The Ukranian Beaver

The Ukranian Beaver

I would like to share a story with you about how an Ukrainian beaver ended up on my desk. It is also a story of radical self-compassion and courage, in the midst of suffering. And this story is very close to my heart since it goes straight to the core of why self-compassion is such an important practice. 

On June 6 and 7, I was teaching two full days on trauma sensitive mindfulness to this lovely group of Ukrainians that you see at this picture. This picture was taken at the end of our two days together. Look at all these beautiful smiling faces. It looks like we had two relaxing days together. But that is nowhere near the truth. 

On June 6 we started the day with a lot of despair. It was the day after the attack on the dam. This brought up so much grief, anger and fear. The enormity of the injustice, the endless harm that’s being done, the complete insanity of this horrific war, it all boiled up and had to be voiced. We created this safe space together so that everything could be named. Those dark emotions that we rather not feel. They were welcome too. It takes courage to have an open heart in the midst of suffering. But we managed. 

The two days were despite the despair and suffering also full of warmth, human connection, care, love and even laughter. When I spoke about this courage and the power of human connection I said that it could be helpful to have a symbol to remind us of this strong courageous caring force. Then a lot of participants suddenly held up a beaver on the screen. 

It turned out that the beaver became the symbol of courage in Ukraine!
Due to a post that one of our participants created when she felt scared and anxious during bomb attacks on her city. She took the toy of her dog (a beaver) to emotionally regulate herself during the bomb attacks. And now many Ukrainians have a beaver in their house for courage and care! 

And….  I now have one too! Because this lovely group of courageous people gave me this beaver as a present, handed over to me by Julia and Olena, when they came here to take the MSC teacher training. That really means a lot to me. It made me cry and laugh at the same time. 

And a funny detail about this beaver……. If you press him he makes a farting sound. So my wish for all of us is: 

“May we all have the courage to keep an open heart 
when we are deep down in the 💩. 
And may we find the strength to live through it 
without letting anyone steal 
our capacity for love and connection” 

With much gratitude and respect for this courageous group that is taking the mindfulness teacher training while they are living in a country under attack. 
Thank you so much for giving me the beaver! 🙏🏻❤️🙏🏻 

I truly believe that practicing self-compassion and mindfulness is a powerful force that can facilitate the changes that the world so desperately needs. 

So I started a global project: The Selfcompassion Academy – devoted to a compassionate world. 

And I would love all of you to be part of this tribe. Please have a look at the website (and feel free to comment or send in suggestions for it as well)! 

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