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I can see clearly now the rain has gone…

Ever notice how the morning after something frustrating might have happened, we can still be feeling chewed up about it?  

But yet, give it another day or two, that event doesn’t seem like such a big deal – maybe we can laugh about it or see that it’s all just part of life…maybe it’s even faded from our minds completely.  

Our basic circumstances might not have changed at all in that time – same people in our lives, the same place we live in, same weather, same food – it’s our state of mind that has shifted.  

It’s a bit like the classic song I can see clearly now the rain has gone by African-American singer Johnny Nash. 

I can see clearly now

One of the basic truths of the meditation tradition is that it is our state of mind that governs so much of our experience of life.

This isn’t just how or what we think about our lives (although that’s certainly a huge part of it) – it’s also about how we react emotionally and physically to things that happen.  

Do we tighten up, or lock down on some experiences? Do we fly off the handle, or react by doing other things that don’t make us feel better at all? Or do we open up, and let our body stay in a more flowing or relaxed state? 

It comes back to state of mind

It’s why at Lifeflow we put some much emphasis on relaxing the body before meditation and having contact with nature wherever possible (especially on retreats).  

It takes that effort to help our minds let go of the points of view they might have been hanging on to, to let our system rebalance, and to start seeing things from the ground up – from the point of view of our senses. 

Taking time to reflect on your life 

The end of the year is a perfect time for reflection, and to take stock of where you might be in your life.

And if it’s been a difficult year, or you’re facing difficult circumstances, we can guarantee that a retreat like this will leave you more nourished and better prepared for the new year ahead.  

Even when life is pretty good though, we can often find ourselves in those niggly states of mind all too often where we’re not enjoying or appreciating what we know we have around us.  

So, part of the way forward is to gain an understanding of how we create those states of mind ourselves, and how we can shift them. 

Appreciating the everyday  

One of the other ‘states of mind’ that can then open up is one of gratitude. So not only can we start to feel good in our bodies, but we can start to appreciate and even feel lucky for that fact and for what we have in our lives. And it doesn’t have to be that everything is perfect for this to happen.  

Gratitude can be seen as a kind of love for your own life and this comes about not by trying to make our lives into the perfect thing that we think we would love, but rather by accepting and opening to what we do have and the humble yet amazing nature of our bodies and minds. 

Developing this openness is a form of love itself and something we can bring to our own lives as they are.   

It does take effort and patience – repeatedly coming back to find this more open state, as our minds habitually pick away at us to wish things were different!

And it doesn’t preclude genuinely considering change either, but we’re more able to do so from a realistic perspective, rather than one where the grass is ‘always greener on the other side of the fence’. 

A retreat gives you more 

Having a group environment in a retreat setting helps to develop and consider these things. It is also a key part of meditation practice and again one reason why joining in on a retreat or class situation is such a valuable thing. 

It gives a chance to chew the fat, to share our common humanity in all its foibles and its potentials, and to find strength in a shared interest and commitment to finding what is real and valuable. 

Whether you’re new to meditation or an experienced practitioner, please have a look ahead to the next retreats in the Lifeflow calendar to see when you can come and join in, and let’s share the journey!

Ben Dollman – Lifeflow teacher and retreat leader

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