So I don’t know about you but Covid and the Quarantine and mask wearing have all caused me to be more curious with myself and my internal processing of life, priorities, and how to stay strong and continue to move forward during a time when many are talking about what’s crumbling, what’s wrong, and what we can’t do and how life as we knew it before is over.
Couldn’t that be a good thing? If we have compassion towards what is actually happening within and around us, I think we can be hopeful for the future. I don’t know about you but Covid has kind of evened the playing ground in one regard – it’ll touch any age, any race, any social status, any family, any country and therefore we have something blatantly in common that is being talked about almost daily even if you are avoiding the news and health is maybe being pushed to a priority over say maybe wealth? I mean the mask is staring everyone in the face. So what happens when we see the commonness in people we maybe thought we were so different from?…..human compassion grows if we allow it. Gratitude for this life, for our breath, for our neighbor, and hopefully for our country/world. Gratitude for different jobs that maybe didn’t receive much recognition before. Recognition that we share the same space, breathe the same air, and right now are enduring a shift that is asking us to rebuild our roots and strengthen our foundation.
A lot of the tasks, places, and day -to -day hustle came to a halt. And as my structure around me crumbled, I was reminded of what is soooo important, always has and always will – my inner world and my thought process. Now is a perfect time to keep building on that. Does it take work? Does it take looking at my pain? Does it involve some crying? Does it involve being vulnerable? Yes Yes and Yes and yet, it is also so very freeing.
As the structure around me has crumbled, new possibilities have also arose. Can we continue to have compassion for our individual processes. How different we are in that some are fighting for Disney to remain open whilst others are fighting for schools and some are fighting for social justice? Yet – what are we all fighting for? Acceptance of the now, perceived quality of life, and confidence for our ability to rise above and move forward. Sounds like a worthy fight, if it starts within.
One of the things that has really helped me recently is taking this course through Mindfulschools.org on Self Compassion for Educators. Right now I am guessing there are a lot of parents and teachers probably struggling with finding time for their thoughts and themselves while caring for others. Parenting has become a 24/7 job with the addition of teacher assistant/tech support while teaching has become a huge transition to teaching online that is foreign to some whilst the mental weight of going back to a population of people that are the largest germ spreaders known to man. (And also the greatest love and light spreaders in my opinion). Teachers also deal with the parents who for some, again their energy is frantic right now. So how can self compassion help us who are in this together?
I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation for about 10 years but this process I found added an element of human connection that lacks sometimes in the tech era. It humanizes what we as individuals are feeling to our neighbor, to our community, to our country, and to our world. It stops you from staring at one tree and broadens your perspective to see the entire forest and how deeply intertwined those roots are indeed. The practice went like this. You start by thinking of a negative emotion that you have had recently. Maybe a feeling of being alone, isolated, sad, mad, frustrated, etc. And you sit with that emotion trying not to listen to any voices that encourage you to push it away, move on, or not feel. You feel it to the fullest. You feel it’s physical presence in your body. You can even do a body scan to pinpoint exactly where you feel it. And then, this is the part I loved – you relate it to the human experience as not JUST YOU or something you did or something you deserve BUT instead as part of all of us and part of life. And that when we continuously refuse to “go there” – we build walls. Walls that we think are protecting us but in actuality are driving us further apart. Walls that need to be broken down by self awareness, mindful communication, acceptance, and presence.
So please know whatever you are feeling during this time, the best way to the other side of it is through honoring it and honoring the ability that you have to work with it and to be here right now exactly as you are. I think when we put a little humanness to it, a little understanding, we can remain mindful in what is the best way to go about moving forward. Pick something that will nurture you in a sustainable manner rather than temporarily remove the pain. Build your better self. One step at a time. One breath of compassion and gratitude at a time. And maybe just maybe – we will look back at this struggle – as a pivotal step forward for all of us. Things may seem like they are burning now, self destructing, etc – check inside – start there.
I can also say when I take the time to practice self compassion – it is so much harder to turn towards hate/blame with both myself and with other people. And even if I have a moment of discord or frustration – I know what I need to do to wash my heart clean, take a pause, and view that other “side” or person as a person living in this same world maybe fighting some of the same battles but taking a different approach or having a slip up and that I can give myself and them space. Stay true, stay humble, stay hungry, stay kind, stay connected.