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Lions Roar : September 2017
As far as meditation practice goes, the proof is usually in doing it. If you’re the kind of person who’s really helped by structure, I would suggest trying a structure that seems reason- able to you. Don’t make it too ambitious, and then give it a shot. If you’re just starting out, try something like ten minutes a day. One thing I’ve learned from my own meditation and from teaching others is that while you may think you’re getting nowhere with meditation—I still get so sleepy, I’m so bored, I’m not getting an ecstatic charge out of this—change does hap- pen in your life. You might look in vain for the change during that ten-minute period each day, but not notice that when you made a big mistake, you didn’t beat yourself up quite so much. Or you met a stranger and really paid attention to them instead of being self-absorbed. Or a conflict arose and you didn’t treat it with the same desperation. That’s how meditation can help more love seep into your life. Question from the audience: I run an organization where I work 24/7 to help others. But I also have a lot of anger. It feels like in the face of hatred, revenge is good. Others are now saying, as they did back in the sixties, “Get down, put your head down, and let people spit on you.” At the time I said, “I’m not going on those marches. Nobody is gonna spit on me without me spitting back,” and I still feel pretty much the same way now. So where does somebody like me go with that? How can I find a way to be authentic within all this? bell hooks: We like to think that revenge is satisfy- ing, but there are so many stories in which people discover that revenge isn’t satisfying. It didn’t take away the weight they were carrying with their rage. That’s why we offer love, because it can deal with that rage and offer us ways to move beyond vengeful feelings. As Black people in the diaspora, we use anger as a way of cutting through invisibility. If we become enraged, if we strike out, we feel like we are seen, that we are exercising a form of power. It’s possible, though, to look to other forms of power we can lay claim to, that we can use. On the other hand, trying to contain rage, tamping it down, doesn’t work either. We get sick because we can’t engage in the healing self-care that has to happen for us to blossom. Sharon Salzberg: If somebody spit at me, I hope I would say or do something that says, “You have no right to treat me that way. I deserve better.” I don’t see “I deserve better” as vengeful. Audience member: That’s why I’m talking about authenticity. I want to come from a place where I really don’t want to spit back. I have learned that I have enough love for a person who spits on me that I will not spit back, or hit back, or bite back. I really, really feel that that’s not the right thing to do. If I learn that, that’s authenticity. ♦ Our innate capacity to love is like a seed in the soil. What do we need to do to activate that seed and make it blossom? —bell hooks LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 59