Taking Time to Breathe Amidst Chaos and Loss

I sit and choke with the disbelief of chemical warfare. I think about innocent children and bystanders who are caught in the middle of it all.   I’ve been hijacked by the images I conjure in my head and that stay with me throughout the lunch hour. I can’t concentrate.

I try to continue working but the AP alerts and Facebook statuses take me away from my reality. How can I bring myself back to center? How can I continue my day in light of what’s happening in the world around me?

Yesterday, I read Oriah’s facebook status where she talks about Tonglen – a meditation practice that she describes as “breathing in the thing that is causing suffering and breathing out the antidote – the thing that you hope will alleviate suffering.” It makes me wonder how we can stay calm in light of so much distraction, of so much real-life news.

This week, I also learned that a fellow coach / friend has breast cancer. She is probably one of the fiercest, strongest women I know. She is also someone who stands in her body and exhibits power. I mourned the situation by writing a poem for her and reflecting on what it means to deal with the uncertainties of life.

It’s these moments – the micro and the macro – that take me away from the work I’m doing. Or maybe this is part of my work. Yet, when I think about what needs to get done and what I’ve committed to, I don’t know how to make time to address the suffering. It’s only after “permissible” events that we’re allowed to stop working and go home – 9/11, the DC earthquake, the death of a loved one. When is it permissible to shut down and mourn the loss of something that isn’t acknowledged in the workplace… but stirs you inside until you are at a loss for words and must sit in the moment of reflection, wondering what the meaning is behind all of it.

I strongly believe that we need to live in our world and be present for it. Sometimes our world is our workplace, or our friend group, or our community. Other times it is larger – the planet, a civil rights movement, globalization. Whatever your world is, take a minute to notice what’s happening around you and acknowledge what its impact is on you. If you need to take time to recover, channel some Oriah and breathe in the negativity and sad news and breath out positivity and healing power. It’s not going to solve world problems, but it is going to help alleviate some personal suffering.

Shout-out to Liz Forney, who inspired this conversation and deep thoughts over our short but sweet lunch today. I immediately came home and wrote this post. Also, I am sending healing thoughts to my coach/friend and thinking about you.