Jazz Therapy Tuesday Tune-Up

Reflections on Homelessness

I recently came across this article highlighting the rise in elderly seniors becoming homeless due to waxing inflation and the cost of housing increasing, , and I was again reminded  what a pervasive problem homelessness is (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/11/10/1135125625/homelessness-elderly-housing-inflation).  I live in Sacramento, and I notice increasing homelessness all around the city.  I was just in the Bay Area (Oakland), and I noticed it there as well.  I don’t always know how to feel about it or what to do about it.  Often, I am driving around, and will be waiting at a traffic light, near the freeway entrance, where there are several homeless encampments.  I look over and see all the folks who are homeless, and I feel such an ache in my heart.  I feel so sad that we live in a society that permits people to be homeless (I am including myself in this group since I am part of the problem).  I also feel the desire to look away from the conditions that people have to live in, sometimes in disgust.  I also feel sad, powerless, and hopeless.  I feel compassion, and a curiosity: “How did these folks become homeless?” What is their story?”  And finally, sitting at said traffic light, I notice that I have an overwhelming desire to escape the sight of homelessness. When I notice this, I feel particularly ashamed of myself and have self-judgement for the desire to want to escape.  And then I do escape, driving off on the freeway, with all my feelings to my warm and comfortable home.

What a privilege it is, to be able to have a car and a home to be able to drive off too. I don’t know from personal experience, though I can imagine how lonely and alienating it could feel for someone to feel homeless.  How angry and sad and depressed someone might feel.  To be homeless in the world is to almost be invisible and being ignored is deeply painful.  And yet each person who is homeless has a story of how their life became the way it is.  Each person is a soul on their journey, just like I am and just like you are.  I feel angry when I think about the article about seniors being displaced, as it seems so wrong that seniors are becoming homelessness when they are most vulnerable.  In doing some further research, I found this:

“…Studies looking at mental illness in the homeless population have generally found a high prevalence of mental disorders. The most common disorders may be alcohol and drug dependence (https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/never-ending-loop-homelessness-psychiatric-disorder-and-mortality

Lilanthi Balasuriya, MD, MMS, Eliza Buelt, MD, Jack Tsai, PhD

So being homeless is linked with a higher rate of mental illness, and often faced social and educational disadvantage, and might be a minority as well.  These folks are so very vulnerable.  When I think about homelessness, I think the biggest feeling I identify, in addition to everything else I mentioned above, is that I feel overwhelmed as to what I can do, and hopeless sometimes, that things will change.  I know that the city officials where I live want to do something about homeliness, as does Governor Gavin Newsom. And they are working on civic solutions.  When I come home after seeing more homelessness, I often think, “What can I do to help?” There are many  tangible ways we can help, in donating to local homeless shelters, lobbying city governments, and volunteering at food banks.  What comes up for me is often to meditate, with the intention to send loving energy to the homeless.  Even if it’s just for 5 minutes, I feel a little bit better.  And then I listen to some jazz, and, as I always do, I feel better.  So today, that is what I invite you to do with me, to honor those who are homeless, and set the intention that someday, our society is free of homeliness.

Tuesday Tune-up Meditation

I feel empowered when I can send positive energy to someone or to a cause.  In this short meditation, we will:

  • Send positive energy to all the homeless people in the world
  • Send positive energy to our elected officials that we find a solution to homelessness
  • Set an intention that everyone in the world have shelter to stay in

Tuesday Tune’s

Emotional Dwelling

“Someone to Watch Over Me,” Keith Jarrett, The Melody at Night With You

I chose this song today since it implies such a deep yearning.  This song is about someone longing for a partner, someone to come and care and love them.  There is something that I resonate with when I hear this song, as I too yearn for homelessness to be over, that we all watch over one another in society more.

Emotional Reverie

“Yesterdays,” Miles Davis, The Blue Note and Capitol Recordings, 1993.

This song is so full of sadness and grief about what life was like before.  It makes me think of how each person who is homeless has a story and reasons as to how they became homeless, and how much pain must go along with that as well. 

Playlist on Spotify:

Thank you so much for reading, meditating, and for listening with me.  Leave us a comment and subscribe! Check back on Thursday for our weekly newsletter post of “Jazz Therapy!”

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