I hope that doesn’t sound too shocking, but I don’t always like my mum. She used to drive me crazy, but it took me until I was in my early forties to decide that there was something I could do about it.
My mum was one reason I started meditating
I started to notice how much she irritated me just before I left home to study Agriculture. I was ready to fly the nest and she was just clinging onto me when I just wanted to be free. All I could think of was ‘get off me’….it never even occurred to me that she was feeling any pain at our separation, even though I could hear the desperation in her voice when we talked on the phone. I became very adept at ignoring her emotions and mine…or so I thought.
So the years passed, I got married and pursued various career paths, indulged my love of learning by doing different courses and continued to find talking to her and visiting home a constant trial.
Yoga made me realise I was calm whilst I was on my mat practicing, but off my mat it was a different story.
I felt deliciously relaxed doing my yoga practice and the immediate few hours after it. But this meant that I really began to notice how vile I felt at other times. But I was very practised at blanking out my emotions from my conscious sphere of thought, so I just carried on as before, trying to ignore how I was feeling.
Studying acupuncture brought home to me how much emotion can contribute to poor health
Pretty much any condition you care to think of can have an emotional component to it in Chinese Medicine. In diagnosing any acupuncture patient I have to consider what emotions may be contributing to their condition and what action I can take to balance those emotions out. Doing this for my patients made me think about how I needed to do this for myself. I have always been mad keen on looking after my own health using exercise and eating well but I had never tackled the health of my (emotional) heart and mind. It was time for me to pull my finger out!
Calming emotions with meditation
One of the important components of the meditation programme that I studied (and continue to study) was how to work with your emotions. One way of doing this is learning to see ‘stuff’ from another perspective. I had to learn to see life from my mum’s perspective. Doing this was pretty hard – my responses to her felt like they were concreted inside of me.
I visualised my mum as a tree
To help me shift my perspective, I decided to think of my Mum as a tree…one of those stunted and dried up trees that you see struggling for life growing on hard, stony ground. She was stuck in her ways and couldn’t see other points of view because her trunk and her branches were dried out, hardened. She couldn’t get adequate water or food to change the shape of her branches because she lived in such an unforgiving place. I needed to ‘see’ how she ended up in such a shape and in such a place.
Shifting my perspective
One of the great benefits of meditating is how it slows your thoughts down, so you can take proper notice of them. By slowing down my usual ‘uptight’ responses to thinking about my mother I was able to think about;
- Her upbringing (not a happy experience).
- Her marriage (not a harmonious one).
- Her times of depression (not infrequent).
Slowly but surely I was able to realise how and why she had responded to the world like she has and I was able to reflect upon the thought on whether I would have reacted any differently in her situation.
Changing how I respond to my mum
Finally I was able to change how I responded to my mum. After each meditation where I reflected on her circumstances, I mentally ‘watered’ her tree. I carried this mental ‘watering’ through into how I listened to her (more patiently) and how I spoke to her, on how I tried to show some understanding of her. And it worked. By being softer in my approach to her she was able to respond in kind. I awarded her tree a ‘green leaf’ every time it happened.
There are still times when I don’t like my mum
Yes, there are still times when she irritates the hell out of me, when my heart sinks when I hear how her day has been (usually ‘terrible’). But feeling like this provides me with a great opportunity to strengthen my ‘patience’ muscle and that has had great spin offs in other areas (but more of that in a different blog).
Find an acupuncturist to help you with stress by looking on the British Acupuncture Council website www.acupuncture.org.uk.
Start relaxing with yoga. Find a teacher on the British Wheel of Yoga website www.bwy.org.uk.
Has using yoga, acupuncture or meditation as way of reducing anxiety, irritation or anger worked for you? I would love to hear your experiences so please do comment below. If you would like to use meditation and relaxation techniques to help you cope better with life make sure you sign up for Wisdom Mind Insights by filling in the box below. In these emails I will be sharing my experiences and the tools I use to be happier and be more relaxed with life….and how to cope when S–T happens!