I know many of us have heavy hearts right now. I personally am feeling such a tornado of emotions right now of grief, fear, anger, despondency.
I was already in a state of heaviness and existential depression that had been going on for months, maybe longer. It was a combination of climate disasters affecting friends and family near and far; way too many interactions with mean people (on the highway, in stores, on airplanes…it was really disconcerting); not engaging in adequate self-care for the depth of trauma therapy I was doing with clients; the fires in Lahaina…
Then, on October 7th, I awoke to reading the NYT after Hamas’ horrifying attack on Israel and my heart sank. I couldn’t imagine the fear and panic and activation that ensued.
I didn’t know exactly what was to follow, but I knew it was going to be more suffering. And that this was going to go on for a long time, possibly spreading beyond those borders. And I knew that retaliation – even in an expected response to a horrific act of terrorism – was going to kill and traumatize innocent people in Gaza…and Israel. That it would be impossible to only target the people directly involved.
I knew this would contribute to Anti-Islamist and Anti-Semitism in a world , literally and figuratively, on fire.
Sure – when I wonder how people could inflict such suffering on other humans, ultimately, I know that hurt people hurt people. But it’s still is so painful to witness and experience these acts of violence and aggression, even when we can understand the root causes of fear and pain.
with everything coming to a head in the world around me – and even in my life as everyday stressors increased – I was brought to my knees.
And I’m ok with that. Things like this should bring us to our knees. But my issue was I couldn’t stay on my knees – not with all the responsibilities I had.
As a result, to make it through my daily duties, my heart hardened and I armored up my body and soul. I dissociated and started to numb out.
Fortunately, this past week, when I was in Oregon to help facilitate psilocybin journeys for others, I also had the opportunity to have a journey of my own. I hadn’t partaken for a while, and this was a long-awaited opportunity for someone else to hold space for me in a way that I was desperately needing.
I set the simple but desperate intention for my heart to soften, because I could feel that with all that I was experiencing and watching, my heart was hardening. I was losing faith in humanity. Feeling pessimistic and angry instead of seeing reality in a balanced way and allowing sparks of hope (not ;).
So, I prayed. I set an intention and surrendered to it, wishing for it. Needing it.
I think we often assume that when we set an intention like this, we’re making ourselves overly vulnerable. But it’s the opposite when we combine that with discernment have more resilience to be with the present reality.
I experienced a realization that this hardening of my heart and the layers of protection from perceived physical dangers, oppressive systems, climate catastrophes, debt, geopolitical wars, aggressive humans lacking a compassionate moral compas this was exhausting to carry.
When we are resisting reality, we are expending energy 24-7, and this ineffective attempt at protection was weighing me down.
I say ineffective because that form of protection is an illusion. It doesn’t protect us at all, because the true refuge is within us and in actually opening our tender hearts instead of closing them off.
This is why we need to shed the armor that doesn’t protect us, but rather keeps us from living fully.
// To start, we can begin to be fully present with our grief and that of others. This kind of devastation should take us down. The day it doesn’t will be scary AF for all of us.
// We can also start to cultivate true protection within our hearts, and one of the most effective means for this is cultivating compassion.
When we see things through a lens of compassion, it doesn’t mean we excuse or condone human rights violations or injustice because we understand and feel compassion for how they feel and why they act that way.
Rather, compassion allows us to perceive the harshness of the world and the cruel people in it less personally.
When the world is falling apart, compassion helps us see it’s not just “our” world, but the common humanity of it – all of our worlds – and the causes and conditions that contributed to it.
// Another important step to balance the intense suffering around us is to choose to remember to look at the wholeness of life’s experiences. To see that even in the shadows and darkness and fear there is also, somewhere, friends hugging. A child asking a kid they see standing alone if they want to play or share a snack. Someone helping an elderly person get home safely. People volunteering in refugee camps…
Wildflowers, orgasms, foot rubs, the exquisite miracle of being alive.
Yes, we must see the hard things and not unsee them. We must feel the grief and anger and fear.
AND for the sake of our hearts, we need to remember, “And this too.”
Look around, and see all of it, and tend to your heart not through hardening, but through compassion for ourselves and others, combined with the wisdom to take skillful action, that we may be a place of refuge for our hearts and those of others. Take gentle care, sweet rebel.
You Will Learn:
// How my recent journey allowed me to soften my heart to humanity again
// How we can benefit from shedding the armor around our hearts
// How to cultivate true protection
// Why your community needs you to be an “island of sanity,” as Margaret Wheatley says. (And this does not mean you have to keep your shit together all the time;)
// One thing that actually protects us
// Episode 83: Vulnerability & Lovingkindness
// Episode 173: A Hidden Superpower of Trauma
// If you’re looking for ways to find deep, genuine connection with other like-minded humans, join me in the Adventure Mastermind – a small group of inclusive, self-identified womyn who get way behind the bullshit and embark on a 6-month adventure together, inward, and outward.
Early-bird registration is officially open. head on over to AdventureMastermind.com and grab your spot now… plus get in on some seriously sweet early registration bonuses like saving $2k and getting private sessions with Ana!
// Want something more self-paced with access to weekly group support and getting coached by yours truly? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out. Plus, we have entire months devoted to wisdom and compassion. Learn more at JoinFreedomSchool.com. I can’t wait to see you there!
// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist private group, and tune in every Wednesday as I go live with new inspiration and topics.