Compassion and silence amidst COVID-19
We are living in surreal times. 2020 has been rife with uncertainty, and on many levels there has been a stark reminder of the immense suffering that exists in our world. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for us to be aware of those that we share our planet with, whether they are human or non-human animals. Yet, here we are now, living through these very circumstances in lockdown.
Much like a volcano, times like this seem to be defined by their volatility. There are violent eruptions in people’s words and actions. There is conflict, unrest and a clash of ideals. Once the lava stops spewing, there is a smouldering but silent volcano. When the lava eventually cools, the soil that is left behind is far more fertile than any other plot of land. In the case of COVID-19, this is our soil to skilfully plant seeds of compassion.
Indeed, compassion has already begun to bloom in people’s hearts, amidst very difficult and tragic circumstances. Communities have come together to support and champion key workers. Friends and family have started to cultivate more silence for themselves, in order to reflect on what is truly important. Animals have ventured back into the towns and cities from hills, mountains and forests. In the northern hemisphere, there is more of a stillness to notice the beauty of spring. These are just some of the bright spots in a desperate situation.
If you create silence within, you can slowly begin to see the seeds of kindness and compassion germinating across the planet. It is our responsibility to take care of these delicate seedlings, so they bloom into something that can bring the necessary healing to all those who are suffering.
So what things have brought me joy during this time?
Callie drew this beautiful picture of our cats, Leo and Lyra, as a gesture of kindness during a difficult time. This picture filled our hearts with joy and gratitude for Callie’s kindness, compassion and her incredible gift.
2) Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh (also known as ‘Thay’ or teacher)
Real silence is like a balm that can be soothe a troubled mind. It is necessary for all living beings, especially amidst the noise that fills our minds during this pandemic. In between working days, my family has made an effort to create the space and silence needed for the cultivation of compassion. We need to do this, not only to help ourselves, but to stay focused and fresh-minded to help others.
This book, alongside so much of Thich Nhat Hanh’s work, has been so pivotal and important in my personal development. It has helped me transform my own understanding and way of being.
I thoroughly recommend it and think it can give insight and comfort to anyone suffering during this time.
NB - You do not need to be a practising Buddhist to see beauty, relevance and value in Thay’s work.
The northern hemisphere is enjoying spring. Outside our window and in our garden, nature has put on a glorious show. In England, we are allowed one short walk a day, and this must be done whilst obeying social distancing rules. Walks are now a privilege and gift to enjoy responsibly.
This new condition allows us to truly appreciate and savour the lilacs and blossoms. We can now cultivate the necessary peace and perspective to focus on what is important in life.
Whilst many of our patients and their families are distressed and stricken with grief during this time, some of us have been afforded the privilege of being able to walk and enjoy the flowers and the trees. To make sure I bring perspective and compassion into my walks, I use my breathing and my steps to carry those that cannot be here with me. I make sure I pay deep attention to the world around me, sending those in hospitals and homes across the world my compassion and solidarity. I hope that one day, when the tears have run dry and the sorrow and sickness starts to heal, they can walk again and enjoy the beauty of the world around them.
We do not know how long this situation will continue for, but we can know that all things eventually do come to an end.
For now, as we all continue to live through this period, I am sending good wishes to all of you who read this post, follow my work and perhaps even know me personally.
May you be well, may you be at peace and may you be happy.