A mindful approach

Life is change. I know this. Even the reliable turns of the seasons do not go as expected, do they? If we are to see, there is beauty in the everyday minutiae of change.

And I believe in progress, less of the advancement of human enterprise, rather of the mindful approach to our human experience

  • towards greater awareness of who we are in the worlds we inhabit, whether personal or professional,
  • towards greater connection to these worlds,
  • towards greater understanding of our impact on them,

and to these, I have unwittingly been seduced since a young age, fuelled by an insatiable curiosity.

It is a beautiful seduction, though not necessarily easy or without pain.

This mindful approach requires an open mind and a vulnerable heart. And I am not without the scars to prove them.

The greater awareness to life also requires us to let go of the past and our ideas of the future, to have the willingness to be present without judgment and to see the world afresh. The wonder and intrigue that come our way when we allow ourselves to experience them.

Put aside the critical thoughts based on a past conditioning of what the future should be.

My daughter recently sang in a concert and for the first time, she did so in her school uniform. It was a school day after all. I remember when she eschewed the idea of changing from her school uniform, judgment flooded my mind questioning her dedication to her craft and fear that she wouldn’t be taken seriously.  This lasted for a brief moment then I let those thoughts go. These are unwarranted worries and anxieties. My mind has always been an incredible trickster.

Her performance that evening was her best so far, for she captivated with her voice and composure, expressing her emotions from within. I looked around the room, and saw an audience rapt with attention, spellbound by her haunting rendition of “Burn” from the musical “Hamilton”. It seems she had developed a confidence grounded within herself; a fragile bubble at times for creative people. I am truly grateful that I did not prod at it with my unruly thoughts. To trust the process and let things unfold is not easy, but do-able.

Not all things change however… at least not at the speed or time that we expect them to. It is our expectation then which creates disappointment, hurt and pain.

Hope is present, expectation is merely a conditioned thought.

Expectations interfere with our connection to the world, for it is because of our fear for the myriad of unmet expectations – that our love will be betrayed, our vulnerability will be shamed, our curiosity mocked – that we distance ourselves from being alive in the moment to our work and relationships.

Identify a destination by all means, chart our course and trust that we have the capacity to undertake the journey. We do. Planning may be useful, but the fixation with each manoeuvre will inhibit our adaptability to change.

A mindful approach requires us to employ our senses in each moment, untainted by the past. Memories, “good or bad”, have their uses; we may not forget but we sure don’t need to be ruled by them.

Being mindful in a changing world requires trust, in ourselves and the unfolding life.

Each moment is a new moment.

 

~ FlorenceT

© Transfigure Therapy 2017

Empathy is not necessarily helpful

 

“Empathy is a distributed brain process” says the research team from the University of Colorado Boulder.

What does this mean? Empathy as an experience is not located in a specific region of the brain, rather it “utilises” the whole brain.

The researchers differentiate between empathic care – where empathy generates care and assistance and occurring in the part of our brain associated with value and reward; and empathic distress – where it triggers avoidance, fear and anger, and occurring in that part of our brain dealing with mirroring.

While there is little difference person to person as to the patterns for empathic care and empathic distress, what promotes the care element?

Check this out on Medical News Today.

Masculine traits contribute to mental health problems

 

Recent research from Indiana University Bloomington shows traditional stereotypes of masculinity are linked to mental health challenges. The greater the conformity to these masculine “traits” of “a desire to win, need for emotional control, and risk-taking” and “playboy behaviour or sexual promiscuity”, the higher the risk of mental health issues.

In 2015, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, film-maker, was inspired to direct “The Mask You Live In” to bring to light the narrow definition of masculinity in US society, and and its negative impact on men’s mental health and social dysfunction.

We can choose re-write the story of who we are and who we want to be, to be rid of the bonds of these unhelpful “traits” and “stereotypes”.

To read about men’s experiences of this, go to this article from the Guardian.

 

Depression caused by inflammation…

 

An alternate view on the cause of depression… it’s physiological. “Finally, we can say that depression is not always something that is only in your mind, it could be a problem in your body as well,”

For more, see this article in the UK Telegraph.

Pursuing happiness is going about it the wrong way

Show up to your emotions.  Sometimes we have to confront and get through or let go. The constant pursuit of happiness as a goal and the flip side of constant evaluating how or if you are ‘happy enough’ is counter-productive.

Susan David, Harvard psychologist and author of ‘Emotional Agility’, says in Business Insider,

… ‘showing up’ is stopping any struggle that you might have within yourself about whether you should feel something, shouldn’t feel something, should think something, shouldn’t think something, whether it’s a bad thought or good thought.

Just be.