I would love to share this article with every middle school girl out there… but that might be too late.
We live our whole lives looking for the elusive one, sometimes not able to stand the “one” that we are. . . because we aren’t smart enough, not thin enough, or whatever else we’ve come to believe about ourselves.
If we don’t learn to foster compassion for ourselves we get into a relationship that might be good for us and then we start to think. . . I don’t think I’m smart enough, thin enough, etc. . . of course the object of my love, who I hold in such high esteem, must think that to.
And then comes, who do they think they are?
Or OMG, if they got close enough, they would learn that thin and smart are just the surface… there is so much more than is wrong with me.
And that perfect mate, perfect relationship, is sabotaged, wrecked, and over before it begins.
I tell my friends time and time again that I am not sure if we need to teach kids how to read, write, and do math when we can’t teach them how to be compassionate and can’t show them compassion.
Does algebra really matter if we haven’t been able to connect with others, develop some sort of healthy self-worth?
I hope that the current trend to teach kids mindfulness continues to flourish. We have kids who are detached, self-absorbed, unable to parent when they get older, and believe, like many of our CEOs and politicians, that the “other” is just someone to take advantage of, no matter who that “other” may be.
Attachment parenting has been in the headlines since the cover of Time a few weeks ago and I know little about it. I don’t know if we need to breastfeed for much longer than we need to or sleep with our kids to foster safety.
I do know that I see parents, good people, treat their children like objects. Referring to them like, “I picked up the kid from soccer practice. . .”
I see teachers and parents not give attention to or appreciate the voice that children and elderly have.
We are so busy that it seems like it benefits us to see “the other” as an object because then they can be manipulated — tailgating until we push them around, used to climb the corporate ladder, livelihoods taken, etc.
There has to be some middle ground between seeing corporations having personal rights and depersonalizing the people in our lives but I think it goes back to basic things . . .
Fostering presence and acknowledging the person we are with
Compassionate, thoughtful speak that seeks to find compromise, clarity, and communion
Cultivating a broader perspective and being able to step back to see our basic interconnectedness or as it is called in Thich Nhat Hanh‘s tradition, Interbeing.
Slowing down and taking time — put down all of the distractions and things that won’t matter some day when we are at the end of our lives.
Taking care of ourselves so we can be stewards of our selves, our resources, and our relationships.
All of these things come with contemplative practices. And I don’t mean to say that everyone needs to become Buddhist. . . MBSR has shown us that a practice does not need to be religious or even spiritual.
I think that any contemplative practice in any tradition of any kind will help us to work on the things that will make us healthier, create stronger relationships, and bring about true peace.
What are we waiting for?
We all have breath to follow.
We all have access to fire to light a candle to focus on.
We have a treasure trove of literature and spiritual/therapeutic texts out there to teach us about the present moment and how to foster awareness.
I ask myself these questions of our greater world and I ask them of myself every day.
Is it time to embrace our enlightened-nature and foster deep connections with the essential self of others?
- Thich Nhat Hanh and Karl Jaspers (anemix4.wordpress.com)
- Following the Breath – Thich Nhat Hanh (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Interbeing (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Thich Nhat Hanh: In Engaged Buddhism, Peace Begins with You (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Peace is Every Step – Thich Nhat Hanh (booklolly.wordpress.com)
- Contemplations for Practice: Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ Thich Nhat Hanh (dhamma4mama.com)