Letting courage and kindness be our compass

The fact that we are interconnected as human beings has never been clearer than now. We rely on each other. We depend on each other. How we behave impacts on ourselves and others. We have undergone huge change in a relatively short time and, although not easy, have adapted accordingly.  Over the last few months we have all witnessed many examples of compassion in our lives and in our communities, as we have moved through these changes together. Staying apart for the greater good, not just for ourselves. Covid-19 and the emergency response has brought out the best in many of us, highlighting our common humanity, our shared fears, anxieties, vulnerability, compassion and hope. 

A key concept in mindfulness training is the idea of impermanence, an acceptance that things are changing all the time and that change is natural. Yet, quite often we find ourselves resistant to change.  I am amazed at how quickly we have habituated to each phase of this ‘new normal’.  Despite the very real tragedies, griefs and losses of this time that we will never forget, many of us have now adopted slower-paced, simpler lifestyles, placing value on home cooking, baking, planting, walking, cycling, being in nature. There’s a very tangible sense of nostalgia around, as we are perhaps reminded of a time when life was a lot simpler.  

Maybe you have found yourself needing or wanting less? Or developing a growing appreciation of what you already have? Maybe you have struggled with boredom or a restless mind? Or are continuing to grapple with fear of uncertainty and what’s ahead? We are all moving through the different phases of this crisis as best we can and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ response. We must remember how vital it is to show kindness and compassion to ourselves as well as to others.  Comparing ourselves to others can be a waste of our precious energy and resources. It can be enough to know that we all share in the vulnerability of being human. 

Emotions are not fixed or static and personally, I have found this time an emotional whirlwind, sometimes feeling exhaustion, fear, regret and other times gratitude, contentment and a sense of being ok. We have had so much to process in recent times; discomfort and painful emotions are only to be expected. Self-care is crucial now more than ever, listening to our bodies and knowing when it’s time to rest and restore ourselves. There is much to be learned from it all if we can go easy on ourselves and learn to accept emotions coming and going, ever changing.  

Regardless of what our own struggles are, we have made it this far through our collective struggle and that means we have found the courage inside ourselves to change. Can we now deepen that courage and look at ways of sustaining these simple changes that can give our lives more meaning? If you ask anyone what they have missed during lockdown the answer will invariably involve people, connection with others, being part of a community.  

Can we make compassion-based mindfulness a sustainable feature of our lives going forward?  Bring a fresh perspective to our lives, look at life with new eyes? Is there good that can come from this incredibly difficult lived experience that we are all still sharing?  Perhaps a sense of appreciating what we already have, paying attention to our lives. Will we continue to take life for granted? Probably, but perhaps not as much as we used to.

Sometimes memory can be short-lived though, and we can easily go back to the way we were, old habits and ways of thinking can creep back in. By deepening our mindfulness and compassion skills, we can change the direction or pathway of our lives and life can really improve. Combining both formal meditation and everyday mindfulness can really help to stabilise the mind, bringing benefits in the short and long term if we keep practicing. Compassion practices deepen our relationship to ourselves and others, helping us to feel part of a much bigger picture. Over time, our sense of ‘me’ seems to evolve much more into a sense of ‘we’.

I have been guiding mindfulness sessions online for over 10 weeks now. These evenings are such a wonderful connecting point and provide a structure for regular meditation practice with the support of a group. I can hardly believe the sense of shared energy and community that can be felt even across physical distance. I am also very impressed at how fantastic people have been at engaging with technology in this new way. Another shining example of resilience and adapting to change.  

If anyone would like to connect in with my online sessions via zoom you would be very welcome. If I can support you in any other way please get in touch by phone, email or through my facebook page, mindhaven.   I also offer one-to-one sessions and short online introductory courses to help us manage these challenging days.

Until next time, go gently with yourselves,

Warmest wishes, Susan 

Email: susanoreganmindfulness@gmail.com or Tel: 087 2700572 https://www.facebook.com/susanoreganmindfulness/ https://www.mindfulnessassociation.net/find-a-mindfulness-teacher/

Susan O Regan

Susan O'Regan teaches mindfulness and self-compassion courses and workshops in West Cork.

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