Overhanging my desk Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nobly pears into the distance with his words floating below, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”. After this week’s’ shootings in Dallas, brought on by peaceful-turned-deadly protest because the deaths of two African American men whom were shot by white police officers, I asked myself, ‘What would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. do now?’.
Through his many sermons and speeches, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his beliefs and values crystal clear. In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964 he states, “Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love”. Using this method one must realize there is no blame to be given, these crimes are not the faults of individuals, but the result of systematic discrimination over millennia. To overcome this we must do what MLK suggested over 50 years ago, evolve. We must move past our limbic conditioning (aka fight, flight, freeze) and connect to our more evolved prefrontal cortex. This is where coordinating and adjusting complex behavior, impulse control, and control and organization of emotional reactions occurs (http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/prefrontal-cortex).
To access this more evolved portion of the brain we must practice, over and over, recognizing when the limbic system has taken over, and gently reopen to this moment. This can be done through mindfulness practices (see my post Anchor Away: MIndfulness Part 1), bringing one’s attention and awareness back into the present moment, and meditation. One of my teachers, Tara Brach, has over 25 meditations on opening the heart at www.tarabrach.com. One which may guide an opening on this topic is Heart Meditation; Loving Presence focused on moving from our head to our heart.
In my own personal practice, these meditations and techniques have allowed me more freedom and open heartedness, which allow me to connect for deeply with myself and others. By sharing these techniques I hope to support you in access the space and freedom in your own heart.
Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
May we all be healed.