Surrender to what is. Let go of what was.
Have faith in what will be.’
I wrote ‘Day 1’ on my calendar this morning.
It’s a simple intervention. I have used it many times with clients to generate positive emotions. It always has a powerful effect and will for me too. It’s about stopping, noticing and breaking patterns that need breaking. Patterns of thought. Patterns of feeling. Patterns of behaviour.
‘Day 1’ is symbolic. The beginning of something new. A clean page. It represents choice and it represents hope too.
I saw a young client once who had a pattern of self harming. We worked alongside each other for a while and the self harming stopped. Then one day she rolled up her sleeve to show me a fresh cut. I was mortified. I wondered what was going on for her. My client noticed my concern.
‘Don’t worry,’ she said. ‘This was the last time. That scar is where I drew a line under it!’
Stuck on the hamster wheel
When clients come along for their first session, they are often caught up in unhelpful or negative patterns. Their positive emotions seem to have dried up. Many complain it’s like being stuck on a hamster wheel. Running on a treadmill of tasks and responsibilities. Life has simply become an endless ‘to do’ list. As they tick off their daily ‘achievements’, new tasks are added to the bottom.
There is no end to it. The list will never actually be completed.
Listening to a radio broadcast from Charleston arts festival recently, a conversation caught my attention. A novelist was making an observation;
‘The trouble is these days,’ he said ‘We read novels just to get to the end. In the eighteenth century, people took their time. They immersed themselves in the experience and savoured the narrative.’
There is a parallel with life of course, and many have spoken just these sentiments. Yet it’s so easy to forget to stop and savour the moment, take the time to smell the roses, feel the cool, fresh breeze on your skin or look at a beautiful sunset with a sense of awe and wonder.
I remember, a few years ago, sitting in the garden in the autumn, looking at the browning foliage and realising I had been so busy I hadn’t noticed the summer flowers at all.
Life has got faster. We multi task and spend most of our time doing rather than being.
Watching the clouds
At a mindfulness retreat recently, I took an opportunity during lunch, to lie down on the grass outside. Others did too. No one spoke. It was a warm day with blue skies and I found myself simply tracing the clouds as they drifted gently across the sky.
The trouble was that, even as I was enjoying the experience, savouring the moment with all my senses, thoughts would begin to get in the way. Things from the past, plans of the future, worries and observations.
This internal chatter is perfectly normal. It’s what our minds do quite naturally and, if we’re not careful, endlessly. But, all the time we’re doing that, we’re not really present in the here and now, allowing hidden positive emotions to bubble to the surface.
When we are mindful, we can watch the thoughts like the clouds, and simply let them float by. I wrote a blog about it a little while ago.
Being mindful is about ‘paying attention, on purpose, in moment by moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surroundings with acceptance, and without judgement.’
Pressing the pause button
Sometimes we need to press the pause button. Sometimes, we need to simply notice what is emerging from the clay as the pot is thrown.
Often, you don’t need to do anything at all for things to change. Life will change around you. Like the clouds as they pass across the sky, there is nothing you need to do. In those moments, past and future disappear. Everything is new. Time loses its meaning and we are limitless. Nothing matters yet everything matters.
I wrote ‘Day 1’ on my calendar today.
I’ll write ‘Day 1’ tomorrow too!
Mindfulness is a key part of the NCFE accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma.