Recognise misconceptions

Observe your perceptions to recognise misconceptions

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.

This is Mindful Monday on 27 September 2021.

Worry woes or acts of joy?

Worry woes or acts of joy

So many possibilities for our worries. The big picture of the world. Our own insecurities. Our own ineptitude. Our future and the futures of those we love.

We may know that worrying in itself is a road to nowhere. But this knowledge in itself may not stem the ‘worry woes’ that we have become accustomed to court. We continue to walk in the well-worn thought paths of our minds. We are frazzled, drained, joyless.

I came across a great antidote to worry in a poem recently. That antidote is joy; it’s choosing to turn from the ‘worry woes’ and instead choosing an act of joy.

Here’s the closing part of ‘I worried’ by Mary Oliver (2010, published by Beacon Press in Swan: Poems and Prose Poems):

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.

And I gave it up. And took my old body

And went out into the morning

and sang.

Is this just a temporary dismissal of our worries that will only once more come to haunt us? No. When we focus on what is good (or joyful), it gives us the energy to deal with things that are of concern to us. It puts us in a better place for dealing with life, including the difficult.

Let us acknowledge our worries. But let us also identify what gives us joy and be joyful.

This is Mindful Monday on 25 May 2020.

 Join Sara Shailer for a zoom mindfulness session at 10.30 am today. Simply email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details (before 10 am).

Thoughts like autumn leaves

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So very many thoughts. Thousands of thoughts. Some negatives; some neutral; some positive. Some true; some false. Some useful; some destructive.

We can practice paying attention to our thoughts but not being controlled by them. A valuable technique is learning to label our thoughts – pay attention to each thought briefly and label it e.g. “my to do list”, “self-critical thoughts”, “things that are worrying me”. This helps us to understand our thoughts but not become immersed or lost in them.

I often practice seeing my thoughts as clouds in the sky, labelling each my thoughts as if they are clouds in the sky. But I liked an alternative image I came across recently.

Imagine you are standing on a bridge looking down at a small river with colourful leaves floating in it. You see your thoughts written on the leaves. You read each thought and register it but then the leaf disappears on down the river.

Practicing paying attention to our thoughts but then letting them go enabling us to come to a still point – or get closer to stillness at least! We are freed – for the moment at least – from our thoughts running us ragged.

We may find in the stillness rest and restoration. We may find in the stillness that we accept ourselves just as we are. We may find in the stillness an awareness of the creator. We may find we can ‘just be’.

This is Mindful Monday on Monday 21 October 2019.

If you live in Cheltenham or the surrounding area, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of each of our uniqueness on Monday 4 November, 7.30-9 pm at the Oasis. Book your place by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org