“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” ~ Dalai Lama
“Best defense: no be there.” -Mr. Miyagi, Karate Kid Pt.2
In light of yesterday’s tragic events, our self-defense lesson for the day covers the one part of the body that determines whether we win or lose each battle: the mind.
While everyone else was focused on filing their taxes before yesterday’s midnight deadline, people in Boston were thinking about how to avoid the traffic caused by the yearly Boston Marathon. Runners were focused on the finish line, and their families were focused on cheering them on. No one was thinking about the possibility of a bomb going off, except the person or persons responsible.
And now, everyone is thinking of how to find those responsible, and what to do with them. Everyone is thinking of how -once again- our sense of security has been rocked, and how helpless we all feel after something like this happens. Everyone is wondering when it’s gonna happen again. Not if, but when.
And everyone is saddened and angered at the knowledge that it will happen again.
While there’s no way to mentally prepare ourselves for what we’ll experience emotionally at hearing about something so senseless and violent, there is a way to prepare ourselves for how we handle those emotions and therefore, keep our sense of security and hope alive.
I offer these three exercises that, when practiced to the point of being knee-jerk responses, make powerful defensive skills:
1. Hear and silence.
When you hear news of a tragic event, listen to only as much as you need to know at the moment. Then silence the rest. Turning it off will keep you from being bombarded with too much info/imagery, and give you a chance to react. If you need to cry, pray, contact loved ones, this space between the news and your immediate surroundings allows you a chance to process a little bit at a time. If you are constantly there you cannot distance yourself enough to process.
2. Be grateful and KNOW that you are safe.
Realize that this is a single event and that thousands of safe moments have come and gone before this one. Do not allow your fear to control your thoughts, your life, or make decisions for you. Chances are, your personal safety remains unaffected by many of the world’s worst events.
3. Keep those feelings where they belong — outside.
Allow the emotional wave of the events of the outside world to come only as close as your doorstep. In other words, you can feel the sorrow and anger of world events, but don’t let them completely in. Can you imagine what a walking wreck you would be if you were taken down by every tragedy on the planet? Process them, but take control of them and only allow them so much time and space in which to make their presence known, and then show them the door. Further this by turning away from those emotions, and focusing your energies into something beautiful, creative, or helpful to the community.
More than any outside influence, our minds determine the health of our bodies. If we can control and therefore limit the damage caused by negative, harmful thoughts, we can use our energies to do something healthier than staying glued to the TV, watching countless camera angles of horrific images and hearing depressing details about something we can’t change.
We need to learn what we need, and nothing more from these events. Then we can take the knowledge and apply it appropriately in order to keep these events from happening again. Anything else is just wallowing. And, in the words of the prophet, Kimberly Wilkins aka “Sweet Brown,”
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Stay safe, happy and healthy. ❤