Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, May 6, 2021. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
I recently watched a touching documentary that detailed the short life of Anne Frank. In all honesty, I didn’t know much about the thoughtful young lady who lost her life in a concentration camp at the age of 16. Anne’s insight and message of love and forgiveness sparked a memory of something that I studied in graduate school. I remembered that the German school system developed mandatory classes dedicated to educating children about the truth of the Holocaust. In addition to classroom studies, students as young as 9 and 10 years old are taken on field trips to concentration camps. These lessons are developed with the hope that the attempted genocide will never again be repeated.
I can’t help but to wonder as to why my public education on the Native American extermination and cultural assimilation was limited to romanticized visions of peace pipes, buffalo hunts, and innocent Thanksgiving gatherings. Why wasn’t I taught about the 10 million slaughtered Native lives? Why wasn’t I taught the truth about slavery? Why wasn’t I taught the truth about the subjugation of women? My intuition suggests that it’s too uncomfortable to face our stained past. A past that continues to influence our behavior.
If there is anything that will ensure the continuation of unhealthy, unkind, and cruel behavior, it is the unwillingness or flat-out refusal to explore the causes and conditions of that behavior and to acknowledge the truth of the past. While I can’t make our society as a whole delve into our tarnished history, with a mindfulness practice, I can do something about my own.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, one thing that fed my addiction more than anything else was my remorse for my unhealthy and unskillful behavior. Until I found some compassionate guidance (and guidance is of utmost importance!), I was unable to objectively investigate why I acted the way I did. It wasn’t until I could explore my past – and accept it – that I was given the opportunity to be freed from the behavior that I was so ashamed of.
As individuals, and I would suggest as a species, we must willing to lean into the pain of our past. This does not come naturally. Our tendency is to push it away, ignore it, numb it, or deny it. Nevertheless, hiding from it ensures and strengthens its grip. Trauma feeds on isolation and darkness. Exposing our humanness to the light liberates us from the cyclical habits of which we are so mortified.
A comprehensive Mindfulness practice can help you to learn to lean into your discomfort making it possible for you to experience the freedom which is found within the pain. I can only hope that we not only do this as individuals, but also as a Nation.
For some, it may seem overwhelming, or even daunting, to dive into the pains of the past. That’s ok, take your time. When you’re ready, go to it with a trained and compassionate guide. In the meantime, you can start with what is happening today.
One of the most transformative Mindfulness practices is setting an intention, checking in throughout the day, and finishing up the day with an objective review of how you did. Your intention can something as simple as not screaming while you’re stuck in traffic, or even smiling more. Just make sure that it’s something appropriate for the day. If you’re planning on being home all day, setting an intention to not get angry while driving won’t provide you with anything useful to reflect on.
With your meaningful objective in mind, check in a few times throughout the day. It’s important to do this in writing for the simple fact that we tend to believe everything we think. For instance, your mind may tell you that you’re having a bad day whereas in reality you only had a bad 5 minutes. This comes out in the writing process. Check in and briefly list what you are doing well in regard to your intention and concisely note what you can improve on. This isn’t meant to point out all your character flaws. Rather it is designed to help you to take a more accurate assessment of your life. This is a fact-finding process.
In the evening, before you are too tired, journal for a few minutes on what you learned about yourself. What can you improve on and what are you doing well? Over time, you’ll discover more about who you actually are and more about the person that you aspire to be.
Regardless of where you are, you are Loved by me, Unconditionally!
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