11 Jul I Am More Than This
I don’t know if I have good advice for anyone about getting through this time. I am struggling. If pressed to say anything, I’d tell other black people, talk to other black people, as much as possible. You suffer less if you live in a shared reality. Be with wise folks, if at all possible.
An African American Dharma teacher said in a recent online retreat for people of color, people will be having nervous breakdowns. I believe him. I wish it could be easier. He said this in answer to a question from woman who expressed physical symptoms of stress. I have those symptoms. Insomnia, sadness, stomach upset. I get a few hours’ sleep and I think I have this conundrum licked. Then I spend a night without sleep and I wonder if I will survive these times, then I get some sleep and feel a little better, and the cycle starts again.
By the way, white people; don’t go to your black friends or acquaintances or co-workers for any solutions to your angst, guilt, or sadness. We are treading water. We are in a land filled with people who forgo their higher thought processes when they see us walking down the street or sitting across from them in job interviews. You will do it anyway, ask us to make you feel better. I’ve seen it. At the last community where I lived, one of the founders, a white man, asked, after the current president was elected, “Black people have had to deal with a lot of adversity and stress. How do you do it?” He asked me this. I answered “How do we do it? On the whole have high blood pressure, heart attacks and we die.”
We don’t always do that. Some of us persevere because of a simple truth. Some know that we are more than this. I am more than my body. Simple. But it is not an easy truth to live in the day-to-day. Anyone who has tried knows this. I have been meditating and looking at my mind, paying very good attention to it for years for the purpose of healing childhood and inter-generational trauma. I have been saying to my mind, “I am more than this.” And I still struggle with getting through the nervous breakdown and beyond it so that I can get on with the business of healing myself, humanity, and the planet.
If I never thought of meditating, I might be blissfully unaware of any feelings out of the ordinary. But I do meditate and I’m glad that years ago, I had a jump on how to get through this day by meditating. Now is a good time to start a practice if you don’t have one. It is not a great time, but it is the only time you have. I don’t feel at my best right now, but I know I am lucky because I have a practice.
I was listening to a talk where I live here on full presence mindfulness, and I believed that Rinpoche was talking about us having an effect on reality with our thoughts, or that is what I took from the talk on the reading. I’ve heard it before, manifesting reality. And, I’d call what we’ve done with the planet and the culture of humanity ‘feedback on our collective thought processes.’ This culture could benefit from nearly every one of its people trying something else in the way of thought processes, something other than or in addition to what we have been thinking.
This is what I believe and say about these times when I am in a zoom circle, and when I start talking to the black people among us. I say with certitude that we are all prepared for these times, or we would not be here listening and hearing each other’s words in these conversations.
The legend of Harriet Tubman is now a movie, but before she was a movie title, I learned about her in Sunday school growing up. She is not a suggestion that there is someone out there that we must wait for to rescue us. Her legend is about us all having the potential to be despised, enslaved, beaten and hit on the head with a lead weight, and turned into a superhero with eyes in the back of our heads. I understand the problem with the superhero narrative. It simplifies the goings on in the world down to good versus evil, as it declares war on something. Okay. Let’s call her an alchemist of situations and circumstances by way of her thoughts and beliefs. Let us suppose that this time is very critical, and it’s challenging to our nervous systems because we are solving the dilemma of how to save ourselves from extinction by shedding the unsustainable ideas in our minds.