How Practicing Loving-Kindness Helped Me Find My Place in the World

For Jane Anne Staw, the war in Ukraine increased the anxiety she was already feeling, with climate change, mass shootings, political upheaval and COVID. A reminder about the power of loving-kindness meditation helped her find her footing—and her connection with the world at large.

We’ve had a tough few years. Amid anxiety around climate change, mass shootings, and political upheaval came COVID, which challenged even the toughest of us to find our equilibrium. 

I maintain a daily practice of what I call “seeing small”—I’m always on the lookout for an unexpected, small moment to uplift me. This practice, of concentrating on the small moments of beauty and joy I encounter each day dampens my anxiety and intensifies my connection with the world around me.

But then Putin declared war on Ukraine. 

As the days turned to weeks, I felt more and more upset about this war I could do nothing about, but which was causing so much suffering and beginning to threaten world peace. I began contributing money to various organizations, among them the Red Cross and the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. But no matter how much I sent, I remained unhappy and anxious. Here I was, a privileged American safely at home, throwing money at a nation fighting for its life. Then, when a British friend’s brother began collecting to buy medical supplies he was planning to drive to the Ukrainian border, I felt a…