Alternative Ways of Being #9

As we start Lockdown 2.0 in England I wanted to share a BBC Radio 4 Thought of the Day (from 2nd Nov 2020) on how we can reframe challenging situations in our minds, which is so relevant for now.

Rev Dr Sam Wells aptly references Terry Waite CBE, a British man who was taken hostage in Lebanon in 1987 and held in captivity until 1991.

He says: “Terry Wait had three resolutions: no regrets, no self pity, no false sentimentality.

“In other words, don’t dwell on how the past could have been different, don’t tell a false story of the present that makes it all about you, and don’t take refuge in a fantasy about the future. Those convictions got him through four years of captivity.”

He also draws on stoicism, which says it’s not what happens to you that counts, but how you respond to what happens. 

“So long as we focus on keeping control of our reactions we’re free. Nothing, not even a pandemic or four years as a hostage can defeat us.”

I love that. Words to live by.  

This sense of being still on the inside in the face of change on the outside is reminiscent of the Buddhist teachings of equanimity, which I discovered on the 10-day Vipassana meditation I went on (almost a decade ago).

The concept of equanimity is central to Vipassana and Buddhism. It means that while things will always change and be in a state of flux around us (the natural way of the world), we must strive to remain balanced in mind, emotions and reactions.

Rev Wells expands on the philosophies of stoicism and adds that it also “teaches us to stop criticising, blaming and accusing others and to look inside yourself to find peace.” This also feels apt for these times.

The Thought of the Day recordings on the BBC are only available temporarily (each for 26 days) so be quick and listen to this one now. Enjoy and take care.


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