This week I have found myself very busy, but also still tired after my stomach bug of last week. I was leading our Joyful Club weekend and retreat at Samye Ling in Scotland, going straight from there to a two and a half day meeting of the U.K. Network of Mindfulness Teacher Training Organisations in Crewe and then straight back from there to Samye Ling for weekend one of Compassion.
I feel tiredness in my eyes, but if I relax my eyes back in their sockets or nap for a few minutes this goes away. Then there is just the story I am telling myself about how I must be tired because I am so busy. But actually when I check in I am fine – it’s just my eyes. They seem to have to work hard to see through my vary-focal glasses these days.
I am here at my last day of the Joyful Club retreat, which has been lovely. Choden, Rosina and I have taken turns to teach sessions and lead practices within a still sunny Samye Ling. So I have had lots of time to practice. We have done joyful singing, made a nature collage together as a mindful pottering exercise and have written reflective poems. So lots of joyful creativity. We haven’t become giddy with excitement as the practice has kept the joyfulness real and grounded – a gentle contentment, a tranquil happiness.
Together we lit 1008 candles in memory of Jane’s dad who died last week. A moving ritual of loving remembrance.
It has been a joy to spend so much time practicing together. Embodied and present for each other. Spells of silence. Time for walking in a beautiful and sunny Samye Ling. Taking in the good around us – natural beauty, birdsong, flowers. The lichen on the tree bark has stopped me in my tracks several times. It’s as if I never saw a tree before.
So not so busy a lot of the time – despite my story!
One of themes of the Joyful Club was that we have to choose joy – choose to cultivate joy rather than following our usual habitual patterns, which tend to be focussed on threats driven by fear or anger or on drives driven by desire – my usual habitual patterns tend to take me away from joy. So the message is to drop our usual stories and cultivate a cheerful curiosity towards the underlying feelings in order to see what can be learned.
We explored some tips for cultivating more of a joyful attitude in our minds and in our lives:
Take any opportunity to do a random act of kindness – for ourself or for those around us – we can be an undercover kindness doer!
Write down three things we are grateful for when we wake each morning: people, life circumstances, things – whatever comes to mind.
Write down three things that went well that day just before we go to sleep – small or large.
Here is a daily life joy practice to have a go. The more we are joyful, the more those around us will benefit!
So am I really tired – no I don’t think so – the mindful walking and lying down practice this afternoon have nourished me and I am about to be led in a bodyscan. I can joyfully effortlessly move from one experience to the next and I’ll be just fine – so long as I don’t think about it!