Breathing Through: A Meditation for Opening our Hearts to Suffering

I have been fasting today for the 17th of Tammuz, the day when Jerusalem's walls were breached during the 2nd Temple period.  Fasting has helped me become more aware.  When I picked up my smartphone to read an essay about the violent crackdown on non-violent protests in Hamburg at the G20, I decided to read with the intention of getting out of my head and and allowing myself to feel the pain and the outrage.   Reading in this way helped me to stay present and kept me from swirling into despair.  What this meant in my parenting role is that my son experienced his Mom in that moment as sad rather than as disconnected and fearful.  For this I am deeply grateful.  

As parents, so much of what we teach our children is on a subtle, energetic level, and cultivating energy of connection and courage is one of the most important, yet mostly unacknowledged, ways we can nurture our children.  How do we cultivate nourishing energy when there is so much disturbing news, both on a local and global level, that it feels like we could drown in our sorrow and burn with our rage?

Here's a powerful practice from Joanna Macy, one of the great teachers of our times, for learning to open our hearts to the pain of the world as we connect into the living, breathing web of life.   I am including a link both to Joanna's guiding the meditation on video and also to her written text. 

Joanna Macy Breathing Through Video

Joanna Macy "Breathing Through" Text

I shared this practice today at our weekly Tuesday morning meditation group at Germantown Jewish Centre.  Those in Philadelphia are welcome to join us from 9:00-9:40AM each Tuesday in the library for meditation.