Last year I posted about my gratitude box, where I wrote down each day something I was grateful for and then at the end of the year I read them all.
It was an interesting process to read them all. Some of them I didn’t remember, not many but some. Some I loved and some were bittersweet. These were mostly friendships that had changed from what I had hoped for and while it was nice to remember the experience there was some sadness that it was no more. There were some that on reading felt forced and I can recall when I was writing it and hoping it would fit the bill, but it didn’t.
What I found most interesting was the ones that I loved. It was as if I was right back in that feeling. I was reliving it in all its glory. So this year I want to write more of those. I think I also want to write more about the internal changes that I see happening, for example, the times I was able to have self-compassion. And even the small changes, like noticing that I liked the sounds of the birds singing. I feel good about continuing this process. It’s not only fun to be mindful of gratitude and see the box fill up, but also it’s a nice revenue of the year.
When we were reading the 5 Mindfulness Trainings in our meditation group, there was a sense of feeling overwhelmed with the long list of ways to be and things to change. It seemed to me that this was calling out for practicing self compassion.
I want to approach the list with a kind of ease. I want to remind myself that I won’t do it perfectly, that I may need a couple of tries at it and I may need some time in between for integration like we do in yoga at the end of each class.
I want to choose one that is calling out to me. I trust that this means its important to me and will be of value to me at this time. I give it a try, think about it during the day, make an effort to follow it through. Then I act as the observer and see how it goes. I ask myself what thoughts it’s bringing up and sit with that. Then I let it go and move on to another one. I think there is value in variety, in mixing it up so it feels like a fresh start.
I tend to be hard on myself and have an expectation that if I put forth effort toward something, then I should see results, but the reality is that it doesn’t happen that way. However, I do believe that each time I try something I learn from it and do apply it to my next attempt.
The other part of it for me, is to work with whatever comes up. Be the observer and see what messages I am telling myself about how I am responding and what story that brings up for me. Sometimes there is work to be done off the mat and this is valuable too.
I think the 5 Mindfulness Trainings are pointing out the many ways we can be mindful in our lives. It’s a list of opportunities to be experienced. There is no failure, just more chances to begin again like we do in meditation when we notice our mind has wandered and we come back to the breath, gently and without judgement to begin again. So it is with our lives and the precepts.
There seems to be a lot of fear around me these days. All kinds of it. For instance, lack of security, helplessness, overwhelm and end of the world kind of fear. I think one way out of it is to do the opposite. If you feel unsafe, then think of trust. What is one thing you can trust? Could be a person, or idea, or belief system that you trust. If it’s helplessness, whats one action you can take? If it’s overwhelm, what’s one thing that calms you? If it’s catastrophic thinking, what’s one thing you feel grateful for?
These times are creating an opportunity for us to practise training new grooves in our brains. This takes time because the old tracks are pretty deep and well worn. This calls for patience with ourselves and self compassion.
It’s true, we don’t know what is going to happen. In fact, we never do. So all we can do is be in the present moment and remind ourselves that this is a wonderful moment. Breath in, “present moment”, breath out, “wonderful moment”. I find this helps reset my brain to a calmer, more comfortable place when I can see more clearly a way to plan out my next step in the practise of becoming more connected to myself