The Heart of Mindfulness

Our State President and his panel of advisers had no option but to extend the Corona lockdown for a further two weeks. For those who have run The Comrades Marathon, this two-week extension feels a bit like getting to Field's Hill and then being sent back to Pietermaritzburg to start all over again. As a collective, South Africa has had many disappointments. Right now, during this lockdown, we are all facing our own individual disappointments, challenges and readjustments. Such as the grandmother who cannot travel to assist her daughter as had been planned. Her daughter is in the Eastern Cape, heavily pregnant with her second child, and with a toddler at her feet. Her husband is attempting to keep his work going, online, in their small apartment. Or the son of a Pietermaritzburg couple who is in lockdown on his own in Johannesburg. His biggest challenge is the lack of human contact. Not a hug, a pat on the shoulder, or the grasp of a human hand. Or the woman who was the breadwinner for her family and has lost her job. The prospect of hunger now looms large as it knocks on the door to their tiny home.

And so where do we turn in this moment of great uncertainty?

We move inwards to prayer and/or meditation. In stillness, we connect to the heart and enter into the world from there. Nobody can walk to the beat of another’s drum. Our own rhythm arises from the depths of our own inner stillness. It’s there deep within our heart, ripe and ready to be discovered. Mindfulness is the miracle by which we connect to our heart and restore ourselves. The tool we use is our breath.

My own challenge over this lockdown has been finding the time to sit in silence. From the two of us living in our home, we have grown to being in lockdown with a family of twelve. So I turn back to Session 11 of the 21-day Sunlight and Shadows free guided meditation. Session 11 is called “How mindfulness affects our lives”. I reapply these teachings at small intervals in my daily routine. When washing the dishes, I am completely mindful of being immersed in the wondrous reality of following my breath, conscious of my presence, conscious of my thoughts and actions. Oops – here comes a thought. I don’t have to go with it, so I put it down. Back to the reality of following my breath, conscious of my presence, conscious of my action in washing the dishes. In doing so, I am not tossed around by my thoughts, like a cork on a restless sea. In this way, enjoying a cup of tea or chopping vegetables can become powerful acts of meditation. In closing, my hope for each one of you is that you experience the unfolding of true understanding and peace as we move into this extended period of lockdown. With love and light, Di

Di is a South African mindfulness meditation teacher and author of two books - You’re Awesome and more recently A Lighter Way of Being

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