Year of Self Compassion # 3

Hospitality nudges turn welcomes into life lasting trust-building exercises. The Balinese take hospitality to a new level from offerings to gods and their heavenly hosts to all the creatures in the fields and crevices offering back their God-given gifts to their surrounds and to each other. There is a constant conversation between all of heaven and earth mediated by the elements and all of creation. It is good to have arrived in the land of the gods. After a fall 36 hours ago, my back has seen a healer today, received treatment in the form of home made oils and potions, spent time in a salt water pool, a stone heated sauna, had volcanic salts turned into body scrubs as well as many acts of kindness to ease me into various locations including motor bikes and cars. Despite all these interventions I come to bed with panadol and a sneaky suspicion it is a cracked rib causing the pain.

This pain under my left shoulder blade is asserting itself and claiming it has no right to go away. The pain has earnt its place in my body and will not fade or dissipate until it is done with being needed. Calling me to pay attention to it in the same way as any meditation aide might, reminding me to come back to the breath, come back to the practice. The pain becomes visible to others when I want to traverse a space and having a midwife to coax me through many of the transitions. People hold their hands out to guide me on slippery steps (it is rainy season inside and out), open and close car doors for me as the weight of the push or pull are too much, theories of what might work to get me better are widely shared and discussed in a range of languages and charades. Overall my effort to be invisible is completely thwarted and I seem to be at the centre of attention in ways unfamiliar to me. Krishna playfully constructs new ways I can be in receipt of kindness and hospitality.

Emotional roller coasters are crashing and colliding in the lives of people I call family. The highs of love and new beginnings, the lows of loss in ravines of agony, the fear of waiting for results and the paralysis of prevarication are finding fertile ground and throbbing through veins, sinews and tendons. Complexity, vulnerability, anxiety take their turn in many of the bodies. I am a long way from being witness but I can feel the effects via messages mediated across all kinds of devices.

For me though, I return to my beginner practice in this year of self-compassion. Being in receipt of care from friends and strangers is the lesson – to take everything on offer with grace- to enter fully into the experience of being cared for is such a turn around for me. Ever self-reliant and in the service of others, being served definitely has its benefits and while my apprenticeship is just beginning, I am learning to notice and appreciate more deeply all the acts of kindness and generosity I have bestowed to others along the way. If I take a karmic approach to this time, the abundant care from a bottomless cup inevitably is overflowing.

The daily check-ins from afar, the up close and personal clutches, the invisible and visible help across thin places permeating my spirit telling me with crystal clear certainty I am holding on and being held. The pain is the platform for a mantra. Breathing in and out as dictated by the phrasing or the mantra that arrives at the moment it is needed. I find myself returning to the same mantras: I am alive; Keep me safe O God you are my hope; Sat Nam. I am alive is new to me. The second is from a favorite psalm that has accompanied me in times of trouble over a lifetime and the third is from my yoga practice which is well and truly in remission. So I am hearing all of these calling me forward and offering me an interiority of stillness in the raging storms swirling all around and within.

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