Ongoing Drama that Mindfulness Reveals
Do you have an ongoing drama that Mindfulness reveals unfolding in your mind – morning, noon and night? This is one of the things I have recognised this week. An ongoing drama, for which the current episode is based in self-pity. An ongoing drama that has different episodes for different days depending on what’s happening. An ongoing drama which I can only see because of my Mindfulness practice and which consistently pulls me off course from my intentions.
This last weekend I have been teaching at Samye Ling on the second Mindfulness weekend of year one of our MSc with the University of Aberdeen with Choden, Fay and Kristine. We were exploring distraction, preference and acceptance.
This is always a delicate weekend, where the students begin to see many of their painful habitual patterns, such as self-criticism, long held grief, perfectionism, approval seeking or a deeply held belief of not being good enough. Many of the students talked about the value of the safeness within the group to experience and share these painful patterns and so begin the process of acceptance. Kristine shared the RAIN practice as a way of creating the conditions for acceptance to unfold.
I feel that the MSc is a unique experience for (at least) two reasons. One is the connection and mutual support that the students have over the two or three years of the MSc. Another is the cooker pressure environment of daily practice and journaling about practice so as to be able to write their assignments. It is amazing to see the progress and insights that unfold when we actually practice! Although, it can be a bit of a roller coaster ride.
I had an interesting insight over the weekend. I recognised that I hadn’t accepted a situation and my resistance towards it had been causing me a lot of stress. This was strange as I have been working hard and consistently over the last few weeks to address the situation. On one level I clearly knew about the situation and was taking steps to sort it out, but at another level I was in complete denial. I had suffered an on and off migraine during the week, which I had struggled to shake off.
Once I recognised the lack of acceptance I was fairly quickly able to accept the situation and I feel a lot better. This was quite a theme in my tutorial group from the weekend. Many unanticipated recognitions of painful habits occurred over the weekend, quite often with tears – we passed the tissues around several times – but there was often a sense of relief at having admitted to ourselves in a heartfelt way, something that on a more superficial level we already knew about. This is the nature of insight.
Resisting reality never works!
So all in all an excellent weekend and as always I admire and am inspired by the courage and commitment of our MSc students on their path of Mindfulness with Compassion.
During the period when I have been feeling stressed by this situation I have let go of many of my good intentions. This is what happens when we are under threat (in the red zone). Author Rick Hanson points this out in his book Hardwiring Happiness – in order to exercise restraint we need to be in the green zone, feeling calm and safe.
I have good intentions about the duration and content of my daily practice, about eating well and about exercising and these went right out of the window. This morning I recognised one of my stories, which I have named the ongoing drama of Heather Regan-Addis. This not so little drama is full of self-pity and poor me at the moment and is narrated quite consistently in the back of my mind and pulls me away from my good intentions, especially when I am in the red zone.
The narrative of the ongoing drama tells poor me that I am too tired to get up so early to practice, so I get up a bit later and practice less and differently than I had aspired too. It tells poor me that I if I exercise I won’t be ready to work in good time. It tells poor me that I deserve a snack or that I don’t have time to cook something healthy. However, according to this narrative I seem to have plenty of time to watch TV! There is definitely an issue with time here!
Anyway, I have now recognised the ongoing drama of me and so I will have more choice not to buy in to it and more choice to follow my aspirations. When I follow my aspirations, the result is that I experience happiness and wellbeing. What a relief!
So, do you have an ongoing drama that you are buying into? Are you resisting reality? I recommend that you look in to this in your practice and in your daily life. Who knows what you might recognise? Then you might find a choice – a chink of freedom.
Try this practice of RAIN – I turn to it whenever I find myself resisting.