I was recently listening to Willem Kuyken of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, who was speaking about values, mindfulness and kindness “Love in the time Covid-19”. He was asking how our values may have changed in this challenging year.
It is interesting to reflect on this interesting question: ‘What have you valued in these times?” For me, it has been having space to explore new walks on my doorstep, gratitude for the ways in which family, friends and our local community have reached out to help and connect with one-another, and learning how to be creative with zoom.
It is an interesting practice, in difficult moments, to notice something, however small, that has gladdened the mind and heart and has brought a smile.
This ability can become a powerful resource for us; noticing and savouring whatever sustains and nourishes us, every moment is a mixture of pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. But when the brain is stressed, it is wired to reject the idea that something good or pleasant must be in the mix, and very often we give up looking before we even try.
By finding a safe haven for the mind, something in the moment that doesn’t bring distress when we rest our attention there.
Perhaps sunshine, birdsong, or a steady clock – the warmth of our hands placed on the heart – whatever it is, we can find and rest our attention there. Each time that the mind wanders, come back to what is most pleasant and breathe it in.
We do not have to be prisoners to our thoughts, we can find a kinder way to respond.
“As life presents annoyances, disagreeable experiences, it can be a bold and creative challenge to meet these experiences with kindness and interest rather than a built-up stockpile of resentment,
This isn’t to imply that we should be passive or complacent, or that we should sit around doing nothing to try to make things better. Rather, developing more kindness is a radical approach to help us deal more skilfully with conditions we may not be able to change, things that can weight on us, distracts, or quite thoroughly ruin our day. This new sense of meeting the moment might actually open us to different, more creative ways of trying to communicate or working to have an impact on a situation that has previously proved intractable.
At times we get fixated on what is unpleasant, and we lose the sense that there might be other ways for looking at the same situation. Yet we can step outside the box of our habitual reactions, have fun with our minds, and greet what is happening with greater kindness.” This poem I heard recently and made me smile.”
HOW TO TAKE CARE: THINGS MY KITTEN TAUGHT ME
- At any point in your day, unapologetically take a bath
- If someone pets you wrong, bite them
- Make it a hobby to climb higher
- If you need something and it requires help, communicate
- Find the light irresistible
- Maintain control of your claws
- Greet people, it lets them know you missed them
- Breathe with your whole body
- It’s more fun to follow your instincts
- Even assassins take naps
- Find all the warm places that are also soft places and make them your favourite places
- Be relatively tidy about your sh*t
- Try not to scratch the people you love
- Eat breakfast before following commands
- Exploring might lead to falling
- Anyway, most falls won’t kill you
- Seriously, sleep
- Hold others and be held.
I do hope that Spring will bring a space for us to meet again at Othona. In the meantime, keep in touch – I do enjoy hearing from you, and weave kindness through these winter months to yourself and others
Mindfulness Resources for Covid-19
· Mindfulness Network – www.mindfulness-network.org
Offers a range of free sitting groups each week that I find really supportive.
· The Oxford Mindfulness Centre – OMC – https://www.oxfordmindfulness.org/
OMC has a sitting group each Wednesday evening from 7-8pm that is well worth attending. It is inspiring to practise with a group of well over 200 people from across the world
· Gaia House – www.gaiahouse.co.uk Please look at this site for online sitting groups and retreats.