I frequently wake up at what is called 'astronomical dawn' (when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon) and slip downstairs with my phone to capture the sky just as the sun is about to peek over the horizon. I love the quickly changing colors - like the flaming orange I caught here - before the bright light of the sun hides all the spectrum of light that was reflected in the atmosphere.
After the 'sky shoot' I make coffee and sit and meditate. Meditation or mindfulness is mostly an exercise in focusing attention on one thing. By bringing attention to just the sounds of the wildlife outside my window or just the rise and fall of my breath, for example, I can observe my thoughts and gain perspective on thought patterns and how to notice when my thoughts are helpful or not helpful.
This past two weeks my thoughts have been of outrage, sadness, grief, concern and of healing. How can we as a nation heal the deep wounds inflicted by the long-standing oppression of our black brothers and sisters? How can we as human beings who value life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness be happy when our police system has become a burden instead of a blessing?
Just a few weeks ago we saw white protesters armed with AR-15s enter the Michigan state house and intimidate lawmakers over new public health regulations during Covid-19 (basically they wanted haircuts and were seemingly willing to shoot people over their perceived right to endanger other people by disregarding public health officials and state lawmakers). I didn't see any police violence against these armed white protesters. Imaging if all the protestors had been people of color. Just think about it. Wake up to the reality.
Collectively we feel that our society is sick and needs healing. The sheer horror of watching George Floyd be murdered in cold blood by a policeman (who is a public servant who is supposed to preserve and protect) has awakened us to the evil that has been festering for a long time. Now that we see it we cannot remain silent and we must work for justice and a just society.
We must condemn racism in all its forms. We must condemn racial profiling. We must condemn police brutality and targeting of black people and other minorities. My son is brown, calls himself Blasian, and I worry about him every time he is driving without me. And not just because he is nineteen. We are all sick and tired of living in a world where we live in fear of our loved ones being unjustly killed.
When I see patients as a Functional Medicine doctor, I always use a comprehensive approach to helping them begin their healing journey. All aspects of your health impact all other aspects. Your mind must be healed. Your body must be healed. Your spirit must be healed. If you don't address one aspect, the others will suffer.
The body of Christ, humankind - all children of God, is suffering. Our Nation, especially, is suffering. We must admit our problem. We must acknowledge the pain we have caused. We must begin the healing process.
How will we heal ourselves? We must work to get our mind right. Notice when our attitudes are unkind, unhelpful and based in fear or anger or hatred. Listen to our black friends and family and feel their pain. If you don't have any black or brown friends then seek one out. Read 'Black Like Me'. Watch 'Just Mercy'. Educate yourself so your attitudes and perspectives can change. The world can change if each one of us examines our own inner landscape. We are all connected.
Meditate on compassion. Meditate on loving-kindness. Meditate on what type of world we want our children and grandchildren to inherit. Keep yourself awake.
It is written perfect love drives out fear. If we love the brotherhood(and sisterhood) of mankind then we lift each other up and become part of the solution instead of part of the problem. If we truly hold our truths immortalized in the Declaration of Independence and restated in the Fourteenth Amendment dear, that all men (and women) are created equal and deserve equal treatment under the law, then we must strive to live up to them like our lives depend on it. Because they do. If we begin to live our ideals, others will wake up.
I don't have all the answers, just a lot of questions, but I know change must happen. Our Nation must begin its healing journey. Mind, body and spirit. All must be healed. All must be awake.
Sit in a chair with feet on the floor or lie in a supine position. Place one hand over your heart.
Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing that.
Take a deep breath in and feel your chest rise and expand and then exhale and feel it fall to rest. Repeat.
Notice if there is any difference in the length of your inhale and exhale.
Try to make your exhale longer and slower than your inhale - do this for a few breaths.
As you inhale imagine a bright white light coming from the Divine Creator of the Universe to fill your heart. As you exhale imagine dark feelings fleeing the light. Imagine fear, anger, greed, hate, selfishness, racial bias all leaving with each exhale. Take one inhale to feel your heart again with light and imagine love entering with the light. Each time you exhale imagine another dark feeling leaving. Each time you inhale imagine there being more room in your heart for light and love.
When you run out of dark feelings to name begin to imagine that your heart is overflowing with light and love. Imagine with each inhale that it spills over.
First you may imagine it spill over and bless your immediate loved ones. With the next breath let it spill over and reach your neighbors.
With the next breath let it spill over to your city. Imagine all people in your city being blessed and receiving the light and lovingkindness spilling out of your heart.
Send the love out to black people you know and black people you don't yet know. With your next breath send the love out to all races of people in your city and then with the next send the light and love to everyone in our country.
Finally send the light and love to everyone in the world and then the Universe. See us all filled with light and love. Bring your other hand to your heart and place palms together in a prayer posture.
Release the breath and just observe your breath returning to its natural rhythm over the next few breaths.
Observe your feelings and if you like to journal write down your observations.