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Ukraine & Our Pain for the World

A message to the PARA community from Dave Inglis, February 24, 2022

As we know, Ukraine is under attack from three directions, with the vast majority of Russian troops still waiting at the border to expand the siege. We’ve seen roads jammed with cars trying to flee. And we’ve heard of the list of Ukrainians Putin has assembled to ruthlessly silence or “disappear.”

There is little that we can do right now to directly help the situation. But there are some ways that we can keep the potent energies of love and peace alive, beginning in our own hearts and souls. Here are some things I think you will find helpful in metabolizing distress.

Joanna Macy reminds us of the importance of honoring our pain. Here are some quotes to help you do that:

  • “Don't ever apologize for the tears you shed on behalf of other beings. This isn’t craziness; it’s compassion.” - Joanna Macy

  • “So many think that grieving takes away from the experience of living. Wrong. Grief is a fundamental part of being alive. It is love, weeping.” - Tim Lawrence

  • “We need to love. Even when it leads us to the land where the lakes are made of tears, to that secret, mysterious place, the land of tears! Tears speak for themselves. And when we feel that we have cried all we needed to cry, they still continue to flow. And just when we believe that our life is destined to be a long walk through the Vale of Sorrows, the tears suddenly vanish. Because we managed to keep our heart open, despite the pain.” - Paulo Coelho

And here are some resources to help you metabolize your pain.

  • Tonglen: Breathing in the pain of the world, and breathing out compassion. Here’s a recent set of instructions from American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön.

  • RAIN process (Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture) taught by psychologist, spiritual teacher, and proponent of Buddhist meditation Tara Brach.

  • Welcoming and liberating fear or other difficult emotions--taught by author, meditation teacher and psychotherapist Loch Kelly.

  • Good Grief Network can also provide social and emotional support to people who feel overwhelmed about the state of the world: Check out their on-line 10-step program.

These techniques can help us open into the feelings as fully as we can, release all resistance, even let them fill our awareness. That’s what gets the feelings unstuck and creates spaciousness for them to leave when they’re ready to leave. It’s counter-intuitive, but it works.

The other thing we can do is give voice to our pain with another person who can listen deeply without judgment or trying to fix it. That’s what we have each other for.

Feel free to share these suggestions with people you love.

Sending love to you, and through you into the world.



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