How You Can Live With Both Fear and Compassion

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There are a lot of people who need our love and care at the moment, such as most of the Republican party, Syrian refugees, Planned Parenthood doctors and clients, the police and both the black and white people they shoot, whether accidentally or not, to name but a few. They need our love because ever more people are maligning them.

We can do this because we are bigger than the world situation makes us believe we are: our hate, anger and fear belong to times of struggling for survival, not to 2016 (almost). We are capable of loving far more than we realize. So, how do we grow into the caring and compassionate being we know we can be?

We know how easy it sounds to be kind and loving, how great, what a cool idea. But in practice it’s rarely so simple, like when someone says or does something that is personally dismissive, derogatory or hurtful. Can kindness still flow when the ego-mind is upset?

We were talking with our friend Ram Dass at the time of the Clinton/Dole election. He told us how he had a picture of Bob Dole on his meditation altar, as: “Dole needs the most love and compassion as he is the one being so vilified.” Ram Dass was practicing true loving kindness, aka metta in Sanskrit.

Focusing on metta and growing in compassion highlights those places that are bound in ego and selfishness; it brings us up against our limitations and boundaries. Where do we meet our edge? Where is our capacity to step over the edge into greater kindness? How genuine is our ability to be altruistic in a difficult situation?

For instance, if we feel affected by someone being negative then metta shows us where such negativity triggers hidden feelings within us of unworthiness, insecurity and self-doubt, and therefore how it’s actually the very time to extend even greater compassion, to both ourselves and others.

On our radio show last week (Going Out Of Your Mind) we talked with Chuck Lief, the President of Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, about the dichotomy of wanting to open our arms with compassion to the Syrian refugees while also acknowledging the fear that we may be opening to terrorists. Compassion and fear: can we hold both in equal measure?

Chuck spoke about the “seduction of ignorance,” which explains how easily we can get drawn into the fear of the unknown and how that immediately hampers our ability to give or to love.

Metta asks that we stay caring, that we keep our heart open to the situation we are struggling with and all the accompanying fear and anger, and hold ourselves with gentle tenderness. Loving kindness is the missing link between us all. We can come together and realize we are not so different to one another, that we can meet within those differences. Let us nurture ourselves and love others, whether we agree or not.

Then change is truly possible.


5 minute Loving Kindness Meditation

Begin by breathing into the area of your heart, softening and relaxing with the in-breath, letting go of tension on the out-breath. Repeat your name or imagine an image of yourself in your heart and say silently: May I be well, may I be happy, may I be filled with loving kindness.

Then wish the beings around you be well, wish that they be happy. If you are at work you can repeat the names of co-workers and wish them joy. At night, think of your family and friends and wish them wellness and happiness: May they be well, may they be happy, may they be filled with loving kindness. 

Now hold all beings in your heart, whoever they are and wherever they may be, while you silently repeat: May all beings be well, may all beings be happy, may all beings be filled with loving kindness.

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