It’s the last day of August, the last day, technically, of Summer. Now we all know that does not mean a
great deal in the UK. After a largely grey and at times, wet July and August, we could yet welcome an ‘Indian summer’ in September and October. It certainly offers variety and, in some strange way, excitement. We just never quite know what will happen.
It’s a bit like our inner weather patterns…..varied and at times unpredictable. Some days we feel on top of the world feeling that we can tackle anything that comes our way….the next we might see clouds edging in over the horizon threatening a cooler, less cosy environment.
Just as we can equip ourselves with to deal with a rainy, cold day by wearing warm and waterproof clothing, so we can equip ourselves to manage the inner weather changes that can manifest within us in the form of physical sensations, negative thought patterns and unhelpful emotions.
One of my favourite ‘in the pocket’ self-help reminders is R.A.I.N. This 4 step Mindfulness process is useful for when we are experiencing a challenge.
Recognise…….. take a moment to recognise if there is an unpleasant experience present gently turning towards it with curiosity.
Acknowledge…….. simply acknowledging the experience and your reaction to it.
Investigate………. becoming interested about how this experience feels. Tune into any physical sensations, thoughts and emotional patterns.
Non-identification………… avoiding creating a story around the experience with asking WHY. Every time we tell a story about an experience to ourselves or to others, it re vitalises the energy of the experience.
Through our Mindful practice, we learn how to stay present acknowledging that, in the next moment, things might be different. If we feel off balance, we recognise that fact, acknowledge it, focus on our breathing, maybe label an emotion, everything moving towards letting go of negativity and simply accepting it as being what it is in this moment.
Personal Experience of Weather and Mindfulness
Born and bred in the north of England, from as early in my life as I can remember, I always hated the cold
weather. Moving South at the age of 17 improved matters a little. Temperatures generally higher, skies often clearer and days just that little bit longer. But I still hated the cold weather and the greyness of the skies.
Then I started to travel abroad. I went to Greece, Turkey, South of France, British Virgin Islands, North and South America among other places. I found the hot weather to act like balm on my soul as much as my skin and couldn’t get out of the UK enough. I came to hate my home country and wanted nothing more than to move away.
Well I did get my dream and went to live in Florida in America. Apart from a few weeks around Christmas, the weather was warm to hot to hotter all year round. And I loved it! I never complained (as locals do) about the heat or the humidity. I felt at home, truly at home and my body revelled in it.
That adventure sadly came to a premature end and I returned to the UK in the November just in time for Winter and needing to adjust to a place I did not want to be. Everything for me was coloured and influenced by my physical experience of weather. External weather patterns dominated my internal weather patterns. I then had the opportunity to move to Vietnam and lived and worked there for the next few years. Again, a short winter (in Ha Noi) with the rest of the year being dominated by hot, humid weather. And again, I loved it and happily went out exploring on foot in temperatures that sent most people running for shelter as soon as possible. With the end of my contract in Vietnam, I found myself yet again in the UK arriving, yet again in November to one of the coldest winters for many years. I’ll leave you to guess how I reacted to that.
I then got involved with Mindfulness. Slowly and steadily I began to adjust my inner weather patterns. I found myself reacting less and less to the state of the actual weather. There is no question in my mind that I do and will always prefer hot, sunny weather. I can see few actual merits in the nature of the UK weather but it no longer has the power over me that it has had for most of my life.
As I learnt how to deal with my inner life and my experiences began to change, my experience of my outer life also began to change. Those things (like the weather) that I had absolutely no control over no longer controlled me, my behaviour and my emotions.
The significant side issue of all of that is that I no longer see the UK as the enemy and a prison from which I needed to escape at all costs. I still would not say that it is my favourite place in the world but I do now see, recognise and acknowledge the benefits of what the country does have to offer.
And all that as a side effect from learning and practicing Mindfulness.