search button
Portballintrae Orig

Radical kindness

  • Nov 10, 2016

Many of us have been left reeling after what seems like a never-ending stream of bad news from 2016. What to do? How to be?

The answer for me is the same as it ever has been. I may have transitory angry/frustrated/stressed reactions, but the dust always settles to kindness. This is not about being a saint, it's about self-preservation of my sanity with the happy side effect of making everyone else feel better too.

I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Martin Luther.

It seems to me that most if not all spiritual traditions from the pagan to the theistic, the humanist to the yogic, conclude the same.

This being the case, now what to do? I find an urge to do something to make the world a better place. What we are able to offer depends on our own inner as well as external resources, so let's not turn this into an extra source of guilt and confusion. It might be as simple as a smile, or helping someone with their shopping.

Let's create a republic of love through daily actions of kindness. War does not bring peace. Peace brings peace. Peace is peace.

If you have the strength, there is more:

"When you see violence, greed and narrow-mindedness in the fullness of its power, walk straight into the heart of it, remaining open to the sky and in touch with the earth" Shambhala Warrior Mind Training (from a centuries old Tibetan Buddhist tradition).

This is the basis of mindful action - signing petitions, demonstrating, volunteering, maintaining "right view" in the face of opposition. In a physical asana practice it is no coincidence that the standing warrior poses Virabhadrasana I-III embody the emotional force in stability and strength, rootedness and a sense of life. Practice these to help you feel strong, even if you don't quite believe it at first.

At the same time, try to see clearly. While the media rains upon us a storm of bad news, in fact positive news happens every day. It's actually statistically best to be alive now - rates of undernourishment have fallen, life expectancy increased, you are less likely than ever to die as a result of genocide. This is not to discount climate change, continuing gaps between rich and poor, environmental destruction and so on. If you're reading this, you're likely to be one of the lucky ones (probably living in the UK or Ireland, educated, with access to the internet and interested in yoga), and you can help others.

"Train in non- violence of body, speech and mind. With great patience to yourself, learn to make beautiful each action, thought and word." Shambhala Warrior Mind Training

With care, be mindful of what 'news' you let in and how you react to it. Create and appreciate beauty and art, and this becomes a fuel for action. Do what you can manage with your resources - giving donations, acting kindly, challenging unfairness, writing to your politicians, signing petitions, making environmentally-aware consumer choices and so on.

At the same time, yoga teaches us not to grasp at predicted outcomes. We act because it is the right way to act. 

"Pranayama teaches humility and frees us from greed or hankering after the fruits of our actions. Nothing can be forced: receptivity is everything." BKS Iyengar, Light on Life.

And finally, there's not need to bear this burden alone. Share with friends and family and like-minded communities of which, we hope, Maitri Studio is one. We welcome you to Maitri to meet others in a welcoming environment, and to find your calm space.

"Put down the leaden burden of saving the world alone. Join with others of like mind...staying open, staying grounded, be confident in the magic and power that arise when people come together in a great cause." Shambhala Warrior Mind Training

Be the light....

Contact Us

Maitri Studio Limited
4 The Mount, Belfast, BT5 4NA

Tel: +44 (0)28 9099 2428

Company number: NI635546