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Stillness as a Super Power

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The organized attacks on Jewish ravers at a music festival along with other sites in the region has brought international attention to the ticking time bomb that is (and always has been) the Middle East.

Right now, my heart is with the whole mess of us right now, everywhere, as we experience the worst and (I’m certain) the private, unreported, heroic best of our humanity. We always learn about that part much later, if at all. But horror has our attention at the moment.

Opinions fly around at breakneck speed. I feel this sense of urgency to decide where I should plant my flag. Not the American one, but the Tina one. And yet, I don’t have any Jewish or Palestinian ancestors that I know of; and I’m woefully under-informed about history, culture, and the geopolitical engines influencing current events.

That said, I am a member of the human race, and a practicing Buddhist. As such, I know the power of taking a breath when things get this hot.

So I sit and breathe for a while.

What shows up in the space created by doing this is: the millions (maybe even billions) of people who had nothing to say about the decisions that gave rise to the situation we’re in right now.

Russians who weren’t consulted about whether Ukrainian maternity wards should be bombed. Russians who weren’t consulted about whether they wanted to be soldiers in the first place.

Palestinians who had no say in this most recent atrocity — because they know it will only rain retribution right back down on their own heads. More violence, back and forth, ad infinitum.

And Jews who do not want to fill the world with more violence. I came across Hannah Rose Maté’s post on Instagram. She said this:

If you find yourself getting caught up in a hot dispute — any dispute for that matter, a family feud, an acidic argument between friends, etc. — it’s a good idea to pause. It’s hard. But it can be the best thing you do. Watch what you’re thinking and believing. Pay attention to where it takes your body, your words, your life.

This isn’t New Age blather. It’s seriously a good idea. I have tried it. I’ve failed miserably. But I’ve also succeeded, and every time I’ve managed to pause, and listen, and wait, and be still — I have never once been sorry.

Of course, when we feel the need to do more, we can follow through. Donate blood, send clothes, supplies, whatever. Volunteer. But the most important thing any of us can do is to refrain from reaction in the heat of the moment. And sit still long enough for the right action to show itself.

I’m 69 this coming Saturday, so I’m old enough to know it will probably get a lot worse before it gets better. Cultivating the ability to be still and breathe in the midst of chaos can develop into a super power that may well save us in the end.

Blessings to every soul on earth. Humans. Animals. Sea creatures. Insects, serpents, blades of grass, marshes, hummingbirds, mountains, ladybugs, everything.


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