Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.
This is the classic analogy, but it’s still very appropriate.
Take care of your own basic needs first, and then you’ll be in a much better position to assist others.
On the one hand, this is a dynamic balance. Sometimes, it’s appropriat to focus on taking care of our own needs. Other times, we are in a position to focus more on the needs of others. And this often changes with the roles we play over the course of a day and a lifetime.
On the other hand, they are two sides of the same coin. We may spend time taking care of our own needs, for instance when we need healing or to get basic needs taken care of, and that benefits others in the moment or later. Or we may find ways to assist others in ways that are deeply nurturing and meaningful to us, and also takes care of our own material needs.
Several things may help us find and live these solutions that simultaneously benefit and nurture ourselves and the wider world (even if it’s in apparently small ways).
It helps when we hold the bigger picture in mind. When we seek solutions good for all, including future generations. And when we are open to solutions outside of what we expect or are familiar with.
It helps when we take care of our beliefs and identifications around either being a self-sacrificing martyr or selfish. The solutions present themselves easier the less we are identified with these, and the more we are free from them.
It helps the less substantial we take the imagined boundary between ourselves and the larger whole to be. The more we experience it as just a temporarily imagined boundary, the easier it is to act in ways good for ourselves and the wider whole.
And it helps the more healed we are as human beings. Wounds often make us act in reactive ways, including from reactive and narrow-minded self-preservation. The more healed and whole we are, the more natural it is to wish to act in a way that’s kind and informed by larger picture concerns.
And working on these is, in itself, an example of a solution that benefit ourselves and the larger whole.
- oxygen mask for yourself first
- find a balance
- sometimes, more focus on own needs
- other times, more focus on others (combined with own needs)
- not really helping anyone (especially not in the long run) if ignore own needs to help others
- best if can recognize how taking care of own needs also helps others, and is also available to assist others as needed
- find a balance
These solutions are easier to find when we hold the bigger picture in mind, and when we are open to solutions outside of what we expect or are familiar with.
The bigger picture here is our own needs, the needs of those around us, the needs of the larger social and ecological whole, and the needs of future generations. It may seem like a tall order, and it is in some ways, but many of these solutions are simple and attractive. We just need to know about them, and it does help if the structures we live within makes it easier to implement them.
The solutions are also easier to find if we take care of any beliefs or identifications around both (a) needing to be selfish (in a narrow sense) to survive, and (b) being a martyr and self-sacrificing to help others. The more freedom we have around both types of identities, the easier it is to live in a way that benefits ourselves and the larger social and ecological whole.
And finally, the less substantial the (imagined) boundary between ourselves and the larger whole seems to us, the easier it is to live in ways that are likely to benefit the whole. And the more healed we are as human beings, the easier it is to live this way.