Once a week I spend an hour in the virtual company of hundreds of meditation teachers, from my sofa connecting with people across the globe. Unheard of before, I have benefited from the wisdom and big-hearted expansiveness of this community coming together to help alleviate the pain and difficulties many of us are experiencing.
Often you find that accessing the brilliant minds of this world requires money, being in the right club, status, or an old boys network…but I'm noticing not just in the Mindfulness space but all over that humanity is aware of its collective pain, and is responding to it with
compassion, generosity and kindness. So many changed behaviours locally, nationally and globally that are giving us warmth in our heart-space. But on the flip side I've also seen more narrowed and constricted actions like those who choose to speed because the roads are emptier, those who loudly and openly judge and admonish others in the supermarket queue because they take more care to sanitise their trolley than the other person would. We act small, it is a natural defence mechanism, we become selfish when we find our wings restricted by stress, circumstance and things beyond our control.
This time is bringing out both the best and worst in humanity. But each time we act or react we always have a choice.
You-Gov recently conducted a poll around the impact of the pandemic, people were asked how they felt about what was happening, 54% of all those polled said they wanted to make changes to their lives following the pandemic, only 9% of people wanted life to return to the way it was before lock-down.
I would dearly love for the more kind-hearted, open and expansive elements of this global challenge rise to become more business as usual than the small and less skilful actions.
But how do we make that happen?
During this talk Willem Kuyken from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre spoke of finding steadiness and balance during this difficulty. Amid this pandemic – some are living in incredibly tough circumstances, and others who are resourced or have privilege and opportunity will find this time less so, and there will be some somewhere in the middle. This has opportunity to divide us or unite us. Someone using the virtual chat shared this… 'we are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm' – it can be natural for us to compare our experiences to that of others and feel we lack, or invite feelings of anger or 'why me'! If we can use our mindfulness practice to notice these thoughts arising and give them a hearty challenge - for we cannot change them, and to resist or feel lacking in comparison to others, only serves to cause us pain.
Sonya Renee Taylor, poet and activist said '"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature. What we have been forced to leave behind we needed to leave behind. what is getting us through is what we will need to take forward, all the rest is up to us."
I have recorded a meditation to help you reflect on what matters to you; what you want to take forward. It is a meditation that focusses on steadiness and balance as a backdrop, so it will be a helpful meditation for whenever you want to ground and find steadiness in your day.
I will drop in the same question I was asked during the talk, see if it helps to take time to reflect on that question in your own practice.