Paralysed or peaceful?

Notice fears_ don't push them away

We all have a survival mechanism and fear is part of it. It is useful: it gives us a way of assessing risk.

However, we don’t want fearful thoughts to take over, effectively freezing us in time rather than living in time.

Fearful thoughts tend to be sticky. Try and push them away and the more the tendrils of fear grip. Instead we can seek to be open to our fearful thoughts. Let’s not push our fears away; let’s recognise them.

As we stop struggling against our fears (wasted energy not worthwhile) and open ourselves to naming them (not easy but worthwhile), we can begin to learn. Which of our fears are valid and what actions can we take to address them? Which of our fears are so unlikely to happen that we should choose not to heed their calls? Sometimes we can do this process of assessing our fears on our own; sometimes we need others alongside us.

When we are fearful, our flight-or-fight mechanism will be engaged. We are ready to fight; our adrenaline is pumping. While useful in responding say to a fire, when this isn’t useful to us we can do something simple about it. We can practice noticing our breath (without seeking to change it). We can also inhale through our nose, holding our breath for a count of four. Then exhale still through our nose for the same count. We may find it comfortable to increase the count to perhaps six or eight over time.

When we are fearful, we also may find ourselves – sometimes to our own surprise – reaching out to the Divine. We say a prayer of rescue from our fears, a prayer for peace. And the Spirit of the Divine reaches out to us with a peace beyond our understanding. It changes everything even though we can’t quite make sense of it. Some things are beyond our understanding but welcome all the same!

Be at peace (even amidst the storm). Be safe.

This Mindful Monday on 20 April 2020.

 

Perspectives

Perspectives on Spring rainMindfulness helps us to notice – to observe – what we are reacting to. It is a journey of learning how to switch off automatic pilot and be aware of what is happening.

A couple of weeks ago I had an experience of the Spring rain. It was late one afternoon and I went outside. The rain was fine. It was incredibly soft as it feel on my face. There was the coolness of the evening yet still with the warmth of the day. I welcomed it. And I still recall how much I enjoyed the moment.

Today it is raining. The ageing roof on my house is being re-done and it is only partially tiled. The rain seems relentless. It seems cold and wintry. I can hear the wind rattling the scaffold. I keep willing it to stop.

Then and now, it is rain. The first memory is of a pleasant moment. My experience now is less comfortable, with anxiety within it!

Just typing this blog is part of my journey to acceptance, becoming aware of my anxiety about the rain. Now what?

I remember this is a question in the introduction of a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn on my bookshelf. And this is what this father of western mindfulness writes,

. . . we have got to pause in our experience long enough to let the present moment sink in; long enough to actually feel the present moment, to see it in its fullness, to hold it in awareness and thereby come to know and understand it better. Only then can we accept the truth of that moment of our life, learn from it, and move on.

So I feel the anxiety – but what can I learn from it?

  • I learn that I am rattled when I doubt how water proof my home is and accept this as normal.
  • I learn that when the roofers return to site tomorrow I will explain to them my anxiety and explore how we can reduce the time that the tiles are removed when rain is forecast.

And the day awaits me with many good things in it, regardless of the rain. I will recognise the anxiety in the moment but I will also seek to be aware of all that is good in the day. It would be a shame to miss other things that are in this moment too.

This is Mindful Monday @ essencecheltenham.org on 2 April 2018.

If you are in or near the Cheltenham area, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on Monday 16 April, 7.30-9 pm.