Last weekend I headed to London to see the Dalai Lama speak at the O2 on the topic of compassion. I have always wanted to see the Dalai Lama speak, partly through other people telling me about some of the the talks he has done before but also because the topic of Buddhism has always interested me.
Although I would describe myself as a Christian and have been since birth, there are some elements of Christianity that I question. Part of me has justified the acceptability of those questions because there is after all the concept of freewill. The other part of me wonders whether it is right that there are so many people in this world with so many religions that seem to be in conflict with each other.
The talk was around 45 minutes followed by around 45 minutes of questions and answers. I won’t share everything about the talk but one thing that stuck out looked at the secular state. Perhaps unsurprisingly the Dalai Lama is an advocate for a secular state. His reason, which made perfect sense to me, is that a secular state isn’t against religion but instead allows people to practice any religion that they choose and, by its very nature, allows the state to look at similarities rather than differences.
That reasoning led the Dalai Lama to talk about compassion and to say that to enable compassion we should recognise that everybody has the same objective. A happy life. Pretty simple but makes sense. His thinking is that all people have the same objective but some people have outside influences that mean their way to achieve that objective is unacceptable. A terrorist has the objective to have a happy life (or after life). The way they choose to achieve that objective is unacceptable but their objective is still the same as yours or mine.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should start showing compassion and empathy to terrorists. I am saying that there may be people who I may struggle to show compassion to but I should attempt to focus on their similar objectives.
The talk made me really think and I am planning to read some books and look into some more of the teachings and learnings. I love visiting places that make me think and challenge my own views and perceptions. The Dalai Lama certainly made me do that.
So as my first post I wanted to write about my past experience of cognitive behavioural therapy sessions which I attended for six weeks. I actually wrote this a while ago!
People have naturally asked me how things are at the moment and whether the sessions have helped. I don’t know how to answer those questions to be honest. The sessions have been confusing, not because of the information given which was great and very clear but the fact that I’m not sure whether my scores on the questionnaire they give out at the start of the session are going down (which is good) because I have been implementing the techniques or because I have just been having good weeks.
Things I have learnt? Stress can be a good thing. It is the thing that drives people to do things. To get up and actually take that step every day. To learn how to improve. Stress is not good when it impacts negatively on your daily life. I have learnt to keep in the back of my head ‘What is the worst that can happen’. I have learnt I need to make time for exercise and most of all I have learnt I need to make time for me.
I’m not *there* yet. To be truthful I’m at the point now where I am thinking about other support I need to access. Bereavement counselling is a natural option but I’m struggling to take that next step.In my head I know that people die every day. It’s life. It makes me feel weak when I think I need help to deal with something that is a natural part of the life cycle. I have said I will give it a go and I spoke to my aunt last night about the fact my nan and my aunts are/were the only people who I regularly spoke to about my mum and the loss of that support could mean I need to replace that support.
I can see the benefits of counselling. To be truthful I felt relieved the moment I spoke to the doctor and he diagnosed me. I haven’t argued as much with my husband about petty things that don’t mean anything and he has noticed I seem more chilled. It helps that I have spent some time with friends and due to spend some more time with close friends over the next few weeks. I am also planning to spend some time with my husband who is one of the people in my life who literally makes everything in the world seem better. I just felt slightly nauseated writing that so I apologise to those reading it.
Spending some time away in Amsterdam has really made me think about my attitude to life as well. Do I have to cram as much into life as possible? Can I just take some time off work to spend at home? The answer is yes. That’s what I’m doing next week, taking two days after the bank holiday to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. It will seem strange, a waste and I’ll probably find it really weird but I’m forcing myself. We only have one life, this isn’t a practice and I’ll try to stand and fight rather than fleeing.