On a Sunday morning I take my children swimming, and this month’s blog is all about swimming lessons as they are a beautiful illustration of what I would like to share.
Watching a swimming lesson the same time each week, week in and week out has been fascinating. And I think it is worth sharing what happens to me, so that you can see that you are working psychologically in the same way.
I sit at the site of the pool, or should I say crouch, as the benches are quite small. I wait for the lessons to start, and send my beautiful children off to their lesson feeling calm and content with myself and the world. During the course of the lesson I notice something, something that would have caused me some suffering in the past. I notice that I am feeling bad. Why? Well, I would have thought in the past, that I needed to change this bad feeling, and find out why I am feeling bad. To try to work it out and get to the bottom of it.
Now that I understand where that feeling is coming from, I don’t need to ‘do’ anything with that feeling. My feelings are simply a barometer for what I am thinking in the moment. Even if it is a subconscious, unseen thought. I don’t need to do anything with that bad feeling. It isn’t telling me anything about myself, it isn’t telling me anything about my past, it isn’t even telling me about something I need to do. It is a thought in the moment passing through.
I see this so clearly in swimming lessons. One moment… I am watching my children, feeling so proud of their listening skills, then I see that I am willing their elbows to move in a different way, then I notice that I want to check my email on my phone, or something will occur to me to tell my husband who sits beside me, and then I am feeling bad. Then I am wondering what we are doing next, then I make a mental list of what I need to get from the shops. Then I am feeling bad, and then I am looking at the clock, and then I am wondering if the life guard I am looking at is doing their job properly. Then I am thinking about a conversation I had last night, and then I notice I am feeling bad. Then I notice the children are doing their last jumps into the water…
… and they are out!
I am not very aware of the other feelings that come with these other things I have listed here, but that bad feeling… well, that catches me. Jerks me into the moment, makes me pay attention to it.
It is constant – the fact that we think. Not WHAT we are thinking about.
Before I knew about the interconnectedness of thought and feeling I would have got very caught up with the bad feeling and had my ‘morning ruined’ by trying to understand two things:
– Why I couldn’t be in the moment more, and
– Why I was feeling bad.
When I say my morning would be ruined. It would have gone something like this… I wouldn’t have been able to really enjoy myself as I would have been:
wondering why I felt bad,
feeling bad about feeling bad,
feeling guilty about feeling bad,
feeling that I shouldn’t feel bad,
judging myself for feeling bad,
wanting myself to feel different, and
willing myself to feel better.
… So many additional thoughts about feeling bad.
And these would tumble about in my experience when I innocently thought that I had to get to the bottom of it all in some way.
What do you think your thoughts are telling you about yourself? I thought that they were telling me that I was an anxious person, I even thought that I had a core of sadness running through me. I thought that they were telling me what kind of person I was, whether I was doing well today or whether I was doing badly. Now I realise that they are a – constantly changing – constant in my life. That I could not experience anything without them, sight, sounds, textures and feelings all come to us via thought.
If we all realised this about ourselves then life would be considerably different on this amazing planet we share. We think that life is about what we can achieve, how much money we can earn, what car we can have, how big a house we can afford. But life isn’t about that. It is about this moment right now. Nothing more, nothing less. People get concerned about that, fearful, that ‘If I truly see that there is only this moment, I will do nothing’ Well it isn’t really possible to do nothing for long and then we are moved into doing the next thing and the next thing and then all of a sudden we are moving in a completely different direction to the one we had anticipated, dreamed or imagined for ourselves.
Nothing of what I have said here is theory to me. Prior to finding this understanding of life I knew this in theory but very little of it in practise. There is something very life changing about insightfully seeing the interconnection of thought and feeling which changes our experience of life.
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