I didn’t write a Mindful Monday post last week. I was immersed in family celebrations – enjoying being with loved ones. It was healing.
I then went to a funeral of a friend. As I recalled the good times and my friend’s gifts, there was healing.
The day after the funeral, I sprained my ankle. It swelled up. Fluid moved into the injured area, evidencing white blood cells getting to work. I found watching the healing take place day by day healing in itself!
Sometimes we need to simply take time out or take a particular action. As we do, we find restoration or put another way healing.
What was the first event, the family celebration? Ah well as you asked, it was celebrating my brother receiving a doctorate. I’m a proud sister!
Walking along a country lane, I brushed my arm against stinging nettles. Here goes with a rash. Indeed, I could feel the rash starting.
Reading an email, I saw confusion about the date of an event. This is going to take quite some unwinding.
Heading out the door on an overcast day, I put on my fleece. It’s bound to be cold outdoors.
The reality of all these events was different from my perception. The vegetation I brushed my arm against was not stinging nettles and a rash did not appear. When I read the email more carefully, there was no confusion about the date of an event. Although overcast, it was in fact very warm outdoors and I quickly removed my fleece.
These are three little reminders that my immediate perception in a situation is not necessarily reality. Learning to reflect, to pause, just for a moment, has value.
With gentleness, let’s observe our perceptions of situations during today. Then we will recognise misconceptions more quickly, enabling us to engage more fully with ourselves, those around us and the world.
I am re-reading an amazing book this week. It is a book by Kate Gross as she approached the last months of her life while only in her late thirties, the mother of two young boys (Late Fragments: Everything I want to tell you about this magnificent life).
I am re-reading the book now as part of remembering a friend who died recently, in her late fifties. She read the book and appreciated it in the last months of her life.
If you are still reading, well done. Many find the subject of dying too painful to dwell on. And yet it’s a book about the wonder that is life. Yes, wonder.
Kate is mindful. She writes of her hopes for her boys, “I don’t know how they will experience the world, any more than I can guide them through it. I hope that its breadth and variety will provide them with the endless thrill it has for me. But staying at home is fine too. I need them to know that wonder doesn’t require a passport, it only requires your attention. My dad has always been evidence of that. . . . his truest sense of wonder has always been found in a smaller world around him. He sees things, you see, in the details: the curve of a while tulip petal, the way a tree branch stretches over a lake, the perfect structure of the green hills . . . “
Kate describes the joy of living so well, looking and taking in the wonder of life. May be it’s all the more acutely in our sight when we can see the end of our earthly life more clearly before us. But let’s not let a day pass without looking – and truly seeing – something of the beauty that is around us.
For me, being mindful – looking – draws me to the Creator of all things. And the wonder that fills me is part of understanding the present and also a hint of the future, the promise of a life beyond this earthly life which will be wonderous beyond imagining.
Wonder doesn’t require a passport (or any other complications of travel in a Covid world!). It doesn’t need us to be approaching death. Simply look. Wonder. Live.
Over the last week I have become aware that I am constantly putting off a particular task. I have become innovative in identifying and acting on distractions, distractions I could blame others for but it wouldn’t be honest to do so!
It hasn’t made me feel good, knowing that the task still has to be done. In fact I have come to dread the task the longer I have put it off. Know that feeling?
Seeking better self understanding is often a good starting point so why am I procrastinating? Honesty often has a painful side even though it’s useful so here goes! I think it is because I can, at times, be a bit of a perfectionist and there are aspects of this task beyond my control that mean I can only complete the task to what I would call an ‘okay’ standard, not a great standard.
Becoming aware of this and accepting it is quite a relief. I need to accept what is possible to achieve – and accept that I feel negatively about the task.
As we accept the situation we are in and how we are feeling, ‘the sting’ or difficulty of the situation can sometimes reduce. We cease fighting; we practice acceptance. This means we are now not wasting our energy albeit the task is still daunting!
Despite the negative feelings, I will now do the task. So often we need to act despite how we feel – and this is one of those occasions. So finding a task difficult to get down to? Be aware. Be honest. Accept. And do, despite not because.
Reminding ourselves of this can help us grow in patience, with ourselves and with others. It may also help us act with kindness. And remember we tend to do to others as we do to ourselves . . . So that means kindness to ourselves as well as others.
Reminding ourselves that we are all a work in progress also keeps us humble. There are studies that indicate that humble people have better relationships. Why would this be? Because they accept other people for who they are.
Say it with me, ‘I am a work in progress’. Think of someone you know, maybe someone with whom you have a difficult or complex relationship, ‘They are a work in progress.’
Accept that you and others are a work in progress; grow in patience, kindness and humility.
It can be a challenge to plan how to do tasks in such a way that we are not stressed by them i.e. we schedule doing a task for when we have enough time and energy.
It can be an even bigger challenge to decide whether we are up to tackling a particular task in the first place. We may identify something as a ‘must do’ task when in fact it is a ‘nice to do if time/energy’ task.
Pacing becomes vital – and yet somehow more difficult! – at times when we are unwell, including experiencing increased physical pain or poor mental health.
So what helps us pace ourselves well?
Prioritise self care. Doing this will in fact put us in the best place to also care for others. It’s one of those ‘about face’ things!
Review the ‘must do’ tasks to identify those that we can move out of the ‘must do’. Sometimes we need help from a friend to do this. Alternatively, writing down what we are trying to do in a list can enable us to then revisit that list and identify those tasks that are essential to do and those that are not – we may find none of them are when we see them in black and white!
Learning to pace ourselves – in different situations and phases of our lives – is a life skill. Let’s keep learning. What we learn will help us journey towards being contented in all circumstances.