When life gets really messy and it's hard to see beyond the clouds, where the sun may not permeate and there are more dark days than light days, what can you do to find peace?
I have developed many practices that I lean into now: the practice of yoga, Shambhala meditation (shamatha practice), walking and hiking, working in the garden and weeding, and speaking with a teacher who empowers my own voice (rather than one who tells me what to do).
Learn some meditation techniques by watching the video below.
However, I find when life is challenging or I'm experiencing a really difficult time, practices which have helped me in the past may no longer work. Whether you're dealing with the loss of a job or a loved one, facing health difficulties, or watching someone close to you struggle, you may not know how to find peace or how to help others. Sometimes, just bearing witness is the practice, not the "problem solving." Holding space for others is far from easy, but it is a deep practice of loving and kindness that can afford us our own steadiness and strength in order to remain healthy amidst the storm.
I often think about the women in the Bedford prison in Westchester, N.Y. I was asked to teach there a few times and I wonder how I can best speak to them about life, difficulties and struggles knowing that they will not be leaving the prison any time soon.
The first thing that comes to mind is to practice being in the moment, to learn how to practice self-love and compassion. Revisiting the past and continually reliving the stories in our heads will not get us out of the suffering, but instead only bring us closer to it. How do we really free ourselves?
It is very difficult to meditate when you are in the middle of the ocean and the current is rough and a big storm is about to hit. This is when I ask, how can we get through the most difficult of times with the most ease? And is that even possible?
There are two things I am learning now:
As a seeker of truth, I have always looked to see if I can maintain an open heart while in the middle of any storm. The Buddha was able to to that. He was able to sit still while be presented with every temptation and every demon, and he was able to hold his seat without being knocked off of his center.
I hold this image close when I am in the midst of a storm.
But how do you maintain an open heart in the midst of the storm? I have found that if you stay close to what is true to your heart, the confusion and the pain will begin to fall away.
I have also learned from a Buddhist perspective, if you look at emotion as it comes and goes like a guest who leaves your home when it is time, rather than attach yourself to every feeling that comes, you can see that the emotion will not stay in your emotional house forever and it too, will go. You can observe it and say goodbye to it.
The other thing I have learned is how to exceed limitations by using my creative voice.
I recently committed myself to the craft of acting. I find it fascinating to access my emotions and to allow the truth of my feelings to produce my next move. I call it "meditation in action." It allows the next move to unfold right in front of my eyes and I have realized that acting is all about being in the moment. You have a script, but each time you perform, something new arises if you are being present and truthful to what is occurring inside of you.
It is from these two new beginnings that I feel I may be able to offer some help to the women in prison.
Where there is darkness and emotional pain, where you feel there is no way out, that is when it is time to go inside and find the voice you can trust the most. It is there. This is where transformation can begin. It begins from the inner sanctum of listening even in the midst of the loudest storm.
In each moment, we can choose to engage in drama or participate with the priestess within us. What might she suggest that we say or do? I hear the priestess when I get very quiet and soft, and I feel safe enough for my heart to begin to open.
The practice can be very simple.
You pray to open your heart and see your situation from a higher perspective, as if you are observing it and giving advice to someone else. And finally, you hold on, and at the end of the darkness, there is a great wave of a new beginning -- a shedding -- and something new comes.
Whenever you find yourself in the middle of a storm, think about the truth behind the following quote.
"Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we can see ourselves as we really are." -- Arthur Golden
With Love and Blessings,
For more by Osi Mizrahi, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.