Over the weekend, as I immersed myself in the beauty of the crocus and its wide variety of purples and oranges, I was reminded of my love of nature and in particular, wild flowers and their natural colour; they fill me with hope and I immediately feel uplifted and strengthened by their beautiful presence.
Once more I was reminded of the importance of noticing the little things that bring pleasure. I write often of nature and yet these small flowers and their mass of colour gave me such joy that I felt it important to share this simple gift.
This hope was rewarded greatly when, over the past few days, the warmth of the sunshine has meant that the tulips are now beginning to nudge their way through the earth. I smile to myself as I can’t remember what colour they will be but what I do know is that they will bring me joy and I wonder at their ability to give such pleasure.
I love to share this excitement and encourage anyone who is looking for a little joy to buy some flowers in whatever colour you are drawn to and spend time admiring their beauty. It is a wonderful way to awaken our senses and become fully present and alive to the wonders of nature and colour.
Despite my busy mind I know only too well that as long as I stay in the present moment and use my mindfulness techniques, especially the 3 minute breathing space, which I find particularly helpful and supportive, I am able to achieve much more than I believe possible.
However, over this past week I have allowed myself to become carried away by my negative thoughts which have led to me feeling stressed and anxious and I have noticed a tightness throughout my body. At the height of the busy – ness, internal and external, I found it hard to breathe. In hindsight, I realise I was longing to be somewhere different; to be ahead of myself and in the future when all of my to do list is completed and accomplished.
Saying goodbye to places and people is sad and yet it is a part of life. I know only too well that if I don’t allow myself to feel loss, I won’t be free to be in the present and enjoy what I am creating. So, as I listen to the birds and enjoy the glimpse of blue sky above me, I remember the happy times and for a moment feel held by my memories and the beauty of the past; I come into presence.
All is not lost; I don’t need to hold on tightly and forget. I need to relax and trust that all is well and that the spaciousness and capacity of my heart can be with all of my feelings and allow me to move forward into the future. I treasure my past and as I allow myself to breathe into it, to soften, I feel freer to remember that all I hold dear will never be forgotten.
One of the most supportive and comforting aspects of Mindfulness, and there are many, is knowing that I have the techniques and practice as a whole, to help with self-regulation. I believe it enhances our overall well-being as without it we are unable to experience and take in life and be with all of its ups and downs.
This past week I have found my ability to self-regulate has been tested. I have found my feelings of frustration and sadness have been heightened and I have allowed my mind to take me down tunnels of helplessness. When this happens, in order to self-regulate and come back into the present moment, it is essential to tune into my senses which allow me to return to a state of curiosity and receptivity. I am then able to see where I am and I can feel what it is like to be in this space and am able to gently and kindly remind myself to breathe and move forward, out of this place of despair. The ingredient that is needed for this to be successful is self-compassion which allows me to move and remember that it is not for my highest good to remain stuck in the dark.
Mindfulness and in particular the use of our breath as a means of self-regulation allows us to remain open and curious in times of despair and acknowledge that life is different at the moment. There are undeniable losses and yet many aspects of my life have been enhanced during this time. As I pause, I remember a cellar where I used to love to spend time in my childhood. The smell was so particular and feels profound; this memory and making it conscious helps me to self-regulate. I realise it was a safe place that I have internalised from childhood and I feel a smile come to my face.
As I walked in the fog this morning, I could see the outline of trees and the light of the sun behind the clouds was faintly evident. My heart was full with hope for the rays of sunshine to find their way through and the blue of the sky to be revealed. My wish came true and as I spoke with someone on the phone their voice and being changed as they shared their experience of warmth and joy at the presence of the sun.
I am reminded of the saying: “there is a light at the end of every tunnel. Some tunnels just happen to be longer than others”. It is at this point of the year that the days start to lengthen and there is more daylight to enjoy and immerse myself in whenever possible. The tunnel feels a little shorter and I am truly thankful for each moment of sunshine and light that gives me this sense of hope.
I encourage those of you who struggle with the menopause, or in fact any aspect of your life, especially at this time, to pause for a moment, or longer if possible, and connect with the sunshine and blue sky. It is both heart-warming and essential to your well-being and perhaps you might like to share it with someone else. And if the skies have been grey for some time I hope you can reach out to a friend and feel the warmth and sunshine within you as you connect with them and remember the feeling of being held and supported by one another.
This morning I recorded meditations to connect with the sixth and seventh chakras. The sixth chakra, known as the Third Eye, is above the bridge of the nose and is represented by the colour indigo. It assists in connecting to our intuition and helps to discriminate and clarify what is true for us. It also supervises the other chakras and can be known as the seat of the soul.
Our seventh chakra, known as the Crown, is above the top of the head and is represented by the colour violet. It allows us to connect with universal energy and a sense of spaciousness. It is most easily accessed in meditation and helps bring us into a state of inner calm and stillness, to feel centred.
My experience of being in the menopause has taken me to many dark places within myself and yet by confronting, with loving kindness and self-compassion, the pain has become more tolerable and I have come to accept that there is opportunity for a deepening of my understanding of what it means not only to be human but to be a woman of a certain age.
I have found that I have more energy now to fulfil a longing to be playful and to embrace this stage of life, and using the energy centres of the chakra system along with Mindfulness techniques I have found a wonderful way to keep energised and hopeful of the wonderful experiences that are around the corner.
The snow fell quickly and quietly on Sunday morning and within a very short period of time it had covered the ground and branches of the trees, dramatically changing the vista of the countryside.
Along with this, the goldfinches, chaffinches and robins started to arrive at the bird table, hungry for food they couldn’t find elsewhere. I watched in awe at their beauty and shared my excitement by forwarding photos and videos to friends and family. I realise that all of my senses were heightened by the wonder of this experience.
Listening to the sound of the goldfinches chattering against the background of the stillness of the snowfall helped me connect with my breath which then gave me a sense of spaciousness and oneness.
This reminded me of the importance of the concept of the Beginners Mind in Mindfulness, to see things as if from the eyes of a child, which allowed me to take in the freshness and fullness of this experience and to become more deeply attuned to all of my senses. The sense of calm that I felt was both soothing and heart-warming and the inner transformation that I experienced by this breathtakingly beautiful scene and a sense of calm filled my entire being.
I hope this inspires you to pause for a moment during your day and allow yourself to connect with a Beginners Mind that sees things not through the lens of past experiences and ideas but as if you are seeing something for the first time, with fresh eyes and ears and a newly polished and freshly tuned lens. The snow may have now gone but the beauty and stillness that this gave me can be brought to mind at any moment if I change my focus.The Feeling of the Wind?