Stop the Madness – Guest Post by Janice Lynne Lundy
I’m so happy today to be sharing a guest post from friend and colleague Janice Lynne Lundy. I have known Jan now for several years and have a great appreciation for her work and teachings, and the gentle peace she brings to everything she does. Her latest teaching offering is a beautiful DailyOm course, “How to Stay Calm in the Midst of Chaos”, that is well worth your time.
In today’s guest post, she offers a powerful piece that encourages us to truly look at ourselves, our culture, and our own role within the ‘madness’ we all sometimes experience in the world today.
I’m very concerned about something so when Lisa offered me the space to write about it, I jumped at the chance.
When I considered the title of this post, I was surprised when this one emerged: “Stop the Madness.” It felt a little strong but I’ve chosen to proceed with it in hopes of getting your attention. Much of what I have to say is likely “preaching to the choir,” as I know you all are wise and wonderful people, on the path to awakened living. You know this stuff. But considering the condition of the world, I believe we can all dig a little deeper. I hope you’ll read on.
What I am concerned about is the state of our collective minds and emotions. It feels like the majority of people (in the Western world, at least) are truly agitated—worried, anxious, fearful or angry. They are impatient and disconnected from one another for the most part. They seem really unhappy.
The “they” of which I speak, of course, is WE—you and me. I’m not finger-pointing here as I fully admit to falling prey to these emotional mind-states myself. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t.
But what concerns me is the cumulative effect of all this. It’s as if our human anxieties, fears, anger, etc. are stacking up like a house of cards, growing taller and wider, creating societies themselves that are sourced in fear and a whole gamut of negative, ego-based emotions: worry, judgment, anxiety, scarcity, aggression, and more. This house we’re building seems doomed to tumble and disintegrate if we can’t get our individual and collective acts together soon.
Ironically, as people who give lip service to “let’s live in peace,” we’re still treating ourselves poorly by not taking care of our thoughts and emotions. Nor are we caring tenderly for one another. For in the course of our days, riding a roller coaster of emotions, we seem to feel it’s fine to spew them onto others whenever we feel lousy. We appear to be getting angrier and more fearful by the day, resulting in mounting discontent that can be felt everywhere.
Have you felt it? Have you taken the time to look at people in the supermarket to see just how unhappy or upset they are?
You see this personified in the media especially. Turn on the television and you’ll witness it in Dolby sound and Technicolor. The negativity wallops us. We listen to people bash each other on talk shows, reality shows, and on the “news.” News appears not to be news anymore but an opportunity to escalate human drama to fear-filled proportions. The top “entertainment” shows are based on competition; who’s the best at anything, which further divides us and separates us into winners and losers. Judgment reigns supreme.
Not to mention our fascination with violence, which continues to escalate too. It is getting more and more difficult to find movies (or television) to watch that are not infused with harm and violence. Nowadays there are even ratings for the levels of violence: disturbing images, mild violence, strong and bloody violence, graphic violence. When did this happen?
This whole scenario has been going on for so long now that we consider living, interacting and participating in life in these ways as “normal.”
Here is my point. This is not normal, friends. It’s not. This is abnormal, and it’s a disturbing way to live and to interact with one another. It is survival based and animal like. We have descended into the lower realms and are so far down in the pit we don’t even know we’re there.
We have to “Stop the Madness.” In my view, we each have to begin to take personal responsibility for this. We cannot keep passing off “anger,” for example, on everyone else. The “they” we speak of is ourselves. We are simply reluctant to admit it.
We also can’t continue to blame others for our difficulties in life. We can’t blame others for our feelings. (“You make me so angry.”) This finger-pointing has to end if we don’t want our house of cards to tumble down. Atlantis revisited.
Why is this happening now and coming to a head, so to speak? I believe it’s because (even with the best of intentions and proclaiming ourselves to be on a spiritual path), we are still not doing enough good work of self— at least the majority of us aren’t—so how can we expect the world to change? We are the world, as Michael Jackson sang.
