The question that I have been asked more than any other this year, is how I prepare for a day’s clinic or teaching. The answer is very much in keeping with the seasonal theme: I am sustained by the regular practice of gratitude and compassion.
It might sound simplistic, but meditating on these themes for a few minutes a day can transform my entire perspective. They start to cut through the mental noise and emotional turbulence that we all routinely surf in our everyday lives, creating space to see things in a slightly different way. I find it easiest to begin with gratitude: even when things are dark, it’s possible to find something to be grateful for if I remember to look, and with regular practice, the scope of things to be grateful for keeps expanding. The practice of gratitude helps me to notice the small things with greater clarity, and to be awed by the great things, which in themselves foster the powerful gift of wonder.
Compassion then really anchors me. This takes practice too: I remember attending a meditation session many years ago, when I discovered an alarming struggle with the concept of compassion for myself. I am sure I am not alone: none of us would be as hard on ourselves if we accepted that we are deserving of compassion. It helps us to forgive ourselves for our perceived shortcomings, and to defuse our attachments to our own dramas, which strangely then helps us to shift our focus off ourselves to see others more tolerantly. The practice of compassion for others is medicine for ourselves: it reminds us that just as our behaviours are often driven by the circumstances of our lives, so it is with others, and this defuses the resentments, reactions and judgments that consume our energy and mental resources.
You might have noticed that the word practice has come up repeatedly: that’s all we can do! Some days I succeed better than others, but that’s being human. When it hasn’t gone so well, the main thing is to recognise it, forgive it and return to the practice again.
This year, Kent and I have been so grateful time after time for the wonderful people with whom we get to share our work, our ideas and our time. The courses have been extraordinary this year because of you, bringing your courage, your curiosity, your commitment, your brains, bodies and hearts to the work of helping people to move beautifully, independently, confidently and joyfully.
Each and every one of you is changing your small part of the world for the better. Each of you is a pinpoint of light on the globe, a link in a growing network of people committed to positive change in the way we think about our bodies, our health and our futures.
Here at JEMS we wish you the most wonderful New Year, and hope that you take the shine and sparkle of the season on into your explorations and discoveries in 2019!