Nourishing and Depleting
This morning I took myself through the nourishing and depleting activities exercise (See Chapter 11 of Mindfulness Based Living Course Book). I aspire to do this exercise each New Year as a commitment to looking after myself and to moving my life in the direction of more meaning and contentment.
This exercise involves a reflection on some of the things that we do in our lives that deplete our energy and lower our mood. Then we reflect on whether it is really necessary to do these activities. If not, we can let them go and if they are necessary we can reframe how we approach these activities.
When I did the exercise this morning I observed that many of the depleting activities were old habits that I continue to struggle to let go of. However, it is good to keep revisiting the intention to let them go, as the intention if held will lead to fruition, albeit in due course.
Intentions can be tricky things and we need to hold them lightly. Too soon, they can become an expectation, a measure by which to gauge our success or our failure. Intentions can become a stick to beat ourself with, but that is not a helpful approach as it only fuels our habit of beating ourselves up. So hold intentions lightly, as a direction of travel and be curious about the obstacles, diversions and reversals as they unfold – treating each as a lesson to be learned from – our curriculum for the day!
Sometimes I find my work in managing the day to day running of the MA somewhat depleting, especially any conflicts, plus a sense of not having enough time to get my work down. Fortunately, this will ease from February, when I relinquish half of this role and begin sharing it with Kristine. I am very much looking forward to this and also to working closely with Kristine. I believe that she will bring some much needed energy and direction to our work.
The other half of the exercise is to reflect on things that we do which nourish us and generate a sense of contentment and wellbeing. Then we make an intention to do more of these activities. In my new job share, I hope to have more time to spend on the activities that I find nurturing, especially practice, walking in nature and listening to teachings or audio books about mindfulness and Buddhist meditation.
While January will be busy with completing the refurbishment of my cottage at Samye Ling, moving home and selling the old house. My hope is that the change of environment is an opportunity for deeper change, for finally leaving behind some of those depleting habits, so that I can simplify my life. The cottage is down a track and pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so I am surrounded by nature, next to a river, with little light pollution and so a sky full of stars on a clear night. I think it will be a nourishing environment in my spiritual home. Just me and my two elderly dogs Holly and Nutmeg.
There is a lot of change and so there is some anxiety. But there cannot be courage without some fear and so I will feel the fear and just keep going. Curious about what might actually unfold. Guided by my intentions and fuelled by my motivation to be of some benefit in the world. On the whole, I feel very fortunate.
I wish you happiness and joy in this New Year and hope that you take some time to reflect on your intentions and motivations. The nourishing and depleting exercise may be of some help.