[Thomas McConkie, Mindfulness Teacher]
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Mindfulness+. I'm your host, Thomas McConkie. Thanks so much for listening today. I record today's episode with a bit of a heavy heart. I'm sure many, if not, all of you are aware of the the world events unfolding right now, the war in Ukraine the profound impact that's going to have on every being on the planet already is having. I felt that an appropriate episode today would just be a meditation in learning how to hold this in our hearts from a more practice oriented point of view. Before I get into the meditation proper, a couple things I wanna say first I'm not here to politicize this. I know the world is complex and people are complex and many perspectives exist within this space. I'm not here to promote the virtue or the superiority of any particular view other than there is pain and there is suffering in the world, essentially that. And the challenge, what do I wanna say about this challenge, especially in a digital age where information travels very quickly, we can read a story, we can read a headline, about a bombing, about civilian deaths about this and that. And we feel helpless. It's so far removed from us. What do I do? Not only that, but it's hard to look away from the news. So we keep reading more and more news and it piles up like so much undigested food in our gut. And we can sort of feel sick and glued with information. Something as intense as war, as violence and death. It can shock the system and we don't know how to process it. And one of the great practices that I'm familiar with through the Buddhist tradition though, it's not the only tradition that highlights this teaching to really be open to reality. Reality that we could say is big. It's immense. It's complex. It's also simple . To really open up to it. We have to get bigger. We have to get bigger than the small self. We have to get bigger than the personality bigger than our preferences. We have to turn to a part of ourself that's big enough to hold it. In the Buddhist tradition it's Kuan-Shi Yin and her thousand arms of compassionate loving service that serves to all the needs of the world. The Kuan Yim, Kuan-shi Yin, in Japanese is the one who hears the cries of the world. And we are Kuan-shi Yin that's part of our nature, at least in the Buddhist worldview that we have not only access to big mind and big heart that allows us to show up compassionately, but it, in a deep sense, we are this. So the invitation and the meditation is to get bigger. While I'm at it, while I'm talking about the wisdom teachings just to kind of prep the space for a meditation we read of Jesus Christ in the New Testament and he goes to Gethsemane to pray. And he sweats blood from every pore taking upon him the sins of the world of humanity, past, present, future throughout time and space. And if we were to meld the traditions a bit, which you know I want to do with my background in Buddhism and Christianity, you know, the move that Christ makes in Gethsemane we could say is not different than the move we have the opportunity to make every day of our lives. What that amounts to is, we all have our unique challenges in life, our unique suffering. There's a way in which we can meet that suffering. We can overcome our own suffering so much so that we have some surplus to take care of other people's suffering. So whether it's the Christ who inspires us or the Kuan Yin, she who cry, hears the cries of the world or any other number of gods, goddesses, archetypes and potentials in the human being. The message is the same that to really live in this world, to walk on this planet today with eyes open, mind open, heart open, we have to get big. We have to find the bigness in ourselves that can hold it all. And in that spirit I want to just offer a meditation to you all. Thank you for holding the world with me here. When we practice, it's virtually always helpful to just start by gathering awareness in the physical body, in the field of physical sensation. Take a moment to settle into a posture that supports your practice. You can fill your feet on the ground, the tingling and the souls of your feet, connection to the earth. Feel the support of the ground beneath you. That you can really relax. Trust the ground, trust the weight of the body to the ground. Relaxing, letting go. Just ride the wave of breath. You don't have to speed it up or slow it down. Just joining with the breath. Joining with nature. You're not separate from nature. You're not watching the breath. You are the breath. You are life itself. Expanding, contracting, rising, passing like the waves of the ocean. Stay with this process of settling in. There's a tendency to want to rush in meditation as we rush in life, we want to get somewhere make something happen. In meditation we get nowhere, do nothing and doing nothing, something deeper arises a wisdom, a love, an intuition and we start doing something again, but from a completely different place as a different self. Good. And the stillness you give your body, mind time to catch up, the same way, if you skip a meal or you choose to fast and not eat for a day, you give the gut time to digest burn through all that accumulated food. When we come to stillness, we metabolize experience at a more subtle level, burning it through, processing it emptying out, opening up into greater sense of spaciousness. Sense within your whole physical body, this vitality, this energy, you could call it poetically the gift of life. Feel what a gift it is. Every breath you renew it. You receive this gift of life. Every moment your life lived, your expression of gratitude for this gift and feel clearly that life does not begin and end with you. If there are other bodies in the room where you're practicing human or otherwise feel the life of these bodies, the vitality, the same life that animates them animating you not just the mammals, the two legged, the four legged maybe the reptiles, maybe the trees, the plants the flowers, the grasses, open up to a sense of all of life, life