The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, made it extremely challenging to avoid feeling helpless. As the news bombarded us with the suffering and plight of the Japanese people, it was difficult to stomach the tragedy, both physically and emotionally. I found myself wanting to adhere to the well-worn quote “ignorance is bliss.” However, as much as I tried to curtail my T.V. diet and refrain from opening my e-mail filled with yet another devastating picture or video; as much as I avoided discussing the matter with friends and family, the feelings of helplessness haunted me. I felt hopeless and unable to do anything proactive to relieve the situation in Japan.
I was discussing my feelings with a yoga colleague and she suggested I practice Tonglen Meditation to help me process my feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Rather than dwell on painful emotions, I could send positive thoughts on an energy level to reduce the suffering in Japan. According to the ancient practice of Tonglen, dwelling on negative emotions creates more pain. I was leery since meditation is a personal challenge for me. Sitting quietly in my own mind and body while creating space in my heart is like learning to speak another language. However, I was willing to try anything to reduce the frustration and painful emotions. After doing some research, I found American Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, who proved helpful in introducing me to this ancient meditative practice. [Read more…]