Ten days have passed since the 2016 election and I’ve watched my reactions change into responses. Like half the country I am terribly disappointed and deeply troubled by the result. But I have to remember that the other half of the country is relieved and heartened by the result. This continues to be the lesson for me – the lesson in creating enough space within myself to contain many complicated and often conflicting emotions. Like many of you, I’ve tried to be skillful about my exposure to the media, allowing myself small doses as tolerated.
I’ve surrounded myself with friends, but have tried to steer the conversation away from hand wringing discussions. My practice is more important now than ever before. Every time I make a commitment to pay attention to quietness of the breath, I have the opportunity for nonreactive stillness (Krista Tippet On Being –Interview with Steven Batchelor, January 14, 2016). In that same interview Steven Batchelor, Buddhist teacher and author, spoke of the need to create “the conditions whereby we can embark on a way of life that is not dictated by our instinctive reactivity, our habits, our fears… but stems from an inner openness, that is unconditioned by those forces, and that allows the freedom to think differently, to act differently, to respond more fully.”
The possibility to be less reactive, more open and to respond more skillfully exists each time we pause and pay attention, even if it is only for a few moments. It seems more important than ever before to be deliberate about cultivating these skills. You can begin right now by paying attention to the breath.