lives and expresses itself through you. Life being the singularity, the multiplicity of which is not known. In other words, we do not know how many life forms there are but we know there is life. Just feel yourself, a part of this life, the same way a drop in the ocean by knowing its own wetness its own water quality knows the entire ocean at once. By being alive, by being animated by life, you know all of life intuitively from the inside out there is no life separate from you who are also life. Shift awareness now to the heart the physical heart, feel the physical heart beating in your chest. Call to mind someone or something you love effortlessly. It takes absolutely no effort, no practice to love this person, this thing. I love my son. I love my wife. I love the mountains, the trees, the sky, the earth. I love life. Just love what you love and feel how you love it and find yourself on the inside of this love so that you're not a human being feeling love observing love. You are love itself. There's no separation between you and love. There's only love, there's only you. And yet as love, you feel yourself loving through all beings, all forms, all beings and forms searching for one another, seeking a greater union a deeper communion. Feel how love here, is love everywhere. There's no separation. There's no distance from love to love and know yourself in this moment to be awake, aware, sentient, present, whatever the nature of experience in this moment, you awareness, illuminate experience you awareness, experience, experience. Poetically we could call you the gift of light. And just as life and love, you light are a aware here and everywhere, as awareness you see out from these particular eyes and feel through this heart and sense through this body and yet every set of eyes, every heart, every body, senses in and through you awareness. In other words, there is no distance between you, awareness and any other awareness, all a unified field. Having backgrounded the small self identity to an extent opened up to your amenity your boundlessness as life, love and light. In this spirit, if you choose, you can bring into the foreground of awareness, the pain and suffering on the planet at this time, the pain of the Ukrainian people, the refugees who've lost their homes, who fear for their lives, who might never see their country again as they know it . And not just the pain of the Ukrainian people, but the pain of the Russians perhaps feeling confusion, fear, anger, hope. Notice what happens when you presence the Russians, Russians leaders, feel the ripples, the waves of influence through life love and life that spread from this particular trauma on the planet, political fallout, economic fallout, environmental ,cultural, resist the temptation to think about it or understand it or even have an opinion about it for now. Just open up your sensing, let yourself hear the cries of the world and let it deeply into your heart. Let them all deeply into your heart. You don't have to know anything right now. You don't have to understand anything. You can just feel and trust that in feeling more and feeling fully, you'll be guided to act in the way you need to in the world in the right moment. But for now, feeling more, not less perhaps you're aware of wartime images you've taken in through the media in the last several days. If that's the case, you can let the intelligence of the body, mind digest and take that in and use what's good. And let go of anything you don't need. Notice any contractions, any bracing, any tensions in the body, mind of the small self. Things you don't want to feel, things you don't want to acknowledge or hear, and yet they're here, nonetheless. As a unique self, naturally you'll be more attuned to some cries in the world than others. What cries are you most sensitive to? Trust yourself in hearing these unique cries. Trust how important it is to hear it. Bring some attention, some awareness to the cries you might be less sensitive to, maybe even cries that irritate you, bring up a response, what do you have to complain about? Notice if there's any part of you that's closed off to the pain and suffering of anyone, anything, just note that, note where you're open where you're in touch with your compassion, note where you feel more closed and stopped up. Just to get information. Remember that you are practicing from the body of the absolute life, love, light, and beyond . Infinite space to hold this world and all worlds and no worlds all at once. If things start to get piled up in the brain, you get busy thinking spinning around, feeling intense emotion. Just remember how big you are. There's room for it all. Keep opening up. Stay here for another moment. See what you can learn. See what you're able to feel and sense. Not trying to produce anything not trying to make anything happen but letting your heart be as big as it actually is. Then, what do you see with the eye of the heart? What do you feel and what do you feel called to do? Don't try to answer this question in the mind, let it come from the ground up, from the depth up just leaving a door open to the possibility that life, love and light move through you. You become the vessel that brings a greater measure of life love and light into the world. There's a unique way in which you can engage locally, globally both, either all at the same time. Stay in this open question. Not a question you answer in the mind a question lived. What moves me? How can I engage? How can I bring healing and peace to this moment, to this world? Thank you. I hope you'll stay in this question of how life love and light move you, how you're called to be in the world in this moment and response to a new situation we all find ourselves in a new world, quite literally. And so far as the world is always new moment to moment to moment. Thank you for listening today. Thank you for your willingness to do this work to hear the cries of the world, to respond to the cries of the world and as always, we'll be back next week with more practice here at Mindfulness+ . Blessings.