The Mindfulness Blog

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Benevolent Incarceration

A couple moths ago, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece written by a 94-year-old gentleman who lives in an assisted living facility, in New Jersey. The headline grabbed my attention (as headlines are supposed to do), and it sadly captures the moment through which we're all currently suffering;

As many of us no doubt already know, the notion of life as suffering was first conceived thousands of years ago by a man who subsequently came to be known as the Buddha. His insight became the foundation of a philosophy that survives today, and is the root of Buddhism, as a religion.

Buddhism also popularized the practice of meditation-- specifically, a practice known as mindfulness meditation-- which was coopted initially by religious zealots but survives today, as both a religious practice and a secular practice. The secular practice has seen a recent increase in popularity among segments of the business community-- particularly in the Western world, where benevolent incarceration seems to have become especially virulent.

But back to the notion of suffering, and particularly, the collective suffering that we're experiencing today. Borne of circumstances that are beyond our control-- a viral pandemic, civil unrest and economic pressures related to the reopening of business-- it's a trifecta of suffering, the likes of which we may have never imagined.

So, what are we to do? Well, I'm a decision-tree kind of guy, and the first fork I see is to either deny it, or acknowledge it. I choose to acknowledge suffering, so the next decision is figuring out how best to deal with it. My choice is meditation-- noticing the feeling of suffering, then letting it pass, without judgment and without attachment. Again, and again.

Practicing-- and learning-- to let things pass, is a big help. It creates the kind of muscle memory that really works for me-- especially when things get tough.

It also gives me time and space to appreciate the benevolence, rather than focus on the incarceration!


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