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The Best Use of the News

For my most anxious of clients, I often invite them to stop watching the news for a while and see if anything changes. Anxiety is worrying over imagined futures that may never happen. These imagined futures are quite often memories of the past (either observed or personal experiences) that are then projected into the future.

 

The news, then, becomes a borrowing of pain. Borrowing the pain of others’ perceived horrible events and imagining them coming true in our own lives. If we’re not mindful of recognizing what is ours and what isn’t, we can sponge up and carry the pain of others like it’s our own and then use our incredible intelligence to try and predict all the ways it could also happen to us (or our loved ones) in the hopes of somehow avoiding what was never anywhere but in our minds.

 

The work I do can be a lot like watching the news. I am a witness to the pain and suffering of others. In my own growth and development I have learned that the only way to do my work sustainably has been to recognize that their pain is not my pain. It’s not mine to carry, nor is the pain of my loved ones. We can’t possibly heal others on their behalf, no matter how much we want to (and can go to great lengths to try to without success). It is their journey alone to travel.

 

This doesn’t mean we don’t have compassion; it simply realizes the impossibility of traveling anyone else’s path but our own.

 

Even still, for myself with this understanding, I have avoided the news. When I watch it, there has rarely been anything redeeming or enlightening about any of the stories that seem to attempt to amplify fear. If I watch it, I have tended to believe it and then carry sadness.

 

In the past week or so, I’ve amended my take on the news. It’s been a huge perspective shift, which is why I’m sharing it with you.

 

A few months back, I listened to a recording by Matt Kahn where he invited us to observe the pain of the world rather than avoid it altogether. Someone in his inner circle had said they’re ignoring the conflict between Palestine and Israel because they’re trying to manifest something right now and wanted to keep their vibes high. Without judgment, Matt invited him (and all of us) to keep our hearts open and witness with compassion. That having love and compassion for others does not bring down our vibe, but instead, raises it.

 

This seed was planted.

 

Then I was exchanging emails with my Aunt Mary, who is caring for my 94-year-old grandmother. She shared how Grandma’s anxiety continues to spike her blood pressure. I suggested she try and convince Grandma to watch the National Geographic channel instead of CNN, which she sits in front of from sunup until sundown.

 

Aunt Mary replied, “I’ve tried. Whenever I try and get her to watch something else, she replies, ‘That’s how I know who to pray for.’”

 

My Grandmother is as devout a Catholic as I’ve ever met. Of course, she would use the news to focus her prayers.

 

And yet, it was also the cause of all her suffering…because she took it on as her own and projected it into the imagined future. In the times I’ve chatted with her, she is wracked with fear of all the perceived horrible things that are happening and believes that they will continue to worsen in her doom and gloom outlook.

 

Then something clicked as I was reading a chapter in Alan Cohen’s “A Course in Miracles Made Easy.” Two subchapters in particular stood out to me: “Illusion and Compassion” and “The Best Use of the News” (from Chapter 18: “The Happy Dream”).

 

Cohen states, “As Marcel Proust declared, the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” He goes on to define healing as a relief from fear and states that the entire Course in Miracles is an act of compassion.

 

“Jesus could have sat in his golden heaven at the right hand of God and decided to leave the mass of humanity writhing in pain because ‘it was all an illusion’ and ‘nothing really happened.’ Instead, he reached into humanity and offered a teaching that meets us where we stand and lifts us beyond our current predicament. A teacher initiates transformation by joining with the student where they student lives, rather than demanding that the student meet the teacher where the teacher lives.”

 

Alan then explained that while he would, on one hand, recognize that events like tsunamis killing thousands is “indeed all an illusion,” and on the other hand, “the experience felt real to those who went through it and (he) would do everything (he) could to help relieve suffering in tangible ways.”

 

He went on to share a story of a New York philanthropist Milton Petrie who would scan the newspaper every morning to see whom he could help. He read the news solely for the purpose of making lives better through his generosity. And a plastic surgeon who would do pro-bono work for those he read about in the newspaper whose faces were deformed in accidents. “Their kindness transcended the cruelty that preceded them and facilitated the triumph of love over evil.”

 

And so, while I have touted the merits of avoiding the news for mental and emotional health, I’m amending this perspective with this new insight.

 

If we have the capability to stand back and witness the news with compassion and without taking the pain on as our own…to allow the journeys of others to be solely theirs and not believe it will or could happen to us…If we can leave it as a moment in the past that cannot be changed and accept it exactly as it is…

 

THEN we have the opportunity to send all those involved love and compassion. We can send them our blessings that they may transcend their pain and allow it to be a source of bringing more light to the world.

 

We are more powerful than we realize. Sending love and compassion to others remotely is possible…AND impactful. Even if we can’t see nor will ever know the direct impact.

 

In the words of my grandmother, “I now know who to pray for.” (Well, at least my non-religious version of prayer.)

 

I’m excited about this potential to bring more light into the world. To witness with compassion, rather than turning from and avoiding, the pain of the world. To send love and healing energy to those who need it most.

 

Who’s ready to join me?


PLEASE NOTE: While the mention of Jesus is intended to reference one (of MANY!) spiritual teachers, it is in no way an endorsement of any religious dogma. I consider myself a spiritual person, who looks to a variety of spiritual literature and teachings to form my own opinions and beliefs. In this, I believe Jesus to be one of many Ascended Masters who continue to provide us with lessons that can be applied to our personal spiritual journeys. AND I respect that it may not be a welcomed reference to those who have felt persecuted or experienced trauma due to religious systems and institutions. Please replace the reference to Jesus with any preferred spiritual teacher's story as a substitution, and take from this blog the higher-level message and insights that are at the heart and intention of this post.

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