One of the most difficult things about hard times is that we often feel that we are going through them alone. But we are not alone.
This life itself is only possible because of the thousands of generations before you, survivors who have carried the lamp of humanity through difficult times from one generation to another.
Recently I was asked to lead a talk on compassion to a small circle of close friends, our connection; a mutual friend’s suicide.
I held the space with punctuated moments of self reflective silence, often this all one can do, just be present to one noter’s pain and suffering.
Grief is a forever experience…a continuum of processing waves of complex emotions, agonising grief, confusion, guilt and anger, loss and fear.
Opening up the talk allowed us to compassionately connect with each other’s loss in the presence of true compassion we were experiencing.
Suffering is part of our humanity, and part of the mystery that we share.
I am not alone not alone in suffering, nor are when a family member is suffering from illness or addiction. You are not alone. You are sharing in the inevitable trouble of human incarnation. On this very day, hundreds of thousands of others are also dealing with loss of a loved one.
If you can, breathe with them and hold their pain mindfully with yours, sharing in your heart a spirit of courage and compassion.
For thousands of generations we humans have survived hard times. We know how to do this. And when we sense our connection, we help each other.
Two women in nearby towns in northern Canada were forced to venture out on a fierce winter night. One was taking her pregnant daughter to the hospital; the other was driving to take care of her ill father.
They made their way along the same road from opposite directions, through hurricane winds and pelting snow. Suddenly each was stopped on opposite sides of a huge fallen tree that blocked the road.
It took them only a few minutes to share their stories, exchange car keys, and set forth in each other’s cars to complete their journeys.
As you open beyond the self, you realise that others are part of your extended family.
Separation is an illusion. You and I are not separate. We are interdependently connected.
Imagine each breath that we are inter-breathing carbon dioxide and oxygen with the our complex biosphere.
Daily nourishment joins us with the rhythms of bees, connects our body with the collaborative dance of myriad species of plants and animals.
Everything is connected. Nothing is separate. Unless we understand this, we are split between caring for ourselves or caring for the troubles of the world. “I arise in the morning,” wrote essayist E. B. White, “torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it.” A psychology of interdependence helps to solve this dilemma.
Through the loving awareness of mindfulness and meditation we discover that the duality of inner and outer is false. We can hold all the beauty and the pain of life in our heart and breathe together with courage and compassion.