Recently, I was speaking with a friend who was struggling with low mood. When I asked what they felt the catalyst for their low mood was, a litany of high profile political uncertainties was expressed. I could totally relate to what they were saying as I had felt the same overwhelm whenever I logged on to any of my social media accounts.
For instance, according to my Facebook feed, the world stage feels and is chaotic and without much hope.
So, I asked my friend if they had been spending much time on social media, to which they replied that they had. We then spoke at length about feelings of helplessness, disillusionment and frustration that the countless amount of political posts produce and encourage within our internal landscape. Perhaps, we both needed a digital detox?
On that day, as a means of discussion as to how we can cope with so much global uncertainty and information/misinformation invading our smart phones, I reminded my friend of all that they do, of all the sometimes small and sometimes pretty big contributions that they make in creating a more open, inclusive and thoughtful society.
See, we miss these details. We often forget or don’t pay attention to moments of kindness, and the compassionate remit we harvest in others with small acts.
Now, my friend is very lucky in that they have a public platform to express ideas and encourage others to think for themselves. They teach mindfulness and compassion and often get to contribute towards the germination of the seeds of awareness. However, it was the smaller details of life that rang more loudly and truly as a means of change.
We were marveling at simple, often forgettable, but influential acts of kindness that really make a difference to people’s world views (albeit, on a more- subtle level): such as allowing people into traffic queues, giving a neighbour a lift or even visiting someone who is ill. These are things that we might do out of social obligation/custom/integrity, but these social acts reinforce a world of tolerance and care. They also highlight the interdependence that exists within our human experience. In short, these acts encourage connection, rather than separation.
So, this week’s challenge is to reflect- reflect on all the small ways we might be able to encourage connection, rather than separation.
We might like to do this within our meditation practice.
So, to begin with we can practice sitting meditation using the breath as a support, leading us into a place of resting. Once we are in a place of resting with the support of breath, we can drop a question in for reflection:
How might I engage in acts that encourage connection, rather than separation?
You can adapt this question to whatever form that feels right to you.
What acts of kindness have I done today that have been constructive? That unite?
Once we have found our question for reflection, we can follow this process:
Reflection – Instructions
First of all we write down the question at the top of a piece of paper. Then we get comfortable and enter into our normal mindfulness practice. We drop into embodied resting and then if we wish we can introduce a mindfulness support in a very casual way.
- Drop the question
Next we introduce our topic or question. We drop it into the mind and leave it there, remaining present with the question hanging in our mind in the background. This can seem counter-intuitive at first.
- Observe the response
Then whatever arises in the mind, we write down. We write without any censorship. So whatever comes up we simply record. We stay in touch with the whole of our experience since we may find that we respond emotionally or through the body. We may also notice images arising. In the beginning we probably won´t discern the difference between whether we are getting the result of thinking about the question or the result of dropping the question into our mind. So we just get everything down on paper indiscriminately and then slowly through practice we will learn how to release preoccupation with Surface Mind, and receive responses from other levels. We can make a mark or a sketch as well as write. Whatever just pops up is probably going to be a genuine outcome of reflection. Then after a short while we will find that the flow stops and we drift off into distraction or we find ourselves returning to our normal practice. When we reach this point we drop the question again and repeat the process. In one session we normally drop the question three times. We usually work with one question over three practice sessions. It is advisable to leave what you have written and not read back on it until at least a week later.
( Reflection- Instructions Excerpt from Level 3 Mindfulness manual) For more information on our Mindfulness course pathway: please click here.
In this way, once we turn our attention towards the positives that exist all around us and within us, and by setting the intention to unite rather than separate, that hopelessness soon transforms into a source of HOPE.
Let us know how you get on!
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