WHEN THE STRESS IS
JUST TOO BIG – DAY 6
Do you feel alone?
Does the root cause of our stress, anxiety or feelings of un-safeness, stem from a deep and pervasive feeling of aloneness? Or different-ness?
Today’s practice is an invitation to receive kindness from many unknown others, to bring connection to the place of alone-ness.
Not feeling part of a group, excluded, and alone may be painfully difficult, triggering shame, fear, avoidance or shrinking. Isolation has been a long journey for me.
Aloneness may feel especially shaming or difficult in this world of social media, where virtual connectedness can actually accentuate physical aloneness.
Does aloneness emerge even when physically in a room with other people? Maybe also alone on the inside, alone from our-self because the internal committee-meeting of opinions in the head leaves us wondering who “me” is; which of these opinions is mine?
Does aloneness have a conjoined twin of ‘differentness’? Do you sometimes feel different from everyone else? Aloneness and differentness may drag in feelings of wrong-ness.
How ironic then that in feeling alone and different we are part of a massive (silent) community of others feeling precisely the same way. What would it be like to know that someone nearby feels the same way? That feeling alone actually means you, me, we, are very much part of a community? And that as a community we can breathe out and allow our aloneness to be an OK-ness.
How would it be, today to place a hand on your heart and know that you are, in fact not alone. This pandemic has revealed so many small acts of kindness between fellow, often unknown, human beings, one to another. Could you incline your heart to allow the kindness of others to float like a warm breeze to you for a moment. Because you, and I, are not alone, we are in a community of others.
Secular mindfulness (and every spiritual and religious group) practices sending wishes of kindness to unknown others. Many people, right this very moment, are sitting in meditation wishing well for you. Would you be willing to receive their wishes?
Like “the breeze at dawn”*, these wishes are available to you. The gentle touch of air on your skin can remind you. Placing your warm palm on your own shoulder, imagine, and know, you are like a phone mast receiving signals of kindness. Letting kindness of others in, gently saying “May I be well”, knowing others wish this for you too.
This moment of connection to others may touch the part of you that feels 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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