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Covid 19 blog #3 mindful walking

An occasional lite blog reflecting on the impact of the virus from a therapeutic setting.

So, we are in the midst of what some are referring to as a “lockdown”, though we can still go out to exercise-walk, cycle, run. My preferred exercise is mindful walking. I first learned this practice from tutors at the Mindfulness Association, and at first, I hated it! Now it’s my favourite practice.

How does it work?

You walk: swing one foot out and bring your awareness to the feeling(s) in the foot (the balls of your feet, your heels) as you lift and land, then the same as the other foot lifts…and lands. With gradual practice you then begin to experience the feeling in your ankles, your calves, your thighs and the how your pelvic girdle moves as you walk.

Now you bring your attention to your upper body, feel the breath as it works its way through; belly, chest, nostrils, the movement of air or wind at your face. Then your body as a whole.

As you walk, as you practice this, you become more and embodied, and you can begin to explore the sensory world around you; bring your attention to what you smell, see, touch, hear and taste as you walk. A park, a wood or the beach is a great place to do this, but urban environments work just as well-as long as you keep your Covid distance!

A mindful walk brings us out of the heady, anxious thoughts we might have at this time of crisis, and back into our calmer, embodied self.

See you out there walking!

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Covid 19 blog #1 welcome to my world!

An occasional lite blog reflecting on the impact of the virus from a therapeutic setting.

“you know the thing, the thing I want to say about this coronavirus thing? I mean, I don’t have it, but you know what I want to say?” I shifted in my chair. I had seen this client for a while, and was getting used to her style. “What do you want to say about your experience of this?” I asked. “I want to say: welcome to my world! That’s what I want to say! I don’t want belittle anybody’s experience but this is how I feel all the time. I wonder if people might now think about folk like me, anxious and panicky?”

I have been reflecting on this time; it can appear that the country, in fact the whole world is in a state of panic, where our National fight or flight in the UK nervous system has become pulled, attenuated and is now behaving in irrational, compulsive ways.

There is a way out.

Meeting your experience with mindfulness and compassion can help us bring our attention to the facts (how much we have to self-isolate, what distance between each other, and what’s happening inside us right now) and to our attitude, how kind we might be (or not) to ourselves and others around us. How we might grow this.

Not just thinking of ourselves but how our behaviours impacts on others, with empathy, reflecting on those whose experience is always like this, welcoming ourselves to a whole new world!

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RAIN: coming to your emotional rescue

“there’s no weather channel for our emotions. We don’t know whether to expect sunshine or clouds each day. Why can’t we just be happy?”[1]

 

There’s an old pre-Buddha story from India. A man is sitting by the side of the road and hears the sound of thunder a mile away. He looks down the road and sees a cloud of dust. As it gets closer, the cloud of dust is revealed as a wild forest elephant bellowing towards him. As the elephant gets closer the man realises that clinging to the beast is a small man, held on by a rope. The road vibrates, the elephant gets closer, and as it passes the man asks “where are you going?” the rider on the elephant looks down and says “ask the elephant!”

When the Buddha heard this story, he added a little to it. He suggested that the elephant, since it has been around for a lot longer that the rider, has learnt a thing or two. He proposed that the elephant had learnt to hire the services of a lawyer, principally to defend but also to justify the elephant’s actions.

This is pretty much our predicament as human beings; the rider is our reasoning side, but the emotional side of us is older, stronger and often more powerful. Yet when we become emotional, we often seek to defend our emotional side and justify our actions-no matter how out of kilter they might be. Here is where we can be our own worst enemy, getting caught up and engulfed in “wild forest” emotions such as anger, hate, jealousy, pride, doubt and fear; these emotions end up ruling us, the tail wagging the dog.

Our emotions are also the way we often find meaning in our lives:[2] I feel this, so it means….being key. We end up fusing to this meaning, essentially identifying these wild forest emotions as us; this meaning is me, my identity.

Then we believe we do not have a choice about this: I feel it therefore is must be so. We are emotionally fused to not just a belief but a set of often wayward beliefs that run our lives.

The American writer Byron Katie[3] has developed four questions that can help liberate us from this fusion. She invites us to ask about any thought, emotion, statement or set of beliefs we have:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

When we ask the first question the immediate reply is often: yeah, its true. But the second question takes us further, because we usually find it almost impossible to “absolutely” know that anything is true. It shines a little daylight into things, and it’s a really powerful intervention into difficult thoughts and emotions (emotions are often defined as agitated mental states, which include thoughts).

