It’s springtime in London and the outside world is changing every day in spectacular ways! Daffodils, blossom on the trees, easter eggs, and even the odd lamb. I don’t like to pick favourites, but Spring is just so gorgeous. It reminds me of the Phillip Larkin poem ‘The Trees.’ The opening line goes a little like this…
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
(You can read the complete poem here, it’s only short!)
Some days, days like this one, I feel struck by how changeful life is. The seasons are a great example, aren't they? Winter is here one minute and gone the next. Our individual life circumstances are also full of change, some little and others much bigger. When I consider things, it seems hard to find anything that isn't subject to change. Can you think of anything?
On this topic, mindfulness says: When change is taken as part of life, we are likely to suffer less.
Some things change for a while... and then come back! Like flairs, or other trends like making homemade bread and living slow. They seem to go in and out of fashion as though on board some kind of slow, eternally spinning record.
There are other things that don't seem to change. When I travel from Kings Cross Railway in London I am often surprised at how similar todays newspaper headline is to yesterdays, and last weeks. So much so that on occasion I’ve stopped to check the date on the front page, just to be sure I’m looking at a new paper.
Freud, the famous psychoanalyst talked about repetition compulsion. It's a phenomenon which describes the way people tend to replicate a life situation again and again, in an attempt to find a resolution to the initial unresolved incident.
I often think of this when I see patterns repeating in the news. The same thing happening again and again, but a little different each time.
Is true repetition ever possible?
Some things seem to repeat, for example, the seasons, personal patterns and the political climate. Similarities and patterns exist for sure. Yet. life appears to me as an ever-changing experiential flow. Always coming as it goes, always different. Is repetition possible? I couldn't say.
My feeling is that memory gives rise to the sense of having seen or known a thing before. Which, when you think about it is very handy for practical, everyday life. Imagine having to learn what a spoon is every time you sit down to eat soup! I’m not suggesting we stop using this memory function, just that we add an extra way of seeing to our encountering repertoire. This way we have several ways of looking at life!
Undoubtedly, undeniably, there is another, fresher way of seeing. A profoundly invigorating way of seeing that (re)turns everyday things to things of absolute wonder. For example, the person you live with who you have known for years can become a vast unchartered sea ripe for discovery. Your morning commute can be an adventure full of new sights. The sound of a dog barking across the street is as profound as you want it to be.
This way of living isn't just for those who are interested in mindfulness and meditation. It's an innocent way of being common to many children and artists. And, well, you don't need to be any particular type of person, it's simply another way of encountering life that we can all learn and enjoy. Hoorah!
(See here for training and books)
There are several activities in my new book which are designed to enliven this new fresh seeing. They’re listed just below. I'd highly recommend this book. Within it, I have put my best meditations and explorations from the last 14 years of study.
- The undressed Banana
- Walk to work
- Who am I, am I Bianca Jagger?
- The voyeur partner
- Being with a flower
p.s Here are some fabulous change related songs for the bank holiday