Sunday, 19 January 2014

Concentrating on what is wrong

I don't often meditate.  When I do, I remember why it is such a useful activity.  Focusing on the present, strange as it may sound, puts the past and the future into context.  In that state, being fully present in the present, as it were, it is possible to have moments of great insight.  One such moment of insight was the realisation that we spend so much time focusing on what is wrong with our lives, or how to improve our situation, that we miss all the things that are right.

Maybe the self help industry has taught us to never be satisfied, to always strive for better, and to correct every perceivable problem we judge ourselves to have.  It's certainly a good way to sell books.

When I was a child, my brother and I attended a judo class at the community centre down the road from where we lived.  Actually, we attended TWO judo classes at the community centre down the road from where we lived.

Staying on the mat for the period between the children's class and the adults' class, we somehow managed to stay and get two classes for the price of one.  That time between classes gave us an empty mat, on which to practise breaking our fall, groundwork and generally rolling around.  All that space to run around indoors, to two kids who had spent most of their lives living in the Victorian terraced houses of Chadderton, was heaven.

For many reasons, it was a time of great change for our family, and most of it was not good.  I won't go into the reasons here, but we had to adapt quickly to everything changing around us.  Looking back, I sometimes wonder how we got through those challenging times.  It's fashionable to call it "mindfulness" nowadays, but it is ably demonstrated by my brother and I rolling around that mat as children.

If you are always carrying your worries around with you, you may be depriving yourself of peak experiences, as Abraham Maslow would call them.  There will always be something to worry about.  Always.  It may be a tiny worry or one so big that it overwhelms you.  Having that worry cast its shadow over you twenty four hours a day is tiring and, if you let it, will affect other areas of your life.

Sometimes, you just have to roll around the mat.  You have to be fully absorbed in actively enjoying yourself.  Whatever challenges you face in your life, the ability to put them on hold and just enjoy those peak experiences, or appreciate that there is so much good in your life as well, is likely to determine how well you are able to cope.  If you feel that your life is all work and no play, yet you do nothing about it, maybe it is time you did.

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