Today I experienced a short period of read sadness. It is my dad’s 70th Birthday and we were having a bit of a family party when I suddenly became really tearful. Always difficult on such a happy occasion!
My Uncle put together a selection of old photos for dad’s birthday card. As I looked at the happy young family smiling at the camera I had a moment of feeling real helplessness. The feeling that I was so out of control. Those happy times have gone, there is no getting them back.
It is really unusual for me to feel like this and in a way it makes me feel dissatisfied with myself. I know that time passing is something none of us can control and every now and then that fact rears its head. Happy family times are so special and it is really difficult to look back without regret that they have passed and can’t be repeated.
Our happy family times are flying by and I had a realisation that things won’t stay as they are and that my parents won’t be here forever. A real reminder to savour every moment together.
Dad told me that his dad died at 76 and the thought that I might only have six years of him left suddenly hit me, and it hit me really hard. My thoughts turned to us all growing older and what that means.
Looking at this photo of my dad I could see the same boyish grin that I now see in Noah. I almost couldn’t bear to think about the situation when Noah reaches 70. Will I still be here? I’ll be in my 100s if I am!
So all these thoughts were filling my head for a short time and the emotions became so strong that they had to break out and show themselves. That’s when the tears came. Actually this is probably the healthiest way I could deal with these emotions, let them show themselves and then move on. Had I tried to fight the tears I know they would have shown themselves later on.
So my day moved on and I went to Tesco’s with Martyn and did a mundane shopping trip. As I walked round the isles I almost had that whole feeling sorry for myself state of mind. That was until I checked in with myself. Whilst standing in the fruit and veg section I noticed the weight in my feet, my breath as it entered and left my body and I had a moment of just being. Then I realised that I was happy. Life is good. Yes I had some sad thoughts earlier on but that didn’t mean that I could not appreciate the happiness I felt in the following moments and during the rest of the day.
Tonight we all got together for tea and cake and I really loved it.
Some people worry that mindfulness is about blocking out emotions. In reality quite the reverse is true. When we are mindful we are able to recognise our emotions more fully. If we pay them a bit of attention rather than trying to suppress them they cause much less trouble. If we can see that what we are feeling is completely normal then we instantly feel much better. If we can recognise that thoughts are just thoughts and that they don’t need to take over our whole being we get much more perspective on the situation. When the sad thoughts have gone we are able to move on, rather than dwelling over and over again on what ever the thoughts were that caused our upset.
Training our brain to recognise that we can move along from distressing thoughts takes some dedication and every now and then we slip up. Being mindful is a life skill that can take a lifetime to practice. So if your emotions get the better of you every now and then don’t feel that you have failed in your quest to be mindful. Congratulate yourself on recognising the emotion that you are feeling and remember to check in with yourself a little later to see what thoughts are then filling your mind. You may just surprise yourself and realise that you have moved on.