There's a lot of things that I want to talk about (hence the blog), but it strikes me that the most important thing right now as those of us in Victoria are looking at the start of another lockdown and potentially the actual start the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia- is kindness.
I am very lucky to have met very few people in my life who don't actually want to be the nicest, kindness person they can be. For most of us, the thing that gets in our way of this intention is our own Ego. Most people when they think about our ego's, think about someone who is "egotistical". But that's not what I'm talking about. Our Ego is anything that we associate with an "I" or "me" statement. For example "That person cut in front of ME", "I shouldn't have to be doing this, it's not my mess/problem", "I can't believe they said that to ME". Our Ego is a protective layer that we often build between our Self (the true self) and the world. It is therefore often our Ego that gets hurt in the day to day happenings of life, not the true self.
The problem here is that our Ego's can be a bit turbulent- kind of like the choppy waters at the surface of the ocean. The Self on the other hand sits beneath that, calmly and quietly. Most of us are existing every day on the surface, dealing with the ups and downs, the insults and constant questioning of whether we're doing the right thing or going the right way. From this uncertainty it can be easy to deflect away from our pain and towards others. We can cast blame or insults ourselves, we can see perceived imperfections in others because it hurts too much to find them in ourselves. This is a pretty exhausting place to be.
By actively choosing kindness when our Ego is trying to tell the story, cast blame or get angry- we're CHOOSING to duck beneath the water for a bit. We're CHOOSING to find calm in an ocean of turbulence.
Right now, there's a lot of blame going on- towards those leading us and making the tough decisions in a time of crisis, towards others we perceive to be "doing the wrong thing" and not locking down appropriately. Our Ego's are driving the narrative away from kindness. Do we feel better for it? Probably not.
Choosing kindness isn't always the easy path to take. Whether it's kindness towards ourself- towards our actions in the past or thoughts as they come, or kindness towards others- greeting their shortcomings with compassion and forgiveness, choosing kindness often means putting aside those thoughts driven by our Ego. The one's that tell us WE have been personally affected by something and WE deserve to be annoyed and angry. As if our anger is likely to change things. Like I said earlier, most people I've met in my life really want to be kind but like all humans- we struggle sometimes. Dr Rick Hanson (PhD) says in his book The Buddha's Brain- "Paradoxically, it takes time to become what we already are". We need to work hard to move past our own Ego's to find a place where kindness is the 'default' reaction. By actively CHOOSING kindness, we're re-wiring our brains.
I'd challenge all of us to take this thought into the world today. To CHOOSE kindness when our bodies and minds want to naturally default to anger, fear, blame or any other emotion our Ego's conjure to protect themselves. Start to become familiar with what it sounds like when your Ego is talking- when you hear the "I" and "me" thoughts that sneak into your head, twisting and turning through you trying to keep your little boat being tossed around violently on the surface of ocean.
Choose KINDNESS. Choose calm.