Lessons From Buffalos

Sunday mornings I attend an hour and a half meditation. I try my best to make this meditation a priority in my weekly appointments and it’s rare that I miss one, ever rarer that I miss two in a row. The meditation is sobriety focused, but it’s an open meeting and I believe everyone would benefit from the energy/positivity/wisdom/hope/open-mindedness/honesty/love that fills this room every week. This week was no different and as ‘V’ opened with our regular prayer, the phrase that came into my head was ‘heavy peace. V is a Lakota Native American and grew up on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. The style of meditation varies from week to week and this week V used his singing bowls as he guided us ‘out there’. I try to remember what he says but I rarely do. (That’s the irony or catch-22 of meditating. If you’re doing it right you will be too far gone in your own place to remember everything. Kind of like a dream. A lot like a dream.)

One thing I do remember V talking about today was comparing buffalos to cows in a storm and the lesson we can learn. Imagine a dark storm rolling in. The sky is black as the rain and hail roll in from the mountains. There is thunder and lightning. What cows do is very natural. Cows sense the storm coming, so they turn and run away. However cows aren’t very fast and the storm catches up quickly. Instead of outrunning the storm they actually run right along with the storm. Then consider the buffalo. Buffalos can run up to 40mph, and instead of running away from the storm, they turn and run into it. Instead of facing the blizzard or rain solo, they tackle it together. They charge the storm and get through it quicker. It’s a powerful image isn’t it?  A herd of bison steadfastly and slowly progressing in the face of a storm rather than running in the other direction. So not only do they face this test as a team, facing down the storm makes their hair thicker and their bones are stronger. Facing the fierce weather elements literally makes them stronger.

So which one are you, the cow or the buffalo? When confronted with a problem, do you try to avoid it, or do you put your head down and find a way through?

I get it. Life can seem overwhelming and you don’t know where to start. Student debt, job insecurities, marriage problems, health issues, financial pressures, work, bills, the list is endless. Working through tough times isn’t easy and a lot of times it seems more comfortable to turn the other way and try to outrun the storm. But more often than not, the problem doesn’t go away. It just lasts longer and gets worse. About 4 years ago when I was still living in Illinois, I once racked up over $3,000 in unpaid tolls and was sent to collections. Instead of just paying them (like a normal, responsible human) I kept throwing the notices away, thinking the problem would just take care of itself and Illinois Tollway would forget. They didn’t forget (Illinois is super broke, of course they aren’t going to forget about $3,000 of unpaid tolls.) and I had to pay so that I wouldn’t do any further damage to my credit.

Moral of the story- turn and face the problem head on. Be the buffalo.

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