What To Do While the World Is Burning Down

The art of listening to the heart.

On my Facebook news feed, my post from yesterday (it was all about “let’s do something FUN, every day!”) appeared directly underneath a post with a thoughtful, difficult thread about whether or not Trump is another Hitler. The juxtaposition was jarring and I immediately felt guilty for wanting to have fun at a time like this.

I’ve stayed out of the political conversation on purpose (in the social media world) because I’m not sure it lends itself to thoughtful dialogue. I mean, you can find it there, but that’s not the go-to tone. It’s more like: All you idiots on the other side of [insert issue here] should just [insert zinger here]. Nothing comes of that kind of communication except more of the same; so by encouraging that, I’d just be adding fuel to what’s tearing us apart as a society. I don’t want to do that.

If we don’t develop a way to listen respectfully to one another and find some deeper common ground, then [insert scary prediction here].

So. If you find yourself overwhelmed with rage or depression regarding the state of the world today, there is one thing you can do.
You can consider tending to the state of your world.

Start at home. Check out what you’re feeding your mind. How much of it is necessary, true, inspiring, positive, useful? How much garbage are you shoveling into your own consciousness just to pass the time?

Now that you have your attention, sit still and listen.

This morning I did that. I listened to my heart. I’d been shutting it down regularly, silencing it with food, sugar, work, coffee, Netflix, whatever. But this morning I sat inside its chamber and just listened. And the world as I’d come to know it raged and clawed at me.

But that wasn’t my heart speaking. That was my mind spinning away, churning out my many versions of ‘the world out there’.

I settled in a little deeper and tried again.
I fiddled with the dials until the signal cleaned up.
This is what I heard.

I need you to listen.
You can’t change what you’ve been trying to change.
You have no control over what happens out there.
You only have control over what you do.
The things that matter to you…
matter.
I need you to act like it.
I need you to stop running away from me.
I need you to sit here and hold hands with me while the world burns down.

And I need you to have fun anyway, too.

This conversation with my heart was sobering, and comforting, and confusing enough to stop me in my tracks. Which is a good thing.

I invite you all to join me in this daily practice of settling down somewhere quiet and asking the heart what it needs.

Then go do that.

Tina Lear is a writer, yoga teacher, and mother of three really interesting humans. She founded the Long Island Dharmata Sangha and is currently navigating the liminal world between her past and her future. Doing her best to be in the present. She lives in Floral Park with her beloved wife and their very small but mighty dog, Ruby.

Writer. Yoga teacher. Musician. Buddhist. Quilter. Animal lover. Visible grownup. Hidden child. Secret dancer when all alone. Makes good bread.

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