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Stop the Madness – Guest Post by Janice Lynne Lundy

October 22, 2012

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.

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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.

Wrong.

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’.

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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.”

21 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2012 5:21 pm

    Thanks for doing this Jan. I love this post, and as I mentioned to you, when I first read it, it especially made me think of the political dialogue these days. It is so easy to get caught in the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality, and find yourself internally feeling ‘but my side is the one of peace, my side is the one of equality’ etc., without taking responsibility for what the ‘my side’ partisan thinking actually puts out into the world. It’s always easiest to blame others for the tension in the world, whether on a grand scale like politics or on a small scale like our neighborhood or household. Mindful attention to our choices moment by moment is the single step we can each take, every day, every moment – personal responsibility for our own state of attention and what we putting out into the world. Love, Lisa

  2. Pam permalink
    October 22, 2012 5:23 pm

    Hi Jan and Lisa, Just what I needed to read today, after finding myself fuming about something all morning – definitely caught up in blame and anger. But you are right, I do know better, fuming about this will not solve it. I am going to go for a walk and bring myself back into the moment. Thank you for the reminder.

    Pam

  3. October 22, 2012 5:51 pm

    I love you both and the title drew me right in. I knew it wouldn’t be a checklist of “how”, but an invitation to turn inward and allow what *we wish to become* (peace, love, joy, gratitude, compassion) to guide our movements as we connect and create.

    I read through twice, once for the meaning, once for the energetic feel. Yes, please, let’s stop the madness. As ambassadors of peace, let’s use the resources and tools we so readily share with world on our ‘selves’, And, my takeaway, for me personally is that I do tend to live in my “bubble” of spirit because my practices are so different, then engage with mainstream at “surface” because that seems to be the way (and it seems “safe”)…So, I shall gather my courage, which is ultimately faith in the process, and move through World as I do at home; honoring transparency and joy as I engage.

    I think what has happened is so many of us have retreated to our “bubbles” (not judgmental at all, more like a sacred container of home), and we connect with each other; yet the true change, the one that impacts collective consciousness, is when we step out of our homes and bring Spirit with us; collaborating in love and sharing our practices in World.

    Thank you for sharing so openly. I thoroughly appreciate the message, and the invitation!

  4. Annie Johnson permalink
    October 22, 2012 7:15 pm

    Thank you, Lisa, for posting this- such profound wisdom in her words. I recently completed Jan Lundy’s 30 day writing course for spiritual health. She was such a wonderful facilitator- so honoring of every voice. I love knowing that she is your friend…..I have learned so much from both of you.

    Thank you and Namaste,

    Annie Johnson

    Sent from my iPad

  5. Jamie permalink
    October 22, 2012 7:50 pm

    I also really connected with this, and the comments. I think what Joy says about us being in our spiritual ‘bubbles’ is really true. I know that I insulate myself a lot, and then can have a tendency to react when I feel like others are disrupting my ‘bubble’. Thanks for the reminder that we all need to take responsibility for our own state.

  6. October 22, 2012 7:54 pm

    Pam, we have all been there! Of course I can’t help but consider the energetic component of this too – the way we absorb the energies of others. Especially empathic types:-) So when others are irritated around us, it can be especially hard to take that deep breath and return to the moment without judgement.

  7. October 22, 2012 7:56 pm

    Hi Joy, like Jamie, I also really like what you said about ‘bubbles’ – I can see this tendency in myself also. And it is easy to fall into the habit of blaming the big bad outside world or the ‘negative’ energies/people in it for our own state of mind, instead of really attending to our own mind moment by moment. We DO need our ‘sacred containers’ as you put it, but we also need to be in the world mindfully and compassionately, and in that way take responsibility for the overall state we find ourselves in. Thanks for commenting.

  8. October 22, 2012 7:57 pm

    Annie – so glad you took Jan’s writing course! I did her first one, in June, and would love to do it again. And so great to see you here too! – Lisa

  9. October 22, 2012 11:34 pm

    Hello Lisa and all,

    I appreciate the warm welcome and the openheartedness with which everyone is sharing. Taking personal responsibility is hard and I commend each one of you for transparently saying, “I know this and I will do it.” I bow to you.

