Practice for Peace

In February, meditation teacher and author, Sharon Salzberg sponsors a 28-Day Meditation Challenge. Everybody is invited to commit to meditating every day for the month and join the mindfulness community. As part of the challenge, I’ll be blogging throughout the month (along with other meditator/bloggers) about the experience. You can find the posts on Sharon’s site and I’ll share mine on Focus Pocus.

28-Day Meditation Challenge ~ Day 19
Thursday, February 19, 2015

28 Day Challenge aspen leaf pub dom

Mindfulness of emotions, particularly strong emotions like anger and fear, requires me to stand up to the powerful forces of my ancient, lizardy brain. My lightning fast strike-back or get-away reactions come from that old reptilian part of me which is scrambling and desperate to keep me safe.

I think of Sharon Salzberg’s favorite definition of mindfulness provided by an eleven-year-old: “It’s not hitting someone in the mouth.”

I think of Ali and Atman Smith and Andres Gonzalez at the Holistic Life Foundation who teach yoga and meditation to inner city Baltimore kids. In their TEDx Charlottesville talk, they describe kids who are able to breathe their way out of intense anger in an environment where fighting back (and even shooting back) is the norm.

I think of Seton Hall basketball player, Sterling Gibbs, who when caught up in frustration and anger in a game this week, hit Villanova player Ryan Arcidiacono in the face. I think of his subsequent Twitter messages of shame and regret.

I think of myself, a few years ago, at my wits end with our house renovation and kids leaving their stuff everywhere, heaving a scooter off the driveway…and then feeling foolish, ridiculous, ashamed.

Sitting with strong emotions rather than letting myself reflexively react is an enormous challenge. I have long-established powerful forces that pull me to make a sharp retort and hit back and throw scooters.

And while it forces me to face old, evolutionary patterns, sitting with strong emotions is quite possibly the most important practice I can do.

Without exaggeration, it is quite possibly the key to personal happiness and peace and even peace on earth.

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