Yesterday, I had 4 meaningful pastoral visits at Oshkosh Correctional. During these visits, I listen, ask questions, mirror back goodness (the many ways each prisoner’s practice inspires me), and encourage new areas of growth.
This afternoon, I had a routine conversation with a potential client. I prepared my notes and readied to call, knowing I'd done this many times before. Still, I felt fear and doubt. My relationship with fear and doubt is long-term and sometimes unpredictable. I took a few deep breaths and made the call, recognizing fear but not letting it control my listening or speaking, nor my ability to stay present. The call went well: kindred spirits talking and details decided. A new opportunity to practice and teach mindfulness.
Over 15 years, I've made huge leaps. Yet each leap contained countless small steps. The path from self-aversion to self-compassion is gradual. It's hard to pinpoint a single moment, but eventually I had appropriate tools and enough practice, and my heart shifted. When I revert to old habits, I trust there's a safe space within me: I re-connect with breath and awareness.
Even now, I have a hopeful view of the world. Heartbreaking violence and greed unfold every day, but still I see goodness in people. There are brave, generous, and compassionate acts that soar under the radar. These aren’t mentioned in the news, but I witness them daily. My hope isn’t based on denial. It’s based on direct experience with my best self and the best selves of others.