WHEN THE STRESS IS JUST TOO BIG – DAY 4
What would your best friend want for you?
Sometimes the practices in this series may not fully connect, because offering ourself kindness is beyond reach. But someone who cares about you would offer this kindness, and that may be more helpful.
What would your best friend want for you? Or your closest relative? A grandparent, or the teacher who had your best interests at heart? Possibly you have a mentor, a trusted guiding ‘elder’ who has given advice, listened or shown the way? Have you ever had a pet who was always pleased to see you, wanted your strokes, was grateful you fed them, and for the home you provided?
What would they want for you, if they saw your struggles? If you told them of the pain you feel, the confusion, despair or doubt, the shame or remorse?
In my experience, they would want peace of heart for you. They would want life to bring you contentment, a feeling of safety, happiness, and for your day to flow easily. They would wish well for you. Loving kindness and compassion would flow from them to you.
You may want to take some time to contemplate these questions. Sift through your first responses to older memories. Yesterday’s post about ‘stuck’ thought patterns is important here. Your first response may be generated from the ‘headspace’ you find yourself in right now. You may need to skate over to some clean ice and bring in memories from lighter, easier times to recall those who have cared for you.
This ie especially true if, like me, you had a childhood of remote connection to humans. For years, I did today’s practice with memories of our family dog in mind. As a small child, I would curl up with him on the hearth mat, rubbing his ear to my nose.
Let the touch of your own hand on your arm be the touch of the warm hand, or paw, of a caring ‘other’. They are saying these words to your heart: “I care about your struggles. I am listening. You are not alone”.
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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