Finding a life raft in the ordinary.
Life has a funny way of presenting us with unexpectedly difficult and challenging experiences. For me, it’s usually when I’ve worked hard to get my routine back on track, my head’s in the right space, I feel I’m in a good place and right then something presents itself and throws all my planning and work out of the window.
Rick Hanson, renowned Clinical Psychologist talks about how small moments of ‘awareness’ and ‘mindfulness’ or what I prefer to call- ‘Moments of Pause‘ can offer us a Refuge in the busy lives we lead.
Hanson describes ‘Refuges’ as places or moments that Uplift, Nurture and Protect us. He describes a process of seeking refuge to help us get through our often chaotic and busy lives.
These Moments of Pause or Refuges can act like a life raft and carry us from one situation to the next as we try and tick off our To-Do list, meet deadlines or often just, like me, try and keep my head above water.
Simple yet effective I’m working hard to try and work these into my day. The process is beautifully ordinary with nothing needed but an awareness of the simple moments of 2-3 minutes you have to yourself during the flow of your day.
These moments could be :
- During your morning shower
- Listening to some music you love on the way to work
- Spending time in nature- even if it’s 5 minutes on your way to work as you pass a patch of wild flowers or see dandelions poking out of the cracks of the pavement, hear the chatter of birds overhead.
- Or even a hot aromatic cup of coffee.
I urge you to try this out with me, starting where you are right now to find those ordinary but powerful Moments of Pause to carry you forward through the rest of your day.
This is the process I use from what I have learned from Hanson’s very practical and relatable book ‘Resilient’.
Taking Refuge In the Ordinary
1. Pick small regular events that happen through the course of your day when you feel you may be able to Pause for 2 -3 minutes. For me it’s:
– A few minutes during my morning shower.
-The first few minutes on waking when I realise I have been blessed with another day.
Pick small moments where you feel a sense of safety, you feel nurtured or just peaceful, like those magical few minutes of silence before the rest of the house wakes up and all manner of chaos ensues (or maybe that’s just my house!).
2. So you have your moment. As you practice this more, like me I hope you will start to find precious moments scattered throughout the ordinary flow of your day that maybe went past before unnoticed.
Now let’s imagine it’s your first hot aromatic cup of coffee of the day.
All that’s needed is 2-3 minutes of staying with the feeling of being right-here-now, feeling the comfort of your first cup, inhaling the aroma, seeing the froth or the little swirl of milk at the top…its being present to the small details. Smile, take 2-3 deep long breaths while you hold that sense of calm.
Just the simple process of smiling and taking long deep breaths has been clinically shown to improve our levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Both smiling and long deep breaths have also been shown to raise mood-enhancing hormones called endorphins and lower blood pressure.
3. If you feel the chaos resurfacing- Imagine yourself standing safe, high and dry with the waves crashing down below you or under a shelter of leaves with the rain pouring outside and know this :
‘Eventually the storm will pass, all experiences do,
And the Peaceful Inner Core of YOU will remain’.
-Rick Hanson, Resilient
Just takes 2 -3 minutes, try it for one moment every day and watch your practice and your peaceful inner core grow.
Know that however busy, rushed or chaotic your life may be right now- You always have a Life Raft to get you to the next moment …and the next. Just take a moment to find it.