It seems we are out of touch about what it will actually take to create enlightened society. We just keep carrying on as we are, hoping other people will get their acts together, and the world we wish to see will, somehow, magically occur.
We know better than this and, in our heart of hearts, we know that each of us must learn to work with our thoughts to incline them toward what I call “the virtues of the spirit”: the qualities we admire and wish to have more prominent in our everyday lives. States of mind and heart like: courtesy, respect, clarity, calm, acceptance, openheartedness, and generosity.
To get to these esteemed places (Chogyam Trungpa called it “Shambhala”) we must learn to transparently assess our moods and emotions so that we can heal and release those that are harmful to ourselves and to others. With our thoughts and emotions we are making this world.
I hope and pray that we will begin to take some important steps to reinstate “normal” so that we can transform our homes and communities, churches, temples and synagogues, our nations, the entire planet, to live the lives we keep hoping for. This hope is sourced in us—you and me, and in every choice we make to either succumb to fear, the root of all harmful emotions, or to love.
“Normal” is peace, love, gratitude, joy, compassion and more. “Normal” is our true nature—evidence of our basic goodness—the soul stuff of which we are made. The virtues of the spirit are who we really are. We are not our ego—which is the source of all mind-states that take us away from love and peace. The ego is simply a wounded and insecure part of our personality that needs to wise up. It can.
“Normal” is learning to love and respect yourself more so that you can actually be kind to yourself—so you can quit grasping, striving, clawing your way through life. “Normal” is being able to naturally give, to be loving and generous to others without a thought of “what’s in this for me.” “Normal” is living in such a way that your heart breaks open again and again when others are suffering so compassion can fill the emptiness.
Yes, this is normal.
I started to create a list of all the ways that I believe we can get back to normal. However, the list ran too long for this post and it started to sound really preachy like, “Turn off your television,” and “Stop staring into your portable device and actually look at and talk to real people,” but then you’d think I’d become an evangelist rather than a woman who simply loves peace and would be in heaven on earth if more people did too.
We can stop the madness. Each of us can. And, amazingly, it isn’t all that hard. We do it one mindful choice at a time. One carefully chosen word at a time. We can think about what we are going to say before we say it and vow to not harm anyone (or ourselves) with our words. We can be transparent and self-scientific and get to the bottom of what we’re feeling, why we’re feeling it, and take personal responsibility for it before we bathe others in our goo.
We can simply close our mouths and listen more. We can choose carefully what we listen to, watch and ingest. We can move away from spending so much time in the techno world of television, computers, and cell phones to remember there is a glorious world out there— incredible beauty, interesting people, and indulge ourselves in the soulfulness of it all. This will help us remember who we really are. And it will help us remember what “normal” feels like.
Friends, let’s recommit to living in love again and doing whatever we have to do to make that happen. Let’s stop the madness.
May all beings be safe, healthy and strong, happy and at peace—including you and me. Namaste’.
Janice Lynne Lundy is passionate about living an awakened life and helping others live theirs. She is an Interfaith Spiritual Director, an educator, and author, her new newest book being Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be. For over 20 years, Jan has been helping people meet the challenges of everyday life with courage and grace. Her writing, online teaching, in-person programs, and private mentoring are rooted in the practices of mindfulness, loving-kindness and compassion. Students, mentees, audiences, and readers alike remark upon her peaceful presence and describe her as possessing deep and gentle wisdom
Learn more about Jan at her website, www.JanLundy.com, where you can view current course offerings, subscribe to her newsletter or blog, or receive daily “Beads of Wisdom.” Visit DailyOm.com to participate in her newest online course, “How to Stay Calm in the Midst of Chaos.”
Jan lives with her beloved husband, Brad, along the peaceful shores of Lake Michigan. She is the mother of three, stepmother of four, and grandmother to six. Her motto is, “Be gentle. Be kind. It’s a long journey.”