• Colin Eveleigh

Walking the Mind or Minding the Walk?

Sharing....  Sharing is not easy. Sometimes we struggle to remember. We wonder what to say or not to say.... what other people will think of us. Have we said too much? What will Colin write in his email?! Sharing. What a joy it was to go to the beach the other day. It was blowing a gale and quite wintry; bracing ~ but very uplifting. We wanted to take our puppy to the seaside to let him swim for the first time. But the wind was too strong and the waves were too ferocious. I began to worry that it was dangerous and started catastrophising about the dog and our young son. I'm mindful that these thoughts were polluting the idyllic state of our intended walk, which, it has to be said, was a bit different to going to Sainsburys! The experience was good, but at the same time to be honest, it felt a bit like neurosis tinged with fear. And we remember and dwell on things that are said and recalled. Things come back to us over and over. It's normal right? Remembering a comment someone made and feeling unusually uncomfortable about it. Might have been a misunderstanding ~ who knows? But it felt like they were questioning something about how I actually live (like I even have a choice just now!) I was mindful of the fact I felt hurt and that carrying the hurt might be seen as a weakness. My mind was reading things into things and it wouldn't stop…. Can’t have been easy to share this but it felt good the person did. And how about this for a mind-bending experience? I went for a walk and sat on a park bench. Turning round, I noticed it had one of those plaques on it like you see with names commemorating lost loved ones. It said, "In loving memory of.... " and there, right there, was my name, my actual first name! No date of birth or death ~ not even a dash or space for it ~ just in loving memory of.... How can I not be mindful of that? Lots of walks shared. This time, mindful of not saying much myself ~ the conversation was too difficult. It felt like my friend was making bonkers comments about a really important current issue. I noticed how disappointed and cross I felt. I also felt like I was being put on the spot and tested in some way ~ being asked for agreement. It was awkward, but even though I felt that urge very strongly, I was able to put the value I place on the relationship above my need to disagree. It made me think.... do we really know one another? Another walk in the countryside. Side by side not miles apart, why is this person I’m with talking so loudly? We've known each other all our lives and there are lots of people around. Shouldn't he be mindful of that? My first thought was of deafness, but also I began to notice that It felt like he was so head-down in his head and intent on saying what he was saying, that he was not aware of anything. The people around and about and the interesting objects and happenings in nature on this beautiful day that he could have been experiencing directly with all the senses. He wasn't really present.... he wasn’t there…. he wasn’t being mindful. I struggled with this for quite a while to begin with, noticing that my mind wanted to judge and criticise him. But like the other person said this evening, I just about had the presence of mind to let it go because I valued the relationship above all else. It was good to see and spend time with him and then later when we had gone our separate ways.... I found my mind struggling with the conundrum of whether or not I should mention some of the things I had noticed about him that day. My mind had observed and was worried that he had not been taking good care of himself and that he appeared to have quite a few possible health-related issues. Sharing was useful tonight, because I realised that rather than find a way to talk to him about these things, my mind had been taking the easy way out by avoiding the issue altogether. Could I be a better friend than that? Something further to sit with…. to be mindful of. So many of our concerns and issues are focused on relationships at present and it's extremely hard to share about them. Often ~ quite naturally ~ as real and as painful as they are, we don't want to admit to these difficulties. They feel like failings. There’s sharing and there's mindful sharing. Mindful sharing creates a sense of common ownership. We are not alone with our experiences. And sometimes when on occasion perhaps we might be a bit disinhibited or free with our emotions, we can be privileged enough to see different ‘real' aspects of ourselves and others. It happens! And what do you know…. being free in that way can elicit a very genuinely, vulnerable and authentic response back ~ quite unexpectedly ~ not the usual superficial, fatuous social media reply. And then we can realise mindfully, Ah, so this is who you are!  It felt very moving and sincere the other day to receive a reply like this, and I suddenly had a rush of optimism that perhaps one day I will be able to go places and see this person and others, and really live again. In the meantime, this is it. I'm energised and it's good to be reminded of and get glimpses of the 'real’ me and others. And even relationships can be seen in a fresh way when I open up. I want to be open and honest and take more risks. This is life! It's always difficult to navigate the terrain of our own experiences ~ good or not so good. We are so close to them. And we all hold back a bit. Until.... when we do share, and when we’re mindful, we can step away and turn to see what’s really happening. Oversharing or not, does it really matter if the intention has kindness and compassion at the heart of it? Listening mindfully to ourselves and others is helpful. It puts it all out there where it can be seen for what it is ~ just the mind doing its stuff. Thanks for being there tonight in person or spirit. Thanks again for all your ordinary everyday life sharing ~ much appreciated. See you next time! 


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