Watching and listening to the news these days can be disheartening to say the least. The world is jarred again by a terrorist attack in Brussels, only eight months after the attack in Paris. And four months ago, in the United States we were reminded of our vulnerability in the unlikely small city of San Bernadino, California.
Then there is climate change, the Flint water crisis, racial profiling, gun violence and the unsavory nature of political debate. This morning I read about the new law in North Carolina that bars transgender individuals from using bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate. With all the chaos and upheaval in the world, it is this bill, passed readily by North Carolina legislature and signed into law by the North Carolina governor that caught my attention today. The world seems to be such a difficult place these days, why go to such lengths to make it even more difficult for people? The North Carolina law seems so intentionally unkind.
I sat down to meditate in quite a state of despair after reading this news.
Maybe I shouldn’t read the newspaper until after I meditate, but mindfulness is not about escaping from what is present. In fact, the practice of mindfulness is just the opposite. Mindfulness and the practice of moment-to-moment awareness place us smack dab in the middle of whatever is happening at the present moment.
So whether the present moment is horror, sadness, frustration or anger because of the day’s news, then that’s where we are for now.
And that’s what we need to continue to notice without judgment.
So this morning when my phone chime rang to start my meditation, I noticed my disbelief with the North Carolina legislature and by the end of my meditation, my mental state was different. I was still bothered by the North Carolina law, but the outrage had dissipated, making room for compassion for those suffering from this law. Meditation made space for compassion that had not been present at the start.
I believe if we continue to notice even the most difficultmental states, without judging, then the outcome will eventually be compassion.
If with practice we intentionally place our attention with the difficulty, then we will be less reactive and more skillful. We will find the compassion that is at the heart of us all.