Have you ever noticed the way that repetitive, non-cerebral activities such as household chores free up your creative brain? This blog post literally has its genesis in a swish and rinse round the bath, continues with a buffing of the taps and ends with a swirl of bleach down the toilet.
Distraction techniques, or focusing on an undemanding practicality, seem to allow the inventive, imaginative part of the mind to run at full tilt.
A similar thing happens, albeit via a different route, through meditative practice when you are mentally and mindfully taking yourself to a different place, clearing the mind and allowing whatever wishes to present itself, to draw across your mind’s eye.
This reminds me of a guided meditation in which I took part recently, based on the Buddhist principles of loving kindness. The foundation of this is that we should learn to practise loving kindness towards ourselves as well as others.
A friendship demands little but gives much.
It expects no more than acknowledgement of its existence.
There is a true grace in friendship which we should encompass and convert to give loving kindness to ourselves. It is all too easy to forget that our friends like us, despite our perceived shortcomings.
You first have to learn to be your own best friend … something that is easier said than done.
During the meditation, we were asked to think of ten attributes about ourselves that we like. Now, how is that for a tall order? – I arrived at three or four before giving up.
Afterwards I thought about why this was so difficult. And I think it is because generally we are conditioned to be self-critical, judgemental and constantly aware of our failings/shortcomings. It becomes an alien notion to like ourselves.
So … I am getting better at saying to myself, “Stop! – step back from a commitment or two and give yourself time for you – for your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual nourishment”.
When I have managed to do this, I definitely feel better for it. This is a good example of how loving kindness towards self is achievable.
If someone asks me, “do you believe you are loved and supported?” Then I do not find it difficult to answer “yes”. And that means that I know in my heart that I am worthy of being loved, something else that is all too easy to forget.
My family and friends affirm to me that I am loved, through their constant support, their many kindnesses to me and their constancy. Surely then, it should not be too difficult to remind myself of the positives in my life. The lesson lies in believing and having faith in the fact that I am loved equally by those whom I can see and those whom I cannot…
Those who are living with grief and loss can operate at essentially a polar opposite. They constantly use distraction techniques and general busyness to avoid visiting their grief and perhaps to evade the sorrow that accompanies introspective grieving. I often think that bereaved parents work overly hard to fill in the gaps left by their loss and they are not practising sufficient loving kindness to themselves. Over time, loving kindness really can help to process loss in a gentle way.
It is really important to find ways that work for you to achieve the balance that enables you to choose how to process your sadness. This is a steep learning curve.
If, like me, you operate on a chore/reward system, you will be well placed to practise these techniques. For me, reward equates to having time to write, meditate, or examine how my emotions are balancing out in the now.. First of all I must get the boring jobs out of the way and whilst I am occupied doing these, I am setting myself up to for my chosen reward. It works! – for me anyway.
So next time you pull on your Marigolds to tackle the regular dull chores … choose your reward first. You won’t even notice the tedium …