In challenging situations, we can lose our ground. Not knowing what to rely on, we are liable to reactivity, either withdrawing or lashing out.
When we doubt our ability to meet challenges, to make a difference, we end up feeling overwhelmed. Faced with pressure and pain we might collapse into the paralyzing state of fear. Overpowered, our only option is to withdraw inward, numbing the sadness and the confusion as best as we can.
Or we fall prey to the burning fires of hate. After a hibernation in helplessness, the sense of empowerment and boiling energy which comes with anger might feel like a relief. Yet it lacks the clarity to address suffering with care and wisdom. Its potent energy needs to discharge, to construct an enemy, and insists on blame, punishment and payback.
Fear and anger are very human reactions to what we perceive as injustice or threat. They are well-trodden paths in most of our minds. And while there is no need to condemn us for experiencing them, our hearts might yearn for an alternative response.
If we wish to heal our wounds and the wounds of others, if we want to stand tall and with dignity on this earth, we are invited to explore a path less traveled. The path of integrity.
We can learn to speak with fierce compassion, not shying away from addressing the suffering and the harm. We develop the capacity to be with the quivering heart and stay steady even in times of confusion and uncertainty. The path of integrity is a path towards wholeness. It safeguards our hearts in a challenging world. It allows us to be of service without sacrificing our wish for peace of mind.
Embodying our Inspiration – A Suggestion for Daily Practice
Inspirations like compassion, calm, clarity, wisdom, care, balance, equanimity, kindness, appreciation or joy can feel aloof. In the nitty-gritty of our daily life, they seem to be as close as the stars in the night sky. While we acknowledge their beauty and importance, they remain abstract concepts which have little to do with our ordinary experience.
Or coming from a place of negativity and critique, they turn against us, used by a harsh inner voice as milestones of perfectionism, we fall short of.
When we transform them from ideals into responses, they start to unfold their full potential. Rather than seeing these qualities as abstract constructs of the mind, we can experiment with ways to embody them in this very moment.
Choose one of the above qualities which resonates with you, or any other inspirational word which has an appeal to you. Imagine it to serve you as a compass for the day.
While sitting, walking, standing or lying down, ask yourself how you can express this quality through your posture and movements. How does compassionate movement feel like? How is it to stand with equanimity or in calm presence?
When interacting with others, bring the quality to your way of listening and speaking. How would it be to listen and speak with kindness? What words do you choose if clarity serves you as an inspiration?
When making a decision remember your inspiration. In what ways can it serve as a guideline?
Also, do notice any moments of pressure or perfectionism this practice might evoke. What would be a compassionate, a wise, or a balanced way to respond to this notion?
At the end of the day, reflect on the effect this practice had. You might want to explore the same quality another day or chose a different one. What qualities would you like to explore deeper? What questions and insights do arise from such an embodied practice of beneficial qualities?
Links for further practices