I finished the first session of my meditation teacher training today and sent if off for marking. I have learned so much over the last two weeks or so as I completed the session, not only about myself, but also about meditation as a practice, its origins and how it came to the west.
One of the final exercises I did was a worksheet on meditation as part of holistic health. To do this worksheet I listened to a discussion by the head of the Australian Centre for Holistic Studies talk about how meditation affects us mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically, and how our health in these area affects our meditation. During this talk, she mentioned the Inner Child and the Positive Adult, and I wanted to touch on this now.
Many of us will have heard of the Inner Child, but less will know about the Positive Adult. Those of us who have heard about the Positive Adult will probably know it as the opposite of the Inner Child, but this is a very simplistic way of seeing things. The Positive Adult exists alongside the Inner Child and is the calming, soothing presence we find within ourselves. The Positive Adult helps us feel safe, face our fears and remain calm, comforting our Inner Child and helping them grow. Often, however, we focus heavily on our Inner Child, letting them run away with our thoughts and, as things get too hard, the Inner Child struggles to cope. If we have not cultivated a relationship with the Positive Adult within ourselves, that Inner Child has no one to turn to and, like a real child in a frightening, frustrating situation, they will break down and, in turn, so will we.
Our Inner Child is a beautiful force, but we need to nurture our Positive Adult too, so that the Inner Child has someone to go to when they can't handle the world anymore. One way to connect with the Positive Adult is through meditation, this helps to quieten the rushing mind of the Inner Child and let them rest, while allowing the Positive Adult space to grow. When we meditate we are safe, we are comfortable and secure, all states from which the Positive Adult can act and the Inner Child needs to be able to experience. If we cultivate this relationship with both sides of our being, we are on our way to a healthy, holistic practice.
Don't get too excited, course hasn't started yet.
However, I am one lucky lady. Because I enrolled within a certain time frame after receiving my course prospectus (kind of like an introduction handbook) I received an Enrolment Bonus. I received, free, a 21 Daily Meditation Program and a free Home Retreat download, which is a weekend's worth of guided meditations and spiritual practices, which I can either do of a whole weekend, or break down into small chunks. These are course extras which usually cost, so I'm feeling pretty special right now.
Reading through my 21-Day Program, something on the second page struck me and got me thinking. Those of you who follow my Instagram (@barbelldancer) may have seen my lyra post from earlier this week, where I mentioned having some trouble with my mental health, and I blogged about it recently too over in Straight Living. I'm on the up at the moment, I'm pleased to say, and it was this bout of recurring troubles that made me stop, reflect and realise I had two choices: I could either do something about it and change direction, or I could keep going in the same direction and know that this will eventually happen again.
If you know me, you will know which option I chose.
This was part of what led me to sign up to do meditation teacher training, but it is something I have been thinking about for a while now.
Anyway, page two of my guide had the following to consider:
Think about the kind of decisions do you make and how you communicate when you are feeling: overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, worried, desperate, alone, sad, annoyed, frustrated, exhausted, depleted and many more.
After reading through the author's list of what she did and how she communicated when feeling this way, I decided to do the exercise myself.
So, when I feeling like this I:
How unpleasant I must be to be around when I'm feeling like this!
Then on page three, there was a follow-up to consider:
Now think about the kind of decisions you make and how you communicate when you are feeling: clear, strong, healthy, focused, happy, connected, peaceful, supported, in control, empowered and energised.
And, you guessed it, I did this exercise too!
When I am feeling this way I:
I think I would like to hang out with me if I was feeling like this, rather than the first one.
But, the reality is, we don't feel good all the time, but even when we're not feeling good, it is helpful to try and keep up with our routine as much as possible, as long as it is not the cause of our misery.
Despite today's people living in a more and more individualistic way, people are social animals and we still have a deep tribal instinct: wanting to bond and share time with other humans. In times gone by, we didn't need to ask when we needed support or help because we were surrounded by others who knew and leaned in when we needed them. Now, in our individual world, we must ask when we need help, reach out for it, and it is often the fear of having that request rebuffed that stops us from making it in the first place.
Asking for help is really, really scary!
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a supportive family, friends they can turn to, or an understanding and stable employer who will give them time if they need it. Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed by life that we forget that we are in control of it. Yes, sometimes we need outside help - talking to a friend, finding a new job, speaking to a therapist, medication, ending a toxic relationship, moving back home - but we do have the capacity to heal and move forward. That is another reason for me to do this meditation course, as I want help to establish a daily practice and to learn skills that I can use in my daily life to help me remain in control. And, sometimes, shit happens, and there are things outside our control. The bus is running late, your car breaks down, it's pouring rain, you ate bad chicken by mistake, your pants ripped, you tripped over at the train station... so many events are outside our control, but if we can grasp in these moments something we can control, then we are much less likely to feel overwhelmed.
For example, you can't control the fact that your pants ripped, but you can walk into Big W and buy a new pair of cheap pants. You can't control the fact that it's pouring rain, but you can choose to go back inside and grab your umbrella (or get your gumboots and jump in the puddles!)
When we recognise that our emotions influence our decisions, we can take back some of the control we feel we have lost. Our emotions don't control us (although it sure feels that way sometimes!), we control them, but there's no harm in needing some help to get your hands back on the wheel.
I encourage you to have a go at the exercise I did above, reflect inwardly, and acknowledge that sometimes we feel bad and sometimes we feel good, but these feelings do not define us and we can take steps to move back into a more stable place.
I look forward to sharing more insights with you as I progress through my 21-Day Program and once my course starts.