I sit here in the early phase of bereavement. Just hours ago I found out a friend had died. It isn’t a shock - it’s been on the horizon since his cancer diagnosis nearly three years ago, and its turn toward a terminal condition some two years ago. On one level, I had been preparing. But, can we ever prepare for that final happening?
This loss comes soon after the death of my Auntie at Christmas. There have been other experiences of loss too - most of us go through loss on a near daily basis, even if it feels more like ‘change’ than ‘loss’. Changes in relationship, changes at work, changes in friendships. Just last week I also had the news that dear friends are moving away from the UK. More loss. Quite frankly I feel like I am amid a “boot camp” of loss and change.
On Saturday I was at the University helping behind the scenes as we got our CPD programme at Brighton up and running. Our inaugural event was led by Dr Greg Madison: a Chartered Psychologist and Registered existential Psychotherapist renowned in the UK (and indeed worldwide) for his work with Focusing. I’ve done a fair bit of training with Greg - and at one point I was making a decision between taking my interest in Focusing-orientated therapy deeper or stay on at Brighton to train in a more generic form of psychotherapy. It was actually interesting to reflect on that this weekend - if I hadn’t stayed on at Brighton to complete the MSc, maybe I wouldn’t have the job that had me on the campus that morning!.One’s life path is an interesting and curious creature!
Having practiced Focusing a fair bit myself, and having helped others use Focusing in therapy and through meditation classes, I am well versed in how beneficial it can be. Yet I found myself surprised when Greg took us through an initial Focusing session at the top of the morning. This past weekend I have had the opportunity for 3 days of intensive Ngondro - the practice I am now doing since becoming a student of Vajrayana Buddhism last autumn. By the time I arrived on campus for Greg’s event Saturday morning, I had already meditated for nearly two hours. When Greg invited us to turn inward, I assumed I already knew “how am I?” And this was an interesting thing to observe and play with once I noticed my assumptions…
I’ve just returned from having a coffee in town with a friend: the perfect way to unwind and regenerate after a day of client work. It offers a way to see and feel the contrast in how relationships take or offer energy - and that isn’t a straightforward segregation as “clients take” and “friends give”; and neither is it consistent - I feel fortunate to have friendships that allow me to give and take at different times.
And this was something of what my friend and I were discussing. An aspect that we share is the wish to live a more conscious life. We would both describe ourselves as “seekers”, and have a sincere wish to “wake up” (to ourselves, to life). We do this through our respective paths - mine being the path of meditation and Buddhism. We also see how relationship offers an exploration to uncover more of our “self”, and particularly what may still operate from our shadow - those unclaimed parts of self that often run the show. It is a real gift to have a friendship in which patterns in relating can be explored real time.
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