Making a choice

Be well Make choices

There are plenty of definitions of mindfulness, each seeking to capture the essence of a practice. (Feel free to add a favourite of yours in a comment on this post.)

Here are two definitions I have often used: “being in control of our thoughts and feelings, rather than being run ragged by them” (Ruby Wax); “learning to pay attention and becoming fully awake” (Jon Kabat-Zinn). Two good definitions.

I loved coming across a new definition this week and it is this: “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”. It wasn’t in a book on mindfulness. It wasn’t intended to be a definition of mindfulness! And yet it serves well as a definition.

It is from a holocaust survivor who was also a neurologist and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl. Here’s the context in which the definition appears:

“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

It’s easy to go into ‘auto-response’, especially when a situation we are in is difficult (even if no where near as difficult as Viktor Frankl’s experience). It is great to be reminded that we can be intentional – make a choice – in our responses to all the happenings of life.

Let’s notice where we might make ‘auto responses’ this week. Let’s turn these into opportunities to make choices.

This isn’t easy to do but it will reward you. You will be the healthier for it.

For me, I also find getting on my knees and seeking divine assistance on what’s a good choice is part of the journey.

This is Mindful Monday on 31 August 2020.

 

Falling awake: stop and drop

falling awake

More usually I think the phrase is ‘falling asleep’, not ‘falling awake’ (and I think it is Tesco that use the phrase ‘you shop we drop’).

Falling awake is the title of a book I am reading by Jon Kabat-Zinn on mindfulness.

I love his description of how to cultivate being mindful:

The invitation is always the same: to stop for a moment Рjust one moment Рand drop into wakefulness. That is all. Stop and drop: meaning, drop in to your experience of experiencing, and for even the briefest of moments, simply holding it in awareness as it is Рin no time, or to put it differently, in this timeless moment we call now, the only moment we actually ever have.

I am glad that while he notes it is simple, he also notes that it is not easy!

I have journeyed with many over the years including through facilitating Essence events in Cheltenham. Being with others in discovering how to be more mindfulness in the every day is incredibly helpful – and it also helps to have a bit of fun and laughter in the process.

Here’s to moments of falling awake in your day – and week – ahead.

This is Mindful Monday on Monday 29 July 2019.

If you are in the vicinity of Cheltenham, join us for an evening of mindfulness in the outdoors on Monday 19 August – email hello@essencecheltenham.org and I will get back to you to confirm time and location.

 

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.