However, if we really want to work on our emotions such as anger, fear or jealousy we might need to dig a little deeper to help defuse the habit we have of recycling old emotional states that justify what are often out of date, disabling beliefs.

One such method is RAIN, the mindfulness practice popularised by Tara Brach[4]. RAIN stands for recognise, allow, investigate and nonidentification. When we have strong emotions and we are invited to explore them we tend to either block the emotions, drown in the emotions (justifying them) or distract ourselves. However, we can approach these emotional states, and essentially RAIN practice works to do just this.

Let’s explore this:

  1. Recognise: we can consider this as “re-cognise” or thinking about our thinking. This is often talked about as taking a meta approach, but here it is looking at the emotional state without blocking, drowning or distracting ourselves from it.
  2. Allow: we can allow ourselves to feel the emotion as it is, accept it for what its is, warts and all, no matter how unpleasant it is. Standing firm in the midst of difficult emotions, unyielding yet compassionate towards them is essential here.
  3. Investigate: we then approach the emotion itself with a kindly curiosity, as if we are befriending the emotional state. There are 4 components to this stage:
    1. Mindfulness of thoughts: thoughts are often the kerosene on the fire of difficult emotions, and if we can approach these thoughts with intimate attention, they will have a tendency to defuse.
    2. Mindfulness of emotions: we might label the emotion, and pause in its presence, allowing it to simply be. We might notice that there are layers here, for example underneath anger sadness might appear. Notice what happens when we bring acceptance to this, how this changes the emotional state.
    3. Mindfulness of bodily sensations: we feel into the emotional state, allowing it to work its way through our bodies, perhaps asking ourselves: what is happening in my body right now? Where is (e.g.) anger in the body? How it is now?
    4. Mindfulness of concepts: we can explore, again with intimate yet kindly attention, what sets of beliefs this leaves us with; what meaning this emotion brings to us. Are these concepts real and fixed or do they alter over time?
  4. Nonidentification: there is nothing to do in this last stage but rest on the outbreath and let the experience wash through us; it’s the part of the practice which is truly mindful as we relax in natural awareness, as if we have broken through a trance of wild forest emotions.

RAIN practice is not a “one shot deal” it is a practice that yields more and more every time it is experienced. RAIN is not about getting rid of our emotions, suppressing them or acting them out. Far from it. Our emotional states can be creative and can generate great insights; RAIN practice encourages us to work skilfully with our emotional states before we become engulfed and identified into what we think they might mean; it helps stop the wild elephant from running down that unhelpful road and taking charge of our lives.

[1] Dzogchen Ponlop Emotional Rescue

[2] Lisa Feldman Barrett How Emotions Are Made

[3] https://thework.com/2017/10/four-liberating-questions/

[4] Tara Brach Radical Acceptance

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Getting out of harmful habits with mindful life reflection

“at each moment we are at a fork in the road”-Dzogchen Ponlop

 

Many times in our life we can find ourselves caught up in what seems to be repeating behaviour, emotions or thoughts. There is often a sense that we have been here before with this thought or belief, and that this behaviour and the emotions and the beliefs that accompany them (or is it the other way around?) are not only unhelpful but often quite disabling. We realise that something in our minds has led this to happen, but we’re not really aware of this “happening” in any meaningful way. We are stuck in recurrent habits. Essentially, it’s as if we are prisoners of our own minds, which is a very strange way to be a human being.

How can we break free of our own disabling life patterns?

First, we have to get to know them more fully. Here’s how.

In 2007 Dzogchen Ponlop, one of the foremost Buddhist scholars, published his book Mind After Death. In the book he recommends the benefits of what he calls mindful life reflection.

At the end of each day we recall the events of the day, taking time to reflect on what we have done, what kind of thoughts and emotions we might have experienced that day. We then might include the events of yesterday and the day before, perhaps reviewing the whole week. This practice can build over time, and although we might begin with relatively short timeframes, we can increase to review our whole lives.

