Posts Tagged ‘Opening Doors’

Waxing eloquent N°4

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

I’m continuing looking at Ruby Wax’s tips for a “really Happy New Year”, and thinking about how these might tie in with the work we’ve been doing at our Opening Doors follow up “meetings” (meetings in inverted commas for me, as I’m only there via Skype.)

Be Less Busy

We worship busy-ness but brain research shows that rather than it being a great accomplishment to be able to juggle, it may actually scramble your brain. Rather than being in “doing” mode all the time, have a go at being in “being” mode. I experience it when I’m scuba diving, but everyone feels this at some point: looking at a sunset, stroking a cat, a moment where time stops and you’re experiencing something directly without the running commentary. In this mode the mind isn’t flipping between the past and the future, it has nowhere to go, so it can start to settle

I talked about this a little last time I commented on Ruby’s tips…and the time before that…which kind of makes me think that a lot of what Ms Wax is saying is quite repetitive in its goals. Still – less of this cynicism please!

Though I have to admit that I do need to practise this art of being not doing. I seldom pause meaningfully during my day, and this is something Ange is encouraging us to do. My last post refers to the 5:2:1 way of life that Ange is trying to encourage us to follow – unsuccessfully in my case! I keep saying “I’ll start tomorrow…I just need to buy a nice book to record my feelings in…I haven’t got time today but I really will start tomorrow…”

Part of my problem is allowing myself to let go, and not getting worked up if it doesn’t go “right”. this is why I haven’t been very successful at my “SMASH” journalling, or my art/prayer journalling, or even my card making sometimes, because I feel these have to look “perfect” – or at least, I have to be satisfied and I rarely am very happy. My zentangle cat was an exception to that rule though. Here he is again (because I like to show off!) – except the wibsite aint playing ball with photos at the moment! Grr.

Why I can’t accept that I’m just “having a go” I don’t know: “good enough” is my mantra in many parts of my life, so why it isn’t in others seems very strange. And anyway, how do you “do” pausing for a few seconds to ground oneself in a way that is considered as properly (or improperly for that matter!) I just need to do it (that’s a rather ironic statement, if you look back at what I’m talking about!) Perhaps I should say I just have to be it!!





Waxing eloquent N°1

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

To wax eloquent…to wax lyrical…to wax poetic… Strange expressions, and I wondered why “to wax” has come to mean “to speak” in these expressions. We don’t use it in any other way (to wax angry? “Come here!” I waxed loud…) nor do we use an adverb, as we should – eloquently, poetically, lyrically…



With a tad more research (isn’t the internet wonderful?!) I find that “to wax” doesn’t, as I assumed, mean “to speak” in these expressions. As in the expression “to wax and wane”, when talking about the moon, it means “to grow”. Thus, “Waxing poetic” has nothing to do with bees, candles, or polishing cars. The verb ‘to wax’ is ‘to grow’; the opposite of ‘to wane’, which is ‘to decrease’. So when one waxes poetic one becomes increasingly more poetic etc.


I suppose the question might be why am I waxing lyrical about “waxing lyrical”? Well, a friend of ours, who had been to England, left a bundle of English newspapers for us, and in the Telegraph “Weekend” section there was an article by Ruby Wax, the comedien-turned-qualified-therapist, entitled “How to have a Really Happy New Year”. In the article Ms Wax gives various pointers to ways in which we should keep ourselves grounded, recognising that a busy, busy, hectic lifestyle is not good for us.

As she says: “The modern take on Descartes “I’m busy, therefore I am” is…crushing our ability to be happy, and overloading us with stress and anxiety

Now, to be honest, I’m not sure that Ms Wax is saying anything new – there are countless blogs, and self help forums, etc, that say the same. Many people are trying to get back to a simpler life. The word “frugal” is bandied about a lot, with different people considering it to mean different things: saving money, living more simply, cutting things out from one’s life…I think what Ruby Wax is talking about is part of this too. Being frugal, I think, involves slowing down – because we rush about trying to do so many things, we lose a connection with ourselves, and with our family and friends.

Some of what Ms Wax talked about resonates with me, because it reminds me of my wonderful “Opening Doors” workshop last September. We are still having monthly get togethers, but sadly I can only join in via Skype. It works, and I do feel part of the group, but it is like taking part whilst one is banished to another room. You can hear what’s going on, you can join in the conversations, but there isn’t the physical interaction…I can’t hug these lovely ladies, or really see the smiles in their eyes. Sigh. It’s a long way between here and Toulouse! Still, it’s better than nothing.

Ange gives us “homework” – something to think about, to consider – but I have to admit I’m not very good at “soul searching”. I get a bit squirmy when I have to look “inside myself”, because it all seems a little bit self indulgent…and I’m never quite sure that there will be benefits. A couple of posts ago I wrote about “Unravelling 2014”, an exercise looking into the year ahead, identifying goals, thinking of a word/phrase for the year – I couldn’t bring myself to do it! Everytime I thought about it I felt uncomfortable, and managed to find something else to do.

However, I thought I could, over several blog posts, look at – and think about – Ruby Wax’s “tips for  happy, calmer, more self-assured and focussed you in 2014” Whether I will take any of them on board is another matter of course! Here’s the first; others will follow (though not necessarily at regular intervals):

1. Find your braking system

This is what mindfulness is all about. When you’re in high anxiety mode, feeling stressed out, your mind racing and your heart pounding, focus on something in the present: a sound, taste or smell. By becoming aware of what’s around you, you will calm down and can focus more. You’ll have to experiment to find what works for you: I send my attention to my feet and their contact with the floor. As soon as my focus goes from thoughts to sensation, the red mist drains from my brain and I can think again. You might need to do this 100 times: it’s how to tame your mind.

I don’t tend to get stressed very often, as my life isn’t very high powered and busy-busy, but I do note that when I do find myself panicking (if I have lost something important for example) I do start losing focus. I have to tell myself to breathe, to focus on one activity (sorting through papers methodically, for example) and to take time! When we were at the workshop, and were talking about things that became too upsetting or emotional, Ange reminded us to focus on our feet on the ground, to feel grounded and steady. So when we find ourselves becoming too frantic, a pause to focus can be very helpful.

For those, like me, living a less frenetic life, Ange suggested that pausing every now and then during the day, and focussing on a few breaths, can still be beneficial. It is a reminder that I am not what I do,  I am what I am.  I like the little saying: “God made us to be human beings, not huiman doings” What we are is vital, not what we do. Yes, actions are important – we cannot drift through life, never interacting, never doing things – but who we are affects how we behave, how we interact, how we treat other people. And if we don’t focus on ourselves from time to time, remind ourselves that we are more than just what we do, then our interactions and our relationships with other people will become overwhelmed by “I must do this…and that…and the other…”

So, perhaps, like my blog friend Mags, my word for 2014 should simply be: Breathe