A meditation on kindness

This is going to be a rant…

I’ve been low lately. Low in glucose levels, energy and motivation. Motivation to write this blog and be active on social media. Other than wanting to share through my channels what we can do as individuals to make a better world, I can’t watch the endless stories on Instagram anymore, even when I like the people who share them. I’ve got no time for superficial nonsense and I could give two hoots about how to live a better me. This is it baby, I AM me.

My inbox is crammed with junk mail and there’s no end in sight. The weather is way too hot, too cold, and here just up the road 21 homes have been destroyed due to raging bush fires. Last night we went to see the Joker. I came out with a headache. This movie is all about the making of a villain. No superheroes in sight.

But who is the villain?

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As far as I see it, we have been complacent too long (me included). If we don’t do something, say something and change our behaviour not only towards the planet but each other we are all ‘the villain’. I don’t care which way you lean. Be a decent human being. Those people putting themselves on the line deserve our support. Better yet put yourself on the line. Start with your own home, reduce your carbon footprint.

And all of us dealing with the high cost of Insulin, crap insurance and lack of money for medication, devices etc, the situation isn’t looking up. I had a meltdown the other day realising that if I am somewhere where access to medication becomes impossible for whatever reason, I and countless others seriously wouldn’t have long to live!

If you’ve been reading my blog for the last 4 years, you’ll know I am super positive. I always try and see the good in things. I use my yoga practice to support my mental and emotional health and absolutely believe yoga and knowing its true meaning can solve all our problems.

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Photo by Jaime Kinsella

So even though I have been feeling disheartened I’m also excited. Excited that things have finally got to the point where there is a possibility that we can breakthrough our complacency and come together. I truly wish for this with all my heart and I believe it can happen. Being part of the diabetes community has taught me that.

When I’ve needed an extra sensor, syringes or a shoulder to cry on someone’s been there. It feels natural to help others when it comes to chronic illness. It’s not our fault and if we can’t turn to the people who understand, life would be bleak. I trust that even though crisis is the worst and impossible to face, it also calls out the best in us.

When I was in 9/11 in NYC and walking through the streets to make my way home, I walked along the 59th street bridge with 7,000 people shoulder to shoulder. We held each other in that embrace. Nobody was arguing, complaining or attacking. We were one breath, one body, helping each other home.

This post today is a clarion call. What small act of kindness can you do today to make a difference? It could be something personal or planetary. This is what is meant by the practice of Karma Yoga, Selfless service. The yoga of action.

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Recently my friend and mentor Eve Grzybowski started a group on Facebook called Climate Yoga. Asking Yoga teachers to find ways in which they could act off the mat to support the climate movement. The group grew from 10 to 200 or so in a matter of days. This shows how yoga can be a springboard for anything we care deeply about.

Why? Because during your yoga practice you learn to cultivate compassion for yourself. A posture may not be easy, your breath may be inhibited, you may feel too tired to stretch or hold a pose. Being kind to yourself is the first step in learning compassion. I often talk gently to myself on the days I don’t want to do anything. Reminding myself that if I just do two or three poses it’s enough.

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The same goes for how we can contribute to this huge behemoth of climate change. Think about two things you could do today and every day to reduce your carbon footprint. It might be something as simple as walking somewhere you would normally drive. ( p.s also great for blood sugar management) Going meatless on Mondays. Bringing your own bag to the supermarket.  In fact if you’d like a list I’ve found this one to be really cool.

And if you’d like to get inspired to ‘be the change’ you wish to see in the world. Try this simple loving kindness meditation.

Loving Kindness Meditation

Sit comfortably or lie down.

Bring your awareness to the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils.

Remember the happiest moment in your life and feel yourself happy and smiling.

Visualise sending yourself feelings of love, kindness and joy.

Think of 3 things that you love about yourself.

Think about ways in which you are kind to yourself.

Then say to yourself. May I remember myself as pure loving kindness. May I remember my natural strength, peace and joy.

Next think of someone you love and extend that loving kindness to them. Wish peace, strength, happiness and joy for them. Feel yourself sending them love and imagine them sending love back to you. Think of the things you love about that person.

Repeat the same loving kindness words for someone that you don’t know so well. A neutral individual.

Now repeat the same process with someone or something you feel is hostile towards you or you feel hostile towards. This could even be directed at the anger and frustration you feel towards your diabetes

Go back to step one. Direct loving kindness back towards yourself. Feel yourself as love, peace and joy. Feel how love peace and joy is the nature of every human being. Feel your compassion extending out from your heart to every single creature of the earth. Feel it like a giant heart pulsing through the whole of creation….

Finish by bringing your awareness back to your breath taking some slow deep belly breaths.

With great respect…

rachel

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Photo by Jaime Kinsella
photo by Matthias Boettrich

Remembering 9/11

I used to play the blame game when it came to having diabetes. But all that came to a halt on my first visit to the Diabetes educator. “ You know you’ve done nothing wrong, “ she shared, “some people just have the marker in their genes and it gets triggered by a stressful event. Can you think of a time in your life where you could have triggered the gene?” 

9/11,  thats when everything shifted.

That day was terrible, terrible for everyone.

We were in Manhattan waiting for my mentor and Yoga teacher Alan Finger to teach his yoga class when the planes hit the trade towers. As soon as I realised what had happened, I felt like I’d been shot in the chest, my legs buckling underneath me.  After a few minutes I had to get out of there. My son and stepson were at school a few blocks away and I wanted to be with them. Dazed and feeling sick to my stomach I walked out onto the street. It was quiet; ghost like, people with ashen faces walked beside me. The sky was a crisp blue and I wondered, how could everyone just keep going?

By the time I arrived at the school I was feeling faint. I wanted someone to hold me and look after me, but I wasn’t the only one in shock. I had to pull myself together. It was a relief to have both boys with me. The only way home to Brooklyn was to walk across the 59th Street Bridge. I could feel fear stuck in my throat, dry and hard. Gripping my sons’ hands, we walked.

Nearly seven hours after the towers had fallen I fell into my husband arms, but it was no consolation for the shock that numbed my body. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t even think because my whole world had turned upside down.

I don’t think I ever really recovered emotionally or physically from that day. And although I can’t specifically pinpoint the day my beta cells started collapsing I started experiencing a lot of strange physical symptoms about a year later. Tingling up and down my body, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, a feeling of being overly expanded, frequent urination, hives and skin rashes, racing heartbeat, difficulty digesting and many more things which turned my life into a living hell.

Recently I read an article that stated that those exposed to the debris from the falling towers are only now showing an array of symptoms and illnesses.

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There was nothing I could have done to avoid that day. When the unexpected happens it happens. Right now somewhere in the world some terrifying event is taking place and someone is exposed to something they didn’t expect and could never predict. How does anyone cope? How do we move forward? I imagine a lot of us are reflecting on that today.

A friend of mine posts the same story every year on her facebook page. She says she does it so she never forgets how lucky she is. I also feel lucky, An odd thing to say when one has an incurable disease. Being diabetic is an opportunity to thrive against all odds. In my opinion that’s always the way forward. Keep doing your best, keep loving what is, no matter what.