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When You’re Overwhelmed With the Suffering in the World

This meditation will help you flush out those deep emotions when you're overwhelmed and will allow you to see that the only way to transcend the suffering in the world is through compassion, forgiveness and shining your own light.

When You're Overwhelmed With the Suffering in the World Meditation

You’re overwhelmed with the suffering in the world.

Your heart feels heavy,

Your stomach feels sick,

And your eyes are threatened with tears.

You see yet another story of suffering,

Another reminder of the darkness in our world,

And it makes you sick.

Whether the suffering has touched you directly,

Or someone you have never met,

You’re overwhelmed with suffering, these deep emotions are a reminder that we are all connected,

And that we’re all ultimately the same.

This feeling of overwhelm can make you feel helpless, or depressed, or hopeless.

So the intention of today’s meditation is to help you when you're overwhelmed with suffering; to help you flush out those deep emotions and to allow yourself to see that the only way to transcend the suffering in the world is through compassion, forgiveness and shining your own light as bright as you possibly can.

woman crying because she's overwhelmed with all the suffering in the world
Photographer: Luis Galvez | Source: Unsplash

Your heart feels heavy,

Your stomach feels sick,

And your eyes are threatened with tears.

You’re overwhelmed with the suffering in the world.

You see yet another story of suffering,

Another reminder of the darkness in our world,

And it makes you sink.

Whether the suffering has touched you directly,

Or someone you have never met,

You’re overwhelmed; these deep emotions are a reminder that we are all connected,

And that we’re all ultimately the same.

When you’re overwhelmed with the suffering of the world, you may feel helpless, or depressed, or hopeless.

So the intention of today’s meditation is to help you flush out those deep emotions and to allow yourself to see that the only way to transcend the suffering in the world is through compassion, forgiveness and shining your own light as bright as you possibly can.

So Let’s Begin…

Go ahead and get yourself into a comfortable position,

Sitting or lying down.

Close your eyes and and settle yourself in,

Making any adjustments to your body, releasing any tension or discomfort.

And let yourself relax into your position.

Let yourself feel the rhythm of your breath,

Feeling it fill you as you breathe in,

And relax you as you breathe out.

PAUSE…

Woman overwhelmed with suffering
Photographer: Aliyah Jamous | Source: Unsplash

Take a moment to bring to mind when you’re overwhelmed with the suffering in the world you’ve seen or experienced lately.

Maybe it’s one specific scene or vision.

Or perhaps it’s a culmination of news stories, posts or stories you’ve been seeing.

Whatever it is, hold this vision in your mind.

Notice the emotions that arise.

Sadness.

Anger.

Fear.

Guilt.

Hopelessness.

You’re overwhelmed.

Just recognize any of the emotions you may be feeling.

What a beautiful heart you have, my dear.

Feeling so deeply for the suffering around you.

Honor these emotions, and then imagine them exiting your body with every exhale,

Disappearing into the space around you.

Continue to do this for the next minute or so,

Recognizing any emotions that are present in you,

And when you’re overwhelmed, release them with every breath out.

PAUSE…

When you're overwhelmed with the suffering in the world, I want you to see the people or beings involved in these scenes of suffering.

Those suffering,

Those causing the suffering,

And even those whose suffering might not be immediately visible, but still related.

Now take a deep breath in,

And as you breathe out, imagine waves of compassion emanating from you and surrounding everyone.

Soft pink clouds of energy spreading compassion for the victims.

Compassion for those causing harm.

Compassion for others impacted.

Take another deep breath in,

And exhale more compassion out, watching as the pink clouds surround all involved.

And bring your breathing to its normal rhythm.

And as you do, feel yourself flooded with forgiveness.

For those suffering.

For those causing the suffering.

For yourself.

And feel as the heaviness of the suffering and when you’re overwhelmed, it lightens just a bit.

PAUSE…

Cotton Candy Cloud
Photographer: Nacho Rochon | Source: Unsplash

Now bring that soft pink cloud of compassion onto you.

And ask yourself,

What can I do to alleviate this suffering?

Maybe something comes to you right away, a big or small action you can take.

Or maybe you’re unsure…that’s okay. Just allow this question to sit with you for a bit.

What can you do when you’re overwhelmed with the suffering of the world?

PAUSE…

Light beams in England sky
Photographer: Paul Green | Source: Unsplash

Your light has the ability to infuse others with light.

No matter how small or big your actions are, know that others see your light…your desire to alleviate the suffering around you. And are inspired to do the same.

Shine your light, beautiful.

Namaste.

The Story Behind the Meditation.

A few days ago, I watched the recording of the speech that Joaquin Phoenix gave at the Oscars. It was beyond moving and brought me to tears. His message of compassion, love, peace and innovation was inspiring (you can watch the full speech here…it’s just a few minutes long -> https://youtu.be/87zXvSCmSYk). But it was his brief reference to our society’s collective blindness to cows and how we get milk that really got to me.

The visual he painted was not a new one for me: A mother cow, being artificially inseminated so she can get pregnant and therefore kick her body into making milk. We then take her baby away and take her milk for our own use. That’s the corporate dairy industry.

My stomach churns thinking about that and his story was simply a harsh reminder of the kind of pain and suffering that is out there…and that I have been and still am a part of. And even though I began my vegan journey in 2009, it has been far from “perfect,” and moments like these are a call for me to ask myself, how can I help alleviate this suffering?

I finished watching his speech, the sinking feeling of sadness overtaking me, and continued scrolling on Facebook. Post after post seemed to be some version of horrible suffering. School shootings, animals being slaughtered, innocent children dying, sex trafficking, cancer stealing another life.

It was too much for me to bear. I broke down into a ball of tears and sobbed for the collective suffering around the world.

And yet, what could I do about it? The overwhelm was not only in empathizing in others’ pain, but also a feeling of helplessness…hopelessness.

There’s SO much suffering. So much darkness. What can I possibly do about it?

And then, I got an email from a listener of the show. She shared a very sad story with me. One involving a neighbor she’s known for decades and the recent discovery of his horrific child pornography crimes. She shared the deep impact it had on her, thinking about all those kids, his own family, and the memories she had of their kids together. She asked if I could create a meditation that could help for moments like this…moments when we feel surrounded and disempowered by the darkness. Moments when we realize that so many people are affected by it.

After sitting in the heaviness of all of this, I realized what I could do.

I could make choices that were in alignment with my desire to bring more peace.

I could decide to integrate more plant based meals in my house (my veganism isn’t always “perfect” and my husband is non-vegan).

I could decide to judge less and show more compassion to others.

I could decide to write this meditation for you so YOU can feel empowered to make choices that can help alleviate suffering in ways that feel right for you.

We are all connected…every single being here.

And the fact that you’re hurting when others hurt may feel sad and hopeless at first, but are ultimately opportunities for each of us to step deeper into our connectedness.

The light in me honors the light in you,

Namaste, Beautiful

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