From Covid to Compassion; can learnings from the pandemic support a positive future?

April 2021. What an interesting time to be alive and what an amazing time to be writing the 1st newsletter for Flip Your Dog For Mental Health. 

 

As we transition from pandemic to “everything's OK! Let's just act like nothing happened” mode it will be interesting to see how we navigate the logistical, emotional and spiritual challenges ahead.

 

Against the backdrop of the pandemic it’s been a delight to see Flip Your Dog For Mental Health shifting through the gears. In the 11 months since our first fundraiser back in May 2020 we’ve managed to raise over five thousand pounds for charities, we’ve run focused campaigns around Mental Health and Homelessness, supported Yoga Stops Traffic and we've recently registered ourselves as a Community Interest Company. But most importantly our 2021 goal of not only fundraising for charities but also delivering subsidised/free wellbeing classes for vulnerable and marginalised communities see’s us preparing to work with East London charity Hackney Carers, offering weekly yoga for their clients. Opportunities to work with Sports England and Hackney Council on community projects are moving well too, so watch this space! I’d like to point out that our fundraising for charity and the community work we will be delivering is supported directly by the classes and workshops you guys host and take part in, so thank you so very much for your support!

 

It feels great to be offering yoga and wellbeing across-the-board; from our paying customers through to the beneficiaries of our subsidised classes, the common thread of connecting to the grounding and calming beauty of a mindful practice is a priceless gift and one that can't be shared quickly enough; without being a merchant of doom I feel the transition from lockdown into operation “let's get back to normal” will throw up far more challenges than any of us realise.

 

The shift in the seasons combined with the new sense of freedom we are experiencing in the UK is nothing short of a blessing and I pray that we will savour these gifts as we review and assess our situation through a lens of honesty rather than resilience. The opportunity to expand our creature comforts beyond a daily oat latte and on-line consumerism brings with it a new awareness of depleted savings, the inherent cost of living and for many a diminished social confidence. I feel we would do well to be gentle with ourselves as twelve months of a stalled economy, learning the nuances of the Brexit shuffle and processing our collective mental and emotional health play themselves out in new ways and spaces.

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“Sadly I suspect that there will little change in these underlying economic systems as we are encouraged to resume life, in fact there is a good chance of significant gaslighting as government and big business collude to steady the ship and the status quo.”

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Across the globe the pandemic highlighted how flawed modern economics are. Leaving the disparity and disgustingly oppressive systems that keep developing countries bound in the chains of economic slavery to one side, we have seen how so-called developed countries have struggled to support the health and wellbeing of people at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum; *the people who make up the majority of most countries populations. (*this is one of many examples of why I say ‘so called developed countries’; if countries are so developed why are we actively supporting these undeniable truths?)

 

Sadly, I suspect that there will little change in these underlying economic systems as we are encouraged to resume life. In fact, there is a good chance of significant gaslighting as government and big business collude to steady the ship and the status quo. It was in the government’s economic and social interest to ensure we all adhered to lockdown guidelines as a collective, it is now in the government’s economic interest for us to jump back on the treadmill of the rat race, but as individuals. If the economic growth of recent years is to have a chance of meeting it’s KPI’s of keeping the rich rich and the poor too poor to mount a revolution it’s essential we move mindlessly into a state of furious competition with one another. And while there is talk of considering the emotional and psychological scars we have all sustained it feels inevitable a short term and short sighted strategy of familiar economics will be prioritised to ‘get things back to normal’, which begs the questions; who truly benefited from the old normal? and what value do we place on the quality of life of our community, of our family as we build a new normal?

 

We’ve seen industry stop and planes taken out of the skies. We’ve seen inspired community support and resources found to home the homeless. We’ve also found renewed value and joy in the simple pleasures of human interaction and yearn for many things we previous took for granted. It’s in our DNA to find silver linings and with any luck we will retain our connection to such un-synthesised rewards for the soul, but as the old system does it’s best to stagger back to it’s feet how do we brace ourselves for the unfamiliar path that lies ahead? I say we start another pandemic, a pandemic of positivity.

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“As we co-create the emerging future we have the opportunity to consider what we value more; a state of elevated independent material wealth in an unstable economy, or a state of elevated collective wellbeing that becomes part of a more primal and unshakable economy – one of human connection and positive energy.”

