Choices

Practice awareness of your choice.

We each make many choices in any day. What we do, eat, drink, say, hear, think, wear, watch, engage with, where we go . . .

We may feel that some of these are not our choices but enforced on us. But when we examine these choices more closely, we may find we do have choices but simply find it easier to perceive we don’t!

Observe your choices today. Do this with kindness, not judgement. What do you discover?

This is Mindful Monday on 10 January 2021. If you use these Mindful Monday posts, please complete the short survey on this link, just open for a week or so. Appreciated.

Uncertain times

Surviving – even celebrating – in uncertain times

For many of us, we’re surprised that we continue to live in uncertain times. The only certainty is the uncertainty!

In fact there’s a sense of déjà vu. The impact of the pandemic in December 2021 seems little different to 12 months ago. We’ve been living with uncertainty caused by the pandemic for way longer than we ever imagined – and may be it’s all to the good that we didn’t imagine this duration! Each day does indeed have enough trouble of its own.

Getting back to that sense of déjà vu. When we experience something again, we have the benefit of hindsight. We can apply – if we choose – what we learned from our last experience.

These times have reinforced for me that anything can change at any time, including government regulation, societal norms, and our own circumstances (health, wealth and the rest). This is reality.

They’ve reminded me to keep identifying things I can change versus things I cannot change (as helpful described in Niebuhr’s serenity prayer). Those things I can change require me to act. Those things I cannot change require me to accept them. Neither action nor acceptance are necessarily easy – and there can be sadness and pain in either. But this is the reality.

Beyond the first couple of lines, Niebuhr’s prayer goes onto point to a relationship with God, beginning in our present reality but continuing beyond our earthly lives. It is valuable to reflect on things that are unchanging. For me this includes the God of love, ‘love divine all loves excelling’, the Alpha and the Omega.

As you face uncertainty today, may you approach it with wisdom. And if you choose to, may you too know the God of love. A Happy Christmas to you.

This is Mindful Monday on 20 December 2021.

The sound of silence

The sound of silence

I am (quietly!) reading about silence. Silence in the age of noise by Erling Kagge seeks to answer three questions: What is silence? Where is it? Why is it more important now than ever?

I feel the need for silence. Maybe even more so at this time of year when retailers put on and turn up the Christmas jingles.

Being in silence doesn’t mean being without noise: I live in a town and traffic is always audible; even in the countryside away from roads, there will be the sound of bird song or the wind. It is about a silence – or a quietness – within, rather than without.

Silence costs no money, and yet it feels like a luxury! Treat yourself.

If you aren’t familiar with being in silence, start with just ten minutes. Be patient as you hear the cacophony of noise within. Persist. Answer for yourself if silence feels like something not only luxurious but also important.

This is Mindful Monday @ essencecheltenham.org on 13 December 2021.

A bedrock for living

Thankfulness in all circumstances, our bedrock

We can choose to make thankfulness a bedrock, a solid base for our lives.

I am a Christian and it is scriptural to give thanks in all circumstances. In fact Christians share an emphasis of living with thankfulness not only with Jews but also with Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus.

Psychologists advocate being thankful as key to good mental wellbeing as well as for building resilience to deal with all the tough stuff that is also an inevitable part of living.

Back to being thankful in all circumstances. This implies even in the midst of the tough stuff.

Each day has its challenges, the big and the small. As you become aware of a challenge, make a choice to pause and note something for which you are thankful. You’re not pushing away the challenge; you are simply rooting yourself in thankfulness to better deal with the challenge.

Give it a go.

This is Mindful Monday on 6 December 2021. http://www.essencecheltenham.org

In balance?

In balance or out of balance?

We all place priority on different things in our lives, sometimes out of choice and other times out of necessity. What’s ‘too little’ or ‘too much’ of any activity will differ for each of us.

But we all gain from asking ourselves the question, ‘What’s the right balance of [name the activity] for me?’ The ‘right balance’ is our happy or contented place. Most activities are neither good or bad. They can however be ‘in balance’ or ‘out of balance’.

Here’s some examples. What’s the right balance of time . . . keeping fit? . . . with friends? . . . on my own? . . . with family? . . . at work? . . . indoors? . . . outdoors? . . . on social media? . . . keeping abreast of news? spent volunteering? . . . watching TV/streaming? You get the idea. Think through the balance for you physically, emotionally and spiritually.

These activities are often not either good or bad. It’s the balance of each activity in relation to the other activities that’s the key to our wellbeing. It’s the balance that gives us the sense of having our feet planted firmly on the ground, not teetering on the brink or piroetting through each day.

This is Mindful Monday on 22 November 2021.

Reflections

Reflections at Stourhead Gardens, November 2021

I spent a glorious morning enjoying autumn colours at Stourhead Gardens and knew you would want to share in it. I particularly enjoyed seeing reflections of buildings and nature in a lake. Some detail is present in the reflection and yet the scene is more muted, softer.

Imagine seeing a reflection of your life right now. What are the shapes and colours that would show in ‘the lake’? You might want to draw or write down what stands out.

Ensure the reflection of yourself you are seeing has a softness in it. We need a softness in our perspective that enables us to reflect with kindness, not judgement.

This is Mindful Monday on 15 November 2021.

All weathers

All weathers

It’s definitely autumn now; summer is behind us.

In the UK, there’s an increase in wind and rain, temperatures are beginning to drop; there are also glorious foliage colours and bushes full of red berries.

Like every season, it’s a mix of moments in the ever-changing weather, if we take the time to notice.

The weather is the weather. It can be ‘glorious’ (most of us love it crisp, blue skied and sunny) or ‘dreary’ (most of us dislike it grey, wet and cold). It is what it is, like it or don’t like it.

I have been intentionally noticing the wind. Early one day on a hill, it was strong and steady and nearly blew me over. On other days it was gusty, making itself heard quite clearly indoors. And on one day it has been soft, a pleasant breeze on my face.

This week, take moments to experience the weather. Notice the wind on your face, a raindrop on your hand, the softer light of the sun in the view from your window.

Notice what arises in your mind and your body as you allow yourself to experience the weather, including any tendencies to reject or hold onto particular weather. When we start to notice and experience the weather, our judgements of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ weather will become more blurred.

Sure, we like some weather better than other weather but let’s be in the autumn. For like all seasons, it too will pass. While it is here, let’s experience it, rather than miss it. It’s part of living.