I also had feelings of compassion for the shooter, so saddened that his life had so much turmoil and pain that this was the action he chose. What could possibly be behind that?! From what I’ve read, his life was filled with immense loss and tragedy.
I realize that might seem radical, to have compassion for the perpetrator of so much devastation. It's not to excuse or justify his deadly and horrific actions or to move from the pain of the victims - not at all! - but it had me connecting to the deeper wounds of our humanity that are behind this event. There’s so much pain and suffering in this world and at times it feels like it'll never end.
What can we do about?
At the root, we need to reverse the level of hate and fear and replace it with love; loving ourselves, loving one another, taking care to care, not shunning the weak and lonely but seeing that they are a representation of our bigger society. Sure, this sounds pollyanna and I don't really care that it does. I feel very strongly about it and know it to be true. Nothing survives in an environment of hate, fear, loneliness, or isolation. Love, kindness, compassion, empathy, understanding, and all the prosocial emotions are what makes our lives and societies work well.
How do we access that?
The first thing is to get clear and bring this into our heart… to feel love inside, to cultivate peace in ourselves, to be at ease in our own personal lives… all so that we might be better able to participate in and facilitate change.
A meditation practice that cultivates this energetic peacefulness and compassion is loving-kindness. With loving-kindness meditation, we offer wishes of happiness, non-suffering, peace, and ease to groups of people: from those that we love dearly to those that we feel have caused us great suffering. We open our hearts and allow compassionate energy to flow, extending this gift that can only come from a feeling sense.
To activate this energy in this meditation, you repeat specific phrases several time, slowly and with intention, allowing yourself to sink into what they express. As your heart opens with the feeling sense of compassion and care, you can then send it out to others.
While you can change the phrases of this meditation, common ones that repeated are:
May I / you know happiness and the roots of happiness.
May I / you be free from suffering and the roots of suffering.
May I / you be safe and free from harm.
May I / you live in peace and be at ease.
Spend some time and try this on yourself. Get quiet and calm, send the above wishes to yourself then slowly extend these wishes to others. It’ll add a lot of heart to your presence in the world... which will impact many. And if you’d like to listen to a guided loving-kindness meditation, click HERE .
Thank you, thank you, for your Heart! I deeply appreciate your presence.
Peace and Love,