Yesterday, I was teaching in Dublin at the Recovery College that is run by the School of Nursing in Dublin City University. I always love driving up to teach the MBLC to this inspiring group of not only service users, but service providers, who are working together to empower those who are recovering from mental illness, have been engaged in the mental health care system and are now ready to take their mental well-being into their own hands.
During our session yesterday, we were going over our pleasant events journals and I was taken with the beauty of what some might think of as trivial moments, but when looked at through a mindful and kind lens, were completely brave and transformative. There were stories of simple hellos; cooking nourishing meals; allowing oneself to take good care of their mind diet in relation to what is watched on TV and much more. We can take these small acts of kindness and pleasant events for granted- events that are lived without much consideration.
So why don’t we pay attention to these pleasant moments? Why do they go unnoticed?
Well, Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist who does much work through contemplative studies, would explain this as the negativity bias. Our minds our conditioned to focus more on the negative than the positive. His famous sound bite is that the mind is like Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good.
When our group had an open discussion on our remembered pleasant events, I felt a warmth opening and a feeling of inspiration. I suddenly had the realization that life isn’t so bad. There are many opportunities to be kind to myself and to really encourage a feeling of gratitude.
So after my drive home, instead of my routine check in to my emails, I immediately put on my warmest PJs, made myself a hot water bottle, crawled onto the couch and watched a favourite show on Netflix. Before I knew it, my three kids had emerged from their own ‘doings’ and lounged and laughed at the comedy before us. I then savoured this seemingly mundane activity. I was safe, warm and surrounded by those that I love. Something that I take for granted on a daily basis.
So this week’s challenge is to find a way to do one random act of kindness towards yourself each day. Then, notice how this kindness feels- using the activity as a mindfulness support to keep you present and open to all of the feelings, sensations and thoughts that come with it. If your mind starts to drift off from the kindness, gently bring it back- and savour, savour, savour!!!!
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