Cultivate new perspectives
These past weeks have brought it home how much we’ve taken for granted, having usually a fairly broad range of choices which are now quite limited. I’ve certainly found that having to adapt to the new ‘normal’ has required cultivation of new perspectives in order to lower frustration born out of underlying anxiety.
For weeks now I’ve had to order food online, as we’ve been self-isolating for some time. Having to stop myself doing my usual ‘pop to the shops’ routine was something I really struggled with and had to work against my mind telling me it would be ok to just pop to one shop, surely! I persevered, using short and frequent meditations, and the pop to the shop habit in my mind was broken and I felt considerably better.
When I visit shops I have control over what I take home. However, when I order online I may choose what I’d like to have but have no control over whether I will receive what I ordered. Initially I found the situation really frustrating and found my mind was conjuring up thought patterns around running out of food, which I knew was quite ridiculous but it didn’t stop the thoughts keep coming up. Again, I used short meditation practices to centre and ground myself in the here and now, rather than worrying about the future. I realised it was the lack of control of my life situation as a whole that was at the root of my anxiety over food; interesting to notice in the light of what’s happening with food hoarding behaviour!
Having noticed how I was responding mentally and physically to the situation we are in, I consciously set about changing my perspective on things. Instead of giving in to frustration at not getting what I ordered, I set about cultivating an attitude of open-minded curiosity to explore what I might create out of the foodstuffs that were delivered to my door.
At one point, as I tried to add some items to my order, the only items in my basket showing as not “out of stock” were anchovies and harissa paste #challenging. However, the items available for dispatch did imporove before my delivery, which became a positive event in relation to what I got rather than frustration for what I’d not.
A change in my perspective, shifting my habitual mindset, really helped me turn negative thoughts to positive ones.
As I’m now confined to the house I’m finding time to dip into cookery books that have been unopened for years.
I made some soup yesterday from vegetables ordered online, in quantities I would not have chosen, but nevertheless gratefuly received. What was left of an enormous piece of broccoli was ‘going over’ in the fridge, but my perspective on how to respond to this fact had changed. No longer was it a case of “oh dear, what a shame” and into the compost bin with the broccoli. “No”, this was food that was far more valued now and so called to be made into something, not discarded.
Referring to several books I came across a soup recipe using what I had, broccoli, potatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper and sweetcorn; the result was quite delicious. Not only that, but the making of a soup, outside of my normal repertoire, delivered a little shot of joy along with a dollop of satisfaction and achievement; an excellent wellbeing boost.
Through simply changing my perspective I’ve effectively lowered my stress levels about things that are effectively outside my control. I’ve also learned how to turn a negative into a positive, which makes me feel better inside.
Cultivate being positive
My soup story may seem trite in relation to coping with the new normal, given the enormity of events unfolding and how the virus will affect each of us personally.
However, my point is that bringing conscious attention to noticing how we are dealing with everyday living, whatever that may involve, can help us to focus more on the present moment, rather than worrying about what’s in the future, or not in our online shopping basket.
Bringing conscious awareness to what is happening right now can us help let go of the negative thoughts that can become predominant. This makes space for positive thoughts to surface, achieved through focussing on what you’re involved with in ‘this’ moment, then the next and the next.
Never has the saying
“Like it or not, this moment is all we really have to work with” (Jon Kabat Zinn) been more relevant.
Obviously you can’t be expected to strive to live your life always in the present moment, but the more you consciously practice the more your brain will shift away from experiencing negativity. It’s said you can only truly experience happiness in the present moment, so it’s got to be worth aiming to spend more time there.
Practicing mindful meditations can be of great assitance is lowering stress and anxiety levels and is a good way to train your brain to be more resilient in the face of stress and anxiety. Learning about mindfulness can help you focus on the positives of ‘here and now’, rather than being consumed with worrying about what’s going to happen in the future, or what went on in the past.
If you’d like to experience the benefits of mindfulness meditation, I can help.
Online mindfulness sessions
Zoom, skype or facetime
I’m Susan Collini, an accredited Mindfulness Now teacher.
I can teach mindfulness on a one-to-one basis, or you can join in with the free sessions, or you can book sessions just for you and some friends. Get in touch and start a conversation.