It’s the first of April. April fool’s day. And I feel like a fool. I woke up this morning just not right with myself. Hours later I had an unusual encounter with a seal on the beach. He wasn’t right with himself either and I didn’t have a clue what to do about it. My habitual self-wanted to know the answer as to why I was feeling the way I was. Was it because I woke up too early and couldn’t get back to sleep? Maybe the adjustment of the clocks for British Summer Time have affected me. Maybe I am fighting a virus? Whatever it is, I am just not at ease in my being. I am mindfully not right with myself and I can only describe it as feeling mardy, grumpy and not at ease. I had a strong sense of wanting to fix everything – for me and the seal. To make things right.
Unusually, my regular morning yoga practice didn’t sort out my mood. Neither did my regular mindfulness practice. It just highlighted the feeling and how I didn’t like feeling uncomfortable. I noticed my mind was all over the place. The images, thoughts and memories springing up from the undercurrent were all negative and tempting me to drown in them. I noticed my attitude towards how I was feeling, and it was positively one of dislike! My inner critic came to the fore in a full range of thoughts and feelings of not being good enough. It’s like it was really enjoying having something to get its teeth into.
I am away by the sea this week in a place I love, which usually makes me feel good. But today, even a walk on the beach didn’t help my mood much either. On the beach – the sea was a grey reflection of the sky but full of foam and lively energy. There was a very cool breeze. I could feel the energy of my body going inwards from the cold. Also, I could feel myself withdrawing emotionally into self-protection mode. And I have no idea why.
It was after walking some way along the beach that I spotted the beautiful grey seal pup – struggling his way up the beach. His little body was awkward on the land, desperately trying to get away from the cold incoming tide. He was exhausted. People were gathering around. One woman was on her phone to the RSPCA. We all felt helpless as to how to help this lovely creature. This added to my already low mood. I related to the seal pup. I sensed his tiredness of not being ok too. A sense of common humanity crept in to my mind.
When I got back in to the cosy warmth of the house, I still felt strange. I did the loving kindness for other practice for the seal and all animals that are suffering right now. Finally, I turned to the self-compassion practice which is part of the Mindfulness Based Living Course and the Compassion Based Living Course. After all, this is the main practice I have been teaching family carers for the last two years. After recognising that all wasn’t well in myself and feeling that the day was wasted, I reassured myself that it was ok to feel this way sometimes, and I didn’t need a reason. I snuggled up and fell asleep.
When I awoke, I remembered I had written a piece about feeling this way when studying for the MSc Studies in Mindfulness. I found the essay I had written during the Insight module and found this quote which provided me with some reassurance:
“R A Ray (2008) describes an ‘underlying feeling of a problem’ and Chodron (undated), similarly speaks of a ‘nameless anxiety’ which is also my experience. I latch on to this ‘problem’ and try to discover what it is, always wanting to fix and solve it”.
Just like then, in 2015, here I am habitually attaching to an underlying feeling, analysing and trying to fix it. By being able to explore these unpleasant feelings and allowing them to be there rather than trying to push them away I felt a sense of ease and some insights arose. The first insight I had was that there’s actually nothing there, and that’s ok. As Choden says in his talk and meditation at the Mindful Living Show – we just sit like a fool, like we don’t know anything.
The second insight was a realisation that others were affected by how I was feeling. Through the many roles I play in life in my interaction with others, it seems I have to be perfect and alright. If I’m not ok, for any reason, or no reason, others react differently and assume something is wrong. Worse, they think that they have done something wrong. Life seems to get very complicated when that happens and that’s another story.
Finally, I recognised that it’s ok to not feel ok sometimes. That self-kindness for these strange feelings as a human being is the best remedy. The day wasn’t wasted at all. It was just part of my experience of being a human being in the moment, today. And that’s ok too. I just needed to give myself permission to accept that.
I am very grateful for the mindfulness, compassion and insight training I have recieved and can’t wait to read the new from Mindfulness to Insight book launched this week.
I invite you to check in with how you are feeling today. Is it possible to be ok with how you are feeling, whatever that is? Join me in practicing the self-compassion break this week – in recognition that we can’t be perfect or everything to everyone. Sometimes we just need to just ‘be’ with kindness for ourselves and know these feelings too will pass.
I wish you a joyful day and week ahead.
RAY, R.A., 2008. Touching enlightenment: Finding realisation in the body. Sounds True.
CHÖDRÖN, P., (undated). The Freedom to Choose Something Different. Available: www.udemy.com/the-freedom-to-choose-something-different/learn/#/lecture/2658926