It’s ok to not be happy all the time!

Over the past few months, I have come to realise that aiming to be positive all the time and rejecting and resisting negative thoughts doesn’t work. More than that, it’s not good for us because we beat ourselves up when things go differently. I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are times when we haven’t been able to be happy, and it’s ok.

Last week, I was very ill with a virus, and it completely knocked me out. I literally couldn’t leave my bed and felt as ill as I did during my flare last September. I couldn’t stand without the dizziness becoming too much, I couldn’t eat solid food. While I was feeling this ill, negative thoughts resurfaced.

Over the past few months, I had started doing yoga and meditation and had even started eating very healthily, and felt like I was getting better. So when a small virus managed to hurt me this much, I felt very down. A virus had never affected me this much before, and I felt like my search to get better was fruitless. Why was I becoming more ill? At the time, I ended up speaking to someone, and told them I was very sad that I was still ill despite all my lifestyle changes when others had managed to get better. 

Continue reading “It’s ok to not be happy all the time!”

Mindfulness of everything

“Take my hand. 
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere”.
~ Thich Naht Hanh,
Viatnamese Buddhist Monk, poet and peace activist 

We often do not realise the moments that we are missing – the senses that we are not truly using, the people we are not being truly present with, the sounds and sights and sensations that are changing every second. Life is found in the present moment.

This quote came from one of the books I’m reading “mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different: enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will): being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t)” – James Baraz

And with mindfulness, comes the realisation of impermanence. Literally nothing is permanent: not pain, not any feelings, not the bad ones or the good ones. So mindfulness taught me to treasure the good feelings and sensations, and to sit with the more difficult feelings and sensations, and I know how to deal with them when they arrive. The best I can do, is to be with the present moment: mindfulness can touch feelings in a way that can transform even fear and sadness. There are a lot of buddhist teachings around mindfulness, and one thing I wanted to talk about was bringing mindfulness into every day life.

Today one of my friends told me they couldn’t understand how I could do a walking meditation! So I told them, you can meditate to everything. Meditating is about being in the present moment, sensing all around you and within you at that moment and being in that vast sense of awareness – knowing the richness and beauty of life for all that it is. It is about encountering and recognising feelings and thoughts when they arise but not being caught up in them, and instead, actually living!

Before the walking meditation, think about a handwashing meditation – how often are you thinking of something, when you are washing your hands? How would it feel, instead, to open the tap and allow the water to run over your hands: to feel the coolness or warmth, the softness of the water as it trickles through your fingers, how it feels to rub your palms together and how the soap feels as it froths in your hands? How often do we notice how it feels to walk on the earth, how each step feels? We have a million of these moments every day. I have so many of these moments every day – and now, I just sit or walk with these moments, when I can, where I can, and notice the present moment.

When I went to the park recently, I just sat there, and looked at the trees before me. The lake, the stillness of it, the flowers, the people sitting around and playing. These little moments are our world. 

Today I did a walking meditation. I  walked around the block of flats with a rollator, only stopping twice to sit down. This was my second time going out: last time I had to stop and rest many times. It is a very short distance, but for someone who could not walk more than 2 steps without pain, this was amazing. 

I got strength from mindfulness, from taking each moment as it came. I noticed so many things I hadn’t before, like how many footsteps I took on each in-breath and out-breath, how the soles of my feet within my shoes felt when I walked on the pavement, the softness and slight coolness of the breeze on my face, the sudden warmth as the sun came out and touched my face, the whooshing noise of the cars as they went past. It was wonderful.

 I am so lucky to have discovered mindfulness in this way, and to have seen calmness and peace within myself is not only for me – it changes the lives of others around too, which is an even more wonderful thing. 

“I have arrived. I am home. My destination is in each step” – Thich Nhat Hanh

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Gratitude part 2: the things I love

In my last post, I talked about the simple thought of feeling gratitude for my body and all it can still do. It has changed the way I think and the way I react to pain: I don’t go back and beat myself up as much about why I am in pain, instead I try to tell myself, “I can feel grateful for all the parts of me that still do the little that they are able to right now, and I can do the small things that make me happy!”

Today I will talk about how I started to feel gratitude for the other things around me. I took a piece of paper, and wrote down all the beautiful and wonderful things in my life that I am happy for. It looked something like this:

~ the cutest cuddly toys ever (they are so cute!!!)
~ my amazing mum who has looked out for me since I was very small and still does so much for me!
~ my wonderful boyfriend, who has been with me through it all and has also bought me lots of cuddly toys when I was down 🙂
~ yummy food
~ lovely friends who visit me and bring takeaway food!
~ moving to a new home through a social housing exchange scheme (I am now in a more accessible flat, which is also much warmer than the old one!)
~ my colourful clothes and love of sewing (even though I’m only learning)
~ the opportunity to learn about meditation and yoga 
~ my love of reading, all the wonder that books have brought me and all the excitement for the books that I have yet to read! 
~ disney films
~ nature: the park near my flat and also regents park in central London which I know I will get to visit again soon!
~the amazing and thoughtful postcards and letters I receive from my friend who lives in South Africa. About 6 months ago, when I wasn’t able to leave the house, these would arrive every few days and cheer me up so much..and they still continue to do so! They’re very artistic / photos of the beautiful animals that can be found in South Africa, and his postcards always bring a smile to my face 🙂 

Continue reading “Gratitude part 2: the things I love”

Gratitude: part 1

Last week, I had just done a very light yoga session. Despite the yoga being very gentle, I still felt frustrated that my capability had reduced so much – I felt dizzy even sitting up for a few minutes, and my legs were in pain – every time I put weight on them they hurt, and I was in a panicked state. But as my yoga teacher started the last relaxation part of our yoga class, something shifted. 

“Feel gratitude for your wonderful legs..your legs that carry you and bear your weight, even if it is only for very short distances for now..be thankful to your legs, that are a part of you…

Be grateful to your  beating heart, for even when it is under pressure, it beats so well in order to pump blood to all the parts of your body that need it most” 

These words had a profound effect on me. I realised I needed to be kinder to my body. I am where I am, and I can accept myself wherever I am. You may ask – how can I accept myself when I wish I wasn’t like this? But right now, that is where you are. It doesn’t help to be upset and angry at yourself for being where you are right now. And only if you accept it, you can do what your body needs – and in my case, that is rest. So be where you are, and do only whatever you can 🙂

If my legs hurt today even more than they did yesterday,  I am still grateful to my body for working as much as it is, right now.  In fact, nothing can change where I am right now. So I make the most of all around me, in the present moment. This way of thinking brings me a lot of comfort. 

To end, here’s a sweet picture of Pooh and Piglet!

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image source:http://advantage.edu.pl/