Many years ago I was talking to a friend of mine regarding the somewhat traumatic break up of a long term relationship of hers. I remember telling her how sorry I was that she was going through such an awful experience. However what she told me next was something that stuck in my mind for a considerable time. She told me that she didn’t regret having to go through the emotional turmoil, because from her point of view, experiencing this pain was part of what experiencing life to the full was all about. I found this very odd, and especially coming from such a normal, down to earth sort of person. I just couldn’t understand why anyone would ever welcome pain.
So this was something that indeed stayed at the back of my mind for many years, until that is, it was recommended to me that I read Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living. It was then that I was finally able to understand the sense of logic behind what I had hitherto found completely illogical. The idea that it could actually be healthy not just to accept, but indeed to welcome the bad along with the good, welcoming as it were all the colourful strands that make up life’s rich tapestry.
Understanding that it’s ok to feel bad in a way takes some of the pressure off and allows one to see the path ahead with more clarity. Accepting the good and bad that life has to throw at us is a healthy way of living. Mindfulness does teach accepting good and bad feelings, thoughts, emotions and experiences – the whole catastrophe of living. A brilliant technique that can be used is keeping events calendars: A pleasant events calendar – where your mindfulness practise is to record one pleasant event each day, and an unpleasant events calendar – where you record an unpleasant event each day. I would say that for some at least it can provide a pathway to arriving at some quite logical and healthy conclusions. I’m sure there are many equally effective approaches.
To my knowledge my friend hadn’t arrived at her conclusion by studying mindfulness or via any one particular philosophy or therapeutic framework. However, it is clear that acceptance and understanding allowed her to move on with her life and feel stronger as a result – much more so, I believe, than had she wasted energy fighting the reality or running away from it, as of course so many of us tend to do.
By Joel Cantor DHP, DCH -Professional Hypnotherapist and Mindfulness-based Therapist of Wellbeing Hypnotherapy, Weybridge