Pay attention, trust, let go.

It feels like the country is a mess and that post truth, and consequently mistrust, is bubbling with conspiracy, spins, lies, partial truths, and more lies! Simply unhealthy ego, work-in-process human condition, and evolution. Daily, media headlines unfold racism, police shootings, shootings, voting rights suppression, political party sorting and associated partial truths, Jim Crow laws in new clothing, immigration crisis, critical race theory, LGBTQ rights, gun control chaos, automatic weapons violence, and politicized COVID-19. Americans are suffering, democracy is suffering, and the country is crossing the line of departure for a civil war, and more pain and suffering. Where has all the compassion and love gone? A culture that deliberately creates human suffering is wrong! And each of us are expressions of our culture.  Collectively, we can do better!

An analytical glance reveals a least common denominator to be polarization, nurtured by festering, unhealthy selves that unleash pain and suffering in many forms. Collective, interactive dialogue offers a breath of evolutionary optimism and hope for Americans to have productive, interactive, authentic dialogue, build coalitions, work together, and experience compassion as the antibiotic to confront this nasty infection. No one needs to suffer, and no one wants to suffer. A nice place to begin the journey from unhealthy self to the authentic self is to have fun buying some stickers. Catherine Price, in her Mindfulness Journal, recommends,

Buy a pack of small stickers—any kind will do—and place a dozen or so around your home and office in noticeable places, such as your bathroom mirror, your computer, the back of your phone, the wall behind your kitchen sink, your alarm clock, or the cover of this journal. Every time you see one of these stickers, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING, BREATHE, AND BE.

Yes, stop what you are doing, take a slow, deep breath, enjoy the present moment, sense the emptiness, zero, spaciousness, and freedom. You might want to consider putting stickers on your computer, the car mirror, or the bathroom mirror. And have fun picking out stickers: Hobby Lobby offered beautiful butterflies, and they work like a charm.

If you are not already a meditator, a recommended next step is that you find a meditation coach and start a meditation practice. If you have never meditated before, have fun with it and be patient. To get you started, each morning practice sitting meditation for at least ten to twenty minutes. Find a comfortable, quiet place. You can sit in a chair, on a cushion, in your truck or car, or on the floor. When you sit in a chair, place your feet flat on the ground and sit upright. If you sit on the floor, sit in whatever way is comfortable: cross-legged, on a pillow, or on a meditation bench. Select a way that fits you! As you begin to take your seat, rock to the left and right, and then back and forth, to settle your buttocks. As you begin to settle in, sit with your head erect and your chin tucked in slightly. Put your shoulders back. Visualize your ears being aligned with your belly button; lift your head and neck as if they were being pulled by the sky. Find a comfortable position for your hands, such as resting them in your lap or one hand on each of your knees. You can sit with your eyes open or closed. If you sit with them open, lower your gaze, pick a spot on the floor in front of you, and let your eyes rest there. In sitting meditation, posture is like a foundation and is quite important for a resting mind: as the body goes, so goes the mind; as the mind goes, so goes the body. Good posture facilitates the easy flow of the breath, too. Pay attention, trust and let go. As you settle into your chosen posture, spend a few moments paying attention to your breathing, focusing on each in-breath and each out-breath. Feel your abdomen expanding when you breathe in. Feel it contracting when you breathe out. Note how the breath tickles the skin between your nose and upper lip. There is nothing to be accomplished, nothing to be gained. Notice your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Do not attach yourself to them, and do not reject them. Just observe them, let them go, and keep breathing. Experience the thrill of just being with everything. If you find you are having difficulty staying focused on your breath, use the technique of counting your breaths as a support. Take one in-breath and one out-breath, and count one, in, out, and count two, and so forth, until you reach ten. Once you have reached ten, count backward. Keep in mind that the point is not in getting to ten but in staying connected to your breath, being mindful of your breath. Pay attention, trust, let go.

Sitting practice offers a tremendous sense of freedom and peace. With daily practice, meditation can quite easily become a part of daily activities. The deep game is not about being dealt a better hand, but about playing the cards we are dealt with as much intelligence, care, and creativity as we possibly can. Now you are finally free to be the freedom you have been from the beginning. ‘Just this’ is the ultimate reward that comes from inhabiting the particular cartoon character you drew from this Kosmic deck of cards. Lao-tzu’s wisdom is clear, concise, and complete:

We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.

We work with being, but non-being is what we use.[1]

Just sit, transparent, authentic, pure, safe, all seeing and feel the freedom.

[1] Mitchell, 11

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