Bram Levinson

I feel. Deeply. I always have. As a kid I was identified as the emotional barometer of the family; when issues arose with my parents or my siblings, my emotional state would indicate that instability. I was labeled as “sensitive”, a label slapped on me because I showed what I felt, I (eventually) spoke what no one else was addressing, and I (eventually) refused to lie with secrets as my bedfellows. Truth has always been hard for me to turn a blind eye to, and so, I feel.

Humanity today is in tatters, not simply because of the last few years, but because of the last few centuries during which people were not set up to address their suffering, to process it and hone the tools required to objectively name it, and to heal from it. We are set up to participate in an economic system that has absolutely zero interest in our health and well-being and is solely intent on squeezing every ounce of energy and financial potential from us. Not much space in there for healing. Not much space in there for thriving. Not much space in there for joy. And so, the rampant intolerance, rage, misogyny, transphobia, xenophobia, homophobia, and generalized desperation to be offended that we are seeing these days resonates with me, because I can recognize these states of being as emotional barometric readings. It turns out that I am not the only one who feels, I just was way ahead of the curve, apparently.

Humans are hurt. We are wounded. We all carry the scars of human suffering we earn by surviving in a world in which no one is set up to thrive unless they contribute to the hurt and wounding, and the resources for healing are not only few and far between, they are reserved for the privileged few who can afford them. Consider that every single one of our governments did a bang-up job of scaring the living daylights out of us throughout the pandemic, distancing us from one another and making some of us afraid to breathe deeply and normally when in the presence of another (which makes the passage from the Upanishads that speaks about there being fear in the presence of an other even more prophetic), but did absolutely nothing to ensure there were resources put in place once restrictions were eased and some semblance of “normal” was reinstated. We are set up to contribute to an economic system. We are not set up to be well. We all, therefore, have work to do, for ourselves, on ourselves, to transcend archaic systems of being in order to, at the very least, enjoy the time we have in these bodies. Our very existence places us in a state of tension between how we are meant to be and how we need to be, especially if we are “sensitive”, if we feel deeply.

If you, like me as a child, eventually get to a place where you are exhausted from the tension, exhausted by the headlines and clickbait, exhausted from simply trying to survive in a system that only needs you to so that you can keep pumping cash into it, know that you are not alone. Also know that a mindful perspective on it all is the balm we need more than ever, a balm that many have given up hope for but which is a few thoughts away. Know this:

  1. I believe that everything is unfolding exactly the way it is meant to. Life is expressing itself as itself and much as each of us moves closer to truth and personal enlightenment as our bodies age, humanity is very likely doing the same thing, including the growing pains we each have awkwardly lived through. Consider that this is all part of how we get to the good parts.
  2. Healing can only begin on a micro level before it fragments outwardly, shifting to the macro. We each have a responsibility to address our wounds, to bring them from shadows to light, and to recontextualize them from being the crosses we bear throughout life to the opportunities we have to heal, thereby providing the tools and knowhow to facilitate the healing of others. Our healing will be palpable, and it will inspire others.
  3. We have a choice as to how we respond to chaos and sensationalism. The vibration of what instigates emotional reaction within us is designed to perpetuate itself through our thoughts, emotions and felt-sense experience. Our work, which requires attention and intention, is to kill that cycle of trauma by not letting it inform our own actions and words. Mindless reaction vs mindful response. Be aware of how these two work.
  4. If you know how to take a deep breath when life gets hard core, then you a) have a mindfulness practice, and b) have a tool that will activate the parasympathetic nervous system when the sympathetic nervous system threatens to hold you hostage, when the amygdala is firing away gleefully. Taking a deep breath helps break the cycles of panic, fear and helplessness, three states which allow trauma to integrate and set up camp.

How we get through this moment in history matters. At the risk of sounding like a snowflake, we can either get through this together or divided, and we know from the last few years of Pandemica that divided only exacerbates the hurt and damage. As we stand in this tension of opposites which seductively guides us to the low-hanging fruit of the easy reaction, let us have the strength and perspective required to do something different, to play the long game of wise response which will allow us to emerge from these dark ages of othering and inequality as unscathed as possible knowing we refused to cave to mindlessness and chaos.

On this journey of life, may we all be happy. May we all be free. May we all be filled with Lovingkindness. May we do no harm. And may we all be illuminated by the teachings of Mindfulness and Yoga.