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Right Action

This week, I have been experiencing lots of feelings, lots in intensity and lots in variety. (Apologies to my editor friends for my repeated use of that vague word … it just fits my inner situation in a way more precise words do not.)

I want to make a difference in the world, or this week, I’d be content with making a difference in my city. To be honest, I don’t know how. Everywhere I turn, I hear opinions being yelled out as Truth Which Must Be Upheld. I feel the urge to “ride madly off in all directions”, as the famous quotation goes, as well as the urge to just curl up in my heated recliner with a soft blanket and binge-watch stories about an alternate world where the problems get solved in forty minutes or less.

This is why I’m remembering the principle of right action. Right action is what I know from my inner wisdom as a result of being present to what arises in me in reaction to the world around me. It starts with being present to my own discomfort—my sorrow at what feels like a world falling apart, my outrage at innocents being terrorized, my helplessness to change a public system that favours one group of people over all others, my fear about how much worse this all could become. Right action invites me to take my attention off of everything outside of me that keeps my reactivity at a high pitch, and tend my own hurting heart, my own over-stimulated nervous system.

My breathing slows. I feel into my body in this moment, and feel that I am safe and supported right now. And I remember my internal guidance system which can only be heard from within. I listen, and I know …

Right action has nothing to do with what someone else might expect of me. It is disconnected from mob mentality, no matter how well-intentioned. It is not one-size-fits-all, and it does not lead me to the same response every time. It is nuanced and subtle. It calls me first to attend to my being in the world—what is the flavour of who I am in this moment. It reminds me that I matter. Then I remember that my actions matter, that even what seem to be small gestures can make a difference in the flavour of the world around me. And slowly, like a picture coming into focus, I feel within me what my right action is for right now.

From this place, I’m able to be present to Other, even the Others with whom I most vehemently disagree. I can honour their humanity … and my own. It takes effort to respond from this place, effort I want to expend because I know it contributes to the healing of the world.

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