Yesterday, I managed a highly successful meditation session. I do understand why it is called a ‘practice’ and I was talking to my nearly 9-year old about just that…
“It’s the simplest thing in the world,” I told him “and the hardest, too.”
He looked puzzled.
“To think about nothing.”
He laughed. A light and spontaneous giggle. “I could do that!”
I have challenged him to try, if he feels like it. To lie still some time, perhaps when he’s gone to bed, and see if he can think of nothing, just concentrate on his breathing, for five whole minutes. Watch this space. 😉
Back to yesterday’s meditation.
Baby safe with his papa, I took myself off to a quiet space and, with the aid of the inspiring Jack Kornfield and his Meditation for Beginners CD I carried out two of his guided meditations: one entitled ‘Forgiveness’ and one of ‘Lovingkindness’. Forgiveness is something I am struggling with just now. I find that past hurts I can come to terms with, process, forgive, but ongoing ones cause me ongoing anguish and resentment, fresh waves of pain and anger, which are things I need to relinquish in order to be the best me and the best mother I can be. They hold me in the past and in a world of negativity, when what I really want is to live in the now and in a world of positivity and acceptance.
Ready for another mantra? It is what it is. Well… it is, isn’t it? After all, it isn’t anything else. So why fight it? Yearning, craving, wishing things were different from the way they are – they only bring you suffering. Why? Because they bring dissatisfaction with the way things are now. And now is all we have. Which isn’t to dismiss healthy aspirations, of course! But if you are powerless to change something, then acceptance is the only route out of adversity. (And by acceptance, I don’t mean buckling to someone else’s will or sacrificing your own personal integrity, but in any given situation you get to choose how to act, or how to react, right?)
At the end of my session I felt blissfully calm, refreshed, relaxed. And I got through the rest of the day without losing my temper (a hitherto unheard of situation in a house-full of small and frenetic boys), raising my voice or feeling unduly stressed or discomfited. This in spite of the fact that they had returned from their weekend away with a fresh barrage of bittersweet and incomprehensible information. This practice of mindfulness and meditation is working and I maintained my equilibrium (mostly – one small meltdown to my beloved excepted), read stories to my babes and tucked them up happily. I’ve even implemented that sleep-training routine, progressed to milk from a cup during the day and we are all the happier and more rested for it. Gentle, loving firmness. It’s the way forward.
Yesterday I retweeted an article by Rick Hanson on Psychologytoday.com entitled Why You Shouldn’t Take Slights Personally, which was beautifully synchronous, coinciding with what I wrote two days ago about victimhood.
And at 5.30 this morning, when my littlest woke for a feed and I struggled to get back to sleep, it occurred to me that we have in our armoury of childhood slogans the very mantra for victim consciousness. We chant it as children but forget it too soon:
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
Finally, this morning before school my four bigger boys were at the table, three eating porridge, and one toast with honey. The packed lunches were lined up mid-preparation and the baby was waiting for his… goop. My nearly 7-year old volunteered to feed it to him and pulled up a chair while I walked over to the bag of bibs that hangs on the kitchen door.
As I fastened the bib around his neck, I slowly became aware that something was not quite right. It was a gradual dawning. My mind and eyes were moving in slow motion to work it out. The boys at the table were staring at me, mouths agape. The baby looked at me from his high-chair…. Hang on… The baby looked at me from his high-chair… His bigger brother sat very still in front of him… with a bib around his neck. It took us fully five minutes to stop giggling.
Today, I suspect I need some centring.