When we meditate, we do one thing: We shift attention away from the endless stream of thought back to its medium, awareness.
Sometimes it is anger toward God or anger with others that ends in frustration with God that can lead to disconnection with the Divine just when we crave that connection the most. Learning to pray through our anger, instead of around it, can heal.
In the face of this pain and confusion, we must allow ourselves to touch our own strength and goodness and open our hearts, generating love and compassion for the victims of this tragedy.
Let's pray for the hundreds of people who cling to life, whose limbs were lost, whose lives are shattered. Let's pray for the helpers who run toward chaos instead of away from it.
Some of us may feel helpless in the midst of these tragedies, especially if we are far away or can't physically help another. If you are one of these people and are wondering what it is you can do to help, praying and sending healing energy are viable options.
If you're angry at God, say something. Say anything. Don't hold it in. It's not going to do any favors for your prayer life.
Today hurt me both as an American and as an American Muslim. But it also presented us all with an opportunity.
Don't ask the crocus, "Where is God?" / as though the crocus can respond to / our cries echoing over the flower beds. / The purple blooms have done their best / to disguise the traces of our bitter violence; / their job is not to soothe our seething conscience.
When something like this happens, we often say, "There are no words." Perhaps we should not yet go to words. For those of us located outside of the Boston area, we may not yet be able to go to deeds either. For now, maybe it is OK to go to our vast broken heart.
I believe such casual use of "I-am-praying-for-the victims-of-xyz" cheapens the more intense practice of prayer performed with zeal. It's true for most religions. According to Islam, prayer is like melting your soul. You focus. You persevere. You cry. You believe.
I encourage you each to not spend these moments judging or attempting to discern who is guilty but rather to pray and to give. Pray asking for the abounding mercy and peace of God to be with the responders, medics, grief counselors and clergy.
Many years ago, when I was a feisty 16-year-old, I had a meaningful experience at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. No, it wasn't a religious awakening or a spiritual vision. Rather, it was a new understanding of the power of compromise.
Whether it is the internal or external sense of being "maxed out," what is often helpful is to seek a larger landscape in which to hold one's experience. This is not only a skillful means of coping with difficulty, but it is also an aspect of mindfulness and awareness.
Many religious people count on God's forgiveness, but it is far more difficult to put aside human feelings of bitterness and resentment to pardon others. New research, however, shows the two spiritual goals are related.
I grew up in a one-size-fits-all Judaism that, in fact, fit very few. There was one service to attend, one way to pray, and little if any room to experiment with other ways to connect to the sacred. Now, we live in a society that demands choice.
Margaret Thatcher was a big part of my formative landscape. She fueled much of my political consciousness, my sense of justice and injustice, my outrage at lies and oppression, my sense of right and wrong.