On the treadmill today I couldn’t help but notice the screen of the man beside me. We were both climbing on machines, dripping and engaged in our morning exercise and news. However…I noticed his news channel was displaying harsh “fake” headlines (my opinion). I caught myself wondering how he could watch “that” cable network and at the same time how he could easily appear just like me if our treadmill tv’s were turned off! Even so, I was upset…did he actually believe this propaganda?
My angst resonated for several hours. I wondered about the futility of fake news and propaganda…there was a sense of fear. I finally closed my office door and practiced a meditation/release which was helpful. I also remembered a story told to me by a Buddhist teacher:
“In the forest there was a young boy traveling with his father by foot. As they walked, it was the father’s intention to teach his son survival in the woods. The boy was in awe…he found the forest magnificent. Until they came upon a noise, a rattling. The boy moved close to his father. As the rattling became louder his father pointed to a large snake crossing their path. He quietly explained that unlike the snakes the boy played with near their home, this snake was different. It had a rattle, teeth and could bite. Father also said “we could provoke the snake if we react with strong feelings.” So hold my hand son, take a deep breath and we will peacefully pass by this snake. And they did.”
Although not likely to bite, there are those whom we experience as a threat in some way. We can even be triggered when we find out our neighbor is homophobic or our new boyfriend’s parents don’t “trust outsiders.” With the Impeachment proceedings underway it is clear that in order to maintain peace and productivity at the office or family unity over the holidays…we may need to cultivate some neutrality!
But how do we become neutral about situations or topics that we feel may be dangerous or unjust? We don’t. What we can do is make a Conscious or Mindful choice to set aside our strong feelings in order to continue the positive aspects of our relationship with a loved one, neighbor or colleague. Avoiding or burying feelings is very different than making a Mindful choice to set them aside. There are places and times to stand for our truth and we should consider our audience before we act. Furthermore, others can only digest our new ideas if the respect is mutual.
So…the next time the staff room is steamed with an over-heated political debate, step outside for a moment and try this:
A 5 Minute Meditation to Neutralize Strong Feelings
- Find a quiet spot (if not possible/restroom will do)
- Start with shifting focus to your breathing…
- Take a deep breath through your nose as deeply as you can and exhale through your mouth as far as your breath can go (repeat sequence several times)
- Now focus on filling your diaphragm completely with fresh, neutral, pure air as you inhale and exhale releasing all of your dense, strong, uncomfortable feelings (repeat sequence several times)
- You may now feel more relaxed…try and connect to the part of you that feels child-like or imagine you are with your own child or a young child you know…tune in to the qualities of softness, pureness, non-judgement
- After tuning into the part of you that is child-like, become aware that you are also, at the same time, a wise adult…you are informed, clear, responsible
- Breathing deeply, embrace these two qualities in yourself, combined they will help you cultivate Neutrality…the Mindful, Conscious decision to stay clear.
Just as the boy and father passed peacefully by the snake…you can stay on your path forward with neutrality when you choose to!