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What if we swap Covid for compassion and consideration? As we lose the masks what would happen if we all made a conscious decision to share smiles with all the people we pass in the street? Knowing how impactful our contact with other humans can be, what would it be like if we spread a sense of warmth and acceptance of others? Remember the first days of clapping for the NHS? What would it be like if we reframed that appreciation and support and directed it to our everyday community, and they did the same in return? And how could we expand upon this?

 

What are the skills, resources, human qualities and emotions we can bring into this equation that might support a healthy community, a community that in turn nourishes us and our family? We have stripped our daily luxuries and better understand our needs vs wants and, in many cases, our unhealthy addictions. As we co-create the emerging future we have the opportunity to consider what we value more; a state of elevated independent material wealth in an unstable economy, or a state of elevated collective wellbeing that becomes part of a more primal and unshakable economy – one of human connection and positive energy.

 

They say it takes a village to raise a child and recently I have been reflecting that it takes a community to support an adult. This is a call for us to expand our thinking around how our actions and energy can bring benefit to our fellow beings, benefit to their physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health.

 

Money is a means to an end and in a growth economy those ends are inherently dictated by the pursuit of profit over people as decreed by those who receive profit. What if one of the symptoms of a pandemic of positivity (yup – it’s a thing now!) was for people to explore trades of time and skills? To actively seek ways to bypass the need for money?

 

It might be a tad idealistic to suggest a wholesale shift away from the established economic system but I maintain there is huge value in sharing our true selves and actively seeking to support those around us beyond our inner circles. We need to remember that a healthy and well balanced society represents profit for us all. So much of the stress and anxiety in life comes from a fear of judgement, of rejection, of failure. This leads to us being fake, pretending we are okay when we are not, of becoming disconnected with ourselves as we struggle to be the things we think other people want us to be. By seeking to acknowledge and explore each other’s stories, qualities and offerings as well as sharing our needs, weaknesses and vulnerability we build a connection based on the commodity of our true selves rather than the fabricated value of money.

 

This philosophy is at the heart of what Flip Your Dog For Mental Health is about. Like so many I have found great solace in dark times through yoga, meditation, counselling and, when I have let go of my dark clouds, community. By celebrating these simple gifts in both our commercial and charitable work, and collaborating with charities and communities who are holding space for vulnerable humans to explore their lived experience and move into a healthy mode of living, it feels we are aligning our values with intention, action with outcome. By generating and distributing finances in ways that focus on supporting positive mental health and the quality of human life on an emotional and spiritual level it feels we are sending out good energy. It’s not plain sailing and we’ll get lot’s of things wrong along the way and from that will come a deeper understanding of how to move forward with integrity and truth, which feel right. Welcome to the pandemic of positivty.

 

Careful, it might be contagious…

 

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Vaughan is the founder of Flip Your Dog For Mental Health, a yoga teacher and a TV producer and director working in documentary and factual entertainment.

He'll be a regular contributor to the newsletter and is offering classes on our schedule as well as community classes with local charities in the borough of Hackney where he lives.

He's also very much looking forward to our Mental Health Awareness Week campaign in May raising funds for Mind and celebrating Flip Your Dog For Mental Health's 1st Birthday!

Connect with Vaughan @yogi_vaughan

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RECOMMENDATIONS

Please see below for offerings and suggestions for experiences and indulgences that have lifted our souls and make life feel just a little bit richer. Please send in any recommendations x

 

Podcast:

On Being w/ Krista Tippett // John O’Donohue – The Inner Landscape of Beauty

A lyrical exploration of the magic that lives within every moment of life and the joys of living with a curious soul.

Click here.

 

Playlist:

The Holy Ghost // Flip Your Dog Mix – Summer Jam Exclusive

A delicious adventure of eclectic and worldly delights as The Holy Ghost digs the crates for this mix dedicated to Flip Your

Dog For Mental Health.

Click here.

Read/Audio book

Akala // Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire

A powerful deconstruction of the history of race and culture and an unflinching assessment of where the UK stands today as a multicultural society.  

Click here.

 

 

Coffee:

Millfields Coffee @millfieldscoffee 

145 Chatsworth Road

London E50LA

Coffee lovers and tasty treat connoisseurs look no further – your needs have been met! Wonderfully close to the canal and Hackney Marshes and great for pre or post walk sustenance and delight.

Click here.