For as long as I have been writing a blog, each September I say how much more of a “new year” it feels compared to January. September is a transition month for me: return from holiday, but not quite back in to the full flow. When I turned the key in the lock of my front door at home on Saturday having been in France for 2 weeks there was certainly an awareness of something ending and also “things to come”. I’ve got in a habit of returning from holidays on the Saturday: it allows a whole day Sunday to unfold – to settle back, and to plan ahead and get prepared for ‘reality’. It also allows a connection to the emotional undertones – the “post-holiday blues” yet an appreciation to be back home.
Back home. Having been in holiday accommodation for 2 weeks, it is nice to be back among familiar things; to be reunited with my cat; to see friends and family. To be back in the life that my wife and I have created. We’ve been in our house for two years now, and walking through the door on Saturday allowed me to (yet again) appreciated how fortunate I am with my life circumstances. I went in to the back garden to see how it had survived while away – more tomatoes to harvest, thoughts of what we can plant next year. Nice thoughts. I walked in to my study, looked at my books, my meditation shrine and cushion in the corner. It made my heart smile.
Back to practice. I meditated each day while we are away – I can’t NOT meditate now, my days don’t feel the same, or rather, I don’t feel right in my day. In fact,
while I was away my Insight Timer app told me I had clocked up 3000 days with a session – I think that says something about how central this practice is to my life. But when away practice times are shorter, and practice space is makeshift. On Sunday, I enjoyed my first morning sitting back in front of the shrine, the rituals of chants, incense, candles, the cushion that has remembered my shape. The path of meditation is often referred to as “the road back home”, but there are times when the external environment helps that sense being mirrored on the inside. It was good to be back.
Back to private practice. I resumed my work with clients on Monday. While it was inevitable I went back a week in my mind (“this time last week I was cycling in the vinyards of the Rhone Valley, sunny and hot”), I cannot grumble about the work I do. I’ve been greatly influenced by the psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp in recent years. His attitude of client and therapist being ‘fellow pilgrims’ has made my transitions back to work markedly different. The appreciation I have for the spirit and attitude of my clients is closer to hand. For instance, on Sunday when looking ahead to my week to come, I felt an anxiety I know well and one that gets hooked on certain things – what emails are there waiting for me, what has happened while I am away, are there any disasters to face (all very exaggerated concerns, YET natural reactions to the unknown that we humans stare down). On Monday, hearing updates and each of the clients’ stories I felt a connection – we are all the same; different challenges, and different versions of vulnerability, but vulnerable all the same. Its a great leveller this work, and I felt appreciative to be part of the human kind.
Back to school. Yesterday was my first day back at the University. Ahead of the new academic year (teaching recommences next week), there are team meetings, there is administration to do, checking of diaries, and preparation of teaching. I appreciate the rhythm of University life in September. Back in the pool, but walking in slowly, not diving in the deep end! There have been a few changes at the University (including that I am no longer a Course Leader), and again (uncertainty alert), I don’t know how many things will play out. This is the fourth year on the teaching team, but with fewer responsibilities I wonder how that will be. I’m excited to meet a new cohort, and keen to see how those returning settle in to their second year status.
Back to life. This transitional space is a good time to reflect on how my routine will be; and I watch the impulse to “pack things in”. Plans for my health and fitness (with some good miles collected on the bike in France I am unwilling to let my fitness slip – it was the same when I was competing at season end); plans for my new hobby of “wine appreciation” (again, not wanting to let two weeks in the Rhone Valley slip!); as a Buddhist (decisions to make about my path); and plans for my development as a therapist (my book project).
Back to writing. I’ve had a good summer; perhaps one of my most nourishing for years. A good rest, enjoyable experiences and lots of memories. And here I am – sat at my computer, readying myself for a day of writing. A chance to re-engage with the book writing I did before going away. I listened to a podcast interview with Mark Nepo this morning, and it reminded me of the gentle endeavour that writing from the heart is: to stay connected with my intention for this book; to not push for an outcome, to not try and provide answers or “the way” to do therapy; but rather to come back to that wish to share my experience (thus far).
So without further ado, I switch from blogging to blogging a book!