A friend of mine has been pretty consistently putting posts on Facebook that ask people to focus on what they are forrather than what they are against. These posts have been very helpful in reminding all of us that what we feed grows and that, when we spend our internal time fighting against something, we actually feed the very thing to which we object. From an energy perspective, it’s as though we’re actually turning up the volume on things we’d rather not hear at all.
One example that comes to mind at this time is the pervasive presence of expressions of lack of empathy for each other. Decisions by some lawmakers, treatment of neighbors by other neighbors, seeming lack of concern for one another’s well-being if we aren’t “part of the tribe” are found on every side these days. Rather than spending time expressing helpless rage at these conditions, I want to invite us to explore some alternatives.
First, there are approaches that convey the message, “What you fight, you feed.” This doesn’t mean not to take action when action is needed to change things or to intervene. Instead, it speaks to the habits of mind and self-talk we carry around with us internally every day, all day. From a Solution-Focused perspective (solution-focused therapy is a more modern branch of psychology), we are invited to look at, and to look for, what’s going right. For our practice here, I would add that we can ask ourselves to pay attention to the qualities we would like to see expressed more generously in ourselves and in the world around us.
Also, as a trauma specialist, I know that when we are activated and in the grip of anger or fear, we are usually unable to generate useful options. Instead, our brain focuses more on survival and, while survival responses represent an essential brain state to have, they aren’t particularly creative or flexible. We tend to lock onto either/or thinking, where things are “right” or they are “wrong”, without any middle ground, without access to a “both/and” perspective that might offer some unexpected and useful options.
Specifically for this practice, I invite you to notice which qualities you wish were more part of your world and of your expression as you move through the world. Here’s a short guided meditation outline that you might use to play with this:
- First, take a moment to settle in and allow yourself to find that internal home base, that internal place of landing, that is always there, even when you aren’t aware of it.
- Take a moment to feel this internal center of gravity, noticing the sensations that help you recognize it, and see if you can also notice the steadiness that is always there, even when you’ve forgotten you have it.
- Now, think of the quality you would like to see increased in your world and in yourself, i.e., more kindness, generosity, empathy—whatever calls to you this time.
- Imagine the felt-sense of this quality if you were to embody it and allow it to resonate and radiate from you.
- Imagine it as part of the quality of your radiating core presence.
- If it’s comfortable for you, imagine that this quality is also an archetype, a living aspect of our collective human consciousness, and part of our mythic reality.
- Imagine this archetype, however it appears to you this time, showering this quality down on you and on the whole world.
- Imagine yourself and everyone else absorbing this shower of whatever quality you have chosen for this time.
- Notice what happens in your body as you absorb this quality. Give yourself time to really take it in.
- Sense what it’s like when your core presence radiates this quality into your whole being and then into your world.
- Imagine now the quality of your experiences and your internal sense of being as you go through your daily activities resonating with and radiating this quality.
- These archetypes have limitless energy, so you can absorb this quality at any time, all the time.
- When you’re ready, bring yourself back and notice the resonating tone of your experience as you would the resonating tone of a bell just rung.
As with all these practices, play with this one. It’s one more opportunity to notice how powerfully your choices of where to place your attention affect the quality of your internal life, as well as your external actions. Please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise as you do this process.