Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Dealing Wisely & Effectively with Anxiety, Upset, Tension

     After being racially-profiled, Sebene Selassie “went to the airport restroom alone. Hot tears streamed down my face while I sat in the stall waiting for the sensations to dissipate. They did not. The tension and upset only perpetuated the feeling of not belonging. Anxiety and tension persisted in me for another five minutes. But I meditated with it, meaning I simply observed and allowed all my feelings and sensations. Eventually, I was able to reconnect to the felt sense that I do belong. Everywhere. Even to the agent (who 'randomly' chose her for a pat down). I returned to belonging. … We, each of us, need our own ways back to our belonging.”
     Sebene Selassie. “You Belong: A Call for Connection.” HarperOne, 2020. - a wonderfully wise book

     Meditation during emotional crises is infinitely more effective when it is based on a deep meditation practice established under relatively peaceful conditions! As our meditation practice deepens, we tend to delve deeper into its roots.
     While meditation or contemplation can be found in all wisdom traditions, it is the core & central practice of Buddhism. The Buddha never claimed to be a god, never told people to abandon their current religion, and repeatedly advised people to be skeptical, & only follow teachings & practices, including his own, when these actually helped them ie decreased suffering & increased joy. Buddhism, at least for people in the West, is 'a science of the mind,' deeply practiced by a wide variety of people, from skeptical atheists to devout Roman Catholic nuns, monks, & Jewish rabbis.
     Many of us have powerful love-hate relationships with specific religions, religion in general, specific races, all those we judge to be "different," etc. Xenophobia, beside causing senseless suffering to those around us, powerfully blocks our own healing, maturation & wholeness, and cries out to be addressed & healed.

      “While religion at its best calls us to a community of the curious and a unity beyond dogma & tribalism; religion at its worst calls us to worship the very things that divide us and to pit people against one another in the name of one fantasy or other.”
       Rami Shapiro. “Holy Rascals. Advice for Spiritual Revolutionaries.” Sounds True, 2017.

      “Spiritual practices are methods that can begin to soften our stance toward our self, toward life in general, and to open us to what transcends the habitual. They are invitations to become intimate with the wisdom of silence and stillness.”
      Dorothy Hunt. “Ending the Search. From Spiritual Ambition to the Heart of Awareness.” Sounds True, 2018.

     “The most profound practice in Buddhism (and MBSR) is ‘resting in awareness’ — simply being here without thinking or doing anything. All of the Buddha’s teachings emerge from this. ‘That you are here right now is the ultimate fact,’ said Suzuki Roshi. This truth can sustain us even in the midst of great suffering. Even in great pain, even at the moment of death, simply resting here is liberation.
     Lewis Richmond https://learn.tricycle.org/courses/aging-as-a-spiritual-practice

     The term 'perennial philosophy' was coined by Agostino Steuco (1497-1548) and refers to a fourfold realization
          (1) there is only one Reality (call it, among other names, God, Mother, Tao, Allah, Dharmakaya, Brahman, or Great Spirit) that is the source and substance of all creation; 
          (2) that while each of us is a manifestation of this Reality, most of us identify with something much smaller, that is, our culturally conditioned individual ego; 
          (3) that this identification with the smaller self gives rise to needless anxiety, unnecessary suffering, and cross-cultural competition and violence; and 
          (4) that peace, compassion, and justice naturally replace anxiety, needless suffering, competition, and violence when we realize our true nature as a manifestation of this singular Reality. 
     The great sages and mystics of every civilization throughout human history have taught these truths in the language of their time and culture. It is the universality and timelessness of this wisdom that makes it the perfect focus for the spiritually independent seeker."

       Rami Shapiro. “Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent.” SkyLight Paths, 2013.  



  1. This piece causes us to ask what we identify with most readily. Certainly shouldn't be our ego.

  2. Surviving & nurturing ourselves & loved ones is a powerful instinct that readily arises in all of us in dangerous times. AND the "tend & befriend instinct" - our altruistic true nature - ALSO shines forth at these (and other) times that call for compassion. Somehow we are "not one, not two" - an old Zen truth that sounds like a paradox.