At times when we feel sad, we can take this sadness and suffering away from the proliferating mind that will always drag us down. We can instead consciously practice a ‘soft melancholy’. This is a favourite practice of one of my best monk friends, an Italian. We think thoughts that have this quality to them, such as “this whole affair is such a shame,” with a big soft sigh. Or try an accepting thought in the same spirit, “it’s the way it is.”
Melancholy can be a beautiful form of sadness, steady and clear. The softness is an antidote to the righteous anger we can feel over finding ourselves in a difficult situation, especially one that is not of our making.
We can also stroke our sadness with the breath to make it soft and steady. Picking it up on the in-breath, raising it up to a finer state. Then letting go and calming the mind on the out-breath.
In these ways we may replace a sadness full of suffering with a humble state of mind that has acceptance and compassion. Paradoxically, perhaps, we can then be happy to feel sad for the sake of all sentient beings – but not too sad.
I offer this for your reflection