Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How To Handle Today's Disturbing News

Reporters and rescue workers from countries around the world assisting in the Japan rescue efforts, are amazed how calmly the people of Japan are enduring such a horrific crisis.  
They noted there is no looting or blatant displays of public anger like we have seen in other countries struck by earthquakes and disasters, including the US.
Japanese store owners are giving away their supplies.  People are quietly helping one another sharing their last morsels of food with strangers.   
Reporters say it is the culture to not show much emotion. Maybe, but is also  part of their Spiritual practice. Shinto and Buddhism are Japan's two major religions. They have been co-existing for several centuries and have even complemented each other to a certain degree. Most Japanese consider themselves Buddhist, Shintoist or both.
About 91 million people in Japan claim to be Buddhist practitioners.
This Sporting the Right Attitude newsletter is based on the 2,500 year old Buddhist practice of Mindfulness, along with Christianity and other ancient religions, including Judaism, and Native American teachings.  All are leading to the one path, discovering your Higher Self. 
We were first introduced to  Mindfulness through our Japanese teacher, Eiko Michi, nearly 30 years ago.  Eiko is a mystic from Japan who was also a former UCLA professor.  We were blessed to know her.  She changed our life and our path.   For decades we have remained in touch with her.  

Unfortunately, the last few days we have been unsuccessfully trying to contact her.  
This is what we learned from Eiko which helps to understand the mindset of how the Japanese are enduring this horrific crisis, and why you won't see blatant displays of uncontrolled emotions.   
Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths:
  1. Suffering exists
  2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires
  3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
  4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path
The Eightfold Path is practicing:
 1) right view 2) Right Intention 3) Right Speech 4) Right Action 5) Right Livelihood 6) Right Effort 7) Right Mindfulness 8) Right Concentration.
Mindfulness Practice, a type of meditation, is the way Buddha taught us to live, which is closely aligned to the Christ Mind.  However, Mindfulness which comes from Buddhism, is not a religion.  It is a practice to help us live in the moment.
Mindfulness is increasingly being employed in Western psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.  Pain and cancer clinics around the country are teaching mindfulness as well as in some schools and branches of the military. 
Mindfulness is having less emotional reactivity and more stability of mind.  Not overreacting emotionally brings greater mental clarity, which is healthy,  Having stability of mind makes you better able to cope with any disaster in your life.
YOU TOO Can Practice Mindfulness to Deal and Overcome You Suffering.
As you watch the news of Japan's disasters, or when you are handling disasters and bad news of your own, remember Buddha's teaching.  You don't have to suffer despite the circumstance.

Here is the Mindfulness practice to help you deal with the news in Japan, and in your own life: 

Try to get comfortable as you can in your sitting posture.  If you lie down (not recommended), try not to go to sleep.  You can also do this standing in line at the post office.  Mindfulness can be done anywhere at anytime.
First take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to connect with your body.  Notice how you back feels against the chair.  How do your clothes feel on your body?  How do the soles of your feet feel in your shoes if you are standing?  What does the floor feel like?

Bring your attention to the area of your body that feels uncomfortable.  Usually people feel a clutching or tightening in their body when they are dealing with an unpleasant situation, or hearing bad news.

Explore in your body  where you may feel uncomfortable,  Is it sharp or dull?  Burning? Stabbing?  Is it moving, or does it stay in one place?  How deeply does it go into your body?  Get very curious about the changing set of bodily sensations.

After 30 seconds or so (you can choose any short amount of time), Notice your attitude toward the unpleasant feeling.  Do you hate it, fear it, resent it, blame yourself for it?  Do not judge or criticize your feelings.  Observe and let them go.
Be sure to breathe.  
Thich Nhat Hanh, a world renown Zen Master (we currently study, and attend his retreats), teaches this way of practicing Mindfulness:
"There are three sorts of feelings--pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral.  When we have an unpleasant feeling, we may want to chase it away.  But it is more effective to return to our conscious breathing and just observe it, identifying it silently to ourselves:  "Breathing in, I know there is an unpleasant feeling in me.  Breathing out, I know there is an unpleasant feeling in me."  Calling a feeling by its name, such as "anger," "sorrow," "joy," or "happiness," helps us identify it clearly and recognize it more deeply."
Remember you are simply observing, not trying to change anything.  The first law of Science, is what is observed, changes.  Mindfulness is the act of awareness, which acts like a laser to dissolve any blocks emotionally, mentally,  or physically.  You will notice during this practice, a space between you and the uncomfortable feeling happens.  Suddenly, you won't feel overwhelmed by this emotion.  In this space is where you will find peace, understanding, and clarity.
Make Mindfulness a daily practice to release stress and to help you deal with any and everything in your life.

Coming soon:  "Your Happiness is Within"

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