/healing suggestions soon.  In the meantime I have a couple of ideas and I’m looking for input.

A while back I got one of the strongest messages from spirit I’ve had in a long time. A message that my purpose right now is not so much teaching what I know to people who are newer to the path, but to hold a space and help those who share my views on compassionate activism and lovingkindness, etc.  I know a lot of like-minded people–both through this blog and among many long-time friends–who are struggling as well but truly desire to live a life of compassion and lovingkindness.

After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided to float two ideas.  One is to create a weekly or monthly blog post on topics that support living a life of peace and compassion and/or that point to positive things happening in the world.  This post would also open the floor for commentary from anyone seeking support in the journey to peace and from anyone with words of wisdom to share; it could also be a day when any of you can write a post on the topic and link.

I also have an idea floating around about starting a private Facebook group/page wherein we can all speak safely about whatever our doubts, worries, fears and tensions are and also share our optimism, practices that help, etc.  I was getting ready to do something like it for a small group of healers here in the Bluegrass to which I belong but I’ve been feeling it should expand to include this blogging community.

Barbara Franken, of Me, My Magnificent Self, has started an open Facebook group called New Earth Community that’s about support in this time of change:  a “sacred, quiet and safe space in which to birth the new YOU and new life you wish to experience on New Earth.”  My idea definitely overlaps, but I more specifically am aiming for a safe space in which we can support one another in holding our spiritual ideals of compassion and lovingkindness in the face of political turmoil.  So you can join both and get lots of support on many endeavors!!!

There are a bunch of folks who have been liking and commenting on my posts for a long time and whose blogs I’ve been reading and commenting upon as well — and many of you follow one another.  You know who you are.  Once I get the page together, anyone from this blogging group who asks will get an invitation to the private group (those of you with whom I’m already connected on Facebook will receive an invitation there– probably whether you ask or not 🙂 ).  Anyone who’s newer around here can ask to join after you’ve done some commenting and by leaving your blog’s URL.

Right now, what I’m interested in is commentary from this community about

  1. the regular supportive post idea
  2. the Facebook group idea
  3. what you could use or would like to see in terms of support in these times

Thanks in advance everybody!

PS.  Since I’m not in love with figuring out how to do stuff like the FB page, I might be slow.   Foot dragging… Procrastinating…

Check out my guest post on Me My Magnificent Self

Barbara Franken has asked for guest posts about compassion on her blog, Me My Magnificent Self, and today my post is featured.  I’m so pleased — hope you check it out.  And look at the bottom of the post for info on how to participate with your own post on compassion:

The Magnificent Leigh Gaitskill… Author, Blogger and Peace wayshower who teaches us how essential it is to move in peace. Welcome dear Leigh to my NEW Guest Blogger/Author Feature, it is truly my pleasure to shine light on YOU now. IAM honoured to have you amongst my Divine friends here on WordPress, to read your…

via Guest Blogger/Author Feature… The Magnificent Leigh Gaitskill — Me, My Magnificent Self

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Tips for Peaceful Activism

Although time has calmed many people down a notch from the hysteria post election, every day I see enough on social media to realize too many are still hyped up and being reactive instead of proactive.  I’ve already produced a little series of posts with suggestions about compassionate activism but I thought I’d produce a pithier version with some added thoughts and suggestions.

Stay in the Moment

Quit spinning out catastrophic ideas into the future based on info you see today.  Many people are making dire pronouncements on social media — often based on info from seriously shaky sources when nothing in the unconfirmed information actually suggests the dire outcome necessarily follows.

Take a breath.  Then another.  Bring yourself into the moment.  Ask yourself:  Is this happening now?  If the government isn’t falling, if democracy hasn’t ended, if civil rights haven’t been abolished in this moment, calm down and remind yourself of what is true here and now.  BE IN THE MOMENT!

Take Back the Narrative

When you keep passing on disturbing pieces of information about what the opposition is saying and doing, you let them frame the narrative.  Leaders have been doing it for years.

I first noticed back in the 80’s when Ronald Reagan dubbed the troops fighting for Somoza’s fallen government in Nicaragua “Freedom Fighters”, implying they were the forces for democracy instead of actually the henchmen of a toppled dictatorial regime who were trying to overthrow the social democratic Sandinista government.  And the media went with it.  The New York Times and the other major dailies, the major broadcasting stations — all of them participated in his re-frame, helping to convince people we should be fighting to restore the dictatorship (since Somoza was dead I’ve never been clear who would have run it).

Creating phrases or re-naming things using the words that suit the agenda is a frequent tactic of leaders.  #45 is a salesman.  A master of creating a narrative to sell the hapless on whatever he wants them to believe.

Right now one of his big sells is that he’s just “deregulating”.  In a country full of independent spirits, it’s a word that always implies getting rid of big government.  What it really means is he wants to remove every protection that keeps middle class and lower class Americans safe from fraud, environmental illnesses, discrimination etc. by getting rid of regulations that control corporations.  Not by a long-shot the only arena in which he’s using loaded phrases to paint a picture he wants.

