Mindfulness Monday – Toni Bernhard

 

butterfly color

“Without the bitterest cold that penetrates to the very bone,
how can plum blossoms send forth their fragrance all over the universe?”

~ Toni Bernhard, How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers

 

“Behind every stressful thought is the desire for things to be other than they are.”

~ Toni Bernhard

 

*artwork by Wendy Holcombe.  Do not use without permission.

Advertisements

Mudita – finding joy in the joy of others

flowpaper_3

“Mudita is a word from Sanskrit and Pali that has no counterpart in English. It means sympathetic or unselfish joy, or joy in the good fortune of others.” (1)

I bring up Mudita now because those of us who are sick often find it very hard not being able to participate in celebrations this time of year.  We feel we are stuck on the outside just looking in, and as we look in we are envious.  We can’t feel joy.  Mudita is the opposite of envy.  When we feel mudita we feel joy in the joy of others.  We are genuinely happy that others are having a good time, even though we can’t join them.

This feeling doesn’t happen over night.  It’s hard to overcome those feelings of envy.  We don’t want to feel this way, but we have to admit, that’s the way we often feel when things come up and we can’t join in the fun.  We don’t feel joy in the fun the others are having, we feel sadness and anger that we can’t join them.

I first read about mudita when I read How To Be Sick by Toni Bernhard.  At the time my husband was playing games with a group of friends and I used to be envious that he had this group and I didn’t have anything like it.  He’d call me from there and I’d get this knot in my stomach and feel horrible because of this envy.  Then one day I realized how much he needed this time, how much he loved this activity and how much my envy hurt him.  (even though I thought I hid it well)  I remembered what I learned from reading Toni’s book.  I remembered mudita.  It didn’t happen overnight, but in time I started feeling joy when hubby would call from his game and sound excited about how things were going.  At first I faked it.  I knew I should feel joy for him so when I talked to him I put on a smile and told myself how happy I was for him and how much joy this made me feel.  Did I feel this at first.  No.  But after a while when he called I was truly happy.  I felt joy hearing how the night was going.  I was no longer faking it.

When trying to practice mudita start small.  Start with someone you don’t know.  When you see someone win a competition feel joy in their joy.  Then when you give a gift, feel the joy the receiver feels (that’s an easy one, I think).  Take it one step at a time and you will be surprised at how much joy you can feel when others feel joy.

It may not happen this holiday season, but perhaps when you can’t participate in the next celebration you might be able to find mudita, and feel joy in the joy of others.

I recommend all of Toni Bernhard’s books:  How to be Sick, How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness, How to Wake Up.  If you are chronically ill and haven’t read it yet, be sure to read How to be Sick.  I’ve read it over and over and keep going back to it.  It helps me live the day.  It makes me feel like I can get through this and thrive.

For further reading on Mudita, of course you can check out Toni’s books, but also check out.

#HAWMC Day 19 Rough day? What do you do?

Today is Day 19 of #HAWMC (WEGO’s Health Activist Writers Monthly Challenge).  The prompt today is:

Everyone has tough days, but how do you pull yourself out of the rut?
Maybe you blog, repeat affirmations or listen to a favorite playlist.
Write about what tools, tips or practices you use to lift your spirits after a rough patch.

om-1277425_960_720

image source pixaby

When I read this prompt I was reminded of a post I wrote a few years ago, I thought I’d link back to it now for your reading pleasure.  Living In The Moment  In this post you will find one of the main ways I deal with the rough days.

A little list of things I do to deal with a rough patch:

  • I do things that get me involved with others.  I reach out.  I text, email, blog, talk….
  • I do things that relax me.  I take a bath, a nap, read, watch movies and  mindless TV…
  • I do mindfulness exercises.  I focus on staying in this moment.  I remember that the past is over and the future is not written (when I’m having tough days I can get caught up in “how good things use to be” and “how bad things will always be”, neither of these things are true, focusing simply on the present can make it not as overwhelming). I meditate and do deep breathing exercises.
  • I remember to be grateful.  I write in my gratitude journal, I am sure remember I have many things to be grateful for.
  • During particularly rough times, such as a very bad vertigo attack, I chant.  I have a special chant I learned in a yoga class years ago that my husband and I chant together when I’m extremely sick with vertigo, this helps to calm me down. Om bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam”
  • I have my go to books, and I seek out books on mindfulness.  I have books by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, and others that I rely on, but the first book I reach for is How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness, by Toni Bernhard.
  • One of the biggest things I need to do during a rough patch is to remember, it’s not my fault.  I’m often hardest on myself during a rough patch, so I try to practice self compassion during this time most of all.
  • During particularly rough patches I reach out to my therapist, remember, that’s what they are there for.

How do you get through a rough patch?  Any suggestions?

If you’d like to read more posts from today please search for #HAWMC and check out WEGO’s Facebook page.  Don’t forget to Like Picnic With Ant’s Facebook Page too.  🙂

If you would like to share your story on Picnic with Ants, contact me through the contact form on my About Me – Contact Me Page.