The Gift of Time
Busy, busy, busy time of year! Even busier than normal! No time to sit and meditate…people to see, things to do, food to eat, drinks to drink, ‘treats’ to be had…meditation can wait!!
And yet, I can’t help but think that meditation is the ultimate ‘treat’. If we think of a ‘treat’ in the true context of its meaning, as treating our self (and others) with love and kindness.
Somewhere along the timeline of our lives this concept seems to have been hijacked! Often what we regard as a ‘treat’ is something that we limit because we know it isn’t good for us, or because we feel guilty about indulging ourself. So no matter how much we are told ‘we’re worth it‘ there is a part of us that really, deep down doesn’t feel that is true.
Mindfulness helps us to see through all of that and get to a place where we can really care for and ‘treat’ our self, body and mind, with appreciation and respect, taking quality time out to get beyond the surface, to understand our real needs and what is really nourishing. It may require a bit of swimming against the cultural and/or familial tide which can initially feel uncomfortable, but once we gain the confidence to be true to our self and our own needs, whilst balancing that with the needs of others, we feel a whole lot happier and our health and wellbeing flourishes!
Talking of swimming against the cultural tide, I’ve recently been working with a female engineer (I know this is becoming more common, but it wasn’t when Eileen started out). We met through a mutual business contact who was starting a new venture and we had both decided to share some of our time and skills with the project. A few meetings in and whilst out walking, Eileen and I got talking about mindfulness and our respective practices and the merits and limitations of mindfulness apps. We both agreed that they can be a good starting point, but that they are limited by their ‘virtual’ nature. Of course, ‘virtual’ means ‘almost, nearly, not quite’ and that is telling. The difference between a live and a recorded meditation is similar to the difference between listening to a CD (!) and being at a concert. There is an energy that can only be partially captured in a recording. Also, in the case of learning meditation we can’t ask an app the questions that inevitably arise in response to our practice, that requires someone who has deep understanding based on a robust personal practice.
Eileen decided that she wanted to “invest in her mind” (I love that someone actually thought that!) and we worked together over eight weeks, coaching, mentoring and practising. She commented on the depth of the meditation compared to the ‘app’ experience and started to experience shifts taking place in her life as a result. She says:
“On the surface, my sessions with you might seem like “just” a really nice involved chat with someone with whom I have made a connection…However, through the sessions and the explorative nature of the discussions I have become much more in tune with some of my inner self. I had felt lacking in established core values – or rather a set of guiding principles – and the discussions revealed that I only needed one – that of being authentic…The effect has been more than that of a more balanced and happier outlook – good things in themselves – I have now re-evaluated my direction and choices – with the end outcome of having just started a new job after a long period of (self) unemployment” (printed with permission).
Eileen had a trust and self-compassion that enabled her to invest in her self, not because she felt ‘broken’ but because she really understood what it means to feel ‘you’re worth it’.
I too, have invested ‘heavily’ in my own practice this year, taking time out to be on retreat, in addition to my daily practice and my mentoring programme for lay ordination. I have gone deeper into my self to breakthrough some of my own limiting beliefs and behaviours, to deepen my own healing process and access a deeper more consistent state of inner peace. Inevitably this has had a beneficial effect on those I guide, mentor and coach. Much has been written in leadership literature about ’emotional contagion’ (the emotional effect we have on one another) and the transmission of ‘mood’, and this is essentially what happens when I guide a meditation – there is a transmission of positive and peaceful energy takes place. So the more hours I invest in meditation, the greater the benefits for those I work with.
Each of us can generate more of this energy within our self and this can be our gift to those around us, our positive contribution to the world. The first step to achieving this is to give our self the gift of time…