I listened to Hugh MacKay on ABC’s Conversation Hour yesterday, he was promoting his latest book, The Kindness Revolution. He spoke of the natural ‘shut down’ which can happen when we first encounter a threat. It makes sense developmentally. ‘Freeze’ is a reaction you might have done as a cave dweller when encountering a lion. It’s hard-wired into us. So, if your first reaction was to close up inside as Covid crept closer to you, that’s completely normal.
But being closed up doesn’t feel good.
Surely it’s NOT how we want to live.
In our lives, a noble aim is to GROW not to shrink. And to enjoy existing in my body, breath, mind, and heart RIGHT NOW.
It’s really simple. Feeling compressed and being squashed feels bad. Feeling open and flowy feels good.
So how can we counter the impulse to curl up and over-hibernate this wintry lockdown? How can we live well, right now?
FREEZE or FRIENDLINESS?
As we are social animals and a such we are hard-wired to co-operate. We tend to be prompted to come to the aid of others as we never know when we will need help ourselves.
Hugh McKay reminded listeners that when someone is in urgent need, we automatically try our best to help them. A car accident is not like a party. If someone is in a burning car, you would never think to check first whether that person is aligned with your political or religious beliefs. It doesn’t factor into your decision to help save them. Kindness naturally follows along with begin designed to help others. And every day there are so many ways we can be kind.
Remember, kindness starts with yourself. I was fortunate to join a zoom study group this week on a key yoga text, the yoga sutras. Held by Mischa Telford of Earth Sky Yoga, she reminded us of a quality that features in yogic and Buddhist philosophy: Maitri is often translated as friendliness, benevolence, or loving-kindness. Maitri is something that will help to dispel the obstacles of the mind that block us from liberation. And she said, “The Baseline of kindness starts with yourself.”
It’s well worth cultivating actions and feelings of kind friendliness at home and in our lives. Especially at this time. Think back to the last lockdown where people did get to know their neighbours better last lockdown. Canberrans had outdoor knitting circles on their streets! Neighbours wrote notes to each other. They offered help getting groceries. Time was taken to check-in and casseroles were shared.
How Can I Feel this More?
I often finish my yoga classes with Buddhist meta meditation of loving-kindness First you wish yourself well, so you fill your own cup. “May I be happy, safe, and well.” Then you extend that blessing to others. “May you be happy safe and well.” It opens the heart and promotes an easy kindness. This week the sutra group discussed the power of switching the words you are taking into ‘I will be happy, safe and well.’ Or, better I thought; more immediate and powerful. ‘I am happy, safe and well.’
My Gift to You
If you would like to practice this mediation, I have created a seven-minute version of it. Just click here for the link. Regular practice is so powerful and you can feel the uplift in your heart. It’s immediately gratifying and lingers too.
You can ramp up your physical openness with our online classes too. Join our 7 DAY CHALLENGE! Details below.
A great tragedy would be to lose the benefits of this lockdown after it ends when busyness consumes us again and our now vulnerable hearts snap back into their hardened autopilot.
To help you feel fresh and new, check below for our special classes upcoming: Short lunchtime blitzes with specialist teachers – Breathwork Energy Spritz, Qi Gong, Belly Burn with Belly Dancing, and Yoga Nidra meditation.
Let’s cultivate the daily kindnesses.
Stay open everyone!