Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Wall: Learning to Cope With Negative Experiences

I lost my voice last week.  A wicked virus signalled its arrival by leaving me exhausted on Christmas Eve.  I made it through Christmas Day, but woke up on Boxing Day, unable to make a sound.  Although Mr. DD was convinced I was hoarse from too much talking the night before, the next few hours proved that something else was happening.

I spent the next week in bed, pretty much.  Boxing Day gatherings, a family dinner, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day celebrations left me behind.  The children departed and the world kept moving without much of a contribution from me.

On top of this, a good friend is having a rough time and I am powerless to do anything but send good thoughts while he struggles.  Any words of sympathy I can extend won't help him ease his burden. 

It was all a bit much.  The next thing I knew, my literary "voice" had followed my literal voice.  Blogging, journalling, even simple thank you notes were beyond my capabilities. Meditation, knitting and spinning were out of the question.

What do we do when the world overwhelms us?  The traditional advice is to "buck up, look on the bright side."  Things will change and we know that, but when we're sinking in an ocean of tough experience, false cheer can seem more of an anchor than a lifeboat.

We experience emotions as physical responses to events, real or perceived. Objectively, anger and sorrow are as valid emotionally as are happiness and joy.  It's our labelling of the emotion and our reaction  and attachment to it that dictate whether our experience is positive or negative.  Rather than trying to play "Pollyanna" with unpleasant events, we can try to experience the event as it is, rather than how we feel it to be.

In other words, if we're sick, then we should be sick, fully and completely, allowing ourselves the time to experience what is happening, allowing ourselves time to heal, without fighting what is or being angry that we are not experiencing something else.  If we can't knit or spin, then we need to experience the reality of not spinning or knitting. Don't sulk because you'd rather be spinning than doing housework, studying, or being ill.  Just abide in whatever you are experiencing in this moment.

Simple, yes.  Difficult, yes, but if you focus your energy into being ill, you may find that the time you spend in illness before the next change occurs will be shorter than if you wasted energy fighting the inevitable.

It was only when I gave up, admitted that I had to stop moving for a while, and took to my sickbed fully, that I began to gather enough resources to feel better.  I missed a lot of fun last week, but at least I'm not suffering from anger or resentment from missing out.  I'm feeling much better now.

Sometimes, life sucks and we just want to punch a wall. That's okay - we may find that punching through that wall is what we need to move through our pain. The next time life deals you a blow and you feel like punching a wall, go ahead.  Just remember that some actions are better done in mind only!



  1. This is a lovely post. Very good advice to everyone. If you can't experience the emotion, feel it fully and then move on you get stuck in loops. I need to try and remember this more.

  2. I'm so sorry you had such a rough time especially during such a busy time. It's hard to just be sick when there are so many things that need doing. Been there, done that - not very gracefully I admit.

  3. It's hard when Life takes over and you can't do anything about it.

    And I know I'm really sick when I am not interested in knitting or reading.