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DIY: Antidotes to Free Your Heart


Feeling Anger? 
The Antidote is to Practice Patience

Anger has explosive and transformative potential.

Follow the breath in, out.
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

Practice patience. Refrain from suppressing anger or reacting from anger. Zen Master, poet, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, teaches us in "Anger: Widsom for Cooling the Flames," that suppressing anger is like pretending your house is not on fire. And reacting from anger is like pouring kerosene into your house first.

Has that ever happened to you? Where you spent the whole day pretending your house was not on fire. "I'm ok, I'm fine," "I'm not angry, no not at all." Maybe anger is really scary to feel because in your family, anger was acted out in terrifying ways.  Perhaps it feels like feeling anger will burn you down and out. It okay to let ourselves be impacted by whatever has lit up the anger.

Or maybe it's hard to control your actions when you are angry. As we think, well, you screwed me over. I'll screw you over even more. Notice the quality of the heart in this way of responding. Does it feel like adding kerosene to your house on fire? 

Try accompanying anger with patience, watch it. Get to know this fire by turning towards it with only compassion until it burns through. Give anger a chance to reveal gems of wisdom that can set you free. It may feel powerful, impossible, yet you have the capacity to take really good care of your house on fire.

With a patience that is tender and fiercely courageous. Practice patience to set your heart free.

Feeling Fear?
The Antidote is to Practice Kindness

This will be the hardest part of the practice.
Fear moves fast. Fear will move without attention to destination.

Follow the breath in, out.
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

This can be lifesaving if you are about to be hit by a falling tree. Often, the danger is no longer imminent.  Notice how fear creates racing thoughts, cascading into the future like a roaring waterfall.

The key to noticing fear is to notice with kindness. Practice kindness.

Get curious about how you are meeting the fear. Is there judgment, panic, resistance? Is there allowance, acceptance, permission? Are you holding your breath?

Practice turning towards the fear with an unstoppable friendliness. Ask, what is the kindest thing I could do for fear right now? It could be as simple as placing a hand on where fear is felt the most. Perhaps this is your heart, or jaw, belly or chest. Or eating a piece of chocolate cake with a whole lot of self-love. Like a loving being gently holding a puppy that just got attacked, the fear deserves your tenderness.

You deserve your own kindness. Practice kindness to set your heart free.

Feeling Sorrow?
The Antidote is to Practice Presence

Sorrow, despair is a form of pain that requires care. Like a crying child who has a bleeding scraped knee, we tend to the cut, the blood, the tears.

Follow the breath in, out.
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

Yet, we often run, yell, despise, hide in shame from sorrow. We often treat the sorrow like the smartest thing to do is to reject it. Imagine rejecting a crying child that's come to you with a bloody knee. Seems so cruel. Instead, sometimes, all they need is for us to be okay with them, just as they are. In the tears or protest. Trust that your presence is enough.

For us to share our gentle presence, to show sorrow, "Hey, it's okay, sorrow. I see you're here. And I'm going to care for you. I'm not going to force you to be happy and cheery. I'm not going to push you away. I'm going to be right here." 

Practice a kind presence towards the sorrow. Practice getting to know the physical sensations of the sorrow to set your heart free.

Lu Lam, M. Ed. C.C.C.  works as a Clinical Counsellor and Mindfulness Consultant in private practice. He loves creating community spaces for people to uncover who they truly are. www.lulam.ca

Lu identifies as an annicagender/trans Chinese-Taiwanese student of the dharma, as a settler and visitor on a reconciliation journey.  He lives in the unceded and ancestral home territories of the Musqueum, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Peoples, Vancouver, Canada.  He has 9 years of daily mindfulness meditation practice, is immersed in continued mindfulness/Buddhist studies, and attends yearly retreats.  Lu just started a daily art practice and loves to swim in nature. www.lulam.ca


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