I am incredibly fortunate to walk alongside so many people who long for more peaceful communication and closer and deeper relationships. I see miracles often, people turning their lives around through training their ability to become more aware of their inner emotional world and through training their mind to focus on certain aspects of their experience and to make sense of the world in a way that is more life-serving, to them and to others. As the year 2020, so filled with strife and change, nears its end, I am reflecting on what I have learnt from my students and share a few salient features with you. Each person's sharing is a gift to me and I sense it is a gift that creates community and inspires all present to keep working towards creating the world we want to see and live in. I am deeply grateful for people who share vulnerably and who are willing to go to the difficult places inside themselves, to be present and to learn to accept themselves more and more, and to treat themselves with more and more compassion. I believe that outer changes emanate from this place of increased self-love and self-acceptance.
A few gifts from my students:
- Going towards the uncomfortable feeling, touching it, and yet not being sucked into it, we reach both emotional integration and the feelings pass, new possibilities arising. This, at times of loss or great pain, is no easy task, to even turn towards and look at the emotion, the pain, the discomfort. And yet, I have seen countless times people doing this and emerging more relieved, happier, clearer, and more resilient.
- Allowing ourselves to mourn our unmet needs or the losses in our lives, whether it be people or dreams, space is created for something new to emerge. Acceptance of what needs are not and have not been met, again, without attachment or over clinging, but instead connecting with the humanity in longing for needs to be met, brings healing, integration, and helps us move through the loss and into a space of more clarity and more agency for future action.
- Being willing to be vulnerable is truly a gift both to oneself and to those witnessing. Being seen and allowing ourselves to be known, we offer the opportunity for people to attune to us and understand us. I have seen such special moments of vulnerable, honest sharing, daring to say something that might be judged, and trusting the nonviolent intent in our communities, and that we will find a way to work our differences peacefully. I sense we are building a world where people can be fully themselves and allow others the same priviledge.
- It can be painful to see the world from a new awareness in what it means to treat each other non-violently and to see how different from this the world that we currently live in is. I have seen so many of you form a strong resolve towards compassion and also towards more respect and care of all people's needs. Such inspiring moments for me.
- Emotional liberation brings immense joy. To become more and more aware of the feelings and the longings that motivate them is a true gift, and paves the way for a much richer, connected and fully lived life.
- We need community to see ourselves, and to be the best we can be in each moment. Community's support and acceptance fulfils so many needs.
- Committing to our ideals, and creating a strong intentionality towards nonviolence, brings clarity of next steps and provides courage to face more and more difficult situations with other people. I have been witness to so many people this year daring to say things differently, speaking up to protect others' dignity, stumble and fall yet try again and again to live and relate in a more peaceful way.
- Our thoughts, preconceptions, judgments, interpretations can be a jail that enslaves us into unhappiness. Noticing our assumptions and our thinking and working with it, we slowly find more choice in our inner reactions and start being able to respond to the world in ways that are more in line with our values. Our relationships are better and we also become more fond of ourselves, while being able to see ourselves more honestly.
These are just a few notes on the kinds of things my students teach me daily. My heart is moved by all the hard inner work I see people doing time and time again, and the beautiful fruits it bears. I see people happier, more able to create a life they enjoy living. I see people's minds and hearts softening and in doing so, becoming more resilient. Above all, I feel a renewed hope for our world. Thank you, my dear students. Image credit: Tim Mossholder