freedom to choose

It’s been one of those days today, you know the one that starts out well and spirals into a day of mixed up feelings and emotions.

No point me asking you if you’ve ever had a day like that because if you are human, you will have “good” days and “bad” days. It’s just life and it’s all just thoughts spiraling out of control, creating your new reality. However, I’m supposed to know better right?

I’ve been on this mindfulness journey for over a year, surely I should have all this sorted by now. Every day should be calm and peaceful but guess what, it isn’t. Wow it was emotional, angry one minute, sad the next and I don’t think I can even say the rest.

I am fortunate because I can always fall back on my mindfulness teachings and even some of the great Buddhist teachings I have been exposed to over the years. I am by no means a Buddhist, I would have to study a lot longer and harder to ever become close.

Tonight I was lucky to take part in an online teaching given by Choden, who was a monk and now delivers mindfulness training. Choden explained that the “trademark” of mindfulness as taught by the Mindfulness Association is kindness and acceptance. Exactly what I needed to hear tonight because once again I spent the day being unkind and intolerable of my thoughts and feelings.

So how do you turn it around, go from having a really “bad” day to an “ok” or “good” day?

I’ll share some of the teachings that I find useful:

  • I think the most powerful teaching is based on “preference” In mindfulness we learn that it is because we always want things that give us pleasure or make us happy, so when we get something that is not what we want, we become unhappy, or angry or whatever other negative feeling arise. Recognizing why you are feeling in a particular way make it easier for you to understand and accept.
  • This story telling that your mind does is so destructive. Mine is always trying to work out why someone said something or didn’t say it, or why they did something or didn’t do it. Usually I am way of the mark but spend all day in my head trying to work it out. The easiest thing to do is to recognise that quickly and let it go. That’s where meditation is so useful and I was so lucky tonight to have a guided meditation that focused exactly on this.
  • Acceptance just means stopping the war inside, not trying to change whatever is going on but also not becoming involved with the thoughts.

Choden’s example was “like inviting a troubled friend in for a tea, listening with kindness and just being there, giving your friend room to say what needs to be said” – that is exactly what we need to be doing more off. Less of the battle with all the thoughts going on and more of the quiet listening with kindness and acceptance.

Maybe then there will be less “bad” days and more “great” days!