Having spent some time recently putting in place a structure to create (and protect) space for my book project, today was the first of several whole days I had planned for dedicated, intensive writing. Ordinarily, this project will be based upon consistent ‘bite sized chunks’: a rate of 500 - 700 words per week and these short posts coming together after a two year period in to a book format. However, I am making a head start over the summer months - to gain some momentum and create a foundation upon which I can build over the coming weeks and months.
On a practical level, as I put the metaphorical pen down for the day, it has also been useful to gauge how long it takes to write a certain word count. I have written enough for several weeks of ‘posts’; and its been good to write some of the opening sections of the book in a series of 2h blocks over the day. I am in the flow and feel confident from where I am writing, and to whom.
Within the opening chapters I am giving some of the background story as to how I have arrived here: the career changes, the consequences of those changes and how the Buddhist dharma, meditation and psychotherapy have brought about (and helped me hold) a great deal of change - who Helen is and also how she relates to life and others. The writing allowed me to reflect upon my beginnings as a sport scientist and physiologist rooted in the body and the shift toward working with the mind within coaching and then psychotherapy. I found myself writing about the competitive and ego-orientated world of sport and how unhappy I found my athletes could be in their performance world. I felt a deep sadness as I wrote and I pondered “does it really have to be that way?”. It is some 10 years ago I was working in elite sport and I don’t sense much has changed since.
“Why do we make it so complicated?” This is the question asked by Jon Jandai, a man living in a small village in northeastern Thailand. I came to be watching his TED talk as part of my explorations around ‘simplifying’. It is worth a watch.
I share it with you as I shared it with a client this morning: After recognising how “crammed my life is” the client started to realise how (on some level) they were choosing to cram it. Their process, one I know myself personally, is to become curious as to the choices made between taking on more work at the expense of living. I shared the video because it speaks to that question “why do WE make it more complicated?”; how we (many of us) have fallen for the false truth that success = happiness. Most of us have an inkling this isn’t true...but we go along with the group think just in case we are the (only) ones left behind.
This past week I have recognised a sense that the summer is here. Not just because of the warm weather, not just because evenings are punctuated by my beloved Tour de France on TV but rather because work has slowed to a pace that suggests “summer holidays”. And whilst my partner bemoaned the arrival of Bastille Day as the signal “summer is already ticking down”, based on my childhood memories it is only this coming week that heralds “school’s out for summer”.
My retreat is now nearly a month behind me. I continue to have moments reflecting on my personal koan, but more figural for me is the space emerging. The two collide - Bodhisattva activity requires energy, energy comes from rest: and the summer is typically the time I recharge. Inspired by the Tour, early morning bike rides complimented by longer meditation sittings are setting me up for the day. My private practice is still in full swing, but my University commitments are thinning down. In fact, more so than previous years - I have decided to step down from my role as Course Leader for the MSc in psychotherapy. This feels the right time - 3 years in the role feels long enough to have made my contribution to the team and to have gained enormous insight in to the training of psychotherapists; but now, I want become a ‘foot soldier’ on the team and to really focus on my teaching. Furthermore, it also the right timing in my manifestation as a Bodhisattva-with-training-wheels. My 1-2-1 role as a psychotherapist means I can help one person at a time; my role as a teacher allows each person I interact with to go out in the world and help others. Teaching enables me to help others to help even more others; a bit like when one domino hitting multiple dominoes.
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