Are you struggling with the inevitable? By this I mean the everyday challenges that life throws at you, or the unpleasant events or thoughts you might experience.
Mindful training teaches that we should try to be present as much as possible not just for the nice experiences but the uncomfortable ones too. Note that this isn’t about giving up or resigning yourself to things but about mindful acceptance.
Cultivate a willingness to let things be as they are as we become aware of them whether we like them or not – Rebecca Crane, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
This week, when your little ones are pushing your buttons, or you’re having to clean up yet another mess the tornadoes have left in their wake, try to let the difficult feelings just come and go. Allow them to be as they are – they’re like clouds in the sky, some are stormier than others, but even the blackest cloud will pass leaving blue sky.
Remember not to be passive about these clouds. The trick is to be willing and open to the experiences. Michael Chaskalson in his book ‘Mindfulness in eight weeks’ asks you to bring an attitude of kind curiosity to your feelings and thoughts in an accepting and non-reactive way. For me, if one of the boys has done something they shouldn’t and I’m feeling annoyed about it, I might think ‘I feel annoyed’ and bring my attention to the sensations in my body – tense jaw and shoulders, gritted teeth and hands maybe.
Usually in this kind of situation, a train of thought will run through my head: ‘not again. Why do they always do this? Are they trying to upset me on purpose?’ you can see how easily the thoughts can spiral. By just accepting that I feel annoyed and actually bringing my attention to it, the feeling seems to disappear much more quickly than if I let autopilot and habit take over and the cloud moves on instead of taking root.
This week I want to share a lovely poem that is used in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. It’s by 13th century poet, Rumi and translated by Coleman Barks. The poem sums up the accepting attitude and might help to explain things in a more poetic way than I’ve done!
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival,
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honourably,
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.
Let me know what you thought of the poem and have a mindful week!