Diving for Pearls with Maggie Kay
Wisdom for the Blues
Just a Bit of Tenderness
From time to time, I embark on a purposeful, focused spiritual program. Often it is a simple thing – daily reading, reflecting and writing on certain themes – but the effects are profound.
Sometimes this is because I want to recover from challenges or make changes in my life by dropping deeper and deeper into the richness of my inner world. The program may begin with joy and enthusiasm, but sooner or later it begins to bite. I recognize the pattern. At first there is excitement and inspiration at the juicy wisdom being studied, then times of discomfort and resistance because an unenlightened part of me feels threatened; usually hanging on to some ingrained and unconscious way of being that is really not necessary or useful anymore.
After feeling tense and unhappy for a while (which can be hours or days) it becomes clearer what is being challenged and what needs to let go. It helps to allow myself to feel my upset emotions – have a rant or a cry or whatever – and talk to someone who understands the process, or write it all down in a journal without judgment. Eventually the realizations come and I end up feeling cleansed, renewed and aligned with a more peaceful, happy way of living than ever before.
At such uncomfortable times, the best thing we can do is simply accept ourselves just as we are and without needing to analyze why we are feeling out of sorts. A great exercise when you feel like this is to write a long list of “I love me when…” and finish the sentence. Write about loving yourself, good or bad, until you have a feeling of accepting every last part of yourself unconditionally. Even if you don’t feel it to be true at this time, write it down as though you do. For example, “I love me when I am inspired,” “I love me when I am depressed,” “I love me when I know what I am doing,” and “I love me when I am confused.”
Unconditional acceptance of oneself is always the beginning of the end of unhappiness. It is so simple. Even when you are feeling utterly wretched it is possible to step outside and look back upon yourself compassionately, just as you would look upon a crying child who has broken a beloved toy. The trick is to remember to do so. Once, when I was upset about something and unable to feel compassion for myself, my friend fetched a mirror and tenderly held it up in front of me. Looking at my poor, crying face in the mirror I felt rather sorry for the wretched girl I saw reflected back to me and my heart melted for her. I instantly changed and felt compassion for myself.
Eckhart Tolle’s masterful book, The Power of Now, captures the simplicity of this awareness and acceptance process beautifully. I have read scores and scores of spiritual and personal development books over the years, but this one captures an essence of them all. I always say that The Power of Now is one of my ‘desert island books’. If I was stuck on a desert island with only a few books, I would want this to be one of them.
There is also a wonderful loving kindness meditation that I learned many years ago at my first meditation classes, and still practice and teach with relish. It is a Buddhist meditation called the metta bhavana, or development of loving kindness. Not surprisingly, it seems to me that most spiritual traditions have similar contemplations or prayers. The meditation begins by cultivation of love for oneself, then a friend, then a stranger, then an enemy, then the whole world. In my experience it is deeply transformational as well as gently nourishing, no matter what state you are in when you begin.
I have written about love, one way or another, a lot. I suppose really understanding what love is all about is the core of my inspiration and practice. Even writing about love and compassion when I am not feeling so great has the effect of cheering me up enormously. I guess, “I love me when I am deep in challenging process,” and “I love me when I am writing inspiring stuff about love.” Just a little tenderness does the trick.
What Helps When You are Feeling Down?
What really helps when you are feeling down? Well, the starting point is simply this:
Accept How You are Feeling
The energy we put into resisting our feelings when difficult emotions are bubbling under the surface is incredible. Instead, we keep ourselves zombie-like – plodding along in a low-grade half-life – not happy, but not engaging with what is going on either.
Our habit of blaming ourselves can mean that we would rather remain in a state of brittle denial. We can’t admit to ourselves that we feel this way as we would judge ourselves for being so. It is better to pretend that we are okay.
But if we can just surrender for a few moments – really allow ourselves to feel how we feel – yes we feel the pain more fully, but we also begin to let in a little love and tenderness. Much like we would if we were giving attention to a friend who was having a hard time.
Rather than being lost in this no-man/woman’s-land, it is better if we can name what we are feeling. When we name the feeling it means that we are no longer subsumed by it. Part of us is now standing outside and looking in, and we can feel some compassion for ourselves.
And having accepted how we are, we have the option of turning towards something more positive.
Take ONE Tiny Step
When we are feeling down, everything can feel overwhelming. We don’t WANT to do anything to help ourselves. It is all too much.
So my suggestion is this – choose ONE thing from the list below,just one. One thing that appeals a little bit…
- have a bath
- go for a walk
- make a fresh juice or a wholesome soup
- listen to a guided meditation
- get closer to nature/go outside
- confide in a good friend
- clean and tidy up
- read something inspiring
- count your blessings
- have a nap
- hang out with positive people
- enjoy some exercise
- listen to uplifting music
- pet an affectionate animal
- pray to receive support
- have a cuddle
- do something to help someone else
- channel inner guidance
- reflect on your good qualities
- make love
- look for the beauty in things
Take Another Step
What you will probably find is that once you’ve taken one step, you feel inclined to take another. And some positive momentum builds from there.
For example, one morning when I was feeling a bit under par, I decided to do one thing nice thing for myself: have a bath. That prompted me to read some inspiring words from a book while the bath was running. After my bath I did a little light housework and made a fresh juice for breakfast.
It was a bright day and I could hear the church bells ringing, so I went for a walk, pausing at the church door to listen to the congregation singing a hymn. On the way home I popped in at our caravan in a nearby field and told it out loud how wonderful it is and how much I loved it.
During my walk, all these ‘how to lift yourself up’ ideas came to me, culminating in the inspiration to write them down to share. My hope is these tips might support you too if you are feeling less than wonderful one day.
Find the Hidden Gem
There is always a nugget of gold buried in our difficult emotions. Our feelings are trying to tell us something, bring our attention to something that will open understanding and meaning to a situation or experience.
The hidden gem in my ‘downtime’ on this occasion was: a) the need to rest and restore at the end of a very busy, productive year; b) the opportunity to release some grief from the past; and c) the prompt to write down some wisdom that might be supportive to others going through a bit of ‘downtime’.
Love is the Answer
Giving a little attention where it is due is a profoundly loving act. That is all we are doing when we honestly accept how we are feeling, truly loving ourselves just the way we are. It gives us the momentum to take a positive step, and maybe even another and another… and opens up the possibility of gaining some wisdom and insight from our experience, some meaning, some letting go.
When I first wrote this, I cheered myself up by watching a YouTube video of a song sung by Aloe Blacc, Love is the Answer, which had been shared by my Facebook friend, ‘healer of hearts’ and author of the Diary of an Accidental Psychic, Mark Bajerski. Love is the answer, that is for sure, and we need only begin with one tiny step to let it back in to our life.
Known as the Inner Wisdom Coach and formerly an ordained Buddhist, Maggie specialises in meditation, mindfulness, law of attraction, metaphysics and spiritual intelligence for life, love and business.
As well as coaching one-to-one, she trains accredited Thrivecraft life coaches and meditation teachers and runs retreats and workshops for soulful entrepreneurs, coaches and well being professionals.
In 2016, with her son Jamie grown up, Maggie established Thrivecraft Home Hub, a riverside country retreat in Cornwall, UK, where she lives with her soul mate husband, Patrick.
Her new book – Diving for Pearls: A Wise Woman's Guide to Finding Love (O Books) – is a highly readable true love and spiritual adventure story laced with tips and teachings on meditation, Buddhism, inner wisdom and relationships relevant to all.
Maggie's vision for the future includes taking Thrivecraft worldwide via a new online academy; continuing to mentor coaches, well-being professionals and meditation teachers to grow and prosper their businesses; producing audios of her full range of guided meditations; and writing further books to inspire and support everyone to create rich, happy and fulfilling lives.
Buy Diving for Pearls on Amazon.
Thrivecraft with Maggie Kay
Wisdom. Inspiration. Self-belief.