I had something else planned to write about in my blog this week.
I was going to tell you about my son begging for me to do my usual Christmas baking.
I was going to describe how the gentle waft of gingerbread filled my home and, like the pied pipers tune, bought my family together.
But now the world has shifted again.
What do you do when the rules change?
Throughout my life I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with rules and structure.
I know I need the consistency and boundaries of order and control but a large part of me fights against it. Someone recently described me as a butterfly, because my attention and energy is ever changing and is drawn to the light.
They were spot on.
Rules and order can make me feel like a butterfly pinned to a board. Stretched out, exposed, uncomfortable.
These rules make my wings feel painfully clipped
Like so many of us, the changes to the government rules here in the UK have had a devastating impact on my Christmas plans.
I’m still processing it and it’s hard.
I wont be able to see my Mum now. Her health is a precarious and delicate thing so it’s very likely that I won’t get to see her for another.
Even writing those words makes my heart want to close down.
Judging myself won’t help
One thing I’ve noticed as i’ve processed the changes is how quickly the tendency to judge myself is still alive and well.
As someone who spends much of their life helping people to ride the waves of life, it can feel like I’m a failure if I find myself sinking.
We tend to have such an impossibly high bar for ourselves, much higher than we expect from those around us. For me, when that judgement kicks in I’m likely to deny how I feel and throw myself into the busy-ness of life.
My practice has become more important than ever
One thing I’m grateful for is that my meditation practice and the mindset shifts that accompany it has gifted me tools to support myself. Allowing me to bring not only mindfulness (the ability to be in this moment exactly as it is without judgement) but also kindness and compassion for myself.
Meditation isn’t about blocking out difficulty or creating a state of relentless positivity.
Instead it’s about learning how to be with whatever arises, moment by moment.
The good, the bad and the downright ugly and unfair.
Using R.A.I.N to stay dry
There’s one practice in particular that I love to draw on at times of suffering like this.
It’s called R.A.I.N which is an acronym for a process that you can use both in meditation but actually also as you go about your day. It allows you to fully experience your difficulties but in a way that feels bearable.
I like to think of it as standing in the storm but staying dry.
How to make it R.A.I.N
If you’d like to experience me guiding you in this practice, you can join me on Monday morning at 8.30am for free live meditation. You can also find recordings of the practice on my YouTube channel and in my free facebook community.
Here’s what RAIN stands for:
Recognise what is happening;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with interest and care;
Nurture with self-compassion.
On the face of it, this formula seems so simple. But in my experience, our natural tendency to avoid things that are painful and to judge ourselves for what we’re feeling means this process is actually an act of radical self compassion.
When we stop and allow space for our full experience, we loosen its grip.
Instead of how we feel unconsciously guiding our actions – snapping at a loved one, eating the wrong food, binge-ing Netlfix, scrolling on our phones – we can choose action that serves us better.
For me this weekend that’s meant long walks, talking about how I feel, making plans and also having a good cry.
What would it look like for you if you made space for how you feel?
(You can also find out more about RAIN by following the work of Tara Brach)
Wishing you a peaceful Christmas
However this week has changed things for you, I hope that you can find some peace and love this Christmas.
If 2020 has gifted us nothing else, it’s allowed us to truly appreciate what matters. The simple pleasures and the reminder of who and what is important to us.
If you’d like to start 2020 with more calm and clarity, you might be interested to find out more about my 21 Day Ninja Mind Skills Programme that kicks off on January 10th.
Until next time, sending you so much love.