    Holy synchronicity, just last night a firestorm brewed in my birth family around an important transition our mother must make. Anger with a capital A was spewed in my direction because I questioned certain decisions that were being made which I did not feel were in her best interests. Sensitive that I am, I took all the anger on. I wanted to spew it back (well, at least my ego did!) but I kept hearing the whisper of a wise teacher, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in my ear saying, “Do no harm.” I listened, hope I did none, yet let my voice be heard. Afterwards I felt as if I had been walloped with a 2′ x 4′ and my heart broken at the same time. Devastation.

    I did have to step outside of my bubble (I sure resonate with that notion!) and come to the table. It was not easy.

    Today I could feel unexpressed anger surge in and out of me like a wave. I (ego) wanted to get the last word via email. I (higher me) refrained. I answered a necessary question and left it at that. Again, another voice whispered, “Our words have the power to hurt or help. Choose wisely.” I think I did.

    And then, like Pam, I went for a very long walk to try to release the energy. I am better this evening and I’ll have my husband do some chakra work on me to help me move back into equanimity. (He is a very proficient healer, aren’t I lucky? LOL)

    Every single one of us goes through things like this – every single day too – and the invitation is great to respond in anger and to strike back at someone who has hurt us. It is not about turning the other cheek, or being a wimp, it is about taking good enough care of ourselves to choose a higher road—one of peace—mine, yours, ours.

    If we don’t do this good work of self, everyone suffers. Hurt builds upon anger upon vehemence upon aggression. It all stacks up. May we continue to be careful, caring and wise.

    Love to all. Jan

  10. October 24, 2012 7:31 pm

    Jan, I love this example and am so glad you shared it. I think we can all relate.

  11. October 24, 2012 9:38 pm

    Hi Jan–
    Thanks for your post. I think what is missing from what is “normal” is the acknowledgement of the bond between all of us. I’ve been reading Lynne McTaggart’s book, The Bond, and just gave a speech on it today. What is most interesting in that book for me is the acknowledgement of a bond or a social contract for cooperation between us that often gets broken or corrupted or slighted. The way we see this most clearly is through our finely honed sense of fair play. We want things to be fair between us all (I didn’t say equal–I said fair–there’s a difference). McTaggart reveals research into studies done on humans and yes monkeys on how we are hardwired to want things to be fair. We want our social contract of cooperation to stay in tact. But then it gets violated–someone doesn’t keep up their end of the deal, someone lies, someone walks away and breaks the bond.

    I think the real conversation should be what do we do when the bond seems broken? How do we act? Do we run back to our safe bubbles? Or do we stay and try to work out how to repair the bonds between us? Normal, to me, includes conflict and resolution. I don’t think peace and roses and love is what it always means to be human. So maybe I differ from you in that regard–I’m not sure. But I think what is more important is how we handle the conflict, the breaking of the bond, or the competition that has replaced cooperation.

    I think cooperation is our normal and it has been studied as the research shows in McTaggart’s book. We like to keep the bond between us in tact and I think we suffer a lot of hurt and separation when that bond lies in tatters. That is where we are now. We are living separate from our bond with each other and that’s the true problem. I don’t think it’s TVs or videogames or computers that make us this way. I think they help distract us from the true ailment. However, sometimes computers help us “bond” with each other so I think technology is simply a tool to be used for good or for distraction.

    I think we need to look at where our bonds have strayed–where we don’t feel the world or our politicians or our government or our neighbor is being fair and see how to reconstruct the bond. McTaggart recommends forgiveness as the first step to finding our way back into balance and back to finding out bond. I tend to agree.

    I don’t think there’s any one way back to normal. I think we just need to find our way back to our bond–with each other, with our neighbor, with our politicians, with our earth–and then maybe we’ll make some progress.

    -Melinda Pajak
    weintend.com

  12. October 24, 2012 10:10 pm

    I do agree, Melinda. Cooperation is normal. I believe cooperation is sourced in our “higher self,” the part of us that is evolved and connected with virtuous behaviors. It can be grown and expanded. These are Innate qualities that get buried beneath the camouflage of the human ego. Harmony is normal. Equanimity is normal. Justice is normal. Some of our cultural creations keep us disconnected from this. At least in my view. Like you, I don’t think there is one way back to normal. Many paths can lead us back “home” to our true selves. Thanks for your input.

