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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Loving What Is

Now that I have been attending the Mindfulness course for three weeks, I am starting to see some interesting results. The most profound (for me at least) of all is that after practically all of my life, I can finally start to put names to the emotions that I feel. You see for years I was one of these people who was totally out of touch with what she did feel. It is then a revelation to be able to look at my feelings and thoughts and say to myself "I am feeling anxious" or "I am feeling nervous today". What is even more of a revelation is the understanding that I do not have to become attached to that thought, and that when I choose not to do this, my life becomes much less stressful and my body and mind both become at peace. I have caught myself at various moments this week thinking such negative thoughts and when I have realised what I am doing, laughed out loud at the stupidity of it all. The people with whom I work have no doubt been wondering what drugs I am on !
Seriously though my job as a cleaner, which involves working both in and outdoors (walking around a fairly large site to various other buildings and departments at least one of which is actually based outdoors) is the perfect environment to be practising this stuff. Because the job is routine, the mind tends to wander a lot, and this gives me a myriad of opportunities to notice this and try to gently bring myself back to awareness. It is also gives me the opportunity to practise my work mindfulness - when cleaning tiles for example the other day - as I sprayed the cleaning fluid I really noticed the smell, and as I began to clean, the texture of the tiles as my hands brushed against them to remove the dirt. Walking across the garden too can become a meditation (although only when on one is looking, another thought that I need to let go of - why does it matter what others think?).
One of the other more interesting revelations I have had this week was connected to my work and the fact that I have this need for routine and to be constantly busy. When I looked at this, and I mean really looked, I realised that the reason I prefer this way of working is because it means that I can work in automatic pilot and do not have to think too much about what I am doing - in other words, it gives me an excuse or a reason not to be mindful and to continue living inside the monkey mind. What a revelation that was. Since I first became aware of this towards the beginning of the week, I have been making an effort to really practise the mindfulness a lot more.
Of course it is not always easy. With the long awaited meeting on Thursday with my nemesis and her sidekick, the monkey mind and indeed my pain body have been positively licking their lips and feasting until they have both become big and fat. I though am aware of this as well, and am wise enough to know that you can sometimes use this to your advantage, for it is only by allowing yourself to be in this state that you can start to examine those thoughts and those negative patterns that arise.
I have been doing this for the past few days through he medium of a wonderful book by Byron Katie called "Loving What Is". The idea of this book is that we have really no choice other than to accept and what is or has happened in our lives, whatever that may be, as well, it has happened and it is there and to resist and struggle against this is futile and only causes us stress. Katie then has devised a series of four simple questions which she calls "The Work" to be used in these situations as a source of inquiry to find out what really lies beneath these thoughts and indeed who you would be if you were able to let go of them (usually a lot more peaceful and less angry). At the end of this process you achieve what she turns the turnaround where you realise that whatever it is that is causing you stress is actually a mirror image of what you are doing to yourself, so for example if you feel that someone should respect you more, then actually it is you that should respect yourself.
This is what I have been doing then this weekend, using this process of inquiry with my nemesis. What I wrote was this (her name has of course been changed):
"I don't like Lucy because she doesn't respect me, she thinks that I should go running every time she snaps her fingers and that I should always do what she says. She has a need to always be in control. She needs to realise that I am my own person and make my own decisions as to how to do my work, as it is my work. She is not my Manager and shouldn't tell me what to do. She doesn't have the right to shout at me and belittle me in front of clients who are vulnerable people, as this is a form of abuse".
When I turned this around I finished up with:
"I should respect myself and pay attention to my own needs, following my instincts and intuition. I should learn to let go of control and just go with the flow, accepting what is. I should learn to be comfortable with the decisions and choices that I make and not be afraid that others may not approve. I should learn and recognise that the world does not revolve around me and I do not have to be right. This does not mean a loss of power. I do not have the right to mentally shout at and torture myself with constant thoughts of negativity, trying to control everything and everybody, as this is a form of abuse. I should be gentle with myself and others."
What a turnaround that is !
As I have delved deeper into the book and read some of the exercises, it has become apparent to me that really lies beneath all of this is a great deal of anger and frustration - anger and frustration at feeling that I am not accepted as part of her team and that I do not fit in. Indeed when I think back to that day in August when all of this kicked off and her deputy first shouted at me, that was the thought that came out of my mouth as the tears began to fall. I can though also turn this around to read:
"I should accept myself and not worry about whether or not I fit in. I should learn to trust in the universe that it knows best what I need, and be safe in the knowledge that there is a place for me here on this Earth. It is okay to be different".
There will I feel be some interesting discussions then taking place both on Wednesday when we meet for the fourth session of Mindfulness and for the meeting itself the following day. Rather then being defensive and going in with all guns blazing, I need to sit in Mindfulness paying attention to those thoughts and feelings and approach the whole situation with compassion. I may end up thanking her for showing me these things about myself, which would certainly be a surprise to everyone.
Having said all of this, although I can accept that she (in fact both of them) did shout at me, and did fail to apologise, this does not mean that what they did was right. Maybe what I can do to really knock the wind from their sails is apologise to them for any hurt or misunderstanding that I have caused in their lives. I can't think of a better way of opening up a dialogue. When faced with these kinds of revelations and this degree of openness, very few people are able to resist and it is only a matter of time before they too begin to open up and be honest and truthful with themselves. That above all else is what I now wish to create and on that one I can be absolutely clear.

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