Reflections

Despite having a fairly solid eight hours’ sleep last night I woke this morning feeling like I’d been run over by a freight train. In part this was due to the intensity of the course I did over the weekend and the fact my brain needs time to process all that happened. Physiologically I suspect it also had rather a lot to do with the ridiculously high pollen count, which was referenced in this morning’s Metro newspaper. Either way I felt paralysed with exhaustion, and wasn’t mentally or physically able to drag myself out of bed until half past eight. With hindsight it would definitely have been wise to take a day to reflect on the Essentials before throwing myself back into work (today) and socialising (tonight), but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt this weekend it’s that there’s no point worrying about the past or the future. Things are just as they are, and just as they should be.

I remember some years ago attending a Buddhist retreat in rural Scotland (during the ‘Big Freeze’ of winter 2007, if I recall correctly, which made my mother sick with worry as I battled trains, planes and automobiles to get there. But I digress), after which I went to a restaurant in Glasgow with two of my fellow attendees. We had been warned by the leader of the retreat that ‘normal’ life might take a bit of getting used to after having so much quiet time, but none of us had prepared ourselves for just how strange it would feel. The easiest way I can think to describe it is that it was as if the volume and contrast settings had been turned right up, making everything too loud, too bright, too vibrant and vivid to process without feeling overwhelmed. I can’t deny I’m feeling a bit like that today, though on a lesser scale because I am at least blessed to be working for the charity that was borne from Psychosynthesis, which means my colleagues – many of whom have done the course themselves – are sensitive to how I’m feeling.

Daydreams of signing up for the foundation year course are still skipping merrily through my mind, but I’m determined to let the dust settle before committing to anything long-term. The planner in me is doing her damndest to take over, but for now I’m resisting her wily ways and doing my best to just be happy in the moment. And long may it continue…

Credit where it’s due / Revolt of the monkey mind

I’m the sort of sensitive soul who spends a large part of her daily routine in mental flagellation. By this I mean I rarely focus on the things I’ve done well, preferring to (or defaulting to a state of putting) focus on the negatives. At the moment, for example, I’m repeatedly chastising myself for finding it hard to concentrate on a single task for any length of time.

Some years ago, during my first flirtation with the practice of meditation and its various literary companions, I remember coming across the term ‘monkey mind,’ which I felt at the time (as I do now) so perfectly encapsulated my own mind it could have been invented especially for me. People with monkey minds, like myself, are constantly jumping from one thought (or branch, sticking with the monkey metaphor) to another, barely pausing for breath before moving on to the next one.

I speak from experience when I say this is an exhausting way to exist, but despite numerous (albeit half-arsed) attempts to calm my monkey mind through meditation and other such interventions I’ve failed to ever truly conquer it. So you can imagine just how draining it is not only to be afflicted with a monkey mind but also a mind that tends to err on the negative side of just about everything – especially when it comes to acknowledging personal achievements.

So today despite the whisperings telling me I spent too long on this task, not long enough on that, or that I could have done things so much better than I did, I’ve decided to stick two fingers up at the negative monkey mind and recognise what I did well. Maybe I didspend too long procrastinating over my emails first thing, and maybe the wording of that email to those journalists wasn’t quite right, but you know what? I wrote some pretty punchy contributions to the Guardian’s live chat on pay by results funding which built some decent kudos for my charity and I created a kick ass spread sheet of media contacts. So there, stupid monkey, take that.

Whether you’ve a negative monkey mind like me or not, why not take a minute to think about the things that you did well today? I hope you feel a glow of satisfaction as you think about them – because you should. You deserve it.

I’ve been dying to find an appropriate blog post for this picture to accompany, and finally the day has arrived. He took rather a shining to me at Singapore Zoo, even copying my movements so we drew quite a crowd!