The global demonstrations of unity that we are seeing to support Black Lives Matter are powerful. I stand for equality, justice and systemic change, and truly hope that all of our efforts move us closer to these outcomes. The organization of activities such as protests, social media support and sharing resources has happened very quickly and is incredibly empowering! I feel called to offer this reminder as I have needed it myself - it is important for us to make intentional choices before we participate in an activity.
To do this, allow time, space and awareness. This can come from cutting yourself some slack and slowing down for just a tick. It’s okay to take your own time in this process. This mission we are on globally is a marathon, not a sprint.
As has been highlighted by many others, it is a time for listening and learning, and I think, also loving.
Listening. When we engage with others we often listen to respond. What happens if we just listen to listen, with the only objective being to hear what the other has to say? Perhaps try to slow your response rate - this would allow for a conscious response vs a reaction. Try fully removing the pressure of needing to respond at all. We do not need to have a response to everything. Listening to listen is enough. This can help us to feel more empowered and in control.
Learning. Let’s educate ourselves on why and how our world is the way it is. The more we understand, the more we are able to communicate with confidence instead of fear. This allows us to tap into our inner well of love and compassion. Yes we all have one, and it’s really quite large!
Love & Compassion. Once we have listened & learned, we can feel more confident to engage. Compassion involves sensitivity to the experience of suffering, coupled with a deep desire to alleviate that suffering (Goetz, Keltner, & Simon-Thomas, 2010). Our world is suffering - love & compassion are the antidotes. Feeling compassion motivates us to create the change we need at this time. It involves treating others and yourself with kindness, concern and support. Think about how you treat a good friend who is experiencing life struggles, or a setback - how do you communicate with them? We usually engage with kindness rather than harsh judgment to create comfort. This is how we can practice compassion. Being compassionate towards others and towards ourselves develops emotional resilience and courage to support us as we navigate through this together.
Know that you are important and that your voice matters. If we take the time to care for ourselves we will be able to put our best foot forward, to engage with confidence, conviction and love as we continue in this movement.
The most important part. How do you actually practice compassion?
1. Tool for practicing self-compassion:
Grab a pen & piece of paper or journal. Take a deeeeeeep breath. Now think of someone who knows you well, perhaps a mentor, close friend or loved one. This person understands you and wants the best for you! What would they would say to you about the challenges you're currently facing? Journal this out for 3 mins without thinking about what you're writing. Allow the pen to stay on the paper and write free-flow. Then, go back and re-read it :)
2. A compassion meditation:
Join me for this 9 minute compassion meditation to ease the mind and send some wishes of love out into the world. A key element of compassion is building empathy and connecting to others - a simple way to do this is to consider similarities between yourself and others.