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What can we do from here?

by Milissa on March 13, 2011

in Philosophy,Yoga

My niece Yuuka and twin nephews Kai & Riku

My heart goes out to the people of Japan who are suffering from the devastating physical and emotional effects of the recent earthquake and tsunami. I have a personal connection: my nephew’s family lives in the Tokyo suburbs. He is traveling abroad as a ski coach, but his wife and their three young children were in Japan at the time of the quake.

We heard from their American grandmother that—except for being unnerved by the experience—they were okay (as of Friday), and were trying to travel a short distance to be with Japanese relatives, who live in a more secure structure. My nerves have been a bit jangled, thinking of the possible obstacles they are encountering: disrupted transportation systems, shortages of water and food, the effects of aftershocks and nuclear accidents.

But, even without the personal connection, I feel the interconnectedness of all of us on the planet when there is a natural disaster. There is so much suffering and so little we feel we can do at times like these.

I’m happy to have a practice, where I can offer lovingkindness to myself (first of all) for the heavy heart and fear that is present for me. May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with grace and ease. Once fortified emotionally—so that my heart is open again and not shut down by despair—I offer the aspiration that all beings may receive the same good things I wish for myself. I can direct my lovingkindness to my family members, and to all the people unknown to me who are suffering in Japan. May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with grace and ease.

Thanks to the teaching of Sharon Salzberg, author of the recent New York Times bestseller Real Happiness, this practice rises to the surface in challenging times to help me remain connected to life and all sentient beings, instead of being shut down and isolated. In books, on audio programs, and in person she has guided me, most compassionately, in the practice of Metta or Lovingkindness. I highly recommend this practice. It’s best to begin with less challenging situations and people, offering the phrases without trying to manufacture specific feelings, but just noticing what arises.

The other thing I would like to urge all of us to do is to bring to the surface what is damaged and unresolved in our psyches, before our own personal earthquakes erupt and our inner tsunamis become hurtful dramas and devastating losses. There is no time like the present to heal the past. Dysfunctional relationships, harmful personal patterns and limiting beliefs do not help us to become more conscious, or contribute to the evolution of life on earth. These things build up beneath the surface until the pressure is so great we cannot take it anymore, and we do and say things that we regret, or we implode with the pain and lose our passion for life.

I, personally, don’t believe in quick fixes. Beware of systems that claim to offer these. They can—at the least—be expensive and ineffective, and—at worst—turn out to be cultish and psychologically damaging. Practices like yoga and meditation, which have evolved over millennia to further human evolution, are safe, rewarding and expedient tools for growth. The assistance of a conscious, compassionate psychologist or social worker can also be of great help, as can 12-step groups. Personal retreats can move people along on the road to freedom, especially when guided by an experienced teacher who can provide a safe container for inner work. Particularly efficacious, for me, is time spent in silence in nature. Classical homeopathy, I’ve also found, can be an invaluable tool in shifting patterns and opening up new possibilities physically, mentally and emotionally.

I am part of a wonderful network of healing professionals so please let me know if you’d like referrals. Also, I hope you’ll consider classes, workshops and retreats offered at Tree of Life Yoga. My intention is to serve with compassion and faith in the process, and my aspiration is that all beings—including you!—may be safe, happy, healthy and free from suffering.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Milissa March 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm

My relatives in Tokyo are safe. The kids are a little bored and my niece has been through a lot with the aftershocks, but they are coping. Thank you for your good thoughts.

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