Photo by Thomas Kelley

We’re living through a period in history in which many of us are feeling uneasy and uncertain. It can seem as though things are completely out of our control. Fortunately, our mindfulness practice can help us see where we are truly empowered.

Empowerment means awareness of our resources, agency (ability to take action) and influence – as well as becoming more skilled and confident in accessing, understanding and exercising these powers. Becoming empowered allows us to take more responsibility for how we feel, what we do, and what we say, and to make the most of our circumstances. When we feel empowered, we can also begin to help empower others by sharing our resources and avoiding actions that may be disempowering.

We all want happiness. Many of us also want a kinder, more compassionate and just world. The good news is there are things we are empowered to practice in public and private, in body, speech and mind that can help these intentions come to fruition. We can practice:

  • The ability to direct and sustain our attention on what matters most
  • Reducing discrimination and hatred through lovingkindness, sharing and generosity
  • Living an ethical life through doing our best not to harm others or our home planet
  • Balancing out our fear and negativity bias by also reminding ourselves of the good that is within and around us
  • Developing liberating wisdom and insight toward freedom from ignorance and delusion

We can also turn toward our practice community for mutual support in times of distress. These mindful friends can be a great source of co-regulation, collectively sharing inner resources like calm, confidence and compassion.

Here’s an empowering practice you can experiment with:

  • If you’re feeling depleted and needing some resourcing yourself, you might practice recognizing and breathing in, on each in-breath, whatever it is you need most – maybe it’s peace, or kindness, strength, or encouragement. Then on the out-breath, you might allow for some softening and opening to what is here.
  • If you’re feeling particularly resourced, on the in-breath, you might instead take in some of the suffering of the world, sharing some of the burden and holding space for it. Then offering some of the beneficial qualities you’ve been cultivating inside yourself with others – maybe breathing out peace, well-wishes, courage, or love.
  • Or maybe you might experiment with a little of both, breathing something in for yourself for period of time and then alternating with taking and sharing for a while.

Every breath
each breath
of your life
is a precious jewel.

– Attar

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