When tragedy strikes are you bombarded by a mixture of emotions when tragedy strikes and left feeling confused about how to process them? I am, and the Manchester event gave me an opportunity to think about how to do my best to deal with them in a peaceful and compassionate way.
I opened the paper on Wednesday to see five pages of reporting and photos and everywhere I looked and read I saw sadness, fear and despair. I started reading with a heavy heart, then like a breath of fresh air I read a comment by the Queen. Yes the Queen! I think she is an amazing, inspirational Woman. She said 'The whole nation has been shocked by the death and injury in Manchester last night of so many people, adults and children, who had been enjoying a concert. I would like to express my admiration for the way the people of Manchester have responded, with humanity and compassion to this act of barbarity.' My heart lifted a little, this act of barbarity, no denying that, but no criticism, blame or fear and rather admiration for the people of Manchester for their humanity and compassion.
So awesome, to think of people joining together to support and care for each other. I stopped reading there and decided to let 'peace begin with me' and do my best to show compassion, humanity and love to all, including myself too!
My next reminder to let peace begin with me and to choose love came in the form of my friend and yoga student Philip, who is from the north of England. He came with news that an awesome poem 'This is the Place' by Tony Walsh, had been read in Manchester, following the bombing. It is a beautiful celebration of Manchester and its people, their pride, strength, optimism and solidarity, to quote 'this is a place where we stand strong together, with a smile on our face, Mancunians Forever.' The poem ends with 'Choose Love'. So amazing, no fear, blame, or hatred there either.
And on my way to Fairfield in the truck on the radio a song by the Youngbloods, 'Get Together', with the lyrics -
Love is but a song to sing
Fears; the way we die
You can make mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird's on the way
And you may not know why
Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
So while it is not always possible to help others caught in tragedies such as this, it is possible to choose a response which facilitates compassion, peace and love for all, including ourselves. Instead of reacting with fear, criticism, blame and anger, l was inspired to take the lead of the Queen, Philip, and Tony Walsh and focus on connection and compassion for all. And rather than expect more gloom and doom, anticipate a more peaceful world, where others are connecting together in compassion, support, and love.
I find it interesting to think about different words like expect and anticipate and watch my mind around when and how I use them. For me the word expect can have the qualities of negativity, control, demand disappointment and fear. As the saying goes 'expectation is disappointment in training.' Anticipation, on the other hand seems to me friendlier, more positive, optimistic and encouraging. Both expectation and anticipation are ways of projecting the mind into the future; with anticipation being the more helpful response for me. So if I can watch my mind around my response to an 'its like this now' situation and instead of expecting things to be a certain way, now and in the future, instead accept the situation and anticipate that things will turn out alright in the end. As my dear optimistic friend Wendy Lee reminds me 'anticipate it will all be alright in the end and if it is not alright, its not the end'.
When I find myself expecting things to be a certain way and going to that fear and blame spot I try to remember to anticipate it will all be alright in the end. More about this next week in the 'Patience Limbo ' post.
Compassion for the perpetrator of such brutal acts can be really difficult. We often want to blame, criticise and get revenge somehow. This reaction just breeds more anger and fear and does nothing to promote peace or our own peace of mind. I am not suggesting that such acts are somehow ok, as the Queen says, it was a barbaric action. However while acknowledging the horrendous nature of such actions, it is always best to cultivate compassion, love and connection rather than fear and hatred. So, how do we do that when it is really hard? Some things that help me have compassion in these situations include...
So, even though it seemed very difficult I decided to do my best to let peace begin with me and choose love.
Thank you all once again for your continued support, friendship and generosity.
Kind Regards, Best Wishes and may Peace begin and be with you