Spirituality and Dealing with Overwhelming World

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Spiritual Reality At their root, most spiritual practices are meant to help you keep your heart open and your mind calm—no matter what life brings. But Western culture oftentimes takes this one step further and equates the use of spiritual practice with feeling “good.” Meditating will make you happier. You’re only anxious because you’re not trusting a source larger than yourself. Visualizing a positive outcome will ensure your success. You’ll just feel better if you lean into your true nature.

Those ideas have their merits in some situations, but in times of real human emergency, leaning on spiritual ideals or beliefs in this way can have the opposite effect: You meditate as much as you can, and you still feel overwhelmed by the pain of the world. That sense of suffering can result in action-paralysis: You have the desire to do something, but you can’t actually take any action. You’re looking for peace inside yourself, but all your usual tools just aren’t working.

We can’t use spiritual tools to help us feel “good” when the reality around us is anything but good. A better way to think about spiritual practice is as a way to discern where you can be of most use, and to help you manage your feelings of helplessness, fear, and rage. It’s a slight shift but one that can make all the difference.Spirit Queen

Given that it’s not an option to simply check out of the world, which practices will actually help you be of service and not lose your mind? To start, remember that you cannot help everyone. This isn’t a failure. It’s a physical reality. The idea here is to use your spiritual and personal development practices to help you discern which areas call to you most strongly, and focus your attention there.

The level of pain and suffering in the world is reaching epic proportions. Of course, for many communities and cultures, this suffering has been going on for a long time. Knowing how to respond to each horrific news cycle can feel overwhelming. These are big, complex, convoluted issues. Where do you even start?

Meditative stillness can give you a sense of your own limits. Knowing when you’re getting close to being overwhelmed is helpful. Stepping away in order to tend to your heart, body, and mind is necessary—since you can’t respond to the world from a state of utter collapse. Your spiritual practice can help you listen to your own body and mind within the context of creating an organism (mind, heart, physical form) that is able to respond effectively to the cries of the world.