I have experienced a fundamental change in my future life, due to circumstances beyond my control. I am leaving my home, which I expected to live in for many years to come. I will be living on my own, which is also unexpected.
It all came as quite a shock, but with hindsight the signs were there. There have been a range of emotions. Anger, resentment, sadness, some fear, but also acceptance, gratitude and a looking forward to new opportunities.
It was a teaching on impermanence. Of how our expectations that things will remain the same will always trip us up. This is the type of event we train for in our mindfulness and compassion practice.
Shortly after this change became apparent I was fortunate enough to have a retreat scheduled. It was the perfect retreat for my circumstances. Almost as if the retreat was scheduled purposefully to meet my requirements. The focus was on how to spend our short and precious human life. I was grateful for the chance to contemplate and practice and apply the teachings to myself and to my life.
I came out of the retreat understanding that no one was to blame. Myriad causes and conditions had led up to this situation. The majority of these causes and conditions were beyond mine or anyone else’s control. I came out of the retreat grateful for the life I have shared and to those I have shared it with. I came out of the retreat grateful for new opportunities and grateful for the freedom to make the most of them.
Back in my normal life, I don’t always feel this way. The resentment is often there, as is the sadness. But that’s OK. I aspire to drop the storylines that fan the flames of anger and rest with the underlying feelings. I can do this with regular practice. I notice that if I have less time to practice that I start buying into the stories again and begin acting out my anger. Passive aggression is my style.
It is a great opportunity to learn what I do when the going gets tough.
I notice my identity, based on my expectations and assumptions of myself and my life circumstances is dissolving. I notice I am scrambling for certainty about my future self. I have a desire for a replacement identity to form and to form now. It feels uncomfortable, that my old familiar sense of self is being so challenged.
This is all fascinating. I don’t feel too scared. I trust that this change is for the best. I am curious about what will unfold. Above all I am grateful. Grateful to my teachers. Grateful for my practice and the teachings. Grateful for my wonderfully supportive friends and family.
Thankfully, I have practiced acceptance and appreciation for many years. They have been my parachute as I tumbled out of the aeroplane.
So I encourage you to take the time to practice today, in preparation for your next tumble!
You can practice mindfulness with Heather by joining her on the following courses:
Teacher Training Level 1 at Samye Ling – 29-31st May, 2020 (date subject to change)
Heather also teaches on the MSc Studies in Mindfulness.