Here is my slightly adapted selection of mindful life reflective inquiry questions:

First sit for a while, perhaps five minutes. Bring your attention to your breath, allowing the inbreath to fill your lungs and the outbreath to reach down into your belly. Feel your way into your body, get a sense of your body in the (e.g.) chair, your feet on the floor, your back in the chair. You are attuning to the simple feeling of being. Notice how with each breath your shoulders rise and fall, your chest and belly expand and contacts. It’s as if your body is one. Breathe naturally. Let go of any striving and allow the following questions to drop into your mind like a pebble in a pond, noticing what thoughts and connections ripple out or bubble up:

  1. What were the major events that occurred today?
  2. What thoughts were tied in with these events?
  3. What emotions were tied in with these thoughts?
  4. Do you get a sense of how these thoughts and emotions were experienced in your body? Where?
  5. Are these thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations familiar?
  6. If they are familiar, can you track them back over time?

Six inquiry questions, which are linking events-thoughts-emotions-bodily sensations together to enable us to notice life patterns.

Life patterns are essentially signs that we might be repeating a cycle of difficulty that keeps us locked in disabled or afflicted thinking and feeling. The repeated pattern neon lights this. We might ask ourselves “does it have to be this way?” and lean into our experience further. Leaning into our experience, becoming familiar with our disabling thoughts and emotions is the first step to freeing ourselves from harmful and restrictive life patterns: we can’t change what we are not aware of.

Awareness is the key that creates the conditions to choose how we might respond to our restrictive life patterns differently and free ourselves from these restraints.

Try it!

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Angry? How mindfulness can help you get out of your Groundhog Day

“anger is an energy” -John Lydon

“anger arises out of the egos fundamental fear-its insecurity about its existence”-Ponlop[1]

“don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me if I got angry.” -Bruce Banner

 

Jamie was angry. He could feel it well up almost instantly inside him without warning. He had, four months ago, made the decision with the full support of his wife to switch jobs after a one year controlling relationship with a new manager. It was, he reflected, the right thing, the best thing to do. But he was angry. This, he thought made no sense at all: he had done the leaving and now had a better job and a better life. What, exactly was going on?

At times we can all find ourselves caught up, then engulfed, in anger. It’s as if our whole being is trembling with fire and we can’t find a way out. It’s Groundhog Day and we angrily go around and around living the same old. And we burn and we burn. In turn this creates a situation where we are well and truly caught up in reactivity; we “hulk out” so to speak and that fire burns those around us.

How can we move past this? How can we end our anger?

Before we explore anger, it might be worthwhile to pull back a little to consider the nature of thought-or mind-itself. This is the principle domain of exploration and learning in mindfulness; the nature of mind and hence thought or thinking. Psychotherapeutic approaches such as counselling with tend to privilege content of mind, and the problem with this is that content is endless, yet nature of mind is not.

In mindfulness we often suggest that there are three stages to thinking: self-arising, self-displaying, and self-liberating[2]. Let’s look at these.

  1. Self-arising: much of our thought arises unbidden and quite involuntary. Essentially, it’s habitual, since the majority of our thinking is composed of stories, memories, reflections that we recycle, as if we have a stream or undercurrent of thinking that every now and then we automatically dip into and become immersed in.
  2. Self-display: when we get “hooked” on our stories we are at the stage of self-display. Fundamentally our thoughts become-in a nanosecond-thinking and in self-display we become hooked onto our habitual stories, which we either like, dislike or are neutral to. In the case of stories we dislike (e.g. the “anger story”) we actually tend to hook onto these with greater power and strength, more attachment, since bad is stronger than good[3] in the brain’s domain. In self-display our whole narrative, story, or the movie (or at least a scene or two) of our lives is revealed, privileged and hooked into. This is where the cognitive and emotional action, the drama, plays out.
  3. Self-liberation: so, here’s the thing. Left alone, our thoughts will discharge and liberate. But we don’t do that, we cling and grasp onto our thoughts and thinking, endlessly recycling them. This works the same way for our emotions, too, and since our emotions highlight what is meaningful to us, we form an identity with this meaningful self in self-display. For better or for worse. Sometimes for worse.

How does this relate to anger? At the point of self-display, we attach, form a meaning and identify with anger: anger matters and we feed it with the kerosene of further thoughts, justifying the anger and making it solid, habitual, cutting off self-liberation. This way, anger being justified, anger becomes us. In time we might not just “hulk out” but become The Hulk.

It therefore behoves us to explore anger and we might bring one of most fundamental practices of mindfulness to bear here, that of leaning into our experience with acceptance. We might ask ourselves:

  1. What is the use of this anger? What will change as a result of me being angry?
  2. What fear does my anger reveal? What does my anger show me that I care about? (it’s hard to be angry about something you don’t care for)
  3. How does anger feel in the body? If I allow anger to work its way through my physical system, does it self-liberate?

