It’s 8pm on Wednesday and I have just listened to over 2 hours of Jeff Foster talking ‘live’ on his streamed online course. Now many of you may think this is a strange way to spend a weekday evening, staring at a young man with a blank white screen behind him, who is sitting I have no idea where in the world, talking quietly, calmly, and almost entirely about ‘being in the present moment’ and ‘sitting with your emotions’. (I have to admit I did take a quick fridge break and had some olives and humus mid-flow. The wonders of modern technology.)
Some of you may recall my blog, A Day with Jeff, a while back when I did a one-day course with Jeff in London and came away feeling inspired by the fact that is was all OK that my life was messy, my thoughts were messy and I was potentially messy. I was simply ‘human’. So when the chance of a 7-week online course came up with Jeff (including a weekly live stream, meditations, an extract from his upcoming book and much, much more) I jumped at the opportunity of having more of ‘it’s OK to be just exactly where I am’.
At the time of writing, we are only on week 2 and I know there’s lots to come (next week is on physical pain, the week after emotional – can’t wait for both!) but I wanted to share with you today what yet again for me was his very simple message: there is only the present moment and we should all try to dwell in it. Jeff likened it to a movie screen (apparently he loves films!) where we all too often rewind to the past, fast-forward to the future, but not often enough simply press play and stay in the present. He said even when we are regretting the past, fearing the future, we are still only in the present moment doing just that. And you may recall that another of Jeff’s messages is to try to sit in the present moment with our emotions: be they sadness, anger, fear, loneliness or anything else.
So you may say this is nothing new – I have already shared this many a time before with you. But there was a subtlety he talked of today which really resonated with me. He said many people say to him, ‘Jeff I have sat with my sadness/anger/loneliness for years and nothing has changed’… but he asks the question, ‘Are you sitting with your sadness or the story of your sadness?’
And that got me thinking… how many times I get involved in the ‘stories’ of my emotions. I am not sitting with my emotions – I am in fact re-counting the sad woes of what has been – or what may be – in my mind. Very different. How many times have I recalled the narrative around a tragedy, a trauma, and my memories of that scenario, as opposed to staying true to the pure emotion itself. Jeff suggested we ask ourselves, ‘Where in our body do we feel this emotion?’ because this brings it back to the physical emotion and away from the mind chatter and the narrative we attach to it.
So I then moved on to think about the past 2 weeks – when, if I am honest, I have felt great sadness. How much of this sadness was due to physical pain (bring on next week Jeff), and how much of this sadness was due to the stories I attached to it? How often had I told myself that this was all my fault: I worked too hard, I didn’t go to the doctor early enough, I chose the wrong consultant, I ate the wrong food. And how many times did I create a future of doom and gloom: I would never be well again, the pain would be here forever, I would therefore for sure be alone for eternity.
All of these were stories I created. And all of them took me away from the present moment. And all of them were not the pure emotions themselves, but the chatterings of the mind, the associated narrative I had chosen to believe. So sitting here now, the reality is those 2 weeks were horrid… but I made them more so by the dialogue I created surrounding them.
So, it’s early days with Jeff and I’m sure there will be more to share. I fear I may not do his work justice in my reflections, however I hope the nuggets I take away will help you and me, when times are tough, when they are not, and with going about our daily lives and enjoying the present moment.
I am off to sit in the sunshine and be present. Thank you again Jeff Foster!