Welcome to Week Five of Reset Button's Online Mindfulness Course.
Week Five: Let The Rain In
Have you ever faced a painful situation like a breakup, the loss of a loved one or a disappointing outcome at work?
Do you notice that discomfort sometimes shows up for you, both physical and emotional?
When you feel pain, do you feel the urge to do something to get rid of it?
Then you are like every other human being in this world.
Just by being alive we inevitably experience difficulties. Things sometimes just don't go as we would like them to. People don't behave as we wish they would. Events don't happen the way we hope. We face painful feelings such as sadness, anxiety, disappointment, stress and physical pain. When this happens it is very natural for us to react by trying to push it away.
One way of doing this is by ‘soldiering on’ or by denying the pain’s existence, by telling ourselves that really it's not so bad. Alternatively we can try to distract ourselves by self-medicating with food, alcohol or drugs. We can try to solve it by endlessly turning it over in our minds. Or, we can bury it under a pile of distractions.
Another common way to react to pain is to drown in it, becoming overwhelmed by the discomfort. Getting caught up in fears or judgments such as, ‘I can't stand this’, ‘I can’t cope’ or ‘how could I be so stupid’. That in turn leads to an increased sense of hopelessness and powerlessness.
Quite likely these strategies are what we have been trying for years. For some of us they may have worked in the short term but then we notice that actually the suffering associated with the pain has still not gone away, or possibly it's got worse. Or sometimes we may find that we have created another, additional problem for ourselves.
There is however a different way to deal with these situations. A different approach that is to turn towards our pain as it happens in the moment and see it for what it really is: a part of being a human being who cares and who wishes that things were different right now. By doing this we can increase our acceptance of whatever arises in our experience, allowing us to respond in the healthiest way possible. By being with our experience in a kind and compassionate way, we can open up the time and space necessary to choose a response. In doing so, we may discover that the wisest way of responding is to do nothing at all.
This can go against what we instinctively feel we want to do. However, paradoxically, by letting go of resistance to pain, by letting it be and allowing ourselves to feel it, we sometimes experience a decrease or even disappearance of the discomfort.
Week Five's Audio Session (? minutes long)
Please find a nice quiet place where you can listen to this uninterrupted. Relax and enjoy, as this is something you are doing for yourself.
Practices for Week Five
Observing Thoughts Meditation & Exploring Difficulties Meditation (9 minutes, 11 minutes)
Observing Thoughts meditation followed by Exploring Difficulties meditation once a day for six out of seven days.
During the Exploring Difficulties meditation, you will be asked to bring a difficulty to mind. Remember that this does not have to be the most difficult thing in your life right now but could be something such as a disagreement or something that you found disappointing.
Some people find this meditation a real challenge. The objective here is not to push on through something that you feel is very painful or overwhelming.
Others might find that they don't notice much of anything at all. If this is the case, just see if you can be open to whatever comes up even if it is the tiniest flickering of sensation.
PLEASE NOTE: If there is a lot going on in your life right now you might find that this is not the right time to begin the Exploring Difficulties meditation. If so, continue practicing with one of the earlier meditations and come back to it at a later time if you choose. Also remember that you can choose to come back to the breath at any time as your safe harbour.
The second practice for this week is an informal practice. This means that you can do it anywhere, any time. You don't have to be in your meditation space. Practice at first with the audio, but once you have got the idea use it any time that you feel you might become overwhelmed by strong emotion. It is best to practice it a few times so that you remember it when you need it.
The practice is known by it’s acronym: RAIN.
Recognise the presence of a strong emotion.
Allow things to be just as they are.
Investigate with attention, where in the body are the emotions?
Non-Identification; rest in Natural Awareness. Don’t get caught up in the emotions, be soft and open to them.
The last part, the non-identification, can be very useful. This helps us to show the mental stories that we tell ourselves and helps bring us to the understanding that our emotions don’t determine who we are, but are another passing mental state. It allows us to not act on them unconsciously.
This week, look after a plant mindfully.
How often do we really look at plants? Not enough. Especially those of us that live in cities.
Have you ever become so caught up in your life that you had a plant die on you because you forgot to water it?
This week either take a plant you already have or buy yourself one. It can be as small or large as you want it to be. If you work in an office you could choose to get a small one and put it on your desk.
Each day use all five senses to interact with the plant. Look at the texture of its leaves, the different colours and shades, smell it, touch it gently, even listen to it.
When you water it see what happens to the earth and see if you notice any changes in the plant from day to day.
Want to share your experience? Use #habitreset on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and share your pictures or feelings. Let us know any thoughts or questions on our forum. LINK TO FORUM
Happiness Is an Empty Promise
Renowned psychologist Steven Hayes talks about the importance of being able to experience the full range of emotions rather than chasing happiness to reach a more fulfilling life.
In Your Journal
Write down five things that you have noticed this week.
Have you noticed a moment this week where you felt overwhelmed? What did you do?
Write down how you tend to deal with difficult emotions - do you distract yourself, try to solve them or push them away? Has this got rid of the feelings permanently?
Write down what you noticed when you used the RAIN technique.
What do you feel most grateful for this week?
REMEMBER: Q&A FORUM FOR WEEK FIVE - WE WILL CHECK IN AT TIMES THROUGHOUT THE WEEK AND REPLY TO YOUR QUESTIONS. CLICK HERE TO GO TO FORUM