Every time you pass along articles repeating the Republican administration’s phrases, you allow them to frame the narrative.  Take it back.  Write a post that re-frames what was said to reflect what is really happening and share that.

Give Your Energy to the Outcome You Want–Shift the Energy

Quit using his name.  Quit using the name of the Machiavellian senator from Kentucky.  Every time you mention them you send energy to them, building them up and leaving the other people and possibilities for your side weaker.  #45 or He Who Shall Not Be Named 1 and 2 will do.  #45 wants to be constantly in the “news” and you’re giving him what he wants.

Right now we have less than two years to identify good candidates, create  grass roots campaigns to sidestep the ineffectiveness of the Democratic party (here in KY the campaigns have been so badly run in recent years I’ve been puzzled as to who the Democratic candidate even was in many races;  possibly GOP funded infiltrators are running the party here? 🙂 ) and send our energy toward that.

Or if you want to stand with the folks at Standing Rock, send your thoughts and energy there.  If you want to help save wildlife, decide what would help and post about that.  If you want to support immigrants and refugees, do something about that and post about it.  Think up a program and enlist support.

Currently I’m doing some research about how we could start crowd funding outside the U.S. to re-fund any place or any thing #45 de-funds.  Others are creating support groups, attending protests, etc.   Think outside the box.  If you don’t have your own program/idea, help someone who does.

Let the energy and excitement build around the outcomes you want to see and please, please STOP  keeping the energy flowing to them by putting all your attention there.

Quit Being Mean

I’ll admit I snicker at some of the stuff going around, but at the same time I know making fun of people is just mean. I am no better than they are if I engage in the same behaviors to which I take exception in them.

Being nonviolent means keeping violence out of your words and thoughts as well as avoiding fists and weapons.  See more about nonviolence here.

What Aspects of Them are in You?

If you really can’t let go, and keep obsessing, it’s time to start looking within.  Nothing about someone else’s behavior can have so much impact on you unless you are reacting to something in you that you’re seeing as being “out there”.

Whatever you see in the world reflects  you.  If you’re seeing disturbing stuff and feeling upset all the time over it, it’s time to take responsibility for what needs to be healed in you.  I’ve written lots of posts about healing what’s in you, and there’s one specifically about #45.

Move Your Being into Peace and Compassion

None of us have any business being snotty about lack of peace and compassion in others if we aren’t embodying love, peace and compassion ourselves.  I’m not there.  If you aren’t either, work on that.  We’re all one, part of the same whole.  Every time one of us raises consciousness everyone is lifted.

I’ve written about doing some chanting for opening my heart and filling with love ever since the election.  I’ve also been taking a class involving lovely meditations or putting love out into the world, called a Vow to Love.  All the materials are on line so you can still sign up.

If none of that appeals, sit vipassana, do guided meditations for peace (I think there are thousands on YouTube), heal your inner wounds.  Doesn’t matter which path you choose, just do your part to  be the peace.  Be the change you want to see.

The more loving and compassionate you become, the more nonviolent and peaceful you will be in your activism.  The easier it will be to choose the most loving path of resistance.

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J2P Monday: Compassion, Politics… Peace

United States flag with peace sign canton

United States flag with peace sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a little early with Tuesday’s NaBloPoMo post but I wanted to make it a J2P Monday post and to get it up ahead of the U.S. elections.  In the run-up to the election I posted a challenge a couple of times, asking people to delve within and heal in themselves everything that upset them about these elections.

Now I want to just raise some thoughts about compassion and this process.  Because what’s more disturbing to me than the vitriol in the candidates is the apparent lack of compassion and empathy among ordinary people ranged on both sides.

While I totally disagree with Trump, I understand that many of his supporters feel they’ve been left behind, excluded from the economy, disenfranchised…  I don’t agree with many of their conclusions about how these problems have arisen or what the answers are.  But I’ve been around long enough to know that the answers I stand by could just as easily be disproved next year; in other words, I am not God and I feel there’s a great deal of hubris in assuming my assessments are correct and those who disagree are stupid.

And whether I agree or not, I feel for their sense of disenfranchisement.  I know it feels bad to feel left out and disregarded.  I feel compassion for their pain.  I hear a comment that makes me mad and drift away from my neutral space and compassion; it’s work to keep moving back there.  For me that’s just part of the path I’m walking.

I know it’s not everyone’s path, but it concerns me that so few people seem to have any place in their hearts for anyone who fails to share their views.  In the streams on social media and in the news I don’t get the sense that supporters of either candidate have an iota of empathy or fellow feeling about the people on the other side.

This growing inability to empathize with the feelings of people whose views are different is one of the biggest obstacles I can see to peace.  If we can’t learn to feel compassion for people whose opinions don’t reflect our own how can we ever expect to reach a place of peace on earth?

It starts with me.  It starts with you.  When you open your heart enough to feel the pain of “the other” you take a first step.  When you heal within yourself whatever keeps you from perceiving with the eyes of love and compassion, that’s a big step.  Are you willing to step toward peace?