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Monday, April 15, 2013

Feel what you feel. Know what you know

When something happens, like the explosions at the Boston Marathon today, it's hard to know how to react. And while this my sound counter-intuitive or self-centered, I think the best way to work with it is to be with your own reaction. (This assumes you're not in the immediate vicinity and there's no action you can take to help.)

When you allow space for your own reaction, it naturally leads to compassion. Being present with what's happening for you with kindness expands your heart, which makes room for others. 

Feel what you feel, without naming it or judging it or explaining it or justifying it. Feel it. And know what you know.

"Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It's the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what's happening, we begin to access our inner strength.

Yet it seems reasonable to want some kind of relief. If we can make the situation right or wrong, if we can pin it down that way, then we are on familiar ground....But staying with volatile energy gradually becomes more comfortable than acting it out or repressing it. This open-ended tender place is called bodhicitta. Staying with it is what heals. It allows us to let go of our self-importance. It's how the warrior learns to love."

~Pema Chödrön