Love in troubled times

A month and half has gone by since the elections happened. After the shock, most people I know have resumed their life yet a lot of my friends have made the decision to turn off the news and focus on where they can make a difference.
Two and half years ago I made that decision myself. I was dealing with a lot of stress; it was clear that I didn’t need to add anything else, especially not from journalists looking to create more drama.
After this election, I made the decision to dig deeper and really ask myself “how can I impact the world around me?

I went back to what I do best and decided not to hold back anymore. I am a firm believer in the power of the heart.

I am far from being perfect, yet I always center myself and my heart daily through my meditation and prayers. I ask for guidance, I ask to see the world through the lenses of my heart. Of course I still react to many things, but I am striving to go deeper, beyond my reactions. I ask to be able to heal the places inside myself where I feel fear. My favorite Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron says  “I cradle the fear in the arms of loving kindness.”
Why doing this might you ask?
Because I believe that love trumps fear – I don’t mean to play with that word, but I do know that the power of love overcomes any fear based thoughts and behaviors we have.
I currently have a friend in my life, someone who has been to jail at an early age because of foolish behaviors related to drugs. When I first met him I was told that he had been in jail, yet I chose to look past that.
I chose to look at his heart. I chose to look at his childhood history. He had been abused by his father. They were very poor and his father was violent. It was of no surprise to me that he would have had some history of acting out himself yet I chose to look past that. I wanted him to know that his father’s belief system, his behaviors, weren’t his own. He wasn’t what his father had told him he was. I believe that all of us, when met with compassion and kindness, have a “soft spot” like Pema Chodron often says in many of her books and recorded seminars. All of us, deep inside are good people.
This past Saturday I received a text from him. “Chantal you mean a lot to me. I know that sometimes our schedules have us running in different directions, but know that you are on my mind and heart, you are one of the best people in my life and I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t met you.”

I made the choice a few years back to look past the “negative story” of my brother and his son who both went to jail at different times. It was a very challenging time, I know that both of them suffered greatly, especially after they came out.

Society is made to keep people at bay, especially after jail time. My brother chose to better himself. He went back to school and completed. He looked for a job for almost two years and every time he would get to the second interview, his background check would come back and he wouldn’t be called back.
I don’t justify people’s actions when they do something that breaks the law yet I choose love over fear. It was extremely painful to watch him struggle and be rejected again and again. He truly wanted to work honestly. I did what I could to help from a distance yet I felt so powerless. All I could do was listen, open my heart to the best of my ability to his suffering and make suggestions.

Currently more often than not, I fail in my mission. I overreact to things and people, I get mad. I want to write people off yet I don’t give up. I take steps toward  opening my heart each day when I sit down for my daily morning meditation.

Like Pema Chodron says “fail and fail again, yet don’t give up on yourself and your ability to soften your heart.
Will you join me in 2017 to look past our differences, to strive towards finding inner peace, cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity even if you fail more often than not?
Even if you touch only one person’s heart and make a difference in that person’s life, you have changed the world.
By opening your heart you shine your own light and light overcomes darkness.
Make 2017 the year where you choose not to hold back in doing what you love the most. Put your efforts in the direction that calls your heart forward.
Know that when you impact the world around you, you impact the world at large!
Until we meet again.. may you find peace in your heart.
Namaste!

Chantal

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