In these strange times, finding ways to settle ourselves down, or take stock in a crazy moment is a helpful approach.
Recently we came across these 4 questions a young politician asks herself. We thought to share them because these questions seem helpful to ask oneself in any sticky situation.
We share them here:
What is this really about?
Is this truly important in the larger scheme of things?
Do I have the power to change this?
Will doing more make it worse or do I just ride it out?
This quote just came to our attention and caught it. We wanted to share as we muse on it some more.
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
author Virgina Woolf ( b.1882-1941)
With this time we all have now, there also is an opportunity to learn new things and maybe create. Have we said I don’t have time for that in our past? Well, with this ‘found’ time, we can surprise ourselves, and dive into something new. Take those paints out, dust off the instrument in a forgotten corner, build that backyard sculpture, spin wool or spin a yarn, grow a garden, listen and laugh out loud, try new recipes, and maybe paint rocks and leave them around the neighborhood.
Someone may need to see, hear or find exactly what you are learning, creating or exploring right now.
Do we notice what we say, do and think in a day? Where we spend our time, energy and resources tells us what we value. Do our actions, words and thoughts impact our world, our family, our experiences? Often we hear we want the world to change, yet somehow that can seem beyond our control or influence. Yet lately it feels the world has stopped business as usual, maybe in order for us to take the time to look and see what is and is not working for our human world.
Whether we choose to be intentional or unintentional with our time, thoughts, energy and resources it is doubtful our world can be as it was before. What is the world we want to be part? Many of us had the illusion the world we lived in matched more closely what Disney movies showed us. Yet we are starting to better see that Disney movies hardly resembled anyone’s truth. Yet in seeing there has been a bigger underbelly than we fully realized, we also acknowledge it is now seeing the light of day. And it can feel like chaos. And with the light and chaos comes opportunity.
We can choose to be part of moving this “ship” around to better reflect what we want more of in this world. And we need be honest too in noticing how we could choose words, thoughts and actions to better support the world we say we want. We do have an impact.
“A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will. ” -Proverb
In these uncertain times, changing our minds might be the way to change the world to be one that works for everyone. As we are physical distancing and sheltering in place, we have a different kind of time on our hands. Maybe we are noticing more of who and what is around us. We might be more and more aware every day how the world has not been working for our families, ourselves and those marginalized including the hungry, homeless and sick among us. Maybe we saw it but weren’t sure what to do or how to help. We were overwhelmed. Systems were in place and clearly not working. And now everything has stopped. S T O P P E D.
Yet every system, procedure, even belief we have was imagined or told to us by a person. We can re-examine everything. Man-made systems, rules, laws, institutions, policies etc. And when they don’t work or no longer work, we can change them. With new thinking and the will to follow through we can change our minds and change our lives. At the micro and macro levels. We often try hard to change a person or a system rather than ourselves but far easier to change ourselves for long range change. Now we have the time to contemplate what we need, can do and can think differently about in order to have the relationships, communities and kinder world we say we want.
“Recognizing the power of our minds means that even as unfortunate or terrible things happen to us, we can receive them in a more spacious and ultimately more enlightened way. The Budda taught his students to develop a power of love so strong that the mind becomes like space that cannot be tainted. If someone throws paint, it is not the air that will change color. Space will not hold the paint; it will not grasp it in any way. Only the walls, the barriers to space, can be affected by the paint.”
quoted from Lovingkindness (page 122) by Sharon Salzberg
Sharing a quote from Sharon Salzberg’s book, “Lovingkindness”, reflecting on the gift of equanimity.
To have the radiant calm and unswayed balance of mind that we call equanimity is to be like the earth. All kinds of things are cast upon the earth: beautiful and ugly things, frightful and lovable things, common and extraordinary things. The earth receives it all and quietly sustains its own integrity.
It is a state of peace to be able to accept things as they are. This is to be at home in our own lives. We see that this universe is much too big to hold on to, but it is the perfect size for letting go. Our hearts and minds can become that big, and we can actually let go. This is the gift of equanimity.
Nature has many ways of showing us how to we might choose to respond to such things in our day to day life. Things like our emotions or other peoples, a change, different opinions or ways of doing something, obstacles we might face etc. Sometimes when we watch moving water, like the flow of a river, we can see how it meets a rock or boulder in its path. Does it resist? Try to change the boulder? Push at it? The water flows around it, this “obstacle” that is harder and denser than it is. The water stays in its flow and is hardly impeded or slowed down as it moves around the obstacle and continues on its path.
As humans we can find ourselves resisting an obstacle. We might get stopped in our tracks by a situation thinking we need go over it or through it, change it or be stopped. But what if we let the obstacle or “boulder ” stay where it is and just go around it? Even dealing with other people an obstacle might feel like a difference of opinion. What if we chose to let it go, and kindly flow around it? Allowing that there are many things we might see as obstacles or that get in our way, how we approach it may be the difference between getting wound up and feeling relaxed enough to better assess the situation. What if we breathed through that feeling, instead of getting stuck, angry, confused or overwhelmed? We could take a breathe, relax our body, and choose to go with our own flow, focusing on what needs to be done in a positive direction, letting go of the habit perhaps, to resist, fight or get sidetracked?
If we are flowing towards something positive we seek, or just living our daily life, we focus our energy on what we want more of rather than the obstacle. And when we can act like water, maybe that can help release the power of the obstacle for us.