The teachings in the book are Buddhist in tradition, although they can be easily applied to any mindful, spiritual life. The book has taught me a variety of things; perhaps the most important lesson I have learned is to be kind to myself. The book invites me to observe myself - my thoughts, my emotions and reactions in a compassionate way. I am asked just to notice, without judging or praising, what is happening inside myself. Underneath this, I start to examine what my motivations are – am I running away from pain, moving towards comfort, being indifferent to a situation? It also helps me to see the stories, daydreams, scenarios that I make up in my head to deal with life and to ask myself what I need, that I create these stories, then just let them go. I have found this helpful to understand myself better. Once we recognise our own stuff, we are able to be more compassionate towards others. We understand better that they may be experiencing the ups and downs of life, just as we are.
I know that some of you may be thinking “What is she on about?” or “Too much navel-gazing!” Perhaps that’s true. However, I do think that knowing how I tick, how I respond to people and situations, helps me to understand other people better. Empathy is defined as “the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings”. Another way of putting it is this “If you want to know what it is like for the other person, walk a mile in their shoes.” Our worship theme this month is Advent Conspiracy. The Sunday themes are Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All. This is all about thinking about the needs of others, those we know and want to give something special to this Christmas, and those we don’t know, but who will be helped by the money we don’t spend and are able to give away. This is all about understanding someone else’s life and wanting to make a difference in a positive way. Be kind to yourself this week, be kind to another.