Having a young grandson enables me to do some cool stuff.
I have recently noticed that my relationship with him also allows me to be authentic.
Just yesterday whilst disco dancing in my kitchen with this 5-year-old, made me realise that I am totally myself with him. I am not shy, reserved, embarrassed or inhibited. We have fun. We laugh a lot. He doesn’t shame me, blame me, get angry with me, guilt trip me or trigger me in any way. We are totally in the moment and being present for our experience. My grandson teaches me this more than anyone and anything. To be present for my experience.
I just feel pure love and acceptance from him. I recognise that it feels so good to be accepted.
I notice over the years I haven’t always shown my true self to people. Underneath is a fear of being rejected. Because history reminds me that I have been rejected before. Others have displayed anger with me, dissatisfaction, have embarrassed me or shamed me when I have simply been myself. So therein lies the temptation to hide my true self.
In fact there have been many times when I have felt it’s not ok to be me.
But at this moment I feel freedom and I feel alive.
There was a moment when I was on the From Mindfulness to Insight Retreat, when I realised how much it hurts when I suffer any form of rejection. The profound insight I had in this is that I could see that I often reject myself. And that rejection feels exactly the same as feeling rejected by another.
My grandson and I often go to the cinema or the theatre. Last week we went to the theatre in London to see the play adaptation of the children’s story and film – The Snowman. I use the opportunity to remind myself to approach my experience with a beginners mind and sense of curiosity.
The insights that arose as I immersed myself in the play, and observed my grandson do the same, is how we suspended disbelief. We totally plunged ourselves in this dreamlike state as reality became a dream.
We spent two hours in an otherworldly experience as the boy and snowman drift across the stage over scenes of frozen lands. They pause to dance with other snowmen, penguins and other characters. Father Christmas appears and a sense of magic imbues the whole theatre.
I take note of the lyrics to the famous song from the film – Walking in the Air.
“We’re walking in the air
We’re floating in the moonlit sky
The people far below are sleeping as we fly
I’m holding very tight
I’m riding in the midnight blue
I’m finding I can fly so high above with you
On across the world
The villages go by like dreams
The rivers and the hills, the forests and the streams”
More recently I find I apply mindfulness practice to my everyday life most of the time and there is always something to be learned. This time I realised that life can be quite dreamlike. I use that as my intention for the week. To notice how life feels.
As if on request events transpired for me to take notice as the world presented dream like scenes.
Walking in the twilight one afternoon, a ghost like flash of white flew in patterns across a field as snow began to fall. It took my eyes some time to focus in and make out a beautiful white barn owl on the hunt.
The next day the land was submerged in a freezing fog so deep that I couldn’t see the ground, sky or trees. As I sped down the tracks on one of those new fast trains, I glimpsed two ponies’ nose to nose in a heart shape emerging from the fog for a moment or two before dissolving back into the grey mist.
As if waking from the dream, this all brought me back full circle to what’s real and what’s not. To what is authentic and what is not. To what is hiding and what is not.
On the Mindfulness to Insight Retreat Choden had us draw a mandala. This was represented by a large circle with a small inner circle. The inner circle symbolised our true, whole, compassionate self.
On the outer circle I wrote the names of all the selves I seem to have in my personality. They range from ‘insecure self’ to ‘jealous self’ and ‘fearful self’.
It seems I can never truly be certain who is operating my being at any given time. But I can see that by being vigilant in my observations of my present moment experience, I am able to observe what is going on and respond accordingly. Allowing the dark thoughts to be there without attaching to them or reacting to them or through them, knowing that if I do it will cause me suffering.
Likewise, I also notice the joy and when love rises in my heart – and I know I am then closer to the centre of the circle of my mandala and my whole, compassionate self.
As ever, my mindfulness practice has taken me on a new journey of insights, which motivates me to practice even more. I set a new intention as another year comes to an end and a new one begins, to deepen my mindfulness, compassion and insight practice and take it to a new level.
Just when I gain insight into one area of my being, another pops up to challenge me. This motivated me to give a gift to myself for Christmas. The gift is a renewed intention with my practice. What’s yours?
This week’s challenge is to take notice of the sometimes dreamlike quality of events in our lives and notice how this makes us feel. To notice whether we know something is true or not. To notice when we are being authentic, or hiding.
Finally, I invite you to set a new intention for your practice as the year turns. I’d love to hear your comments and experiences so please do leave a comment after this post or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you well for the coming festive season and New Year.
Jacky will be co-teaching Level 1 – Being Present with Alan Hughes at Samye Ling 13 – 15 March 2020 and on the Level 2 – Responding with Compassion with Heather Regan-Addis at Samye Ling Summer 2020.
We’d love to see you there.
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.