A Gentle Practice for Opening Up to Painful Emotions

Law professor and author Rhonda Magee offers a 9-minute guided meditation to remain grounded as reactivity arises.

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This is a meditation that I sometimes rely on when I find myself feeling the reactivity that comes up from what’s happening in the news, what’s happening in our communities, what’s happening in our country, and what’s happening in the world right now. Whether it’s because of the pandemic, a shooting, or an unnecessary killing of a good human being—it happens too frequently. It happened to Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. 

Pausing with all of these sorts of things that obviously are coming at us, especially because we are people seeking to move in the direction of the suffering, to work, and to alleviate it, through our actions and our engagements in the world.

So, this is a gentle practice that can provide support to you in remaining grounded as you open up to information that might cause you pain. 

A Guided Meditation to Ground Yourself

A Gentle Practice for Opening Up to Painful Emotions

  • 9:15

1. Noticing any of these kinds of reactivities coming up for you, you can, as always, just take a few deep and conscious breaths. And as you do so, you’re turning your attention in a very purposeful way toward these sensations that are coming up for you beneath the breath and in the body. 

2. Taking a long, slow breath in, and a gentle, even longer breath out. Continue to follow the flow of your breathing as best you can, resting your attention there.

3. On an in-breath, breathe in for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and then release for a count of eight. We’re doing the four, seven, eight cycle here. So on the next in-breath, breathe in for four counts, hold for seven counts, and then release for eight counts. Repeat that four, seven, eight cycle of breathing in and out one or two times. Breathing out through the mouth, if at all possible.

4. Now settle into a natural rhythm and as best you can, maintain awareness of the quality of your breath—in and out. And rest as best you can, along the river of these sensations, resting in the long, broad, and deep now.

5. As you rest, gently call to mind your desire and the will you have inside yourself for peace that begins with you. For well-being that begins right here, right now, in your own body and being and spirit, for justice that begins here.

6. Perhaps on the next in-breath, consciously focus on the love and compassion that exists in your own heart. The peace that can begin with you right now—extending through you, right now.

7. And as you breathe in, bring greater awareness to this love. This warm, loving softness within you. Or other characteristics that you sense in your own experience, other ways you would describe your own warming heart and the will in your heart for justice and positive social community, for global change.

Allow yourself to completely feel the compassion in your being for everyone who’s suffering—obviously in a way that includes you, includes all of us.

And as much as possible, allow yourself to completely feel the compassion in your being for everyone who’s suffering—obviously in a way that includes you, includes all of us. And particularly those who are suffering the most in your community and in the world right now, wherever they may be.

8. So as you breathe in and out, breathing in the sense of awareness of the love in your heart, and breathing out very consciously, sending loving support toward all those you believe to be in need of it in this very moment.

Breathe in a sense of your own loving heart and what is well within you, and while breathing out, gently extending the wish for well-being from your own head to toe, and flowing out through you, to the communities you meet and touch and work with. And out as far as my reach can go, circling the globe.

9. As you bring this meditation gently to a close, take a moment to appreciate all that you are, all that you do. The body that is carrying you through this very life in all its perfect imperfections—just as you are. 

10. Call forth an intention for staying in attunement and holding with grace, your spirit, your being, and your energy for the work today.

May you be filled with loving-kindness. May you be well in body and in mind. May you be safe from inner and outer dangers. May you be truly joyful and free.

Thank you for practicing this engaged, calm, abiding meditation. 

Follow this practice and other meditations guided by Rhonda Magee on her SoundCloud. 

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