We live in a fast changing world and I’m willing to bet that there are few people out there who don’t feel the pressures coming at us from all directions. Many don’t like their jobs, others, especially children, feel saddened by the environmental and social crises happening all around us. Despite the prevalence of communication tools and allopathic remedies promising a quick fix to human maladies, we seem to be heading in the opposite direction – that of illness, exhaustion and disconnection. Adding to the cocktail of mental and emotional stress, are heavy pollutants found in our food, air and water.
With so much to handle at once, it’s a short step to overwhelm. What are we to do? How can we untangle this dense ball of wax and not only
neutralize the stress but begin to get a sense of real empowerment in our lives?
Connecting Through Mindfulness
To alleviate the suffering both within and without, it helps to refocus our attention. By cultivating peace and going to the source – the unchanging space, the ground of Being that permeates the Cosmos through and through – we help minimize the chaos. I personally resonate with the Tibetan Dzogchen practice of the three gateways or ‘three pills.’
Gate One: Stillness
The practice of taking the ‘white pill of stillness’ is very simple. All we need to do is gently drop into our bodies and lovingly embrace all that arises. When I feel discomfort, my tendency is to try to get rid of it or at least ignore it by focusing on other, more pleasant things. This only makes the pain persist, if not grow. This practice teaches us that we can transcend pain and discomfort by opening to what is. Only through the piercing dynamic of our loving attention can we melt the pain and discover the root cause of our suffering.
Gate Two: Silence
To quiet the incessant mind chatter, Dzogchen recommends taking the ‘red pill of silence.’ This is the silence that is not conditional upon the absence of noise. In other words, even when the sirens are glaring, the silence is still present. This is because all sound and vibration arise from stillness, the alpha and omega of creation. When a guitar string is made to vibrate, after a few moments it will return to rest. In order to connect with silence, we must not try to make our thinking stop. We could wait forever. Instead, all we need to do is embrace our thoughts, let them come and go, and shift our attention to the background of ever-present serenity.
Gate Three: Spaciousness
The practice of taking the ‘blue pill of spaciousness’ considers the wholeness of our being. It is designed to heal our emotions, transient sensations that can disturb the sharpest of minds. Recognizing the emotionally aroused areas within us and embracing them, once more transcends an unpleasant experience into that of openness and calm. We cross this gateway instantaneously the moment we shift our attention to the space within which all sensations dwell. Becoming aware of this omnipresent space, reconnects us with the source of all that is, which of course includes our very own Selves.
Understanding (and Transcending) Cycles of Negativity
Having a spiritual practice and being rooted in our bodies is a wonderful thing. However, what about when we are challenged by systems and people who seem to not wish us well? In my own experience, I find that living peacefully requires learning to not fear but to celebrate our differences. In order to do that, we must understand what gives rise to the negativity that surrounds us, provokes us and inevitably sucks us into an endless cycle of suffering.
The inter-human resentment is a bit of a power game. We are pulled into it involuntarily at an early age. It begins with experiencing pressures from a variety of authority figures – teachers, parents, politicians, doctors, etc. – who force upon our still developing selves their own artificial constructs in an effort to exert power. This gradually disconnects us from our true source that is free and unbound. As years pass by and pressures mount, it is only a matter of time before we treat others the same way we were once treated. It is a form of rebellion that stems from the desire to resist the onslaught of contempt.
Only awareness can break this destructive cycle. Exerting power over another to feel in charge yields only short term bursts of superficial confidence (it is not real). The long term devastating effects keep on snowballing; the person you offend will likely go on offending others. When mindfulness enters our interactions, this dynamic can shift. We can begin to see that acting out for the sake of taking power from others in order to feel powerful leads to nowhere. This is because true, lasting power can only be sourced within.
Cultivating Authentic Power
Aristotle said that the degree of excellence one attains is contingent upon the quality of a person’s daily habits. Besides taking the time to reconnect with ourselves and becoming more mindful of our interactions, there is a host of other things we can do. Some of my favorites include spending time in the calming embrace of nature and grounding our energy by direct contact between our skin and the earth, releasing static energy and stress by exercising, and nourishing our bodies with natural, nutritious food.
Since everything in the Universe is connected, the moment you begin to make a positive change in one area of your life, all other areas instantly get a vibrant boost. Healthier lifestyle and relationships will inevitably lead to more creativity. People whose power comes from an authentic source, often get showered with inspiration. They see solutions and have the energy to manifest their ideas into tangible results. This leads to a purposeful life.
Helping reverse and even transcend all the negativity in our world, requires that we take our power back. By understanding the why behind what we do, and being mindful of our thoughts and habits, the positive impact of our practice will spread across the world. When we feel fit and connected, it is very difficult to sell us things that we don’t need. Being mindful brings us closer to the true source of our power – flowing profusely in the present moment – our connection strengthens and relationships flourish.
Dzogchen meditationSoul healing
Ewa Zwonarz is a Polish-American writer, author of Moonchild a coming-of-age tale that blends myth, mystery, and the magic of storytelling. She is a contributor to Medium's 'Fit Yourself' and 'Manager Mint' magazines and an active blogger on her motivational site Dare2Begin. She graduated Valedictorian with a BA degree in Mass Communications and works as a marketing consultant. When she is not working or writing, Ewa is on the road collecting morsels of inspiration for her future projects. Her website is www.ewazwonarz.com.