Hybrid Coffee Morning
This month’s Coffee Morning was lovely as always. Those of us who were online spent a good while talking to the group in the Blind Tiger. It was nice to feel part of the in-person meeting, as well as having a chance to chat with the online members.
At the start of the Coffee Morning, one member talked about a hobby she can’t do at the moment because of an illness. Another member had great advice for her: that it is all too easy to focus on the fact that this hobby was out of reach for the time being, and it might work better to find a replacement activity to focus on what she could do instead of what she can’t.
I think that change of mindset is very powerful in any circumstance where we can’t do what we want to do. It can be hard to change perception at times but it is definitely worth trying.
One hobby that I’ve taken up recently is colouring. My brother got me beautiful colouring books for Christmas and I’ll happily spend an hour doing it, feeling like a big child. It’s been really nice to just sit with it. Such a simple activity, so easy to get lost in.
I don’t enjoy mindfulness normally so this is a great alternative for me to still reap the benefits of some quiet time. One member of the group said mindful colouring books irked her, and I get what she means. Some of the pictures are almost impossible to colour in, with tiny spaces to fill. She said she’d much rather dream about things she wanted but didn’t buy, like a lovely Michael Kors handbag. I think most women will share that daydream after a spot of retail therapy.
Before we broke away from the group in the Blind Tiger, we had a conversation around family trees. I’ve never done one myself but looking into ancestry has become more popular in recent years with ‘Who do you think you are?’ on our screens.
One fascinating aspect of the discussion concerned following the maternal line instead of the paternal line. I’d never heard that when a female foetus is formed in her mother’s womb, she has all of her eggs already formed. So, essentially, half of the genetic makeup of a woman’s children is in the womb of her mother.
Therefore, the cells that develop into eggs that will become a woman’s grandchildren develop while in the grandmother’s womb. All siblings have shared their grandmother’s womb. You learn something new every day.
After this, one member talked about a novel way of breaking the ice with a newly formed group. Rather than introducing yourself initially by your name, you can leave that till last. A group she was with recently did this and started by going through their lineage first and honouring the land they came from, then finished by saying their own name. She didn’t feel the normal dread when it was her turn to introduce herself, and the exercise kind of took the spotlight off the individual.
When we departed from the main group, one of our online members talked about a retreat she went on recently, run by a group involved in the NEAR Health project in N.U.I., Galway https://www.nuigalway.ie/near-health/about-us/
The group is continuing to study our connections with nature in order to understand how it impacts positively on our well-being.
They did an exercise where they looked mindfully at a river. It is easy to walk by a river and not take in its beauty. In the exercise, she took in the river as something that was always moving. She came to the waterfall and thought about how, if she was a molecule of water that had just come down it, she would want to go down again because it was so exhilarating. However, it would be impossible to do this twice, simply because the water continues to flow downstream.
I thought this was a really interesting way of looking at our lives. We live in the past at times, looking back at a fun memory, or a way that we once felt, and think, ‘I wish I was back there’, but life moves forward not backward. It’s really important to keep looking where we are going and moving forwards.
The participant talked about how every molecule in a river is different and that they’re all experiencing the river in a unique way. This is a great metaphor for life. We are all on a different path but moving through life together. We are not fully in control, simply moving along the river of life.
Every molecule in the river will eventually make it to the lake, where experiences of good and bad can be shared with a wider community. We are still only one part of the lake, though, and we all have unique experiences to offer the collective. If we could all keep this in mind every now and again, the world might look a bit different. It’s easy to get caught up in our bad experiences and not look at the good or the bigger picture outside of ourselves, but great healing can come by changing our perspective.
Happiness seems almost impossible sometimes. Hard to grasp and hold on to. The sad truth is that we cannot always be happy. I am re-reading an excellent book at the moment called Protecting Mental Health, by Keith Gaynor. It is a brilliant book that I highly recommend to anyone who is struggling with their mental health.
In the book, Gaynor points out that if we were always happy, we wouldn’t function. We need pain to know what to avoid. We need sadness to know where to find our joy. We need all of our emotions to lead a life, but he also says that we can take control of our own lives and train ourselves to find our happy. You see, happiness doesn’t come by itself. We need to seek it out by learning to focus more on the good things in our lives.
Gaynor writes about the benefits that CBT can have on our mindset, and how the thoughts we have impact our behaviour. If we continually think negatively about something, we will only find the negative. However, if we learn to catch a negative thought before it can impact how we behave, we can change our mindset and become more positive. Of course, this takes practice but is worth looking into.
It’s also really important to remember that we’re all at different stages in the journey and should take care not to get bogged down by another person’s success. It’s crucial to remember that, even in the toughest times, we are learning how strong and brave we are, and that, in years to come, we’ll talk about how we got through the rough patches and how proud we were of ourselves for pulling through.
The below graph shows the hero’s journey. The call to adventure is different for everyone. It can represent something difficult or something positive, but in our adventure, we will eventually feel like we have been reborn and move forward, ready for our next adventure. We are all heroes, struggling through life, and we all deserve a route to happiness.
Our next Hybrid Coffee Morning is happening on Monday the 7th of March. Anyone is welcome to pop into the Blind Tiger to say hello or register online to attend by zoom. For online attendees please register in advance to get an email zoom link on the morning.