In the reverberation of last week's tragedies, and in looking for what we can do, what came to mind is the notion that what you focus on expands. As I have read on Facebook: when we focus on the murderer, we empower his story. Whether we are demonizing him, or whether we blame the religious sects or the government to quell the pain of powerlessness, perhaps we are missing the antidote in the poison. Sitting with the uncomfortable feelings of hatred, pain, fear and helplessness is the last thing that most of us want to do. I have personally endured a violent crime first hand, and what I found was that I did not want to focus my hatred and anger to the assailants. I requested that those around me leave their anger outside the door. The only feeling that I was open to was the love and compassion that was pouring into me from my friends and strangers. Acquaintances that sent me love, condolences, flowers, phone calls. For the "bad" that came my way, there was "good" one hundred fold. That was the salve I needed to soothe my internal wounds. It reminds me of this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
What you focus on expands. There will always be the dark and the light. They are, in fact, one. You have the choice in each moment to choose to see the hate or the love. To choose to act from love or hate. That is one thing you have control over. Where you put your attention and focus. That is what will expand.
Without a television set, I am not assaulted with the story. When I see the internet headlines, I know what is going on. I hear it from my clients and friends, and see posts on Facebook. One post, in particular, that struck me was the bravery of a young teacher who saved her students. But what strikes me even more is the level of human compassion that I see as I walk through my days. A deep sadness, that we could somehow live in a culture where this tragedy can and did occur. Solution? I don't know. I really don't know that we can eradicate all human suffering and darkness. Yet without it, how would we know the unlimited level of compassion in our own human hearts? How would we overcome pain and learn how to wrap our arms around another who is suffering even more? How would we learn to grieve together? To feel less alone?
Here are several things you can do this week to be helpful to the victims of this tragedy by being kind in your own day-to-day life:
1. Slow down. Begin your day with 5 to 15 minutes of quiet. Place one hand on your solar plexus and one hand on your heart. Breathe into the sensation in your physical body and allow your feelings to rise. Sit and breathe. Be with your feelings, whatever they are. This slowing down will allow you to honor yourself and will help to remind you to stay present throughout your day.
2. Be kind. Just for this week, allow the person trying to get into your lane to go first when driving. Be patient when standing in lines. Look your barista in the eye and say hello to him/her when ordering your morning java.
3. Give hugs. When you greet your friends, do so with a hearty hug. Connect hearts and place your hand in the center of their back. Take in their energy.
4. Say yes. Things are happening as they should. Reframe your week simply by knowing that all is well in the world. So when you encounter a seemingly difficult situation, accept it as correct. Whatever comes your way, be in acceptance, shift gears, and assume that the Universe is guiding you to where you need to be.