WORLD KINDNESS DAY 2020 and other updates

CAFÉ UPDATE

Thank you to everyone who supported the re-opening of the café over the summer. We hope you enjoyed the new colour scheme and Covid-19 safety measures put in place by our friend Bob. We’re sad to be closed to visitors again this month, but Namdi will continue to offer a takeaway service during lockdown between 12–3pm and 5–7pm, Monday-Saturday. Please pre-order during opening hours on 07908 139244 or just turn up. Every order is appreciated.

HEARTSPACE

I really appreciate the anchor in my life that you have provided during these strange times – Heartspace participant

Our other main activity since mid-April has been Heartspace, a gentle half-hour reflection at 9am every weekday which aims to strengthen our capacity to stay calm and kind during these challenging times. It’s free of charge and offers a warm welcome to everyone, whether or not you’ve meditated before. You can join the zoom sessions here and the password is Heartspace.

WORLD KINDNESS DAY

This Friday 13th November is World Kindness Day 2020. You may have been one of the 100+ people who joined us for live music and a free meal in 2019. We sadly can’t get together in person this year, but we’re still celebrating.

On Tuesday Alison took part in a special Kindness edition of Frome FM’s All About Frome programme, which you can listen to here.

On Friday itself, we warmly recommend dipping into a national event called KindFest which describes itself as ‘an online celebration of kindness.’ Divided into five ‘tents’ – Kinder Lives, Kindness at Work, Thinking Kindness, Kinder Politics and Kinder Youth – it will run from 2 – 7pm and features an inspiring range of speakers ranging from Captain Tom Moore to Claudia Hammond, Jimmy Wales (co-founder of Wikipedia) and politicians such as Caroline Lucas, the Speaker Linday Hoyle and Rory Stewart. You can find the full programme at https://www.teamkind.org.uk/full-programme and sessions will also be available to download afterwards.

HELPING REFUGEES

Whatever difficulties we’ve suffered personally during 2020, it’s been unimaginably harder for the families and individuals who’ve left their homeland in search of safety from violence and destitution. The team at The Good Heart is always happy to do anything we can to support displaced people, especially as Namdi was previously a refugee himself. We’re grateful to everyone who donated children’s shoes back in the Spring, and were sad to cancel the art exhibition we had planned to host in aid of RAISE (Refugee Action in Somerset East) during the 2020 Frome Festival.

If you’d like to make a direct and practical improvement to the lives of refugees, please consider making a donation to the charity Refugee Community Kitchen. Since it was founded in 2015, over 18,900 volunteers have served nearly three million hot nourishing meals to displaced persons in London and Northern France, with the work continuing in Calais even now. A gift of £5 will provide 70 portions of rice and £20 will buy 60kg of potatoes. You can make a donation via their facebook page or on www.refugeecommunitykitchen.com

With every good wish for the health and happiness of you, your loved ones and the planet from all of us at The Good Heart.

Poem of the Week

Thank you to everyone who has suggested poems for us to put up on the shop window of The Good Heart during the lockdown.

Photograph by Alexander Andrews on www.unsplash.com
Week One: Stay Home by Wendell Berry

 I will wait here in the fields
 to see how well the rain
 brings on the grass.
 In the labor of the fields
 longer than a man’s life
 I am at home. Don’t come with me.
 You stay home too.
 I will be standing in the woods
 where the old trees
 move only with the wind
 and then with gravity.
 In the stillness of the trees
 I am at home. Don’t come with me.
 You stay home too.
   
 
Week Two: Covid Spring by Dan Lupton
  
 As we are confined and turned in on ourselves
 The rest of life is coming into bud
  
 Days lengthen, soils warm
 -       And we are grounded
 A shock in one species which the rest of life ignores
  
 We humans are fixated by our dramas
 Of course I am too
 I monopolise the centre of my universe
  
 This tide between self-importance
 (Species and individual)
 And the flow of life
 That may shrug off both humans and covid,
 Mirrors winter and spring
  
 We may emerge purified
 By tragedy or isolation 
 Or give a sigh of relief
 And jump back into our familiar prisons
  
                                                              
Week Three: Today by Mary Oliver
  
 Today I’m flying low and I’m
 not saying a word
 I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
 The world goes on as it must,
 the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
 the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
 And so forth.
 But I’m taking the day off.
 Quiet as a feather.
 I hardly move though really I’m traveling
 a terrific distance.
 Stillness. One of the doors
 into the temple.


Week Four: Spring by e e cummings

 O sweet spontaneous
 earth how often have
 the
 doting
 fingers of
 prurient philosophers pinched
 and
 poked
 thee
 , has the naughty thumb
 of science prodded
 thy
 beauty, how
 often have religions taken
 thee upon their scraggy knees
 squeezing and
 buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
 gods
 (but
 true
 to the incomparable
 couch of death thy
 rhythmic
 lover
 thou answerest
 them only with
 spring)


Week Five: Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda

 Now we will count to twelve
 and we will all keep still
 for once on the face of the earth,
 let’s not speak in any language;
 let’s stop for a second,
 and not move our arms so much.
  
