How Do We Choose Love Over Hatred?
It's hard to work through your feelings in the aftermath of a tragedy like the one that happened in Orlando over the weekend. It's normal to run through the range of sadness, hopelessness, anger, confusion and heartbreak. Yet if you turn on the TV or read a newspaper or blog it won't be long before you find hatred. And it is easy to kid ourselves sometimes that the hatred is justified, that when events are so overwhelming turning to hate is the reasonable thing to do. And so the narrative we witness in the media quickly turns from short-lived compassion to anger, hatred and ignorance.
We can choose to follow down the same path or we can choose to turn to love. The four "Brahma Viharas" are Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity. We are taught that these are the "heavenly abodes" - the places where we should learn to dwell. When we experience tragedy we can choose to move to a place of love and compassion. It's not easy, and if you are like me the path won't be a straight one. Confusion and helplessness may dominate at first, and it is these that can turn to anger and hatred.
I find that when feeling confused and helpless "Soft Belly" meditation can help calm our emotions, center us and return us to a place where we can choose love and compassion over anger. In this form of meditation we simply sit quietly and visualize breathing deep into our belly, allowing it to soften and helping us to reach a place of quiet and groundedness.
So instead of allowing ourselves to get transfixed on the narrative of hatred and anger so prevalent in the media we can instead soften our bellies and find a place to nurture love and compassion.
Having love and compassion does not mean that we become passive and heartless. Having found your ground in love you may go on to work on the root causes of the tragedy, to help heal those in pain and sorrow. But you will do so from love and compassion, not hatred. As the Buddha says:
Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
The following fully guided meditation allows us to practice calming and centering ourselves through visualizing breathing from a soft belly.
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