Dealing with Challenging Times - An Open Heart and a Calm Mind

In these challenging times, where you may experience more anxiety and stress than you would like, why is it important to have an Open Heart and a Calm Mind? Together, these give us powerful tools to help navigate the challenges we face and make life-affirming actions that help us move through them. 

To have an Open Heart means to see ourselves and other people as the majestic and inspiring people that we all are, whatever our background and history. It means to open yourself to them, whatever is happening. Perhaps with strong boundaries. Perhaps physically moving away from them, but opening your heart to them nevertheless. It means to accept ourselves and others for simply being human, with all our expressions of joy, laughter and happiness, and also of fear, anger and separation. It means to allow people to be fully human and to see ourselves in everyone else. Being human means to feel pain at times and we all deal with this in our own ways, some of us internalising and isolating ourselves, and others projecting their pain onto other people. Having an Open Heart means to act with love towards ourselves for who we are, and to act with love for others simply for them being who they are, knowing deep down that we are all so similar. 

In these unique and challenging times we see our communities opening their hearts and coming together for the first time in many years, in support of each other and in support of those who are vulnerable. We see the unconditional love in the actions we take as an expression of a quality we all have deep within us. A quality that is our very nature, but which had been forgotten. That of having an Open Heart. This crisis shows us who we are and calls us to never forget this. 

To have a Calm Mind means to create space from our thinking, which always arises from a place of believing we are separate from others, and in doing so we can more easily access our Direct Knowing. This Direct Knowing is not based on fear, unlike our thoughts. It is our deepest wisdom. It can guide us to see clearly what is happening and can direct us into action which is grounded, confident and life-affirming. 

In these difficult times, having a Calm Mind means we see our constricting thoughts as a natural part of how humans think about things. We see our thoughts of anxiety about the future as simply what thoughts do - they worry about the future. We see our constricting thoughts towards others from concerns over contagion as a part of the nature of thought. Thoughts want to keep us safe in whatever way they can do, and because they are based on the idea that we are all separate from everyone else they do this from a foundation of fear. This is what we see on our social media feeds. People expressing their thoughts, which in times of stress will likely be more protective of ourselves and whatever tribe we believe we are in, and in response to this more critical of others who are not in our chosen tribe. In seeing this we can acknowledge our thoughts for what they are, and choose to ignore them a little more than usual, knowing that they do not serve us. Instead we can work with the practice of Calm Mind to create space from our thoughts and access our Direct Knowing, which helps us make choices about how to act to support ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. 

Having an Open Heart and Calm Mind are achievable by everyone, with some dedication and focus. This time of increased stress and anxiety is the time when these are called for. They give you the tools you need to access your deepest self and reside there, gifting yourself a life of confidence rather than a life of anxiety. They allow you to be able to see more clearly what is actually presenting in each moment, and release yourself from the many dramas and conflicts that are arising as humans relate without a Calm Mind and Open Heart. They reduce the suffering we feel day to day though our painful throughs or powerful constricting emotions. They allow us to feel deeply the life that is being called for right now to face these difficult times and to have the confidence to pursue life wholeheartedly. They allow you to navigate through today’s many new challenges and help begin to create a life which is part of building something new in our society as a response to what is happening today.

Jon Macdonald