Covid 19 compassion, we can do this!

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

Simple Kindness by Diane, Orchid Yoga, Gloucestershire UK

In association with A Space 2 Be, 31st May 2020

So, it seems we are tentatively and cautiously taking the first steps out of lock down?

"To me, it feels very awkward; so many things are familiar yet so much has changed!
I hear you say, how are we going to cope with this strange situation we find ourselves in?"

As a yoga student and teacher, when I’m unsure, I often turn ‘back to basics’, to the very roots of yoga. Maybe there is some wisdom to be had in the old teachings, some guiding principle which can help us right now…

I have the yamas and niyamas from Patanjali's ancient Yoga Sutra stuck to my fridge as a daily reminder (the yamas are the ‘do’s of yoga, the niyamas, more personal guidelines).

These are the first two of an eight-fold yoga system, which includes asana (posture), the area that western yoga students are most familiar with.

First and foremost of the yamas is the concept of ahimsa, usually translated as "nonviolence".

"In my mind, I think of this as simple kindness"

In this odd situation right now I’ve found myself asking, what’s the kindest thing I can do for me right now? What is it that I need? What is the kindest thing that I can do for another?

By experiencing living through a global pandemic, we are all challenged in ways that we may not be totally aware of and there is an absolute need to be compassionate with ourselves and others.

This thinking leads me into a practice of loving kindness. This style of Buddhist meditation is one that I was introduced to through Jack Kornfield’s work . I’ve adapted the practice to work best for me.

To start, I find a place to sit quietly intending to be still for 5 minutes or so (you can sit on a chair, on your bed or on the floor; the most important thing is to be relaxed and comfortable).

I close my eyes (you can just turn your gaze downwards, if closing your eyes doesn’t work for you) so as not to be distracted by things going on around me.

Here’s how the meditation flows…

We start by turning our attention to ourselves, saying the following phrases (or similar ones that resonate with you):

We start by turning our attention to ourselves, saying the following phrases (or similar ones that resonate with you):

May I be happy.

May I be well.

May I be safe.

May I be peaceful and at ease

We begin by focusing these thoughts on ourselves, sending ourselves love, as it is almost impossible to be kind to others if we don’t personally feel loved. Own oxygen mask on first and all that. It’s good to sit with this level of the meditation daily, if possible for a few weeks.

There are days when your meditation will feel easy and other days when the phrases will churn up all sorts of feelings within you. That’s all normal and ok. Just treat yourself with some compassion and be patient with it.

After a few weeks, when you’ve got this stage of the meditation practice firmly in your life, sending loving kindness towards yourself, you can move this out to include others.

So, focus on sending loving kindness to yourself for five minutes, then move your attention to someone that you care deeply about, say a family member.

Picture this person in your mind and carefully recite the same phrases:

May you be happy.

May you be well.

May you be safe.

May you be peaceful and at ease

Some people will find it difficult to send love to themselves, so start their meditation by sending love to another and then ease into focusing on themselves. That’s absolutely fine, do what feels right to you!

You can do this meditation at any time of day; I’ve found that by practicing in the morning, it helps to ground me and sets the right mindset for the day.

So, why not give it a try? If you want some support with this, or other yoga type stuff, do feel free to reach out to me.

"Let’s be kind to ourselves and each other as we move into this next phase. Keep breathing and keep connected; we can do this together"

Diane, Orchid Yoga, Gloucestershire UK

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