Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Grey Britain?

By Lauratri

I woke up bright and early this morning.  Meditation is on the backburner due to it being a full-house (there are no quiet corners) and yoga’s on hold too, due to it being my time of the month.  So, I thought I’d make myself a lime and hot water drink, and settle in for some relaxing morning reads.  Guardian, BBC, Elephant Journal, Yoga Journal…my usual inquisitive haunts.

And what a depressing start to the day it’s been.  Sexual harassment stories and warnings throughout India (where I plan to visit next year); despairing lamentations over the rape culture of the West (how dare the public rape of a young girl get in the way of a couple of football scholarships); snow and rain terror throughout the UK (will this winter never end?); economic despair (still); Job Centre targets revealed (not to GET jobs for people….rather let’s just go out and GET those low-life, scroungers!); Australians and the English whining over who’s the whiniest of them all.

Sighs can be heard from across the room as family members trawl through similar stories.  Disheartened, despairing…isn’t this all hopeless, when will the daffodils bloom?  There’s a lot of pressure on these little miracles of nature.  They are a beacon of light, a symbol of hope, of change, that this bleak drudgery of a failing society “Grey Britain” may still breathe some life.

Even the Santandar ads make me want to cry.  The fabulous Jessica Ennis – one of the greatest role models for British women ever to emerge…and just a year on from her Olympic success, and she’s posing awkwardly, pointing at some soul-destroyingly, boring banking claim, and I want to scream…”WHHHHYYYYYYY????”  All that potential to lead, to encourage, to inspire, and it falls flat on a red branded backdrop.

I want to remain equanimous.  Nothing is permanent.  Anicca.  Annica.  In reacting negatively then all you’re doing is perpetuating more negativity, and what good is that to anyone?  But, I find myself wrestling with increasing intensity over when to continue to observe my breath, and repeat anicca, anicca, waiting for the heat, the fear, the despair to pass; and when to become the heat, the anger, the fear, the EMOTION of what is now.

At what point does observation and non-attachment become repression and detachment?

I can’t deny the power and the noise of our media – how influential it has become, and how disproportionately it favours hate, anger and blame.  How little it encourages joy, love and compassion.  And I don’t know what to do.  My yoga practice helps.  My meditation retreats provide some much needed respite.  Ayurveda and learning how to find my balance within such a volatile environment is invaluable…but still – why does it have to be such a fight?  Why is it so hard to be uplifted, instead of downtrodden by everything that’s fed to us?

The beautiful, the inspiring, the wonderful is happening every day, all around us.  It shouldn’t be so hard for us to see that, to be reminded of that.

In looking inwards we need to open up to our surroundings and to the environment in which we live.  It is our relationships to all of this…to everyone we speak to, to every voice we hear, every action, every gray cloud, blaring siren, every touch, every refrain, every moment…moment to moment…we are interacting and absorbing and exchanging….and sometimes its hard to keep believing, to keep practicing what we, deep down, know to be true.  That all of that is not to blame for how we feel.  That all those feelings of anger and hate and fear are coming from within ourselves, not those terrible ads and ugly stories on the news.  Even this impenetrable gray that seems to have wedged itself permanently between us and the light and warmth of the sun…isn’t to blame.

I guess, as much as I’d like to, I can’t run away from this weather, or the media.  But, I can change my response.  I can observe the sense of anger I feel towards the banks and giant corporations, to the politicians and the seeming lack of compassion.  I can observe the sense of fear I feel over the sexual violence against women.  I can observe the sluggishness and weight of this long, long winter.  But I don’t have to become these things!  I don’t want to be a victim, or an aggressor, or a perpetuator of further anger and despair.

I want to be better than that.  I can be better than that.  So I guess that means I’d better let go of these negative feelings that I started my day with, and be grateful for what we do have.  I can compensate for the media’s preference for misery, by focusing on what’s good.

Like the UK becoming the first country this year to remain loyal to its G8 promise:

Like following and sharing the uplifting and inspirational stories of friends, such as Lucy Fenner, who are overcoming great personal struggles:

Like listening to some fabulous music, or making a pot of Kapha-balancing tea for my family.  Like creating gift-bags for my lovely Oxford ayurveda-massage clients.  Forgiving myself for moments like these…when I get drawn into the frenzy of sensationalism and fear-mongering.   Like setting aside an hour later on in the day, quiet-corner or not, to at least try to meditate.

It is a fight to remain equanimous.  But why not?  I’ve fought for things before…

Grey Britain?  It doesn’t have to be.

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