The sun now sets at 4:15 – how am I feeling?
There is a pandemic causing suffering – how am I feeling?
Lockdown 2 begins today – how am I feeling?
The Summer Sun is over – how am I feeling?
Dark evenings, Cold weather, Isolation – how am I feeling?
Election frenzy in the USA – how am I feeling?
Making mistakes – how am I feeling?
As I tune into my body it feels tight and cold. There is a sense of holding on and hunching up. I feel a creeping sadness pervade my being with tinges of frustration and even stress. My mood is lower than usual, and I find that I am quiet and a little withdrawn. I am aware of wanting things to be different, to feel different. There is a building awareness of an energy I can barely describe wanting to get rid of how I am feeling. It might be called resistance. It might be called opposition, challenge or even endurance. But it is more a sense of a silent scream, deep inside, radiating inside out, rather than outside in. There is the awareness of all these external things seeping inwards into my body and mood, like creeping darkness and it touches a soft, sore point. This point responds with a cry, radiating outwards with a destructive energetic force and there is a sense of implosion. I am lost.
Walking under a big, blue sky, with birds singing and the low, Autumn sun on my face – how am I feeling?
Snuggled up by a blazing fire – how am I feeling?
Lighting candles around the room when it gets dark at 5 – how am I feeling?
Hugging the first cup of tea of the day in a warm, cosy bed – how am I feeling?
Watching birds feeding on the bird table – how am I feeling?
The stunning colours of Autumn surround me – how am I feeling?
I received some very positive feedback– how am I feeling?
I can feel a sense of joy and softness pervading my body. It gently seeps out of my heart and gradually softens and relaxes like a soothing balm as it fills my body. I am aware of it becoming stronger and a range of warm tingling sensations begin to spread around me and through me. Feelings of tightness and tension soften. My attitude changes too. A wave of positivity streams into my being and relaxes my mind. Challenging thoughts and feelings begin to melt away as a wave of positivity saturates my mind subtly changing how I feel about everything. Anything is possible. I feel embodied and centred and alive.
Such a lot has happened and changed in the last 10 days. The clocks have gone back an hour plunging us into darkness by 5pm. The Covid pandemic has suddenly burgeoned sending us into another month of severe restrictions, suffocating our freedom. The news is filled with fear provoking gloom with the pandemic and harsh realities which the USA are facing in their election process for presidency. Even as I write this it seems a lot is hanging in the balance. Will the lockdown work? Will the scientists find a vaccine or cure? Who will be president? Either way it will be bad news for many. I notice my judgements, even though I am not directly involved. I feel for the American people. I know how I would vote, and I am aware of fairly extreme feelings about this. Which surprises me.
I have been feeling ‘one degree under’ this week. You know that feeling when you are generally ok but there is something not quite right in your body and being, but you don’t know what it is? I found myself rushing to get something done and couldn’t focus properly – then realised after I had made some mistakes. It was then I became aware of how I was feeling. I used my mindfulness practice, with compassion, to gain some insight into what was going on.
From my practice I recognised that I had been consumed by the negative. I was allowing my mind to run with its natural tendency to cling on to negative thoughts and feelings, which was causing rumination, stress and a growing low mood. I could see that I was reacting to all the changes and events over the past 10 days.
Rick Hanson, who wrote the book ‘Hardwiring Happiness’ talks about how scientists believe that our brains have a built-in bias towards the negative. He says that we have evolved with an innate drive to survive which makes dangers that might impact on our survival heightened in our awareness. This is why difficult experiences are often more memorable than enjoyable ones as the brain commonly reacts more to anything negative than to anything positive, even if it has the same intensity.
I knew this already – I had just forgotten in my mind hijacking me once again and forcing me down the destructive route. Once I was able to recognise this from my practice, I was able to turn it around. I am aware that this needs constant practice as the pull towards the negative is powerful and strong in me and I can almost feel the cogs creaking and turning as I force the thoughts into the positive.
I do this by reflecting on all the good things that have happened in the last 10 days. The weather has been kind, with bursts of warm, golden Autumn sunshine. I have been able to walk by the sea under big blue skies and twinkling stars in the dark. Whilst it is now dark at 5 and it is cold this means I can make a lovely warm fire to relax with. It means I rest earlier in the day and appreciate the warmth and cosiness of the house, especially when it is lit by candlelight. I began to notice more and more positive things… in fact there are a lot of them.
As I become aware of how each individual positive thing makes me feel, even if fleeting, I hold onto it and absorb it into my whole being, until I can tune into positivity and joy in general and breath it in until it pervades my body and feelings with a warmth and softness.
It feels like surrendering into softness and all the negative feelings melt. So whenever the negative thoughts and feelings pop up, I surrender them all into softness and bathe in the warmth of positive, pleasant thoughts, and rest there a while. With practice it might even begin to stick.
I invite you to reflect on how you are feeling and notice whether you are having a tendency to focus on negative thoughts. How are they making you feel? Is it possible to turn it around? Try bringing your awareness to some pleasant events that you have enjoyed recently, no matter how small. It can be something as simple as relaxing with a cup of tea or talking to a friend, birdsong or a blue sky. Are you able to tune into the essence of how these small things make you feel and elaborate on the feeling, make the feeling bigger and then bathe in the softness they create?
Please do write to me with your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment after this post.
Wishing you to be safe and well.
Jacky will also be running the Level One Online Course on a Wednesday evening starting 3rd February 2021.
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.