It has been a week now since the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I find myself reeling daily with the news of the devastation, loss of life, and potential for even more damage on the nuclear front, not to mention the simultaneous events in Libya. Wow, again? It feels like our earth has been dealing with one catastrophe after another. Manmade, natural, it hardly matters. We are interconnected and the wheels or karma are turning, seemingly faster and faster. It would be easy to find either numbness or compulsive attention to the newsfeed to avoid or process this reality, but living consciously asks us to step back and consider how we can best serve a situation with our given resources, be they energetic or monetary.

I have found that to be pulled down by tragedy is a response that is easy to move to but highly ineffectual. Like wallowing in S*(&$%, it serves no one. Instead, we can offer our deepest presence and a wish that those who are suffering become free and find joy again in their lives.

I learned the mantra Loka Samasta Sukhinoh Bhavantu from my first teacher Kathleen. The meaning I was taught and eventually passed on myself was “May all beings be happy and free.” This is so sweet and lovely that it can sometime feel to me a bit trite, as if “well duh” could be sarcastically added at the end.

I recently decided to dive a little deeper into this perfect package of a translation and learn the actual meaning of the words, thanks to Google and a Sanskrit dictionary.

Loka has many meanings, one of which is room, or place (location, anyone?). It also means humankind, folk, wide space, and earth. Samasta means combined, united, put (or thrown!) together. Sukha is joy, delight, comfort, or ease, and sukhinoh is one who is in that state. Bhavantu means they shall, and I believe relates to the word Bhavana, which I was taught is an attitude or an intention that you choose and direct one’s attention toward.

Ah, now the mantra has a little more traction for me, and I can offer it across the ocean with a deeper sincerity. YES, we all have the capacity for joy, for delight, for ease. YES, we are all united on this planet, for better or worse. YES, they shall become free and full of joy once again. YES, this is what I wish, what I hope for and I can offer my practice, my efforts, towards this wish.

Please join me for a special practice this Monday, March 21 at 7:15pm at 8 Limbs Capitol Hill. We will focus our practice twofold: sending both supportive energy and awareness to our neighbors in Japan and donations to Mercy Corps and their disaster relief efforts. No donations required to join us, just a willing and open heart. Should you choose, please bring cash or checks made out to Mercy Corps. 8 Limbs will donate all drop-in payments for class to Mercy Corps.

Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer

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