What can Hurricane Dorian teach us about mindfulness? The storm begs a question: ‘who am I without the chaos?’
When fellow teacher and soul sister Ananda Leeke asked me to address “how activists, changemakers & everyday people use mindfulness to navigate the media, fake news, and the 2020 elections,” I took a deep breath.Wow. That’s a mouthful, yes? But let’s step back for a moment. The center of a hurricane is space, a no-thing, a formless peace, stillness — surrounded by the pressurized chaos of spinning, spiraling reality. Let’s step back even more and see that at the center of all media, is you, as the citizen in a democracy, owning your own media company everytime you open your mouth to speak, or share information — hopefully taking a moment to discern with mindfulness. YOU are #heartcenteredmedia. YOU have the power to shift into compassion. You are that imprint. Am I truly coming from a place of love? Or is my life dominated by knee-jerking headlines that spiral out of control?
I live in Washington, D.C. — a city surrounding the seat of power of the United States where there are thousands of organizations employing people trying to change the world. But who holds power? To me, the mom breastfeeding her baby on the bus is just as much a changemaker. We are ALL changemakers, activists in today’s world, even in the littlest ways.
After reading the Heart Sutra last night at meditation, I realized even more fully that an even deeper practice is to navigate personal and collective outrage while imagining who you’d be as that center, the place where you let go. Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s not.
Does this mean you ignore the problem? No. It means that no matter what life throws at you, you pivot accordingly from stillness, and this makes you a helluva lot stronger. Easier said than done, I know, and I realize my privilege. Still, took me fifty years to find serenity. I shouldn’t even be alive. And that’s why mindfulness is a practice … the heart sutra says: “there is no attainment,” because, in fact, it always just is, can’t be helped, there you are: the eye of the storm witness to itself, a consciousness with full potential in every breath. Every breath you take is the beginning of change. The center is breathing you.
(I should share that I endured Hurricane Andrew in ’92, and know first hand the devastation of an actual category 5 hurricane, which as an Abaconian friend pointed out, makes a mess but also clears a path.)
We talked about a bunch more at Eaton Workshop gorgeous studio in downtown DC. Many thanks to Jamil Hamilton and Corey Castle. Take a listen to the archived podcast.