I posted this on my personal Facebook page this morning (along with the pic above):
Since January, I’ve been choosing a new card every Monday from Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Everyday Peace Cards: 108 Mindfulness Meditations” to read and reflect on for the span of one-week. Yesterday, I chose this card out at random: Peace is contagious. Seems a good fit for the times we find ourselves in.
Just as a virus is contagious and transmittable to others, so too are such things as fear, panic, worry, and despair. And, thankfully, such things as peace, joy, ease, understanding, and solidity are also contagious and transmittable.
Please know that I am here for anyone in need of extra support. Dear friends, I am here for you. We are here for each other.
In case you can’t read the card above in the pic, it says:
If you have been able to embrace your in-breath and your out-breath with tenderness, you know that they in turn embrace your body and your mind. If you have practiced meditation, you have already discovered this. Peace is contagious. Happiness is contagious.
A little while after posting, I thought to myself: Hmm. Oh dear. What if certain people read that post and receive a different message than I’m intending? A message people translate into: “Oh great. Now in order to be a “good mindfulness practitioner” it means I can’t be stressed out or worried about what’s going on in the wake of covid19. But the things is: I AM stressed out and worried, so I’m totally doing it wrong! I’m not a good mindfulness practitioner!”
The above scenario is a worse case situation to my heart’s calling, as someone sincerely invested in helping to support other mindfulness practitioners in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition and simply people in general. Whenever I write something practice related and post it on one of my many online platforms – which is to say: pretty much every day – I am actively aware of how people might misunderstand or misinterpret what I’m saying. It’s a risk I choose to take, but I do not take it lightly.
So, this is me wanting to send out the bat signal to say:
Sweet community, whether we know each other or not,
whether you are a mindfulness practitioner or not,
please do not try to be a “good practitioner.”
Please do not think that to worry or to be fearful
translates to your being a “bad Buddhist” or a bad anything.
The teaching on Peace is Contagious
does not preclude us from experiencing feelings
of worry, upset, fear, or distress.
This is not an either/or situation.
Every time we take good care of our fear when it arises;
every time we take good care of our worry when it arises;
this too is a way we practice to cultivate peace.
Here is a short poem I wrote this morning and posted on my writer’s Facebook page:
Imagine I were lone paddling
in a kayak towards you,
growing larger and larger
as I drew closer and closer.
Imagine, as you began to see my face
with more detail,
you could feel my great affection
see it in my naked, shining eyes.
Imagine I docked my humble craft
on the pebbled shores
where you stood;
joined you on the solid ground;
greeted you with a warm smile,
and wrapped my arms around you
and never let go.