In the last few weeks we have witnessed some of the most disturbing events in recent history. It's a challenging time to be alive. And it's a challenging time to stay steady, positive and open-hearted when there is so much hurt happening everywhere.
When times are tough, what do you do? How do you maintain your equanimity? How do you diffuse your frustration or anger? How do you calm your worry?
What helps me?
I go to the water's edge. (Today, I am at the library writing this, sitting overlooking Boardman Lake.) I stay away from crowded, noisy places. I honor my need to be still and reflect on what is happening around me and within me. I pray.
Lately, I go to short prayers. Organic prayers. "Help us." "Help me." "Please ease the pain of all those who are suffering." "May the heaviness in our hearts be lifted." "May we not lose faith or give up hope."
Sometimes, I pick up a book that contains beautiful prayers; prayers whose language is so universal, so openhearted and filled with love for the Divine that all my emotions pale and bow to the passion expressed by the poet.
Today, I am perusing God Makes the Rivers to Flow: Sacred Literature of the World, selected by Eknath Easwaran. If your thoughts are running wild or your emotions feel difficult to control, you may want to go to prayers/meditations like these to anchor your attention. And keep your heart open.
My new book, Portable Peace: A Weekly Guidebook is an equally valuable resource for staying steady in challenging times. It offers 52 original practices, one each week, to help you stay calm-bodied, clear-minded, and open-hearted no matter what is happening in your life. Or in the world!
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Poets have the wonderful gift of knowing how to use words that open our hearts to ourselves. Have you ever considered Shel Silverstein to be a way-shower for self-compassion?
My friend, Susan, shared one of Shel's little poems with me recently. I recall reading his books to my children when they were little, especially Where the Sidewalk Ends. This particular poem confirms my belief that poets possess deep insight into the workings of the world—and into our inner workings, as well.
In the spirit of self-compassion, may we attend to the whispers from within that beg for our attention. They are voices of self-knowing, self-honoring, and self-assurance. Responding to our inner voice is one of the ways we step into self-compassion. Our wise self knows what is right and good for us. And kind!
There is a voice inside of you
Reflective writing (or journaling) is one superb way to get in touch with what's right for you. Consider joining me for a potent—and fun!—weekend of writing as a spiritual practice this June. And there's nothing like writing in community, being with others just like you who deeply desire to live as your truest self in the world.
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is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we are meant to live.
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Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.