The terrorist attacks in Paris, the possibility of new attacks in Europe and America have opened a new chapter in the conflict between the western world and radical Muslim terrorists.
The downing of a Russian air plane by the air force of Turkey has added more pressure to the international situation.
It is very hard to see how all this will end.
I wanted to put together some basic insights drawn from meditation practice to illustrate how meditation can offer practical benefits to help people cope with disturbing news.
1) It is wise to limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching news reports. While it is important to be aware of current events, it is just as important to shield yourself from the non-stop media coverage and the constant repetition of disturbing events.
2) Be aware of, but also be patient with, whatever feelings of anger and fear develop within you as you think about the struggle with terrorism and the bleak news reports. Given the savage nature of the attacks in Paris, it is understandable most people are very angry and also quite afraid that new attacks may be launched here in the US. Being aware of any anger and fear that does arise is a good basic practice of being mindful of what is happening in the moment.
3) Give some thought to the fact that the terrorists want to provoke as much violent reaction as they can. It is important that governments develop the right responses and not over-react in ways that play into the hands of terrorists. Make your voice heard on this point. You really can call or write your local senator or the President.
4) If you cannot pray for the attackers, spend some time each day offering prayers for the victims and their families and for all of us who are scared by these events. If you prefer to use the phrase “offering positive intentions” rather that prayers that is fine too.
Calling to mind the love and compassion we have within us, and offering that love and compassion to the victims and their families is another way to put out the fires of anger and fear that may (probably will) arise as events unfold. If you find a credible charitable agency designed to help victims, making a donation to them will also be helpful even if it is only a few dollars. It is an action you can take that will also lessen the feelings of powerlessness.
For those who are further along with their meditation and spiritual practice and are able to also pray for the attackers and their families then do so. Those who are further along understand that more unconditional compassion is the long term cure to the long term disease of violence. But most people are not able to pray for the attackers in situations like this. Focusing your prayers for the victims is still better than just feeling helpless and powerless over what is happening.
5) A primary goal of most styles of meditation is to calm and clear the mind so you can see the deeper underlying causes that trigger savage events like what is happening in Europe and the Middle East. It is important to remember this does not happen for most of us over night. Being patient with your practice and with any fear and anger that arises is a good start. Being patient with the efforts to offer love and compassion in prayer and positive intentions on a more consistent basis to as wide a circle of living beings as you can will also be helpful. But this too can be a slow learning process.
But as the mind clears you can ask more effectively the deeper questions, what are the true causes of terrorism? Careful reflection on such questions will also help with the long term process of clearing and calming the mind so you can go deeper still.
What chain of events and misguided attitudes over time have led to the development of the conditions we now are living with?
More next week.
Please let me know what you think. I will respond to all comments.
Will Raymond Author of The Simple Path of Holiness and host of Meditation Practice dot com
at meditation practice dot com (Spelled out to limit spam 774-232-0884