I remember one time when I was at uni, realising that I cried more than anyone I knew. The more I had the thought, the more I felt like a failure and the more I cried. Crying is very familiar for me, I think I kind of like it too...
Last week I spent 4 days with the incredible Barbara Houseman, working on voice and mindfulness. When I signed up to the course, I didn't pay much attention to the word 'mindfulness.' I think I kind of hoped I'd be able to avoid it and just work on the voice stuff.
But actually, the first thing she had us do was to sit down, close our eyes and notice our bodies and our breath and to show ourselves kindness.
WHY IS THAT SUCH A RADICAL IDEA????
As soon as I try to be kind to myself, another part of me jumps up and says 'You don't deserve kindness! You are self-obsessed as it is. You think about yourself soooo much that you should be punished.'
Cue more tears.
And not just from me - lots of the other people in the group seemed to be going through similar things.
Oh aren't we funny?
I can spend hours and hours and days and years giving myself a hard time and calling myself a bad person, but as soon as I try to be kind to myself, the brakes screech on.
I guess I really DON'T deserve kindness.
And I'm scared of thinking that I do..
But we don't need to dwell on that.
Or maybe we do.
Maybe by sitting back and 'watching the show', we get to actually see our thoughts as they come up, rather than suddenly being hit by them as if they've come out of nowhere. We get to see what's ACTUALLY going on.
Ooooh, actually, it was the thought of this that led to that and to that led to that and back to my fear of not being loved by my dad. For example.
Then be kind to whatEVER comes up. All of it. Yes, I am scared of rejection. Yes, I reject first to be safe. Yes, there is a part of me that thinks I don't deserve kindness - well, I will be kind to THAT part of me. It won't know what's hit it! Things are much more likely to pass quickly if you just show them kindness.
It's all just weather. It won't last for ever. (great quote, thanks Barbara!)
AND somewhere out there (maybe even right next to you) is someone going through the same struggle.
I know I know I have heard this stuff before, but I might need to hear it a hundred times before I really hear it. (Or a thousand).
I had a really cool moment during the week, where we were walking around the room and I suddenly realised:
'I will always be ON MY WAY. I'll never quite get there. THAT is life. THAT is where I am.'
And I looked around the room at all the other brilliant humans and I thought how lucky I was to be with them right now, exactly where they are on their journey (tears and all).
Life sometimes feels extra specially precious.
Yes, I cry. Probably just a few minutes after that wonderful realisation, I cried again, but I think I'm learning to be actually ok with that.
We are all on our journeys.
And as radical and ridiculous and self-obsessed as it seems to give myself love and kindness, it's no more ridiculous and self-obsessed than telling myself I'm the WORST. Plus, the kindness does seem to help me move through stuff in a positive way. So I think I'll continue.
And I LOVE this work that I do, this massaging - I love listening to people and providing them with what they ask for in such a simple way. It feels a lot like the mindfulness I was learning this week. Whatever you bring to me, let's just treat it with kindness.
It made me think of my massage training - one day the teacher was talking about dealing with a tricky area in the body. A 'door' let's call it. Some people get out the battering ram to SMASH out through that door. But what if you just love the door as it is - you clean it up, you give it a polish, you stroke it and compliment it. What a lovely door, you say. And then, you bring flowers, and you lay them all down around the door, and you wait. Maybe. Just maybe that door will get opened.
Oh why does it feel so much easier to lay flowers and bring kindness to other people's doors?
Yes I will probably always be someone who cries easily, but I don't think I am a failure. I am going to have a go at giving up the battering ram.
Flowers for all!
Ruth Nadia x
Photo credit to my awesome old old friend Charlotte. We've seen plenty of each other's tears and I think we love each other even because of them.
And a big shout out to Both Feet Actor Training for bringing Barbara Houseman and her mindfulness teaching into my life.