So, this is a thought-emotions-feeling approach, an integral approach to mindfulness of anger.

But mindfulness might teach us more. Mindfulness brings the nature of mind into the forefront of any conversation, and what it might point out is that our whole range of afflicted emotions, (anger, aggression, jealously, ignorance, pride and more) these are all mind states that self-arise, self-display and can self-liberate; these are the waves, that if left alone will fall back into ocean of liberated consciousnesses or awareness.

The suggestion that we have to explore one drop of water or one wave after another is perhaps unnecessary when we can explore the nature of waves (or the nature of being wavey!) falling back into the ocean. Leaning into the experience, the nature of mind is penetrated and allows us to gain insight not just of the coarse (known) thoughts that arise such as anger, but the more subtle thoughts that might be underneath, such as care or sadness: anger is an energy and there is a drive that drives it which we often defend against, so to speak.

Thought experiment: tomorrow’s anger. Reflect on a time when you were angry tomorrow. Recall the event as if it was scene in a movie. See if you can achieve a sensory take on that scene, such as what will happen, the colours, the emotions. Feel into your angry thoughts. What will make you angry? What emotions are sure to be triggered? What will it feel like? How familiar will all of this be?  Is this absurd? How can you get angry about something that does not exist? But you do get angry about something that does not exist: the past. The past does not exist yet the anger persists. How is that? Keep your attention on the present moment. Where is anger now? Anger keeps us locked into the past, in a dead land and takes us away from the life that’s here.

In Buddhist Madhyamaka it is suggested that “the emptiness of one is the emptiness of all[4]”. Thus, if anger can be self-liberated, all toxic mind states can be. In this way anger is a great teacher, a guide to a deeper wisdom and we can both welcome and embrace the insight it brings to us; it is a gate to our unknown potential and our liberation. This could be the end of our Groundhog Day.

 

 

[1] Mind Beyond Death by Dzogchen Ponlop

[2] From Mindfulness to Insight by Choden, Nairn & Regan-Addis

[3] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1037/1089-2680.5.4.323?journalCode=rgpa

[4] https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0098337

 

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Walking therapy: what is it, why do we do it?

“walking is exploring the mystery of presence” -Frederic Gros

“the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” -Lao Tzu

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in” -John Muir

The formula for talking therapy is a similar one across many different modalities. Whether the client is offered cognitive behavioural therapy, person centred or psychodynamic therapy, the client sits more of less opposite the therapist in various rooms or offices (such as school classrooms, rooms in GP surgeries, spa-like therapy centres and so on). It’s a sitting down practice, and quite a cognitive one, too.

But there is a growing recognition that clients can be offered more; they often do not want to go from an artificially lit office with their heads full of work into yet another one, inevitably inhabiting the same sense of cognitive, stuffy bias. So, since 2017 I have offered clients the opportunity of engaging in walking-as well as talking-therapy.

This is not so new. Freud would walk with his clients around the Ringstrasse in Vienna, literally walking the talking. Clay Cockrell, founder of Walk and Talk therapy in New York sees around 40 clients a week in Central Park. Jonathan Hoban has published a book Walk with Your Wolf (2019) about just this[1]. Duval[2] in a research paper suggests that walking creates improvements in both mood and attentional functioning; Morgan et al sum up the psychological and relational benefits of walking neatly in their research paper called Walking Towards a New Me[3]. Miyazaki’s book Shinrin-yoku: the Japanese way of forest bathing supplies us with solid evidence of walking in his chapter the science behind nature therapy[4].

It’s catching on.

I first experimented with this in 2011 when I undertook the Studies in Mindfulness post graduate diploma through Aberdeen University; as well as an exploration of Buddhist psychology and the neuroscience of compassion, mindful walking was included as a foundational practice in the programme, and after reflecting on the impact on me-lowered blood pressure, less stress, improved mood and a general feeling of being more friendly to myself (a new me!)-I began to focus on it as a core mindfulness practice whilst training others, and then I brought it into the therapeutic space.

