Mindful Metaphors Episode 3

Welcome back to the third episode of Mindful Metaphors. This month we are going back to nature with one of my favorite spots on earth, the beach. I have fond memories of going on vacation to Hawaii as a child and playing on the beach and in the water. It’s hard to deny there is something remarkably peaceful about being on the beach and listening to the waves crash and return.

This month’s metaphor reminds me of the many transitions we face in life. As we live and grow, we are inevitably faced with transitions. It could be moving to a new home, beginning or ending a relationship, dealing with the death of a loved one, beginning or ending a job, or becoming a parent for the first time. One of the things our minds do when we are faced with change is to try to cover up the transition, pretend it is not happening. When we transition, we are vulnerable, and this can be scary. So it makes sense for us to want to push away the uncomfortable feelings that occur when something changes.

However, pushing away our feelings is not a very compassionate way of treating ourselves. It is denying the truth of how we feel. Can we open up to how we are really feeling? Can we see the transition in all of its wholeness and truth? This requires courage and mindfulness. This is not an easy thing to do. But it is one of the most compassionate and loving ways we can treat ourselves; to acknowledge our own pain and suffering and to take a stance of observation and curiosity toward ourselves.

As we practice mindfulness we begin to see, like external transitions, our feelings and emotions transition and change as well. One moment we are content, the next in pain, the next joyful. Our feelings are always in flux. Similarly, our thoughts transition from one thing to next and our bodies change throughout our lives and even day to day.

As you read this metaphor, you may want to think of a transition in your life you are facing. So without further do, here is the Waves on the Ocean:

Imagine you are on a beautiful ocean beach. The sun is shining and it is a clear day. Take a seat in the sand near the water and feel the warm sand beneath you. You hear the waves crashing gently on the shore and feel the sun on your skin. Take a relaxing posture and close your eyes for a minute. Look inside and notice. Notice your body and how you are feeling. Notice your mind. Notice the quality of your attention. And take a breath. Now gently return to the beach and notice the waves. They are gentle moderately sized waves. Watch as they build up in the ocean, reach their peak, crash down on the shore, and then are pulled back into the ocean. And then the next wave comes along with the same pattern. Notice the rhythm. Listen to the sound of the wave as it crashes and returns to the ocean. Notice the flow of the water. These are waves of your life. The people in your life, the places you live and visit. They exist as a wave in transition. As impermanent and always changing. Some people come and go and another one comes along. Jobs come and go, where you live comes and goes. Now look inside. Notice your breath, as it too has a rhythm of coming and going like a wave. Notice the flow. Watch your thoughts, those too come and go and are always morphing into the next and then the next. Notice. And your feelings, like waves in the ocean. They come and go and cycle like the water. Just notice it all. Opening up to it all. Like waves in the ocean, our lives and ourselves are in transition. And we can just be the observer of it all.

Wonderful. I hope that metaphor was of help to you on your life’s journey. I know that it has been a powerful metaphor for me personally in embracing life’s transitions. And next time you are on a beach, this can make a peaceful meditation exercise to do in real life.

So until next month, I wish you peace and presence in being with life’s transitions.

Ellis Edmunds

Therapy for Anxiety and Mindfulness Groups in Oakland, CA.

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