When you finally have a real choice

Last Sunday I had the most amazing 5 hours in Camden in a long time! Did I go to the zoo? Did I have a stroll on the canal or in Regent’s Park? Did I shop in the market? I went for a workshop at London Meditation.
The location was the perfect environment for this kind of ‘retreat’: a 3rd floor flat full of light, with big windows on beautiful roof views and 2 big balconies, spotless cosy main room with the perfect temperature, comfortable rug, chairs, pillows and blankets, well studied in every single practical detail (like the kitchen and a second room if in need of privacy for a moment).
The topic I had chosen to attend that day was self compassion mindfulness as too many times I catch myself being extremely judgemental towards my limits and poor choices, totally ignoring all the good things I achieve on a daily basis.

Susann’s voice was so warm and grounded at the same time, the day was very well scheduled between meditation practices and breaks and I found her choice of readings and the quality of the exercises within her guided meditations excellent.
We did a 10 mins meditation as an intro, focusing on what had brought us there that day. Later on we did a 25 mins body scan where I learned how I really had a choice to focus on the pleasant sensations of my body but also that I did not have to keep on suffering, I could put a hand on my aching body part to find some soothing (my left shoulder and upper back that day). After that practice we remained another 5 minutes in silence in touch with ourselves and self absorbed by our needs (hanger for a snack, toilet, enjoying the view) so it prolonged the benefits of our session, instead of having to spend energies trying to please someone else in a conversation.
Later on in the afternoon we meditated 15 minutes through all the stages of self compassion mindfulness: I am aware I am suffering in a difficult moment – I know I am not alone to go through those feelings as suffering is a human condition – how can I sooth myself even if the suffering might still be there. Towards the end of the day we did an empowering self love and kindness meditation session where we brought up feelings of unconditional love for someone who made us smile at first thought (I chose my teenage years idol) and than directing that powerful feeling towards ourselves.
The most noticeable thing is that I have seen the immediate benefits of the workshop throughout the first few days that followed the workshop: much more patience in dealing with my kids as I was able to acknowledge in the present moment when I was struggling and stop feeling isolated (I know I tend to go on victim mode but until now I never really had a tool to stop this before getting started); feeling my pain during an argument with my husband rather than turning it into anger or passive aggression; don’t let me put down by someone who gave me unrequested strong feedback about an important choice I had just made; focus on the possible positive outcomes within a difficult context at work…
Something has changed within me that day, and it seems to stay with me so far, despite nearly a week has gone by. It is as if all of the sudden I had waken up aware of the wolves’ fight within me. The story of the Native American Indian legend goes:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
So I have learned from those few hours of peace and healing and immersion within myself that I can feed the right one, and I can do so every day, as I am now conscious I have a choice: I don’t necessarily have to beat myself up, if I want to I can now choose happiness over misery and to sooth myself when I am in any kind of pain, remembering I am not the only one in that condition. I did it over and over again during those 5 hours so I am taking it with me in my daily life.


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