Well, this was certainly not the topic I had planned for my March Newsletter. Ahh, how we are constantly reminded of how things are always changing, whether we like it or not. It is so very clear that this coronaviris is in our lives and so how do we use it as a tool, a guide, to work with other threats to our very peace and safety in our global world now? Like the climate crisis and the painful threat of our divided ideas in the political arena, this is another opportunity to work together — to join hands and hearts as humans on this planet, to learn how to be more compassionate.
We can no longer separate ourselves from each other. We are reminded everyday of our global connections that show our interconnectedness as humans on this planet together. Our choice is to hide our heads and disconnect even more, or to step forward and embrace this reality. Another way to look at this is to react with fear or respond with kindness.
It really has to do with our hearts. How can we begin to practice the steps of self-compassion so that we can open our hearts to each other and to ourselves? Can you bring in soothing touch to your heart right now, by placing your hands on your heart? Soothing touch is the first step to bringing in calmness, peace and support to yourself.
First we have to stay with ourselves and our own feelings in the present moment. This is Mindfulness. Are you filled with fear and anxiety about what is happening? Are you struggling with how to protect your family? If you are feeling fear it’s good to name it. This is fear. Name any other feeling you are noticing and see what happens when you do that.
I love what Ram Dass says about fear in his last book Still Here: “Fear means we are either worried about something that has already taken place, or anxious about things that haven’t happened. Bringing ourselves into the present moment can help us loosen fear’s stranglehold. In all spiritual practice, the strategy is the same—to identify the thing that frightens you and come as close to it as you can before you freak out…..Watch how fear manifests in your body and guard against the desire to pull back. If this fear becomes too overwhelming for you, take a mental step back. See that this is a ‘Mind-State’ rather than a reality.” (p.52) Noticing that fear is what your mind is creating, you can let go and come back to your heart where you are truly living and feeling.
I’ve talked a lot about the different kinds of fear and how sometimes fear can be productive if you are able to examine it and not let it block you. See my blog here.
Self-Compassion Practice, or taking a Self-Compassion Break is another way to work with our fears. The second step of the Self-Compassion Break is key here. This step has to do with Common Humanity, noticing we are not alone. Noticing our connection to each other as humans together experiencing life and change constantly, is the best way to feel our interconnectedness and our warm hearts together holding love and support. This step helps us to feel our own goodness and open-heartedness instead of letting our fear shut us off from each other and close our hearts. This step helps us find our hearts again from connecting with others and bringing it back to help ourselves open our heart again.
As we reach out in our struggle, in our awareness that we are suffering, we find the third step of the Self-Compassion Break — bringing in Kindness. You find kindness when you allow your heart to open in this third step. Whether you feel the kindness from your connection to others, or whether you are able to move your own goodness and warmth of your own heart out of the paralysis of scary feelings, the intention of being kind to yourself can flow forth. This can be simply stopping and breathing, sitting down and taking the opportunity to see that you are really ok right in this moment, or doing something like having a cup of tea, or a short walk alone.
Using these three steps of the Self-Compassion Break are so important as we journey deeper into our global voyage together on this planet. I guess I’m suggesting you use this global outbreak of this virus to teach yourself and others more about how we can be moving into a new way of being together and learning how to work together with open-hearts rather than closing ourselves off in fear and disconnection; or how to live with more compassion for ourselves and that will allow it to flow out to each other as well.