Racial Justice / How to practice when the fires of grief are burning

Our Senior Dharma Teacher Larry Ward offers a message on how to practice with the trauma and anger of this time.

Watch Larry’s full message

My practice is to help me deal with the disappointment, the frustration, the fatigue, the anxiety, the overwhelm, the panic, and the hyper-vigilance. Notice in yourself how all the events of the most recent months of people being murdered has affected you and your nervous system. Not just your thoughts, but how your body has been responding. Have you noticed your own hyper vigilance? Have you noticed your own fatigue? Have you noticed your own sense of overwhelm, or panic, or even hopelessness? All these issues, all these feelings, all these sensations rise in us, but shame also rises in us. It’s the shame of not being valued as a human being. And it’s the shame of the experience of not being worthy of love. This is our work, this is my work, with my experience of the pain of the last 500 years.

Opportunities to Practice

The Lotus Institute Calendar

Teachings with Larry Ward, Peggy Rowe

Taking Refuge and True Beloning

There are  a series of online mindfulness sessions for and led by People of Color with US and UK-based Dharma Teachers and Order of Interbeing Members.

Honoring Juneteenth: Love and Justice in the time of Coronavirus

This session, led by Kaira Jewel Lingo and welcomes people of all racial identities to explore how the historical legacy of slavery impacts all of us and how we can take part in racial healing.

Yesterday I spent a day in silence for George Floyd. I found it healing. One of the ways I practice with my own trauma is to let it be, not try to fix it. Trauma must be respected because it is part of our precious humanness. We can experience wanting to fight or flee or just numbness. We may experience the paralysis of not knowing what to do. This is our biological system in action. It is normal and there is nothing wrong. In fact, you might say something is right if we are experiencing this fear, this anger, this numbness, this heartbreak.

I use poetry to practice resourcing myself. I dabble in writing poetry and I also enjoy the poetry of others.

I spend as much time as I can outside of the four walls of my house. I spend time with the birds, chatting with them every morning and and every evening. At sunrise I’m outside feeling the warmth of the sun and at sunset I’m outside with the moonlight. It is very important not to undersell ourselves simply as human divine. We must understand ourselves as nature divine. When we understand ourselves that way, we can touch our generativity, we can touch our resilience that is in fact beyond time and space.

Singing, music, dance, movement, all of these are ancient practices from our ancestors that many of us have forgotten. The birds remind me of that. And when we think of ancestors, please remember our greatest ancestor Mother Earth. She is is filled with energies that can help us heal. She is filled with equanimity that holds us together on this planet.

Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a poem after a bombing that happened in Vietnam. A bombing of course by Americans. He wrote,

I hold my face in my two hands. No, I am not crying. I hold my face in my two hands, to keep my loneliness warm. Two hands protecting two hands nourishing, two hands preventing my soul from leaving me in anger.

Thich Nhat Hanh

And it is very important here to understand the point of anger in Buddhism. Anger is a normal, perfect human experience that you may and I may be having in daily life, but especially at this moment. The point of this is not to lose ourselves. Not to lose our sense of oneness with ourselves, not to lose our sense of loving ourselves, not to lose ourselves in fragmentation. And it could be anger, it could be fear, it could be numbness, but the point of practice is not to lose ourselves. We don’t push away suffering. Feel every ounce of suffering through your whole body, but we don’t drown in it either. And that’s the great practice of my life.

You can read the full message including the three mantras Larry is practising with right now on The Lotus Insitute blog.

The Lotus Institute website offers a range of resources and teachings from Larry and his partner, Dharma Teacher, Peggy Rowe.

Gatha for Healing Racial, Systemic and Social Inequity

Aware of the suffering caused by racial, systemic, and social inequities, we commit ourselves, individually and as a community, to understanding the roots of these inequities, and to transforming this suffering into compassion, understanding and love in action. As a global community of practitioners, we are aware of the disproportionate racial violence and oppression committed by institutions and by individuals, whether consciously or unconsciously, against African Americans, Indigenous peoples and people of color across the United States and beyond. We know that by looking deeply as individuals and as a community, we can engage the collective wisdom and energy of the Sangha to be our foundation for Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Mindfulness, and Right Insight. These are the practices leading to nondiscrimination, non-harming, and non-self which heal ourselves and the world.

Source: ARISE Sanga website

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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