The tragic events that have been unfolding over the last few month in the UK with repeated terrorist attacks on innocent civilians, has brought me on a rollercoaster of emotions.
Anger, sadness, fear, despair, hope, the list goes on...
As these emotions arise and change, I practice to embrace them, to hold them gently and to allow them to pass and change.
Practicing in this way is very helpful for me personally, as my mind and body can process recent events and how they make me feel without getting caught.
However, my practice doesn't seem to make a difference to others, to people suffering.
My teacher, Michael Stone, often talks about our practice as useless, unless we are bringing the practice into our daily life. Our practice, whether Yoga or Mindfulness or something else, should be informed by a commitment to social action and positive change.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks about; 'making our life count' and to 'commit to making the world a better place right were we are and right in this moment.'
So with that in mind, I often find myself thinking, HOW?
How can I change the world? How can I have a positive impact on the suffering in the world?
So recently, I remembered a story that Thich Nath Han told on one of his retreats. The story was about a little boy that he had encountered.
The boy was sitting in a hall with a big smile on his face.
When Thich Nath Han saw the boy, he said to him: 'You have a beautiful smile.'
To which the boy answered; 'Thank you.'
Thich Nath Han said to the boy; ' You don’t need to thank me. I am thankful to you.
You should say; 'You are welcome.'
Isn't that a lovely story?
It highlights beautifully how something we are perhaps unaware of, something seemingly small, can have a positive impact on others.
And it shows very simply and beautifully that our smile, our practice, can bring joy and comfort to everyone around us.
That our way of being, the simple and joyous act of smiling can make all the difference to others and ourselves.
So when we notice the wonderful things, the beautiful things in our life, and around us, something happens physically.
Our jaw relaxes, the soft pallet at the roof of the mouth lifts, the eyes soften, and we smile.
In that moment we are present, we are open and engaged with life, with our surroundings and with being alive.
And this we can practice.
Thich Nath Han teaches this simple practice.
Breathing in – I calm my body and mind
Breathing out – I smile (actually smile)
This can be practiced at any time and anywhere. Wether life is awesome or life gives us lemons, we can be the change.
We are all on this earth together, and bringing attention to what I can do right were I am gives me a sense of hope, comfort and the ability to begin again and again. And it keeps me committed to keep practicing.
I will practice this from today, so watch out for my smile. I hope you will join me in this practice and perhaps share it with others.