It's an interesting human habit: when we most need a pause—a little room to breathe—we're hesitant to take it; we keep pushing forward in a haze of busyness and distraction. A cycle that's magnified during the holidays, as we're encouraged to celebrate, spend, and consume. Yet what we really crave is space, ease, and connection.
Human nature is interesting: we receive both praise and blame for the same action. If an idea becomes popular, there's often a backlash. Last fall, Adam Grant wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times: "Can We End the Meditation Madness?" [It's an interesting read, even for this mindfulness teacher.] Grant notes the lack of rigorous studies on meditation, quoting Richie Davidson—a leading neuroscientist and meditation researcher.
Last week, a friend shared this Mother Teresa quote: "Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." Giving someone food is easy. Giving someone compassion and care is hard. When life gets busy, it's easier to write a check. It's harder to volunteer our time, compassion, and willingness to listen. But care and compassion are desperately needed. And small, kind actions make a big impact.
Grief is rich territory for growth. We all experience loss in different ways at different times. Right now I feel withered and bare. But I also feel the sun. I hear these words from Galway Kinnell: “Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness, to put a hand on the brow of the flower, and retell it in words and in touch, it is lovely.” Sometimes it’s necessary for me to place my hand on my own brow—on my own heart—and send blessings inward. This is the practice of loving-kindness.
I received a simple letter in the mail: my retirement savings will be transferred to a new company. My first reaction: fear. Fear of change and uncertainty. Since my mom's death I feel a heaviness in my chest—pain that feels solid; more solid than anything I've ever experienced. My first reaction: fear. What if this pain never ends?