Kind promise: I will build, nurture and celebrate connections.

PaintingA few days ago, I heard Lama Rod Owens speak about vulnerability and meditation. He brought our attention to what he called “post-meditation awareness.” He used that phrase to describe the soft consciousness of connection we feel after we have spent time in meditation. That sense of spaciousness and openess is vulnerability. It is short-lived because, in a few moments, something triggers fear and we shut down and contract instead of remaining open and aware.

Wisdom, the Lama suggested, is discerning which fears are based on real things from which we have to protect ourselves and which are a result of our mind spinning narratives. Are we afraid because we are truly in danger or do we just think we are in danger because we are in a new situation?

When I meet someone new – especially if that someone is very different from myself – I might put up shields to protect myself. Instead of meeting someone new with an open heart, I am guarded and distant.

In meditation, when I become lost in thought, I return my attention to my breath. I practice returning to vulnerability. In the real world, when I feel myself begin to shut down, I can take a moment to decide if the threat is real or imagined. If what I’m really experiencing is False Evidence Appearing Real F. E. A. R., then I can soften and open.

Vulnerability and discernment are key in enabling us to have difficult conversations and relationships which we might otherwise avoid.