Listening to a podcast the other morning on principles of Buddhist psychology, the podcast host Tara Brach talked to the value of remembering.
She was talking about it in the context of anti-racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. How it was evident that many millions of people have felt compelled to action. But that our fallibility as humans can get in the way of lasting change when we forget, when we lose sight, don't make firm plans or when other events overtake our good intentions.
She talked about utilising our mindfulness practice to help support bringing us back to 'active' caring.
One quote I took from her talk was 'our fervour dissipates and our caring wanes, our intentions are honourable and earnest but it takes a dive when we get caught up in small mindedness'.
We have to therefore 'remember' what it is that we care about, we forget quickly, and so our practice is to keep on remembering, keep on caring.
You and I aren't alone in this, even the Dali Lama feels these feels when he said ‘I don’t know why people like me so much, it must be because I value Bodhicitta (the awakened heart), I can’t always claim to practice but I care about it, i care about caring’. A formal practice designed to help us come back home when we’ve become waylaid can be hugely helpful. 'Remember' is a verb - it's a call to action, it requires us to be conscious, and deliberate with our intentions. It may benefit us as colleagues working from home, on furlough etc to tune into those members who are lost from immediate thought, important too for those of you who feel mobilised to make change where we see our communities in pain. We all have good intentions, but intentions do not contain that fervour we need to make change happen, or to maintain connection, it takes conscious effort to remind ourselves of the people, the causes and the things that matter to us, so that we don't get lost in the mud.
A practice you can experiment with - at the beginning of the day set an intention to remember what matters to you, who matters to you. What is it you care about? What can you do to formalise that into your day or your week to come?
Then reconnect at the end of the day or the week to see how that practice went.
You may wish to choose a mantra or a phrase – simply to have an open and compassionate heart to all that arises.
What is it that matters to you, and what can you do about it today?