What color is your hair? Are you vaccinated? What country are you from? What religion are you? Do you have a lot of money or a little money? Are you conservative or a leftist? Which of our two previous presidents did you like better?…Ok, those may be questions that help us understand a little about how someone else orients to our world. But none of those questions are main event questions. They are subtext and mostly meaningless.
Main event questions:
Do you feel sad or afraid? Do you cry? Do you feel ashamed or lonely? Have you felt let down recently? When was the last time you felt immeasurable joy? What do you need right now in your life? Who can you count on? What still bothers you from your past? Do you want to live? Who makes you feel loved? Who is dear to you?
There is so much pain and suffering around us. There is so much division and strife. I am truly afraid of where we are headed with each other. I am truly afraid that we will “other” our fellow humans and begin to see those around us as less than human. When I begin to look around and see fellow homo sapiens as animals, savages, and less than human, then I am headed in the direction of embodying what I am afraid they are (animals, savages, less than human). I begin to manifest those traits myself. If I say “yes let’s lock them up, let them die, deal with them at any cost”. Then I am what I fear.
WE ARE AFRAID. We are very afraid. That is one thing that binds us all together right now. And we need each other. I need you to look at me and see my fear. I need to look at you and say “I see that you are afraid and that matters to me”. We need to be focused on the main event – our survival together as humans. And that won’t come from me convincing you that I’m right or the other way around. That will only come from banding together and uniting as alive, flesh and blood humans. We need collaboration and creativity right now more than ever as we face the challenges our cities, states, countries, and world are facing. Our planet is crying. We need to come together, regardless of the subtext, and be love and hope that our planet and its humans need.
So take The Main Event Challenge: Spend a whole day imagining what you have in common with everyone you come into contact with, rather than what’s different. And acknowledge your fear and the fears that others might have. And then do it again the next day… May you be well.
In “The Five Invitations” by Frank Ostaseski he writes, of the “3 poisons” described in Buddhist tradition. They are greed, hatred, and delusion. Or, said another way, demand, defense, and distract. We crave, we get angry and feel separate from others, and we ignore what we really need to see.
As we are mindful and sit in reflection of ourselves we can see how and when we are drawn to demand, defense, and distract. But this is what I love about living mindfully – there are no unrecoverable mistakes. Frank says, “The missteps we make as we demand, defend, and distract are also gateways to the innate beauty of our inner being”. When we stop rejecting ourselves and are open to all of the ways we react in the world and to others, we can even be grateful for our mistakes and limitations. They are as much a part of us as are our strengths. And we learn so much from our mistakes. When we can be with them, they deepen our compassion and empathy for ourselves and then for others and the world. May you move forward with mindfulness and acceptance today!
This past year has been so very difficult on so many in our community, country, and world. And there is little control we have. This takes a toll on us. One thing we can return to over and over again is self care. The short series “headspace Guide to Meditation” on Netflix is a wonderful resource for self care. It is calming, centering, simple, and inviting.
Either way, I hope you are finding meaningful ways to care for yourself daily.
(P.s. I have no financial interest in this recommendation.)
I just wanted to reach out and remind each person who reads this that we are all in this life and world together. You are not alone. I am not alone. We may feel more removed or distant from one another right now, but we are inextricably woven together and our lives matter to each other. We can hold each other’s discomfort and pain gently. We can find care and compassion in ourselves for one another. We have no physical guarantees, no timelines, no certainties right now of how life will continue to unfold. We can; however, remind and reassure each other that it is certain that we matter to each other. If you benefit and do well, then I feel a sense benefit and wellness. If you suffer, then I suffer with you. You are all my fellow travelers in life and I wish each and every one of you peace, comfort, and certainty that you are not alone. Know that you are held in high regard and that I want for you the highest possible well-being. With love, Jennifer
I read the following words from The Parents Tao Te Ching by William Martin this morning and they moved me:
Our bodies produce the bodies of our children. Our noisy minds produce the fears of our children. But the Tao produces the spirit of our children. Still the body. Quiet the mind. Discover the spirit.
How often we need to be reminded of that in this modern life. We have constant streams of input, even when we aren’t seeking them out or asking for them. We have constant competitions for our attention and for our dollars. And pursuing those things often leaves us no more satisfied than before the pursuit.
However, being still and relaxed enough to enjoy a gorgeous sunrise or sunset or a giant hug from a loved one or a beautifully written word or photo is satisfying. My encouragement to you today is set a timer, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and focus on one, single pleasant word for two minutes. As the mind wanders, just bring it back to that word. Keep breathing. Take another deep breath to close the practice. And enjoy your day!
In “The Five Invitations” Frank Ostaseski writes, “In the end, the only way through suffering is for us to allow what is happening, welcoming the experience and introducing awareness and compassion where denial was prominent”. Nobody is going to do this well all of the time, but as a practice it helps us to move through troubles rather than getting stuck in the yuck.
In “Daily Affirmations For Adult Children of Alcoholics” Rokelle Lerner writes “Life is not a test where we are constantly graded for performance”. What do you think – is that easy to believe or hard to believe? For those who grew up in a home where performance was a mark of significance or a sign that you mattered, this may be a hard pill to swallow. I wonder what then would replace performance? If I am not being graded at performance, on what am I being graded? Am I being graded at all? How do I know how I am doing? Whew! On and on we go. We can tell what life is about because when we find it, it creates a gentle, inner serenity. It creates pleasure. It invites ability to get along with others and in the world. It creates a peace within us. When we find what life is about, others look at us and say “it’s great to be with you”. We find enjoyment. It’s not that we don’t have to work hard. It’s not that we don’t suffer. There are places that continue to be difficult. But we find softness. We find help and connection. I hope today you begin or continue to find what life is about.
When I talk about empathy and compassion, I often get asked to explain them.A practical definition of empathy is when somebody tells you how they are feeling and you say, “well, of course you feel that way!”.Empathy is the thought part of understanding the context of someone’s background or their point of view.You can imagine the place they are coming from that leads them to the experience they are having.Compassion is when you feel a mix of love and hurt or pain or another feeling toward that person as they are telling their story. Empathy says, “yes I can understand how you feel” and compassion says, “I also feel for you”. Empathy and compassion don’t require agreement with the person.You neither have to agree with their point of view, nor say they are right in feeling that way.You only need to allow your mind a short time to imagine their experience. Using your imagination allows you to practice empathy and compassion for almost anyone at almost any time.The benefit of this practice is that receiving empathy and compassion makes us more caring people.Do you want less crime, less road rage, less theft, less abuse?Treat each person like a human, practice empathy and compassion, and do your part to contribute to a better environment for all of us.