Life always happens to us, doesn’t it? For most of us (all of us!) unpredictable things come up and we have to deal with them. We deal with one thing, think we are fine, and then another troublesome thing pops up. It is so inconvenient!! However, according to teachers such as Eckhart Tolle and Pema Chödrön, this is how Life works, always coming at us to wake us up, to help us get more into Being, becoming more present, more aware.
Professor of Medicine Jon Kabat-Zinn, known as the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), writes in one of his books: “Weave your parachute every day, rather than leaving it to the time you jump out of the plane”.
A few years back, it felt as if everything went wrong in my life. I knew things would change for the better one day. However, I also realised that I had to go through very challenging times to get there. This is the time I started practicing mindfulness meditation. I can smile at it now – I was already free-falling through the air, absolutely no parachute in sight! Doing the eight-week MBSR course taught me how to weave a parachute, so to speak. The quote above was mentioned during the course and seemed perfect, it came at the right time. It helped me continue to meditate when the course was over. I kept on sitting in stillness 10-30 minutes every day, with the willingness to be present for whatever came up. And over time, I found myself becoming less judgemental for how I was feeling and what I was thinking. I had little expectation for the outcome, except for fully trusting that this was a good track to be on.
I don’t know the science behind it, but isn’t this a good way to build resilience? When you fall, which you always will at some point, then if you have your “parachute”, you don’t fall too hard. You get up again quicker, with less bruises. This may sound as if you are simply covering over something difficult, but in my opinion, you are not. You have faced Life for real, and you are ready to continue on your journey.
I have a dog who often sits next to me. Whenever we are out walking in Wimbledon Common, he will go over to one of the many benches and just wait for me to sit down. I go with him, and take a moment there to pause and breathe. He is my little guide reminding me to continue working on my parachute!