I tripped over while doing a morning plod around the block last week! It was a rather spectacular fall which resulted in a lump on my forehead, graze on my knee, a black eye and sprained wrist!
This fall reminded how easy it is for me to slip into the whole blame/judgement habit, both of myself and others! I hit the concrete, let out some expletives and watched my funny mind go to all sorts of unhelpful places. Firstly, I looked for something or someone to blame! The curb, the dog, or my runners!! Then I turned on myself to give me a hard time for being clumsy, rushing and not being mindful! Was any of this true, kind necessary or helpful? NO! So, what did I need? What was a more helpful habit to replace this blame/criticism with? Kindness is the answer, it always helps. When I blame and criticise myself or others, I become a victim. However with kindness I empower understanding and positive change.
So with awareness, I stuck a spanner in the blame/criticism habit cog, the spanner or kindness! So I picked myself up told myself 'that can happen, and did'! I was very grateful I was not wearing my glasses and did not appear to have done any serious damage! A man appeared from a house opposite with his bowl of muesli. He had been having breakfast on his porch and had heard the fall and my expletives. He kindly asked if I needed help and offered me a drink.
I have found it interesting to think about the difference between judgement and discernment. As I understand it judgement is an opinion about a subject or situation based on the information you have. With judgement it is tricky to know whether we have the correction information about a situation or know the whole or true story. It is certainly not true that I am always clumsy, make mistakes, and am not mindful. So when I watched my mind go straight to blame and judgement when I fell I could question the truth and helpfulness of this habit. Judgement implies someone is at fault or to blame.
Discernment, on the other hand is based on a knowing or understanding. So we know or understand something as a result of some training in ethics, compassion and wisdom, which allows us to make a wise decision. And the wisest response is always kindness.
In Buddhism they talk of 'things to take up' and 'things to give up' in order to be a happier more positive force in the world. We require discernment to know what habits are helpful and what habits could to with a rejig.
When I notice this habit of blame and criticism of myself or others I try to remember ........
It can feel overwhelming to know what to do in times of disaster or loss. We are often at a loss to know how to help those in need. I am reminded of the 'act locally, think globally (or even nationally, in your own state, town, or wider community). This reminds me that to stay open for ways to act locally - to serve and to practice kindness right where I am and when I am!
The overwhelm of sadness and loss is made easier by noticing the of love and kindness of others which is so evident everywhere, especially in times of tragedy. We see this in the amazing efforts of our firefighter superheroes from both here and overseas and so many acts of kindness to all those in need. It is so uplifting to see how people display such compassion, kindness, strength and support of each other. Let's focus on those and be inspired to practice kindness ourselves wherever and in what circumstances we find ourselves
Opportunities to practice kindness to others around us (and remembering to include ourselves too) are everywhere if we stay open to see them. Not only will this help others but it will also help us with the feelings of overwhelm and distress we can feel at times of tragedy, sadness and worry. What can I do for others? is much more helpful question to act on than to waste time and energy on stress, overwhelm or worry.
I often think that my kind acts and help needs to be on a grand scale, to be of any effect. The truth is I can act with kindness right where and when I am. A smile is a powerful kind act!
Some things that have helped me with feelings of overwhelm and worry and to remember the power of kindness and love are........
I love this poem and image from Leunig, and have found this a timely reminder of late that contentment is a mindset we can cultivate by simply being content.
For me this poem reflects Lama Marut's very helpful slogans
Giving -More about Presence and Less about Presents blog
Wishing you and all those in your world a wonderful festive season and beyond. I look forward to connecting in 2020
Much thanks, love and best wishes to you all