For a few weeks I had been trying to write a blog, and it was going to be about empathy. Then at the end of May this happened:
Now I sit in front of my TV weeping. I’ve been on a “news fast” to take a break from the Covid pandemic drama and trauma—my tender highly sensitive heart exhausted and burned out. Last week, on Wednesday evening, I was part of an online webinar on well-being and self-care, including working with breath. The four panelists on the screen were white. No one mentioned BREATH in the context of our recent martyr.
I am a privileged white woman living in a rural area in California. My privilege included a “news fast” because my empathy as a highly sensitive person has worn me down. All the time on screens had worn me out. Worrying about the world’s citizens and opening back up had been exhausting me.
And then I took a few days off from “working” and turned on the TV to see a video of a white cop on top of a black man who was crying out for his mama and saying he can’t breathe. I find myself struggling to breathe through the pain I can see and feel in this country (world?) and yet I CAN breathe. The tremendous grief that has erupted on behalf of George Floyd and black Americans across the nation who truly can’t breathe. 100,000+ Americans dead from Covid-19, public servants putting themselves in harm’s way to serve our country and care for the ill, and now it feels like we have a breaking point.
But while trying to have a vacation today, I turned on Rick Steves, the HSP’s friend on PBS, to see his travels in Europe, always an HSP-friendly afternoon of TV, and what should I see but his expose on severe hunger and extreme poverty across the world, focusing on Guatemala and Ethiopia, and how climate change has extended the “hungry season” (drought and famine).
How do we manage our deep, profound empathy? We tend to keep our hearts soft and open to the world, and thus we feel the pain and fear, the hardship and anger, so poignantly. I can feel your pain my dear ones, my siblings, parents, and children of the world. I ache on your behalf, and I wonder how, once again, I can turn my Metta, or loving kindness meditation, out to you, to the families who hurt in so many ways, while also turning it toward myself. Do I have any energy, any empathy left for my own tender heart?
I had better practice what I preach because, my loves, I can only pray, meditate, heal, hear, and love you if I first do these things for me (my oxygen mask on first—something the airlines got right.) And so, once again, I offer Eve Decker’s loving kindness meditation which has become mine (with her blessing) to all of you and to Mr. Floyd’s family—which is the world, now. Thank you, Mr. Floyd, for giving your life in the service of world peace. I know you did not choose to go, and I am sorry you were so afraid. May your spirit soar high and free. I will always remember you and the flame you ignited with deep gratitude.
May We (You/I) be safe and protected from inner and outer harm.
May We (You/I) be truly happy and deeply peaceful.
May We (You/I) be healthy and strong and physically at ease.
May We (You/I) take care of ourselves and live with well-being.