 It would be an exotic moment
 without rush, without engines;
 we would all be together
 in a sudden strangeness.
  
 Fishermen in the cold sea
 would not harm whales
 and the man gathering salt
 would not look at his hurt hands.
  
 Those who prepare green wars,
 wars with gas, wars with fire,
 victories with no survivors,
 would put on clean clothes
 and walk about with their brothers
 in the shade, doing nothing.
  
 What I want should not be confused
 with total inactivity.
 Life is what it is about;
 I want no truck with death.
  
 If we were not so single-minded
 about keeping our lives moving,
 and for once could do nothing,
 perhaps a huge silence
 might interrupt this sadness
 of never understanding ourselves
 and of threatening ourselves with death.
 Perhaps the earth can teach us
 as when everything seems dead
 and later proves to be alive.
  
 Now I’ll count up to twelve
 and you keep quiet and I will go. 


Week Six: How to make Apple Crumble by Cathy Grindrod

 Balance in your palm a green winter moon. 
  
 Slide a steel blade in
 to set in motion
 the fall of spiralling skin
 wheeling in rings, twisting its light path,
 splashing a snake-trail on marble. 
  
 Slice your naked moon. 
  
 Let flour rain
 like dust motes through sun beams
 in kitchens of glass.
  
 Make a sweet blanket,
 rough as a cottage, pebble-dashed;
 where a witch once lived
 who stirred a spell in an earthenware dish
 the colour of sand.
  
 Smother your slives of applie moon
 like a fresh snowfall. 
  
 Make it white hot.
  
 Take a cold spoon;
 dig deep to its creaking core.  


   
 

Healthy comforting food for challenging times

Tibetan Memories are happy to provide home deliveries during the lockdown. Please contact Elissa on 07986 726147 or Namdi on 07908 139244.

Main dishes at £5 include: Chickpeas in a Spinach Sauce; Seasoned Mixed Vegetables; and Potato and Pea Curry. Rice is £1/portion. All portion sizes are 500ml.

In addition we can offer Sweetheart Moms (£5 for 4 pieces); lentil dahl (£4); Herbys4s local apple juice (£2.50 for 250ml/£5 for 750ml) and Shotimaa Organic Chai (£4 for a box of 16 tea bags).

Everything is gluten free with the exception of Sweetheart Momos. Other ingredients are: vegetables; fruit; lentils; coconut milk; spices and rice (no dairy products). Please check with us for other allergens when you order.

Heartspace: a daily moment of calm

Are you interested in strengthening your capacity to stay calm and kind during these challenging times? Would you enjoy spending half an hour in the company of a small and friendly group of like-minded people?

Every weekday morning, the team at The Good Heart offer a gentle half-hour of mindful reflection. The current Heartspace leaders are: Paul Wielgus (Mondays); Dan Lupton (Tuesdays); Sandra Whilding (Wednesdays); Rob Collett (Thursdays) and Bessie Bidder (Fridays), each with their own individual style and approach. Sometimes Alison steps in as well. Clockwise from top left: Bessie; Paul; Rob; Dan; Alison; Sandra

Heartspace is open to everyone free of charge on a drop-in basis: come and try it out.

9.00 – 9.30am Monday – Friday

Here is the Zoom link. The passcode is Heartspace.

Some feedback from Heartspace participants:

I really appreciate the anchor in my life that Heartspace provides during these strange times

As a cancer survivor I have been very isolated, even before Covid. The genuine energy, compassion and space this daily session has given me is a great jewel. The best way to know how good it is, is to join us: it’s free, has a family feel, and gives me a 90% chance of a better day.

Live and let live

Up until that moment we’d been having what I’d found to be a thoughtful conversation about the state of the world and the pressing need for an increase in kindness and compassion. She was a retired social worker, her husband the former director of a prominent international NGO, both with a long history of good works.

We were sitting under a sun umbrella at a friend’s anniversary party, and I’d been trying to keep the many wasps safely at bay using a jam jar with a bit of maple syrup in the bottom. Safe for both them and us, I explained, mentioning that as a Buddhist I do my best not to kill other living beings. The conversation paused when one of the wasps flew down to the ground near us. Slowly and deliberately, she ground it to pieces with her shoe, all the time looking me straight in the eye.

This was a clear provocation and challenge to the personal values I’d shared a few minutes previously, so of course that felt hurtful. There was also the shock of watching a life being deliberately extinguished. I still remember vividly the moment that our elderly and very sick cat looked trustingly in our eyes, just before the lethal injection from the vet. ‘Putting him down’ remains one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But what hit me most strongly about the unnecessary death of that wasp was the misuse of power, as she blatantly and crudely put her own interests and preferences ahead of those of another living being. The more I reflect on the incident, it seems that it’s exactly the same misuse that lies at the root of many of the ills that beset us, such as racism, economic exploitation and the climate crisis. 

