Is what you can’t control controlling you? A prayer for turbulent times.

Hmm the formatting is messed up when I publish but not when I edit, I have faffed enough do forgive or move on :).  As you may know I recently deleted the FaceBook app from my phone. It’s been about a week and I’m pretty amazed at the subtle changes that have taken place.  I have been checking my personal page from my computer one a day (rather than obsessively checking my phone in down-times and between activities).
I will be back with more on those changes, but I did want to stop by and share this Lakota Prayer I saw on one of my daily visits to FaceBook.  It is a beautiful prayer for trying times.  And right now, many of my client conversations are around how to deal with the most recent heart wrenching events in the world.
We cannot control what we cannot control, and yet so much of what we cannot control ends up controlling us.  Our human bodies are not designed to live in perpetual fear and trauma, yet many are.
And then there is this new “virtual” world where some might believe that if it’s not documented on social media it didn’t happen, they post of their good deeds, often pointing fingers at others they only know only through this new :virtual world” order. 
I sit back and know talk is cheap.  And still they scream from their FB pulpit, saffy little followers lapping it up, hoping that by mere association they too can be included among the good ones, the ones fighting for the right cause, doesn’t everyone thing their cause is the right cause?.
 
Divisiveness, even in, especially in, the name of the “greater good” (of course who determines is a whole other discussion) is still divisiveness, they are many ways to enact a rebellion and they don’t all have to be in the form of status updates.
 
And no, it’s not spiritual bypassing, or hippie dippie fairy shit I am spouting here, personally I don’t know why it took the changing of a president to realize that people are, and have always have been, suffering every single day in myriad unjust, unfair and inhumane ways.
 
Just because it got closer to home for some, they woke up and expect everyone to be in the initial frenzied shock of “we need to change this”,  but listen up, some have been at that podium a long time already.
Just cuz my FaceBook status doesn’t say something doesn’t mean I did or didn’t do it.
 
And meanwhile, the sensitive ones among look for shelter.  Where do we park our tender hearts in chaotic times without ripping them out along the way?
I like to go back to ancient tools that have survived the most turbulent of phenomena, time on the planet. 
For this I have a variety of trusty sources, among them the Lakota peoples with this beautiful prayer which brings us back to what we can control.  And that leads nicely into Stoicism and the teachings of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus.  What a rich pot of advice these three bring together.  We all them ancient tools for modern living. 
This is not the first time it has all gone to shit.
Among many other fabulous teachings for finding equanimity in everyday mayhem, Epictetus counselled for us to get to know what we can control, and to do that, and to know what is outside of our control and to avoid that.  How much more simple can you get? 
We can’t control what the world throws at us, but we can learn to better control how we react to it, and that includes getting spun out on the media sensation and circus that grows bigger with each catastrophe,
Will it really help the world that you almost know the news reel verbatim by the end of a tragic day? That is a question only you can answer for you, but I know that for me, that of the greater ways I relieved stress was directly correlated to how much outside news I took on each day.
 
Yes there is much terror and pain in the greater world which is why we must also pay attention to our own immediate worlds and take care of one another there as well.  By design we are community creatures, yet we have evolved out to being independent, now is the time to call together your immediate community, you know, the ones that live  in the “real world” on the other side of the screen, for it can get forgotten in all the virtual insanity.
Our nervous system is not designed to keep re-living tragedies, it too needs respite.  Perhaps this is time to limit the number of times a day you check into the news, the same way I am easing out of FB.  Your nervous system will thank you and your world will too.
 
It is a dance for sure. and a personal one at that.  And there are no medals for matyrdom, though many seem to be posturing to that end. You cannot give what you do not have for yourself.
When life rages around us, we are called to cultivate peace within so we can emanate peace without, whatever your views it all starts with us, as Rumi said, Yesterday I was clever and wanted to change the world, today I am wise and want to change myself.
Now more than ever it is time for each for us to find our place, we are not all meant to be at the same place doing the same thing, we need to allow for our differences, and take stock of actions that (often) are as divisive as the ones being rallied against.
Our time on this planet is limited, and none of us know our expiration date.  Look at your world around you. are you safe and peaceful?  Give thanks for that and ask that all sentient beings know this peace, from our closest loved ones, to those we have never met and all those who have harmed and hurt us.  Compassion knows no boundaries, it’s for all or none.  Choose all and all will choose you.
Take this prayer, or any prayer that has served you well.  Be the change, walk in peace and let change and peace follow you everywhere you go.
I’d love to hear how you are doing in this emotionally turbulent times. What practice keeps you going, or have you been drawn down into the media rabbit hole of despair?
May all beings be free from suffering, and the causes of suffering and may we all know peace.
Until next time
Sat nam
Shiv