Day 13: Fearless Compassion
Welcome to Day 13 of 21 Days on the Mountain. Our focus today is fear, and how in the current Pandemic we need courage to move from our sense of fear and into learning and growth as we return to a new and unpredictable world of leadership and work.
One of the four pillars of Mindful Command is Fearless Compassion; the ability to acknowledge, accept and release fear in ourselves and others with kindness and compassion, to find the courage to do what’s right.
So join me for today’s Power of Pause video, as we reflect on bringing compassion to our fears, being kind to ourselves and those around us, and helping those who are suffering, with courage and grace.
Hello and welcome to 21 days on the mountain, a chance for us to pause together for a few minutes. So this is Day 13 and I’m standing in the most amazing spot, on an old path hewn out of the rock, I don’t know, probably centuries ago. Next to a shrine, a shrine to the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus, that was hewn out of stone that’s been placed there in 1820.
And in fact this valley is famous for its stone cutters and stone carvers over the centuries. As I stand here I can hear the waterfall of course, and the river flowing down beneath in a kind of a serpentine form. A large mountain to my right, quite a few broken trees in the wood, and particularly this one here is fascinating because there are huge fungi growing out of it. And this pass wends its way for another couple of hours up to the alpage where the sheep will go in the summer. And down, down to our village, and I can see our hamlet directly in front of me, and I can even see our house.
And as I stand here thinking of all the people who’ve walked this pass over the centuries, the people who for the last couple of hundred years might have stopped here and sought comfort at this shrine, in the context of the global pandemic that we’re currently experiencing, I can’t help but think of all the suffering over the centuries, that people like you and I and our families and our friends, people like all of us, have experienced.
And that’s not in any way to undermine what we’re experiencing now. But it helps me to give it some perspective. So some of you may have seen on the internet, there’s a model during the rounds. A model of response to Covid19, and in fact it’s a model really that’s a response to any crisis or threat, and it’s kind of got Covid19 in a circle, and then kind of elliptical circles moving out from it. And the first one is the sphere, is representing the sphere of fear. The second one is the sphere of learning, and the third one is the sphere of growth. And I might add a fourth one which is the sphere of sustaining growth, but that’s for later.
For the moment I want to talk, if I may, a little bit about the fear. Some of us can embrace fear and move through it if you like, and move into learning and growth. And some of us can’t. Some of us might be experiencing someone very close to them dying. Or experiencing a separation from loved ones, the anxiety and concern for people that they can’t be with. And probably all of us are touched by that.
So I might stand here now looking as if I’m in some learning or growth zone. And yes in making these videos perhaps I am. But that doesn’t mean that the fear has gone. And for all of us who’ve moved through it, who are able to do something constructive with this period, it doesn’t mean that the fear isn’t still there. And I think if we can bring ourselves, from time to time, to acknowledge that the fear is still there, it will help us understand those people who are still very visibly, and in every way, still in it. Because for them it’s harder. It’s harder to move into learning and growth, they’re not ready yet. If we do spend a moment to acknowledge our fear, if we do sit with it, if we allow it just to be, in order for it not to become overwhelming, debilitating, in order for us not to be unable to move, we need to bring compassion, kindness.
We need to imagine that we’re holding someone we love. A baby perhaps, thinking of our children when they were first born, holding them with such tenderness that all we want to do is protect them and love them. And imagine that we’re that baby. That we need to bring that love and kindness to ourselves. And if we can do that, if we can be with it, acknowledge it, and be kind to ourselves, there’s a much better chance that we can do the same for others.
Here’s another thing – that may feel a little inaccessible at the moment – but in acknowledging fear, in recognising that it’s there, in bringing a kindness to it that allows it to have less power, perhaps, we’ll also be capable of experiencing joy, of beautiful, intense, exhilarating joy. Because we’ve acknowledged the fear.
So when I think of the suffering that so many of us are experiencing right now, it almost breaks my heart. And yet at this time there are so many people suffering perhaps more than us, watching this video, speaking as I am now, who need our help. So let’s bring compassion to our fear. Let’s help, with courage and grace, those who need it.
So in our two-minute silence today, if you can, if you want to, maybe acknowledge that we’re all frightened. Maybe tap in a little bit to what’s there inside, only if you feel that that’s what you want to do. And if you do, hold yourself as if you were holding a baby: ‘there darling it’s all right, it will be okay, there there sweetheart’.
So let’s remember the three steps of pausing, so critical at this time; pressing pause, bringing our awareness inside, here if you can, into our solar plexus, the space between our sternum and our navel. And breathe this gift of breath, breathing consciously in and out of our body. In through our nose or mouth, filling our body, expanding and creating space. And breathing out, letting go and releasing.
I’m going to close my eyes as I always do to help me concentrate, and I hope these next two minutes feel as precious to you as they do to me.
And when you’re ready, on your next breath, gently open your eyes.
So thank you for joining me here today. And remember, today, as best you can, and everyday, be kind to yourself, and be kind to those around you, who are suffering too.