As the world becomes ever more interconnected, the pain of a person in Texas or Ukraine or across town can be seen in our own home with the simple touch of a screen. Day by day, we have access to the intimate struggles and heartaches of more people near and far. Of course, there are more joys to discover as well, but these can be hard to find, if not impossible, in the midst of the reporting of serious turmoil and anguish.
Children have a way of reminding us the current moment matters most. A child lives in the here and now with no concerns for paying rent or where and when the next meal is coming. They trust that when hungry they will be fed. They trust they will be protected and their needs will be met. And that’s why when children are harmed, it takes the breath out of each of us in ways deeper than any words can express. For each adult has a responsibility in the broken trust of every child – whether that child lives in the Ukraine, Texas, down the block or in one’s home. We created the world we share.
As I struggle with finding ways to help in a far-reaching world of turmoil, I turn to effective spiritual leaders of the past in learning how they came to understand and work through the serious struggles of their times. Buddha was one such spiritual leader. His life led him to meditation as a path in healing himself and the world he lived in. Although he lived some 2,500 years ago, his insightful teachings are alive today and continue to be studied worldwide.
Breath awareness, Anapanasati, was what Buddha taught under the Bodhi Tree – the tree where he attained enlightenment. This tree still stands as a site of pilgrimage in Bodh Gaya in the Indian state of Bihar. A tree which is even slightly alive after 2,500 years is something I certainly stand in awe of.
The following is an example of a simple meditative breathing technique. In times of stress, it’s more important than ever to find effective ways to clear the mind of negativity. And to move forward with hope and resilience in healing the trust given to each one of us by every single child.
Bring your attention to your breath.
Hands closed into soft fists.
Inhale/exhale for 1, lift the thumb of one hand.
Inhale/exhale 2, lift the next finger up.
Inhale/exhale 3, lift the next finger …
and so on until all 10 fingers/thumbs are raised.
After all 10 fingers/thumbs are raised,
lower each one by one with every inhale/exhale:
Inhale/exhale lower one thumb,
Inhale/exhale lower the next finger
Inhale/exhale lower the next finger …
and so on till all fingers and thumbs are closed back into the palms.
Sit quietly in contemplation.
Joan Budilovsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at her Yoyoga.com website.