“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
“Every child is born in the garden of humanity as a flower.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
The Four Mantras of True Love
“Darling. I am here for you.”
“Darling. I know you are there for
“Darling. I know you are suffering. I am here for you.”
“ me.”Darling. I am suffering. Please help me.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, From the Dharma talk, True love and the Four Noble Truths, October 14, 2013
How are you doing in all this? I am wondering if you have found a rhythm and some routine in our new normal. It appears that our quarantine will be with us for longer than some of us expected. There are more uncertainty and more fear in the world. This adds to our allostatic load, the amount of stress our bodies are exposed to. Increased stress in our environment, leads to greater burden on the basic physiology of the body to perform homeostasis. As a result, we have less physical and emotional energy and less resilience and capacity. If we are confined with our families, it can be tense. We long for our own space and for that partner to go…somewhere…anywhere, but here. The kitchen is too small. The food is boring and still, we are eating. There is nothing to do and yet, we are exhausted. We are vigilant and afraid, and the enemy is invisible and the people we love could be unwitting agents of illness and death. All we want to do is have some comfort, ease, and return to what was normal. This is a confusing and tough time when we are called in to manifest the highest qualities in ourselves—like gratitude.
Last weekend, I had the privilege of being with a virtual sangha of young folks. There were two sisters ages 2 and 8 on the video teleconference who lived in Manhattan. Their mom was immune-compromised, a single parent, who told us they had not been outside of their apartment in six weeks—and yet—the kid played, sang, breathed with the bell, and were kids.
During the call, we had a session of flower watering. Flower watering is a practice where we acknowledge the gifts of another person and let them know we see them; we appreciate their goodness and it makes a difference in our life. I watched the 8-year-old smile and light up as her mom described the beautiful qualities she saw in her daughter, her patience with her sister, the ways she was helpful, and dependable at home. The older sister watered the flowers of the little sister and they hugged. The mom watered the flowers of her little daughter saying she brought joy and laughter into their lives and kept them very busy. She hugged her kids and I could sense how delighted they felt to be seen for their goodness, for someone to appreciate their true intentions. This acknowledgment nourished these positive qualities in the family. It really was like rain, an essential nutriment for beautiful flowers to grow.
This simple practice can do wonders, create connection, and let those who feel left out know they are seen and their contributions are meaningful. When we take the time to verbally appreciate the qualities in our children, friends, and others which make our lives more wonderful, we are contributing to shaping their future. This appreciation adds to their confidence and creates the trust to continue to act with kindness. When we are seen for our good qualities, we feel free to be our authentic selves; we can relax, and others feel relaxed around us.
In America, the dominant culture stresses blame and judgment which can fuel disconnection and isolation. We are quick to criticize, find fault and see injustices; we don’t always take the time to say how we feel when we encounter goodness in others. Right now, gratitude is more important than ever. No one is certain about what the future holds. At this moment, while we are present on the Earth, what do we really want to tell people? What would we regret leaving unsaid? Telling someone you value them is a gift that costs nothing except our willingness to connect. This week, please consider all the people who make a difference in your life and in your day and let them know you are thankful for their kindness, for their humor, for their patience. Let them know how their being here impacts you and how they contribute to the world. When we can see our goodness through the eyes of another, we feel loved. Knowing we are loved is a legacy of priceless worth.
May we all trust our light,