So, I am on the move again. But this time I am going on holiday. By the time you read this I will be on the island of Unst on Shetland, engaging in my hobbies of walking and photography.
This morning I very quickly noticed that ‘holiday’ feeling. After a very intensely busy 6 months, I am finally taking a break and my body knew it. I felt unusually uplifted with a big grin on my face as I checked my luggage one final time and headed to the station.
The most profound thing I noticed beneath the joyful feeling was the amount of tension and stress I had been holding in my body. In fact, I detected a soreness in my body and that my shoulders were tight. The question to myself at this point was – ‘how did I not notice this before?’. I expected to feel light, carefree and warm in my body as the ‘holiday feeling’ penetrates my being. But instead I feel the tension of being on the go and doing too much for too long. This really surprised me.
Inspired by Duncan’s blog about ‘What’s in front of us!’ I took up the weekly challenge myself to look at the choices and actions I take as part of my present moment experience.
First thing this morning I was doing a practice supervision session over Skype with two of my peers in the group. What came up for me as part of not only supervising another and being supervised was an old characteristic of trying too hard. I thought I had overcome this to some extent, but today I realise it is still there. I can feel ‘trying too hard’ in my body.
I took this with me to my journey. As soon as I settled into my seat on the train, I did a settling, grounding, resting practice with breath as a support. This practice comes from the Level 1 training in Mindfulness training. As I was resting, I invited a reflection on this feeling in my body and ‘trying too hard’. I found they were directly related. When I am trying to achieve and perfect everything I do, there’s a real energy and tension behind it. It seems I had stored 6 months’ worth of it into my body.
I reflected on how I had not noticed its presence and impact when doing my daily practice. I realised that in my daily practice I reach a state of relaxedness. But subconsciously I realise that I still have to carry on and work or deal with personal challenges, so the tension remains undetected. However, it seems that the thought of having a break from everything going on, work and personal, that my body started to let go. This has the effect of releasing all the undetected tensions stored in my body and it became very noticeable.
Often, throughout my life, I have come down with a cold or some ailment at the beginning of a holiday. It seems that once I realise I can take a break and don’t have to keep going, my body releases the stress it has been carrying. In turn, this manifests as a detectable soreness or ailment.
Reflecting back to Duncan’s blog and the weekly challenge of the choices and actions I take as part of my present moment experience, two things arose. One is that I need to accept the sensations and just relax and let them flow through. The second insight I had was that in my daily practice I need to detect when I am trying too hard. And as a result, take care of myself more. I can do this by taking time out to relax and not be too hard on myself. The self-critic, which we learn about in the Level 2 Compassion training, is often lurking behind the spiral of trying too hard and not being good enough. Now I am aware of this I can use my practice to notice it and let it go.
This brings me to my motivation and intention. Every time I get an insight it reinforces my motivation and intention. This time I am motivated to be more vigilant in my practice to notice what is really present for me. My intention is to practice the body scan more and include more self-compassion. To detect where I am trying too hard and relax a little around this.
My thanks go to Duncan for the inspiration to look at the choices and actions I take as part of my present moment experience.
This week’s challenge is to really understand what is going on in your body. You can do this by doing the body scan or noticing what is arising in your body during your practice. Notice if this changes on a daily basis, and whether there are any subtle changes when you are taking a break. This way, we can gain insights into what is affecting us and we have a choice as to what action we take.
I wish you well this coming week and I hope you get something out of this weeks challenge, it may even inspire you to join one of our many Mindfulness Courses!