While the word ‘soul’ can have rather loaded meanings in our modern culture, most of us can probably relate to the idea of living a ‘soulful’ life. When we describe something as ‘soulless’, such as a building or a musical performance, there is a distinct sense of something vital which is missing.
What I also find fascinating is the body-mind connection – how the way we use our bodies can influence our mental state. We can get a sense of this with a very simple exercise – walk around the room twice, once with the head down and shoulders slumped forward, staring at the floor; the second time with the head high.
‘Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness — an empathy — was necessary if the attention was to matter.’ Mary Oliver
A well-tended life is less a matter of ‘this is what you should do’, but more a question of ‘I wonder what might be needed today, given this time and place, and my particular circumstances?’
Waking up in the morning
I vow with all beings
to be ready for sparks of the Dharma
from flowers or children or birds.
A second mindfulness strategy, which may be a new coping mechanism, is to open up and turn towards challenges in a healthy way.
Meditation teacher Shinzen Young gives a very clear way to think about how mindfulness can be helpful when challenges come up.
‘Let tiny drops of stillness fall gently through your day.’
‘Just for Now, without asking how, let yourself sink into stillness.’
The wisdom of not knowing lies in the humility of accepting that we don’t have all the answers and can’t single-handedly solve complex problems.