I found myself inspired by the poetry of walking, heeding Mary Oliver’s words in Wild Geese: You do not have to walk on your knees/for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting./You only have to let the soft animal of your body/love what it loves” or Rilke, who writes in A Walkwe are grasped by what we cannot grasp” as particularly redolent of an embodied connection that can be found in walking the talking. These things are not always so noticeable in sitting therapy; when walking, clients appear to achieve insights which are more poetic, expressive and at times more flowing. The person centred therapist Nick Totten[5] writes of the experience of the liminal self that is experienced when we lean in to the threshold of our wilder side; I would suggest that this is akin to Rachel Corby’s notion of rewilding ourselves[6] and Mark Colemans[7] concept of “uniting our inner and outer wilderness.” It is finding our whole self, a self that we have, at times, lost in our busy living, step by step.
I have had feedback from clients that walking therapy works particularly well in helping to treat stress, anxiety, depression and furthermore enables the client to achieve what the neuropsychologist Rick Hanson[8] calls “installation” or a more fully embodied experience and understanding of their situations and history, as opposed to a purely cognitive one; a sense of somatic change. Added to which, the positive impact of walking on the beach (in summer, barefoot) or in parks with trees and open skies is well researched[9]-immersing ourselves in nature helps us to ground and lowers our fight, flight and freeze responses considerably.

Walking outdoors helps us to connect, and importantly it helps us to connect with the somatic or animal side of us that we spend so much time splitting off in our daily working lives.

How does this work?

Walking therapy may not take a whole 50-minute session (though some clients have asked for extended 90 minutes sessions) but can be 20, 30-minute parts of sessions. We co-construct an agreement around confidentiality, what to do if either us chances upon somebody we might know, and the terrain itself with its challenges. I then invite a prewalk reflection and, of course a postwalk one too. Then we’re off, walking at the client’s pace.

Sometimes we have focussed on breathing, exploring our sensory experience, and processing issues and problems, or aspects of personal development in this ambulatory manner. Sometimes we just stop, sit and reflect on the walking or the discussion we have had. Sometimes we just sit and look at the sky, the sea or the trees around us, alive in the sense of presence. We explore posture, physical feelings of the sun, the wind or the rain on us.

Clients who are CEOs and managers, leaders of all kinds who are close to, or who have experienced burnout, find this walking therapy especially beneficial: we take 50 minutes to do an unwinding walk, then back to work the leader goes, anchored and refreshed.

Parents of babies or very young children, who would find their child a distraction in the therapy room or cannot find a babysitter to do indoor work find walking therapy useful; the baby is in the buggy, often asleep and we walk the talk.

One of the subjects that comes up regularly in walking theory is spirituality. Perhaps being close to nature allows us all to decompress and reflect on our wider, transpersonal selves that might connect to something vaster and more meaningful, which finds its expression in what Corby calls “the dark cry of the soul”[10].

Clients have also chosen to walk around places where they used to live or where family members lived in the past, using the actual terrain as a way of evoking and processing past memories in a very real and concrete way.

Supervision whilst walking has been successful, with the supervisees reporting increased vitality and showing creative reflections on casework; again, it is often the embodied “permission to pause and notice” within the work that many find deeply facilitative.

I’m building on this, and in the next few months am going to collate more case studies and plan to deliver a continuing professional development (CPD) workshop on my findings.

Watch this space and go in by walking out!

[1] Its not just in therapy where this occurs, coaches are walking too see https://brightspacethinking.co.uk/why-i-love-fresh-air-thinking-and-why-you-should-try-it-too-2/

[2] Duvall, J. (2011). Enhancing the benefits of outdoor walking with cognitive engagement strategies. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 31, 27-35.

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20551485

[4] Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki Shinrin-yoku: the Japanese way of forest bathing for health and relaxation

[5] Nick Totten Wild Therapy

[6] Rachel Corby Rewilding Yourself: becoming nature

[7] Mark Coleman Awake in the Wild: mindfulness in nature as a path of self-discovery

[8] see Choden, Nairn and Regan Addis From Mindfulness to Insight

[9] https://foresteurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Forest_book_final_WEBpdf.pdf and https://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/health/06real.html

[10] Rachel Corby Rewilding Yourself: becoming nature

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The feeling of me, the idea of me

“what began simply as a sensory experience has become part of my identity. It has come into my existence as a thing instead of a passing object of perception and experience”[1]

“first there’s me, then there’s mine, then there’s trouble”[2]

This June morning is sunny and warm. I’ve left my house and walked the 10 minutes or so to the beach. I take my sandals off and I can feel the sand beneath my feet, hundreds of particles of sand rubbing into my toes. The surf comes and goes; it’s cool and as I walk into the water it refreshes my feet and ankles. The horizon seems vast and cloudless. I can smell the salty air. I stand still and allow my attention to gently focus on my senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, sound. Standing still I can also bring my attention to the feeling of me, the sensations inside me, the feeling of being, sensations which, like the surf itself relentlessly come and go, as if they belong to something vaster. The feeling of me.

