A little bit

A little bit of good

I always enjoy Desmond Tutu. It is rare he doesn’t have a smile on his face – and it is a warm and wonderful smile. He would be one of my ‘amazing people to meet’!

Desmond Tutu was an anti-apartheid and human rights activist, including standing up for gay rights within the Anglican church community.

As he stepped down from being Archbishop of Cape Town, he spent two years as part of the Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa, investigating human rights abuses and seeking a process of reconciliation through confession, forgiveness and restitution.

He also became a good friend of the Dalai Lama – and loves football.

Although ‘retired’ he is still active in engaging, commenting recently in relation to the Black Lives Matter campaign: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Here is a person who is humble, relates to others with kindness – and has achieved so much.

A life motto I have held (aspirationally!) since I was a teenager and first came across it is “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God”. Desmond Tutu seems a great example of living this out.

I came across another life motto attributed to him: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

I love that combination of the small and the big picture! In each of our small ways we too can do a little bit.

This is Thoughtful Thursday on 18 June 2020.

Join me for a virtual mindfulness session on zoom on Monday 29 June, 10.30 am. Email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.


Fragile and joyful?

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, taken from www.bookofjoy.org


“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy,” says the Archbishop.

And so begins the book I am reading which records the conversations of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu meeting for a week in April 2015 to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s eightieth birthday – and share their wisdom on how to live with joy in the face of life’s inevitable sorrows.

The Book of Joy is co-written by Douglas Abrams who is Jewish (and secular) so there is a lightness in the midst of wisdom: A Buddhist, a Christian and a Jew walk into a bar . . .

This is an encouraging book. As well as a lightness, it also feels earthed in reality and offers interesting perspectives, like the idea of mental immunity.

“If your health is strong, when viruses come they will not make you sick. If your overall health is weak, even small viruses will be very dangerous for you. Similarly, if your mental health is sound, then when disturbances come, you will have some distress but quickly recover. If your mental health is not good, then small disturbances, small problems will cause you much pain and suffering. . . .  One must develop the mind over time and cultivate mental immunity. . . . Like the ocean has many waves on the surface but deep down it is quite calm. This is possible if we know how to develop mental immunity,” says the Dalai Lama.

The Archbishop agrees but wants to emphasise that we need to accept ourselves as we are, emotions and all. He urges us to avoid judging ourselves too harshly but instead identify our emotions, positive and negative (calm and turbulent), as they happen, helping us understand ourselves better. “There will be times when we catch a cold, and we should not make it worse by beating up on ourselves.”

I am encouraged that two spiritual masters meet – and reflect on fragility, emotions and the natural bent to beat ourselves up! These are the things of living we can relate to – be glad, celebrate, enjoy the common human experience.

This is Mindful Monday on 26 November 2018.

Join Julie Hill and Sara Shailer for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of growing in joy on Monday 3 December, 7.30 to 9 pm at the Oasis in Cheltenham.

There is no charge for the event – just make a donation towards room hire on the night if you are able. However, we do like to know numbers ahead of time so please book by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org.

And if you are coming bring a photo of something that gives you joy – just one photo so enjoy selecting it!