March 18, 2015
Notes from the Frye Art Museum, March 18, 2015
So, today I wanted to talk for a moment about inclining our lives towards Mindful Compassion and then guide us through a meditation to help support that.
I recently had the opportunity to hear a renowned PT/researcher from Australia, Lorrimer Mosely, who has done a substantial body of work on understanding the mind and body and chronic pain. His work is contributing to bringing better care and healing to the more than 100 million people just within the US, not to mention worldwide, with chronic pain.
He spoke of how – in the mathematics of Chaos Theory – even the tiniest of changes in an equation will, over time, create a dramatically different outcome. He shared how his exposure to a teacher early on in his career had a huge impact on him and his career, especially as he looks backwards 30 years. He likened it to an image of a meteor on a path in space – if nudged even gently – over time it takes a widely divergent path than its original trajectory.
Maybe you can take a moment to pause, and see if there was a time in your life when something like this happened for you. Ideally we are thinking here of positive impacts. Perhaps someone you met who became a lifelong friend or partner; a class you took or a skill you learned that opened up new activities or pleasures or career paths for you; maybe a teacher or mentor who steered you in some direction; or even a book you read or a song you heard, that opened up your heart and mind to a new perspective that you carried forward. I can remember a time when I was in my early years of college, completely unclear what direction to take my life. I happened to be hitch-hiking to get a ride home from class, and a friendly stranger picked me up. After talking for a few minutes about various topics, he seemingly randomly said: “I think you should go into Physical Therapy.” I didn’t really even know what that profession was about, but somehow I found myself exploring that option, taking pre-requisites, applying for the program, and ultimately having it be the basis of a long term and interesting career for me.
So take a moment to enjoy whatever memory comes up for you, and notice the trajectory it has taken you on in your life.
And so it is with Mindfulness and Compassion.
Perhaps we are currently feeling like we are not ‘where we want to be’, that we are not as mindful or compassionate as we’d hope to be. Or that we are not ‘good at it” which is a common thing I hear in my classes. Maybe we even have a story that others are just naturally better at this, and/or that we are somehow lacking.
Well, the good news, and science is supporting this –we now have some real tools/resources/practices that we know are helpful for many people to cultivate these qualities and help them show up more and more in our lives.
Several experiments coming out of Northeastern University point to the understanding that when we feel some connection with a person suffering, even something as simple as doing a shared movement like hand clapping together, then our sense of connection and compassion that we feel towards that person is significantly increased. (this relates to the idea I often mention of “Common Humanity’) Another finding is that when we cultivate increased compassion to one person, it has a positive carry over to other people.
So something as simple as learning to mentally recognize one another in terms of commonalities would generate greater compassion amongst all of us.
So, let’s all take a moment to breath in and out deeply,
And I have a quote to share with you as we move into our guided practice:
This is from Thomas Merton:
Do not worry about immediate results. More and more you must concentrate on the value, the integrity, the truth of the work itself.
(guided meditation on our common humanity offered)
I’d like to finish with a simple quote that I think is befitting the coming of spring:
Breathe deep and gather in the fragrance of all that lies before you today. For none of it means anything until, with our own unique brand of attention to it, we give it dimension and depth. Perhaps the richest discoveries of all lie in the simple, the once easily overlooked. ~ author unknown