This too shall pass

‘This too shall pass’ appears in multiple cultures, including Persian and Jewish. At the heart of the different stories is often a monarch charging his wise men to come up with a sentence that would be true and appropriate in all times and situations.

It remains an apt phrase, consoling us in tough times that whatever our situation there will be brighter days.

When we are joyful, it’s a phrase that reminds us to treasure that time.

Change is indeed a constant. Sometimes we need an extra reminder that grey skies will give way to blue skies.

This is Mindful Monday on 11 January 2021.

To join a virtual mindfulness session on zoom this evening 7-8.15 pm (UK time), simply email hello@essencecheltenham.org.

Are you well?

How are you? Are you well? Common questions we ask one another. Questions we answer truthfully or otherwise, dependent on a host of factors.

At times of tragedy or crisis, the honest answer is miserable. At times of joy, we might report being ecstatic. Then there’s somewhere around the mid-point that might describe the everyday of living: we are neither miserable nor ecstatic but somewhere in between.

Asking and honestly answering the question ‘are you well?’ for ourselves is valuable. We might even see it as a ‘wellness scale’, becoming aware that we would score ourselves differently on any given day.

When the answer is well and truly miserable, we need to reach out for help – to friends, family, colleagues and/or professionals. When our answer is ecstatic, share your joy. But what about the in between place of the everyday? This is where we can routinely take action to nurture our wellbeing.

I bet you are expecting a list now of the things to do to nurture wellbeing. Such lists are all well and good at times but they can appear bland. If I gave you a list, the chances are you (and I) would simply pick something rather randomly from the list – and may be even add it to our ‘to do’ list for the day or week but this isn’t engaging with the unique person that you are.

Take a moment to explore the unique you in relation to wellness. Think back on last year to identify something you did that added to your wellbeing. Explore exactly what it was. Recall how it helped you. Ask yourself if you could build it into your routine for this week, month or year. Reflect on whether there is anything about the activity (or lack of activity!) that you could hone to make it even better in terms of nurturing your wellbeing. Commit to it.

You are now wiser. You can influence – at times at least – where you are on the wellness scale.

Be wise; be well.

This is Mindful Monday on 4 January 2021.

Join a virtual mindfulness gathering on zoom on Monday 11 January at 7 pm. Just email hello@essencheltenham.org for details.

Take care

Self care is vital.

We live in uncertain times. In the UK we join many others around Europe in a period of lockdown. Some of us will be cheered; others of us will be dispirited.

We all react differently to uncertainty but for many of us it increases our stress levels. If this is true for you, make a plan on how you can increase your self care.

Is this selfish? No, you are a VIP – so is everyone else of course but that doesn’t diminish your importance. And of course if you keep well you are more able to look out for others.

Think back to a flight and recall the safety announcement about oxygen masks: it’s always put your own oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs.

What does caring for yourself look like for you this week? (Actually pause and answer the question. Is it about time for sleep or a hobby? Choosing what you eat? Intentional contact with friends or family? The options are numerous but only you can answer the question for yourself. Go for it.)

This is Mindful Monday on 2 November 2020.

Join others on a journey of wellness on zoom at 7 pm on Monday 16 November. Just email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.

Be kind

be kind

In lockdown (or lockdown plus slight uplift in the UK) we might be concerned to be kind to others. According to your situation, you might be courteous to give others space when you are out and about, or shop for others, or keep in touch particularly with those in solo households, or put your all into providing for others as a keyworker. Valuable stuff. Well done.

It’s mental health awareness week. I like the emphasis on kindness. I have learned from experience that there is a relationship between kindness and happiness.

It is one of those strange words, kindness. We don’t use it every day. We know what it means and yet it is hard to define. I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary (as you do). It reveals it is the quality of being kind. (This made me chuckle so the search was in fact entirely worthwhile!)

There’s a place in an ancient book where it reads, ‘Let your kindness be evident to all’. The ancient book wasn’t written in English so some translations have instead ‘Let your gentleness be evident to all.’ That seems a fair definition. Gentleness.

Be kind. Be gentle. Learn to be kind to yourself. Be gentle towards yourself.

We are all living in unusual circumstances. We will have different pressures according to our situations but we haven’t experienced them before. We are learning how to cope. We are learning how to survive. Could we even learn how to thrive?

It is impossible to love others until we (hesitantly) love ourselves. I wonder if it is hard to be kind to others until we (hesitantly) practice kindness to ourselves.

What would being kind to you look like today?

Here’s a range of things, one of which may resonate with you: take time to listen to yourself perhaps writing down what you hear to reflect further; turn off the ‘other voices’ in social media and broadcast media to give yourself space, even a time of rest; do something you enjoy – dancing in the kitchen to your favourite track could be just the thing; immerse yourself in the natural world even for just five minutes.

Be kind to yourself. Then be kind to others. Don’t just survive, thrive.

This is Thoughtful Thursday on 21 May 2020.

Join Sara Shailer for a virtual session of mindfulness on zoom at 10.30 am on Monday 25 May (bank holiday in the UK). Email hello@essencecheltenham.org for details.