If you are human, and I imagine you are, there are times when you have just really had it. With a friend. A family member. A co-worker. The world. You may even get judgy. Like, why can’t he just move on? Why does she make it so complicated? Why are they doing this? As if, somehow, they can magically read your mind and do the right thing.
Yeah, well. We can get caught under our own spell. And the truth of the matter is you will miss out on the things that are actually ok, the tiny beautiful moments in a day, and noticing that right now you are fully alive. I have found that one of the most helpful things with life’s hassles is to simply breathe. Breathe in some peace and quiet. When you notice your reactivity, try taking a deep inhale for yourself and a long exhale for the other. As Rabbi Rami Shapiro writes in The Sacred Art of Loving Kindness, “It is a way to take upon oneself the pain of the world and transform it into love.” Remember, even the difficult, exasperating people in your life are struggling. This doesn’t mean it’s ok to be on the receiving end of an insult. Boundaries are important. But it can help to imagine this person when they were small, maybe before their own challenges or conditions took hold. Glimpsing a sweet soul, deserving of love and belonging (as we all are).
The image I like to hold in this mini-meditation is of a see-saw or swing, with a childlike quality of putting in the effort to get going and then relishing the momentum.
It takes a few tries for the rhythm to kick in. And then… freedom.
Sit quietly and comfortably, perhaps with a hand on your heart.
Breathe in and out in a comfortable way.
As you breathe, bring to mind a sense of warmth, comfort, and ease,
or whatever you need in the moment. Inhale this soothing feeling.
Then bring to mind a person who is struggling and needs compassion.
After you inhale a comforting breath for yourself, on the exhale offer
the other person feelings of kindness, caring, comfort, and ease.
Then return to yourself, breathing in warm sensations.
Then switch back to the person you are visualizing.
In an even flow of in- and-out- breaths,
receive and give warmth and kindness.
Like a see-saw.
Back and forth, back and forth.
One breath in for me, one breath out for you.
Give it a try. Peace.