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.

Peaceful?

Peaceful?

Peaceful. Calm. Tranquil.

It’s an attractive place to be. None of us would probably claim to be there most of the time but we probably catch glimpses now and then.

Sometimes arriving at a place of peace isn’t a ‘non-doing’, resting process but one of action. Martin Luther King said, ‘True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.’

There are some things in life that we can do nothing to influence. When we accept this and let them go – as best we can – we may find peace.

There are other things in life that we accept as reality but also identify that we need to act – do something – to change them.

It’s a life’s journey separating the two, which is why Niebuhr’s serenity prayer remains relevant:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Join a virtual evening of mindfulness tonight 8 March 2021 at 7 pm (UK time) on the theme of acceptance and change. Email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.

The power of acceptance

There is an alternative: the power of acceptance

Ever feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall? I hope only metaphorically but frustration may get us close to the physical action!

We have a problem. We seek to find a solution. Again and again. Nothing seems to work and we still have the same problem – except we are now also tired. Tired out of trying to solve the problem.

This will sound counter intuitive but here goes. Accept the problem as it is – stop trying to ‘solve’ it (for a while at least).

What’s the benefit? A reduction in frustration, anger, stress . . . a saner self!

I experienced this with a telecoms problem I have last week: there was a moment I realised I had to accept the problem as it appeared I could do nothing to influence it. The acceptance brought me respite from constantly using my energy to try to bring about change. I still have a telecoms problem . . . but I am well in the midst.

Acceptance is an attitude that – surprisingly – changes things!

This is Mindful Monday on 1 March 2021. Join a virtual session of mindfulness on Monday 8 March 7-8.15 pm. Email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.

Unsettled?

Unsettled or serene

“The only constant in life is change.” This is a theory attributed to a philosopher 2,500 years ago. I had to look up his name and just in case you can’t recall it either, his name is Heraclitus (and yes, he was Greek).

It’s a theory that seems to have stood to test of millennia – and that is because it is relevant.

In the south of the England in the last week, we have been experiencing big weather changes. – and it looks like we may have unsettled weather for a while to come.

Waking up one day, none of us would venture to change the weather – even if we utter the odd grouch about it! We know we need to accept it as we find it.

I am a natural ‘do-er’, task oriented and keen to make a difference. I find it easier to bring about change than accept things I cannot change. But in the last week I have needed to ‘let go’ of events happening that I am unable to influence but need to accept as they are, just like the weather.

I have used a well-known prayer – written about 90 years ago – by an American Reinhold Niebuhr and still relevant today. You will probably already know it, the beginning bit at least.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen

In the week that has passed and the week to come each of us will experience change of some kind, some which we can influence and some of which we can’t. It is inevitable.

Whatever the week has in store for you in terms of change, reflect on what you need to accept and what you need to influence. Being mindful opens up choices. And for me, opening my spirit to the wisdom of the one who created me is also a vital part of the journey.