I’m worried about you.

Posted by on Sep 8, 2016

Last night I took a yoga class from a lovely friend. She is one of those warm people to whom the heartbroken are naturally drawn. We don’t know each other incredibly well, but I’ve reached out to her in more than one difficult moment.

As we were settling into Savasana (Final resting pose), she said a few words about an article she had recently read on loneliness and the very real health problems that can result. Reflecting on the studio’s theme that month of Sangha (Community), she spoke about her own regret that, surrounded by a large community of students and friends as she often is, she had been insensitive to this painful epidemic until she witnessed first-hand the isolation that her elderly mother, recently widowed, was feeling. She encouraged us all to consider ways to reach out to those who might be feeling alone.

As I listened and then as the room became quiet I could feel my body release onto the mat. As my defenses softened I also felt tears leaking from my eyes, pouring down to my temples and to the tops of my ears. When I instruct Savasana, I often encourage my students to explore a feeling of dissolving. Last night I felt like I might dissolve completely into a deep pool of my own salty water. But, as usual, and for a whole bunch of reasons, it wasn’t a great moment to have a total meltdown. So I gathered my scattered heart, pulled myself upward to the surface and took a breath.

Later, walking home, my friend’s words stayed with me. I was crying, I think, about kindness I had  failed to extend in my own life, and the kindness that I sometimes, frighteningly, needed now. The truth is, for most of my life I have been the strong one; healthy, partnered and solvent, and like my teacher-friend have occasionally been oblivious, and even a little hard, when others were not. As I start to learn what it is to need help, I am totally humbled.

The Dalai Lama famously said: This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

Truth.

Offering, and being offered, true kindness have been some of the most significant moments of my life. This past Spring I lost a dear friend to lung cancer. A few months before she passed, while she was in the throes of one of many wretched treatments, she sent me an email. “I’m worried about you,” she said. Knowing that I was facing many challenges she offered heart-felt advice, as well as the name of her therapist.

That she would send this message in the middle of a fight for her very life is something I will never forget. What is this goodness that rises up out of people even in the midst of their most difficult moments? I think it comes from the same well as those tears. We just have to remember that it’s there, and dig.

Kindness, like enlightenment, is available to us in every moment. Even when we are happy and our lives are full, even when we are ill. We can practice in our local shop, on the subway, and with those we already love. We can even practice on ourselves.

 

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