Friday, 13 January 2017

The courage required

Do nothing for 15 minutes: nothing. Not listening, not reading, not thinking. Just sit. 

© Maggie Sawkins, 2016
All rights reserved
This is step one of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. I loved her North Star book but this one gave me the gem of sitting and doing nothing; notice what you notice. Feel the feelings. Have the thoughts and look around and just be. 

How much does our culture suggest this? Not much. It's growing now, this awareness that mindful anything is better that automatic pilot. How many of us are still running on adrenaline, habit or expectation? 

Thank goodness, the crisis in the neglect of mental health services here in the UK, may help nudge our growing awareness: how do we neglect our own mental health? 

In my case, I took on the pressures until they squeezed the life out of me. I did so much from duty; I learnt to de-press. And to repress and restrain any instinct and desire towards self expression. I learnt to do the right thing, do what was expected, keep up with the programme. Yes, I did lovely stuff along the way - but the altered self was still mostly running the show. The paradox of doing too much.

Turning this ship around is a delicate, one-degree-at-a-time process, not a sudden overnight success. Even the notion of having preferences, discernment or goals for my life has been SO uncomfortable. Don't ask me what I want, I don't know! 

I know what I think I should want, or what makes me feel safe. Having big dreams and goals is distinctly uncomfortable. But somehow, the process is bringing me towards and into my true self. I am beginning to have a simpler life, a business that brings me more income doing things I love. I'm making a difference doing what I'm good at

The paradox is that any of this will not be changed by frantic or urgent activity. That is how I used to do it and look where that got me. Now I follow courage to do less, and sometimes, nothing. To know that today is all there is; that waiting is also an action. 

When I hear of a vibrant 30-something, dying suddenly of a brain haemorrhage at her desk, it wakes me up again. My job is to enjoy my life: TODAY. I do know that I feel better when I slow down. Or under-schedule. Or plan a lovely treat that is close to my heart.

I’m heading out to join the other freelance laptops in the cafe on the green, when "Hah! I haven't meditated today." (I’m a very imperfect meditator.) So I allow myself 5 minutes of meditation. Then another stretch; I can follow my own advice, and find the courage to just look at the trees for another wee while before starting work.

As they say, 'don't just do something, sit there!'. This moment is all we have - the birds just twittered to remind me. x