If I deviate even a few millimetres away from the path of being present right now in this very moment, from my focus on being bodily fully here, aware of breath and sounds, then my mind seems to take it as an invitation to start occupying itself with potential problems. Endless ruminations of possible problems and issues ‘How will I pay the bill due in 2 weeks?’ ‘What if I run out of work?’. These types of things are repetitive and exhausting to enter into, especially if I enter into them fully and then my body responds with stress and fear. Then that encourages more of these types of thoughts, the monster has babies! Its agony to go there. I succumbed in the early hours this morning and suffered for it, felt nauseous with worry. Managed to bring my attention back into my physical body which made me come back into present time. I did a little body scan mindfulness and breathed.
I am feeling the residue of that fear right now. I let those thoughts in, behaved as if they were entirely real, even though they were projections weeks into the future, and I now feel afraid. I have heard this called reification of thoughts. That is, making them more real than they are, and then responding to them as if they were real. FEAR=False Evidence Appearing Real.
I used to think that replacing those thoughts was the answer, you know, bullying them out of existence with positive thinking and affirmations. It didn’t work. I also thought that squashing them was an option, and denying them, and that didn’t work either. I have now finally discovered what works. It is being present, allowing all the thoughts and feelings and sensations to arise, recognise them for what they are and remain centred and present while experiencing them. Being the still centre of the turning world. It is that simple. ‘Oh there’s that scary thought again. Hello scary thought’ A light-hearted curiosity about them. Just not taking them as the truth, taking them as real factual actuality. They are not. But they can be so convincing huh?! This is an opportunity for us to sharpen our awareness.
I recognise a gift in my hands here. It is forcing me to remain present. The choice otherwise is too painful. Rather than just meditating twice a day, its meditation all day every day when I remember. In the present I always seem to feel safe and well. It is a refuge, awareness in the present. I am warm, well fed, well clothed, and comfortable. It is only when I let my mind wander off into the future or the past that the suffering thunders down on me.
Last night I went to a mindfulness drop in class. A lovely guy called Jim facilitating and three other women I have not met before. We did 15 minutes of mindful walking which is walking as slowly as possible, which has the effect of making you completely present in your body, as it takes quite a lot of concentration.
And then 15 minutes of guided meditation. His gentle voice guided us to be aware of our breath, of the weight of our bodies sitting supported by the chair, and so on… I experienced a deep joy and sense of wellbeing. And a trust and soft intimacy with the others as we shared our experience. It was precious.
Outside a big storm is raging right now, the wind is howling relentlessly, the trees battered in every direction. I notice how they occupy ‘the still centre of the turning world’. That place I am, we all are in, that we keep forgetting about. It is there all the time, acknowledged or not. I soothe myself by breathing in and out consciously. Cup of tea, fire and sleeping dog beside me and all is well in this present moment which is all there ever is.