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  • Writer's pictureCindy

In times of world distress, I often turn to the metta meditation. This practice can bring a sense of connection and even transmute some feelings of despair or helplessness into a sense of empowerment and action. It is quick, can be repeated often, and you can adapt it to words that resonate best for you.

Say each of these lines out loud or to yourself:

  • May I be safe, happy, healthy, and free.

  • May [a person you know who is directly impacted by attacks in Ukraine - if you don't know someone personally, choose someone empathetically impacted by the crisis] be safe, happy, healthy, and free.

  • May [a person or group you don't know personally but saw/read about in the news or can imagine for whom you feel empathy - children, families, fighters, first responders, hospital workers, refugees, transportation workers, international aid workers, reporters, Russian protestors, many others. Choose one group and concentrate on them, come back and repeat for another group later.] be safe, happy, healthy, and free.

  • May [a person or group who you see as the transgressors -- Russian political leaders causing the pain. This is the difficult one, so try to think of it as holding up your strong light to the shadows. It also reminds you that you can reach into your own ability to "be the change you want to see in the world" even in the midst of your own anger, grief, outrage, and pain.] be safe, happy, healthy, and free.

  • May all beings on Earth be safe, happy, healthy, and free.

Spend a few moments sitting in quiet between each group and at the end. It is a powerful meditation I encourage you to come back to often.

If you would like to help the Ukrainian people further, there are many hard-working organizations you can support. I recommend this one: Razom.

We celebrate the lives of two great leaders, Thich Nhat Hahn and Desmond Tutu, who each walked a path grounded in spirituality and dedicated themselves to human rights and peace.

We can reflect upon their teachings and wisdom. Thich Nhat Hahn, beloved Buddhist monk and peace activist, noted this meditation in his book, Peace is Every Step.

Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment!

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, leader for justice in South Africa, centered his life work on human rights and offering ways for countries to rebuild peacefully after civil conflicts and oppression. This quote captured my mind, from The Book of Joy (a conversation with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu by Douglas Abrams):

Joy is much bigger than happiness. While happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstance, joy is not.

I see these contemplative practices in relation to each other. When we pause to reflect upon the breath and the present moment, we can access our inner joy. Joy comes from a place within us.

It can seem difficult to access wonder and joy in the midst of stress, fear, disappointment, and anger, which float heavy in the air of our confusing world and as we are part of the world, inside us too. But the joy and wonder does not go away. It is still inside you. Maybe sometimes it takes one breath to remember, one short meditation. Other times it takes a lot more practice than one breath or one moment! But this is why we practice meditation, yoga, breath work -- each time we practice, we sit closer to the joy and wonderment, and it becomes more frequently within reach. Practices build our resilience, brick by brick.

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