These days we are seeing all around us a lot of turbulence, inner and outer. The tendency when we get stirred up – and this is for all humans – is to go into a kind of habitual “jungle mentality,” also known as our stress reflex. We get anxious or upset and we try to sense where we can throw blame for what’s wrong. There is a polarizing.
Mostly what we are doing when we are in stress-reactivity is trying to find certainty. We are trying to find some ground again; and everything we try to do then is, on some level, trying to frame things so we have a stable ground – something that allows us to say, “Oh, here is what’s going on!” We try to define it, as a means of regaining a sense of certainty and security – an illusion of control. Charles Eisenstein calls this place “the space between stories.” And if we grab on to the next story and act from that, then we don’t wake up.
Now, we need to act, always; we need to act in our families to take care of our loved ones, and we need to act at work, and we need to act in terms of our social consciousness to move towards healing and change. The big question is this: From what consciousness are we acting?
We want to really watch this, because there’s such a tendency to act from habitual old states of mind where we perceive hatred (for example) and we respond to it with blame, aversion and hatred of our own. So: do we want to keep the whole game on the same level? Do we want to keep re-arranging the furniture on the decks of the Titanic? Or do we want to have a real paradigm shift and wake up consciousness? How can we really bring a presence to what is going on between the stories, so we can see the future we really long for – with awareness, with love, with justice? It is how we are now that will seed the future.
Action needs to come from a more evolved consciousness; and mindfulness & compassion training is what evolves the brain. If we don’t know how to pause and deepen attention in the space between stories, we won’t connect with the very presence and compassion that can inform intelligent action. We need to pause, and be able to feel what is here. That’s not so easy – which is why we have to train in it!
For a long time I have heard the story about Gandhi, who was known to take a day each week for prayer and meditation. He said, “I need to make sure that my actions come from the deepest, most awake part of my Being.” In these turbulent times… can we give ourselves some true pauses each day to come home to our hearts?
From: Play a Greater Part – Bodhisattva for our Times – Part 1
a talk given by Tara Brach on November 16, 2016
photo: Shell Fischer – www.mindfulvalley.com