This pandemic has brought us into a sharp awareness of our interdependence and yet as we begin to move from lockdown we are experiencing the deep divisions within us as humans. During this period I have been reading a small book called The Little Book of Kindness by David Hamilton. I highly recommend it. It sounds ‘pollyanna-ish’, but actually like mindfulness itself there is a strong evidence base behind kindness as a way of being. In the book Dr Hamilton in plain English talks us through the scientific evidence that kindness changes the brain, impacts the heart and immune system, is an antidote to depression, improves relationships, and even slows the aging process.
I think however that the most important insight in the book is that kindness can power real and lasting change in the world. So somewhat like mindfulness itself something that is simple in a way can have a profound effect on ourselves, those around us and the world itself. The book ( much like mindfulness) goes on then to give us practical tools to help build the muscle of kindness in our own lives. I like his practise of ‘kindfulness’ which he describes as ‘a blend of being kind and being mindful. It’s a bit like mindfulness meditation, except that we don’t sit still and passively observe our breathing and thinking, and we become mindful of being kind’(p.62). Like mindfulness it is a muscle we can build.
In my own understanding of mindfulness, in my practise and in my teaching I have long believed that mindfulness without heartfulness is incomplete. Very early on I moved to compassion and kindness as key – and starting with compassion and kindness to ourselves if we are to find our own peace and be a compassionate presence in the world. I know from practise that here too we are not in a saccharine Pollyanna territory. Mindfulness and compassion are hard core, resilient building super powers and remembering to be mindful and compassionate takes practise, habit and a supportive community.
In these days as we begin to move out of lockdown and where there is global disturbance around our systemic, inter generational racism, we are challenged to our core. Our differences emerge, and it is not simple to know how are we to both find our own peace and to live in peace with each other. It can be overwhelming when energy is rising and we are thrust back towards business, and engagement with ‘others’ with all our own feelings, emotions, uncertainties and fears in this time of radical change.
How are we to find our way in our interdependent world so aware of our differences and divisions in this moment? I cannot think of anything I would more recommend than having a long slow cup of tea and spending some time with these ten zen things to remember.
Ten Zen Things
• Do one thing at a time
• Do it slowly and deliberately
• Do it completely
• Do less
• Put spaces between things
• Devote time to sitting
• Smile and serve others
• Make cooking and cleaning become a meditation
• Think about what is necessary
• Live simply.
In the practise of mindfulness poetry often helps us to become aware of what is happening and then to shine a light of compassion on ourselves as we soften, take it easy and rest in the awareness of how we are. Poetry can help us to get in touch with our own steady heart. If we were in a room together I wold read this poem with the invitation to let he words drop where they will , no effort and letting go what does not land r is not helpful in this present moment. We are not in a room together, so I invite you to read softly for yourself – let what is useful sink in and with a light touch letting go of all the rest.
Beannacht – John O’Donoghue
On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.
~ John O’Donohue ~(Echoes of Memory)
Mindfulness in Covit19 days.
Mindfulness is no magic pill. It is a simple practise which we need to learn and build, that allows us to live well whatever the weather of our lives. In doing so we find an inner peace and know how to create a little space between the stressful or painful experience that causes suffering and our response. It is in that space that we find our inner peace. Whether you participate in one of my courses developed specially for these pandemic days, or work one to one with me it will be my pleasure to help you to find this stable base in your particular life.
I host a Mindfulness practise via zoom every Sunday at 7pm. If you would like to participate in this please email me for zoom meeting id and password – you can then ‘drop in’ any Sunday you like as the same meeting id and password works every week.
Events coming up
Online Courses now available – for more information on each course and to book please visit https://www.mindfulfacilitation.com/workshops-retreats/
Mindfulness and Compassion – a one day retreat on Sat June 13th.
Finding Peace Where We Are – a one day mindfulness and cosmology retreat on Sat June 20th
Compassionate Living – The next Live 8 week MBSR based course including one day retreat begins on Wed July 1st ( the current course booked out with a waiting list so please consider booking early if you are interested in this.)
Online Mindfulness Training for front line workers– Video based four week ( 20 session) training for individuals and companies focused on practical strategies for resilience and wellbeing in Covit 19 days. Bookings now open for July 6th launch.
One to One sessions
Mindfulness, Supervision and Spiritual Companioning remain available – for more visit https://www.mindfulfacilitation.com/one-to-one/