The Race (I did not Enter)

All around the world we are facing the impact of climate change. These
impacts can sometimes seem far away (depending on where we are in the world). This
is something we see on the news but are unable to comprehend for ourselves
unless we are directly affected.

The impact came very close and personal in the last weeks for colleagues and
friends of the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence in the South of Brasil.

The State of Rio Grande do Sul has been particularly hit with rising water
and flooding impacting 450 (of out it’s 497 cities) in the region. More than
seventy thousand people are needing shelter and more than 500 thousand have called
on friends and family to house them.

What place does mindfulness have in such a crisis? Firstly, an ecological
crisis and now, a humanitarian one. Whole cities needing to be re housed, and
the chaos of a disaster effort (still unfolding).

One of our colleagues, Raquel Lhullier, from The What Colour is Your Dragon
team, has been personally caught up in the unfolding disaster. She passionately
believes that compassion is the first movement in any such situation.

First Raquel shared that it is important that we see and listen and notice.
Even though we may be far away, we can engage with the suffering of others and
offer compassionate witness. Being together to share a “red” (as we
call it in the Dragon language) does not magically make the situation solved
but can help to regulate emotions so that wise action can be taken where

We also know that sometimes we need to find different ways to express the
complex feelings that can emerge. Wanting to act (but not knowing what to do),
feelings of guilt (if we are ok and others are not), anger (“Why is this
happening?” “Why are only certain parts of the population affected so catastrophically?”),
impotence and uncertainty.

Creative practice is one way to communicate when perhaps otherwise we
struggle to convey our true experiences.

Raquel wrote this poem when the floods started. She has used writing and
poetry over the years to help her in moments of red. She was terrified by the
news, and desperately trying to help people from a distance. As the rain
continued and the water rose higher in the lagoon, the fear and threat grew
stronger and closer to her city, Pelotas. Today her city has hundreds of people
in shelters and they are waiting for the next days to see how much more rain
will come and if the water will rise further.

Please do digest this poem.

The Race I Didn’t Enter – By Raquel Lhullier – May 10th 2024

We have been entered into a race

One that we do not remember signing up for

Without knowing how long the race will be 

Or anything about the route and the conditions we will find

Now is just the start of the race

Which asks us to be focused and calm

First to pause and observe, before action

So we can see clearly what is being demanded of us

Physically and emotionally

When everything is screaming at us to rush and act,

Taking the time to slow down, stop, catch our breath before taking the next steps.

One thing is certain, we are not alone in this race.

We run alongside others – those we know, those we don’t

Each with their own pace and reality.

The goal is that we all finish together, as best we can.

We are together Pelotas!


Photography by Gilberto Rossi