And the wisdom to know the difference.

“There is toxicity everywhere around us. In the environment, in the political atmosphere, but the origin is in people’s hearts. Unless we clean the ecology of our own heart and inspire others to do the same, we will be an instrument of polluting the environment. But if we create purity in our own heart, then we can contribute great purity to the world around us.” 

(Jay Shetty, Think Like A Monk)

I was recently made aware of Jay Shetty and his book (and podcast) by my nurse practitioner. I have always been uplifted when I have been in to see Joann for a treatment. Her kindness and calm are felt immediately and I leave feeling infused by them and profoundly loved by a dear friend and mentor. I look forward to seeing her most when I feel stressed or anxious on the day I am scheduled for treatment – it’s like going to the therapist’s office. I know anything I am feeling will be washed away and gone by the time I leave the office. Joann has simply embodied the peace and strength of being kind and seeking to serve others. 

When am I kind? When do I feel at peace and in grateful service of others?

Not often enough. It is more likely that I will feel this kind of peace and gratitude when in service to animals or plants. But people are difficult.

One can become overwhelmed with the toxicity around them. It is right to acknowledge that the toxicity exists- there is war, disregard, paranoia, racism, sexism, ageism, religious intolerance and uninformed hatred everywhere, it seems. It feels suffocating and inescapable. 

When I care for my garden and for the animals in my life (those outdoors and the big fat house cat that I adore), I feel that quiet. It’s a world I can be part of and serve. I am finding it difficult to discover where that service and its peace may lie in the “outside world”. So many things are broken and so many people need help- where to begin? 

Joann would tell me to begin small. Today, I’m trying to help in my immediate family by (trying to) listen and be patient. The journey in my household is changing with time and age and it is frightening. So often, fear expresses in frustration, anger or intolerance. My ignorance of what my family is experiencing in themselves makes me feel these things. I cannot change the progression of time, age or disease. Helplessness also makes one feel these toxic emotions. But if happiness does indeed begin on your own backyard, then perhaps that is where I can begin to think like a monk.

In small spaces. Not the entire world. Small spaces where the flux of life can be felt keenly and lived in peacefully- with practice. 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Mindfulness is a heady word- it sounds lofty. But it is really just inhabiting your small space of the universe fully, and that, in turn, allows us to move into the spheres of the larger universes. 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

The courage to change the things I can.


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