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What Can We Do?

Written by MJ Ryan, SheEO Development Guide

What can I do, we do, about the suffering in the Ukraine? That’s the question that has haunted me for the past few weeks. I’ve given financial donations to the big helper organizations. But that feels so insufficient.

When we are faced with suffering, the natural impulse of the heart is to reach out, soothe and comfort, take some form of action that would help alleviate it. But in these circumstances, what can we do?

I’ve been inspired and moved by some of the actions I’ve been seeing in social media. Here are three:

Credit: Francesco Malavolta/AP Photo

These are baby strollers left by Polish mothers at a train station so that escaping Ukrainian families will have a way to transport their babies when they arrive.

Credit: Dan Silverman/Flickr

This is the world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing outside the Russian Embassy in the U.S. to express his sorrow over the invasion.

The third doesn’t have a picture, but it’s something all of us with financial resources can do. Folks around the U.S. have been booking Ukrainian Airbnbs, not to stay but to donate directly to hosts.

These actions are simple but profound. They will not, in themselves, stop the war. But they may make a tiny difference. These random acts of kindness are within the ability of all of us with a little creativity.

There’s one other “action” that I know of which we can take. In my tradition, it’s about offering well wishes or blessings called The Loving Kindness Mediation. Others may pray. Such positive intentions have been shown to promote healing in folks who are sick. Perhaps they can in some way, shape or form affect a positive outcome. Whether they can do that, I know it helps me to do whenever I feel powerless. I do it when a friend tells me she is going through something painful, I do it when I see a car accident or images of war, I do it when I can’t imagine anything else to do.

If this is something you might like to try, here is how to do Loving Kindness meditation. It comes from the Vipassana Buddhist tradition. Sit or lie down quietly. The point is to find 4 or 5 phrases that represent what you most wish for yourself and others. Below are mine; you find the ones that are just right for you. Think to yourself: what do I wish most for myself and for those I love?

You begin with yourself:

May I be peaceful,

May I be happy,

May I be safe and protected,

May I be free from suffering,

May I be filled with loving kindness.

Then bring someone close to you to mind and say the same to him or her:

May ____ be peaceful,

May ____ be happy,

May ____ be safe and protected,

May ____ be free from suffering,

May ____ be filled with loving kindness.

Keep on going until you have included everyone you want to, moving from those close to you and ending with:

May all beings be peaceful,

May all beings be happy,

May all beings be safe and protected,

May all beings be free from suffering,

May all beings be filled with loving kindness.

And I’d love to hear any creative responses to the Ukrainian war you may have seen or done.

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