I have just had a few days on Stradbroke island seeking whales. As a few days of flourishing all the elements have been present, positive emotions, engagement, relationships and meaningful activity. I have also enjoyed winning the ladies monday competition at my local tennis club. We are are group of enthusiastic competitive women who in spite of the fact that our average age would be about 50 we are focused, enthusiastic and willing to win at all costs. When you come to the clinic you will see my trophy on display.
Mindfulness and flourishing go hand and hand. Flourishing rather happiness is a term now used in the scientific literature to measure well being. Martin Seligman has defined flourishing as containing five important elements (PERMA), Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships and Meaningful Activity. Mindfulness as a method also has these elements even when practising alone. So a regular practice of mindfulness increases your flourishing.
An important component of flourishing is positive relationships. Relationships do not always have to be with humans. If having a human relationship has resulted in sadness or harm then a positive connection with animals is also be a meaningful relationship.
Developing Wisdom and Compassion was a also s theme for this week. Wisdom and compassion were invited as I walked down to main beach I was greeted with rubbish and not just a few items but a whole beach of rubbish, small plastic items, syringes, bags, and more. I was shocked and horrified and all I had on me was a bag in my pocket usually used to pick up my dogs droppings when walking. And so I made a small attempt to clear some of the rubbish but my attempt was pretty minor.
My emotions were of disgust and sadness and my thoughts were of hopelessness and helplessness. If we can consider that my experience of main beach was a teaching then what comes to me is that this experience of main beach happens to all of us when we stop and begin to notice our mind. Many of us spend much of our time in distraction, just like unwanted thoughts and feelings, much of the rubbish found on the beach is simply the result of distraction. When we sit quietly and watch our thoughts coming and going mostly what we first observe is distracting thoughts.
The simple method of watching our thoughts coming and going is a profound method of purifying our mind of thinking. Not stopping or getting rid of thinking but of transforming our attachment to our thinking. It is far more effective than my efforts to clear some of rubbish from the beach. Being present, observing our mind creates the conditions for profound peace and calm it is our natural mind.
Animals are natural, they are simply being in their natural environment. To seek the Whales, I have had to be both focused, present and patient. When i watched them there was a profound sense of connection (relationship).