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Struggling to Not Struggle: Mindfulness Week #4

Uphill StrugglesNobody told me it was going to be easy.

Nobody told me this would be plain sailing.

Nobody even told me what I’d get out of all this.

Nobody promised me anything.

For that matter I didn’t promise myself anything.  But I did have a bit of hope.

I was told …

Not to strive.  Not to stretch.  Not to expect.  Not to judge.

To cultivate self-compassion.  To have patience.  To maintain cultivate a beginner’s mind.  To accept.  To let go.  To be awake.  To be aware.

Moment by moment by moment.

But heck, this was a hard week….

If you didn’t already know, over the next 8 weeks (or so) I’m practicing the mindfulness course laid out by Mark Williams, Professor of Clinical Psychology, in his book co-written with Danny Penman – Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world (quotes from the book are shown in italics). My aim is to learn how to absolutely thrive in this frantic world.

This fourth week focused on ‘ … enhancing your ability to sense when your mind and body are signalling that things are turning negative and self-attacking, times when your reactions are pulling you into their vortex.’

We don’t see the world as it is, but as we are Actually I’d say we don’t see the world as it is, but as we think it is…  And are thoughts real?

The way we interpret the world defines how we will react to it.  There’s nothing in the world that creates our stress, worry, anxiety or even misery – that’s only the way our own thinking interprets the world and our perception of the events that occur.

Your thoughts can be likened to a radio that been left on in the background … You don’t usually feel the need to think or behave in a way that a voice on the radio tells you to, so why should you blindly assume that your thoughts portray an unerringly accurate picture of the world?

So what have I been up to in this fourth week?  Actually this was a fairly simple week – again with the meditations practiced at least twice a day, 6 days out of 7.

The ‘big’ meditation each day was an 8 minute BREATH & BODY meditation, which I also did last week coupled with the mindful movement meditation, and then an 8 minute SOUNDS & THOUGHTS meditation.  Plus there was the 3 MINUTE BREATHING SPACE to also fit in twice a day.

So what was the SOUNDS & THOUGHTS meditation all about?  Well, our minds are never still – there’s a constant ebb and flow of thoughts passing through our minds at any moment.  Appearing and disappearing.  I think of them like waves on the sea.  Or some people might perceive them to be like clouds floating by in the sky.

This meditation was all about learning to pick out sounds from the general hubbub.  Without thinking what they were or judging if it was something I liked or making up any story around them.  Just accepting the sound for what it was as if I was hearing it for the very first time… seeing what else I could hear in it.  As the book says… Even silence contains sounds.

This meditation was to reveal the similarities between sound and thought.  Both appear as if from nowhere.  Both can seem random and we have no control over their arising.  Both are enormously potent and carry immense momentum.  They trigger powerful emotions that can easily run away with us.

And yet the difference is that we do indeed have control over our thoughts.  They may arise, but we are not bound to follow them.  We are not the servant to them.  They are not our master.  Our thoughts do not have to be obeyed.  Immense freedom can be achieved in this very moment when we realise that …

It’s about receiving: seeing when they each appear, how long they stay around and when they dissipate to nothingness.

It’s then about noticing: noticing the meaning, the labels we put on them, our judgement of like/dislike, the associations, the stories they create.

So what did I think OVERALL about week #4?

Well as I said back at the beginning it was a hard week.  I had a lot of looming work deadlines due to the summer holidays. I was sick with an ear infection. I got antibiotics that made me even sicker.  And I had a real battle with myself about mindfulness – I wanted to see progress, I wanted to feel progress, I wanted to get something back, I wanted to see improvement.  I wanted to feel I was getting somewhere and this investment of time and energy was worthwhile in some way.

Yeah I know – so much for not striving, not judging, having patience, nurturing acceptance, letting go and cultivating self-compassion.

So did I get something out of this week?  For that matter have I gotten something out of this whole process?

Well now I’m at the end of the week (and feeling better) I do realise that I have gotten something out of this week.  I have a much greater awareness of my thoughts.  Slippery little buggers that they can be.  Darn – judging again.

I am far more aware of when they arise, when they try to throw orders I actually don’t want to follow and how fast then can disappear.

I am me.  I am not my thoughts.  Weird as they may sound.

So on to week #5.  Apparently some people … stumble at this point.  After the challenges f this week let’s just see what happens.

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3 responses to “Struggling to Not Struggle: Mindfulness Week #4

  1. Pingback: Accepting the Present: Mindfulness Week #5 | GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN

  2. Pingback: Befriending Your New Best Friend: Mindfulness Week #6 | GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN

  3. Pingback: The Nourishment of Water: Mindfulness Week #7 | GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN

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