This week many of us are feeling quite fearful at the prospect of a Trump Presidency, another winter of austerity and the uncertainty of Brexit.
It is worth reflecting that the earth is populated by the same people this week as it was last week and recognising that the majority of people on this earth have a good heart.
However, fear does not bring out the best of our human qualities – it tends to bring out the worst in us – closing us down to those with a different view. So can we face our fears and try and connect anyway?
We can do this best by engaging in our loving kindness and compassion practices every time we notice we are closing down to a person or to a group of people. In my experience loving kindness and compassion practices are excellent ways of creating understanding for another’s view and enabling us to perceive a bigger perspective. We can communicate far more effectively when we understand the other’s view.
As you may recognise if you read my blog regularly, I have been struggling these last few weeks in the face of some of the changes in the world around me. For the last year I have been working hard on a big new MA Project, that we were hopeful could be up and running next year. I heard this week that our prospective partner for this project is no longer able to proceed. I thought (and from their concern many of my colleagues also thought) I would be devastated by this news, but somehow it has cheered me up. Instead it brought to mind the situation when we set up the Masters Programme with the University of Aberdeen. The first time we tried for academic validation of the Programme it was rejected – and we were indeed devastated by this. However, we kept going and tried again and now we are teaching our 7th cohort on this well regarded and highly successful Programme (for more details please click here). With hindsight I see that the initial rejection of the Programme led to many significant changes that eventually contributed to the success and the smooth running of the Programme. So my sense with this latest Project is to keep going with it and see what unfolds and to trust that what unfolds will be for the best.
This reflection has cheered me up in relation to the challenges the world faces as well. I will keep going, see what unfolds, hope for the best and make as positive a contribution as I can.
Although, recent political changes seem to embolden and give voice to those who are perhaps more antagonistic to those who are not the same as them, this doesn’t mean we should give up trying to connect with all human beings. It makes it even more important to connect and communicate with others with truth and empathy. This is an opportunity for us to engage and speak louder about inequality and other issues we care about.
I heard this week that we are now in ‘Post Truth Politics’ – this seems to me to be a complete disaster. Rob Nairn’s definition of Mindfulness ‘Knowing What is Happening, While it is Happening, without Preference’ has truth at it’s core and the practice of Mindfulness enables us in time to see through our habitual patterns and conditioning and so be in more in touch with what it real and true. We can all counter Post Truth Politics by continuing to practice Mindfulness and developing our ability to be in touch with our experience as it is, with others as they are, and with the world around us. We can also counter Post Truth Politics by finding out the facts about a situation and communicating them.
Here is my contribution.
For the last year I have been a vegan, although a slightly abashed and embarrassed one – fearful of speaking out and not wanting to impose my views on others. However, I am overcoming my fear and communicating today why I think it is important for us all to consider eating less meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. I first became a vegetarian when I was 18 and I am angry I wasn’t made aware about the egg and dairy industry sooner. My reasons for being vegan are threefold and you can check out some supporting evidence by watching the YouTube videos – but only if you want to!
- Animal cruelty – The egg and dairy industry treats chickens and cows as manufacturing commodities – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s6-NLxvKl0
- The environment – Animal agriculture is a major contributor to green house gas emissions and rainforest deforestation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B-_xH0Xmho and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpmTiHjUEBU
- My health and my family’s health – A healthy vegan diet can counter the main courses of death in Western countries – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30gEiweaAVQ
The good news is that our new website launches this week. This contains many free resources, including video and audio teachings of Rob Nairn, videos of past conference speakers talking about Mindfulness and Compassion and our free email based course on mindfulness and kindness in daily life. This is something else to shout about and share with your friends and colleagues!
I will leave you with the last two lines of the Marianne Williamson poem I often quote when I am teaching:
“And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we liberate from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
What do you care about? What contribution can you make to improve this world we live in? What is stopping you?
Shine people shine!
-Heather Regan Addis