‘How often do you sit in your practice feeling like it’s your fault and your responsibility to fix it – whatever ‘it’ is on a given day?’
Read this blog to find out why compassion in action can be key to lifting this feeling.
Within our Engaged Mindfulness course, we will look with fresh and mindful eyes at how we engage with the state of the world. Many of us feel reluctant to engage because we don’t feel we have it in us – we’re too tired, stressed and busy already or we imagine we must do grand things to make engaging worthwhile.
But what might be revealed if we release these beliefs? What if we grant ourselves rest, nourishment and joy as essential to our engagement with the world? What if compassion in action could be a seamless extension of our inner compassion practice?
Perhaps what is really needed is to step down, and then step forth?
Curious? Then read on.
In the last few years, the story of the times we live in has changed. We are now in a world where uncertainty about the future, alongside fast and complex lives, is the new normal. Contrast this with the optimism and slower pace that pre-technology generations felt and the difference is stark. Naturally, finding ways to step down can feel more urgent than stepping up. Perhaps this points to why mindfulness has become a part of our new normal.
Many of us have got used to managing our individual distress – mindfulness is a great way to do this of course! But this can turn our gaze away from some of the true causes of how we feel. There’s a sense that it’s all somehow our problem that we feel lower levels of wellbeing, and therefore it’s our responsibility to ‘sort ourselves out’. But what if much of what haunts and stresses us is generated by the wider ‘systems’ we live in, and is not due to our own failings? If fish live in polluted waters, they will not thrive after all. This is a sign of our being radically interconnected – we each feel what is in the collective on an individual level.
Seeing with new eyes can be a bit like the ‘Non-identification’ stage of the RAIN practice from our Level 1 training, where we zoom out and see the bigger picture with a wide-angle lens, no longer held hostage in ‘the problem’. If we do this on a societal level, we may see two things 1. That how we feel is not our fault and 2. That we can’t fix it alone. How often do you sit in your practice feeling like it’s your fault and your responsibility to fix it – whatever ‘it’ is on a given day? Take the pervasive presence of anxiety these days. This is part of a huge trend with complex interconnected causes and yet as individual satellites we so often feel it’s our problem and give ourselves a hard time.
Might it be true that we need to balance our focus on individual wellbeing with a candid look at what is happening systemically and how this is interconnected with individual wellbeing. What would happen if we experimented with releasing the intensity of the individual project in favour of practicing and thinking in terms of ‘we’ (at least sometimes and in some places – let’s keep it real after all!)? (Research backs up how groups can help with climate anxiety, see Heather’s blog here for details
And so, we come to the possibly surprising realisation that we may, at least in part, find the wellbeing we need by turning aside from our individual struggle and towards an outward looking path – a path of community spirit and compassion to self and others, rather than self-preservation. Compassion in action is great for our well-being! There’s even a phrase for this that has emerged in academia – ‘compassion satisfaction’ (see below for an example of research that looks at this). And, let’s balance this with that crucial piece of the jigsaw: self-compassion. Might a path of rest and gratitude rather than the ‘Grind Culture’ and the myth of never enough, also transform how we feel about engaging with our world?
This all points to the different way of being, seeing and doing that we want to share with you in our Engaged Mindfulness course beginning in September.
By moving through a mindful inner journey in the company of others, we will enable this shift of orientation around stepping forth. We will do this by coming together and reconnecting with what gives us joy and hope, by standing beside each other in these uncertain times and acknowledging our individual concerns as particular and universal, and by letting all this bring us ‘new eyes’.
In the Engaged Mindfulness course we will draw on the Work That Reconnects and the inspirational guidance of academic, spiritual practitioner and activist Joanna Macy. In parallel we will replenish ourselves with mindfulness practices which emphasise grounding and connecting with the earth as a resource for resilience and compassion.
The course will be held online via Zoom on a Thursday evening from 19:00-21:00 (UK Time).
The dates of the five sessions are: 8 September, 15 September, 22 September, 29 September and 6 October 2022.
* Compassion satisfaction – the satisfaction that comes with being compassionate, as well as mindfulness and self-compassion, correlate with wellbeing amongst community nurses in the UK.