My Day 5 Take Home Message from the Mindful Self-Compassion Workshop
Well it was the final day of the Mindful Self-Compassion Workshop and I was very sad it ended. It really was a very special week, and more rewarding than what I had expected. Today we had an opportunity to reflect on some of the key moments of the workshop, and we were also introduced to some new topics around positive psychology. The one that grabbed my interest the most was gratitude. Before we did the exercise I was in a bit of a ‘down mood’. It was raining awfully hard, it was cold, I was really missing my wife – Cassie, and I didn’t want the workshop to end. Nevertheless I applied myself to the exercise. The idea was we just had to bring to mind and write to paper the things we were grateful for. So I started the exercise not wanting to ‘think’ about it too much, I kind of just wanted the things I was grateful for to naturally come to mind. So here is my list:
- Hot water
- My family
- My friends
- Kenya – my dog that my parents gave me for my birthday
- The ocean
- The sun
- The broncos (rugby league team)
My list is by no means perfect. It was just what came to my mind at that point in time, and I am grateful for it. There are some things on the list I am proud of having on the list (my wife and my family), and others I am like “why did I put that on my list” (for example chocolate). And I could have easily kept going, adding more and more and more to that list, for example, music, mangos, and photos.
We then had to pick one thing out of our list to share with the group. The participants at the workshop shared some gorgeous things they were grateful for, and the one I decided to share was ‘ice-cream’. Pretty ridiculous I know. Out of all the things I could have said, I chose ice-cream. I think the reason why was because I do love it, but also because it reminds me of my childhood, which was so much fun. I also remembered that I had an assignment I had to complete when I was in grade 3, and the assignment question was, “what do you think Heaven is?” I didn’t know how to answer this question, so I asked my father. He replied “I don’t know what Heaven is, but when I am there I will be playing golf and eating ice-cream”. So when I think of ice-cream I think of my father, and although I don’t say it enough I am very grateful for him. It was a really emotional moment for me, a positive emotional moment.
Before the exercise I was in a down mood, but immediately after the exercise – and it only took 5 minutes, I was smiling. I was smiling as I was writing my list. The exercise changed my perspective. And that was my take home message. Whenever you are upset, angry, sad, miserable, or just bored, I suggest taking a moment for yourself and think of 10 things you are grateful for. It was a beautiful experience for me, and it well could be for you. Transformative is the word that comes to mind.
As we finished up the retreat I couldn’t help but feel a real sense of loss. I had just spent the whole week with complete strangers, not knowing anybody before it started, and now I didn’t want to leave their company. We all shared this journey, this experience together, and it was special. It reminded me of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry makes the observation that when we say good-bye to people we often say, “good-bye, see you soon”. It is the “see you soon“ part that gets to me. Even though we know that most likely we will never see that person again we will still say it. For some reason, as humans, we don’t like the finality of saying good-bye. And that is certainly the feeling that overcame me at the end of the retreat. It also brought a smile to my face, as I am grateful for Jerry Seinfeld.
As a final note I’d like to thank James Bennett-Levy. He organised the Mindful Self-Compassion Workshop, over the course of the Workshop he was so generous of his time, and he is so passionate about this area of compassion that it was contagious. So I am ask grateful to him. If you are interested in his work please visit the CBT Training Program Website.
When I started this blog about the workshop I didn’t think it would be much of a big deal. But for me it has been an incredibly rewarding exercise. By taking the time to reflect on what I had just been exposed to during each day of the workshop really enhanced my overall experience. It was a real pleasure to take a moment and reflect on what I had learnt and noticed. It made me really appreciate the experience at a greater depth than what I otherwise would. And my aim is to continue this practice for future workshops.
I am now back home in Brisbane. I am sitting on the couch with my beautiful wife who has fallen asleep by my side and I couldn’t be more happy. I am savoring this moment. As moments like this are precious.
Extra note: the photo is of a rock beach Cassie and I were walking on together when we were up at Airlie Beach. We used rocks during the workshop to bring us into contact with the present moment.
Extra extra note: I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank my Aunty Margaret and Uncle Peter who let me stay at their house for the week whilst down at Byron. I am very grateful for them!