Over the last week I have been listening deeply to the conversations that have been taking place, reading articles, and contemplating the current state of affairs. I have chosen to remain silent simply because I was still in the processing phase, as I spent a lot of time in deep silence mentally digesting the anxieties and circumstances of the collective.
As I decided to voice my understandings of these things, I desired more than anything to not be another voice in the crowd using shame and judgment as a tactic to correct behavior, simply because 1: it does not work and 2: it spreads more pain.
And so, here is my small contribution to the conversation. Take these as a grain of salt, or use these suggestions as a starting point in developing a deepening awareness practice or as a space of reference when difficult conversations arise:
•If you desire to help, truly help, replace the word help with service. Move out of yourself as savior and come into a space of service.
•Recognize that no matter what position you take and as deeply as you want to be selfless, it isn't possible. It never is. You will always experience everything from a selfish space.
The important part here is this: how expanded is your idea of yourself? Do you see only you as yourself or do you see others as yourself too? The great masters who lived and live lives of service are just as selfish as everyone else, the difference is they have expanded their idea of self to include everybody. And they actively choose that perception.
If you see everybody as yourself, selfish looks a whole less self serving and a whole lot more like serving the collective and being a point of love, compassion, generosity, and kindness to EVERYBODY, regardless of class, skin color, religion, beliefs or culture. You don't see an us vs them. You choose love over everything and act in a space toward yourself and others from love and understanding. Recognize that this is a journey and there are different points in the process to realizing this; you are where you are at. Go easy on yourself if you don't measure up to an ideal.
•Understand that no matter what side you are on, the true "enemy", if there is one, is ignorance. Everybody, at every stage of their personal development, does not know something and therefor cannot act for or against it, or will act in ignorance of. Enlightenment is the answer, but this too is a deeply personal journey. We can't force our understandings onto others, only extend a hand of friendship and allow that interaction to be the vehicle of learning for both parties. Love and friendship has the power to change minds and transform us. Hate, judgment, and shame only fuel the fire.
•There is a distinction between judgment and correction in service. Judgment is malicious and uses righteousness as a shield for shame and hatred. Correction in service comes from a space of love and seeks to enlighten an individual to truth.
•Every human being has their own sovereignty and you can't control what others do, but you can control your reaction. Be wise in your response, and contrary to current popular culture, learn to recognize when silence is the correct response. There is always a time for silence and a time to speak. You cannot speak for or against something if you have not truly grokked it. When you do speak, speak with purpose and clarity. Silence, stillness, and emptiness informs on the second.
•Learn to listen deeply. Deeply, deeply, deeply. When your ego comes back with its built in self defensive mechanism, speak back to it with love and continue to listen deeper to others experiences. Don't question their experiences, just listen and believe their experiences. Don't re-frame their experiences unless they ask you to (most people won't). If a person is willing to answer, ask genuine questions to deepen understanding but don't question or interrogate or demand another person's attention or time.
•Fine tune your awareness in order to deepen your ability to listen. You can do this by meditation, mindfulness, or any other exercise that gives the brain an awareness bicep. This happens when your brain begins to wander off from a point of focus and you refocus it back to: breath, the moment, mantra, prayer, purpose, or vision.
•Deepen your ability to empathize. This goes hand in hand with listening and deepening awareness. The deeper your awareness, the deeper your ability to listen, the deeper your ability to empty your ego to understand the experiences of other people.
•Surround yourself with diversity. The way people shut themselves off from compassion, understanding, and love is by folding the world in on themselves and having little contact with anything different from themselves or their beliefs and by building up their ego and self righteousness.
Contact can come in many forms: physical contact, communication, keeping company, reading, educating, feeling (via empathy, thought experiment, meditation, or what have you), observation and listening.
If you read or educate yourself from alternate sources other than the source, be certain to pay attention to biases and other things. Take to time for self care if it becomes overwhelming and don't expect to be doing this 24-7. In fact, I recommend making it as playful as possible so it does not become a source of stress and burn out. Make friends, read/educate from a space of curiosity and love, and have good times with others who are different.
•Allow yourself to release and let go. Let go of information, judgments, past experiences that are fertile ground for prejudice, and anything that is clouding up and filling up your internal environment and causing a spill over of tension and anxiety. It is often when we become too full without experiencing release that we experience release in some other ways that are less than desirable. Charlottesville, Virginia is a good example of this. When hatred and bigotry, coupled with anxiety and uncertainty, overwhelm a person, the result is often violent or angry outbursts. We have a deep need to release our emotions, patterns, and programming so that we can clear the burdens on the subconscious mind.
•Forgive and forgive often. Forgiveness is another aspect of letting go and release. Forgiveness is a healing action that relieves the burden of the past from your mind and body. Forgiveness is incredibly effective at transforming hate, prejudice, and bigotry. You can forgive on many different levels: self, personal, relational, and societal. Forgiveness especially applies to the people we deem "evil" or "enemy".
•Support causes and politics that align with the greater good for the collective and progress in terms of human rights for all, or just align with what you desire to see the world transform into. Volunteer for causes you align with: homeless shelters, women's causes, political rallies, caring for the elderly, feeding people, etc. If everyone volunteered even one 1 hour a week to improving their own communities for the entire collective, the world would see drastic transformation.
The way through this fiasco is time and diligence. Diligence to interdependence and oneness through outward action and diligence to awakening and deepening awareness of the self to inward action. There is a season for both.
In love and service,