Loving Kindness: Shining Light on the Shadows

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I have heard from many people in the past few weeks who are struggling with significant fatigue and depression. Although these feelings are common any time of year, they seem particularly heightened lately. I suspect that this has to do with many factors afoot in the world right now.

In Autumn, as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, it is naturally a time of going inward. As we watch the seasons change and the abundance of spring and summer fades into the stillness of winter, we can be reminded of our own mortality and the fragility of life. And in the stillness when we reflect on our lives, we might not always like what we see. When our expectations for ourselves and others do not align with reality this can cause great stress.

We are also nearing the end of a bitter election season, where much ugliness and turmoil has been brought to the surface. As we wait to see what is in store for our country, there seems to be a great deal of fear and distrust on all sides.

Now, more than ever, it is a good time to work on understanding, accepting, and ultimately transforming shadows. Shadows are those parts of ourselves that we dislike, the parts that embarrass us, the parts that frighten us. These shadows are also seen in the larger world in the form of hatred and violence. One of my favorite ways to deal with shadows is with a practice called Meta, also known as Loving Kindness Meditation. This is a wonderful way to shine light on ourselves, our loved ones, and even those we may consider enemies.

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