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40k for 40 days

February 20: Day 35

Day 35 - Impartiality and Common Humanity and Connections to Peace

Practice time! Just Maybe there has been too much writing and reading without feeling and doing, so feel free to give this a go...

This is an activity that I have integrated into what I consider, my program for inner and outer peace, and this activity allows me to link the previous skills of self-cultivation with the skills and practices involved in relating to others.

I was interested to try this activity out today while moving on my bike and see how it went. I have to say that it was even more powerful than I could have imagined it to be and there is no reason for having to try out these and any other similar activities while moving, in an effort to maximize the impact and overall benefits (walking, running, cyclists, swimming, whichever movement you prefer).

Choose someone in what you would consider your inner circle, maybe a family member you have a decent relationship with or a friend or loved one that you regularly share and connect with. (We will start with someone close to you and progress with this same skill and practice to bring total strangers and even those we have challenging relationships with, in order to use the muscles of common humanity and impartiality.)

Spend a minute or so grounding yourself, tracking the neutral and pleasant sensations going on in your body at this moment, and maybe bring one of your resources to mind, a person, place, memory, or image that makes you feel calm and grounded, and maybe puts a smile on your face and inside your mind. Bring your attention to your breath for a few moments now, the invitation is to breathe through your nose, using your diaphragm as a starting and ending point for each breath, focus on slowing and appreciating every inhale and releasing and enjoying every exhale, with a sense of calmness, resilience, and connectedness. Feel the slightly cooler air coming into your nose with your inhale and slightly warmer air leaving your nose with your slow, longer exhale. With your eyes closed or open, your body relaxed but awake, and if you find it useful, bring to bring your attention to your senses, what can you hear from your immediate surroundings or distant sounds, what smells or aromas can you connect with, can you feel the connection with a part of your body in contact with the floor, giving your support, can you feel the air or gently breeze, what can you taste in this moment and finally, where is your gaze focused and with your eyes open or closed, what images come to mind, shapes, different shades of light... And going back to your attention on your breath again, slow, low, and through your nose.

Ok, bring the person to mind that you want to focus on for this practice, picture them and even Bring their voice to mind and any characteristics that help you while focusing on this person. At any point, you can simply go back to your breath to bring space, calmness, and balance before returning to this practice.

Repeat the words either out loud, using your voice, or else simply repeating them using your inner voice.

This person has a heartbeat, just like me,
This person breaths and need air, just like me,
This person was assisted into this world, just like me,
This person feels pain and pleasure, just like me,
This person has hopes, dreams, and aspirations, just like me,
This person wants to avoid suffering, just like me,
This person has a favorite food, just like me,
This person wants to be happy, just like me,
This person makes mistakes, just like me,
This person feels sad and disappointed at times, just like me,
This person gets cold and warm, just like me,
And, this person is a fellow human being, just like me.

Paying attention once again to your breath and any sensations in your body that you are experiencing at this time, any feelings or reflections that come to mind, feel free to write them down or spend some moments with them.

Focusing on our common humanity rather than our differences can certainly bring us closer to realizing that we are on this journey together and not alone but also, that even people we don't know that well or don't have good relations with, can feel like us and have a lot in common with us. It's easier to focus on them as people then and not simply associate their actions that have hurt or offended us, with their character. I know that I would love people to separate me from my actions if possible. The more I practice this wee exercise, the easier it is to relate to those and share compassion towards them, even if I have differences of opinion and outlook with them.

By starting with people, we have in our lives already who we share affection for and care about, we ease ourselves in. It's almost like the muscles of the body as we are exercising and moving, we gradually build them, strengthen them and in time, we can go further and feel the benefits of this movement.

For me, it has taken time, but I am at the point now where I can use this activity to connect me with people I'm having difficulty with or in conflict with to practice my common humanity and allow me to act in a way that is aligned with my values while interacting and the hope is, to allow myself to create the least harm to myself and others in the process. It's certainly not a quick fix but I feel that it can lead to more lasting and genuine relationships with myself and those around me and challenge my conscious and subconscious or unconscious biases.

I hope you find it useful too.

Shane O'Connor



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