FINDING GOODNESS IN THE MIDST OF DIFFICULTY – DAY 5
“Last time I let love in, my heart got dashed on the rocks…”
Feeling goodness, or love, can go unnoticed and sometimes that’s because the heart has grown a protective layer.
Days 1-4 of this course have ended with a little invitation: not just to ‘have’ a moment of goodness (via pleasure, acts of kindness, mastery or awe), but to add a moment deeply connecting to how the goodness feels in your body. The second step installs this ‘way of being’ into the tissues of the mind and body, so that gradually it becomes a habit. Noticing and the appreciation become second nature: rebalancing our negativity bias.
But what if we are overwhelmed by low mood, stress, anxiety or ‘busy-doing-ness’, when there may be no little frisson of goodness?
Sometimes hearts that have been hurt may have protected themselves inside ice. They need time to melt and feel again. If you do not feel a frisson, maybe think of ‘goodness growing’ as a practice in trust and patience. Trust, because hearts know how to mend. Patience, because given a little time, yours will too.
There’s a Buddhist saying: drip by drip, the bucket fills.
One way to drip in the goodness is by ‘counting blessings’. On a Sunday evening (or any evening), take a minute to remember a few lovely moments that happened during the week – the smaller, the better. Write a word or two about each one on a slip of paper, then drop (‘drip’) it into a large jar. Or use a journal if you prefer. I heard of one family who did this together and shared one jar. When you are feeling low, you can dip in and catch a lovely moment. As you remember the feeling that came with it, you are bringing a past moment of goodness to light up a present moment’s darkness.
Mary Oliver: The summer day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around
with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
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