The Power of Being Alive: Post-Hurricane Sandy Notes

Area resident Judy Shepps Battle uses a quote from the Dalai Lama to explore the power of being alive to generate compassion and generate community after the trauma of Hurricane Sandy.


“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, and I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” - HH the Dalai Lama

A week ago, these words might have been just theory. Today -- for me -- they contain a vibrant life-raft of wisdom and soothing balm for the traumatic physical, emotional and spiritual after-effects of Hurricane Sandy and other "storms" that life is providing.

There is an amazing power in being alive on this Saturday morning in Central Jersey.

I know when I consciously breathe in the words "I am alive" and breathe out "I am here" that within a few breaths I am grounded. I smile and feel joy in this dialysis-like breathing exercise in which toxicity is neutralized and cellular healing begins. 

With each breath I become increasingly aware of the gift of life; of the potential of this moment to connect with others; of being part of the inter-being of all people, animals, plants, and minerals on our planet; and how important it is for me to make my tiny contribution to the well-being of all.

And this cleansing happens each time I do it no matter how foul my mood, hopeless my expectations, or victim-like I feel (or actually am).

Just a few conscious moments of breathing and I begin to surrender my definitions of the situation (usually negative) as being written in stone. They simply become irrelevant to this nanosecond.

In short, all of what the Dalai Lama writes in the above short quote comes to life naturally.

We are all in it (this thing we call life) together and one of the positive benefits of disasters like Hurricane Sandy is that for a brief moment in time we are all aware of this connection. Whether it is through song in a prime time TV concert, making a monetary or time donation to help those hurt by the storm, or through personal prayer and meditation, we come together.

The challenge is to keep this hyper-awareness during non-disaster times and to actively work to create and maintain loving community in all our affairs.

To hold on to it when the road is crowded and some idiot cuts us off or when politicians try to polarize us. To not lose it when our kids/parents are totally outrageous. To not give it away by demonizing people based upon their ethnicity, physical appearance, gender/sexual preference, or religious/atheist beliefs.

I wonder aloud what we have to do to keep our hurricane-generated compassion alive. And I would love to know your ideas on how to help that to happen.

At least this is what it feels like here in storm-damaged Central NJ, USA on a really chilly pre-dawn November 3rd morning.


Judy Shepps Battle is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant and freelance writer. She can be reached by e-mail at writeaction@aol.com. Additional information on this and other topics can be found at her website at http://www.writeaction.com/.

Copyright 2012 Judy Shepps Battle

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clarissa jakobsons November 03, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Excellent article, Judy! Thank you for sharing and reminding us to breathe in and out! Great Awareness!
Judy Shepps Battle November 03, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Thank you so much for your warm words. They are most welcome!
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