Last week was hard!
I am still sweeping up pieces of myself and putting them back together.
I have been broken before, so I know I’ll be ok.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery, and its philosophy is rather beautiful. It recognises the beauty and value in broken things (more specifically pottery) and speaks to the breakage and repair of objects becoming the history of something, rather than the disuse of it. Potters often repair objects with resins mixed with gold or silver, making no attempts to hide cracks, but to highlight them and make pieces more beautiful and interesting. Here we tend to throw them out. I prefer the Japanese way.
A few years ago at a conference workshop on journalling we were asked to quickly write a response to the idea of Kintsugi. I wrote something and really never shared it, but in light of recent challenges and losses, I am using it to find strength again. I share it with you, its my story in a nutshell.
The fallout is far worse than the sickness. Once treatment is finished, the shell-shocked ruin of a person emerges from the fog. Every emotion and sense of fear comes pouring forth from me.
The problem was I couldn’t share these thoughts and emotions because if people really knew how wrecked I was, how terrified I was, they too may begin to crumble.
I wanted desperately to put back the pieces of my ruined life, to mend them and be the person I had been. The trouble was that person was gone.
I was paralyzed by fear. Terrified that once I managed to fix my life and myself, it would all crumble to dust and there I’d be again, cancerous.
Somehow I tried my old life back on for size, but it didn’t fit. Like a shoe that was two sizes too small, it was uncomfortable and gave me blisters, but I put my brave face on and carried on. I had “successfully” taped my bowl back together.
Even though it leaked and looked like something Homer Simpson might make, it was together. Then it fell and shattered again.
More pieces strewn about, more pieces to pick up. How would I survive? Recurrence is a bitch.
Faced with few tangible options I decided to forgo trying to fix myself again. Instead I chose to live and love and be happy. I knew the bowl could never look the same, it had been too “damaged” and broken.
I chose to accept it, scars and all. I gave up the mask of bravery and allowed myself to be raw and vulnerable. To share that vulnerability with those around me. In doing so, I slowly turned that ugly shell of a person into something stronger and far more beautiful.
Each crack like a work of art, a work of love, a work of life.
MBSR like Kintsugi is about accepting things as they are.
Week Six of MBSR focuses on two ideas that are designed to help us strengthen our minds to be able to do this: Thoughts are not Facts andMindful Communication
So often how we think and communicate can be a point of stress. By becoming aware over and over again how (in meditation) our thoughts can effect us, we can recognize them, let them go and return our focus to our breath. With time and practice we can gain some distance and perspective on our thoughts allowing us to see that there may be other ways to look at or think about situations, breaking us free from old patterns. Thoughts are only mental events, they are not facts. We certainly are nt our thoughts.
Communication patterns can also be problematic or a source of tension for many of us. One of the reasons communication can break down is that many of us focus on or project the hope that someone else will give us what we want – attention, validation, understanding or approval. What this does, is put pressure on the other person, and sometimes backs them into a corner. Often when we feel pressured, we shut down rather than open up. When that happens during a conversation, often communication breaks down because a person can feel threatened, resentful, and not heard. In MBSR we are learning to focus in on ourself and our behaviour rather than those of others. We tune into our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations so that we can read them. By being aware of these things, we gain a better sense of perspective and balance and can then focus on communicating our need rather than projecting them.
These ideas can be hard to learn and sometimes even more challenging to practice, because the ask us to really examine ourselves and ask us to be accountable to ourselves. However, once you do learn these lessons, you will find your perspective changing. You may even be able to let go.
- On days 1, 3, 5 practice Mountain Meditation or Mindfulness of Breath.
- On days 2, 4, 6 practice sitting in silence for 20 to 30 min using Bells only.
- Choose one of the following activities to do: Communication Calendar or Working Wisely with Unhappiness, Depression, Anxiety and Difficult moods.
- As an unofficial practice, use 3- minute breathing space responsive track 9 for anytime you notice unpleasant feelings (tension, stress, anxiety).
*Ways You Can See Your Thoughts Differently – Here are a few things you can do with your thoughts, either in meditation or in your daily life.
- Just watch them come in and leave, like a waves, without feeling like you have to follow them.
- See if it’s possible to notice any feelings that give rise to the thoughts. Sometimes the context can be a link in a chain of events.
- Think of thoughts as mental events rather than facts.
- Write your thoughts down on paper. This lets you see them in a way that is less emotional and overwhelming. It can also give you time to pause and give you a moment to respond differently.