OI have been struggling this week to write my blog. More often than not the words fall out of me and the blog writes itself. I have an alarm on my phone that sounds on Sunday at 9am and I drop the question in ‘What to write about this week?’ It goes off again at 9am on a Monday and generally something is brewing and I allow it to brew or once more drop in the question ‘What to write about this week?’
It is usually easy for me to write on the train – like this morning on the train to Manchester. Or on a plane, like last week on the way to Zante. I flew back yesterday and dropped the question in several times – and nothing. Or I should say nothing worth writing about. Nothing uplifting or inspiring!
I feel glum. I am home after a wonderful holiday. I’m facing two lovely weeks on Holy Isle with the MSc students and a weekend of Courage with my friend Barbara. I am back home with my family. Spring is lovely and the garden looks stunning. I have no excuse. I feel glum.
Well, there are some glum stories I am focussed on. I have come back from holiday with a rash on the back of my hands, some nasty insect bites, sore knees and a sore right foot. I feel overly sedentary after sitting down flying and driving yesterday and am sitting again today on the train. These days sitting for long periods doesn’t suit my constitution. I am developing varicose veins. I am noticing some convincing stories about hypochondria and about this is how it is to get old.
I noticed many of the older people on Zante and on the plane home. With walking sticks, varicose veins, in wheel chairs. I am sad for their pain and I tell myself stories of fear for my future.
In the car on the way home I have a long conversation about family members who are struggling in their lives. I tell myself stories of helplessness and overwhelm.
Arriving home, my house is up-side-down as we are having a new kitchen fitted. My husband has done a wonderful job getting the house ready. But I notice the un-rinsed dish-cloth, missing bathroom towels, carpets that need vacuuming. I tell myself stories about lots of house work and no time to do it.
On reading the news this morning he tells me that scientists now think sea levels will rise higher and more quickly than previously predicted. I tell him what a ray of sunshine he is!
I feel a sense of dismay at the prospect of work in the office this week. It’s ten years since I started this job of running of the MA. I tell myself stories about how it feels like a struggle and I feel that I have had enough.
These have been my stories, my thoughts and feelings. They go along with the killer thought – ‘I shouldn’t be thinking or feeling like this!’ This makes me feel wrong. It piles on an extra layer of struggle and wrongness.
I warned you at the start of this blog, that there was nothing inspiring!
Except, that there is a part of me smiling at these miserable musings. A part of me that understands that these stories are self-indulgent and are causing more misery. A part of me that hears a snatch of music from my playlist and looks out at the sky and is happy. Today that part of me doesn’t feel strong.
I think of a Coldplay lyric ‘Heaven is inside’, but I also know that hell is there too. Then a James lyric comes to mind ‘Are you disciplined enough to be free?’. Constant vigilance is needed to recognise when the self-indulgent storytelling part of me is taking over. Then I need to apply the discipline to choose to encourage the happy part, so that it gradually becomes stronger.
So here goes! I look out of the window at the sky. Clear blue, with a few scudding white clouds. I see the crisp tops of the distant hills and the bright green of the new leaves. I let go of the thinking about and my heart sings with the music from my head phones. Heaven is inside. Hell is in the storylines. Heaven is in letting them go.
I will continue my life long journey of noticing the stories and letting them go. Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it is difficult. Why don’t you join me?
Why not take the first step in your mindfulness journey with me at the peaceful retreat setting at Samye Ling in Dumfriesshire. The first taster weekend on 25-27th October can be attended in isolation before deciding whether to continue on weekend of 22-24th November and a retreat 17th – 22nd January.
To find out more and book your place, please click here.
I hope to see you there. In the meantime, I wish you well.