Thursday, August 4, 2011

Change Yourself, Change the World

At this morning's T'ai Chi Chih class one of my students mentioned that, due to the high humidity, the air felt heavy. "There's no need to imagine that your hands and arms are moving through heavy air as Justin Stone counsels," I responded, "because they are--literally--moving through heavy air."

Thankfully, an occasional puff of cool air ruffled the hair and cooled the brow and, in due time, our group of 10 rose and fell, twisted and turned, and softly flowed through the full practice. Afterward students commented upon the beautiful bouquet of wild flowers that grew at our feet inside the circle.

Post-practice I was happy to retire indoors where ceiling fans blew the hot, humid air into circles of coolness. This week our class discussed Ch. 9 of Buddha's Brain ("Compassion and Assertion") which focused in large part upon empathy. As the authors noted:
     In order to be truly compassionate, you must first feel something of what the other person is going through. You must have empathy, which cuts through the automatic tendencies of the brain that create an 'us' and a 'them.' (p. 138)
The key to developing compassion is to make it a daily practice. There is absolutely no doubt that it takes practice since the brain--in order to ensure survival--constantly tries to protect us from other people and beliefs that are perceived as a threat to us. And in our current polarized political climate, Compassion is the radicalism of our time, per the Dalai Lama.

When we engage in a daily TCC practice, we invite ourselves into an accepting, compassionate state, letting go of division and ego in order to merge into an all-encompassing Oneness. Bit by bit we see the fruits of this effort as we find ourselves letting go into deeper levels of relaxation and acceptance.

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