Today it feels like the whole world is conspiring against me! Today I’m having a day! It’s such a shock to feel something not very nice stirring deep down somewhere, a surprise. I don’t like it. And yes, I do want it to go away. Everything. I want everything and everyone to go away. Well there’s only one other person here, but let’s make it into a drama. There’s a few things going on, work stress, family stress, household stress. All today. I am being tugged in many directions. But there’s one thing that stood out today as today’s lesson.
Normally I just sit here and the birds tweet and I watch them with my coffee (this morning, it appears we have 4 baby collared doves, and two big fat ones.. nesting) and not much untoward happens. I am blessed, Mindfulness has also played a major part in my equanimity. But with all three children now left home… when something does happen that shakes my tree, wow – do I notice it. Excellent for practice! The obstacles are the path and all that.. (I can hear my tutor Heather…)
But sometimes something unexpected comes to bite my… behind…and remind me, yeah – you still have work to do here. But this feels urgh! It’s a situation. Can I describe it without insinuating anyone? The thing is with mindfulness, I am the centre of the story, always. Even if someone else is really truly being difficult ( like today) then there is always something to work with within myself in a mindful way. What a gift! And what a gift to see that my own anger can be a gift?
After our Teachers’ Retreat on projection… I hope (for myself) to maintain a transparency of attention as events unfold, see the mind grasping and rejecting, creating subterfuge. Projecting.
I listen to the storyline that I have in the Difficult Situation. The script. I am indignant, disappointed, frustrated and – ooh now there’s cross – only last week I was basking in the idea that anger wasn’t something that manifested much for me, if ever! and how nice that was. Now here it is fresh, boiling, quietly seething.. I’m really MAD! But I can’t do anything about it and make them do the right thing! I feel it – it’s like I’ve just looked into a furnace…
and there’s a lid on it – and this suppressed feeling is accompanied by a feeling of thinking I am somehow a failure for feeling this at all! Anger is bad therefore you are bad too says the voice.
I catch myself with that thought – pin it – there’s thinking – I let it go and move on through to the next wave of whatever it might be. My guest house door is flung ajar. (From the poem by Rumi you can read here). I have learned through insight training to aspire to open to and begn to notice deeper attitudes and drives beneath the thinking. It can be surprising, I find RAIN practice can be very insightful about what is going on just beneath the surface. We cover the RAIN practice on our Level One Mindfulness Training.
Some of it is because I feel others’ actions have affected me and there is frustration there about that. I feel it like a brick wall in front of me that I want to break through. I want them to take conciliatory action and they just won’t. This affects me because I am the messenger. I am stuck in the middle of two people and their points of view. Well, and according to me, their stubbornness.
Someone is annoyed with someone else. They refrain from taking the ‘right’ action (in my opinion) however, the action, they are not taking but easily could, is causing ME frustration and anxiety, my pulse is raised, I feel adrenaline, I don’t get cross often, but today, ooooooh I’m feeling it. Their stubbornness is affecting me – not the intended other!
Ok I let the anger in. I don’t know what to do with it. But it’s there. It’s very energetic and the adrenaline is calling for some action. My threat drive is triggered I feel it pulsing. I am sooo cross. I move around quickly and become extremely efficient at tidying up! One thing I have learned from having historical chronic anxiety is that movement really helps to shift and soothe it. When I’m in a bit of a state my laundry gets folded really neatly and quickly!
The thoughts are swirling round – the same thoughts. I don’t know whether not-thinking them is suppressing them or letting them go. I guess if I am still feeling cross I need to just go there, dive in, really feel into it. The resistance to doing this makes it even more uncomfortable and the mind rejects the approach. My mindfulness inner guru (remarkable perseverer) whispers Soften! Soothe! Allow! I sink into the feeling and the storyline seems to soften a little and I realise I cannot control others, but I can quietly speak this pain. I decide that this is a Good Thing to Do. Not from the angry place but from this open-to-the-pain place. The place that is soft, soothed and accepting.
I am met with defensiveness, rolling eyes, and I can feel that they have anger too, not at me but at the ‘other’. Their resistance to their pain, and their (stubborn non-)action (to perhaps annoy the other person) has created a situation where the other person knows nothing about it, yet it is me experiencing the suffering. I have heard a Buddhist analogy of holding your anger or resentment is like holding a hot coal. You get burned, and the other person has no idea about it.
I am standing here having been handed someone else’s hot coal! I hand it back by softly speaking how I feel. This feels so good! I am Mindfully communicating! I want peace! Mindful of the potential flashpoint and knowing what defensiveness looks like I remain gentle in my voice.
What I observe about this situation is that when we are angry, the action we take, can actually hurt people around us without really realizing what we are doing.
Later in the day, as I pour the tea into the teapot and quietly ask tea? Coffee? (having resolved not to say any more about it all) I am told that the action to reconcile the situation has been taken. All is well in the world. Thank you Mindfulness Association for that particular surfboard to surf that wave. Might it be that this surfing might become enjoyable?
This week in the Mindfulness challenge I invite you to open up to those around you, noticing who might be affected by your speech, your actions.
As we practice and dedicate any good we may have gained from our practice and share it in ever widening circles, when others behave in a way we find challenging it can be good to take a look at our own speech and actions and bring mindfulness to the wider ripples we create in even the smallest gestures.
Just after this episode and before writing this blog, I happened to read the deeply reassuring poem that Fay has posted up – Vajaya – Victor adapted by Matty Weingast which soothed me and gave me permission to be not OK. “If this circling is all you have, why not make this circling your home?”
Wishing you well this week, and that you may find your door flung wide to whichever guest may arrive for you, and know it is Ok to feel not OK. Soften, soothe and allow whatever is here for you this week.
To keep up your practice or even start at the beginning with Mindfulness you can join our daily guided meditations online, at 10.30am and 7pm Monday to Friday. Join our growing online community of Mindfulness practitioners! We’d love to see you there.
THIS LINK will take you to read more and to the button to join the practice.