Bethesda Friends Meeting

Dispatches from Bethesda Friends

Folks who attend BFM often want to share their writings with our meeting Friends. It might be research articles, personal writings or connections, as well as writings from outside of BFM that are personally meaningful to them  (click here to see previous submissions).

Ways to Care for Yourself as You Care for the World

Sunlight shines on a glass of water next to a pad of paper and a pen. (iStock photo)

When a BFM Friend posted this question (below) from Mirabai Starr, several folks replied with a personal answer. If the question speaks to you, please consider sharing with us what you've  learned. 

Please note: These are submissions from individuals. The information and opinions are their own, and not that of Bethesda Friends Meeting. 

Ways to Care for Yourself as You Care for the World

Dear friends,

Mirabai Starr suggests ways to care for yourself as you care for the world.  This is an excerpt from her writings: 

The violence and heartbreak in the world are not showing any signs of going away, at least not anytime soon. We need to stay vigilant and plugged in, while also pacing ourselves for the long haul.


I am gathering resources in a basket in my mind so that I can pull one out whenever I need to replenish. In this vessel I keep:

  • - breathing exercises (Check out the blockbuster book, Breath by James Nestor and Black People Breathe by Zee Clarke for specific practices);
  • - silent sitting meditation, including mantra practice;
  • - yoga asanas;
  • - music playlists my friends make for me, which sometimes lead to dancing!
  • - vigorous walks in the mountains (and forests, deserts, beaches and city parks);
  • - 8+ hours of sleep a night (or at least resting in bed);
  • Rock Creek stream and trees- warm baths with essential oils and salts;
  • - artistic expression (writing, drawing, clay);
  • - cooking and eating yummy, healthy food, shared with family and friends;
  • - FUN (movies, intimacy with my partner, spontaneous adventures);
  • - sharing my vulnerability with people I trust;
  • - cuddling my dogs;
  • - reading good poetry and literary fiction.

How are you caring for yourself as you care for the world?

Peace, Bernie

Bernie,  This is an incredible list. I’m going to flag this email and return to it, because you are right, "We need to stay vigilant and plugged in, while also pacing ourselves for the long haul." ❤️ 

I have a friend who invites her students to join an activist (name I'm forgetting) in their vow to not burn out. I try to remember this, and make it my vow as well. 

To your list, I will add these for myself:

Remembering to call my family and closest friends and stay connected. 

Staying committed to my weekly Tai Chi class. 

I am grateful for the inspiration that moved you to share this email. 

With love, Jonathan


Since my trip to Bhutan a few years ago, every day I recite the Compassion Buddhist mantra nine times, as we did in Bhutan around a large prayer wheel. 

Om Mane Padme Hum

Warm wishes, Ann P.

Compassion Buddhist mantra

Thank you Bernie for starting this thread and the great suggestions. 

I knit, embroider and cook while listening to audiobooks.  I visit with friends, exercise in water and help people in need by doing things for them that they cannot do themselves. When it gets warmer, I will garden.

When I am wiped out emotionally, I connect with acquaintances who are fighting for human rights and peace to regain hope. I find that spending 30 minutes at Kibbutz Blinken  is quite rejuvenating.  Doing something, anything, to stop the genocide is both taxing and calming to me so as  to feel that I still have agency in this insane world. 

As for you Jonathan, let’s talk about Tai Chi. I would be interested in learning it

Peace, Najla

piano keyboard and a sheet of musicThanks to Bernie and Najla for the great lists. This reminds me of what my uncle, a full-time anti-war activist, told me in 1965 when I was trying to be a U of Illinois music composition major and I had questioned the relevance of what I was doing. He said, "We need music. We'd go crazy without it," or something to that effect. (I lasted one semester as a music major, having no interest in writing 12-tone music.)

One major diversion has been being rehearsal pianist and string bassist for Victorian Lyric Opera Company's wonderful production of Strauss's Die Fledermaus (The Bat) of which five performances remain --   (I play bass this weekend and Jeff Aaron, a professional, plays bass next weekend).

BTW my uncle was Sheldon Clark, who in 1966 ran as a peace candidate for Congress from the Cleveland suburbs gerrymandered for Republicans and who, for the requisite photo with LBJ said, "Strong supporter on domestic issues, member of the loyal opposition on Vietnam." LBJ was not amused.

Ross C.

As many have said, this is such a wonderful thread; thank you, Bernie, for your post, which clearly resonated with so many. 

In addition to the items already posted, I would say I am greatly sustained by an early morning yoga, meditation, and prayer practice; I feel like it helps me center myself for the day, and remember (over and over) what my intentions are. 

Walking in the woods, slowly, a la Thich Nhat Hanh, is also a powerful experience - there I sense the ever-evolving mystery of life and death; beauty and loss intertwined. 

And listening to devotional music (of all traditions) is also helpful - engaging a different part of my brain as I listen to music, and engaging my heart listening to the sense of devotion.  All this helps to interrupt patterns of over-work/over-thinking/over-consuming of information that can constrict - perhaps just subtly - the heart.

From Stephanie K.

two children sitting in a treeprotestersguitar and banjo musicians  

To publicly comment on one or more of these submissions, please send an email with your comment to our FORUM email ( After moderation, your comment will be posted on this public page with your first name and last initial.  

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