I was tuned into a podcast with the host interviewing Jon Kabat-Zinn, if you are new to the mindfulness field he's basically the pin-up, idol, guru, super-cheese of awesomeness personified. If I were to meet him, I might have a hugely embarrassing meltdown.
He has a knack for getting to the nub of the moment in ways that many of us simply look upon in awe and wonder.
I presume it's because he embodies his practice, because he's committed to his own mindfulness endeavors, I don't know, it's a reflection. However and to the reason for today's thoughts, he was able to display his skillful approach to life in the simplest of ways when the podcast host recounted a moment she witnessed him in action and invited his insight as to why he did what he did.
Jon, Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, all significant contributors to the introduction of modern mindfulness were giving a talk to over 800 people in New York, folk had travelled across the globe for this moment, imagine Glastonbury for Mindfulness and you have a vague idea of the levels of joy for those lucky to be in the audience. .
Then, the PA system broke down, there was confusion on stage, the audience couldn't hear them, they couldn't work out what was going wrong, lots of back and forward, suddenly audience excitement turned to frustration, agitation, a growing number of people getting progressively louder in venting their annoyance. You can hear their anger growing, palpable.
What did he do? He calmly spoke to the audience, signalling for silence. Embracing stillness, and acceptance, doing the only thing he could, he brought compassion to the moment, and met people experiencing their frustrations. Inviting them to be part of the problem-solving, acknowledging and accepting what was present and not trying to change it. Acknowledging their frustrations and irritability, noticing and holding space for what was there.
His approach poured balm, people felt seen, there was a ripple of laughter at his deftness, a collective sigh, immediately diffusing the agitation.
You don't need to hear someone speak to be taught, it comes from within, if someone is willing and brave enough to allow those of us feeling strong feels in any moment, to give them the gift of experiencing them we can teach ourselves.
I feel it's so important to acknowledge this, given the day and age we are in, where Covid19, economic worries, frustrations etc may bring out the unskilful emotional responses just waiting in the wings all too often. To be allowed to feel them, to sit in compassionate care with one another is such a gift, and a challenge too don't get me wrong! I've had my buttons pushed, I have to learn how to go beyond the immediate thoughts and simply try my best to be with the person also experiencing pain. And it's here that we connect, and grow with rather than against each-other.
And it feels SO much better.
So an invitation to you, to help build your own compassionate practice, is what can you do today that is kind? What do you need in this moment, or this weekend? What will top you back up so that you have it to give to others? Or if you know of someone who is experiencing challenge and difficulty, what can you do to simply sit with them, to meet them at their experience, so that they feel held, heard? NOTHING more; it shouldn't take from you if it does, that's a whole other conversation.
Mindfulness is so much more than sitting and meditating for 20 minutes a day, but it is in this practice that we get to know ourselves better. It's also where we can practice compassionate meditations so that we learn to strengthen our compassionate muscle. There are a couple of my website (called Loving Kindness).
Check them out.