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Real Happiness Challenge - Week 1: The Internal Weather Service

I choose to believe that all beings are part of a single organism. We are all part of a humming, sometimes thriving, sometimes aching ecosystem. Hurting those whom I consider “others” slows down the entire operation and wounds him whom I consider “myself.” And vice versa.

There is a chattering, stimulating, heated, often idiotic talk-radio station in the Los Angeles market, headquartered in my thoughts. I listen to it throughout the day and fall asleep to it every night. It can be picked up locally, and, when things are quiet, can influence ecological activity throughout Southern California, the nation, and the world.

Respectful of the confusion it can sew, I have established the Internal Weather Service to break in every so often with three-part alerts. I cultivate a habit of following its instructions as follows:

1. Breathe

Stop. Cut off the mics mid-broadcast, even if the hosts are in the middle of a particularly angry and stimulating debate. Breathe in, slowly, down to the belly, for six seconds. Hold the breath still for two seconds. Breathe out, even more slowly, for seven seconds. Repeat thrice. Six. Two. Seven. Six. Two. Seven.

2. Be Mindful

Be aware that the broadcast is ephemeral. Transitory. Its main purpose is to fill the spaces between commercial breaks with “content.” Acknowledge the physical aches and dopamine spikes that go with it. Feel them fully. Sit with those feelings. Let the “content” slink off into the ether from whence it emerged.

3. Practice Lovingkindness

Other nodes in the system harbor their own fantasies of power, possession, and control. Just like me. We attempt to manipulate the system, inevitably fail, and lash out at each other. This did not start today and it will not end tomorrow. Our survival depends on snatching glimpses of the larger truth, when we can, learning to stay patient and quiet, and giving the network a chance to rest and heal.

We now return to our regularly scheduled chatter. Perhaps it seems a bit more abstract and funny than before.

IDP is participating in lineage mentor Sharon Salzberg's REAL HAPPINESS Meditation Challenge.  This 28-day practice follows the the program outlined in Sharon’s New York Times bestseller, Real Happiness for the entire month of February. We encourage everyone to join us; since 2011, thousands have participated in this challenge which will help you develop your meditation with support from the entire community.

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