I missed writing my blog last week as I was very poorly with bronchitis. I fell ill while I was in Venice to teach the first weekend of our Level 3: Seeing Deeply training. It was interesting being poorly and away and teaching.
Somehow while I was teaching, I was able to tap into a wealth of energy, that animated the sessions I taught. I often find that I teach well when I am poorly, as my egocentricity is focused is on being ill, which leaves me free to teach without any focus on how well ‘I’ am doing. I know from experience that my teaching practice is at its best when the egocentric ‘me’ is out of the way, which requires a letting go of assessing or judging myself as I go along and a trusting of speaking whatever emerges.
I had a very strong desire to be at home while I was ill and a sense of tolerating being away from home, although my hosts in Venice looked after me very well. I could catch myself thinking about how nice it would be to be home and how awful it was to be ill and away. If I could let that go, there was in underlying sense of sadness and effort, that I could feel and just be with. This was the 10% of the suffering of being ill and away and teaching. As soon as I began to think about it, ‘How long would I be ill’, “Would I sleep’, ‘All the work I had scheduled for the following week at home’, then the suffering grew. This is the second arrow of resisting suffering, which has the consequence of making it bigger. Then came the third arrow thought of ‘What is wrong with me, that I am always ill’, which is not true, but felt real and was about not being good enough. Thankfully, I was able to recognise these thoughts and just be with the underlying feelings. Feeling the 10% of the original pain helped me not to generate the self-created 90% of resisting the pain. The self-compassion break and placing my hand on my heart as a gesture of self-soothing was also very helpful.
Practically, I flew home earlier than scheduled and cleared my diary for last week and took an opportunity to rest and take care of myself. Lots of sleep, hot water with ginger and lemon, fresh fruit and vegetables, echinacea and vitamins and in the end a course of antibiotics. For the first few days of last week I was too poorly to enjoy having a rest, but as the week wore on I hit that sweet spot of being too poorly to work, but not so poorly that I couldn’t watch a box set on the telly. I used to beat myself up when I was poorly. I used to dwell on all the things I had done to cause myself to be ill, making myself feel even more miserable. Now I am able to accept the fact that I am not superhumanly resistant to illness and embrace a chance to rest and recuperate. I can also recognise the practical benefit of distracting myself with an episode of Elementary, rather than feeling sorry for myself and dwelling on my symptoms!
I am back at work this week. Starting slowly, as I am still pretty tired and if I am honest I am feeling quite unmotivated. This isn’t like me and hopefully is just about feeling tired. I probably need to take my own advice and spend some time listening to some of Lama Yeshe Rinpoche’s teachings. That usually cheers me up and helps me to focus on what is important.
And what is important – to help myself and others see through the self-created suffering we generate by thinking about ourselves and the world in habitual and often unseen ways. My glasses this week, through which I see the world, aren’t as rose tinted as usual. They are a bit more Eeyore than Pooh bear. But I can recognise this and then I don’t have to buy in to the Eeyore view of the world. Instead I can focus on some of the good news this week – that the data from the research for the first set of Everyone MBLC courses is good. Great work is happening on developing a version of the MBLC course for secondary school pupils. The results of this work will be presented at the conference in June (click here). This evening I am meeting online with the tutors who are set to deliver the second set of Everyone courses – 30 MBLC courses being delivered to groups of participants who otherwise might not have access to a Mindfulness course. So, lots of wonderful things happening.
If I can notice that I am feeling miserable, I can have a choice. I can choose to not buy into the miserable thoughts that are circulating in my mind, but feel the underlying feelings. I can ask myself ‘How do I feel about feeling miserable’. I can be curious about the experience of misery. I can notice that ‘I’ am not misery, but that there are some miserable thoughts passing through my experience. I can make a choice to lighten up. I have just done the Everyday Joy Practice on the home page of the website (click here) and now I am going to make myself a delicious breakfast and enjoy it.
I create my own reality and I can choose what type of reality to create – moment by moment – now, where are those rose- tinted glasses!
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