Holding Everything in Infinite Awareness

Written by Mary Jennings, an MBSR teacher, reflects on Storm Emma and The Beast from the East

There was no real threat. There had been time to prepare. To stock up with food, fuel, batteries and a new phone charger. Emma and the Beast from the East might tort and twist in a macabre dance and we could watch through the triple-glazed windows. Safe, yet an eerie sense of vulnerability crawled and shivered across the skin. Just paying attention to that eerie crawliness was helpful, not pushing it away or making light of it. We are wired to take potential threats seriously. To be on the alert, ready for action. What neuroscientist and psychologist Rick Hanson calls the negativity bias. It can serve us well then there is a threat, ready to leap into action when necessary.

But it’s a bias. We can over-react. We can overestimate the threat (hands up anyone that was left with stale Brennan’s Bread!) and underestimate our resources. Like the hard-working people in the National Emergency Coordinating Committee (NECC) we can prepare to respond, rather than react – if we act with awareness.

And respond we did, with many acts of kindness, small and big. My neighbour cleared our driveway at least twice – we reciprocated with scones. Another cleared the snow around the pedestrian lights and at the bus stop. Just because.  We are also hard-wired for connection.

With our mindfulness practice we can learn to cultivate self-compassion and self-soothing .We can acknowledge our vulnerability, not be overtaken by it. We can develop our infinite capacity to hold all things in awareness. Then we can see through our own narrow windows, out into the sky and beyond,  and with greater equanimity or balance open to hearing –  in Joyce’s beautiful words in his story The Dead – ”the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

Mary will run an MBSR course in The Sanctuary in May of this year, details & booking here

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