Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Playing Volleyball? Wear Sunscreen.

Recently I've been feeling rather pleased with myself for developing the skill of mindfulness. In those moments which don't require any extreme mental focus, I'll be thinking away freely and then every so often I'll catch one of my thoughts mid flow, stop it in its tracks, spin it around an examine it from all angles. This gives me the chance to say, "O-oh! We know where that's going to lead", chuck it away and simply choose a new thought path. Or even, "Oh! I'm being horribly mean about that person by thinking that thought. Am I projecting current feelings of insecurity onto others?"

This mental process is definitely a new skill that I'm proud of, but, as a wise woman named Mary Schmich once said "Don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either". The funny thing is, that in learning not to do the latter I have fallen into the trap of the former, and oh what a trap that can be.

It turns out that just like enjoying a long rally in a game of volleyball, sometimes it only takes a moment of lost concentration for the thought coming towards you to start tumbling until it reaches rock bottom, and it will hit the ground before you feel like you have had any power to stop it. You may even end up face-planting the sand for good measure.

So that's what happened to me tonight, during my little evening walk outside the hotel I've been living in for a month. Things have been quite emotionally difficult lately but as always, my work has provided a much needed injection of inspiration and happiness into my days. Work can often be so all consuming for me that there just isn't time for self-reflection. This can be both a blessing and a curse.

I had a wobble a couple of days ago due to a personal relationship. I thought I was better today after getting in-the-zone with my project and then as soon as I stopped, in crowded the unhealthy thoughts. They blindsided me. So much so that by the end of my twenty minute sortie this evening I was certain that the logical thing for me to do was to end my life. It was absolutely clear and made absolutely perfect sense. Face-plant. OK. That's when I felt the metaphorical sand in my teeth and heard my new mindfulness muscle finally pipe up and say "Oops! Sorry! Missed that one".

It's now much more difficult, having let the ball drop, to pick myself up off the sand, brush it out of my teeth and hair and get back in the game again. To be honest I feel like licking my wounds and removing myself from the game completely. My knees are grazed and my shoulder hurts. I'm not going to end it but I wish I could just take time out for injury. Shut it all out for a bit. That's not particularly helpful either though so here I am. Still standing. Just.

I'll say it again: "Don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. All your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's". Thank you Mary Schmich, who was the original writer of the lyrics "Wear Sunscreen" so often attributed to Baz Luhrmann. Thankfully at least, she still gets the royalties. A wise woman indeed.

Anna
A Moodscope member.

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