WHEN THE STRESS IS
JUST TOO BIG – DAY 1
Many minds cope with anxiety (for example) by telling the worries, fears or catastrophising imagination to “Shut up”, that it’s all rubbish, that “it doesn’t do any good”.
A mind-versus-mind bout of inner wrestling is not helpful, sadly.
If you notice this happening, try moving away from ‘mind-to-mind’, and instead try ‘hand-to-body’.
Just now, experiment with how it feels to rest your palm on the place in your body where the sensations are strongest. Your heart? Your tummy? Your shaking legs? Your head? Can the hand be soft, and kind and gentle? The touch of the hand is saying, “I care”. Or imagine it as the hand of your dearest, most loving friend – there with you, saying, “I’m with you in spirit”.
See if helps to imagine this kindly touch saying more, such as “I care for you, I am so sorry you are struggling today, I am with you, I feel you, you are not alone”. It may take some experimentation to find the words that feel authentic and soothing to you.
Many students I have worked with have felt a bit self-conscious doing this at first. In this case, try putting your hand on your shoulder or elbow, and just drop into your ‘felt-sense. See what the palm ‘feels’ like on your body – its warmth, strength, softness. This can move us away from what a ‘tough-love-mind’ might be saying. Swerving the mind for a moment can be very helpful.
As always, repeat! Often. This is the start of building a new habit and it takes practice.
Wishing you a day full of pauses to drop into self-care.
Naomi Shihab Nye: Kindness
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
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