It’s been a bit of a week of gritty conversations. Not bad conversations necessarily. Just some big ideas, some open questions, and maybe there’s a radical solution kicking about somewhere. In all cases only time will be the judge.
These conversations have had a philosophical, even existential, quality:
– what is the relationship between meditation and relaxation? Why do some people equate the two states? And for those of us for whom meditation can often feel rather more a challenge than a comfort — are we doing it wrong? This was a great convo to have. The questions weren’t mine, but I totally knew the feeling and was glad to find a kindred spirit — or similarly troubled soul.
– how do we become the person we are? what capacity do we have to change if we decide we want to? and is it better to come to ask these questions even if the answers prove hard-won or would we prefer to live blindly unaware of the choices we’ve missed? No ready answers to any of this, other than my belief that change is always possible, though the mechanism is mysterious. I’m currently living my own change, but that doesn’t give me any wisdom to share.
– then mental health and whether it mattered that one’s perception of reality was only a perception not an absolute truth, how all experiences are subjective and what this means for evaluating one’s mental and physical health and in particular how important that might be in the context of the risk of self-harm. Plus how to cope with any of this through the distorting lens of fluoxetine. Deeply difficult topics. And distressing.
I feel a little overwhelmed and immensely sobered by the trust friends and colleagues show in me in initiating these conversations. But actually there is some comfort too in the shared experience of uncertainty, fear, and courage. We have one precious life and we are each living it the best way we know how. When things get tough we all cast about for new avenues or old comforts, turning to a confidant, someone we imagine is wiser, more experienced, more acute than we are.
So in the domino effect, I came in turn to my own sources of guidance, comfort, and inspiration. And being wise heads (wise enough to know how I resist being told what to do!) in various ways they stepped away from offering me anything too direct. They simply listened seriously and acknowledged the reality of my challenges. They encouraged me to reframe some of the questions and take another look. And actually this quiet compassion was enough. Sharing the problems was the most important part, and the details I will eventually figure out. And hopefully manage to do so in a suitable timeframe.
So at the end of this week it was a joy to hang loose with a girlfriend for an afternoon and talk matters deep and shallow as we catchup on each other’s lives, loves, personalities, and preferences. An easy intimacy with ready laughter that will keep me smiling for a few days yet.
After a rather baffling installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum and some time enjoying the sunshine (summer comes finally to UK?), we went to Tanya’s in Chelsea. Wonderful-tasting food even if the menu was a bit obscure (clearly the world of raw food comes with its own vocabulary, or rather it uses words like ‘meat’ to mean anything chunky and ‘spaghetti’ to denote something formed in strings).
All the food was delicious, but although it feels a little barbaric to say it, I think the raw chocolates were best!
And if all this seems a little far from yoga, I think the relevance is something about unity: the degree of compassion and involvement in the sufferings of others, as well as the simple joy of connections. I’m a certainly a long way from seeing raw food as a regular part of my practice of the yamas, so it’s not that!