Three Tips to Help Cope with Terror in the News
I would like to admit something. Yesterday I was in a training in Los Angeles on how to publish my upcoming books. As I was riding the beautiful marble elevator down to class in the morning, I heard the news about the shooting in Orlando. Last week there was the shooting in Tel Aviv close to the apartment my sister and her husband live in with their three little boys. It was on my mind all day.
I realized that I rarely, if ever, make a public statement about the terrors happening in this world. Of course I would like to request prayers for all those affected by these terrors and of course I would love for it to stop. I wish that there was never a situation where my sister felt she had to send a message to me that the family is alive even though shaken up.
Often when we speak of these things, people get reactive. It is natural to feel anger, fear, hate, sadness, disappointment and many other emotions. I don’t enjoy being around those emotions, and I do not like to do things that trigger those responses in people. Instead I thought I would share some ideas on how we can deal with the pain that arises when we hear the news.
What I notice is that sometimes our prayers are inflicted by our desire to remove our pain. So I say we acknowledge that and pray for our ability to handle what comes up. The souls of those murdered, the injured, the families of those attacked, and the communities involved are all likely very hurt by what happened. How much more powerful our prayers could be for them if we are not as caught up in our own pain.
It is hard to understand the psyche of the people who commit these acts of terror. They are likely very disturbed, in an extreme amount of pain, and confused on how to heal that in a way that does not harm others. How much more powerful our prayers could be to help them heal to prevent repeating these acts if we are clearer inside. If you want to be part of the solution, are you going to focus on hating them or praying they overcome whatever is causing them to act this way for the safety and protection of all beings? You don’t have to love them or like them. If it hurts too much to pray for them, just pray for peace. If it hurts too much to pray for peace, then do something to heal the pain you feel.
When those emotions that are thought of as negative come up, it is ok. I started to think of them as people too; Mr. Anger, Mr. Fear, Mrs. Sad, and Mrs. Disappointment. I believe their appearance bothers us so we notice them and resolve our relationship with them. It is as if we are being asked to learn to accept their presence without fear and learn to love them as part of our divine selves. Remember they are just a feeling that passes through us, they do not have to impact us permanently. If you feel challenged by your feelings, you can try saying “I hear you. I love you. You’ll be ok,” to each one of them over and over.
When we hear the news and get reactive, that can continue to perpetuate the situation. One of the quotes that's constantly in my head from my guru Paramhansa Yogananda is that, "Circumstances are neutral." Neutral in the sense of how we choose to respond to it because we can't take away what actually happened. This type of thing happening is not a good thing. Also the past, as we know it, does not change no matter how we respond to it. What a special gift we could offer if we have an even greater ability to send prayers of healing to those directly impacted.
A second thing we can do to help alleviate pain is meditation or deep breathing for a couple minutes. Go outside if you can and inhale for five counts, hold your breath for up to five counts, and exhale for five counts. (It is not recommended to hold your breath if you have any cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, or are pregnant.) Make sure your breath flows smoothly and evenly. Keep your spine long, close your eyes, and gaze just slightly upwards. Imagine yourself and the whole world being filled with light; a light that brings peace to all. For a 30 minute guided meditation, click here.
The other reason why I want to bring this up is because there's a lot of predictions that there's even worse things coming our way over the next couple of years. If we can't figure out how to deal with these things right now, it might just get harder and harder. It serves us to figure out how to handle our response to these situations now so that we can better serve the world in the best way possible if bigger challenges come our way. We don't have to be so impacted in our interior life by what happens. It doesn't mean that we get passive about it. It doesn't mean that we don't do anything. It doesn't mean that we don't send prayers. We can still send all the goodness out there to help resolve these situations.
For the groups of people who are targeted in a lot of these attacks, I would not take these moments as setbacks but rather, as a calling for you to step even more firmly into your conviction. A lot of times, as light comes out more and more, there might be some darkness coming in. It creates more challenge, and it helps you step more and more into the light.
My third suggestion is to continue to flood yourself and others with light. Imagine a glass of black coffee and a pitcher of water. Keep filling the glass with more and more water until the glass becomes the light. Think about what things in your life bring you light. It's different for everyone but take those things as a gift. As you keep filling yourself with light you will automatically penetrate that out to other people without you needing to do anything. That's the fun of light!
Please share your comments and feelings below so we can all help each other learn and grow from these types of situations. I hope this was helpful and I hope you have a really peaceful rest of your day.