I am gazing out of my window, where usually I can see where the sky meets the sea in an ever-changing extraordinary array of colours and textures.
This morning I look out and just see grey. There is no edge – the sky bleeds into the sea in a monotone light grey. No texture. I’m checking in with how this makes me feel and I decide that I feel nothing instead of something.
The page seemed very blank as I began to write this blog. This happens sometimes, even though there might be lots to write about. It’s quite an empty feeling, especially if I am tired, but the blank page resonates with the blank horizon. Oddly they feel the same.
I have been becoming more mindful in daily life recently. This happens when I hit a busy phase in my life and don’t have so much time for formal practice. I make life my practice for a while and take note of how I am feeling and reacting in any given moment, pausing frequently to reflect.
After periods of time like this I find that it is actually quite valuable and deepens my practice.
The intense busyness started a couple of weeks ago when I returned to work after the Christmas break. Last week I was supporting Heather, Alan and Tina on the Mindfulness Based Living Course Retreat where trainee teachers finally earn ‘Ready to Teach’ certificate after months of preparation and rigorous assessment. This was for 7 days following 3 days of work.
The wave of tiredness and Zoom weariness was overwhelming at one-point mid retreat. Oddly it reminded me of when I used to go skiing and midweek my body just gave up and groaned as I dragged it to the slopes. I felt desperate for a horizon and fresh air. Which I treated my body to with an evening walk in the dark. The next day I was always ok again, just as I always was with the skiing.
Whilst I found the retreat quite tough with long hours online on Zoom, intense focus and frantic typing, I also found it to be heart-warming and a joy.
Over thirty dedicated people proved that they could safely teach Mindfulness to others. As I sat and watched and listened as they guided their practices, I noticed a confidence and solid practice underneath a visible layer of nerves. It occurred to me that the teaching retreat gave them the gift called trust. Once they received feedback from the tutors and their peers that they had done a good job, trust emerged, and I could see them relax and smile.
I found it a privilege to observe and be part of this process and it fills my heart with joy that thirty something new teachers will be out in the world creating their own ripples of goodness as they share mindfulness with the world.
So what does all this have to do with my blog.
Well, as the words have tumbled out onto the blank page and I look out to a blank horizon, I trusted. I relaxed and trusted that something would come, and here I am with 500 words already written.
The insight that has come to me from being mindful throughout this process, having already reflected on being more mindful in daily life, is contrast and trust.
I reflected on the contrast between seeing beautiful colours in the sky and sea and the grey bleed that is present now where you can’t tell one from the other. For the former I felt something, an inner joy and wonder and a smile. For the latter? I felt nothing. And yet, the bland greyness makes me so appreciate the colours when they are there and the emergence of the sun every morning on other days when it peeps out over the horizon every morning.
I reflected on the contrast between rest and working hard. The softness of rest and the tightness in focus. I reflected on how everything changes and how I appreciate the rest times more because of the periods of hard work.
I reflected on the contrast between being anxious and trusting. There is a tension and stress in being nervous and yet a softness emerges with trust.
During this short time frame it snowed. A blanket of ice and snow transformed the landscape I live in. At night it was white and bright, the next morning it had thawed, and the landscape had returned to green, brown and blue. One day I couldn’t walk outside the house due to black ice, then next day I could. I noticed a difference in how the two made me feel at a very subtle level.
Now I have opened myself to the curiosity of contrasts I begin to reflect on life before the current restrictions and life now, between being young and getting older, between night and day, winter and spring – so much to become aware of as it unfolds. The list is endless how contrasts begin to flood into my mind. Now before me I see a page full of words and I feel totally different to when I had a blank page sitting before me.
In my daily mindfulness practice, I have made an intention to watch out for these contrasts and notice how they make me feel in my body and my being. This isn’t something I can do so much in a formal practice, it’s more about being present for it as it occurs in daily life and pausing to reflect on it. Such is the gift of mindfulness. Knowing what is happening while it is happening, whatever it is.
This week I invite you to bring mindfulness into your daily life and notice life’s contrasts as they occur. You might like to pause and reflect and see what you notice. I’d love to hear from you so please do leave a comment after this post or write to me at email@example.com.
Jacky has contributed a chapter to the Mindful Heroes Book entitled “Turning Empathic Distress into Compassion – A Hero’s Journey for Family Carers”. You can hear an extract from the chapter where she talks about the results of her MSc Studies in Mindfulness on Compassion & Family Carers. You can download a free sample of Jacky’s chapter here.