This feeling of me feels connected, embodied, energetic and free. It feels open and untroubled. Phenomena comes and goes and it always will. There is a sense of dynamic movement within me, yet a feeling of being grounded, connected.

Then something else happens. I begin to-in a flash-get an idea about this feeling of me. I reflect on my experience, ask myself some questions such as “what’s this about?” or make a statement such as “this feels good” and wonder how I might have the good feeling again. I begin to label my experience, attempting to capture or package the feeling of me.

Something’s happened. The feeling of me has turned into an idea of me. The surf, the sensations of being have paused, frozen into concept.

This is, perhaps the way it happens. As soon as I switch to the idea of me, I compare my experience, place it in a category that helps explain the feeling of me. It’s almost as if my mind or my brain wants to predict or classify my experience and base it on past experience. Why would I want to do this? Now I’m becoming identified with this idea of me-and what might be mine.

This takes around a second, or less.

I experience the embodied, sensory me. There then is an involuntary (where does it come from?) need to conceptualise this, to anchor it by comparing it to previous experiences. I reify the experience as mine, and grasp, attach, fuse to this as idea and identity. This is me. This is my story, my narrative, mine. Its happening, though I’m not sure exactly what it is that is happening. But it is me, mine, and I’ll defend it as such. This way I am real, solid; I have an identity, I’m somebody and I will spend much of my time fused to this and justifying this somebody.

This idea of me, I begin to notice, occurs with more frequency as I grow and experience bad things. I actually appear to have a bias in my ideas towards negative experiences, they really mean something to me and I can recall them with a vividness that simply is not present around good experiences. They tell me that the world can be bad-and they tell me to be careful. They also tell me that I can-am-bad and should be ashamed to be like this. I seem to prefer these stories about being bad so cling on to them, sort of identify with them as me, mine.

I don’t really have a very satisfying, happy life, I seem to have taken the feeling of me, with all of its life and liberty and turned it into an idea of me, filled with dead concepts; am I this, this cognitive prison camp? I’ve taken my pain and turned it into a huge story of suffering: I am my suffering.

Is there no way out?

I turn my attention to the suffering self with kindness, as if I could hold this suffering in a sense of compassionate embrace; I see it with eyes wide open and try to wholeheartedly befriend it. I fail. I try again-are we not all like this in one way or another? I take my attention to the feeling of me, where I am, standing on the beach. For a moment or two the idea of me disappears (where does it go to?) and I am immersed in the embodied sensation of not me, but just this, just this. I suddenly realise that my suffering vanished (where did it go?) as if it was never real.

Then something else happens. I begin to-in a flash-get an idea about this feeling of me. I reflect on my experience, ask myself some questions such as “what’s this about” or make a statement such as “this feels good” and wonder how I might have the good feeling again. I begin to label my experience, attempting to capture or package the feeling of me.

Something’s happened. The feeling of me has turned into an idea of me. The surf, the sensations of being have paused, frozen into concept.

And so, the cycle continues.

Yet every time I bring my attention to this, gently and with a mindful, compassionate embrace the grasping, the fusion, weakens slightly, the story of suffering is not the only story; in fact, the story is replaced by the feeling of just being, a “seeing from the heart”[3].

And so, the cycle continues. Yet in kindly facing, rather than ignoring, my habit of creating and defending an idea of me and mine, perhaps here lies some kind of mindful liberation.

 

[1] Rob Nairn, Choden, & Heather Regan Addis From Mindfulness to Insight

[2] Akong Rinpoche

[3] Rob Nairn, Choden, & Heather Regan Addis From Mindfulness to Insight

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Covid 19 blog #3 mindful walking

An occasional lite blog reflecting on the impact of the virus from a therapeutic setting. So, we are in the midst of what …

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Covid 19 blog #1 welcome to my world!

An occasional lite blog reflecting on the impact of the virus from a therapeutic setting. “you know the thing, the thing …

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RAIN: coming to your emotional rescue

“there’s no weather channel for our emotions. We don’t know whether to expect sunshine or clouds each day. Why can’t …