Recently, I spent a weekend at a Mindfulness Summit in Washington D.C. As we got through the first half-day, I have to confess, I felt like a fraud. There was a lot of talk of mindful meditation, being present, and yoga – to name a few. How do I practice mindfulness? I don’t. I consider myself mindful person, but practice it on a regular basis? I do not.
I have become more aware of the benefits of mindfulness. Stress can be reduced. Increased focus. Improved relationships. Who doesn’t want that?? Just like physical exercise, it’s practice or a habit. And one, I intend on forming.
My awareness around individuals and organizations practicing mindfulness has completely expanded. Hands down, my favorite speaker from this conference was Roshi Joan Halifax. I had never heard of her before this conference, but the moment she walked up on stage and uttered her first few words, I knew that she was special. She has this presence of calm, of love, of compassion that literally filled a room that with 750 people.
Joan spoke about compassion, about what it takes to be a compassionate leader, about the difference between compassion and empathy. My favorite quote is:
“Compassion is not religious business. It is human business”.
I believe that compassion is the one thing that we could agree the world needs more of.
- Primes well-being and resilience.
- Is health promoting.
- Improves longevity.
- Affirms our moral principles.
- Elevates you and others too!
- Is contagious.
How do we cultivate or practice compassion? You can’t practice or cultivate compassion if you don’t see it. First, put down (or step away from) the social media more often.
Then what? Cultivating compassion requires grace and G.R.A.C.E:
G – Gathering our attention. It means getting focused and being present.
R – Recalling intention means remembering what your north star is pointing to.
A – Attuning to our self and others means tuning into our own bias and sensing the needs of others.
C – Considering what will serve means using our wisdom and knowledge to inform our action.
E – Engage and Ending means taking action and then letting go.
“Compassion is not religious business. Compassion is HUMAN business. It’s good for us, it’s good for our kids, and it’s good for our communities”.
As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, it doesn’t take much for me to know just how lucky I am and how much I have to be grateful for. As I continue to learn and grow, I’ve become aware of the things that I had no part creating or working for; they were just handed to me upon birth. Things like:
- Being born in the United States
- Being white
- Being heterosexual
- Being Christian
My life and how much it is or isn’t worth seems to be decided based on things that I had no part in creating. As we gather around the table with family and friends this week, let’s not forget that at one point (not so long ago for some of us) our ancestors were also refugees. They too were looking for a better life. They too had spouses. Small children. Extended families.
The history books tell us that Christopher Columbus discovered America. The truth is the Native Americans were already here. We don’t really like to talk about that though.
The Syrian crisis isn’t cut and dry. It isn’t black or white. I’m not here to tell you how to feel or how to behave or what to do or not do. All I know and all I can hope to share with you is what I know to be true for me, which is this:
The world is a super complicated place. I don’t look at our issues as a United States issues. I look at them as human being issues that will require more compassion, more grace and more patience with one another. More then anything, I believe in the goodness of people.
As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, I will continue to take a stance in peace. A stance in love. A stance in gratitude. A stance in compassion. And of course, a stance in grace. I invite you to join me.