This conversation explored how and why, if our experience is only ever coming from inside out, then outside in tools, strategies, activities and circumstances can never be the long term and ultimate solution to finding happiness and peace.
Harriet is sharing how understanding how her mind and thoughts work helped her navigate better through life, a bit like when you thought the door had to be pushed but actually you had to pull it…
We have tried everything to get rid of suffering. We have gone everywhere to get rid of suffering. We have bought everything to get rid of it. We have ingested everything to get rid of it. Finally, when one has tried enough, there arises the possibility of spiritual maturity with the willingness to stop the futile attempt to get rid of it and, instead, to actually experience suffering. In that momentous instant, there is the realisation of that which is beyond suffering, of that which is untouched by suffering. There is the realisation of who one truly is.
This is an extract of some of what I shared about what we are doing in this creative playground on my Facebook page this morning. The quote above then popped up in my emails and it so beautifully summed up my experience and what I was trying to convey!
“Many of you know that I’ve spent a major part of the last 6 years (possibly more) trying to ‘fix’ myself. Constantly on the look for something to fill a massive hole – self-employment adventures, fitness challenges, endless ‘busy-ness’, food, food and more food and more personal development and searching into ways to ‘find my purpose’ and ‘become the best version” of myself than I care to think about.
And despite all the ‘deep work’ and bucketloads of strategies and tools, I was still often depressed, anxious, insecure and always feeling not good enough. On the face of it I believed that I had a good enough reason to feel this way and for a long time it really seemed as if juggling grief, parenting, working and all the accompanying ‘stuff’ was just too much to cope with and that I was doing a really rubbish job of it all.
(Even though other people didn’t see it that way and I’m grateful for that. I’ve always felt loved and I’m not writing this for anyone to say positive things to me- I do appreciate you all 😘😍)
The reason I’m writing this is because it’s so clear to me now that none of the things that happened on the outside was what was causing me to feel the way I did. And it’s not clear in the way that I’d heard it a million times before – I deeply see now that I was never broken, or even damaged, and that all of my experiences were a result of a misunderstanding I had about the way that being human works.
Understanding how the system (our human operating system!) works, has been life changing for me and so many other people. I have had simply beautiful conversations the last few days with some gorgeous humans – including a few who have done time in prison – all sharing how their lives have been transformed since seeing the simple truth that our experience of life comes from the inside out and not the outside in, as so commonly believed and unquestioned.
It’s the most hopeful direction I’ve found to look in with regards to mental health and I’m so excited to be talking about it because I want everyone to know!!”
This is an extract from ‘The Enlightened Gardener’ by Sydney Banks. It is the story of four practicing psychologist’s who are hoping to gain some new insight about the nature of the human mind that can be shared with their respective clients. The revelations they seek do not come from the “experts” at a conference they are attending, but from Andy, a wise and mysterious groundskeeper:
I asked Andy why he once made a statement that going back into the past to fix today’s problems was like psychological suicide.
Wiping his hands on his pants legs, he said, “I realize I’m not educated like you doctors, but common sense tells me that those past experiences no longer actually exist. Only in memory do they remain alive. Only in here, “he said , pointing to his head.
Tom objected, “Surely our past traumatic experiences were real?”
“Yes, Tom they were a reality when they happened. But now they only exist in our minds, as memories; they are only pictures embedded in our consciousness.
My advice Tom is:
Tread not into yesterday’s sorrows,
For they are the pathway of despair.
“Try to be more charitable and open to change,” Andy continued.
“Allow yourself to live without yesterday’s burdens on your mind and it will make today a more pleasant experience.
I realize that, at times, past experiences may appear as realistic representations, but they are not real now. They are merely memories. Don’t you see that holding on to such harmful memories and feelings – and constantly retrieving them from the archives of your mind so that you can revisit them- holds you a prisoner of your now- departed past?”
pages75,76 Chapter 9, Forgiveness,
The Enlightened Gardener,
(Many thanks to Carl for sharing)
Harriet shares with us how thoughts are the ones impacting our state of mind, not our circumstances.
Thank you for sharing such a powerful story Harriet.
This was a fun conversation where we talked about how the labels we put on ourselves and also onto other people are actually made up but we treat them as fact. The lightness and clarity of mind that is available when we realise how limiting labels can be in our lives, is really well worth taking a fresh look at!
Thank you Ellie, Bron, Clare, Lucy and David for sharing!
I lost my partner of 28 years last September.
She went from being healthy to sadly missed over the course of four months. This was just over a year after I lost my mum having retired around the same time.
My partner Pat and I, were very close.
She was my best friend.
The understanding I have developed that I am not experiencing my circumstances – only ever my own thinking in the moment has been enormously helpful in adjusting to my new life.
“I am not experiencing my circumstances – only ever my own thinking in the moment”
Adjusting to my retirement without my best friend.
Adjusting to living alone.
Adjusting to finding the me I am now rather than the me I had become as part of the long term relationship.
Much of what happens to us is not what we would have chosen.
But knowing that how we experience our lives comes from our own mind and not those circumstances means we can choose to flourish rather than feel like a victim.
“we can choose to flourish rather than feel like a victim”
It makes all the difference.
Reflections from Harriet on how much she never knew she was making up about herself and the impact it had when she did xx
With it being Mental Health Awareness Week this week, Bron, Lucy and Sally are kicking off A Fresh Look at Mental Heath by talking about what mental health looks like now that we have a clearer understanding of where our experience comes from.
A beautiful conversation full of feeling and relevance to the current lockdown situation we all find ourselves in.
Thanks for being here and please leave us a comment with any insights or thoughts of your own xx