What if I don’t have to strive?

Guest blog by Sam Pringle

This was the theme of todays poem at a weekly mindfulness group I have joined with Connect Mindfulness. I join Veronica every Monday and Friday – well not every Friday and Monday because I don’t always want to wake up at 6.55am. I see a handful of other faces on the zoom call – I don’t know anything about them, not even where they live, though I notice most of them have Irish accents and Veronica is a member of the Irish Mindfulness Association. This connection has given me a structure to my week – a reason to set my alarm – who would have thought I would want that? A reason to focus on me at the start of the day – at the beginning and at the end of the week. I believe this has been a key part of my self-care during the lockdown, which enables me to serve my family and my clients. 

Since this began some 6 weeks ago I have made time for such routines because Mindfulness practice creates space for me to notice me. It gives me an opportunity to check into my body and my head. Every Saturday I meet with another group which I have been co-hosting for the last 8 years. This group is mostly made up of parents who when I see, feels like a warm blanket to wrap myself in. We have developed a pattern of a short meditation to start off – usually from my Calm App – a check in and then a longer 30-40min meditation. We often use body scans – Jon Kabat Zinn is featured regularly with his caressing soft tones –  or does he do that just for me? We have also been introduced to new teachers on this new online community and we share with one another other hosts like Dan Seigel & Adjashanti. We have also shared intimate gifts like this handmade card from Aine Murphy along with doorstep cakes and chocolate! I feel touched by all these acts of kindness this community has given me and I have given them.

One of our group introduced me to Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Abundance which has made the most significant impact. Every day he sets a tasks to reflect on along with affirmations and a Mantra. During the first week I resisted the affirmations and Mantras thinking to myself how “ridiculous” they are, that I’m a scientist and you shouldn’t just believe something and expect it to come true. Judging that it is “misleading” or “rubbish”. On noticing these judgements and believing that I was better than this, I chose to stay with the group and as the days went on I found other insights about criticism which I make of others and of course myself. That if I could put these to one side and Be with my not knowing and in a place of curiosity, that actually everything is a possibility, I felt liberation. I realized that I made up what is or isn’t possible and that too is a fiction. I mean who would have ever anticipated over half of the world (apparently 2.6 billion as I write this) would be confined to our houses? If someone had predicted this (which some did) I would have scorned them just like I did my daily mantras. 

 So instead I have flowed into my being still with a clear intention. My practice has gone from 10 mins a few times a week to 30mins to 1 hour most days and I have started journaling too. Noticing my thoughts and feeling and then reflecting on their meaning. And I have been fortunate enough to find others to accompany parts of my journey. Some of whom I will never speak to, all of whom will have imprinted on my life. We have laughed and cried together –  we have shared podcasts – such as this one by Elizabeth Gilbert the Author of Eat Love Pray which I might not have permitted myself the time to ‘indulge in’ if it weren’t for this context and these people. 

Jane in my group, who has responded to the crisis by returning to nursing,  shared this diagram with me after one of our groups. This reminds me that there are times I am reacting – often to my children – and I’m in a place of fear and that there are other times – usually when I have practiced – that I am open again and able to support others in my Community. 

Image

Reference: Indigneous X

What I have learnt is now is not a time to strive. That I have all the resources I need in me or around me. Whether it’s my mindfulness practice or presence in action or mindfully cooking – I don’t have to force myself to achieve an outcome,  to prove I’m worthwhile – that if I can find my own unique Presence then taking Action will flow through me into the space I have created and it will do so with ease. 

And that that too will pass…

Sam is a Practitioner and Director at Presence in Action Collective a Community Interest Company http://www.PIACollective.org

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