I wanted to send a message out today with news about our various available products…
But I can’t.
I have been following what happened in Ukraine for the past few weeks and while this isn't a forum for me to share any kind of political views I do want to say a few words on this. I'm finding it tough to keep going business as usual when people are facing such violence.
Yesterday I watched terrified little school children - the same age as my daughter Poppy - being led into bomb shelters by their teachers. Tears streamed down my face and my heart cracked open as I imagined their fear. Their lives have been shattered.
It’s in times like these we see how the world needs more compassionate, caring and respectful people.
That’s why our work with children is so important.
But that’s also why it's so important we meet them in a state of calm understanding as much as possible. No matter how badly behaved they may be.
That's why it's important that we drop the labels and the judgments - and remember they are children. No matter how badly behaved they may be.
That's why it's important we remember their behaviours are the result of unmet needs - rather than deliberate personal affronts or belligerence. They are children with undeveloped reasoning abilities (the frontal cortex/thinking part of the brain is not fully developed until age 25) - they often cannot help behaving the way they do.
Being honest, by nature I am quite a judgmental person. When I don't agree with someone or something, depending on the situation, I find myself engaging in frustration, animosity, confusion and even anger.
And it hit me yesterday that until we work to rid ourselves of our judgements, labels and preconceptions there really can be no peace in the world.
All children deserve to grow up in a safe, loving, compassionate world. And every one of us has a responsibility to contribute towards that by working on ourselves instead of pointing the finger at others. Instead of judging, criticising, blaming and condemning.
Who am I to say I want change in the world - unless I first make the changes in myself? Who am I to want peace unless I am peaceful myself?
I can't expect others to change until I change. And any person, situation, world leader or indeed aspect of a child's behaviour I don't agree with, is going to drive me nuts until I deal with the source of my frustration, anger and fear.
This quote by Maria Montessori which was said more than 100 years ago, when she was living through a war and political unrest rings as true today as it did back then.
"Every single one of us who dedicate the time to go to those deep parts of ourselves that feel uncomfortable, that bring up anger, pain, frustration, fear and challenge what and who we thought we were, are contributing to peace in the world. We are finding peace within ourselves so that we can be peace in the world."
How can we do this?
At times like this I turn to my Zen practice - the knowledge of wise teachers and the skills I have learned.
Here are three quick ways off the top of my head...
1) The super-fast way to find peace (and bring it to the world) is a simple one… stop judging.
It’s simple but not so easy.
Remember that everyone is doing their best with the tools and understanding they have right now. When you feel the tightening in your body associated with finding something disagreeable, try to stop yourself right there and then from engaging in all that bitterness. As I say, simple but not easy. But we can work at it, and the more we do, the better we get. The stronger our compassion muscles become.
2) Take as much time as possible to engage in calming, stress-reducing activities. Most of us in the modern world are operating in a state of near constant fight or flight. Our bodies and minds are in a state of alert. It's very difficult to respond to others in a resourceful, compassionate manner in that state. My preferred activity for this is meditation but anything which brings you to a state of calm and allows you to release negative emotions is a positive step.
3) Read anything by the late vietnamese Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh. His work is beautiful.
I applaud your decision to teach children. It's the most important job in the world.