You Are Not Alone in Needing or Giving Kindness

Does it feel like the world is a very different place from the way it was two weeks ago? If you said yes you are not alone. 

What have you noticed?

I’ve noticed over the last weeks that when I smile or say hello to someone on the street they smile back, and often say hello. When I’m shopping for friends who aren’t leaving their homes and I ask for assistance, the clerk stops what they’re doing and gives me their attention and stays with me until I’ve found what my friend needs. I’ve noticed that when someone asks how I am, it sounds to me as if they really care. The thing is, they’re not different, I am. They always cared. They’re not speaking differently, I’m hearing differently because I’m thinking different thoughts about them, and that is making all the difference in the way I feel. I’m thinking the same thoughts about them that I’m thinking about you.

The thoughts I’m thinking about you right now are: I hope you’re protecting yourself mentally as well as physically. I hope you’re taking good care of your mind and your body. I hope you’re putting as much thought into nourishing yourself emotionally, mentally and spiritually as physically.

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 We have always been this kind.

 Some say that people are kinder now but I don’t believe that’s true. I believe that people are inherently kind, and that for some reason they don’t tend to show it under normal circumstances. But as we keep hearing – these are not normal circumstances. Or are they?

We are in an extraordinary period of time right now because everyone all around the world is having an experience of the same circumstance – and yet different people are having very different experiences of it. There have been other pandemics throughout history, there have been comparisons made to the pandemic of 1918 that claimed the lives of millions around the world, and yet the thing that makes this time seem so different is the same thing that will ultimately stem the tide – technology. What adds to the extraordinariness of it is that this is the first time in history we are all seeing each other, all around the world, go through it together, in real time, via the internet. 

How about a news diet? 

The internet is a blessing for sharing science and medicine and best physical health practices and what’s worked and what hasn’t and how to cut down the physical spread of the disease and how to tell people to stay at home en masse – what it is as equally a blessing for that is actually a detriment, is the spread of the mental disease of fear. 

 How is it possible that some people are very fearful for their physical health and the health of their loved ones and others aren’t? My guess is that the ones who don’t have pre-existing physical conditions that actually put them at greater risk and are still extremely fearful are the ones who are not protecting themselves mentally from the spread of the fear. Not only are they not protecting themselves from it, they are actively bringing it into their experience.

They are not standing porter at the door of thought. They are spending a lot of time watching the news and scrolling through online sites and in chats with others who are as fearful as they are, and each ‘touch’ is compounding their level of fear.

Please, have compassion for yourself as you do for others.

 My wish for you, my compatriot in self-compassion, is that you take as good care of your mind as your body, that you practice true self-care in the form of limiting your intake of news and information so that it doesn’t inflame your thoughts and stoke fear. Please cleanse your thoughts as carefully as you wash your hands, and nourish yourself in as many ways as you can think of including more time clearing your mental clutter and less time imbibing the news of the latest negative numbers – both the corona virus and the stock market.

Yes, even now, you can have a fulfilling relationship – with yourself!

How do you clear your mental clutter? One of the best ways I know of is to do daily thought downloads. It is exactly how it sounds – take out a piece of paper and a pen and write down every sentence, every thought, every idea, that is running in your head at that moment. It’s really cleansing to do this first thing in the morning when you awaken, especially when you combine it with another mindful practice such as meditation or a gratitude exercise. But even if you only do it for a couple of minutes in the middle of the day it is still worthwhile and cleansing. It’s amazing to start to see the thoughts you’ve believed to be truths for what they really are – sentences on paper with no more power than that.

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