Day 8 - Monday (May Day)
I awoke at 5am to the sound of rain beating on the roof outside and the piercing cold inside the bothy. Today is the beginning of May, so I should start to experience a gradual warming both during the day and at night, although, this is the UK so anything is possible!
I am expecting the National Trust steward to come today as part of their duties on handover of the bothy between stays. Happily for me, I have booked 3 consecutive two week periods of rental so that I get the full 6 weeks in. The reason I had to do that is because the National Trust do not allow more that 2 weeks stay under any one booking, hence the 3 bookings.
It continued to rain hard throughout the morning, so I just read my book, 'At the Crossroads' which is one that I saw at the Bristol Chocolate Festival of all things! Printed by Scarlet Imprint, it is about traditional and cultural old magic with many contributors adding their thoughts and research. It is a little weird I have to say, but interesting all the same.
I have been focusing over the past couple of days on being more mindful as an area that I wished to gain more insight into during my time away. By doing this, I then hoped to carry this back into my life generally on return to ‘normalcy’.
Mindfulness allows us to become aware of our thoughts and emotions so we can observe them from a curious and totally open-minded state. This can be really helpful when we are experiencing negative thoughts and emotions that feed off each other only to make things worse.
As a rule, I found it a lot easier to practice mindfulness when I was in a calm, emotionally stable state, but I have subsequently discovered that it is even more powerful when practiced during the most difficult of times. When we do that, we can put a powerful stop to the vicious cycle of negative thoughts and emotions.
I started to jot down and reflect on a number of negative experiences (I can and do have) that could be helped or even resolved by practicing mindfulness during or after they occur. You may have others too, but these are my thoughts:
When trying to compare yourself to others
You can judge others so that you can decide how you measure up against them. Depending on your judgment of others and how you see yourself, you may create a very negative comparison that does not necessarily reflect any truth and you start to create stereotypes. The bottom line is, stop comparing and start enjoying presence.
When you believe that you should have more
For the ego, what you have now is never going to be enough. It always wants you to think you should achieve more. It will trick you into believing that as soon as you get this or that, you will finally be happy. We know, of course this is certainly not true and mindfulness shows us exactly that.
When you look at someone else and start to judge
You can sometimes judge others based on very incomplete information. After all, you do not know what another person is feeling, how they are thinking, or what they have been through over the course of their lives. Indeed at that present moment when you see/meet them, you have no idea what has just happened to them. Remember the saying; ‘never judge a book by its cover’?
When you spend time and effort searching for perfection
Similar to how your ego always wants you to strive for more, it also wants you to perfect every last detail. This is the road to frustration and unhappiness as we then accuse ourselves of not doing a good job. The road to perfection is never ending, and I believe it is something that can never be achieved. That is not to say that we cannot be exceptionally good at something as many people prove that everyday.
When you worry about what others might think of you
You may change your behaviour and actions just to satisfy something you think other people want from you. You can put the ‘mask’ on – being something or someone that you are totally not! But do you know for sure that they want you to be something other than yourself? The answer to this is simply no, you cannot be sure.
When the emotions of guilt and shame rise up inside you
Your deepest beliefs that were planted in your subconscious during childhood may cause you to feel unworthy if provoked by external events or other people. Question them. Are they true? I bet they are not – it is just you and your perception. Try to break out of that by adopting a ‘separate’ perceptual position by looking at yourself. This is something I will cover in the next post - a powerful NLP technique that works for me, and hopefully you too!
When you feel unable to forgive
Being hurt by somebody (or by yourself) is painful, but learning to question whether that hurt can be resolved by answering it with punishment or revenge is critical. Mindfulness will reveal to you that it cannot. One of the greatest virtues that I believe people can ‘own’ is the power to forgive. There is massive strength and mindfulness in allowing forgiveness to flood into our lives.
When you want be certain of something that is happening or even that which has not happened yet
The ego will do everything it can to make you overanalyse everything so that you can be certain of something. What if, though, you simply let go of your need to be certain and just work on learning from genuine self curiosity and the universal premise of flow?
When fear motivates you to seek protection
Your ego has a major job: to help you survive. As humans, we thrive on social status, so we become afraid of anything that threatens our self-image. Try to become mindful of how you feel compelled to protect your self-image when something you perceive as a threat comes into your life.
I started to reflect on all of these negative thoughts whilst walking and in meditation and how I could use mindfulness as a tool. It has allowed me to develop this skill, or at least be far more aware when difficult times arise.
The more you practice, the more natural it will feel to become mindful even when negative thoughts and emotions are trying to pull you in.