  13. October 25, 2012 5:24 am

    Hi Jan and Lisa, great post! I thought the same thing as you Lisa – about politics. Hard to not think of that right now – so divisive. It is soothing somehow to see what you wrote above Jan – that harmony is normal, equanimity is normal. That if I take a deep breath (or two or three) I can find this normal again.

  14. October 25, 2012 9:41 pm

    Yes, SP, I sense that all of this election “madness” has really taken its toll on people: extra edginess, impatience, even anger. We are pitted one against the other on issues and candidates, everyone believing their “truth” is the only truth. Time to be done and move on. Harmony calls us to return….

  15. October 25, 2012 9:43 pm

    Hi Melinda, glad you commented, partly because now I have your new website address, I will have to check it out. I am glad you brought up conflict, because I do agree it is a normal part of life (and knowing Jan as I do, I’m sure she does too.) It’s not about pretending everything is happiness and light all the time – that would be repression. But the challenge in our current cultural conditioning is that we seem to be losing the ability to disagree with respect and compassion. It is possible to deeply disagree and still feel the ‘bond’ as you put it (and I have not read Lynne McTaggert’s book, sounds good.) But we do not see a lot of examples of that. Culturally we jump to anger quickly, and that pattern then often extends into personal encounters too. It is all ‘us’ vs them’.

    I am glad there is so much focus on cooperation and shifting this pattern right now. I was recently reading a new book on metta, or lovingkindness, practice in Buddhism, which involves extending feelings of lovingkindness towards both those we love AND those we don’t, even those we feel deeply challenged by or dislike. It is such a simple, and consciousness-shifting, practice.

    SP – yes, thinking of it as our normal state – original heaven instead of original sin you might say – really helps. There is a natural great peace within us.

  16. October 26, 2012 4:36 pm

    Thanks for your response Jan. I hope I wasn’t too “in your face.” I was just really passionate about that point in the moment I wrote it. ;>) And Lisa–thanks for your response as well. I do think we need to encourage each other to agree to disagree and encourage our kids to do the same. Disagreeing does not mean we can’t be friends–it simply means we might disagree on something. If we do disagree with respect and compassion in our lives, those around us will learn how to do the same and hopefully ripple out from there.

    I do feel that there is a lot edginess and tension and us vs. them going on right now. I’m finding I have to meditate more often to stay in balance. Interesting changes. Thanks for this site and your thought-provoking posts.

    -Melinda
    (yes, weintend.com is my new site launching in a few weeks but you can take a peek –just know it’s not quite done yet)

  17. October 27, 2012 2:08 pm

    Thanks for this post. We all need to take responsibility for how we are in this world and quit blaming the “other” guy. We are spiritual people born of and in the image of a Spiritual God. How he must weep. Please join me in my newest blog: http://growingoldgratefully.blogspot.com My take on growing older…

  18. October 28, 2012 7:14 pm

    Barb, thanks for your comment and your blog sounds wonderful, I will check it out. – Lisa

  19. October 30, 2012 3:27 pm

    HI Barb, appreciate your comment on blame. May we all turn our attention inward—gently—and see how it is that we miss the mark when it comes to this. Taking personal responsibility is not a slap on the hand. It is an act of empowerment as you suggest. :-) Blessings to you!

  20. November 28, 2012 8:04 pm

    Jan and Lisa – thank you so much for this. It’s amazing how seductive the ego is and how far it can take me from ‘normal’. I haven’t been here for a while Lisa but this is just great to visit again and come to this. I saw a slogan that made me chuckle once – ‘your ego is not your amigo’ so true, but it can also be the opposite I think, our ego (or stories we tell ourselves) can be our friend in the ways you describe above – meditating on kindness to ourselves, what we need for ourselves to be centered and emanating and being loving to others. Peace really does start with ourselves. Thank you for this beautiful start to the day :).

  21. November 29, 2012 12:21 am

    Hi Ruth, good to hear from you! And yes, we all get seduced by our ego, it just takes different forms, and it can always make us feel justified in our behavior. Going inward and facing this is the first step towards our own, and then everyone’s peace. Glad to see you you here again:-)

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