A good day for Gandhi

Shortly after patting myself on the back for working through last night’s experience, I learned about today’s mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington DC. 13 people are dead, including one shooter. This type of story hits hard and comes in the same waves of emotion every time. First, I am shocked. Then, I am angry. And finally, I despair for all of humanity.

I’ve tried a few different approaches to deal with my tendency toward despair. I used to avoid the news at all costs, and I would lash out at anyone who shared an unhappy news story with me. Then I took the opposite approach and decided to read everything I could about the most violent and horrifying news stories. I thought I could somehow learn so much that I would know how to avoid tragedy or deal with it when it happened to me. Both of these methods failed. Now, I am on a path of nonviolence. I wholeheartedly embrace the notion that hatred does not cease by hatred but only by love. And so, on a day like today, it is only fitting to look for a Bunny Buddhism quote inspired by one of the most peaceful leaders of all time: Gandhi.

Gandhi said, “Man’s nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been know to yield to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature.”

(Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/mahatma_gandhi_5.html#KchIj9sztTSKZmzQ.99)

And so today’s bunny quote will be:

“We must not despair for all bunny kind when a few lost bunnies stray from the path.”

I hope it will serve as a reminder that one act of violence does not mean we are all doomed. In the midst of tragedy, let us remember there were millions of people who did not act out in violence today. And let’s look at pictures of bunnies…because bunnies are, after all, snuggly little symbols of nonviolence.



This is why I meditate

Since Bunny Buddhism began a few years ago, a 140-character sentiment on Twitter has been sufficient. Why change now?  Well, because it strikes me that there is a part of @BunnyBuddhism that might not be apparent from Twitter. Bunny Buddhism is not the creation of some happy-go-lucky individual who always knows the right thing to say and do. It is not the creation of someone who naturally knows how to be happy and life-affirming. On the contrary, I created Bunny Buddhism as a lifeline because I know my thoughts will spiral into rampant negativity and gloom if I leave them unchecked. It is only when I take some time to meditate and try to reframe my thoughts in a positive way that I can come up with a way to approach life that feels almost right for me.

And there is absolutely no denying that it is a lengthy and difficult process.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Just as I was about to go to sleep last night, I heard a sudden noise that filled me with panic. I froze for a moment, not sure whether the sound came from inside or outside, and then I heard a woman outside screaming for help. I ran to the window and looked into total blackness. I heard her scream again, tried to figure out where she was, ran for my phone, and yelled to my husband, “Someone is screaming for help!” I wanted to call 911, but I had no idea what to tell them. The voice was just far enough away that I had no idea where the woman was. So I ran back to the window and yelled, “Where are you?” And then I heard other voices speaking more calmly. Moments later, I heard sirens, and I saw rescue vehicles stop at a house about 50 yards away and across a 30-foot drop that stands between my property and the next. I breathed a sigh of relief that the professionals had arrived to tend to the scene despite my inability to process coherent thoughts through my panic.

I sat listening at the window for at least half an hour, staring at the flashing lights, wanting to help, wondering if I would be getting in the way, knowing there was not really anything I could do, and rebuking myself for not jumping into action sooner. I tried to convince myself the situation was being handled, but I knew there was no chance I was going to be able to fall asleep. My husband decided to go see what was going on. He came back to tell me rescue personnel had just cut a man out of his car after he had wrecked it into a massive concrete divider in the street. I was shocked. I have heard car crashes, and this did not sound like one. There was no screeching of tires, no crunching metal, no breaking glass – just the sound of something big sliding or falling and then someone screaming. It turns out the driver never hit the breaks and ran right into a divider, which knocked down a massive concrete planter that then skidded across the street.

Car accidents always send me into panic. I spent half of last night wallowing in “what ifs” and “I should haves” and the other half trying to figure out what could have happened for the driver to lose control like that. When it was time to get out of bed this morning, I had a massive headache, so I decided to do some yoga. Halfway through my yoga, I started crying, presumably releasing stress from what had happened the night before. The tears came and went and didn’t last long, and I immediately felt a little bit better.

Following yoga, I decided to meditate, so I turned on Ajahn Thanansanti’s “Mind Like Sky” guided meditation (available at http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/12/). I knew when the meditation was nearing its end, and I sat noticing my mind anticipating the chimes that were about the come. But, as I awaited chimes, I heard church bells. I have heard these church bells many times over the past few years. Usually, I hear the bells and think, “It must be noon.” Today, I really heard them and thought, “Music has come into my day.”

THIS is why I meditate.

If I hadn’t done my yoga and meditation today, I would have gone into the rest of my week with unresolved tension and negativity about last night’s unfortunate car accident. Now, I know I have allowed myself to really feel for the driver of that car, release my anxiety about how I responded to the incident, and experience a musical moment that will inspire me for the rest of the week.

While there may not be any bunnies here, this is precisely the kind of experience that leads to each new Bunny Buddhism quote, and I believe it is important to recognize that each quote is just one small part of an ongoing journey.

With love and bunniness….