The last few months have felt like living in a kaleidoscope. With each new possible outcome, my mind has imagined a future in full colour. Then as the causes and conditions changed again, another potential future was imagined, also in full colour. While this has been fascinating to observe, it has taken up a lot of energy, and I am left tired.
Intellectually, I am fully aware that I have little or no control over the future, but the habit of trying to control the future is so deeply ingrained in my mind, that the habit starts to play out anyway. The habit comes with a fear for ‘me’ in the future.
I am struck by the relevance of a poem called ‘An autobiography in five chapters’ by Portia Nelson (http://www.fullyhuman.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Autobiography-in-five-chapters.pdf).
My habit of trying to control the future is a ‘hole’ that I have fallen into many times and that I know very well. Thankfully, I also know how to get out of it, and pretty quickly, these days. I don’t fall into it as often as I used to, but I am not always able to walk around it.
We discussed the issue of planning at weekend two of the Mindfulness Level 1: Being Present course at Samye Ling, last weekend. Clearly, it is useful sometimes to be able to plan and organise. For example, I am falling back on these skills as I am refurbishing the cottage I am going to move into in January. But the problem is when the planning runs us, a compulsive habit, giving rise to constant anxiety.
There has been a lot of unexpected change in my life since July, but I am hopeful that the kaleidoscope will become more settled, so that a future pathway can emerge, until the next shake up. I have learned a lot from this shake up, about myself and about the nature of impermanence, but I could do with some respite!
Although it has been a difficult time, I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received, from my teachers and colleagues at Samye Ling, who have made this cottage available for me and my two older dogs. From my friends, family and colleagues, who have been wonderful and from many students and members of the MA. So, I am truly grateful.
Our youngest dog Daisy is going to stay with my daughter at University in Manchester. She had a trial visit earlier this month, which was a roaring success. Daisy was delighted by the attention she received from the dog-deprived students sharing a house with my daughter. My daughter and her house mates spent more time together, choosing to work in the lounge area than in their separate rooms, playing with Daisy and taking her for walks. Those in the house said they felt an improvement in their levels of happiness and were very sad to see her go. Daisy went to meetings in the student union and even went to some lectures, notably one on dog domestication!
So a big time of change for us all. Some interesting obstacles to learn from. One way to think about life is as an adult education course. We apply our mindfulness, compassion and insight practice to whatever unfolds and see what can be learned. So a great opportunity for personal growth. However, I do feel like I have been on a bit if a crash course and in need of a sabbatical!
What changes are happening in your life? Can you see the kaleidoscope of your mind planning for the possible imagined futures? Can you be curious and see what can be learned? After all, there is always change, and it is sometimes difficult, but if we can learn and grow from it, there can be a lot of resulting benefit. Change is going to happen anyway!
You can practice mindfulness with Heather by joining her on the following courses:
Teacher Training Level 1 at Samye Ling – 3-5th July 2020
Heather also teaches on the MSc Studies in Mindfulness.
Heather will be speaking at the Mindful Living Show 6-7 March 2020 at the Business Design Centre in London.