The word ‘kindness’ comes from ‘kin’, an acknowledgement of connectedness that refers not just to family and friends, but the interconnectedness that exists between every being on the planet. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t survive independent of each other or even of  some of the living species that we’ve previously deemed inconvenient or unimportant. So kindness is more than just a moral dictate or something sweet and nice: it’s grounded in both compassion and wisdom, the qualities that the Buddha cherished the most. It’s also a direct expression of the Golden Rule: that our well-being and survival depends on treating others exactly as we wish to be treated ourselves.

Alison blog for The Good Heart

26th August 2019

Kindness & the natural world


Le Quattro Volte (2010) Directed by Michaelangelo Frammartino

We’re launching an occasional series of film screenings at The Good Heart on Monday 16 September 8pm with Michaelangelo Frammartino’s extraordinary film Le Quatro Volte (The Four Times).

Set in Italy’s mountainous region of Calabria, it traces the path of a goat herder’s soul, as it passes from human to animal to vegetable to mineral, inspired by Pythagoras’ belief in “four-fold transmigration” of souls. It’s an exquisite mediation on the cycles of nature.

” This extraordinary movie is…an essay, a cinematic poem, a spiritual exploration of time and space, and it’s designed to make us think and feel about the world around us and our place in it.” Philip French – The Observer 29.5.2011

We present this film to promote reflection on our relationship to the natural world. There’ll be refreshments and an informal dialogue after the film

Year One

The Good Heart opened in July 2018 and was originally conceived as a ‘one year pop-up.’

During its the first year the café not only served an ever-increasing customer base of momo enthusiasts and others, but also offered hundreds of free meals to people in need. Questions are never asked, but we know these have included homeless people, families on low incomes and those struggling with Universal Credit delays, as well as anyone who may have simply been hungry and short of funds on that day. Some are referred by Fair Frome, the Frome Medical Practice, the Town Hall and other local organisations, while others find their own way to our door.

Pay it Forward is a simple but elegant system that enables everyone to eat together regardless of their financial circumstances. We rejoice in the way that it seems to happen almost effortlessly, sustained by the ongoing generosity of the many people who are willing and able to sponsor the meals of others. In the Spring of 2019 we were proud to be part of International Pay It Forward Day.

At evenings and weekends a range of other activities took place, all on a donation-only basis. It’s been a pleasure to host the monthly meetings of Sustainable Frome, as well as the creative gatherings of the children involved in the school strikes for climate change. Extinction Rebellion soon outgrew the space but continues to offer a weekly Extinction Café at 3pm on Tuesday afternoons, where people come together to deepen their understanding of the climate emergency and its effect on us all.  When Somerset Drugs and Alcohol Service closed down across the road, we offered to host a weekly art therapy group for their clients.

In the autumn of 2018, we hosted a six-week mindfulness course called Kinder Calmer Stronger designed to help people learn to meditate and shed their stress. We also began hosting meetings of alternative therapists, which has grown into a vibrant group called Wellbeing Frome which now offers a range of treatments by donation to local people who cannot otherwise afford them.

On 30th July 2019 The Good Heart hosted a small party to thank some of its key supporters. We never know what the future holds, but have to accept we are no longer a one-year pop up…

Alison Murdoch

Kindness as a radical value

Kindness is often seen is a rather fuzzy way, as a quasi-religious virtue of being “nice” to other people. “Kindness is like snow- It beautifies everything it covers.” as Kahlil Gibran puts it rather cutely.

I think kindness can be something more powerful, a potential tool of personal and social transformation. Here are three way of looking at it:

a) As a way of perceiving the world: kindness invites us to consider other people and the natural world not just as objects to use (for good or ill) but as subjects with which we already have a latent connection. Choosing to seek connection changes our understanding of the world and our place in it at a deep level.

b) As a stimulus for positive reciprocation: genuine kindness seeks no reward, but generous behaviour towards others usually prompts a positive response. There’s plenty of research to show that being kind correlates with life satisfaction, so provoking kindness in others may make them feel better.

c) As a way of nurturing affirmative community: the virtuous circle of seeking connection and reciprocating kindness generates pro-social behaviour throughout the network of relationships of those involved, and beyond. It creates healthy bonds of community by revealing the best in people.

I don’t think kindness is just a desire for sweetness and light. It goes beyond optimism and good-heartedness. Perhaps it’s a shrewd way of redefining how we create positive social relationships – kindness as a tactic to resist the anger and polarisation of our times?

What do you think?

Simon Keyes 2 August 2019

One Year Old!

A year of dozens of creative and inspiring discussions, hundreds of free “pay it forward” meals” (thanks to people’s generosity) and lots of individual acts of generosity, kindness and goodwill.

It seems to be working – here are some of the highlights of our first year. We’re planning more activities in the autumn (see Events) as well as scrumptious Tibetan food every lunchtime.

Come and see us soon.